Why Should I Walk? I Can Fly!

Written by Ann Ingalls
Illustrated by Rebecca Evans

This cute rhyming story follows a baby robin as it shakily learns to fly like mama. Not only are those first “steps” difficult, but the presence of a cat makes concentration especially challenging. Of course, it’s a rocky start, but the bird soon finds that the effort to try new things can be well worth it.

Wonderful illustrations make for a thoroughly enjoyable experience for readers. They can feel the baby bird’s struggle, the pride of the mother bird, the possible amusement of the sparrows as they watch, the malevolence of the cat, and more. The bird even watches while sister does ballet moves.

In addition to the lesson to keep trying, readers will learn a lot about birds – American robins in particular and what makes a bird in general. They will also learn about predators and the circle of life. As is usual for this publisher, extensive suggestions for further learning accompany the text, with links for even more learning. STEM is not just an acronym.

  • Why Should I WalkTitle: Why Should I Walk? I Can Fly!
  • Author: Ann Ingalls
  • Illustrator: Rebecca Evans
  • Publisher: Dawn Publications, 2019
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska                                                                                                                                             
  • Format: Paperback, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: 1 to 3
  • Genre: Nature, Young birds
  • ISBN: 978-1-58469-639-1
  • Extras: Explore More – For Kids, Explore More – For Teachers and Parents

Carter Reads the Newspaper

Written by Deborah Hopkinson
Illustrated by Don Tate

Do you ever wonder why we celebrate Black History Month? The contributions of African Americans and other groups have often been ignored or even actively covered up. So, if you really want to learn about history, highlighting this group becomes important. Carter G. Woodson, who eventually earned a doctorate in history, was an outspoken advocate for black history. He happened to be black himself and first had to fight for the right to read that history. In his pursuit of his heritage, he became part of that heritage. His childhood was a fascinating struggle for learning. In this beautiful new book, the author and illustrator reveal that struggle and encourage the reader to become part of the struggle too.

Carter, born ten years after the end of the Civil War, was the youngest of seven children of parents born into slavery. Carter was only able to attend school when he wasn’t needed on the farm. But his father encouraged his learning by asking Carter to read the newspaper to him. As a teenager, Carter worked in a coal mine to help feed the family. His co-workers also asked Carter to read the newspaper aloud, sparking him finish high school and move on to college. The author has the reader cheering for Carter at every turn, and the illustrator makes his life and those of parents come alive. The reader also gets a glimpse of many figures from black history throughout the book and in the end papers, hopefully generating more curiosity from the reader.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

  • Carter Reads the NewspaperTitle: Carter Reads the Newspaper
  • Author: Deborah Hopkinson
  • Illustrator: Don Tate
  • Publisher: Peachtree Publishing Company Inc., 2019
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska                                                                                                                                             
  • Format: Hardcover, 36 pages
  • Grade Level: 1 to 5
  • Genre: African American History
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-934-6
  • Extras: Learn More About Carter G. Woodson (Internet Resources, Bibliography), Author’s Note, Illustrator’s Note, List of black leaders pictured throughout the book, Carter Godwin Woodson’s Life and Accomplishments (Timeline), Sources for quotations

Snow Lion

Written by Jim Helmore
Illustrated by Richard Jones

Friends aren’t that easy to come by, especially when you’re shy and new in the neighborhood. Sometimes, it’s easier to hide inside your house, even if the walls are white and boring. But the white walls could be hiding a good new friend, like a white lion. Once you find that lion, it could probably play with you – climbing, racing, and playing hide-and-seek. At her mother’s and the lion’s urging, little Caro finally talks to a boy named Bobby. She finds out Bobby was not only fun, but he had other friends who could be hers. Mum invites the friends over, they paint the walls so that the lion disappears. But she finds she can still remember the lion and play with him occasionally.

Who can’t relate to being a bit reluctant to talk to someone you don’t know? Often, they’re not really so frightening after all. Often, they could end up being your best friend. And who won’t enjoy the beautiful illustrations that show how easily the lion can hide and how much he loves Caro?

This quiet story is best as a bedtime read aloud, when kids can hunt for the lion in the white walls and be satisfied that Caro will be okay.

  • Snow LionTitle: Snow Lion
  • Author: Jim Helmore
  • Illustrator: Richard Jones
  • Published: Peachtree Publishers, October 1, 2018
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: 1 to2
  • Genre: Picture Book, Friendship
  • ISBN: 978-1-68263-048-8

He’s Your Daddy: Ducklings, Joeys, Kits, and More

Written by Charline Profiri
Illustrated by Andrea Gabriel

With entertaining rhyme and beautiful and detailed illustrations, the reader learns a lot about the names of baby animals and what their fathers are called. There are a few surprises along the way, such as hatchlings growing up to be either a bird … or a dinosaur. But most are familiar, or at least expected. “If you were a sweet, adorable calf, your daddy might be a towering giraffe.”

In the Explore More sections, the author includes fun games for reinforcing what has been learned and for interaction with adults plus more facts about the animals featured. A chart even shows the many animals for which the same baby name is used. Even kitten has seven animals listed other than cat.

The best use for this cute book is as a read aloud, either at home or in a classroom, so adults can guide readers toward as much learning as possible and discuss what daddys mean to the readers.

  • Hes Your DaddyTitle: He’s Your Daddy: Ducklings, Joeys, Kits, and More
  • Author: Charline Profiri
  • Illustrator: Andrea Gabriel
  • Published: Dawn Publications, 2018
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Paperback, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: 1 to2
  • Genre: Picture Book, Nature, Baby Animals
  • ISBN: 978-1-58469-626-1
  • Extras: Explore More – For Kids, Explore More – For Teachers and Parents, More Nature Awareness Books from Dawn Publications

About Woodpeckers: A Guide for Children

Written by Cathryn Sill
Illustrated by John Sill

Twelve species of woodpeckers, among the more than 200 known species, are highlighted in this very informative new book. The beautifully detailed illustrations are part of the educational theme. Beyond what the reader can learn by careful study of the paintings, they also learn a lot by what the author points out with each illustration and in the afterword.

Woodpeckers are pretty much built for what they do. They have strong, sharp bills and powerful necks and thick skulls. They have small feathers over their nostrils to filter out sawdust. Woodpeckers even communicate with their drumming. Most woodpeckers live amongst trees, but some live with cactus and bamboo to drill. They have strong feet and sharp claws plus stiff tail feathers to help hold them up on the sides of trees. Though they can be destructive, they help out by giving other animals holes to live in and by keeping destructive insects under control.

This is an important resource for kids learning about birds and about the environment we all live in. It’s simple and yet complete. It would be a great beginning point for more study.

  • About WoodpeckersTitle: About Woodpeckers: A Guide for Children
  • Author: Cathryn Sill
  • Illustrator: John Sill
  • Published: Peachtree Publishers, 2018
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 48 pages
  • Grade Level: 1 to2
  • Genre: Picture Book, Nature, Birds
  • ISBN: 978-1-68263-004-4
  • Extras: Afterword, Glossary, Suggestions For Further Reading, Resources

Ebenezer Has a Word for Everything

Written by Chelsea H. Rowe
Illustrated by Frank Dormer

In her debut picture book, Rowe introduces us to a word collector. Ebenezer collected words the way some people collected stamps. He wrote them in his Word Book. He also loves letters, because they make up words, after all – junction, juggle, and jukebox. One day he meets Fitzgerald, who has ideas but not words to convey them. They write great stories together.

The illustrations are fun and demonstrate the words and how they are made.

The story shows how we sometimes need to collaborate with others who have different talents in order to achieve something worthwhile. Hopefully, the fascinating words Ebenezer collects will also show the reader how wonderful words are and spark their own love of words. How can you resist a swashbuckler that says blimey.

  • EbenezerTitle: Ebenezer Has a Word for Everything
  • Author: Chelsea H. Rowe
  • Illustrator: Frank Dormer
  • Published: Peachtree Publishers, October 1, 2018
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: 1 to2
  • Genre: Picture Book, Words
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-848-6

Before She Was Harriet

Written by Lesa Cline-Ransome
Illustrated by James E. Ransome

Few figures of the abolition movement have gotten the recognition of Harriet Tubman. That’s not to say there weren’t many, many more deserving souls involved in emancipation. What sets Harriet apart is just how accomplished and tireless she was. This gorgeous picture book highlights her many achievements and makes her life more real for the reader. Cleverly, the author shows that Harriet didn’t just become an old woman. She had many stops along the journey.

Before she was Harriet, she was literally known by other names, but she could also be identified by her roles. Suffragist, generally, spy, nurse, Aunt Harriet, Moses, conductor, Minty, and Araminta. The author highlights each role and draws the reader into Harriet’s world. She lets them know what life was like for this wonderful woman. The lyrical approach helps attract the reader to that world, as do the amazing illustrations. Seeing Harriet in the dark with the houses in the distance lets the reader know what a risk she was taking with the Underground Railroad. Seeing the suffragists intent on her words lets us know the respect she commanded.

Very important addition to the Harriet Tubman library.

  • Title: Before She Was Harriet
  • Author: Lesa Cline-Ransome
  • Illustrator: James E. Ransome
  • Published: Holiday House, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 3
  • Genre: Picture Book, Nonfiction, History, Biography
  • ISBN: 978-0-8234-2047-6

King and Kayla and the Case of the Lost Tooth

Written by Dori Hillestad Butler
Illustrated by Nancy Meyers

Fourth in the mystery series, The Lost Tooth is well worth a look for kids learning to solve problems while they learn to read better. Kayla is a strong believer in scientific method, carefully listing the clues that she and King have and the things they need to know. King also thinks he knows some clues, but he is mostly available for amusement.

When Kayla loses a tooth at school, her teacher sends her home with the class tooth fairy pillow. By the time she gets home, she is unable to find the tooth. King keeps smelling evidence of Kayla’s mouth but must hunt for the tooth along with Kayla. Of course, it’s King who eventually finds the tooth, but not without some destruction along the way.

The simple language, quick action, and familiar situations of this series make it a great introduction to chapter books. The illustrations give hints about the story that might help the struggling reader. Plus, the illustrations are pleasing and add to the enjoyment.

  • Title: King and Kayla and the Case of the Lost Tooth 
  • Author: Dori Hillestad Butler
  • Illustrator: Nancy Meyers
  • Published: Peachtree Publishers, 2018
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 48 pages
  • Grade Level: 2 to 4
  • Genre: Chapter Book, Fiction, Mystery, Humor
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-880-6

Paddle Perch Climb: Bird Feet Are Neat

Written and Illustrated by Laurie Ellen Angus

Vibrant paper collages accompany a simple yet lyrical text to highlight how many birds live. The focus is on the feet of the birds, but much more is shown about their worlds. For example, most birds must be conscious of their surroundings and wary of any predators in their vicinity. It’s great that the reader is made aware the birds’ lives are not all fun.

The swan’s webbed feet help her get closer to the water plants that are her diet. The heron’s long legs and toes help her get a view of the fish she hopes to catch. The roadrunners strong feet and legs help her catch lizards for lunch. Woodpeckers can climb to the grubs they love to eat. Small flexible toes help the cardinal perch to eat berries and help the towhee scratch for insects. Owls have powerful feet that help them catch prey.

The Explore More sections make this a valuable book for nature study. Activities and resources are abundant.

  • Paddle Perch ClimbTitle: Paddle Perch Climb: Bird Feet Are Neat
  • Author/Illustrator: Laurie Ellen Angus
  • Published: Dawn Publications, 2018
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Paperback, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 3
  • Genre: Picture Book, Nonfiction, Nature, Birds
  • ISBN: 978-1-58469-614-8
  • Extra: Explore More – for Kids, Explore More – for Parents and Teachers, More Fun with Birds, More Nature Appreciation Books

The King of Bees

Written by Lester L. Laminack
Illustrated by Jim LaMarche

In a short, entertaining story about Henry, who lives with his Aunt Lilla, the reader learns about both bees and family. The author manages to tell a riveting story without being too scary and imparts information without being didactic. The reader will come away loving bees and hoping the bees survive.

The two live in Lowcountry South Carolina and struggle to make ends meet. Henry wants desperately to help his aunt in any way he can. He’s just a little young for some of the activities that appeal to him. He helps gather the eggs and quickly learns not to break any of them. He watches as his aunt tends her beehives and is fascinated. Aunt Lilla explains how the bees live and how they also work hard. When the bees swarm, Henry tries his best to make sure none of the bees leave him or Aunt Lilla. He’s learning to bee talk. Anxious moments occur, but it all turns out well in the end.

Beautiful illustrations accompany and help tell the story. Even the end papers add to an understanding of Henry’s world.

Recommended for a unit on nature or conservation. Great spark for further exploration.

  • King of BeesTitle: The King of Bees
  • Author: Lester L. Laminack
  • Illustrator: Jim LaMarche
  • Published: Peachtree Publishers, 2018
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Picture Book, Fiction, Nature, Responsibility
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-953-7
  • Extra: Author’s Note
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