Tag Archives: nature

Atlas of Ocean Adventures

Written by: Emily Hawkins

Illustrated by: Lucy Letherland

For ages: 7 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM, Nature, Natural World, Scientific Thinking, Discovery. 

Summary: This book is part of a larger set of atlas’ by Quarto as part of their Wide Eyed Editions books, focusing on curiosity and learning.  This is the only book in the series that we’ve seen (we won this in a giveaway) but the other books look amazing too!  We love to feature nature and science books as part of our beliefs that everyone can be a scientist, despite there sometimes being a single example of what a scientist is.  The world is an amazing place that needs diverse explorers and scientists to help solve life’s mysteries and to protect our precious natural resources and wild animals.

This is a massive book jam packed full of oceanic knowledge and adventure inspiration!  The entire book is beautiful and organized, with a helpful contents page at the beginning and an index at the end.  The illustrations make us want to grab some flippers and hop on into the water, searching for otters and whale sharks to befriend!  The atlas also does a lovely job of explaining the wonders of the aquatic world, and where they are in the world.  Lots of information is on the pages, but it doesn’t overwhelm the illustrations which are the star of the show here.  This is a great coffee-table book, and a must-have for the burgeoning marine biologist on your life!

There is even a “Can You Find?” section in the back right before the index!  There are a bunch of animals to seek out through the entire book, making another activity for readers.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

711233d6Lucy Letherland is an illustrator based in London, UK. She graduated from Manchester School of Art in 2011 with a First Class BA (Hons) in Illustration with Animation. Lucy’s work is strongly led by humour and narrative, creating a playful graphic quality. She uses a mix of hand-drawn and digital techniques to produce lively illustrations filled with detail.
In 2014 Lucy’s first picture book for children, Atlas of Adventures, was published by Wide Eyed Editions. It went on to win the UK Educational Writer’s Award 2015, and was also shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, The English Association’s 4-11 Picture Book Awards, and the UKLA Book Award 2016.
Her second, Atlas of Animal Adventures, won the Children’s Travel Book of the Year in the Edward Stanford Awards 2016.
B1LWRxb3lVS._US230_Emily Hawkins is a children’s author who loves making complicated things easy to understand. She has written books about all sorts of things, from cars, trains and ships to dinosaurs, magic tricks and mathematics. She co-wrote the Atlas of Animal Adventures (illustrated by Lucy Letherland), which won the Children’s Travel Book of the Year Award in 2016. Emily has also written several titles in the internationally popular Ology series, which has sold over 16 million copies worldwide. She holds a first-class English degree from Nottingham University, and lives in Winchester, England, with her young family.

Bedtime for Sweet Creatures [Released on January 14th!]

Written by: Nikki Grimes

Illustrated by: Elizabeth Zunon

For ages: 4-8 years 

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Family, Natural World, Own Voices.

Summary: This book will resonate with anyone who has 1) tried to avoid going to bed or 2) tried to put a little critter that doesn’t want to go to bed, to bed. In the story, our main character is a young child that is being coaxed into sleep by their mother.  The plot is creative in its use of animal metaphors to describe the actions and attempts to get out of bed.  Like a sly wolf, the child slinks into the bathroom for a glass of water.  Like an antelope, they hop to the bathroom.

The story is a fun read aloud book, and Elizabeth Zunon’s artistic rendering is as brilliant as ever!  Bright colors and geometric animals adorn the pages, showcasing the attempts of the main character to stay awake as long as possible.  Will all of the sweet creatures go to bed, snuggly and warm? This book is sweet and simple, showcasing a loving family of color.

This book was sent to us by Sourcebooks for review, but all opinions are our own. It will be released on January 14th, and we are very appreciative that we got the chance to read this book beforehand.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

ph_NikkiGrimes_2016_300dpi_3x5_AltNikki Grimes does not consider herself a bona fide storyteller, but, as she told an audience at the Library of Congress, she is happy to own the title Poet. Born and raised in New York City, Nikki began composing verse at the age of six and has been writing ever since that time.

A bestselling author and a prolific artist, Nikki has written many award-winning books for children and young adults including the Coretta Scott King Award winner Bronx Masquerade; the Coretta Scott King Author Honor books Jazmin’s Notebook, Talkin’ About Bessie, Dark Sons, The Road to Paris, and Words with Wings; Horn Book Fanfare for Talkin’ About Bessie; ALA Notable books What is Goodbye? and Words with Wings; the popular Dyamonde Daniel chapter book series, and numerous picture books and novels including The New York Timesbestseller Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope and, most recently, Garvey’s Choice and One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance.

In addition to her work for children, Ms. Grimes has written articles for such magazines as Essence, Today’s Christian Woman, Book Links, and Image, Journal of Arts & Religion.

An accomplished and widely anthologized poet of both children’s and adult verse, Grimes has conducted poetry readings and lectures at international schools in Russia, China, Sweden and Tanzania, while short-term mission projects have taken her to such trouble spots as Haiti.

During the 1970s, Nikki coproduced and hosted The Kid’s Show on WBAI FM in New York. Later, during a six-year stint in Sweden, she hosted their radio program for immigrants, Grunslöst, and another for Swedish Educational Radio.

In 2005, Ms.Grimes was awarded the Golden Dolphin Award by the Southern California Children’s Book Association, recognizing her body of work.

Nikki has been honored with the NCTE Award for Poetry and the 2016 Virginia Hamilton Literary Award from Kent State University. In 2017, she was presented with the Children’s Literature Legacy Award for her “substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.”

71zhtxpjlql._us230_-2Elizabeth Zunon was born in Albany, NY and spent her childhood in a hot, sunny, tropical country in West Africa called the Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire), where people speak French (and many other languages). Elizabeth’s Mom read Elizabeth’s little brother and Elizabeth a lot of bedtime stories in English after they came home from speaking French all day at school. As a little girl, she loved to draw, paint, make up dances and play dress-up, and as Elizabeth grew up, that didn’t really change! After returning to the United States, Elizabeth attended the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and graduated in June 2006 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration.  She’s now back in Albany, where every day she might draw, paint, collage, sew, silkscreen, make jewelry, purses, and ponder the endless possibilities of chocolate! Her work is largely influenced by the people, places, and things from her childhood in the Ivory Coast as the product of two cultures.  You can also follow her blog-Lizzie Blogs!

Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock

Written by: Dallas Hunt

Illustrated by: Amanda Strong

For ages: 3-8 years

Language: English & Cree

Topics Covered: First Nations, Indigenous Voices, Family, Problem-Solving, Accountability, Love, Animals, Nature, Natural World, Bilingual Stories, Social-Emotional Learning, Own Voices. 

Summary: More skills we wish to take into the new year are found in this book, and they are: accountability and problem-solving!  We really enjoyed how Awâsis knew she had to fix the issue of losing the bannock, and didn’t try to pass blame onto someone or something else, or make excuses.  We strive for accountability, and it’s exemplified beautifully in this story!

Awâsis loves spending Sunday with her Kôhkum (grandmother).  One day she asks Awâsis to deliver some of her world-famous bannock to a relative, and Awâsis is happy to do so, skipping and hopping her way through the woods.  Unfortunately, she drops the bannock into the river. Awâsis decides to continue her walk through the woods and ask her animal friends for help.  They can provide single ingredients, but none have anymore bannock.  Will Awâsis be able to make bannock to deliver to Kôhkum’s relative?

This is a very sweet and simple story. Awâsis remains positive and wants to solve the problem of having no bannock by taking responsibility to fix it herself.  The book introduces a lot of great introductory Cree vocabulary words and has a pronunciation guide in the back!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Dallas_Hunt-e1568993042384DALLAS HUNT (he/him/his) is a teacher, writer, and member of Wapisewsipi (Swan River First Nation) in Treaty 8 territory in Northern Alberta, Canada. As a proponent of language revitalization, his debut book for children, Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock, includes words in Cree. Dallas teaches at UBC and enjoys reading great books to his nieces and nephews.

 

Amanda_Strong-e1541180498767AMANDA STRONG is a Michif, Indigenous filmmaker, media artist, and stop motion director currently based out of the unceded Coast Salish territory also known as Vancouver, British Columbia. She has exhibited work and screened films worldwide, including at the Cannes Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Vancouver International Film Festival, and the Ottawa International Animation Festival. Check her out at: www.spottedfawnproductions.com

The Boy Who Grew A Forest

Written by: Sophia Gholz

Illustrated by: Kayla Harren

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Environmental Activism, Nature, Historical Figure, Trailblazer, POC-Centric Narratives, Global Community, India, Natural World, Growing Up, Hard Work, Community Involvement, Independent Thought. 

Summary: The next intention we are taking into 2020 is Environmental Conscientiousness.  We’re always looking for ways to reduce our single-use plastics, recycle more efficiently, and take public transportation or walk most places. But another thing everyone can be more conscious about is planting trees and supporting the initiatives that do.  Although we believe that too much onus is put on the individual while global corporations are not always held accountable, but we are stewards of the land we inhabit and should be working with it rather than controlling or continuing to colonize it.

This book is lovely, and based on a true story!  Jadav Payeng was a boy who lived in India and noticed that when trees were getting cut down, it was impacting the animals that lived around the village.  He went to the elders and they gifted him with some bamboo to plant, so he could begin to rehabilitate the land.  Jadav worked very hard watering and caring for the bamboo and it grew into a thicket.  Jadav wanted to provide better soil for the bamboo so he began to dig up worms and bugs in addition to the water he hauled, and bring different types of seeds.  After years of hard work, animals returned because Jadav had grown a forest where there was once barren wasteland.

This book is inspirational because it’s not only based on a true story, but Jadav is still alive and currently planting on his second island!  We think the book would be improved with some real photos of Jadav and his forest, to help younger readers understand that he is still doing this important work for the earth.  Definitely a future classic and important story to be told, it reinforces that hard work might take years but the impact is great enough that we should all start as soon as possible!

This book was sent to us by Sleeping Bear Press as part of the Best Books of 2019 List but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Sophia Gholz 2Sophia Gholz is an award-winning children’s book author, music lover, magic seeker, and avid reader.  As a child, Sophia was a passionate reader and artist. When not reading or drawing, she could be found at the farm riding horses or out causing mischief with her brothers.  As an adult, Sophia is still an avid reader, art fanatic, and mischief-maker. When she’s not writing, you can find Sophia on Twitter, in her cave (aka office) or running around after the kids, dogs or any combination of the two.  Sophia grew up in Florida, went to art school in California, and met her husband in Manhattan. She’s now enjoying life by the beach with her family. 

website+headshotKayla Harren graduated from the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City with a BFA in illustration.  Books she has illustrated include A BOY LIKE YOU (winner of the 2019 EUREKA gold award) and THE BOY WHO GREW A FOREST (winner of the EUREKA silver award.) Kayla’s work has been featured in the Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, Communication Arts, 3×3 Magazine, and she’s won the Highlights for Children Pewter Plate Award.

Kayla loves animals, playing volleyball, hiking, and eating cookies with frosting. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, Peter Harren, and their adorable dogs.

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga

Written by: Traci Sorell

Illustrated by: Frané Lessac

For ages: 3-7 years

Language: Cherokee, Romanized Cherokee, English. 

Topics Covered: Own Voices, Indigenous Voices, Cherokee Nation, Culture & Traditions, Love, Appreciation, Kindness, Family, Nature, Vocabulary, Literacy. 

Summary: For our next trait we’re taking with us into 2020: Gratefulness and Appreciation!  We honor and cherish the experiences we’ve had in the past and look forward to the future.  

This is a beautiful book about all of the reasons a person would be grateful: cool breezes blowing, community events, and time with family.  We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga is packed with breathtaking examples of gratefulness and community involvement that garner appreciation.  The illustrations are amazingly detailed and show groups of Cherokee people working together throughout the year.  We love the vocabulary and phonetic pronunciations on each page, ensuring that the reader knows how to say the words right off the bat.  Going through the seasons and some holidays, the reader gets a sense of the close-knit community and all of the reasons they are grateful.  It provides education into the culture if readers are unfamiliar with the Cherokee Nation, and there is an extensive definitions list, author’s note, Cherokee syllabary and alphabet in the back of the book.  We really love this book, and it will definitely be read for years and years to come!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Traci+Sorell+Home+PhotoTraci Sorell lives with her family in the Cherokee Nation, out in the country like she did as a child. Back then, she had geese, chickens, horses, dogs and cats. Her mother’s Cherokee family has been in the area since the removal of most Cherokee people from their southeastern homelands in 1838. Traci grew up hearing stories about her ancestors and looking at their photographs with her elisi (eh-lee-see), grandma. Now her son does that with his elisi in addition to fishing in the nearby lake and learning about Cherokee culture.

As a child, Traci spent a lot of time reading as well as singing and acting in musical theater productions. She also loved playing cars and school with her younger sister and brother. They spent hours driving little toy cars all over the towns they drew on large pieces of cardboard. They quizzed each other on state capitals and used old textbooks to teach each other new lessons. Away from home, they spent lots of time visiting family across the Cherokee Nation, elsewhere in Oklahoma and places farther west. Traci still loves to read, play, learn, and travel.

When Traci was a teenager, her family moved to Southern California. She did less acting and more writing, both in class and on the high school yearbook staff. She was the first in her family to graduate from college. Later, her mom, sister and brother got their degrees too.

Before she began writing for children, Traci’s work focused on helping Native American tribes and their citizens. She wrote legal codes, testimony for Congressional hearings, federal budget requests, grants and reports. She continues that work by writing stories for young people and encouraging other Native writers and illustrators to share theirs. When Traci was a child, she never read culturally accurate books about the Cherokee or any other Indigenous people. The stories and poems she writes now reflect her mission to add to the canon of literature showing that Native Nations and their citizens still exist and thrive today.

Frane Lessac photo 2.8.10From Frané Lessac’s website: 

I grew up in a small town on top of the Palisades in New Jersey. From my bedroom window, I could see the famous skyscraper skyline of New York City. In the hot summer months I could hear the shrieks of people riding on the roller coaster at a nearby amusement park.

As a child, I always wanted to be an artist or a veterinarian. By the time I was eight years old I had cats, dogs, fish, snakes, and a pet monkey named Hercules that used to sit on my shoulder. Hercules stank and had fleas and my mom finally said “either you or that monkey has to go.” I spent many weekends in New York City browsing through museums and galleries. I liked to explore New York’s Greenwich Village with my green snakes entwined around my arm. I loved watching the painters wearing their black berets and the poets reciting verse with the audience snapping their fingers in approval.

My cousin was the great writer and optimist Norman Cousins. Our Thanksgiving dinners were like United Nations meetings. I was surrounded by people of many different cultures and since been drawn towards people from around the world.

At eighteen, I headed for film school in California. My aim: to eventually make films about ‘primitive’ tribes before they were swamped by western culture. I borrowed camera equipment and, given film, took off on the road to the southwest, documenting a rodeo team, a long distance trucker, and even the birth of a baby. Home was a beach house in Malibu furnished with the discarded furniture of movie stars. We had Flip Wilson’s lawn chairs and Barbra Streisand’s settee. I worked hard to help finance my studies. My jobs included running the projector at the local Malibu cinema, chauffeuring the residents of Beverly Hills, and fertilizing cactus with a silver spoon at a desert nursery.

I moved from California to the small Caribbean island of Montserrat. Stunned by its visual beauty, I concentrated on painting the old-style West Indian architecture and its people.

Wanting to publish a children’s picture book about Montserrat, I next moved to London to be closer to publishers. I approached thirty publishers before one finally accepted the idea and the book was released as The Little Island in the United Kingdom. Six months later, it was published in the United States as My Little Island.

My work has led me on many adventures in numerous countries. Traveling continues to be a major source of inspiration for my work as I render my impression of a country and its way of life in oil and gouache paintings. My greatest ambition is to instill pride and self-esteem in children about their unique heritage and their own ability to capture in it pictures and words.

 

Bird Count

Written by: Susan Edwards Richmond

Illustrated by: Stephanie Fizer Coleman

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Nature, STEM, Birds, Girls Outdoors, POC-Centric Narratives, Environmental Activism, Culture & Traditions, Friendship, Community Involvement.

Summary: We love this book for so many reasons!  The plot follows a real-life bird counting event that takes place all over the USA on Christmas Day.  Citizen Scientists count birds in their local area and report back what they’re found to team leads.  This helps get an accurate representation of bird populations in different areas.  The story follows Ava and her mother as they travel around their community with a friend named Big Al.

It’s really great to see the representation of girls outdoors, specifically a family of color!  Especially in the States, where we are inundated with Christmas (consumerism, religion, decor) it’s refreshing to have a book that briefly mentions the day that the Bird Count takes place, but there is no emphasis on the holiday itself.  There are plenty of people who don’t celebrate it, and having this option to be outdoors and help scientists count birds is a really fun alternative.  On each page as well, Ava keeps track of the birds she counts.  This helps introduce math and keeping a tally of objects counted to readers.  Throughout the book there are tips and descriptions of the birds, helping the reader become more familiar as well.  In the back there is a list of the birds featured in the book and an author’s note with more information about the Audubon Society’s annual bird count so you can be a Citizen Scientist too! Overall, we really enjoyed the book and are excited to be able to participate in our own Bird Count on day.

This book was sent to us by Peachtree as part of the Best Books of 2019 project.  All opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

WP_000308Susan Edwards Richmond is the author of the children’s picture book, Bird Count (Peachtree) about a child who becomes a Citizen Scientist for a day in her town’s Christmas Bird Count.  A passionate birder and naturalist, Susan teaches preschool on a farm and wildlife sanctuary in eastern Massachusetts.  She earned her M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of California, Davis, and is an award-winning poet with five collections of nature-based poetry for adults, including Before We Were Birds (Adastra Press) and Birding in Winter (Finishing Line Press). She is happiest exploring natural habitats with her husband and two daughters, and learns the native birds wherever she travels. Check out her website for a great Q&A!

bunny+7Stephanie Fizer Coleman is the illustrator for Bird Count.  Here is a blurb from her website to learn a little bit more about her!

“I’m an illustrator, designer and generally curious girl living in lovely but misunderstood West Virgina. I was lucky to grow up in a rural area, with a babbling brook and lush forest just a few feet from my back door; I find that the love of nature I developed as a child still influences my work today.

After seriously studying ballet and getting my BA in History, I found my true passion in illustrating and have been working as a freelance illustrator since 2008.

I work in Photoshop and Procreate and have developed a style of working that blends both digital and traditional elements.  I enjoy playing around with patterns, textures and brilliant colors in my work.  Animals are my favorite subjects to illustrate and I’m thrilled to be illustrating the kinds of books I would have loved when I was a little library-goer.

My client list includes Caterpillar Books, Hallmark, American Greetings, Clarion Books, HarperCollins, Charlesbridge, Peachtree, Highlights, Mudpuppy, Sellers Publishing, Millbrook Press, Design House Greetings, and Walker Books.

When I’m not tucked away in my studio working on a book, you’ll find me tending my vegetable garden, experimenting with new vegan recipes in the kitchen, or curled up with a book and a hot cup of tea.”

Under the bodhi tree, a Story of the Buddha

Written by: Deborah Hopkinson

Illustrated by: Kailey Whitman

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Buddhism, Historical Figure, Historical Fiction, Spirituality, Nature, Mindfulness.

Summary: In lyrical and flowing language, this book tells the story of a prince named Siddhartha.  He was born in India, and had a natural curiosity about the world around him.  Siddhartha’s father may have tried to shield him from the pain and suffering in the world by keeping Siddhartha behind place walls, but to no avail. When Siddhartha was finally allowed to leave the palace to attend a festival in town (orchestrated by his father) he snuck away and saw the real world-one that was not curated for his continued naiveté.  This experience made Siddhartha search for a way to set people free from suffering.  Thus, Siddhartha became the Buddha.  This is simplifying the plot obviously, for the sake of the review, but we suggest you check it out and see exactly how Siddhartha achieves this transformation.

Something really neat about this book is the way Hopkinson weaves in questions to the story, linking past and present.  The reader feels connected to this ancient story, and is drawn to introspection as a result.  Buddhism is one of East & Southeast Asia’s largest religions, and its approximately 470 million followers span the globe.  It’s so important to give people, especially young children, well-rounded and inclusive information about various religious practices.  This book (along with many others) is great for both a wonderful story and introductory information about the Buddha!

Reflection Questions:

  • Have you ever heard of Buddhism before reading this book?
  • There are lots of different religions in the world that people follow.
  • What seems interesting about Siddhartha?
  • Why do you think he felt he needed to become the Buddha?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Deborah_Hopkinson_2015_mediumDeborah Hopkinson has a masters degree in Asian Studies from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, where she studied the role of women in 13th-century Japanese Buddhism. She lived in Honolulu for 20 years and practiced Zen Buddhism with the late Roshi Robert Aitken, founder of the Diamond Sangha and Buddhist Peace Fellowship. She lives near Portland, Oregon, where she writes books for children and teens.

She is the author of more than 50 books for young readers including picture books, middle grade fiction, and nonfiction. At schools and conferences she helps bring history and research alive. Her work is well-suited for STEM, STEAM, and CCSS connections.

Forthcoming titles include D-DAY:The World War II Invasion that Changed History, What is the Women’s Rights Movement? and Under the Bodhi Tree. She also contributed to a young adult collection, Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All (Spring 2018). 

Deborah’s recent nonfiction includes DIVE! WWII Stories of Sailors and Submarines in the Pacific, named an Oregon Spirit Award Honor Book. Courage &  Defiance, Stories of Spies, Saboteurs and Survivors in WWII Denmark, won a 2017 Oregon Book Award, and Titanic: Voices from the Disaster, was a Robert F. Sibert Award honor book and YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction finalist.

Deborah’s picture books include Ordinary Extraordinary Jane AustenSky Boys, How They Built the Empire State Building, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor book and Apples to OregonFollow the Moon Home won the Green Earth Book Award, while Steamboat School was named winner of a Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. Deborah’s middle grade novel, A Bandit’s Tale was a recommended title for the Charlotte Huck Award.The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London,  the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel won the  OCTE Oregon Spirit Award.

Deborah received a B.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts and an M.A. in Asian Studies from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. She lives near Portland, OR with her family and a menagerie of pets. Her husband, Andy, is a winemaker and artist; her son, Dimitri, is a photographer and landscaper; her daughter, Rebekah, is a teacher and chalk artist, and her toddler grandson, Oliver, is simply extraordinary!

64288668_449377798943383_7869482119045578752_nKailey Whitman is a freelance illustrator. She likes to draw, drink coffee, and go outside, sometimes all at once.