Tag Archives: nature

Obsessive About Octopuses [released 4/7]

Written & Illustrated by: Owen Davey

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM, Ocean Creatures, Octopuses, Nature, Natural World, Conservation.

Summary: 

Folx, I’m not sure that I can adequately express how excited I am for this particular book to come out.  If you’ve been following our book reviews for a bit (which first of all, THANK YOU!) you will know what fans we are of this entire series by Owen Davey.  I honestly can’t choose my favorite one, and let’s be real it varies by the day and if I’ve seen a cool bug recently.  But this, THIS one…might be the best.  I know, big statement.  Let’s discuss!

I LOVE octopuses, and the ocean in general.  I have a half sleeve tattoo of the ocean, including several creatures (that all have names) but the first critter I got tattooed was an orange octopus named Hector.  Needless to say, I’m stoked to learn even more about this incredible animal that makes its home in all depths of the ocean. In this book is a plethora of information about intelligence, their diets, mimicry, and conservation.  I’m obsessed with the bright graphics and have been known to read it out loud to people at home (whether they were in the mood for a story or not) while excitedly pointing at illustrations.  Seriously, get your hands on a copy of this immediately and let’s talk.

This book was sent to us by Flying Eye, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & Illustrator:

owen-2-2Owen Davey is an award-winning Illustrator, living & working in Leicester, UK. He has a First Class BA(Hons) Degree in Illustration from Falmouth University. Davey is a primary Illustrator for TwoDotswhich has been #1 in over 70 countries, as well as the illustrator of iPad App of the Year 2015 game, The Robot Factory.  His work has been published in every continent except Antarctica, including picture books in UK, America, Australia, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Portugal, China, Sweden, Russia & South Korea!

Lilah Tov Good Night

Written by: Ben Gundersheimer (Mister G)

Illustrated by: Noar Lee Naggan

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English and some Hebrew

Topics Covered: Refugee, Growing Up, Lullaby, Family, Nature, Love, Social-Emotional Learning, 

Summary: 

This is a very sweet book that delicately explains the refugee experience of a family in a lullaby style.  A young girl happily plays outside and then eats dinner with her family, a shiny menorah on their windowsill.  When night falls, the foursome set off walking into the forest.  The young girl says goodnight, “Lilah Tov” to the animals she sees on their walk, bundled up in the snowy weather.  She is shown happy and smiling for the entire book, optimistic and reverent of the natural world surrounding her.

While this is one refugee experience represented, it is not so detailed that it couldn’t be used to generally explain the big picture concept of the refugee experience to young readers.  The book itself is beautiful, and the main character is thrilled to wish all things, creatures and non, a good night.  The majority of the family’s travel takes place at night, including a long boat ride underneath a large starry sky.  This would be a great story for people looking to introduce these lived experiences to younger audiences, or before reading other books that have more violent aspects for fleeing. Four Feet, Two Sandals; My Name is Sangoel, and The Banana Leaf Ball are all books that would fall under this second category. All in all, we enjoyed this book very much and would be happy to have it on any bookshelf we encountered.

This book was generously sent by the author, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Ben7833-800-x-534It’s hard to say which has been more of a driving force for Ben Gundersheimer: music or storytelling. Throughout his career the two crafts have intertwined, propelling him as a performer and author. By age nine he was writing his own original songs, and as the son of children’s book author/illustrator Karen Gundersheimer, composing stories was a constant activity as well.

Ben went on to receive a scholarship from Berklee College of Music, travel the world as a singer/songwriter, and earn a Masters of Education. During his student teaching days he engaged his fourth graders through music, and it was this experience that transformed him into MISTER G, inspiring him to relaunch his career to focus on performing for children and families.

A decade later, the Latin GRAMMY Award-winning musician, activist, author and educator, is still fusing music and storytelling. The latest permutation of these two interwoven passions is as a picture book author, with two new books based on his original, multilingual songs. Señorita Mariposa chronicles the extraordinary migration of the monarch butterflies from Canada to Mexico, while Lilah Tov Good Night is a lyrical lullaby celebrating the beauty of the natural world and the spirit of resilience in a refugee family.

From illustrator Noar Lee Naggan’s website: “Hi! I’m an illustrator living in New York, chiefly interested in children’s books. I also have a great passion to tell stories, and do it through my illustrations. I aspire to one day write my own books and illustrate them.

I was born in Israel and graduated from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. I previously worked mostly in animation and graphic design with major companies in Israel, but several years ago I found my calling in illustration and I never looked back.”

The Vast Wonder of the World (Biologist Ernest Everett Just)

Written by: Mélina Mangal

Illustrated by: Luisa Uribe

For ages: 5 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM, Black Culture & Identity, Scientists, Historical Figure, Outdoors, Natural World, Trailblazers, Curiosity, Education, Racism. 

Summary: 

In 1911, Ernest was a scientist in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.  Woods Hole is on Cape Cod, and still a massive town for oceanic research today!  Ernest was gifted at caring for the creatures he took from the ocean, when others weren’t so careful, and Ernest was gifted at seeing the whole picture instead of just the tiny piece he was currently researching.  Ernest was especially gifted at studying how life begins from an egg, and became the entire world’s leading authority!

Ernest loved reading, but as a child had to relearn to read all over again after he contracted typhoid fever.  He observed everything around him, especially the natural world.  Ernest left the segregated South for boarding school, but when his mother died he didn’t know how to cope, so he just studied harder.  When he took a biology class in college, his entire world opened up and his lifelong fascination with cells began.  Ernest became a professor and taught his students to care for both the organisms they studied and their scientific instruments, to be kind and to observe as much as possible.  When he showed that the egg was just as important as the sperm in creating new life, he became world-famous and often worked in Europe where he was treated better.  He eventually moved with his family to France and became an independent researcher.

This book’s storyline is gorgeous, and the illustrations stunning. The story addresses both science and the systemic racism and oppression that Ernest faced because he was Black, despite being one of the most talented and intelligent biologists in the country.  In the back there is a lengthy Author’s note with a photo of Ernest, and timeline of his life, detailed information about his scientific work, and some quotes by Ernest himself.  This is a beautiful book and we are glad we found this to learn about someone new in the scientific world that worked for so many years nearby where we live!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

melina-mangalMélina Mangal loves being outdoors! From her website: “My earliest memories begin near the shores of Lake Superior, climbing trees, collecting rocks, and listening to birds. I love writing about nature and its place in young people’s lives.  Stories from faraway times and places have always captured my imagination as well.  I like to imagine what life was like as I walk along the river, or visit an historical site.  I work as an elementary school librarian, introducing students to great books, the exciting research process, and new technology.”

image-asset-4Luisa Uribe is an illustrator “living in Bogotá, Colombia. I love children’s books but venture into other fields from time to time. My favorite activities in no particular order are drawing, reading and chasing the cat around the house.”

Treasure

Written by: Mireille Messier

Illustrated by: Irene Luxbacher

For ages: 3-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Imagination, Siblings, Growing Up, Nature, Natural World, Appreciation, Lived Experiences.

Summary: 

This book is adorable! The tale starts with two siblings taking a walk through the woods near their home, looking for a treasure.  There are few words in the book, but they are all the conversation between the two.  Something helpful about the book is that one sibling’s words are bolded and one is not, making it easy to keep track of who is speaking.  The younger of the two find all sorts of natural objects like feathers, acorns, and milkweed pods, but is told that isn’t the treasure.  Eventually, the pair come upon what they are looking for but it won’t fit in their pockets!

The illustrations in this book are absolutely gorgeous!  With so few words, the illustrations do much of the storytelling and Luxbacher has created a magical wonderland of small details for the reader to discover while flipping through the pages.  The woodland scenes are filled with tiny critters and splendid floral illustrations, making every design element a joy to discover.  We love the message of treasure being intangible, and the excitement of the journey is part of the beauty itself.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

mireille_messierMireille Messier is a Montreal-born, Ottawa-raised and now Toronto-based children’s writer with a background in broadcasting and theater. Before becoming an author, Mireille worked as a television and radio host, a director, a researcher, a book reviewer and a voice actress. Sometimes, she still does those things, too. One of her first “literary” jobs was writing jokes for the bottom of pudding lids!

Since the launch of her first book in 2003, Mireille has published over twenty books. When she’s not at her computer writing, she thinks up new stories while she walks, drives or sails her big old boat.

Mireille loves doing author visits. On average, she meets about three thousand kids a year … give or take a thousand. Some of the funniest questions she has been asked by students are: “Do you dream in French?” (Yes!), “How many minutes does it take you to write a book?” (About a million!) and “Are any of the characters in your books real?” (Yes, they are often different versions of me and the people I know).

Mireille lives in Toronto with her husband, two wonderful teenage daughters and two extremely fluffy cats.

irene_luxbacherIrene Luxbacher graduated from Queen’s University in 1992 with a degree in Art History before studying at the Emily Carr College of Art and Design in Vancouver, British Columbia. Since returning to Toronto in 1994, Irene has exhibited her work while teaching art at the Avenue Road Arts School and consulting at the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Learning Through the Arts Program. In 2002 and 2003, Irene curated several well-received children’s art exhibits at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and BCE Place on behalf of Arts for Children of Toronto, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds and awareness of the value of art education. Irene is the author and illustrator of The Jumbo Book of Art, which won the 2003 National Parenting Publication Award, and The Jumbo Book of Outdoor Art. Her latest project for Kids Can Press is the Starting Art series, which includes the titles 123 I Can Paint! and 123 I Can Draw!

Hike [released 3/17]

Written & Illustrated by: Pete Oswald

For ages: any

Language: English, but there are very few words in this book!

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Outdoors, Gender Neutral Stories, Family, Traditions, Nature, Environmental Activism. 

Summary: 

Hike is a beautiful wordless adventure between father and child outdoors! This adorable story is one of genuine excitement at spending the day outdoors, and the child remains ungendered throughout the entire story (which we adore).  The pair traverse over logs, take photos, and admire birds.  I also love that the pair pictured aren’t white, it’s so rare we see books that focus on the outdoors with just characters of color! As the story continues, the read finds out exactly why the pair is making the hike.

The captivating illustrations by Pete Oswald convey emotion, movement, and reads like a comic book in places with several smaller vignette’s on some pages, giving context for the pair’s long and winding journey.  There is even a short note about the family tradition the two are fulfilling, and it is one that we would love to integrate into our own family as well.  It’s wonderful to have more stories about families that venerate nature and the outdoors, and are excited to spend time together.  Hike is released on 3/17, just in time to inspire spring adventures!

This book was kindly sent to us by Candlewick Press, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

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Pete Oswald is a #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator and an Annie Award-nominated animation production designer best known for The Angry Birds Movie film franchise and Oscar® Nominated ParaNorman, in addition to multiple animated studio films. He is also known for his work as a children’s book author and illustrator, and painter. Pete’s work includes the #1 New York Times bestselling picture book, The Good Egg, and the #2 New York Times bestselling picture book, The Bad Seed, both written by Jory John.

Firu’s Forest

Written by: J. Leigh Shelton

Illustrated by: Danica Jokic

For ages: 5-10 years old

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Friendship, Social-Emotional Growth, Nature, Natural World. 

Summary: This book is a collection of 3 stories, connected by cameos and the rainforest.

The first story is about a boy named Sebastian, who lives with his grandmother and loves bananas very much.  He plants a banana plant and when his grandmother asks if he plans on sharing the bananas, Sebastian assures her he won’t be able to because he will eat all of them.  Once the tree starts producing fruit and Sebastian makes a new friend, will he be able to stick to his word and decide not to share?

The second story is about two cats, one very friendly and one very scared.  The black cat is extremely cautious, because it had been hurt before.  The two cat friends discuss what it means to be fulfilled in life, and how to be like the smiling sloth even through hardship.  Can the black cat let go of the past and make new friendships?

The third story is about a dog, the titular character Firu.  Firu has the honor of his fur being used to help build a hummingbird nest, thus beginning a close friendship with the tiny egg and subsequently tiny bird that hatches out of it.

These three stories are woven together by both the rainforest setting and the social-emotional growth of the characters that takes place within the stories. What I also like about the three stories in one book is that it allows for conversations with a group about the intertwined storylines, and inferencing about how else the characters might know each other outside of the stories.  The illustrations are beautiful, and we enjoyed the longer text.  The stories are a bit longer than typical picture books, which enabled the reader to know the characters better by the end of the story.  This book could also be used to talk about the environment, preservation, and why we need to be conscientious of how to treat others.

This book was generously sent to us by the author, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

0J. Leigh Shelton is the author of Firu’s Forest and a freelance writer living in Florida.

 

 

 

 

20181030154329643Danica Jokic is the illustrator of Firu’s Forest! She also lives in Florida. 

 

 

 

 

Arthur and the Golden Rope [Feb 4 2020]

Written & Illustrated by: Joe Todd-Stanton 

For ages: 5-9 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Adventure, Mythology, Natural World, Supernatural, Magic.

Summary: This is one of the Brownstone’s Mythical Collection books, and we really like the way that it’s set up like a comic book.  Arthur is a young boy with a penchant for strange objects and spends a lot of time in the forest or on adventures to collect things.

One day he’s in the forest when a gigantic black wolf rampages through the village, extinguishing the magical fire that is needed to keep everything from freezing solid.  Since Arthur wasn’t in the village, he wasn’t injured during the attack and is the only one who can make the journey to visit Thor and relight the flame, saving the village.  Arthur must use his wits and collection of items to prove to the villagers that he is more than just a wandering meddler in forest affairs, before everything freezes solid!

This book is really cute, and can help kids with problem-solving skills.  It’s fun to track Arthur through the illustration panels when he’s traversing an adventurous landscape.  Arthur is a character that we can relate to, he’s not bothered by people thinking he’s weird for liking to spend time in the woods or collect unique objects…both of these we enjoy as well!

This book was generously sent to us by Flying Eye books for review. All opinions are our own!  This softcover book will be released on February 4th, (the hardcover has been out for awhile) and we are very grateful that we were able to receive it early.

About the Author & Illustrator:

Headshot_BW_croppedJoe Todd-Stanton grew up in Brighton and studied at UWE Bristol, receiving a first class degree in Illustration. Joe has been commissioned to work for clients such as Oxford University Press, Usborne Publishing and Aquila magazine.

To find out a little more about his work, Flying Eye asked Joe the following questions:

What inspires your work?
I normally find inspiration through reading or conversations. It’s rare that I get a fully-formed image in my mind but I will read about something strange that interests me and I will research it to see if anything grabs my attention. Normally by the time I have finished the work it has complete changed from the thing that influenced it but I think that is what makes it interesting.

Tell us a bit about your process…

I try and keep plenty of sketch books and fill them up with weird characters and life drawings so when it comes to making an actual piece of work or commission I already should have a few relevant drawings and I’m not just starting from scratch. Once I have a finished drawing I use Photoshop to colour and tweak things around.