August 15, 2017

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An Antidote for the Winter Blues | SLJ Spotlight on Nonfiction

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Cold, blustery days got elementary students down? These spring-related titles are just the ticket to get kids energized for longer and warmer days ahead. Jacqueline Briggs Martin’s Creekfinding: A True Story is dedicated to the caretakers of the earth; Shelley Rotner’s Hello Spring introduces little ones to the season; and Libby Walden’s Things That Grow investigates the transformational power of nature.

Martin, Jacqueline Briggs. Creekfinding: A True Story. illus. by Claudia McGehee. 36p. University of Minnesota. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780816698028.

NF-SPOT-Martin-CreekfindingGr 1-3 –Dedicated to “those who take care of our green places,” this true account of how native Iowan Michael Osterholm “found” and restored a lost creek teaches children about ecosystems, problem-solving, and determination. When a neighbor told Osterholm that he once caught a brook trout in Osterholm’s newly acquired cornfield, a dream was born. (“Mike knew there must have been a creek on that prairie. He wanted to find the creek, make a place for brook trout, birds, bugs, and frogs…. Others laughed, said Mike’s plan was foolishness. Lost is lost.”) With a little help from his friends and some heavy machines, he located the bottom of the creek and cleared its path. But Osterholm’s dream required both hard work and patience—he planted grass and green shoots on the banks and waited three summers for them to grow. Gradually plants grew, and insects and small fish appeared. Finally, it was time to introduce the trout. McGehee traveled to the actual site to witness the water and wildlife firsthand before producing her stunning illustrations. (“I wanted to re-create the textures and colors I saw, so readers could ‘walk’ alongside Brook Creek as they learned about its restoration.”) The text is broken up with chapter headings, such as “Trout in a Cornfield” and “Fish Squiggles,” and small, italicized sidebars in blades of grass or streams of water provide additional information. VERDICT Eloquent narrative nonfiction to inspire the future caretakers of our planet.–Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools

Rotner, Shelley. Hello Spring! photos by Shelley Rotner. 32p. glossary. Holiday House. Feb. 2017. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780823437528

NF-SPOT-Rotner-HelloSpring!PreS-Gr 2 –A joyous and simple ode to spring and all its glory. Winter is over, and flora and fauna are waking up with the arrival of spring. (“Birds return with song, busy building nests and laying eggs. Daffodils dance. Dandelions dot. Forsythia shouts!”) Large color photographs of nature and a diverse array of children enjoying the spring season accompany the spare, poetic text. Young readers will appreciate seeing children their own age interacting with nature and will glean spring-related facts and vocabulary along the way. A glossary with highly accessible definitions is included. VERDICT A vibrant, welcome addition to school and public library collections, this title introduces all that the spring season has to offer for preschoolers.–Megan ­Kilgallen, Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn

Walden, Libby. Things That Grow. illus. by Becca Stadtlander. 76p. Tiger Tales/360 Degrees. Mar. 2017. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9781944530051.

NF-SPOT-Walden-ThingsThatGrowGr 2-5 –This beautifully illustrated small-format book investigates various types of growth in nature. The text starts with plant life, followed by animals and, finally, the universe. Each spread within a section examines different types of growth, from the very typical seed-to-plant sequence to more unique examples, such as the axolotl lizard’s life cycle. Human evolution is discussed briefly as well, but there is little information beyond the explanation that people have evolved. The visuals are well tailored to reflect the text and are welcoming and detailed. The content is presented in a conversational tone, and the browsable facts are accessible for even young readers. VERDICT Kids interested in the natural world will devour this quiet but fascinating selection.­–Ellen Norton, Naperville Public Library, IL

Della Farrell About Della Farrell

Della Farrell is an Assistant Editor at School Library Journal and Editor of Series Made Simple

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