March 19, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Emus, Insects, and War Horses | Elementary Nonfiction

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redstarBurgess, Matthew. Enormous Smallness: A Story of E. E. Cummings. illus. by Kris Di Giacomo. 64p. chron. Enchanted Lion. 2015. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781592701711.

Gr 3 Up –This enchanting picture book biography introduces children to the life and work of e.e. cummings, one of America’s most innovative poets. With a tree house in the city and a cabin by the woods in the country each summer, cummings grew up surrounded by family and nature, and his imagination soared. He began writing poetry from the age of three, which his mother recorded. Written in verse, the text is accessible and lends itself well to read-alouds. The book itself is a work of art, full of thick pages of whimsical, full-spread illustrations in a palette of grays, blues, browns, and greens. Burgess chronicles the poet’s childhood and early adulthood, beginning and ending in the Greenwich Village studio where he would spend nearly 40 years of his life. Several child-friendly poems, including “who are you, little i” and “in Just-,” are interwoven into the text (and appended). Pair with Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet’s Caldecott Honor title A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams (Eerdmans, 2008) for a unit on poetry. VERDICT A unique and inspiring introduction.–Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools

redstarJenkins, Steve & Robin Page. How to Swallow a Pig: Step-by-Step Advice from the Animal Kingdom. illus. by Steve Jenkins. 32p. bibliog. HMH. Sept. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544313651.

Gr 2-5 –Jenkins and Page team up once again for a glimpse into the animal kingdom. The authors outline 18 behaviors step by step, addressing readers directly as they explain how whales fish, wasps build nests, and grebes dance. Though the text is quite witty (“If you are a guy, start things off by offering a female grebe a gift of water plants”), some adults might wish for precautionary notes for the literal-minded, who might attempt to reenact instructions such as “Pop the millipede in your mouth.” Impressive torn-and-cut paper collage artwork on white backgrounds work well with the conversational writing style. Students will be enthralled by the descriptions of an octopus disguising itself, a crocodile hunting for a meal, and a python swallowing a pig. The book includes single-page treatments and spreads of each behavior, with numbered directions laid out clockwise. Back matter provides additional information about the animals, such as their sizes and native environments. VERDICT Jenkins and Page present another fascinating, fun, and attractive look at the natural world.–Lynn Vanca, Freelance Librarian, Akron, OH

redstarMinor, Wendell. Daylight Starlight Wildlife. illus. by Wendell Minor. 32p. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Bks. May 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399246623; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780698187696.

PreS-Gr 2 –This gorgeous picture book provides a look at animals that are active during the day (diurnal), those who come out at night (nocturnal), and a few that appear at sunrise or twilight (crepuscular). Minor relies on simple, lyrical text (“Speedy gray squirrel scurries all day in search of acorns to store for winter.”) and stunning, full-color paintings to share characteristics of each creature, as he takes readers from day to night and back again. Many of the critters will be familiar to children (rabbit, deer, skunk), while several are lesser known (opossum, flying squirrel, luna moth). The use of comparisons and contrasts will be especially helpful in classroom settings, but browsers will also be attracted by the appealing, realistic illustrations. There are two pages of “Fun Facts” appended, which include thumbnail illustrations of the 22 animals, along with some interesting additional information for the most curious. VERDICT This lovely title should find a spot in all collections and will likely inspire greater outdoor observation and appreciation.–Sara-Jo Lupo Sites, George F. Johnson Memorial Library, Endicott, NY

redstarSmith, Matthew Clark. Small Wonders: Jean-Henri Fabre and His World of Insects. illus. by Giuliano Ferri. 40p. chron. notes. Amazon/Two Lions. May 2015. Tr. $17.99. ISBN 9781477826324. LC 2014915911.

Gr 2-5 –This enchanting picture book biography examines the life and work of 19th-century French entomologist Jean-Henri Fabre. Fairy tale–like in tone, the first few pages will easily draw in children, as Smith describes the actions of an old hermit who was considered a local eccentric by those in his village for his habit of speaking to animals and collecting insects (“Whether he was a sorcerer, or simply a madman, no one could agree.”). The villagers were shocked, however, when Fabre received a visit from the president of France. Readers are then taken back in time to learn about Fabre’s childhood, education, and ever-present interest in the natural world, as well as his unconventional teaching and writings on insect behavior. Indeed, he often shocked fellow scientists with his bizarre findings. Smith’s engaging text conveys Fabre’s zeal for his subject, while Ferri’s gorgeously detailed watercolor and pencil illustrations of plant life and insects beg readers to stop and look both at the pages as well as at the natural world around them. Historical and author’s notes and a useful time line add further context. VERDICT A must-have.–Jennifer Wolf, Beaverton City Library, OR

redstarYoon, JooHee, ed. Beastly Verse. illus. by JooHee Yoon. 48p. Enchanted Lion. 2015. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781592701667.

K-Gr 4 –Yoon’s bold imagination is evidenced by her illustrations of these 16 animal-related poems by an eclectic group of writers including Lewis Carroll, D.H. Lawrence, and surrealist Robert Desnos. The verses vary from the nonsensical, such as Laura E. Richards’s “Eletelephony,” to the sublime, such as Walter de la Mare’s “Dream Song.” By combining printmaking, drawing, and digital techniques and relying upon three Pantone colors, Yoon has created a work of art, full of vibrant colors, striking patterns, and playful layouts. To capture William Blake’s “The Tiger,” for instance, Yoon uses a gatefold that reveals part of the tiger amid a background of wild forest ferns on each page, with the color scheme moving from greens to yellows, until the tiger’s head emerges, ablaze like the sun. VERDICT An excellent, innovative approach to poetry.–Teresa Pfeifer, The Springfield Renaissance School, Springfield, MA

The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue:

Aston, Dianna Hutts. A Nest Is Noisy. illus. by Sylvia Long. 40p. Chronicle. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781452127132. LC 2013047998.

Bandy, Michael S. & Eric Stein. Granddaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box. illus. by James E. Ransome. 32p. Candlewick. Jul. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763665937.

Barner, Bob. Sea Bones. illus. by Bob Barner. 32p. Chronicle. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781452125008.

Barr, Catherine & Steve Williams. The Story of Life: A First Book About Evolution. illus. by Amy Husband. 40p. chron. glossary. Frances Lincoln/Janetta Otter-Barry Bks. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781847804853.

Desmond, Jenni. The Blue Whale. illus. by Jenni Desmond. 48p. Enchanted Lion. May 2015. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781592701650.

Dobrow, Larry. Derek Jeter’s Ultimate Baseball Guide 2015. illus. by Damien Jones. 96p. chart. ebook available. photos. websites. S. & S./Little Simon. 2015. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781481423182.

Frankel, Erin. Nobody!: A Story About Overcoming Bullying in Schools. illus. by Paula Heaphy. 48p. Free Spirit. May 2015. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781575424958; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781575424965.

ENGLE, Margarita. The Sky Painter: Louis Fuertes, Bird Artist. illus. by Aliona Bereghici. 40p. Amazon/Two Lions. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781477826331.

Greenlaw, M. Jean. Inundación. ISBN 9781627242509. LC 2013044163.

Markovics, Joyce. Terremoto. ISBN 9781627242479. LC 2013044164.

––––. Tormenta De Nieve. ISBN 9781627242455. LC 2013044165.

––––. Tsunami. ISBN 9781627242486. LC 2013044161.

Rudolph, Jessica. Huracán. ISBN 9781 627242493. LC 2013044162.

––––. Tornado. ISBN 9781627242462. LC 2013044166.

ea vol: tr. from English by Eida Del Risco. Spanish ed. 24p. (¡Que Desastre!). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Bearport. 2015. lib. ed. $23.93.

Greenwood, Mark. Midnight: A True Story of Loyalty in World War I. illus. by Frané Lessac. 32p. Candlewick. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763674663.

Himmelman, John. Noisy Bird Sing-Along. illus. by John Himmelman. 32p. (The Noisy Sing-Along). further reading. Dawn. 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781584695134. LC 2014031421.

Hocker, Katherine & Mary Willson. The Singer in the Stream: A Story of American Dippers. illus. by Katherine Hocker. 32p. glossary. maps. photos. Yosemite Conservancy. 2015. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9781930238565. LC 2014942546.

Hoffman, Mary. The Great Big Green Book. illus. by Ros Asquith. 36p. glossary. websites. Frances Lincoln/Janetta Otter-Barry Bks. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781847804457.

Kostecki-Shaw, Jenny Sue. Luna & Me: The True Story of Girl Who Lived in a Tree to Save a Forest. illus. by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw. 40p. photos. Holt. May 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805099768.

Kudlinski, Kathleen V. Boy, Were We Wrong About the Weather! illus. by Sebastià Serra. 32p. chron. websites. Dial. Jul. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780803737938. LC 2014019185.

Manning, Mick & Brita Granström. Wild Adventures: Look, Make, Explore—In Nature’s Playground. illus. by Mick Manning & Brita Granström. 48p. glossary. Frances Lincoln/Janetta Otter-Barry Bks. 2015. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781847804365.

Markovics, Joyce. Las mariposas monarca. ISBN 9781627244589. LC 2014019668.

––––. Las ranas de la madera. ISBN 9781627244619. LC 2014019670.

––––. Los pequeños murciélagos café. ISBN 9781627244572. LC 2014019671.

Sawyer, J. Clark. Las ardillas de tierra de trece franjas. ISBN 9781627244596. LC 2014019638.

––––. Las golondrinas comunes. ISBN 9781627244565. LC 2014019673.

––––. Las serpientes de cascabel de bandas. ISBN 9781627244602. LC 2014019669.

ea vol: tr. from English by Eida Del Risco. Spanish ed. 24p. (¿A dónde van en invierno?). index. further reading. maps. photos. websites. Bearport. 2014. lib. ed. $23.93.

Meyer, Eileen R. Sweet Dreams, Wild Animals!: A Story of Sleep. illus. by Laurie Caple. 32p. Mountain. 2015. Tr $12. ISBN 9780878426379. LC 2014037551.

Paschkis, Julie. Flutter & Hum: Animal Poems/Aleteo y zumba: Poemas de animales. illus. by Julie Paschkis. 32p. Holt. Aug. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781627791038. BL

Rabe, Tish. Out of Sight Till Tonight!: All About Nocturnal Animals. illus. by Aristides Ruiz & Joe Mathieu. 48p. (The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library). further reading. glossary. index. Random. 2015. lib. ed. $13.99. ISBN 9780375970764; Tr $9.99. ISBN 9780375870767.

Saxby, Claire. Emu. illus. by Graham Byrne. 32p. index. Candlewick. 2015. Tr. $16.99. ISBN 9780763674793. LC 2013957348.

Stewart, Melissa. A Place for Birds. illus. by Higgins Bond. 32p. bibliog. further reading. maps. Peachtree. 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781561458394; pap. $7.95. ISBN 9781561458400. LC 2008036744.

This article was published in School Library Journal's May 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.