Hopping into Summer with The Hidden Life of a Toad

Let’s take a look at the new picture book The Hidden Life of a Toad by biologist and photographer Doug Wechsler.

Many books feature what we commonly call frogs, but hardly any concentrate on their less colorful, bumpy cousins the toads. The Hidden Life of a Toad brings some well-deserved attention to these fascinating creatures.

In addition to filling a neglected niche, the book has a great deal more going for it. First of all, Wechsler went to great lengths to capture high quality images of every step in the toad life cycle, and his photographs are stellar. He waded into water, spent nights in the woods, and brought toad eggs home to watch in a tank. You can read about what he did to take the photos in the back matter.

Next, as a biologist, his facts are impeccable. Back matter is filled with supplemental information, including a glossary, toad facts, and suggestions for helping toads. It is sure to inspire future toad biologists to want to learn more.

Finally, what is even better is that he has studied children’s literature and his writing is spot on, too. It is full of lively verbs:

One embryo wiggles.
It wriggles.
It jiggles about.

The Hidden Life of a Toad delivers all you can ask for in nonfiction and more. Share it with a young reader today.

Related:
See Growing with Science blog for related activity suggestions.

Visit our growing list of children’s books about frogs and toads.

Similar review previously published on Nonfiction Monday blog.

Disclosure: This book was supplied by my local library. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Reaching New Heights in #Kidlit If You Were the Moon by @LauraPSalas

Laura Purdie Salas has long been one of our favorite authors (see previous reviews for Water Can Be… and A Leaf Can Be…) In her newest, If You Were the Moon* illustrated by Jaime Kim, Salas reaches new heights.

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Combining spare, imaginative text with denser scientific explanations, this book has potential for a multitude of uses. It can be a lovely bedtime book, the basis for a language arts lesson, or a great accompaniment to a lesson on the solar system.

Salas must inspire her illustrators to greatness, because Jaime Kim’s art positively shines.

If You Were the Moon is a must have for budding astronomers and poets everywhere.

See for yourself in this book trailer:

Related Activities:

1. Visit Laurie Purdie Salas’s website for downloadable teaching guides (long and short versions) and other goodies.

2. In the longer teaching guide, the author reveals that If You Were the Moon began as a list poem. Some of the earliest list poems were by Sei Shonogan, a Japanese writer/poet who lived around the year 1000. Here’s an example from The Pillow Book:

Things that Pass by Rapidly

A boat with its sail up.
People’s age.
Spring. Summer. Autumn. Winter.
~ Sei Shonogan

My own example (see more here):

Things my cat George likes:
Rubbing faces when he gets up in the morning
A dropped Cheerio
The top of the cat-scratching post
Chasing ping-pong balls down the stairs
Things I like:
My cat George

Encourage children to try writing a list poem.

3. See our growing list of poetry books about space at Science Books for Kids.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Millbrook Press (March 1, 2017)
ISBN-10: 146778009X
ISBN-13: 978-1467780094

Time to Celebrate #PoemInYourPocketDay

What poem is your pocket today?

Mine is

Allowables

by Nikki Giovanni

I killed a spider
Not a murderous brown recluse
Nor even a black widow
And if the truth were told this
Was only a small
Sort of papery spider
Who should have run
When I picked up the book
But she didn’t
And she scared me
And I smashed her

I don’t think
I’m allowed

To kill something

Because I am

Frightened

#Kidlit for #PoetryMonth: Feel the Beat

This week we have another new picture book for National Poetry Month, Feel the Beat: Dance Poems that Zing from Salsa to Swing by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Kristi Valiant.

You can tell from the title right off the bat this is going to be a fun and upbeat book.Who doesn’t like to dance? But Feel the Beat is also full of surprises.

First of all, we expect poems to have a distinct rhythm. Prolific author Marilyn Singer takes things a “step” further and incorporates the unique rhythm of each dance she is highlighting into the poem about it. Wow!

For example, for the salsa:

“Our teacher says, “First…
Feel the beat
in your feet
in your heart
Then you start.

Even better, the copy I found at the library has a CD in the back with the poems read by Singer set to appropriate music for each dance. What a treasure!

The illustrations are fabulous. They are so energetic that they bounce off the page. Each captures the flavor of the dance it portrays without being too busy or visually overwhelming.

Do you want to use the book to teach about different cultures? There are historical and cultural notes about each dance in the back matter.

You’ll want to pick up Feel The Beat for Poetry Month and then enjoy it throughout the year.

Related Activity:

Listen to the CD. Have children choose a dance style and write their own poem to the beat.

Age Range: 5 – 8 years
Publisher: Dial Books; Rei/Com edition (March 7, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0803740212
ISBN-13: 978-0803740211

Disclosure: This book was supplied by my local library. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

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Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.