Ninja Mouse: Haiku

Quietly, stealthily Ninja Mouse: Haiku, written and illustrated by J. C. Thomas, creeps into your heart.

It isn’t easy to know what to expect when you see the cover of this book. The fierce mouse in the ninja garb and the comic book/graphic novel illustrations might lead the potential reader to believe this will be an action-packed story full of conflict and violence. Instead it is an almost silent journey of discovery, beautifully delivered entirely in haiku.

The illustrations in this book are inspiring. There’s something about dignity of the mouse, set against nature scenes, the dark versus light, and the splashes of color that are mesmerizing. Each two-page spread consists of the left-hand page divided into thirds, with the haiku text spread throughout. The right-hand page is a full scene with the Japanese text down the right side.

The book trailer gives a taste.

Author J.C. Thomas has a degree in International Relations and East Asia studies and he is currently an elementary school teacher. He is also a sixth-degree black belt in Taekwondo. This combination assures that the book is authentic, detailed, and useful for the classroom. There is a note about haiku in the back that explains how it differs in Japanese.

Ninja Mouse:  Haiku would be perfect for poetry month and to accompany a unit on haiku, especially for reluctant readers who might be drawn in by ninjas and comics. It would also be a wonderful accompaniment for a unit on Japan and East Asia studies.

Suggested related activity:

This book is so inspiring, it begs to be accompanied by an activity for children to create haiku and then illustrate it. For example, Scholastic has a haiku lesson plan. The Exploring Nature Educational Resource has a number of drawing lessons, like this one for a grasshopper.  Please feel free to leave other suggestions in the comments, if you choose.

Paperback: 40 pages
Publisher: SuperUltraGo! Press (October 16, 2014)
Language: English and Japanese
ISBN-10: 099132403X
ISBN-13: 978-0991324033

Disclosures:  This book was supplied by the author for review purposes. 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 not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

 

Posted in Books for Exploring World Languages, Japanese, Multicultural Books, Poetry | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Hands-On Science Finalist: The Kid’s Guide to Exploring Nature

A few weeks ago the AAAS/SubaruSB&F announced their 2015 finalists for the Prize for Excellence in Science Books and it is a wonderful list. For example, in the Hands-on Science Book category, one of the finalists is The Kid’s Guide to Exploring Nature (BBG Guides for a Greener Planet) by no less than a team of educators from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and illustrated by László Veres.

What an exciting book for young nature lovers and scientists alike! It has fabulous photographs and illustrations to help identify common plants, animals, and fungi, as well as activities, descriptions of common careers held by naturalists, and explorations of different habitats.

The Kid’s Guide to Exploring Nature is organized by season, with activities, career summaries and habitat information for each (you can see a table of contents here.) This organization allows readers to skim and skip to sections that interest them most.

In addition, László Veres’ digital illustrations are just amazing. You could spend hours delving into them and still find more the next time you look. They would be perfect seek-and-find pages for younger children.

Is there any down side? I have to admit that growing up in western New York, I recognized many of the wildflowers, wildlife and weeds that were described, for example:

plaintain-plant-44broadleaf plantain…

pokeweed-fruit-11and pokeweed.

However, I do have to say many of the plants and animals featured are not found throughout North America. After having moved to Arizona, it has become evident that many nature books for kids are incredibly East Coast-centric. Because this book was written by the staff of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, that is understandable since they write about what they know. Fortunately most of the activities, such as keeping a nature journal or creating a boat from natural materials, can be done anywhere. If you live on the West Coast, just be prepared to substitute information about local species from local field guides in some sections.

The Kid’s Guide to Exploring Nature is a wonderful book that is likely to inspire budding naturalists and scientists to learn more about their world and to observe closely. It is also an incredible resource for nature educators.

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Hardcover: 120 pages
Publisher: Brooklyn Botanic Garden (August 5, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1889538884
ISBN-13: 978-1889538884

Disclosure: Book provided by my local library. 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 not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

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Posted in Middle Grade Nonfiction, Nonfiction, Nonfiction Monday Review, Science | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Conflict Resolution and The Olive Tree

In the new picture book, The Olive Tree by Elsa Marston and illustrated by Claire Ewart, the main characters are having trouble sharing the fruit of an olive tree. Will they learn to resolve their differences?

Sameer had long enjoyed climbing in the old olive tree and gathering the fruit, although the tree technically was in the neighbors’ yard. The house next door has been empty for a long time, but now the neighbors are moving back in.  Although he would like to get to know their daughter, who is named Muna, she does not greet him. In fact, when Sameer starts to gather the olives that have fallen in his yard, as he has done so many times before, Muna gets angry and tells him to stop because the tree belongs to her family.

Set in Lebanon against the backdrop of a recent war, the story helps guide children through the process of resolving their conflicts. After Sameer and Muna’s initial differences about who should own what drive them apart, the two children learn their shared experiences may be more important and extensive than they first thought.

Elsa Marston studied Middle Eastern history and has traveled extensively in the Middle East. This background allows her to realistically capture subtle details of setting that others with less experience might overlook, such as the fact Sameer’s mother processes the olives in jars with salt and lemon. At the same time, Claire Ewart’s vibrant watercolors are awash with bright sunlight, giving the feeling of actually being in the Middle East, which you can see in this trailer for the book:

Being able to find common ground and to forgive someone for past disagreements are important skills for children to learn. The Olive Tree is a gentle, delightful book that helps bring this message to light and might bring some understanding of how arguments can arise, as well as how to begin to mend relationships. It would also be useful for children who are learning about the Middle East.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 2
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Wisdom Tales (November 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1937786293
ISBN-13: 978-1937786298

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Disclosures:  This book was supplied by the publisher for review purposes. 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 not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

 

 

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Award -Winning New Picture Book: Animal Teachers

Author Janet Halfmann, long a favorite here at Wrapped in Foil,  has a lovely new nonfiction picture book out:  Animal Teachers, illustrated by Katy Hudson.

Have you ever wondered how nonhuman animals learn things like what to eat, how to drink, and how to stay dry? Are they born knowing or does someone teach them?

This fabulous picture book describes several examples of  parents teaching their offspring. Some of the examples in the book will probably surprise you. Did you know that baby elephants need to be taught to drink or that baby otters might need lessons in swimming?

The book is written in what could be described as a “reverse Q & A,” because in each two-page spread Janet tells about what a baby animal learns from its parents and then asks a few questions of the child reader relating to that topic. The conversational tone is a wonderful way to engage the reader and leads to much deeper discussions of the topics.

At the end are two pages of additional bullet point facts about the animals featured in the text. These are just the kind of facts that young readers absorb like sponges and then “teach” to their classmates.

Katy Hudson’s delightful illustrations are filled with color and action. You can feel the cheetah running across the plains and the mother bear getting splashed with cold water as it scoops up a fish. You want to reach out and touch the soft little chicks. Even the end papers are filled with colorful nature scenes.

You will definitely want to share this fascinating and sweet book with the animal lovers in your family. It would also be a fantastic resource for the classroom, allowing students to discover new things about animals and learning. It is likely to generate some lively discussions.

Animal Teachers has been nominated in the 2014 Cybils elementary/middle grade nonfiction category and has already won the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio 2014 Gold Best award.

Cybils-Logo-2014-Round-Sm1See Growing With Science for related information and activity suggestions.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 3
Hardcover: 36 pages
Publisher: Blue Apple Books (September 2, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1609053915
ISBN-13: 978-1609053918

Disclosures: These book were provided by the author for review purposes. 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 not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

 

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

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Posted in Animals, Nonfiction, Nonfiction Monday Review, Picture book- nonfiction, STEM Friday | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Cybils Nonfiction 2014: Chasing Cheetahs

What list of children’s nonfiction books is complete without a few titles from the venerable Scientists in the Field series? Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa’s Fastest Cat (Scientists in the Field Series), by the Sibert award winning duo Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop, is a nominee for the 2014 Cybils Award.

Chasing Cheetahs follows Dr. Lauren Marker and her colleagues and students as they work with cheetahs in Namibia. Sadly, the numbers of cheetahs have fallen from 100,000 in 1900 to fewer than 10,000 now. To help spread the word and to do something concrete to prevent cheetahs from going extinct, Dr. Marker has started the Cheetah Conservation Fund. This organization not only rescues injured and orphaned cheetahs, but also helps educate and work with the local farmers who are the most consistent threat to cheetah survival.

It becomes apparent that Dr. Marker is a special person when she talks to a farmer who has killed a mother cheetah, leaving orphaned babies. Instead of being angry or blaming, she asks him questions about why he killed the cheetah. The insights she gains allows her to help the farmers solve their problems and at the same time helps cheetahs. She begins training and donating special dogs that protect the farmers’ goats and encourage cheetahs to feed on the native wildlife that is their natural food, an innovative solution.

Sy Montgomery does a wonderful job of drawing the reader in and making the story compelling by adding mysteries, such as the activities of an elusive cheetah called Hi-Fi. Nic Bishop’s photographs are fabulous, as always, capturing the beauty of the animals and the people who care about them.

The best part about the Scientists in the Field series is that it reveals the less glamorous side of science. In Chasing Cheetahs, the scientists collect cheetah poop and spend many hours in the lab analyzing it. Science isn’t all photo ops with gorgeous cheetahs!

The only thing that might have improved this particular book would have been an interview with one of the Namibian farmers, just for a bit of balance and to give the local perspective. The authors do visit a local classroom in the last chapter to show that the attitudes of the children are changing with exposure to new ideas.

Chasing Cheetahs is likely to inspire budding conservationists to do their bit to help conserve animals. As Dr. Marker says in her advice for saving the world at the end, “Don’t wait for ‘somebody’ to do it.” Each of us must act if endangered animals like the cheetah are to be saved from extinction.

Age Range: 10 – 14 years
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (April 1, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0547815492
ISBN-13: 978-0547815497

Cybils-Logo-2014-Round-Sm1

 

Disclosure: Book provided by my local library. 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 not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

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