#Nonfiction Monday #Kidlit Rare and Blue: Finding Nature’s Treasures


Have you spotted the gorgeous new picture book Rare and Blue: Finding Nature’s Treasures by Constance Van Hoven and illustrated by Alan Marks? It is both a celebration of a color and our planet.

Although we are used to seeing blue skies and bodies of water every day, blue plants and animals are less usual, and some are extremely uncommon. Most of us may have seen a blue jay, but what about a cerulean warbler? Take a trip around the world to find eight rare or endangered species that are shades of blue, then learn about why their numbers may be dwindling and what can be done. End with a trip that is out of our world.

The layered text works well. In bold print is a challenge for the reader to find a blue plant or animal:

To find electric blue,
hike into a tall forest,
Listen for…

with the answer appropriately in blue font. The secondary text gives more details about the organism and why they are in decline.

Educators will love the extensive back matter, with the categories of species occurrence (rare to extinct), more facts about each species, a glossary of terms, and a bibliography.

Alan Marks” watercolors make use of every hue and value of blue found in nature. The way he captures the iridescent shine of the male pupfish is particularly outstanding.

Rare and Blue  is a visual treat that will intrigue young scientists and artists alike.  Tour a copy today!

Blue Morpho Butterfly (Morpho peleides)

Blue Morpho Butterfly (Morpho peleides)

Activity suggestions:

  • Visit Charlesbridge for a learning guide and activity kit (under the downloadable tab)
  • Do an art or craft project featuring the color blue inspired by the illustrations in the book.
  • Learn more about one of the plants or animals in the book.

For example, the caterpillars of the Karner blue butterfly  grow faster and survive better when they are tended by ants. In exchange, they provide the ants with sweets.

A Karner blue butterfly caterpillar tended by ants:

Age Range: 7 – 10 years
Publisher: Charlesbridge (September 1, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1623540976
ISBN-13: 978-1623540975


Disclosure: The book was provided by the publisher 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 no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

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

STEM #Kidlit for Toddlers: Baby Loves the Five Senses


Be on the look out next week for three new board books for the youngest readers in the Baby Loves Science series:

all by Ruth Spiro and illustrated by Irene Chan.

We’ve reviewed a couple of other books in this series in the past and were eager to see the newest versions.

What’s to like:

The series has a lot going for it. Each book features Chan’s delightful illustrations and Spiro’s bouncing, enthusiastic text. Babies hear STEM vocabulary words that might not come up in typical conversations. The concepts are simplified, but not to the point they are no longer accurate.

I recently led a STEM story time about senses for preschoolers and these Baby Loves The Five Senses books would have been a welcome addition.

On the other hand:

Since the series began, the Baby Loves books have become more and more technical in a few pages in the middle. For example, for the one about taste:

“When Baby chews the strawberries, some of the flavor molecules stick to the receptor cells.”

It goes on to discuss electrical signals in the brain.

For certain children this level of detail is welcome and is likely to generate even more questions.

For others, however, it might not be the right time to discuss more advanced concepts. I had that experience during the story time I mentioned above. I choose some books about insect senses to show how our senses are similar and different to other animals. This is a topic I think is fascinating, but the children just weren’t ready for it. They needed to understand what human senses were before they could compare to others.  If your young readers aren’t receptive to the concepts in this book, you can skip those pages. Perhaps  you can return to them later when they are older or have had more experience.

Overall. the Baby Loves The Five Senses books fill a unique niche of introducing science to the youngest readers.



Age Range: 2 – 3 years
Series: Baby Loves Science
Publisher: Charlesbridge; Illustrated edition (August 18, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1623541549
ISBN-13: 978-1623541545

Age Range: 2 – 3 years
Publisher: Charlesbridge; Illustrated edition (August 18, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1623541557
ISBN-13: 978-1623541552

Age Range: 2 – 3 years
Publisher: Charlesbridge; Illustrated edition (August 18, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1623541530
ISBN-13: 978-1623541538

These books were provided electronically for review purposes.

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

A Bobby-Dazzler of a Book by Janet Halfmann

Ever wanted to visit Australia? Now you can travel in your imagination with the new picture book, A Bobby-Dazzler of a Pouch! by Janet Halfmann and illustrated by Abira Das.

The story revolves around a real life problem:  how do joeys (baby kangaroos) find their mother’s pouch when they are in a big hurry? With the help of friends, the joey comes up with a unique solution. Along the way, the reader meets common Australian animals and plants like brush-tailed possums and beautiful box mistletoe flowers, as well as gets a brief introduction to Australian vocabulary.

The well-researched back matter includes fun facts about kangaroos, a glossary of Australian words, and a list of the Australian animals and plants introduced in the book.

Janet Halfmann has written many popular children’s books on a variety of topics, but A Bobby-Dazzler of a Pouch! is special to her because it was one of the first fiction picture book manuscripts she wrote when she started out — over twenty years ago. Read about the inspiring details of its eventual road to publication in an interview at Write Now! Coach.

A Bobby-Dazzler of a Pouch! would be perfect to accompany a trip to Australia, to pull out when doing a geography lesson about Australia, or even to prepare for a trip to a local zoo that features Australian animals. Jump into a copy today!

Related activities:

Check out another Australian animal, the adorable small kind of wallaby known as the Quokka.


Paperback: 38 pages
Publisher: Pen It! Publications, LLC (May 21, 2020)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 195126312X
ISBN-13: 978-1951263126

Two New Children’s Books for Plastic Free July

With so much going on in the world these days, it can be hard to keep up. For example, did you know about the Plastic Free July challenge?  Because many people consider trips to the beach this month, it is a great time to think about protecting our oceans by reducing the amount of plastic we use.

To help introduce children to the problem of plastic garbage in the ocean, we have two new books.

The Blue Giant

First up is the informational fiction picture book, The Blue Giant by Katie Cottle.

Meera and her mom are the the beach when a giant blue form rises out of the ocean and asks them for help. When they suit up and go into the water they see how much garbage is floating in the ocean and  how it affects the animals who live there.  Meera and her mom want to help, but is it too big of a problem for them to make a difference?

In the same style as her previous book, The Green Giant,  it is Cottle’s vivid and imaginative illustrations that really make the story come alive.  She also mentions concrete ways to help, such as picking up trash on the beach and reducing the amount of single-use plastics we buy.

The Blue Giant is perfect for children interested in oceans and in helping our planet. Dive into a copy today!

Age Range: 3 – 6 years
Publisher: Pavilion Children’s (June 9, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1843654458
ISBN-13: 978-1843654452

Plasticus Maritimus

To  explore the topic more deeply, we have an equally imaginative young adult title Plasticus Maritimus: An Invasive Species by Ana Pêgo, Isabel Minhos, and illustrated by Bernado P. Carvalho, coming out September 8, 2020.


Marine biologist Ana Pêgo grew up playing on the beach in Portugal. As she began to notice more and more plastic garbage in the water and on the shore, she decided to treat it like an invasive species and study it. She even dubbed the garbage a pseudo-scientific name:  Plasticus maritimus.

Regardless of the made up name, the text is a serious look at a serious problem. First the authors introduce the topic with a “field guide” to plastic, including how it impacts the ocean. Next up is an in depth look at what plastic is, including a timeline of plastic production and the different types. Did you know cigarette buts contain plastic in the filters and are the most common form of litter?  Ever hear of nurdles? You will learn all about them.

The final sections are an extensive, practical look at what we can do about the problem. In the back are resources for finding out more.

The illustrations are largely colorful pencil drawings, which might give the impression that this book is for a younger audience.  The text and the smattering of full color photographs are spot on for the young adult crowd.

Plasticus Maritimus: An Invasive Species is for teens who love the ocean and are interested in protecting it. It is a handy reference that readers will want to return to again and again. It would also be an awesome resource for research papers or persuasive essays. Look for it in September.

Age Range: 12 – 18 years
Publisher: Greystone Kids (September 8, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1771646438
ISBN-13: 978-1771646437