#kidlit Nobody Hugs a Cactus, A Way to Talk About Distancing

cactus flowers

Want an adorable picture book the “pokes” a little fun at prickly characters while at the same time being a cute way to introduce the idea of distancing? Then look no further than Nobody Hugs a Cactus* by Carter Goodrich.


(*Amazon affiliate link)

Hank the Cactus sits all alone in his pot on a windowsill and that’s the way he likes it. Whenever someone tries to visit him, he ignores them. Sometimes he even yells at his neighbors, tortoise and jack rabbit. Over time, Hank realizes his lifestyle is making him lonely. Will he ever find a friend?

Carter Goodrich is an illustrator who is known for his covers on The New Yorker, so it is not surprising that it is the art that strikes you first when you open the book. The colors capture the brilliant light of the desert Southwest. Plus, Hank’s expressions range from silly to enchanting.

To gush about the illustrations, however, is not a knock to the text. The story is concise, yet lyrical enough for reading aloud. Kids are going to love the light humor.

In addition to being an introduction to social skills, Nobody Hugs a Cactus would be appropriate to accompany a unit on deserts.  Get a warm, fuzzy feeling from a copy today!

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (April 16, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1534400907
ISBN-13: 978-1534400900

Looking for more children’s books about deserts? Try our growing list at Science Books for Kids.

#Nonfiction Monday #kidlit Bloom Boom! by April Pulley Sayre

For Nonfiction Monday, we have the beautiful picture book by April Pulley Sayre, Bloom Boom!

As with some of her earlier books, April Pulley Sayre combines her gorgeous nature photographs with sparse, lyrical text.

From woodlands to gardens —
ready, set, go!
Nature is preparing
a flower show…

On the cover is a photograph of brilliantly-colored poppies, which sets the tone for what is to come inside.  Every spread is filled with vibrant color, either in sprawling landscapes or detailed close ups of flowers and growing plants.

California poppies

With only a few words on each page, Sayre manages to introduce children to botanical terms and concepts. She also uses alliteration and repetition to keep young readers interested. Besides learning about plants, the book is also a great way for little ones to learn about color (see activity below).

After you’ve gasped at the final spread, don’t forget to check out the back matter. In “The Bloom Boom” section, Sayre explains how to find areas where masses of flowers bloom all at once. In “A Bit More About Blooms” you can find thumbnails of each spread with accompanying details about the flowers in each.

Bloom Boom! is a visual feast, sure to enthrall young nature lovers.  Explore a copy today!

Activity Suggestion:

Color Picker:

Gather paint sample cards with a variety of hues and shades (from home supply stores or friends who recently decorated). Challenge children to find colors that match the samples in the book.

To extend the activity, go on a nature hike or visit a botanical garden when flowers are in bloom. See if the children can find matching colors in the plants around them.

Bring along a field guide or plant identification app to learn more about what you discover.

Age Range: 3 – 8 years
Publisher: Beach Lane Books (February 5, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1481494724
ISBN-13: 978-1481494724

Disclosure: The book was provided by our 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.

Flowers Are Calling

It is now official:  the 2015 nominations for the Cybils awards are completed. Let the reading and reviewing begin!

For our first selection we have a delightful picture book nominated in the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction categoryFlowers Are Calling by Rita Gray and illustrated by Kenard Pak. It introduces children to the relationships between flowers and pollinators.

The reader won’t be able to tell from the elegant cover featuring delicate flowers and a few small animals, but this book is likely to elicit giggles. Using short poems, the author suggests that flowers might be calling to a big animal (one that isn’t interested in flowers at all, hence the giggles), then reveals a little animal that really is attracted to the flower.

For example:

Flowers are calling a small brown snake.
No, not a snake for goodness sake!

In my library Flowers Are Calling is shelved in the fiction section, likely because of the fun poems introducing pollinators and flowers. Interspersed between the poems, however, are two-page spreads that give the common names of the flowers and explain some serious scientific details about how their structures relate to their pollinators, placing it squarely in the realm of nonfiction. For example, Gray explains that butterflies like to rest on the flat landing pads of Queen Anne’s lace, whereas only hummingbirds can drink from the deep tubes of the trumpet honeysuckle.

The watercolor and digital media illustrations match the mix of subtle humor and serious facts of the text. The big animals are looser, almost cartoonish, where some of the flowers are highly detailed.

As an aside, often children’s nature books concentrate on species from the northeastern U.S., but Gray also mentions cacti and flowers found in the Southwest. Kudos to the author for appealing to a range of readers even though she lives in New York City.

Pollination is a popular topic right now due to concerns about the decline in numbers of monarch butterflies and honey bees. Flowers Are Calling is a wonderful introduction that children are sure to enjoy and likely even laugh about. Share a copy with your young nature lover today!

Related:

At Growing With Science blog we have some plant science activities to investigate flowers.

See another review with activity suggestions at Archimedes Notebook.

Age Range: 4 – 7 years
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (March 3, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0544340124
ISBN-13: 978-0544340121

Disclosures: This book was provided 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 not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

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Two Tree Books for Arbor Day

Next Friday, April 24, 2015, is Arbor Day. To get ready, let’s share two children’s books about trees so children can learn how special and important trees can be.

Celebritrees: Historic and Famous Trees of the World by Margi Preus and illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon has been out for a few years, but it is well worth a revisit.

In addition to the main series of two-page spreads telling the stories of 14 famous, tall and exceptionally-old trees from around the world, the back matter gives more information about the trees and a number of suggestions about what the reader can do to help and encourage trees.

Interestingly, Celebritrees is as much a discourse about human history and behavior as it is about trees. We are attracted to big and old trees, as well as those with unique stories or features. In fact, sometimes humans are so attracted to certain trees that by sheer numbers visitors have damaged and sometimes killed the very trees they revere. The author notes that the exact identities and locations of some of the trees has been hidden so the trees are left alone to continue their lives.

Rather than photographs, Rebecca Gibbon created lighthearted, fun illustrations using a mix of acrylic ink, colored pencils and watercolor. The illustrations allow for a more coherent look and also incorporate details of the text in ingenious ways. The look would definitely appeal to young readers who prefer fiction.

Celebritrees is an exceptional book about exceptional trees. Check out a copy today!

Age Range: 6 – 10 years
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition (March 1, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0805078290
ISBN-13: 978-0805078299

Branching Out: How Trees Are Part of Our World by Joan Marie Galat and illustrated by Wendy Ding investigates 11 special kinds of trees from around the world. It is for middle grade readers.

Using four-page spreads, the author describes a particular species of tree, how it used by humans, and what animals depend on that particular kind of tree. The trees included range from red maples and downy birches to pau brasil and cork oaks.

Filled with color photographs and sidebars, this title takes a more serious and scientific tone than the previous one. The introduction about why trees are important is particularly well done.

You can see for yourself what the book is like in this short video trailer:

Branching Out: How Trees Are Part of Our World is a perfect choice for Arbor Day or any other day children want to find out more about trees!

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Publisher: Owlkids Books (October 14, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1771470496
ISBN-13: 978-1771470490

Don’t forget to visit our giant, redwood-sized list of books about trees for kids.

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Disclosures: These books were from 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.

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