Friday, October 18, 2019

Little monsters of the ocean: Metamorphosis under the waves by Heather L. Montgomery

Most kids are familiar with the metamorphosis of butterflies and frogs - there are plenty of stories about them, both real and imaginary, and they may even have watched the process in their classroom. Unless they ran across an old copy of Pagoo though, they probably never encountered the complex and fascinating world of metamorphosis under the sea. Montgomery plunges right in, exploring the different ways sea creatures metamorphose and how this process fits into their own and other life cycles. Readers will learn what plankton really is, how giant clams, jellyfish, and crabs get to their final forms, and much, much more.

The book is dense, packing a lot of information into 50 pages, but photographs and helpful facts sprinkle the pages, breaking up the information, which is written in Montgomery's readable and interesting style. Back matter includes an author's note, talking about her research process and the excitement of unanswered questions, a chart of life stages, glossary, bibliography, further resources, websites, index, and acknowledgement.

Verdict: This won't be for everyone, and like many of Lerner's more dense science titles it's a bit expensive, but future microbiologists and marine biologists will find this an invaluable resource and a fascinating and inspiring read.

ISBN: 9781541528987; Published January 2019 by Millbrook/Lerner; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Thursday, October 17, 2019

You can be an entomologist: Investigating insects with Dr. Martins

This book combines a lot of great elements to create an insect book that will appeal to many different audiences (except, probably, people with insect phobias). It's a great overall format and I look forward to more "You can be an.... " titles.

Narrated by a real entomologist, Dr. Martins explains what an entomologist is, what he does in particular, and how kids can study insects. He answers questions about insects, showing how important they are to life on earth and how little is known about them. The book finishes up with directions for studying insects, finding a new species, a simple glossary, and a page of credits, resources, and identification for three insects without captions.

What makes this book so useful, is that it can be read aloud, using just the text in the boldest, biggest font and looking at the pictures. It can be read alone, by a beginning reader, with a little help for some of the more complex vocabulary words. It can be studied by a group, with suggestions for research and many jumping-off points for learning more about insects and entomologists. It's also interesting! Dr. Martins explains how and why he works with insects and a little about the different places he works, especially in Kenya.

Verdict: A must-have for easy nonfiction sections, classrooms, and anyone interested in studying and learning about insects. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781426333545; Published April 2019 by National Geographic Kids; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Read, Read, Read, said the Baby: I love my dragon by Jodi Moore and Are you my monster? by Amanda Noll, illustrated by Howard McWilliam

Flashlight takes two of its most popular properties - Amanda Noll's Monster series and Jodi Moore's Dragon titles - and takes them down to board book audiences.

I was initially very skeptical about this. Both are illustrated by Howard McWilliam and while his digital pictures are bright and attractive, they're also kind of scary! This is perfect for the picture book audiences who love to giggle over the gruesome monsters and the cute twist of the ending, but how well would it go over with babies and toddlers? It turns out that these authors and illustrator have done an excellent job making these both appealing and appropriate for little ones.

Amanda Noll's Are you my monster? introduces the unnamed little boy of the picture books as a toddler in his pajamas, with an oversized head and big brown eyes. The story gets around the scary monster aspect by introducing the monster as a picture. The little boy is searching for his monster and uses the checklist to compare other monsters - a green dandy with mustaches, fluffy red creature with four eyes, hairy blue monster with a big tongue, and so on. Eventually, he finds his own monster, giving a toothy grin. The next page shows the little boy leaning over the bed, with his monster as a small stuffed toy and the last spread shows them cuddled up in bed together. Although some kids might get upset by the monsters, the "just a toy" ending should reassure them. The story also teaches kids comparison as they mark off the list for each monster! This book is a nice 7x7 size.

Jodi Moore's I love my dragon is a smaller size, about 6x6. It features the mischievous, bright red dragon of the picture books growing up with the unnamed boy. Starting as a baby, his dragon entertains, cares for, and accompanies him everywhere. He's shown peeking out in pictures, celebrating on the beach in a wave to the original picture book, helping the boy care for his baby brother, and curled up together for a nap. The bright colors are attractive and the cheerful exploration of daily fun will inspire small dragon fans.

Verdict: For parents and little ones who like the colorful pictures of McWilliams and just a little frisson of adventure and fear, these will be the perfect choices for snuggling up at bedtime.

Are you my monster? by Amanda Noll
ISBN: 9781947277328

I love my dragon by Jodi Moore
ISBN: 9781947277304

Published August 2019 by Flashlight; Review copies provided by publisher

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

How I met my monster by Amanda Noll, illustrated by Howard McWilliam

It's too bad this isn't released until November, because it's a perfect Halloween storytime book - not too scary, but just scary enough. However, there are plenty of fans of the series who enjoy a good monster story any time of the year and you can always preorder!

When a small Ethan finds a note under his bed, reading "Monsters! Meet here for the final test." he thinks his parents are just trying to scare him into staying in bed. He didn't expect real monsters to show up - or that he's the test! A set of furry monsters show up, accompanied by their spindly yellow teacher, and each takes a shot at scaring Ethan. As the tests continue, only Gabe passes each one, but Ethan eludes him and sneaks down to the kitchen for a snack. It's too bad he doesn't know what happens when you feed a monster...

This is a sweet story of the beginning of a friendship, complete with drool and threats to nibble toes! It's clear from Ethan's grin that he knows it's all a game, but he's enjoying the shivers that monstrous Gabe produces. It will probably remind a lot of readers of Monsters Inc. but it's still its own creation, fitting into the series by adding the origin story of the two friends.

Verdict: This series, and the latest addition, are the perfect choices for kids who like something just a little scary but not too scary. Fun for Halloween or any time of the year.

ISBN: 9781947277090; Published November 2019 by Flashlight Press; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Monday, October 14, 2019

Bird count by Susan Edwards Richmond, illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman

This book celebrates a unique holiday tradition - a Christmas bird count! Narrated by Ava, it explains how citizen science works in real life.

Ava, who has brown skin and reddish brown hair, eagerly wakes her mom up early on a winter Sunday for the Christmas Bird Count. Her mom, with the same brown skin and short, brown hair, sleepily joins her in getting dressed for the cold weather. They meet up with Big Al, the team leader, who is white with a red beard. Big Al reminds Ava of the rules, "Count every bird you see or hear...Make sure at least two people see or hear it. And don't count any bird twice." He also reminds her that her most important tools are her "eyes and ears."

They're off and Ava gets to take the tally for the first time! As they drive through and around town, they hear owls, see chickadees and sparrows, watch geese flying over, recognize some birds by their flight patterns and others by their songs. They visit the marsh and see ducks and herons, then break for lunch. They visit neighborhood feeders, investigate a report of an ovenbird, and see the geese again - they don't count this time! Finally, the mockingbird and raven that Ava heard and saw in the beginning come back and this time they count, since Big Al and her mom both see them.

The day ends with a party around a bonfire and they turn in their tally to the circle chief, who reports for all the teams, a woman with brown skin and long, dark brown hair. Back matter includes a snippet about each bird featured in the book, an author's note, and some resources for birdwatching and learning more about birds.

Coleman's illustrations are full of warm colors and interesting textures. They look like a combination of collage and colored pencil, although they were rendered digitally. The birds are all easily identifiable and the depiction of a small, rural town is very nice. Some things that I especially appreciated about this book was showing women, and people of color, participating in outdoor activities in a rural area (not all people of color live in urban centers!) and it tickled my fancy that the girl had a "regular" name. I can think of about five Ava's her age or a little younger right off the bat and I've had kids complain before about the "weird" names kids get in books!

Verdict: A fun and refreshing look at a unique outdoor activity. Hopefully this will inspire readers to participate in their own bird count or just to spend more time outdoors using their eyes and ears.

ISBN: 9781561459544; Published October 2019 by Peachtree; F&G provided by publisher; Purchased for the library

Sunday, October 13, 2019

North America: A Fold-Out Graphic History by Sarah Albee and William Exley

When I received this, I had... doubts. Of course, it was Sarah Albee, whose work I always find enjoyable and informative, but a giant fold-out book? Was this something I could put in the library? I was pleasantly surprised to see how sturdy it was and I think I will try adding it and see how it lasts.

The "story" starts around 13,000 BCE. You can read it like a book, turning the pages for one side and then flipping back to read the second half, or you can spread the whole thing out and then turn it over. Short paragraphs surround and interweave the illustrations with facts, events, and interesting information. Longer paragraphs, on a white background, set major milestones for the continent, from the spread of humans to the invasion of Europeans.

The illustrations are primarily in muted hues of blue, peach, and yellow, with touches of white, brown, and green. The text is set against small colored sections with mini black arrows pointed towards the relevant illustrations.

A huge draw of this for me, besides the unique format, was that Albee does an amazing job of giving an unbiased, truly broad overview of North American history. Rather than devoting an inordinate amount of space to relatively minor events in the US (why do so many history books think kids absolutely must know extensive details about the Pony Express?) she gives plenty of space to events in Mexico, the Caribbean, and the lives of indigenous people before and after the arrival of Europeans. This is shown even in the source materials, like the map at the end which shows the states of the US... and the states of Mexico! How many maps show those, or just shove a blank "Mexico" in there?

There is a glossary, index (tied to the date ranges since there are no page numbers), and source notes.

Verdict: Although this may not last long, it's a unique and important resource. It would make a great classroom addition and, I think with some reinforcement, might last quite a while on library shelves.

ISBN: 9781999967925; Published October 2019 by What on Earth; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Saturday, October 12, 2019

This week at the library; or, How many incident reports can I write in a week?

Happening this week
  • Monday
    • Paws to Read
    • Managers' Meeting
  • Tuesday
    • Toddlers 'n' Books (2 sessions)
    • LOTG: OPtions
    • VIP volunteers
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
    • Books 'n' Babies
    • Outreach/Professional Development: Parents' Night/Applied behavior presentation
  • Friday
    • Kohls Wild Theater
    • 2nd grade field trip (2 sessions)
    • Anime Club
  • Saturday
    • Cards for Veterans
  • Worked 38 hours: 11 hours on desk; 9 programs
  • This week was busy so naturally I started it with a dentist appointment, interleaved it with a nice variety of other things (flu shot! rescheduled flu shot! car needs its own appointment!) and reached truly epic heights of forgettingness about what was happening. Possibly b/c when I wrote out this week's staff "what's happening" I accidentally combined it with next week...
  • Then I had to reschedule stuff b/c of the sudden change in the weather on Friday but then it changed back and was rescheduled and now I need to get a new car and... I'm going home.
Collection development notes
  • Request for missing vol. 11 of Skulduggery Pleasant

Friday, October 11, 2019

Digging deep: How science unearths puzzles from the past by Laura Scandiffio

I never expected to be wowed by a book on archeology, but as soon as I read this I put it on my "must-purchase" list and am eagerly looking for families to suggest it to as I write!

An introduction explains how archaeologists research the past and how science has changed the way they do this as well as given new views of older discoveries. The book itself tackles six fairly well-known archaeological finds (well, I knew about them anyways - I've started discounting anything as well-known or even known at all). The first is the prehistoric man found in the alps in 1991, named Otzi the Iceman. Research continued to produce new knowledge about Otzi's life and time period, up to the present day, when scientists were able to use new DNA techniques to discover more about Otzi's life. The chapter ends with a section labeled "What we thought we knew... and what we know now" which summarizes the original find and research and how it's changed through new scientific advances.

Each of the following chapters follows the same structure as they explore a Stone Age cave in South Africa where they find what may be the oldest poison (this one was new to me) in 1940, lost cities in Cambodia discovered through lidar, the shipwrecks of the Erebus and Terror in the Arctic, the mystery of the death and missing grave of Richard III, and Chauvet cave in France, where some of the earliest prehistoric art was discovered. This book gives readers a new view of science - and history - challenging old ideas about indigenous, non-Western societies, exploring the ways science changes the way we think, and encouraging readers to look forward to new discoveries and their own research and exploration.

Back matter includes sources, further reading, an index, and image credits.

Verdict: A unique and scientific look at history, archeology, and research. Highly recommended.

ISBN: 9781773212395; Published April 2019 by Annick Press; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Purchased for the library

Thursday, October 10, 2019

How to be on the moon by Viviane Schwarz

The first adventure of Anna, an adorably chubby brown girl, and Crocodile, showed them going on an exciting treasure hunt for gold. Now in their second adventure, they’re going to the moon!

In a gray room, Anna and Crocodile are playing a board game when Anna gets a great idea: "Let's go to the moon!" Despite Crocodile's worries, the two set off. First, they need a lot of things - math, patience, speed, and sandwiches. Finally, they are off!

After enjoying being weightless in their rocket (which looks rather like a backyard playhouse with some imaginative additions), the two arrive on the moon. They explore, marvel at the sights, and finally decide they had better go back - the Earth might feel lonely. They arrive back, ready to explore more things right on earth.

Schwarz story has a gentle, but also funny mood. Adult readers can see exactly how it follows the free-wheeling thoughts of a child's imagination while children themselves will be delighted with the silly adventure and perhaps inspired to try creating their own adventures.

Verdict: A celebration of imagination and friendship, this is a great choice for space, friendship, and imagination storytimes. Have the kids draw or construct their own rockets afterwards and watch imagination take over!

ISBN: 9781536205459; Published June 2019 by Candlewick; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Duck by Meg McKinlay

McKinlay is a fairly new author and for her third book she pairs with a new artist who has a few picture books in his repertoire as well. Together, they've created a funny take on the old tale of Chicken Little.

A quiet afternoon on the farm is disturbed when a frantic duck comes running through the animals yelling DUCK! The persnickety animals explain to her that no, they are not ducks, they are a horse, cow, pig, and sheep. They grow increasingly patronizing and annoyed, while the frantic little duck, who has acquired a bucket hat, keeps up her cry of DUCK! until disaster occurs and the vindicated duck is the only one who doesn't get stuck under a falling house!

Eckstrom's humorous illustrations show the superior animals, wacky little duck, and plenty of jokes on the last page (a sign reads Kansas and the duck is wearing a funnel hat). The duck's wings are a misstep, looking oddly like angel wings or bits of cloud, but kids will be so happy to be yelling DUCK! at every moment, they won't notice.

Verdict: A fun story with a gentle moral about listening more and talking less!

ISBN: 9781536204223; Published August 2019 by Candlewick; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library