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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Soundprints, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Little Black Ant on Park Street by Janet Halfmann - Book Review & stART

Taking a walk with children is sometimes a slow journey. The kids love to stop, look and explore nature, taking in all the sights and sounds. Last spring when my son first started walking, he spent a lot of time checking out all the bugs on the ground. He particularly liked watching the ants because they moved around a lot and he could easily follow them around on the pavement. We spent this week learning about ants and their habitat by reading a Smithsonian Backyard book about little black ants written by Wisconsin author Janet Halfmann.

"Little Black Ant pokes her head from a tiny sandy hill dotting the lawn of the house on Park Street. It is summertime and the anthill is a flurry of activity. Beneath the hill lies a busy ant city, with many rooms connected by little tunnels." - Little Black Ant on Park Street by Janet Halfmann, illustrated by Kathleen Rietz

Author Janet Halfmann, through her non-fiction picture book, helps children learn about ant colonies and the life cycle of a little black ant (the common picnic ant). One summer a little black ant emerges from the colony and she searches for food along a city street. Her job presents several challenges including figuring out how to move a large, dead caterpillar and fighting a large carpenter ant. A bird scoops her in the air on a gum wrapper and she must find her way home. She and her friends feast on cookie crumbs and sweet juice from aphids. The busy ants work energetically all summer long and into the fall when they return below to winter underground.

This is the first book we've read from the Smithsonian Backyard Series, and I'm very impressed by the writing and illustrations in this large paperback. This isn't written in the usual textbook non-fiction style, but instead reads exactly like an entertaining picture book. Little Black Ant on Park Street successfully introduced my children to a typical ant species. They easily became engrossed in the story of the little black ant, and they learned a lot of factual information along the way. Illustrator Rietz uses unique angles and perspectives in her colorful drawings and gives a detailed, almost microscopic look at the life of an ant. My preschool daughter asked several questions about the colony underground and loved seeing all the tunnels and rooms. My son focused longingly on the picnic cookie illustration and pointed out the ants carrying crumbs away. One page shows children quietly and carefully observing the ants, making sure not to disrupt or harm them. Several other species of plants and animals are featured throughout the pages and the last page highlights these as "Points of Interest." The last page also includes a more scientific summary about the Little Black Ant and a glossary defines a few of the key terms used in the book. The book is also available in hardcover or microbook format and a read-long CD/book combo or plush ant toy can be purchased as well.



16 Comments on Little Black Ant on Park Street by Janet Halfmann - Book Review & stART, last added: 4/9/2010
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2. Smithsonian's Backyard

Smithsonian's Backyard Series
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Soundprints

As a child, I was always intrigued by the different wildlife that was lurking in my own backyard. We had a crabapple tree that deer frequented nearly every morning, eating up the tiny sour green apples. One summer I made a homemade bird feeder out of a 2-liter soda bottle and a wire clothes hanger and remember being amazed at all of the different birds and even squirrels who came by for a visit. Lifting up rocks, I would find potato bugs and earthworms squirming away, and there was no shortage of "wooly worms" on the sidewalks. Down by the creek near my house, we found crayfish, some sort of small mollusks, and even more diverse wildlife.

As an adult, I'm still intrigued by wildlife and always feel a little flutter in my belly when I see a beautiful fox, a deer, or even a rabbit munching on greens. Last summer, we had a not-so-welcome visitor, and I felt a different type of flutter in my stomach. A copperhead snake made its way from the reservoir near our house to our front porch.

When my daughter gets a little older and is a little more quiet and less clumsy, I want to take her exploring near our house to see what types of wildlife we can find. As you can imagine, I was very excited when Soundprints sent some of the titles from their Smithsonian's Backyard Series. This is a wonderful series of books that introduces children to the animals and insects that may be hanging out in their backyards and the backyards or other children who live in different parts of the country.

Each book not only gives lots of details about the featured animal or insect, but it also gives information about its habitat through the text and the beautifully-illustrated pictures. For example, here's how River Otter at Autumn Lane begins:


"After a long, snowy winter in Vermont, spring has finally arrived. Behind an old white farmhouse on Autumn Lane, runs a lazy stretch of river. At the river's edge, in a den between the roots of fallen trees, a river otter is nursing her three newborn cubs."

The illustrations take you a serene river scene, geese swimming on the misty river, a white farmhouse peeking through the trees, and a mama otter safely tucked away with her babies. The book tells more about river otter cubs, the mother's preparation for their arrival, her search for food under the green and rocky river, the swimming lessons she gives them when they get older, and more. At the end of the book and all others in the series is a page with more information about the otter, a glossary, and the names of all of the other wildlife pictured in the book.

This is a wonderful series of books that can help develop a child's appreciation for the wildlife that shares our living space, and it can introduce them to new animals they may have never seen or heard of.

Visit Soundprints' website for all titles and ordering information. Audiobooks and stuffed animals are also available.






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