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Recently I had the pleasure of attending the AAP Tri-State Book Buzz for Children’s and Teen Librarians here in NYC. This is an event where a whole heaping helpful of publishers gather together to do a kind of massive librarian preview for folks like myself. It’s a mix of big folks (Macmillan, Random House, etc.) and smaller houses you might not hear from otherwise. With that in mind, I’ve either already attended or am about to attend some of the big guys, so I’ll leave them off of this particular preview. Additionally, I had a meeting in the morning of the Book Buzz day so those publishers who just happened to present anything prior to 1 p.m. pretty much fell off of my radar. Sorry, guys!
Even though I only spent a small portion of my time at the Book Buzz I’m just going to highlight the books that caught my particular attention. Because honestly there were some truly interesting titles on display. Here’s just a small sampling of what I happened to see. First up:
Changes: A Child’s First Poetry Collection by Charlotte Zolotow, ill. Tiphanie Beeke (9781492601685)
This year (2014) I had a great deal of difficulty finding good poetry books. Honestly, at times it felt like I was pulling teeth to find anything halfway decent. This shouldn’t be so hard! So I was keeping a very sharp eye out for anything verse-like. I was quickly rewarded by this, the first collection of ALL of Zolotow’s seasonal poetry. You remember Ms. Zolotow, yes? Worked under Ursula Nordstrom? Mother of Crescent Dragonwagon? Yep, well I’ve always been a fan of her book Seasons as illustrated by Erik Blegvad so this is just a natural follow-up. It’s coming out in the same year when she would have celebrated her 100th birthday. If the illustrator (Tiphanie Beeke) looks somewhat familiar that may be because she was behind that rather lovely little book Fletcher and the Falling Leaves which came out a couple years ago.
Fairy Tale Reform School: Flunked by Jen Calonita (9781492601562)
On the middle grade side of things we have Fairy Tale Reform School: Flunked by Jen Calonita. Written by the author of the YA novel Secrets of my Hollywood Life the premise behind this one is that when a villain is vanquished in a tale it’s time for them to go to reform school. Our heroine is a normal girl who lives in a shoe with her siblings and is so poor that she’s forced to steal. One thing leads to another and the next thing she knows she’s in a reform school where all the teachers are former villains. Kinda writes itself, right?
This Book is Gay by James Dawson (9781492617822)
I don’t cover YA usually but for this book I shall make an exception. It was a little bit difficult to parse but insofar as I could tell this appears to be a handbook for dealing with sexual identity. It’s a YA nonfiction title with a forward is by David Levithan and it’s full of sketches, illustrations, and jokes. As they say, it’s for anyone exploring their own identity.
National Geographic Kids
Why’d They Wear That? by Sarah Albee (forward by Tim Gunn) (9781426319204)
Now see, the reason I like National Geographic Kids is that they’re reliable. Take Why’d They Wear That?, for example. You know what you’re getting here, even if you don’t know the details. Mind you, the details are where all the good stuff is. Chronicling the history of the world through the lens of fashion, the book covers everything from the Syrian warriors who rode into battle in fishnets to an Archbishop of Canterbury who wore a hair shirt so full of bugs that they left his body and flew into the cold when he was assassinated. From togas to mini skirts, this book talks about clothing and explains why folks wore one thing or another with plenty of historical context.
Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall by Anita Silvey (9781426315190)
I think I heard about this book a little while ago and got very excited . . . until I realized that it wasn’t coming out until 2015. Fortunately that year is breathing down our neck and so tis nigh! Nigh, I say, nigh! From her childhood in WWII England to the jungles of Gombe this book covers everything Jane related. Riveting and full of images (including the photography of Michael Neugebauer) this has lots of great content from the field. It’s the most up-to-date title out there for kids. At least for an older readership.
Dirtmeister’s Nitty Gritty: Planet Earth by Steve Tomecek (9781426319037)
Steve Tomecek, the Executive Director and founder of Science Plus, Inc., and Digger his prairie dog sidekick talk all about dirt. Or, put another cuter way, dish the dirt on dirt. Tomecek had a New York Kids show on WNYC radio in New York City for eight years so he’s old school. In his book, Fred Harper from Marvel illustrates multiple peppy comic book sections that start off each chapter. Inside you’ll find DIY experiments, facts, and science bios along with lots of STEM connections. Happy science stuff.
How to Speak Cat by Aline Alexander Newman and NPR’s Dr. Gary Weitzman (President of the San Diego Animal Humane Society) (9781426318634)
This would be a companion to the previously published How to Speak Dog. The dog vs. cat voice in my head wonders which of the two books will sell better. In any case in this tome you get, amongst other things, an explanation of what the 30 different cat poses mean. Lots of expert cat training advice is in this one as well.
1000 Facts About the Bible (9781426318665)
You don’t have to be a library in a religious community to appreciate what National Geographic is going for here. Big and small pieces of information give some great background. Little facts include the tidbit that David was crowned with a 75-pound crown and, elsewhere, that the blue of the robes mentioned in the text came from sea snails. Easy to understand words are helped in no small part by the Biblical scholars who were consulted. Naturally this makes me wonder how long it took them to write the darn thing. My suspicion: quite a while.
Maddeningly they also teased us with Fall 2015 titles as well. With that in mind look for . . .
Book of Nature Poetry edited by J. Patrick Lewis
Treasury of Norse Mythology by Donna Jo Napoli
Welcome to Mars by Buzz Aldrin
At this point in the proceedings, mention was made of a magazine I’d not heard of before. It’s not like I’ve been following the periodical trends for teens and pre-teens since I was one myself. So to hear that there’s a publication out there called Justine that contains “more teen book reviews than any other magazine” . . . well that’s just downright cool it is. Voila:
Based out of Philly. A quarter of this little publisher’s output consists of books for kids. I often say that small publishers just need one book to sustain them for life. Well Quirk produced Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children so I’d say they’re pretty much good to go. For, like, ever. Most of their children’s books coming out in 2015 are just sequels, but there was one adult title that actually caught my eye.
Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix (9781322126760)
A classic horror novel set in a Swedish furniture store, written like an IKEA catalog.
Next up, Chris Vaccari, a man clever enough to name drop his local library branch (Kips Bay). Chris thrives in a BookBuzz atmosphere. He is calm. He is at ease. And yet, all at the same time, he is capable of packing in loads of information about the books Sterling is producing soon. Case in point:
Good Question: History Series: Did Christopher Columbus Really Discover America? by Emma Carlson Berne (9781454912590)
This is a series that dare to question history. Particularly useful when we’re talking about that ever so controversial Italian Columbus.
Little Traveler series – How Tiger Says Thank You (9781454914976), How Penguin Says Please (9781454914969) by Abigail Samoun, illustrated by Sarah Watts
These are the latest two books in this series to come out. I should note though that my librarians are BIG fans of these books. They’re finding them easy to hand sell and really filling a need for those parents that wish to get their small children interested in other languages.
ABC Universe – done in conjunction with the American Museum of Natural History (9781454914099)
Just consider it an oversized board book for the budding little astronomers in your life.
I’m Not Reading by Jonathan Allen(978-1910126240)
Man. Way back at the beginning of my blogging career, around 2006 I reviewed the Jonathan Allen baby owl book I’m Not Cute. It’s nice to see the series not only still kicking around but upgrading to a whole new board book form.
Ally-Saurus by Richard Torrey (9781454911791)
Who says only boys get to love dinosaurs? Yet when Ally starts school she finds she’s the only girl there who’s into dinosaurs. She is subsequently snubbed by princess lovers (and on this, the 10th anniversary of Mean Girls). I know I’ll be looking forward to this.
A Dozen Cousins by Lori Houran, ill. Sam Usher (9781454910626)
The plot is simple: one girl has a dozen boy cousins. She loves them but they sure do bug the heck out of her. Nice and multicultural, this is utterly pleasant (and more interesting than a lot of the other “big family” tales out there).
The Birthday Cake: The Adventures of Pettson and Findus by Sven Nordquist (978-0735842038)
I believe this is a reprint of an older title. In it, Pettson is a forgetful farmer and his neighbor gives him a kitten named Findus. So he reads the kitten so much that the cat starts to talk. In this book it’s Findus’s birthday (which somehow happens more than once in a year). The dilemma? Our intrepid heroes need flour for a cake. To get the flour they need a bike, to fix a tower they need to get into the shed, to get into the shed they need a ladder to get to the sunroof, and so on and such. Phil Pullman did the blurb for the books and said that it has a folktale feel. Noted.
Mr. Squirrel and the Moon by Sebastian Meschenmoser (978-0735841567)
If you buy nothing else I mention to you today, buy this. Show some of the art. On the endpages you see a boy with his father and one of the man’s wheels of cheese is rolling down the hill and flies into the sky. Later, a squirrel wonders how the moon got into his tree. Worried that someone will think he’s the thief he tries to roll it off the tree. The cheese next gets stuck on a hedgehog and a goat gets stuck in it. The art is the real lure here. A-maze-ing.
The Bernadette Watts Collection: Stories and Fairy Tales by Bernadette Watts (978-0735842120)
Turns out, Ms. Watts is beloved in Europe. They just call her Bernadette there. In this book you will find thirty-eight timeless tales with an Eric Carle forward. The result is a book containing pitch perfect, sumptuous backgrounds.
Perseus Books Groups (Running Press Kids)
Go, Pea, Go! by Joe Moshier and Chris Sonnenburg (978-0762456789)
I’ll give ‘em this. I have never seen a potty book that used peas in some manner. This book features one such rhyming pea. He is told by his family to go. See the world. A potty chart and stickers are part of the ensemble.
Butterfly Park by Elly Mackay (978-0762453399)
A paper cut artist takes it to the next level. In this story a girl moves next to a butterfly park and then goes and sees that there aren’t any there. She then gets the community together to plant the plants that attract butterflies.
My Life in Dioramas by Tara Altebrando (978-0762456819)
In this tale a 12-year-old girl’s family is selling their red barn home. She’s against this move so she creates dioramas of each room to best preserve her memories. She also tries to throw a wrench in the works to prevent the sales. One color illustrated dioramas for each chapter. Essentially, it’s all about moving forward.
And that was that. Phew! I can’t imagine how tricky it would be to organize such a thing. Many thanks to the folks who presented. I’ve high hopes for these books.
By: Nina Mata
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Hi there! boo on me for lack of updates! Summer’s been busy for me.
Working on a few things I can’t wait to share, but it probably won’t be for a while. In the meantime here’s a spread I did last November for National Geographic I believe it was published last March so I’m assuming its ok to share. More to come for this year and next! Can’t wait! I hope you guys are having a great a summer as I am! Cheers!
“The Sun Song”
© National Geographic – Learning Cengage 2013.
Blog: The Open Book
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Jan Reynolds is a writer, photographer, and adventurer who has written over fourteen nonfiction books for children about her travels. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including National Geographic, The New York Times, and Outside Magazine. Reynolds is an avid skier, mountain climber, and adventurer who held the record for women’s high altitude skiing, was part of the first expedition to circumnavigate Mount Everest, and performed a solo crossing of the Himalayas.
You are a world-class adventurer and athlete in addition to being a children’s author. Were you always a writer, or were you inspired to begin writing by your travels?
I’ve always been a writer…. I had a short story, fiction, that was published when I was in high school. I’m working on a young adult fiction book right now!
What was your hardest trip or exploration? Was there ever a moment in your travels when you wanted to turn back? What inspired you to keep going?
When I was crossing the Himalaya solo, I almost turned back, I was so sick (I talk about this in my documentary video, “Cultural Adventure with Jan Reynolds”). I lived in my tent alone for about four days and nights, and was found by a Sherpa and his son who nursed me back to health, and I finished my journey going from Nepal into Tibet over the Himalaya following the salt trade. I kept going because I needed to complete my trade on this salt trade route. I was working for National Geographic magazine, and I wanted to get my story!!
Your books, especially your Vanishing Cultures series, chronicle the time you spent with endangered indigenous groups around the world. Since those books were published, have you gone back to visit any of the communities you connected with? Do you know how they’re doing?
I’ve been back to visit many of the places in my Vanishing Cultures series, and what I’ve found is that they are vanishing in terms of their traditional lives. The young are looking for jobs in the cities and towns nearby. It isn’t possible to make a living traditionally. For example trucks and planes are much faster crossing the Sahara than a camel, so camel caravans cannot make profitable trades anymore.
Many of the groups about which you’ve written have a history of being exploited by outsiders. How do you first approach them about doing a project? How do you build trust with the community?
When I visited these people it was a matter of me just showing up. So approaching them was literally just being there, it was so far out in most cases, they were just curious about me, that was my approach! I built trust by making one really good friend, and they became my mentor and guardian of sorts, and I always traveled as a trader with trade goods, silk, wool scarves, gold and silver jewelry, that opened doors too.
It is not always easy to get people to “act natural” in front of a camera, especially people who are not often photographed. How do you get your subjects comfortable in front of your camera? What do you do to ensure that your presence as a photographer does not change their behavior?
I dress like the locals as much as I can so that when they look at me behind the camera they aren’t having funny expressions! I also hang out with people quite a while before I start shooting so they are comfortable with me. I also give them a little snap shooter with a flash. Kids really love that, and they take pics of me, whether they know they are or not…. it’s like playing a game together. I try not to bring in things that are junky or techno, my trade items are things they know, and I try to blend in as much as I can so I’m not intrusive. I’m not there to teach or train, I’m just there to be, and record.
Why do you think it’s important for a young reader from, say, Nebraska, to learn about a small indigenous culture from the Amazon Basin? What do you think are the big benefits of geo-literacy and global education?
I think all kids need to know that all environments around the world have people in them, the Amazon had a thriving community of people throughout, before the Spanish explorers brought disease and killed the local Indians by the thousands. Now kids study plain environments, the rainforest, the desert, etc. without people in them, and it gives kids the wrong idea, that man and environments are separate.
We are part of every environment, we are connected, and we need to live in harmony. Man lived his daily life in all the environments on earth. We can still, we just need to be partners with the earth. So what I tried to do with my books is have students study the environment AND the people in that environment at the same time, that’s more normal….together, not separate.
What travel tips can you offer to young readers traveling abroad for the first time?
When you travel abroad, befriend a local, they are the doorway to understanding the people and the environment, and how they work together, through traditions, food, ceremonies, and so on.
Thanks for joining us, Jan! Feel free to leave further questions for Jan in the comments section below.
Raising Global Citizens: Jan Reynolds Author Study
Where in the World: How One Class Used Google Maps to Explore the Vanishing Cultures Series
Beyond “Did You Know. . .”: Teaching Geo-Literacy Using the Vanishing Cultures Book Series
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By: Betsy Bird
Blog: A Fuse #8 Production
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The Griffin and the Dinosaur: How Adrienne Mayor Discovered a Fascinating Link Between Myth and Science
By Marc Aronson with Adrienne Mayor
Illustrated by Chris Muller
On shelves April 8th.
I remember back in 2007 when the American Museum of Natural History in NYC premiered a show called “Mythic Creatures”. It made a fair amount of press and with good reason. It’s not every day you see full-scale models of mythical creatures presented in a serious museum setting. The show got some nice write-ups but though I listened to the explanations of why it was going on, I didn’t quite catch the whole point. To me it just sort of sounded like a cheap ploy to lure more patrons into the museum’s exhibits. A bit of the old P.T Barnum, albeit with a classier imprimatur. Years passed and I forgot about the show right up until the publication of The Griffin and the Dinosaur. As I read the book, memories of the show came back to me, as did my complete and utter misunderstanding of what it had been trying to accomplish. Fortunately, I am happy to report that once in a while in this life a gal gets a second chance. With Marc Aronson and Adrienne Mayor’s hard work, now I have a book before me that clarifies the true connection between the prehistoric and the mythical. Focused through a single woman’s obsessive search, this book comes off as both a riveting historical mystery as well as a wonderful example of how a person’s passions might take them places they never imagined they might travel. The future isn’t written in stone but it might just be written in bones.
It was kind of a goofy idea. The sort of thing a person might consider off-handedly then forget about five minutes later. But for Adrienne Mayor, the idea stuck. It was simple too. You see, after doing lots of research at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, Ms. Mayor noticed a strange pattern. Reading texts by ancient Greeks she noticed that when they discussed creatures like griffins they always sounded like they knew about these animals firsthand. Is it possible that these creatures were conjured up after the Greeks found some ancient bones of one kind of another? Not a natural born scholar, Adrienne always considered herself more of an artist than anything else. Still, this question about the griffin’s origins intrigued her. What she could not have expected was how her search would take her from Greece to Samos to The Museum of the Rockies to distant China. Infinitely interesting, illustrated with multiple photographs, sketches, ancient images and contemporary illustrations, Mayor not only shows where our ancestors got their seemingly goofy ideas, but gives these people a form of credit and respect that is certainly their due.
Every Marc Aronson book is different. Generalizing is not something you can really do when you discuss him as an author. I have found in the past that some of his books ran a bit on the long and lengthy side, but beyond that there aren’t any real connecting threads between one project and another. Yet if I found Mr. Aronson to be a bit more loquacious at times than he needed to be, no such objection could possibly be leveled at The Griffin and the Dinosaur. Coming in at a svelte 48 pages, a number normally associated with slightly longer picture books, Aronson wastes no time getting to the meat of the matter. Turn to the first page and there’s Adrienne, age six. Four pages later she’s studying in Athens while her fiancé works on his ancient Greek fortress research. Aronson cuts to the chase, helped in large part by his interviews with Adrienne. The result is a well-rounded portrait of a single woman going against the odds to prove something both interesting and odd. It’s research presented to kids as adventure in a format they’re going to actually WANT to read. How rare is that?
I know that one reviewer of this book was dismayed by an interpretation of Marc Aronson’s message here that says that people who closely observe the world around them are just as good as professional scholars in the field. For the record, I do not happen to agree that that is what Aronson is saying. I think it far more likely that Aronson is displaying the need for balance. You can sit behind dusty tomes all day long with your professional degree hanging up upon a wall, but if you don’t go out and try new ideas and speak to new people and even do a bit of exploring (of one kind or another) then you cannot be surprised when a woman like Ms. Mayor goes about making a fabulous, hitherto unknown (or unproved) discovery. By the same token, the person who observes the world around them closely but never picks up a book or does even rudimentary research is going to completely miss the potential connections out there that could justify their work. Mayor exhibited both a willingness to learn and a sharp-eyed curiosity that was willing to question. In an era when so much research is beholden to outside interests, it does the heart good to read a book about a woman who set out to discover what many might have considered impossible to prove.
The extra details turn out to be just as enchanting. The entire history of the Scythians and how they might have been an inspiration for some of the Amazon women tales out there is captivating. Even more so their gold, as well as the discovery of Megalopolis. And then there’s that amazing look at mammoth skulls and how they might have inspired the stories of the Cyclops. It all got me to thinking about the role of myths in the world and their beginnings. Maybe a kid will read this book and begin to wonder what the roots of other great myths might be. Will they start poring over Hindi and Norse myths, looking for clues to the past? Or will they simply get a better sense of one of the big themes of the book: that ancient people had reasons for making up the stories that they did. For me, that was a moral well worth taking away from the story. We have a tendency to look down our nose at our ancient ancestors, but as this book shows, these people had their reasons for thinking the way that they did. We should never be so egotistical as to believe that we are the first people to find the bones of long extinct creatures and to make up reasons for their existence.
As for the art, for the most part it’s okay but artist Chris Muller gets off to a shaky start. His presence in the book makes a lot of sense. I could completely understand the need to ratchet up the kid-friendly elements of the story, of course. If you name your book The Griffin and the Dinosaur then you better bloody well have a couple griffins in there (to say nothing of the dinosaurs). In fact, when Muller is working on the mythical, he is at his best. The cover, for example, is striking, as are his images of an Amazon fighting a griffin or a sleeping griffin protecting its nest. Where it all breaks down is when he has to deal with reality. The publication page says that the paintings were made with “traditional media – pencil and watercolors – and digital painting.” Traditional media is fine with me, but the digital painting proves to be occasionally painful. For example, a preliminary image of young Adrienne dowsing above the skeleton of a dinosaur is baffling partly because I couldn’t find any mentions of dowsing in the text and partly because the CGI cloud cover contrasts horribly with the drawn Adrienne. It feels like a cheap image in an otherwise classy book. Happily, it is the only moment when I felt that way. Other images in the book border or plunge right into the fantastical, and that’s appropriate for the moments they tend to illustrate.
This is the Possession by A.S. Byatt of children’s literature. An honest-to-goodness historical mystery complete with an early hypothesis, a likable heroine, multiple dead ends, and at the end? GOLD! Literally. It succeeds at doing many things at once, but never runs too long or bores the reader with its findings. Mayor is a likable and ultimately unintimidating subject for kids to follow. For those children obsessed with myths and legends, this might be the ideal way to transition them gently from the world of the fantastical into one of research and exploration. For Percy Jackson lovers everywhere.
On shelves April 8th.
Source: Final copy sent from publicist for review.
Like This? Then Try:
Professional Reviews: Kirkus
- The American Museum of Natural History offers their own summary of the griffin/dinosaur connection.
Blog: Crazy Quilts
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Summer is ending and the garden is winding down. I’m harvesting fewer veggies and making plans to prepare amend my soil over the winter. Next
Fall Crop: Rutabaga
year, I simply want a wider variety of vegetables. I need to move to a plot that gets full sun in the early morning, but I’m not sure how well that will work out.
And, as the garden winds down the library is gearing up for the school year. This week I’ve got classes to teach and a graduate student open house to staff. I’m meeting at CANDLES Holocaust Museum to develop a docent program, finishing up a project with National Geographic to align some of their books to the Core Curriculum and I have this idea for an article that I want to develop. And, my BFYA pile is growing again! I admit it’s still out of control, but I’m planning strategic days at home over the next few months to do nothing but read. And, my weekends are completely and boringly void of everything except books.
I think most people want others to be aware of the work they do and the
Weekly Harvest of Books!
Internet is the perfect venue for sharing our successes. Have you ever done a search for someone and found nothing on them?
Do you ever search your own name? This morning, I used Google, Bing and Yahoo to search for myself. Using my full name, I got a lot of hits for obituaries of dead white women. I used to find curriculum units I prepared or programs I participated in but now, I suppose those things are just too old.
When I shortened my first name to “Edi” and eliminated “Edie” from my search, I got a few things related to my blog, a video that I think is about a singer in Latin h America and advice on how to dress like Edi Campbell, most probably the other Edi Campbell.
Now, I’m not trying to use the ‘net to claim my 3 minutes of fame but I do know that there is a very good chance I’ll be looking for another job or two. Face it, employers search to see what they can find out about us. About.me is a nice, new tool that allows users to create their own home page and establish their professional image. It would be good for students entering the job market as well as for the seasoned professional who has little else online.
Fall crop: cabbage sprouts
Get your name out there and make a difference in YA: apply to be a CYBILS judge. Self nominations are due by 30 August.
The winners of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize were recently announced and make wonderful reading choices for young readers.
Don’t leave the young people out of the celebrations of the anniversary of the March on Washington. My favorite post to help bring them into the conversation is Don Tate’s listing of picture and nonfiction books. Throughout the year, educator’s can turn to ALA’s newly released Multi-ethnic books for the middle school curriculum.
We just can’t get around the fact that life is diverse, can we? So many different things to keep us busy!
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National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry: 200 Poems with Photographs That Squeak, Soar, and Roar!
Edited by J. Patrick Lewis
On shelves now
Animals make for good poetry. That’s just common sense. When humans get misty eyed and start thinking their great grand thoughts, they tend to be inspired by some form of nature. Naturally, some animals in particular are replete with awe-inspiring tendencies. Bald eagles, say. So where does that put your average hamster or flamingo? Not all animals are built to accompany great grand thoughts after all. Some of them are best suited to small, sly, clever verses instead. Taken as a whole, there are probably more animal poems in the world than a person could imagine. That’s why it’s rather clever of J. Patrick Lewis to pair with National Geographic’s talented photography department to bring us a gorgeously designed book of animal poems. You name the animal, the man has found (or perhaps solicited?) a poem to fit. Containing everything from limericks to haiku, this collection of two hundred poems and who knows how many photos is a visual feast for eye and ear alike.
“If you listen very carefully, you’ll hear the chicken hatching,” reads the first poem in this book. It’s “The Egg” by Jack Prelutsky and it starts off National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry’s “Welcome to the World” section. Split into eight different sections, the book categorizes its contents not by genus or species but by only the grandest of terms. There are “the big ones”, “the little ones”, “the winged ones”, “the water ones”, “the strange ones”, “the noisy ones”, and “the quiet ones”. Each poem is accompanied by a photograph, and sometimes the photograph is accompanied by more than one poem. There are verses poignant and funny, thought provoking and wild. Finally, at the end of the book, there is a section on “writing poems about animals” that aids kids by giving them a range of different forms to try. This is followed by a two-page spread of resources and four indexes at the end, one by title, one by poet, one by first line, and one by subject.
What is unclear to me is the ratio of poems Lewis knew about and found verses the poems he went out and asked for. I noticed quite a few contemporary children’s poets between these pages. Janet S. Wong, Jane Yolen, Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, Michael J. Rosen, Bobbi Katz, Betsy Franco, etc. And I could not help but notice that those contemporary poets tended to write for some of the more difficult animals. The anemone, the blue jay, or the raccoon, for example. Here’s another question for you: Which came first, the photograph or the poem? Did Mr. Lewis plow through untold hundreds of National Geographic photos, old and new, cull the best and then find the poems, or did he find the poems first and then match the photos to fit? Certainly some of the National Geographic’s better known images are in this book (the picture of the flamingoes standing in the shape of a flamingo, for example). Sadly no note exists in this book telling us what Mr. Lewis’s process was.
There is a form to the chapters of this book but not so much form within the chapters. You might wonder at this at first, but since it’s easy enough to locate your favorite critter by using the subject index at the end of the book, it’s understandable why you might want to take the advice Mr. J. Patrick Lewis proffers at the beginning of the collection and know that “This book is not for reading straight through.” You dip in and find old favorites and new with ease. One librarian commented to me her surprise that the tiger poem in this book wasn’t William Blake’s “The Tyger”. True enough, but the anonymous poem with its classic limerick about the lady from Niger is rather well known within its own right. I was also amused in a very fifth grade boy kind of way by Michael J. Rosen’s blue-footed booby poem. You’ll have to see it for yourself to understand why.
There are a couple times when the poem paired to the photo is a bit misleading or confusing. For example, for the picture of a butterfly still within its chrysalis, the poem is instead about a cocoon. I suppose cocoons are significantly less impressive photography-wise than chrysalises, but I’ve little doubt that kids will find the terms interchangeable now. Similarly there’s a poem about a sea horse that is inexplicably paired with an impressive but very different image of a weedy sea dragon. Credit where credit is due, each photograph is accompanied by a very small written description of its subject matter, but nine times out of ten the child reader will be relying on the poem to explain what they’re seeing. Probably because nine times out of ten that would be the right move.
I can only imagine the sheer amounts of blood, sweat and tears that went into the collection and design of the book itself. It has its little quirks here and there, but if you’re seeking a poetry book for kids that children would willingly pick up and flip through, even if they have hitherto professed to not like poetry in the slightest, this is your best bet. A gorgeous little number that has the occasional slip-up, it is nonetheless a magnificent collection and book that is well worth the space it takes up. Add a little natural wonder to your poetry shelves. Because if we’re talking about the best possible compliment to your eyes and ears alike, few have as many perks and grand moments as this.
On shelves now.
Source: Final copy sent from publisher for review.
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Be sure to watch J. Patrick Lewis reading the poem “Make the Earth Your Companion here:
The name alone, National Geographic sells a book or magazine. Their reputation for photographs and educational information exults even a non-reader.
Recently while at a local Barnes and Nobles I was pleased to find several choices in books for young readers about the Titanic. They are located on an end-cap aisle in the children's area. After looking through all the choices available I chose this one. Why? Because it's National Geographic and I know it will be everything I'd expect it to be.
This book has less reading than the previous book on the Titanic I'd just reviewed. The emphasis is on photographs. Many I'd not seen before. The lay-out of the pages are magazine style. It is professionally created with the intent of mesmerizing and educating children (without the child even knowing it.) The photographs are of both the ship before setting sail and after being found in 1985. What I found of most interest is of the artifacts both on the bottom of the ocean floor and those that have been recovered.
This is an outstanding children's book on the Titanic and I highly recommend it to young readers, or those of any age.
Published by National Geographic Children's Books March 27, 2012
For ages 6 and up
Paperback $3.79 http://shop.nationalgeographic.com/ngs/product/national-geographic-readers-series/national-geographic-readers%3A-titanichttp://www.amazon.com/National-Geographic-Readers-Melissa-Stewart/dp/1426310595/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_b
Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way). Sue Macy. 2011. National Geographic. 96 pages.Sometime between May and November, 1876, Colonel Albert Augustus Pope took a trip that changed American life forever.
Wheels of Change is a great little book! It is so well-written, so informative, so engaging! So what is the book about? Well, it's about how the introduction of the bicycle into American culture/society, changed the way women saw themselves, and how others saw them too. Bicycling was fun, yes, and it was physically challenging; but it was so much more than that. At a time when everyone assumed women were weak and mindless and needed to stay that way. Well, I exaggerate slightly, perhaps. But in terms of what women could do--inside or outside the home, in terms of what women could wear, in terms of where women could go, in terms of what kind of relationships and friendships women could have, etc. Forgetting the morality of it all, there were some that believed that women should not exert themselves physically at all. That any type of exercise at all could damage a woman's body or mind. But of course, morality does come into it. What kind of woman rides a bicycle? Who does she ride with? Does she ride on a bicycle built for two? What else is going on besides bike riding in these meetings? And a woman who wears bloomers?! Well, that has to say something about her moral character, right?!
As you can guess, this one is such a great little book. Each chapter is fascinating. And this one is designed so well! It is so reader-friendly. There are so many pictures, so many photographs, so many little asides...this one just says read me, read me, read me!
- Chapter 1: Inventing the Bicycle
- Feature: Celebrity Cyclists
- Chapter 2: The Devil's Advance Agent
- Feature: Cycling Slang
- Chapter 3: Fashion Forward
- Feature: Cycling Songs
- Chapter 4: Fast and Fearless
- Feature: The Cycling Press
- Chapter 5: New Freedoms
- Feature: Selling with Cycles
This one was well-researched. And I'd definitely recommend it!!!
Read Wheels of Change
Women's IndependenceWomen's Liberation and the BicycleCourting with a BicycleNew Bicycle Technology
- If you love nonfiction
- If you are interested in women's history
- If you are interested in bicycling, the history of it
- If you are interested in American history during the Victorian period
© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
As weeks go, this one has been kind of blah. Not bad, but not great either. I did manage to get a ton of work done, which definitely goes in the good column. Here are some scraps of interest I found this week while trolling the Web.
National Geographic posted a list of Ten Top Literary Cities
. Edinburgh, Scotland, tops the list, followed by Dublin, London, Paris, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Portland, Washington, D.C., Melbourne, and Santiago, Chile. Sad to say, I've been to only one, London (where I visited Dickens House). My hubby, thanks to all his business travel, has visited half the list, having just returned from Dublin, where he viewed The Book of Kells, a lifelong dream. Which places have you been to?
Last month Maurice Sendak appeared in a two-part "Colbert Report"
and if you haven't yet seen it, please do. It was laugh aloud funny. In the show, Colbert shows Sendak a children's book he wrote, entitled: I Am a Pole (And So Can You)
. Sendak dismissed the book as "terribly ordinary" (and he was being generous), but admitted, "The sad thing is I liked it." Well, hold on to your hats, I Am a Pole
will be published in May by Grand Central Publishing.
And get this, according to a survey of 2,000 UK parents
, one in five have put the kibosh of reading fairy tales to their young ones. The reason? They're too scary--and not politically correct. Hansel and Gretel? Abandoned children. Snow White? Dwarves aren't a nice term for little people. Cinderella? Too much housework done by a female. Rapunzel? Kidnapping. Goldilocks? The kid's a thief. Have these people never read Bruno Bettelheim's The Uses of Enchantment
? Apparently not. My daughter's favorite tale hands down was "The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids". Little goats left alone get tricked and swallowed up by a wolf, except for the youngest one. He tells his mother what has happened and she springs into action, using her smarts and sewing basket to free her kids and kill the wolf. It doesn't take a genius to figure out the story's appeal to a small child. No matter what happens, Mom's got your back. I feel sorry for the children of these parents who won't be able to resolve their fears because they never got the chance to hear these timeless stories.
This week saw my 1,000th tweet. I started Twitter a little over a year ago, not expecting to like it. Instead, I've found it an amazing resource, especially for people interested in children's literature. If you have a Twitter account (and if you don't, why not test the waters?), feel free to follow me @TheCathInTheHat. Happy tweeting!
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Good new too all! There may be a hidden silver lining to global warming…well, in the Arctic at least. According to a new study, the persistent change in climate may very well improve the quality of air in the polar region. This good news is rare seeing as global warming in the Arctic is increasing at a more rapid rate than in other areas of the planet. Due to warming, air pollutants from industrial regions travel to the Arctic. In turn, these pollutants only speed up the warming. It is a vicious cycle!
Now, I’m sure you are asking, “Where is the good news?” Well my friends, global rainfall is also predicted to be a widespread result of global warming. Lucky for us, rain serves as a natural cleanser. As said by the scientist leading this recent study, Timothy Garrett, “Precipitation is the atmosphere’s single most efficient way of removing particulate pollution.” Raindrops take the pollutants with them. Simple as that! Due to this redeeming natural occurrence, rainfall may already swipe pollution from the air before it even reaches the Arctic.
Read about another vicious cylce in our book, “In Arctic Waters,” by Laura Crawford. I promise, this cycle is more forgiving and much more exciting! Through this wonderfully illustrated book, join in the rhythmic, building fun of Arctic animals as they play and chase each other around “the ice that floats in the Arctic water.” What happens to interrupt and spoil their fun? Go and see for yourself!
For even more fun with reading, dive into another one of our titles, “The Glaciers are Melting!” by Donna Love. In this book, Peter Pika is sure the glaciers are melting and is off to talk to the Mountain Monarch about it. Joined along the way by friends Tammy Ptarmigan, Sally Squirrel, Mandy Marmot, and Harry Hare, they all wonder what will happen to them if the glaciers melt. Where will they live, how will they survive? When Wiley Wolverine tries to trick them, can the Mountain Monarch save them? More importantly, can the Mountain Monarch stop the glaceirs from melting?
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National Geographic Kids World Atlas by National Geographic
Reviewed by: Dad of Divas
About the author:
National Geographic is a recognised authority in mapping excellence. For 119 years the Society’s maps have helped spread geographic knowledge to people around the world. A multi-million-dollar database allows National Geographic to combine the latest data gained by space-age technology with innovative digital mapping techniques to create state-of-the-art political, physical, and thematic maps. Meticulous research and attention to detail have established a standard of achievement that is second to none.
About the book:
In this new, reduced trim size edition, we’ve punched up the content with the very latest maps, data, and essays about the world and all that is in it. More than 200 color images transport kids to intriguing places, and 115 pages of full-size National Geographic maps help them locate countries, cities, regions, and more.
Created by the most trusted name in cartography, these colorful maps have been custom designed for middle-grade students. Boundaries, place-names, and data reflect the most current information available, and every map appears in the context of surrounding areas to ensure that a full picture of the world develops. Same-size physical and political maps make for easy comparisons and help youngsters understand how physical features influence patterns of human settlement and economic activity. Locator globes and color-coding make it easy for kids to keep track of where they are and quickly navigate from one region to another.
Stunning images from space draw visual links between real-world scenes and cartography. Plus, an interactive Web feature links kids to the Society’s vast archive of maps, articles, photos, videos, music, languages, crafts, quizzes, and more. With a dynamic reference like this, homework has never been so fascinating.
My take on the book:
I have seen so many children’s atlases and they have all had excellent qualities but I need to say that this atlas is not only for children but for the entire family.
I found many of the sections worthy of mentioning: there is a web site offered which will give you to access to more information than the book offers. The book offers excellent maps not only of the countries but of the vegetation, the physical aspects of each continent, land formations, natural disasters, the oceans of the world, world politics, world population, languages of the world, religions and economics of the world, food and water resources, mineral resources, and more.
The book illustrates each continent in so many detailed ways. Lots of photos enhance the text.
It is a book that can be used at all grade levels especially knowing you have the web site of information available to you. Help your children to know the world they live in. We are in a global