Friday, April 10, 2015

April Hosts Poetry & Earth Care (FAMILY magazine reviews)

During the month of April, remember to play with poetry using both rhyming and non-rhyming books. Memorize a poem or more that you love, and help your child(ren) learn a poem they can say again and again. Try any or all of these books to share.  And don’t forget to plan a project you can do together to care for the earth.
Taking time to enjoy books and activities that extend the reading experience can create lasting memories that will return to enrich all of our lives. Have fun!!

Some Bugs by Angela DiTerlizzi 
Illustrated by Brendan Wenzel
            The rhyming exploration of backyard bugs in this lively book encourages readers to dig in the dirt. It invites them to investigate backyard insects. “Building, making, hunting, taking – bugs are oh-so-fascinating!”
Explosively colorful illustrations feature bugs that bite and fight. Other bugs glide and hide. A ladybug onlooker watches the busy activity on each page.
Younger children especially will become absorbed in the lively creatures as they flutter, click, hop and hide on the pages of this merry picture book. The final double page spread labels all the pictured bugs.

Simon & Schuster, $17.99 
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Kindergarten

Maple by Lori Nichols
            A little girl, with the same name as the tiny tree planted before her birth, “When she was still a whisper,” loves both the tree and her name. She romps with and under her tree and through the pages. Both she and the tree grow and change with the seasons and the years.
            White space helps to shape the passing of time. It also contrasts with the importance of the full-page illustrations for defining the relationships in the story:  Maple’s friendship with her tree; with the parents (whose faces we never see); and with the new baby in the family. The new tree, a Willow, like her name, arrives just before she does. 
The pencil illustrations are digitally colored. Filled with cheerful energy, they are lit with warm greens and cool blues. Surprisingly vigorous, for a reflective space, are the two spreads showing Maple’s tree leaves as they dance. This is a tender, gently told story to charm young listeners.

Penguin, $16.99 
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 1

The Great Big Green by Peggy Gifford 
Illustrated by Lisa Desimini
            Saving the kicker until the end, this subtle environmental tale is all about shades and kinds of green. Without defining “the thing” except by giving clues -- “anaconda green,” “turtle-green ponds,” “tornado-sky greens,” “bunch-of-green-grapes green” – readers and listeners are invited to guess. 
            An Artist’s Note at the end explains that Desimini has scanned papers, fabric, photos, and “other unusual materials.” She then uses these scans to create mixed media collages for the illustrations. Her use of orange, rose, purple and even blue and turquoise backgrounds adds movement and texture, making the greens really POP with energy. Especially bold is the double page spread of the tiger’s orange-tinted, striped face and marble-green eyes staring directly from beneath green leaves.
Beginning with a spiral shape on the first page, Gifford’s rollicking text circles around through the pages to a green ball in the next to last page.  Sometimes rhyming, always rhythmic, the words and matching pictures create the twist on the final pages - the blue globe!

Boyds Mills, $15.95 
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 3 

More reading choices to focus on nature’s gifts:

Seed Soil Sun: Earth’s Recipe for Food 
by Cris Peterson, photos by David R. Lundquist
Boyds Mills, $17.95 (hardcover) $7.95 (paperback) 
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3

Plant a Little Seed 
by Bonnie Christensen
Roaring Brook, $17.99 
Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2 

Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature 
by Sarah C. Campbell, photos by Sarah C. Campbell and Richard P. Campbell
Boyds Mills, $16.95 
Interest Level: Grades 1-4 

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