Books Worth Checking Out

After we read books from Germany a few weeks ago someone suggested I look up the German author Sebastian Messcenmoser. Luckily our local library had two of his books.  They are absolutely adorable.

Waiting for Winter, published by Kane Miller, tells the story of a  squirrel, who is quite perplexed when his friend Deer mentions the possibility of snow. He has never seen snow before; he’s usually sleeping.. He tries a multitude of things to try to keep himself awake while he waits, waking other sleeping creatures in the process. They begin finding objects left by careless humans that fit the description of snow Deer gave – a toothbrush, a tin can, a dirty sock, but none of them are quite right. They do see real snow in the end, and have a grand time making a snowman together.

Many of the pages have little or no text on them, leaving much of this story for your little ones to tell on their own. I personally love when there are no words, forcing you to use your imagination and the clues given in the pictures to create your own version of the tale.  What a great way to practice storytelling, story structure, vocabulary, and so much more! Waiting for Winter provides a great frame with the text that is there, so for people who are not fans of wordless picture books, this may be a great gateway for you.

Mr. Squirrel and Moon, translated by David Henry Wilson, published by North South Books, follows the same little squirrel from Waiting for Winter on a hilarious adventure involving a wheel of cheese that has been mistaken for the moon. Mr. Squirrel is certain he will end up in jail one way or another after he discovers the cheese moon on his tree, and is an accomplice to its ruin. A hedgehog and billy goat round out the cast of characters in this delightful tale.
The humor expressed in these simple, sparse illustrations is incredible. I sat alone in my classroom laughing as I read both this morning. I especially appreciate how the scenes that show what’s happening in Squirrel’s imagination are so detailed and clear, while reality is portrayed as a little more fuzzy, rough, and has more texture.

How do we ensure our children will care about the world they live in? For starters, they need to fall in love with it. They need to build a connection with the land, plants, and animals that inhabit it. One way we can help nurture a child’s love for the world is by sharing books, like Last: The Story of a White Rhino, by Nicola Davies, that help them forge a connection with animals they may not otherwise come in contact with.

Last: The Story of a White Rhino tells the true story of the last male Northern White Rhino, Sudan, who was taken from his home in Africa to a zoo in the Czech Republic. There he, along with the other animals, were left to pace in a bleak, gray city, far away from the colorful world they once loved. Five years after his arrival, he is returned to his native land, to the colors, sights and smells he missed, a place of hope.

Davies’ simple, carefully crafted text, along with powerful illustrations, make this a great introduction to conservation for any age group. The way Davies contrasts the dark, gray, world of the city to the vibrant wild helps even the youngest reader understand where Sudan belongs. She is able to help forge a connection between animal and reader through the animal’s eyes and their subtle facial expressions. The scenes of Sudan and his mother are especially powerful in encouraging empathy towards animals.

This is an outstanding stand-alone book, however, for older kids, Last: The Story of a White Rhino would be a great jumping off point to begin research on endangered and extinct animals, conservation efforts for endangered species, and changes in the planet’s biodiversity over time. Younger kids may enjoy spending more time looking at the illustrations, and reading other books about animals that are endangered.

Last: The Story of a White Rhino is a book I was excited to add to our home library. Thank you @PublisherSpotlight for sending us our copy last year. It is truly an outstanding book that I use at home and in my classroom.

The outstanding teacher materials pictured can be found on @Tiny _Owl_Publishing in the Teacher Resources Section of their website.

Do you live in a city or near a city that has an underground transportation system? Have you ever traveled to a city with underground transportation? Underground: Subway Systems Around the World by Uijung Kim, is part nonfiction book, part search and find book, and all fun.

Ten city’s underground transportation systems are featured in this bright, fun to look at, picture book. Each city’s page provides the reader with fun facts. Half the page then flips to reveal a “slice” of what it looks like on board a train car, or inside the tunnels of that system. A list of curiosities from each city is also given, which the reader is then supposed to find on the page.

This is such an engaging way to introduce underground transportation to kids. I could see this being used as part of a geography unit, or a unit on transportation, or a fun book to take on a trip to a big city to compare what you see with what is in the book.

Thank you @publisherspotlight for sending us our copy last year! All opinions are my own. I only would, and do share books with you that I share with my own kids, and the kids in my class.

Seasons, by Hannah Pang & Clover Robin, published by 360 degrees, an imprint of Tiger Tales, has been floating around Instagram for a while now, and I finally discovered why it’s so popular when I finally got my hands on a copy last week.

There are so many things to love about this book – the textured artwork is beautiful and interesting to look at, the flaps on the pages help keep little ones engaged, it features the seasons, something common to everyone, and there are layers of text, meaning there are parts that can be read to very young listeners, and parts that could be saved for older children. You could also easily just look at the pictures and discuss.

However, I chose to feature it here because of how it represents the seasons – how they are similar and different around the globe. The book starts with a European oak tree, showcasing the animals, plants, and changes that occur to the tree in each season. Then we move onto the Arctic, where there are primarily two seasons because of the sun never rising for part of the year, and never setting for the other part. We also visit the 4 seasons of Alaska, the dry and wet seasons in Northern Australia, the 4 seasons in Yellow Dragon Valley, China, and the wet and dry seasons in Kenya.
While I discuss the seasons frequently with both my girls at home, and my kids at school, I have never thought to discuss how the seasons are different around the world. This book has already prompted some great conversations about what the weather is like in different places, the Earth’s position to the sun, the southern and northern hemispheres, and how weather/seasons are cyclical.

This book was sent to me for review by Tiger Tales and Publisher Spotlight. I will be using this for years to come both at home and in my classroom.

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