Wednesday, January 30, 2008

More Insect Books

If you have a little one in your life who is fascinated by insects, here's a list of a variety of books on the topic. All of these are nonfiction because I had trouble finding good fiction books about bugs. Have any good suggestions?

Giant Pop-Out Bugs: A Pop-Out Surprise Book (Giant Pop-Out)

Amazon Description: This interactive book, with impressive pop-out features, is sure to engage and entertain curious preschoolers. Simple clues in words and pictures allow children to guess what hides behind each flap. And then . . . surprise! Giant Pop-Out Bugs reveals an assortment of creepy crawlers that kids will love. The large pop-outs are simple and sturdy, making them well-suited to young children.

I Can Draw Insects (Boxed Sets/Bindups)

From the publisher:
Adults and children alike can create 30 amazing illustrations of a grasshopper, monarch butterfly, tarantula, caterpillar, praying mantis, scorpion, and more using simple circles, ovals, and other common shapes. A special format features easy instructions on the left side and blank practice pages on the right, plus a pencil, eraser, and sharpener.

Amazing Insects and Spiders (Amazing Life Cycles)

From Powells:
- Bold, vivid photos matched to clear text

- Colorful, easy-to-read maps build map-reading skills

- Life cycle diagrams using photos aid comprehension

- Amazing Fact boxes highlight organisms' extraordinary characteristics

Dazzling Dragonflies: A Life Cycle Story (Linda Glaser's Classic Creatures)

From the publisher: A dragonfly lays her clutch of eggs and the life cycle of dragonflies has begun. Watch as the little nymphs change over time into beautiful adults who can move through the air like an acrobat.

The Silliest Bug and Insect Book Ever

From Barnes and Noble:
This book came from the author's fear of bugs and insects. She went to a hypnotist to help with this fear, but the only thing that came from that is this book. By taking the bugs and insects and imagining them wearing funny hats and being in funny situations, she was able to look at bugs and insects in a totally different way.

Insect Investigators: Entomologists (Scientists at Work)
From the publisher:
This series explores exciting, real-world careers in science. Each title looks at a range of scientists in the field, the dangers and difficulties they face, and the training and tools necessary to do the job.

Insect Investigators covers: What are Entomologists? How do Entomologists study insects? What have Entomologists discovered? How do people become Entomologists?

There are TONS of children's books about insects out there. Do you have any favorites I haven't mentioned?

Check back tomorrow when I review Alphabet of Insects.

Eliza and the Dragonfly

Eliza and the Dragonfly by Susie Caldwell Rinehart; illustrated by Anisa Claire Hovemann
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Dawn Publications (CA) (March 2004)

When a dragonfly lands on Eliza’s toothbrush, she and her Aunt Doris, an entomologist, release it at a nearby pond. It is here they discover a green dragonfly nymph in the pond. Eliza’s first reaction is “ewwwwwwww,” but when Aunt Doris only replies with “Magnificent,” and tells her more about dragonflies, Eliza soon changes her tune. She names the nymph Horace and visits him every day after school. She draws him and talks to him. Her friends Carlos and Annie teach him Spanish and play music to him as they await for him to hatch.

Along the way, we learn interesting facts about dragonflies. For example, “Horace has a gift: a lower lip, five times the size of his head with giant hooks on the end. It tucks away neatly until a small insect swims by. Then it’s dinnertime!”

Then one day, Eliza and her friends get to see what they’ve all been waiting for: Horace hatches into a beautiful green dragonfly.

Through this engaging story, Rinehart teaches children about the lifecycle of a dragonfly and helps them develop an appreciation for insects and nature’s creatures. You’re never overwhelmed with facts, and kids may not even realize they’re learning. Anisa Claire Hovemann’s soft watercolor illustrations resemble ripples in a pond and set the tone for a warmhearted story.

The back of the book includes more information about the lifecycle of a dragonfly and a list of resources to learn more about dragonflies. It may even inspire some young explorers to go out and discover what’s hiding in their backyard.

This would make a nice read for kids, especially ones who are interested in dragonflies, insects, and nature.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Don't Squash That Bug Learning Activities

Don't Squash That Bug!: The Curious Kid's Guide to Insects (Lobster Learners) by Natalie Rompella is a great introduction to insects that will keep your kids entertained and informed.

Here are a number of online resources where your child can learn even more about insects. This is just a small sampling of what's out there.

Various insect lesson plans from Grades K-12.

Tree of Life Web Project
From the site: The Tree of Life Web Project (ToL) is a collaborative effort of biologists from around the world. …the project provides information about the diversity of organisms on Earth, their evolutionary history (phylogeny), and characteristics.

Buginfo from the Smithsonian Institution
Information sheets on a variety of insects.

Helen's World of Nature Photography
Gorgeous photos of all kinds of insects and more.

Interesting articles from the USDA about insects such as, "Bug Gut Analysis: What's Eating You?" and "Got Insect Troubles? Call on a Spider!"

Enchanted Learning
Get lesson plans and lots of fun insect craft ideas. I like the Litter Bug and the Butterfly Wand .

Insects for Kids
A resource to a lot of different insect resources.

Tomorrow, I'm reviewing a fiction book about bugs, Eliza and the Dragonfly, and on Thursday, I'll give you links to more great insect books.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Nonfiction Monday: Don’t Squash That Bug! The Curious Kid’s Guide to Insects by Natalie Rompella

Don't Squash That Bug!: The Curious Kid's Guide to Insects (Lobster Learners) by Natalie Rompella

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Lobster Press (March 25, 2007)

As soon as you open up Don’t Squash That Bug!, you see life-sized photographs of all different types of bugs staring right at you—creepy crawly legs, wings, antenna, larvae. It’s all right there in the endsheets—a pretty cool start to a book all about bugs.

Don’t Squash That Bug! is a perfect introduction to insects and will appeal to many different types of readers. The book is organized into two-page spreads featuring a different order of insect on each spread.

A typical spread includes:

  • The name, pronunciation, and description of the order in which the insects belong
  • Vibrant, full-color photographs of the insects in that order, along with captions giving more information
  • A paragraph or two giving details about the insects
  • Country Cousin: A short section with information about similar insects found in another part of the world
  • Don’t Squash That Bug! section: An explanation about how the insect is important
  • Where Are They?: Information about where you can find the insect

Because the information is broken up into chunks, kids won’t be overwhelmed with too much information, and they can read the sections that interest them the most without having to wade through paragraphs full of text. Rompella does an excellent job of giving information about the insects without making it sound too academic or too difficult to read.

For example, “Cockroaches are omnivores, which means they eat plants and animals. They will even eat the glue on the backs of postage stamps.”

Without overwhelming you with messaging, Don’t Squash That Bug also helps us establish an appreciation for insects and their importance to the ecosystem.

This would make an outstanding library resource, and teachers will find it useful when creating and presenting lessons about insects. For parents of reluctant readers, this book would be an excellent choice, especially if your child is interested in all things creepy crawly.

Check out the other Nonfiction Monday submissions at Picture Book of the Day. Thanks Anastasia for organizing!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

New York Times Bestselling Picture Books

Wow…nothing like a snazzy sticker to boost sales! All four Caldecott Honor Books made it into the top 10 this week. But where is The Invention of Hugo Cabret , the medal winner? No worries! Selznick’s absolutely wonderful fantastic amazing book is on the chapter book list because it’s not a picture book, which makes it even so much cooler that it won the Caldecott this year.

The four honor books and the story of a Buddist panda edged out:

  1. Gallop!: A Scanimation Picture Bookwritten and illustrated by Rufus Butler Seder

    Gallop remains in the top spot this week, its 10th time on the list. If you haven’t seen this book yet, I urge you to check it out. This book is amazing! By flipping through you book you can see a horse galloping, an eagle soaring, and many other animals in movement. The content rhymes and has funny replies that will leave your child laughing.

  1. First the Egg written and illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

This Caldecott Honor Book and Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book debuts at number 2. In my opinion, this is another must have for a small child in your life. Through die-cuts and rich, vibrant illustrations, Seeger presents a series of “first/then” scenarios (egg/chicken; tadpole/frog; seed/flower).

  1. Smash! Crash! by Jon Scieszka. Illustrated by David Shannon, Loren Long and David Gordon.

    Scieszka’s newest book remains at #3 in its second week on the list. Smash! Crash! kicks off Scieska’s Trucktown series for preschool/kindergarten-aged children. If you have a child in your life who loves trucks and who loves to smash things together, he/she will be delighted as Jack Truck and Dump Truck Dan smash and crash through the town.

  1. Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity, written and illustrated by Mo Willems

The second Caldecott Honor Book on the list this week, Knuffle Bunny Too is the follow up to Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale . Here, little Trixie goes to school and discovers that her beloved Knuffle Bunny is NOT the only one in the world…oh boy. Willems illustrations and story had ME laughing out loud more than once. If you’re unfamiliar with Knuffle Bunny or Willems’ other works, I highly recommend you check him out. The honor propelled this book back on the list for the 12th time.

  1. High School Musical: All Accessby N. B. Grace

    Dropping three spots in its ninth week, this book would be a great gift for a High School Musical fan in your life. It looks like a scrapbook made by someone who goes to the school with ticket stubs, pictures, notes in lockers, etc. It would be especially good for a reluctant pre-teen reader.

  1. The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtainwritten and illustrated by Peter Sis

    The third Caldecott Honor Book on the list this week, The Wall debuts in the sixth spot. In this fascinating autobiographical picture book, Sis recounts his childhood growing up in Cold-War era Prague.

7. The Arrival by Shaun Tan

With its third appearance in the top 10, the only words in this book are from an invented alphabet. In the book, an immigrant leaves his family behind to start a new life in a new country. Haunting, emotional, hopeful…these are only a few words to describe this captivating book.

8. Star Wars: A Pop-Up Guide to the Galaxyby Matthew Reinhart

This cool collectable moved down four spots in its 14th week on the list. If you have a Star Wars fan in your life (or you are one), this would make a great gift.

9. Henry's Freedom Box written by Ellen Levine. Illustrated by Kadir Nelson.

Another Caldecott Winner, Henry’s Freedom Box tells the true story of a slave, Henry “Box” Brown, who mailed himself to freedom in a packing crate with the help of the Underground Railroad. One more must-have in my opinion.

10. Zen Ties written and illustrated by Jon J. Muth

In its first week on the list, this is a surprisingly heartwarming story of a Buddist panda who encourages his nephew and friends to help a grouchy neighbor. They’re surprised by what they get in return.

This week's rankings reflect book sales for the week ending January 19, 2008. Check out the New York Times' Children's Book Page for this week's bestselling children's chapter, paperback, and series books.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Poetry Friday

Ah...nothing like a little unrequited love to brighten up your day. We studied William Butler Yeats in my senior seminar in college, and the romantic in me LOVED to read about his infatuation with Maud Gonne who inspired so many beautiful poems. How I longed to me someone's muse, and I couldn't understand how she could have possibly resisted such beautiful words. Now that I think about it, maybe he was kind of creepy. Oh well...makes for some pretty darn good poetry. Here's one of my favorites that still gets to me:

When You Are Old

WHEN you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

by: William Butler Yeats

Favorite line: "But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you"

Visit the rest of the Poetry Friday roundup at Mentor Texts, Read Alouds, & More

'Twas the Day Before Zoo Day by Catherine Ipcizade; illustrated by Ben Hodson

'Twas the Day Before Zoo Day by Catherine Ipcizade; illustrated by Ben Hodson

'Twas the Day Before Zoo Day is an adaptation of Clement Moore’s classic poem “The Night Before Christmas.” As the title implies, it’s the day before “Zoo Day,” when lots of children and their families will be visiting the zoo. The trainers and zookeepers are in a rush to make sure everything is clean and all of the animals are on their best behavior, but the elephants can’t resist the mud, and the llamas won’t stop spitting.

Through this entertaining story, we learn many fun facts about animals. For example, did you know that lions sleep 20 hours a day and that rhinos weigh as much as a car?

And who wouldn’t have fun reading text like this?:

“Giraffes used their blue tongues to drink and to slurp. ‘We might drool sometimes, but we try not to burp.’”

The rhythmic text makes for a great read aloud, and children will laugh out loud more than once, especially at Ben Hodson’s vivid illustrations of the animals with hilarious facial expressions.

If you have a child who loves animals, this would be an excellent choice.

As with all their books, Sylvan Dell has a wealth of teaching activities and more supplemental materials for parents and teachers.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

One Thousand Tracings: Learning Activities

One Thousand Tracings: Healing the Wounds of World War II

I urge you to visit the wonderful website Lita Judge put together for more information about the relief effort her grandparents led to help thousands of struggling Europeans after WWII.

On the site, you can read letters Judge's grandmother translated from German to English, see pictures of more foot tracings, a timeline of WWII and the relief effort, a teacher's guide, and more.

This book could also be a great way to motivate your child (and your entire family) to participate in a service organization or contribute to relief effort (local or abroad) and help other families in need. The teachers guide on the website links to three organizations, but there are many many more out there.