Friday, April 30, 2010

Nic Bishop Frogs

I never thought I'd ever look at a photograph and say, "What a beautiful frog!" But these words indeed came out of my mouth more than once after flipping through Nic Bishop Frogs. Author and photographer, Nic Bishop has won multiple awards for this book, and it's easy to see why. He takes readers on a photographic journey around the world, introducing different kinds of frogs through absolutely gorgeous close-up photographs and interesting facts.

I jump for joy when I find great nonfiction for kids, and I would have totally turned a cartwheel if I could have after picking up this book at the library. What makes it so great is the fine balance of photography with facts. Kids at different age and reading levels can enjoy this book and have the choice of reading from cover to cover or flipping through the pictures. The blue poison dart frog is a favorite in our house, and I've received strict orders from a certain three-year-old to take a trip to the National Aquarium in Baltimore to see one up-close. Great for home, classroom, and school libraries, I highly recommend it.

Now, if I exclaim "What a beautiful spider!" after reading, Nic Bishop Spiders, Mr. Bishop will be a true magician.

  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction (January 1, 2008)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439877558
  • Source: Local Library

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Press Release: Essay Contest

Some of your young readers and aspiring writers may be interested in this contest.

NEW YORK, NY – April 26, 2010 - Random House Children’s Books and Kids Crooked House are kicking off an essay contest for kids to promote adventure, imagination, and creativity: themes that are all reflected in Mary Pope Osborne’s bestselling Magic Tree House series. The grand-prize winner will be awarded their own Magic Tree House: a custom designed playhouse by Kids Crooked House, creators of the most whimsical playhouses for children. Ten runner-up winners will receive a Magic Tree House book autographed by Mary Pope Osborne, beloved author of the wildly popular New York Times bestselling series that has now sold nearly 70 million copies.

The Magic Tree House series, first published in 1992, follows brother and sister duo Jack and Annie as they journey back in time via a magic tree house, traveling to exotic places and meeting famous historical figures. Children interested in entering the essay contest must submit a response to this question: Write about an adventure you would like to have in the Magic Tree House. Where would you go and what would you do? Mary Pope Osborne will review the submissions and choose the winner.

Essay entry forms are available for download at and must be mailed to Random House offices at 1745 Broadway New York, NY 10019. Entries will be accepted from April 27 through October 31, 2010. The winners will be announced in mid December 2010.

“There is nothing more exciting than a child using their imagination and this essay contest is a great outlet. No one knows boundless imagination better than Mary Pope Osborne, a truly creative and artistic author. Kids Crooked House is honored to work with Ms. Osborne and a partner like Random House to help make this an exciting endeavor for many children,” said Glen Halliday, creative director and CEO for Kids Crooked House.

Kids Crooked House is inspired by, and infused with, Maine and its natural wonders. Glen and his cousin, Jeff Leighton, built their first crooked house because they loved being outside and wanted their kids to love it, too. Glen and Jeff’s goal is to encourage children to use their imaginations as wildly as possible, and with the diverse range of playhouses Kids Crooked House offers, it isn’t very hard to do.

“I’m so excited about this contest, knowing it will inspire an adventure and allow children to be as creative as they dare. I can’t wait to read their ideas, and learn about where they would like to go! This essay contest touches on my main goal in writing the Magic Tree House books: to encourage children to go on adventures using their own imaginations,” said Mary Pope Osborne.

Prowling the Seas: Exploring the Hidden World of Ocean Predators by Pamela S. Turner

When asked to list predators, most people begin with predators that roam the land, like lions and tigers. But there is an entire world of predators and prey off land in the ocean. Pamela S. Turner explores these predators in Prowling the Seas: Exploring the Hidden World of Ocean Predators. The book follows the scientists of the Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP) project as they tag and study ocean predators.

Readers meet Genevieve, a leatherback sea turtle and her turtle friends in the Great Turtle Race as they swim to the Galapagos Islands after nesting; a bluefin tuna preying in the California Current; a white shark that swims from Northern California to Hawaii; and seabirds in New Zealand. Readers also meet the scientists who work with the animals.

Along the way, readers learn interesting facts about the predators and the areas in which they live. Full color photographs show TOPP scientists working with the predators and the predators swimming in their natural habitat. Maps of the paths the tagged animals took are sprinkled throughout the book.

In her true style, Pamela S. Turner makes nonfiction come alive with conversational and engaging copy. Not only is this a great resource for science classes, but it is a great choice for little explorers interested in ocean life.

  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers (October 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802797482
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802797483
  • Source: Review copy from publisher

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mirror by Suzy Lee

Simple. Stunning. Fun. Those words describe Mirror, Suzy Lee's newest picture book. In this wordless picture book, a young girl playfully plays with her own reflection in a mirror. She dances and makes funny faces until she gets a little too excited and...

I'm not going to spoil the ending for you, but it has the same surprise effect as the wave that washes over the little girl in her other book, Wave.

I love both of these books because they're not overdone as you see in a lot of children's books. The images speak for themselves without needing words, and both effectively present the playfulness of childhood.You can imagine any child playing with a wave or playing with a mirror, and kids will want to keep turning the page to see what happens next.

The illustrations in Mirror are simple, yet full of life and expression in the little girl's body language. The black and white drawings are brightened up with the splash of yellow that's the little girl's dress, and the placement of the mirror on one side of the fold and the girl on the other creates the perfect format for flipping through this book.

I love wordless picture books because they're appropriate for kids with different reading abilities, they can be enjoyed by families who speak different languages, and they can help develop a child's imagination.

I can't recommend this book enough.

Watch a slideshow for a sneak peek.

Publisher: Seven Footer Press (May 1, 2010) | ISBN: 978-1934734391 | Source: Review copy from publisher 

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