Published by Balzer + Bray
Summary: Worm and Worm love each other and decide they want to get married. They’re ready to go, but their friends tell them they have to do things the way they’ve always been done. Cricket wants to officiate, Beetle decides to be best beetle, the Bees not only want to be brides’ bees, but insist on flowers, cake, a white dress, and a tuxedo. The only problem with that is, it’s not clear which worm should wear the dress and which the tuxedo. One worm ends up with a tuxedo and bridal veil, and the other with a white dress and black top hat. Cricket objects that that’s not the way it’s always been done, but the worms insist, and in the end, everyone is happy to see them married. 32 pages; ages 4-8.
Pros: What starts out as a sort of insect Bridezilla ends up as a celebration of marriage for all who love each other. The bugs are as cute as…well, bugs. And who can resist a happy ending?
Cons: Some readers may see this as a book with an agenda.
Published by Bonnier Publishing Group
Summary: Basically, toucans can can-can, and cockatoos in tutus, can too. The word play never stops in this brief story, starting with a cockatoo, moving to two, then bringing in the tutus and can-canning toucans. Too. Paired with the fun illustrations, this is sure to bring giggles from young audiences. 40 pages; ages 2-7.
Pros: You, too, can can-can like a toucan.
Cons: The distinction between “Cockatoo two?” and “Cockatoo, too?” may be lost on a very young reader. A reader who is, maybe…two?
Published by Simon and Schuster
Summary: Marie Tharp fell in love with maps when she and her family moved from place to place for her father’s job. After attending 17 different schools, she studied geography in college, then got a job at Lamont Geological Laboratory at Columbia University. Looking for a groundbreaking project to work on, she teamed up with her colleague Bruce Heezen to map the ocean floor. For 20 years, from 1957 to 1977, Heezen collected data on many ocean trips, and Tharp turned the data into maps. Along the way, she discovered a deep rift in the Atlantic Ocean which helped support the theory of continental drift. Her maps have been used in schools and museums around the world. End matter includes more information about Marie Tharp, a glossary and bibliography, and a page entitled, “Things to Wonder About and Do”. 40 pages; grades K-4.
Pros: The first person narration imbues the story with Marie’s own energy and enthusiasm. Colon’s illustrations beautifully capture the light and colors of the seas and the intricacies of Tharp’s maps.
Cons: The continents are moving an inch or two every year?!
You may think it’s the end of January, but here in Kid’s Book a Day land, it’s New Year’s Eve. Some of you keen-eyed blog readers might have noticed that last night I changed the year in the subtitle from 2015 to 2016. Starting tomorrow, all books reviewed will be published in 2016. Here’s hoping for as many wonderful books as we saw in 2015!
Published by Beach Lane Books
Summary: The familiar “Wheels on the Bus” gets an Indian spin as a somewhat wild and crazy tuk tuk driver (wala) weaves his way through a busy Indian town, transporting all kinds of people in his three-wheeled vehicle. Readers (and singers) are introduced to Indian rupees, poppa-doppa-doms, chai tea, Diwali, and elephants and cows in the streets. The authors’ note relates their own experiences on a tuk tuk, and a glossary explains some of the unfamiliar words from the song. 40 pages; ages 3-6.
Pros: A familiar song is used as a vehicle (pardon the pun) for a fun introduction to the sights and sounds of India. The busy illustrations give kids plenty to look at, and everyone on and around the tuk tuk seems to be having a wonderful time.
Cons: Tuk tuk seatbelt laws seem a bit lax.
Published by Candlewick Press
Summary: When a family of three from Florida gets caught in an Ohio blizzard, things go downhill pretty quickly. Unable to find their way. and exhausted from plowing through the deep snow, they finally dig a hole to take shelter and huddle together to wait out the storm. From time to time, the father stands up to whistle, hoping someone will hear this call for help. On a nearby farm, the whistle catches the sharp ears of a cattle dog, and she sets out to locate the source. Finding the family, she stays with them long enough to warm them a bit, then heads back to her farm. She drives the cattle across the snow, flattening it enough that the family is able to walk across it and at last find shelter with the old farmer who owns the dog. Many years later, the boy in the family, now 18 years old, returns to the farm to try to reconstruct the miraculous rescue. What he finds there changes the course of his life going forward. 103 pages; ages 9-13.
Pros: Dog fanciers will fall in love with the courageous, intelligent cattle dog, who, along with the other characters, is nameless until the very end of the story. The color illustrations perfectly capture the feel of the blinding snow and the warm farmhouse.
Cons: While the short text and plentiful illustrations make this feel like an early chapter book, the vocabulary and inferencing skills needed make it more appropriate for an older audience.
Published by Creston Books
Summary: From the time Ada Byron was a child, she loved the world of science and, especially, math. She designed a flying machine at the age of 12, shortly before becoming very ill with a case of the measles that left her temporarily blind and paralyzed. She persevered with her education, however, and when she was 17, she met Charles Babbage, a mathematician and inventor who had created a mechanical calculating machine. He had also designed, but not built, an Analytical Engine, which was a more sophisticated machine, the forerunner of a computer. Ada studied his designs for this machine, and created a numerical algorithm that would instruct it. Although Babbage never built his machine, Ada’s algorithm is considered to be the first computer program. Back matter includes an author’s note, timeline, and bibliography.
Pros: An inspiring story of a brilliant girl growing up in a time when such brilliance was not generally recognized and nurtured. Chu’s illustrations evoke the early 19th-century feel of Ada’s time in history.
Cons: The pages describing the young Ada’s design of a flying machine, followed by her bout with measles, seemed a little disjointed and confusing to me.