Published by Chronicle Books
Summary: Viv is new in town, and unsure how she feels about her new home. On her first day of school, her new teacher encourages the class to look for a problem in their community that the kids can work to solve. Walking on the beach, Viv learns that sea turtles nest there, and that the babies often get disoriented by beach house lights and can’t find their way to the ocean. Her own difficulties finding her way in a new place makes Viv sympathetic for the turtles. Soon her whole class is involved in researching the turtles’ plight and spreading the word to turn out lights and close curtains at night. Their hard work pays off, and on a night patrol, Viv gets to see a line of loggerhead turtles heading for the sea. Back matter includes a letter to young activists, a note to parents and teachers on how to help kids make a difference in their communities, and additional information about sea turtles. 48 pages; grades K-4.
Pros: Environmental activist Cousteau (grandson of Jacques) and award-winning write Hopkinson join forces for an inspiring tale about young kids making a difference, backed up with information readers can use themselves.
Cons: I was hoping this was based on a true story, but it seems to be fictional.
Published by Candlewick
Summary: 14 different types of sharks get a poem, along with a brief factual description and two-page illustration. There are well-known sharks, such as the great white and the whale shark, and some lesser known species, like the cookie-cutter shark and wobbegong. Some of the poems are only a few lines (“Whale Shark: In water she dangles, and bubbles and jangles, and blinks her mouth right up at me. Her back spots they shimmer, her tail getting dimmer, the silkiest wave of the sea.”); others are a few stanzas. All are descriptive and playful with language. 32 pages; grades K-4.
Pros: The Venn diagram showing the intersection of poetry readers and shark fans must be pretty close to the null set. Slickety Quick does its part to remedy this situation, with fun poems and interesting shark lore to appeal to both groups.
Cons: Back matter with additional shark information would have been a nice addition.
Published by Scholastic
Summary: Four birds wake up in their nest; there are three “tweets”…and a “moo”! The moo bird is pushed out of the nest with the suggestion that he go find some cows. Off he goes, crossing paths with a pig, a horse, and a sheep, all of whom send him on his way. Even finding a cow proves disappointing, as she just thinks he’s confused. He starts to head back to the nest, wings drooping and black cloud over his head, when he finds another moo-er. It looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship. 32 pages; ages 4-6.
Pros: With comic style illustrations and just a few words per page, this is a sure winner for those at the earliest stages of reading.
Cons: I am so busy painting my new house that Moo Bird is about the longest book I have time to read.
Published by Roaring Brook Press
Summary: Which Greek god has the most kid appeal? Pan, of course, the fun-loving god of noise, confusion, sheep, shepherds, goats, goatherds, bees, and beekeepers. Mordicai Gerstein combed through Greek myths to find all the ones he could in which Pan played a role. So after recounting his own birth, Pan then goes on to tell different stories about himself, including his marriage to Echo (who knew?), how he invented his famous pipes, and his pivotal role in helping the Greeks at the Battle of Marathon. The ending suggests that Pan and his deity comrades are still living among us today, a “fact” Rick Riordan fans will appreciate. A brief author’s note explains how and why Gerstein came to write this book; a list of the mythology books he used for his research is included. 80 pages; grades 1-5.
Pros: Written in comic book form with illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Gerstein, this is a perfect introduction to mythology for elementary age kids. Those already familiar with the Greek pantheon will enjoy expanding on their knowledge.
Cons: Reading a book with a goofy goat-man on the cover, emblazoned with the large words, “I Am Pan!” may open you up to scorn and derision from offspring over the age of 10.