Sandy Feet! Whose Feet?: Footprints at the Shore by Susan Wood, illustrated by Steliyana Doneva

Published by Sleeping Bear Press

Image result for sandy feet whose feet amazon

Summary:  As two children play on the beach, they see the tracks left in the sand by a variety of animals, beginning with their dog.  There are also prints left by a sandpiper, crab, seagull, pelican, crab, and sea turtle. At the end of the day, their own tired feet take them back home again.  The last two pages of the story show all the prints in the sand, and the two pages after that give additional information about the animals. 32 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  Read this before going to the beach to make kids more aware of the animals around them.  The illustrations do a nice job of portraying the various creatures, as well as their tracks to help kids identify them.

Cons:  It would have been helpful to show pictures of tracks next to the thumbnail photos of the different animals on the last two pages.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

I Am Hermes!: Mischief-Making Messenger of the Gods by Mordicai Gerstein

Published by Holiday House

Image result for i am hermes mordicai gerstein

Image result for i am hermes mordicai gerstein

Summary:  As he did with I Am Pan!, Mordicai Gerstein has collected myths featuring Pan’s father, Hermes.  Starting as a precocious baby who “wants it all!”, Hermes grows up in a single day from a round orange toddler to a lean orange messenger whose winged feet help him deliver communications to the gods.  After Zeus and the other gods and goddesses decide to retire, Hermes experiments with smoke signals, messenger pigeons, the pony express, and the U.S. mail before finding the perfect medium for communicating: the Internet!  Includes an author’s note that describes Hermes as the “most likable and happiest” of the Greek gods and tells how Gerstein came to create this book. 72 pages; grades 2-5.

Pros:  A fun and gentle introduction to mythology that introduces many of the Greek gods and goddesses, but focuses on their wackiness without taking anything too seriously.  Kids will enjoy the graphic novel format and colorful illustrations.

Cons:  Some readers may fail to see the humor in a round orange baby wanting everything he can see who winds up being king of the Internet.

If you would like to buy this book from Amazon, click here.

Fearsome Giant, Fearless Child: A Worldwide Jack and the Beanstalk Story by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Julie Paschkis

Published by Henry Holt and Co.

Image result for fearsome giant fearless child

Image result for fearsome giant fearless child

Summary:  As they did with Cinderella in Glass Slipper, Golden Sandal and creation stories in First Light, First Life, Paul Fleischman and Julie Paschkis have created a story that weaves together elements from Jack and the Beanstalk type stories all around the world.  These are all tales in which a child–often the smallest or youngest in a family–uses courage and cleverness to outwit a villain like a giant or witch.  Each illustration identifies the country from which that particular element of the story originates. A map on the endpapers shows all the countries. Whether the hero grows to full size, becomes king, or gains the respect of his family, the story always has a happy ending.  40 pages; grades 1-5.

Pros:  This book would be a perfect ending to a study of Jack and the Beanstalk tales; it’s not meant to be read as another re-telling, but rather as a way to appreciate both the variety and similarities of all these stories.  The folk art-style illustrations give it an international flavor.

Cons:  I’ve always felt that “Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman” was an awkward rhyme.  Why not “Fee-fi-fo-fan” or “Fee-fi-fo-fun”?

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

 

Trees by Verlie Hutchens, illustrated by Jing Jing Tson

Published by Beach Lane Books

Image result for trees verlie

Image result for trees verlie jing

Summary:  Fourteen different trees are profiled, each one getting a brief free-verse poem and a two-page illustration.  Some of the taller trees’ pages require turning the book 45 degrees, as the tree stretches from roots on the left-hand side to the treetop on the right.  The trees are personified, often being assigned a gender, and sometimes compared to a human (a sycamore is a “fashion queen” and the white pine, an “unruly uncle”).  Other trees include maple, aspen, oak, palm, pussy willow, apple, redbud, dogwood, spruce, willow, birch, and sequoia. 40 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  Just enough information is given in the brief poems and illustrations to help kids start to identify some of the trees in their neighborhoods.  The short, easy-to-understand verses and familiar subject matter would make this a good introduction to poetry.

Cons:  There were no additional resources to help readers learn more about trees.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

A Wolf Called Wander by Rosanne Parry, illustrated by Mónica Armiño

Published by Greenwillow Books

Image result for wolf called wander amazon

Summary:  Swift may not be the biggest member of his pack, but he is the fastest, and determined to some day beat out his larger brother Sharp.  When another pack of wolves attacks, though, Swift finds himself alone.  He travels through miles of wilderness,  searching for members of his pack, or any wolves that will be his companions.  Along the way, he encounters with a variety of animals, including humans, and barely survives some narrow escapes. He finally meets a female wolf, and after renaming himself Wander, they work together to create a new pack of their own.  Includes several pages of information and photos of the real wolf that was the inspiration for the book; additional facts about wolves; a map of Swift/Wander’s journey; and a list of resources for more information. 256 pages; grades 3-7.

Pros:  An exciting nature story that will be especially appreciated by animal lovers.  Lots of adventure and plenty of illustrations make this a good choice for reluctant readers.  

Cons:  The illustrations added a lot to the text, and Mónica Armiño’s name doesn’t appear on the cover, nor is there any information about her on the back flap.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

The Hawk and the Dove by Paul Kor, translated by Annette Appel

Published by Kids Can Press

Image result for hawk and dove kor

Image result for hawk and dove kor

Summary:  The hawk, sad and tired of war, puts on a mask and gloves to become a dove, and the world begins to change: tanks turn into tractors, planes become butterflies, warships are replaced with sailboats, and bullets morph into flowers.  Alternating pages are smaller, giving a glimpse of what’s on the next page. The whole world is happy and grateful to the dove, but the dove still worries that a hawk may be lying in wait.  “Hawk or dove? Foe or friend? How ever will this story end?”  Includes two pages at the end that tell how the late Israeli artist Paul Kor was moved to create this book by his experiences in World War II as a child and in the Six Day War later on.  32 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  This unusual book could serve as a springboard to discussing war and peace, as well as an inspiration for creating paper crafts.

Cons:  Some of the rhymes are a bit too Hallmark greeting card: “The entire land is filled with light/A rainbow of colors sunny and bright.”

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

Teddy: The Remarkable Tale of a President, A Cartoonist, A Toymaker, and A Bear by James Sage, illustrated by Lisk Feng

Published by Kids Can Press

Image result for teddy the remarkable tale james sage amazon

Summary:  I’ve always had some vague notion that the teddy bear is named for Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt, but thanks to this book, I now know the specifics.  When T.R. went on a bear-hunting trip to Mississippi, there was nary a bear to be found. His hosts finally found a small bear and tied it to a tree, but he refused to shoot it on the grounds that it would be unsportsmanlike.  Washington Post cartoonist Clifford Berryman, suffering from a slow news day, turned the anecdote into a cartoon that went viral.  It caught the eye of Brooklyn shopkeepers Morris and Rose Michtom. When Rose stitched up a replica of the bear and put it in the store window, stuffed animal history was made.  The Michtoms were overwhelmed by the demand, and opened the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company to crank out Teddy bears of all sizes and shapes. Includes an author’s note with a few photos that sorts out the fact and fiction of his story.  40 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  A fun telling of the (mostly) true story about the original Teddy bear.  

Cons:  Tying a bear to a tree to be shot.

Carm

I met this guy back in 1973, and we still hang out.  He “bears” an uncanny resemblance to the cover of this book.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here. Sorry, the bear is not for sale.