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July 29, 2009 > Footnotes


July book reviews

Preschool through 1st grade:

"Mouse Was Mad" by Linda Urban, illustrated by Henry Cole, Harcourt hardback, $16.00. (2009)

Mouse was mad. He was so mad he was HOPPING mad, so he hopped. Just then Rabbit came by. "You look ridiculous," he said. "Let me show you how to hop properly." And that's just what Rabbit did. Mouse tried but he just ended up falling into a mud puddle.

You thought Mouse was mad before? Now he was REALLY, REALLY, stomping mad! So he stomped and stomped, when Bear happened by. "You call that stomping?" The next thing you know Mouse gets a lesson in stomping from the stomping expert. That's all very helpful, but will Mouse be able to ever get over his MAD?

The illustrations are simple but very funny, and frustrated young children are sure to identify with Mouse as he tries to express exactly how mad he really feels.
(Harper Collins hardback, $17.99)

"Panda Kindergarten" by Joanne Ryder and Katherine Feng, Harper Collins hardback, $17.99. (2009)

If you were sitting next to me as I write this, you would absolutely have to pick up this book. It's so rare to see panda cubs in twos or threes, but at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda at the Wolong Nature Preserve they ended up raising 16 at once! Sixteen little pandas are in Panda Kindergarten, from tiny, tiny little cubs to bigger roly-poly black and white ones, playing and having adventures. There's a whole herd of pictures of the pandas exploring snow, playing with their own feet and each others, taking naps and climbing trees. This is a charming, wonderful look at a rare and special animal - perfect to enjoy with your own kindergartener!

"Tiger Pups" by Tom and Allie Harvey, illustrated by Keith Philpot, Harper Collins hardback, $17.99. (2009)

One day in July 2008, at a wild animal park in Kansas, a white tiger named Sassy gave birth to three little tiger cubs. Only the size of guinea pigs, they are blind, helpless and totally dependent on their mother. Unfortunately, Sassy decided after a couple of days to leave her little cubs. Tom and Allie Harvey, the owners of the park, knew that these little babies would die without 'round the clock attention, so they brought them to their home. That's when the heroine of our story, Isabella, comes into the story. Isabella adopts the cubs and feeds them, cleans them, and does all the things these little cubs need - Isabella also happens to be a Golden Retriever! This is a true story of three tiger cubs (or tiger pups according to Isabella at least).

This book is full of pictures of the babies' first looks around the world, their first encounter with the great outdoors, and the love between mom and adopted family. A wonderful book for families of all kinds.

Recommended for 1st and 2nd graders:

"Down, Down, Down - A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea" by Steve Jenkins, Houghton Mifflin, $17.00. (2009)

Using colorful illustrations that reminded me of Eric Carle's books, Jenkins takes us on a journey through the layers of the ocean. Starting at the surface, we see seagulls, sharks, whales and porpoises. Next step the top layer, where mackerel and krill live in abundance. The animals get stranger and more foreign as Jenkins takes us further and further into the depths.

I really liked the addition of the depth scale on the right side of every two-page spread - it helps to understand how far along into the journey the reader has progressed. Jenkins plans to take us all the way to the bottom, and each layer along the way has its own unique life and ecology. This is a great book to introduce children to the vast oceans of the world.

For 2nd - 3rd grade:

"What's Inside? Fascinating Structures Around the World" by Giles LaRoche, Houghton Mifflin hardback, $17.00. (2009)

Buildings come in all shapes and sizes, and children often want to know, "What's in there?" This well-thought out book shows everything from a pagoda to a castle, from a neighborhood library to a circus tent, from a soaring skyscraper to the Sidney Opera House. On the right side of the page is the structure from the outside, then on the flip side is a cut-away of the inside, showing where people work, play, and go about doing everyday things.

The pictures are very child friendly, uncomplicated, but thorough. The real charm is in the simplicity of the explanation, making faraway buildings and long ago artifacts easily accessible to everyone. Perfect for 2nd and 3rd graders who have questions the world and the things mankind has built on it.

"Jack & Jill: The Miracle Dog with a Happy Tail to Tell" by Jill Rappaport, illustrated by Linda Solomon, Harper Collins hardback, $17.99. (2009)

This is the story of Jack, an abandoned shepherd puppy that was rescued by NBC's Today Show correspondent Jill Rappaport. Told from Jack's point of view, he is thrilled to have an owner, two new doggie friends and a home - on a farm, no less! He gets to run around, play and dig holes, what fun! Then one day Jack's foot starts to hurt. Jill takes her sweet dog with the huge ears to the doctor, and sadly she is told that Jack has cancer.

Cancer can be such a scary diagnosis, for adults and children alike. In this funny book, Jack the dog shows his confusion at the events that happen to him, and his bravery during treatments. Though he winds up being a three-footed dog, he rebounds and lives a very happy life on Jill's farm. A terrific and at times funny book about fighting an invisible enemy, and also about the joys and responsibilities of adopting dogs from the pound.

For 3rd grade and up:

"Extreme Scientists - Exploring Nature's Mysteries from Perilous Places" by Donna M. Jackson, Houghton Mifflin hardback, $18.00. (2009)

When we hear the word 'scientist', we tend to think of people in white coats, working with glass vials and bubbling beakers. The scientists in this book are a totally different breed. They work outside, in some of nature's most beautiful and diverse environments.

First, there's Paul who spends his working day on a plane, flying into hurricanes. Scientists take all sorts of readings and measurements to try and figure out how the storms work, and to try and predict them.

Microbiologist Hazel, on the other hand, climbs down into some of the deepest and darkest caves in the world, spelunking to find what life exists in that cold and (to us) harsh environment.

Stephen climbs up, way up, high into forest canopies. Can you imagine animals and plants in those canopies that never come down to the ground?

This book is full of pictures showing the exciting lives of these three scientists. A terrific way to show that science can be very unpredictable, and definitely not boring!

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