From The Guide: Wonder-full World

ambrose_lonely-giantIn Miss Rumphius, Alice’s grandfather told her to “do something to make the world more beautiful.” Now more than ever we need to encourage children’s interest in, connection to, and responsibility for the Earth and its inhabitants. As contributor Kathleen T. Isaacs says in “Fostering Wonder," “When we share picture books that explore the natural world…we are helping create a generation that will value the conservation and preservation of nature.” A worthwhile endeavor indeed.

—Cynthia K. Ritter
Associate Editor, The Horn Book Guide

Ambrose, Sophie  The Lonely Giant
32 pp.     Candlewick     2016     ISBN 978-0-7636-8225-5

Gr. K–3  A giant spends his days “smashing and mashing mountains” and yanking up trees until his forest is so decimated that there are no animals left. After realizing his folly, he gradually rebuilds the forest. The story is simple but not simplistic thanks to the ruminative mixed-media art, which shows a gentle giant learning a big lesson from a tiny yellow bird.

Bissonette, Aimée  North Woods Girl
32 pp.     Minnesota Historical Society     2015     ISBN 978-0-87351-966-3

Gr. K–3  Illustrated by Claudia McGehee. In a story celebrating individualism and intergenerational friendship, a girl visits her unconventional grandmother — who “dresses in Grandpa’s old flannel shirts” and “never bakes cookies” — in the North Woods. When they go for walks, each season reveals something different, from spring peepers to hooting owls in moonlit snowy woods. Scratchboard, dye, and watercolor illustrations richly highlight the natural world and a loving familial bond.

Day, Nancy Raines  What in the World?: Numbers in Nature
32 pp.     Simon/Beach Lane     2015     ISBN 978-1-4814-0060-2
ebook ISBN 978-1-4814-0061-9

Gr. K–3  Illustrated by Kurt Cyrus. This rhymed counting book explores numbers found in nature, from one (a mouth, nose, moon) to ten (toes and fingers), ending with a set too big to count (stars). Examples range from the familiar (birds, octopuses) to the hard-to-count (colors in a rainbow) to the lesser-known (stickleback fish). The digitally created illustrations evoke beauty and peace.

Lewis, J. Patrick  National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry: More Than 200 Poems with Photographs That Float, Zoom, and Bloom!
192 pp.     National Geographic     2015     ISBN 978-1-4263-2094-1
Library binding ISBN 978-1-4263-2095-8

Gr. K–3  This compendium of nature-themed poetry — paired with spectacular photographs and divided into categories such as “In the Sky” and “Across the Land” — is a mix of contemporary and classic, silly and serious, thought-provoking and awe-inspiring. Poets include Robert Frost, Pat Mora, Nikki Grimes, and Joseph Bruchac. As Jack Prelutsky writes in “The Ways of Living Things,” “there is wonder to be found” here. Reading list. Ind.

MacKay, Elly  Butterfly Park
40 pp.     Running Press     2015     ISBN 978-0-7624-5339-9

Gr. K–3  A girl is sad to leave her rural home: “most of all, she was going to miss the butterflies.” Her new house is next to “Butterfly Park,” a city park with no actual butterflies…or flowers. The girl galvanizes her neighbors to create a beautiful green space for all. Dainty, distinctive mixed-media collages that look three-dimensional enhance the simple story line.

McPike, Elizabeth  Little Bitty Friends
32 pp.     Putnam     2016     ISBN 978-0-399-17255-7

PS  Illustrated by Patrice Barton. Happy, curious toddlers of different races revel in the wonder of the natural world as they encounter small creatures, a willow tree, buttercups, etc. The warm, inviting art (pencil sketches painted digitally); the skillful use of white space; and the thoughtful placement of the gentle rhyming couplets result in a visually inviting book that would make a great addition to toddler storytime.

Viano, Hannah  B Is for Bear: A Natural Alphabet
32 pp.     Sasquatch/Little Bigfoot     2015     ISBN 978-1-63217-039-2

Gr. K–3  Every letter of the alphabet expresses a term from the natural world, starting with acorn, bear, and cloud. Using the word in context, the text describes each subject in its natural setting. Of interest to young naturalists, this fact-filled ABC book, illustrated with striking black-paper cutouts that incorporate a restrained earthy color palette, has a gentle and sophisticated quality.

Zolotow, Charlotte  Changes: A Child’s First Poetry Collection
40 pp.     Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky     2015     ISBN 978-1-4926-0168-5

PS  Illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke. The collection includes twenty-eight poems by Zolotow, published in the year of what would have been her one-hundredth birthday. The brief poems capture small seasonal moments, providing an approachable start for first-time poetry readers: “A moment in summer / belongs to me / and one particular / honey bee.” The theme of seasonal change is echoed throughout the colorful digitally created illustrations of nature and people celebrating it.

From the January/February 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. These reviews are from The Horn Book Guide and The Horn Book Guide Online. For information about subscribing to the Guide and the Guide Online, please click here.



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