Title: Archimedes and the Door of Science
Author: Jeanne Bendick
Publisher: Bethlehem Books
Genre: Children’s Biography
I love these Living History Library books and Jeanne Bendick has a wonderful way of introducing great people in history and what they did/discovered on a child’s level without truly “dumbing” anything down. These books should be a part of any child’s library, and for sure any homeschoolers’ library. My kid’s eyes have been opened to so many ideas because of this book. At age 5, she’s already been checking out levers and experimenting with density while playing in the bathtub, she showed me how her ball has a pattern of concentric circles on it and informed me that it was three dimensional… These aren’t things that would be in her vocabulary without me reading this book out loud to her this month.
Title: What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor?
Author: Chiu Kwong-chiu & Eileen Ng
Illustrations: Design and Cultural Studies Workshop
Translation: Ben Wang
We received this awhile back in exchange for an honest review and it took us awhile to get through it – not because it isn’t brilliant, but because it is long, especially for a kids’ picture book.
The information is fantastic, the pictures fun. But What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor? should have been serialized.
It wouldn’t be hard to do as there are already mini chapter-like breaks. Kids like my own five year old would respond better to it being shorter titles that they could collect like a series as opposed to reading bits of the same book each night. Ultimately, it’s the same amount of reading for the same amount of time, but kids see it differently for some reason, and they tend to like to collect things anyway.
We loved all the tidbits about Life in China’s Forbidden City, but as a customer, reader, mother, author, bookseller, reviewer, and someone who possesses a BBA in Marketing, I think there could be a lot more money into turning this title into a series of smaller books.
Author: Deborah Diesen
Illustrator: Dan Hanna
Kiddo and I fell in love with The Pout-Pout Fish about three years ago when we discovered The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark. We had a slight aversion to the possibility of “baby talk” in the writing, but were won over by the fun poetry and the fabulous underwater illustrations. (Read my original post here.)
In addition to our joint love of underwater children’s stories, Kiddo has taken on a serious love for Christmas that can be countered only by my mother’s. These two, I’m not kidding, have enough Christmas spirit for the entire nation. All of America could abandon the idea of Christmas altogether and my kid and her grandmother would still have us all covered. (I’m a little more ba hum bug, but you know – yin and yang and all that.)
So you can imagine our excitement when the publisher sent us a copy of The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish.
“The Pout-Put Fish is like SANTA!” the kiddo exclaimed, seeing his very merry Santa hat atop his very un-merry face. We’re not Santa promoters in our house – in the modern day sense that has become tradition, but rather in the currently untraditional traditional sense where we talk about the history of the original Santa stories and how the legend of a good man became a magical myth. Yet, with all our reading and exploration of wonderful tales and things that promote vivid imaginations, we’ve fallen in love with stories like the Rise of the Guardians by William Joyce and so on…
Come the holidays, we have another household tradition. We like the concept of four gifts (or gift categories that promote specific, well-thought out gifts in moderation): What You’ll Wear, What You’ll Read, What You Want, and What You Need. So as a parent of such a household, I especially love the line, “And his gifts had meaning/ Plus a bit of bling-zing/ And his each and every friend loved/ Their just-right thing.” No meaningless haphazard gift giving for the Pout-Pout Fish! (Thank you, for that, Deborah Diesen, it truly does mean so much to us.)
“Can we read it again tomorrow?” Kiddo asked when we were through.
Kiddo just turned five. With that come some serious growing up perks – like, for instance, a public library card of her very own. She now can check out up to 30 books each time we visit and she is over the moon with excitement. She even wore her fancy new party dress to the library this morning to sign up for her card.
But before we went to the library and checked out new books on her new card, which we will write all about next week – I bought her books at Barnes & Noble that we are pretty thrilled about. (It was a big deal to buy them from B&N because we’re such used book and library fiends.)
Snatchabookfeatures a spooky mystery about a village of animals whose bedtime stories are being stolen by a midnight thief. Who is this thief? Why are they stealing books? It’s all very riveting, and has a gloriously happy ending.
Of course, because the main theme regards the characters’ love of books, this is a great story to share with little ones to get them excited about stories; or, in our case, to celebrate our existing passion.
We adore the illustrations, which always affect our purchasing habits, and look forward to finding more stories from Dochertys.
Julia’s House for Lost Creaturesis probably my newest favorite. I fell in love with this book from a Halloween display at Barnes & Noble and knew the moment I laid hands on it that it wasn’t going to be left behind. Ben Hatke is a genius. His art is sweet, imaginative, spunky, and rich.
The story is about generosity and expectations, community and the need for chores, but within the fantastical fun of monsters, ghouls, mermaids, trolls, and more.
No child should go another Halloween without it.
Author: Susan Hood
Illustrator: Melissa Sweet
Genre: Picture Book
Ay, caramba!, we just read this before bed this evening and we love it! First off, I’m a sucker for an axolotl. I discovered them about two years ago when an avid reddit surfer sent me some images they had found. Strange but cute creatures are kind of our thing, and an axolotl definitely fits the bill.
I remember thinking there should be a picture book about them. I love kids picture books featuring the odd ducks of the planet and offer educational value at the end of the story. I have tons of them lined up in my head that I haven’t written yet. My favorite thing about Hood’s book is that she incorporates Spanish words through out the story and the last few pages include research about the creatures who made an appearance. There’s so much educational value to this book and I can’t wait to own a copy. (We read from a library book.)
Referred to as a water-monster by the Aztecs, I was introduced to these tiny creatures as Mexican Walking Fish. Either way, they are super cute, come in all different colors, and if ever there was an animal worthy of a picture book it would be this one.
I absolutely adore Melissa Sweet’s illustrations. They are bright and spunky and the kiddo was riveted by each and every page. Sweet captured the essence of the story with care and finesse and I look forward to seeing more of her illustrations on picture books in the future.
We’ve been spending more and more time at the library than usual. About 2-3 hours A DAY. Before it was every few days, but with this rain – in the tradition of Noah – occurring in the northern Houston area the past few weeks, we’ve been trapped indoors.
So these are our top favorites for the week:
1. Snippet the Early Riser – Bethanie Deeney Murguia (http://amzn.to/1cxqz9Z)
We adore the illustrations in this tail of a snail that wakes up long before his family is ready to start their day. In the book, you’ll meet a ton of different insects, and then finally discover the source of this family’s plight – Snippet just goes to bed way too early. It’s a common hazard in family’s with small children and I think most kids and adults alike will be able to relate.
2. When a Dragon Moves In – Jodi More (http://amzn.to/1cxqsew)
Again, the illustrations are fantastic! Kiddo loves the beach setting and the fact that dragons are actually moving into the kid’s sandcastle. She hasn’t yet caught the nuance that it’s this little dude’s epic imagination at work, but kiddo is – after all – only four.
3. When Rain Falls – Melissa Stewart (http://amzn.to/1bPVhdO)
This is soothing. And completely appropriate for our current household situation. So much rain and so many days when it merely threatens to rain, it was nice to read through how rain effects everyone and everything. We read this right before bed and in the middle of the afternoon several times. Lovely, lovely, book.
4. Freckleface Strawberry – Julianne Moore (http://amzn.to/1cxsknL)
This isn’t just one title, this is a series of which we have read two. Freckleface Strawberry is an adorable little girl with flaming red hair, completely covered in freckles. I relate to these books so well because I was the freckle-faced short kid in my class. Kiddo loves her “because she has so many freckles. And you know what I like best of her? She has a nickname!” Kiddo loves nicknames. Her cousins call her “Fruitcake,” her daddy calls her “Booger,” her tia Danielle calls her “Nugget.” I call her heathen, but that’s besides the point. Not really, I call her “Nugget” a lot too.
Author: Keith Devlin, PhD
Publisher: Walker & Company
Genre: Math History
Length: 183 pages
Swirl by Swirl – a child’s picture book – is where it started. We checked it out from the library once, then twice, and finally again and again. It’s about the Fibonacci sequence found in so many spirals in our natural world. We love it. Of course, it has a bit in the back about the Fibonacci sequence and the math involved, and that’s cool too, something to instill in young minds so that there is familiarity with the topic before they begin Algebra in their tweens.
Of course, at some point I picked up The Pythagorean Theorem, and there Posamatier mentions Ptolemy and his great work The Algamest as well as Fibonacci’s Liber Abaci. Naturally, I requested these at my local library. “There’s a book about Fibonacci called The Man of Numbers that’s here if you want to read that while you wait for the others to come in,” she told me. Yes, yes, I would like to read that while I wait for the others.
I checked it out.
I ended up starting and finishing it, however, in one sitting while my kiddo made use of the sixty minute literacy computer session I allow her if she’s been good prior to coming to the library that day. It was good. Quick. Informative. And of course, just made me want Liber Abaci even more.
Devlin gives you all the necessary history in the concise nature of a mathematician. He even laments how most mathematicians are concerned about the math and the theorems and not necessarily who originally came up with them or their history, causing much of the history surrounding mathematical ideas to be lost or misconstrued. Who cares? It’s about the numbers.
I care. Historians care. We don’t care as much about the numbers as we do about the theory, the philosophy… we care about math’s heritage more than the practice of being all mathy. At least that’s how I feel. I’ll leave number crunching to my husband and daughter – I’ll just be able to tell them who came up with that particular way to crunch.
With all this caring comes the discovery that Fibonacci’s name wasn’t even Fibonacci. Devlin recounts the fact that the man’s name was Leonardo and he hailed from Pisa. Leonardo Pisano, as the people of that time and culture would say. But he referred to himself as fillies Boracic, “son of Bonacci.” Yet, his father’s name wasn’t Bonacci, so people assumed he meant that he was of the family Bonacci… the Bonacci family evolved and later historian Guillaume Libri coined the name Fibonacci. Hundreds of years later. Leonardo was renamed Fibonacci in 1838.
Fibonacci also referred himself as Leonardo Bigolli… a named once translated would be “Leonardo Blockhead.” Though, Devlin asserts, it’s doubtful that Fibonacci was calling himself a blockhead.
That brings us to our latest picture book selection… Blockhead: the life of Fibonacci. This delightful picture book was written by Joseph D’Agnese and was illustrated by John O’Brien. Even though there’s a lot we don’t know about Fibonacci’s real life or how he came to discover his mathematical findings the way he did – it’s fun to imagine what his life was like and where he might have come up with his self-proclaimed nickname “Bigolli.”
For good measure, we re-read Swirl by Swirl afterward and are looking forward to memorizing a few things in the upcoming months.
The first is from Brahmagupta (quoted in Devlin’s book):
“A debt minus zero is a debt.
A fortune minus zero is a fortune.
Zero minus zero is a zero.
A debt subtracted from zero is a fortune.
A fortune subtracted from zero is a debt.
The product of zero multiplied by a debt or fortune is zero.”
The second are the first ten numbers in the Fibonacci sequence: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55.
We are kind of in love with our librarians at this “new” library branch. We loved our librarians at the old house, don’t get me wrong, but these ones have definitely weaseled their way into our hearts. Case and point – there’s this adorable seasonal bin one of the children’s librarians puts together, and of course, we find the *best* things there.
This week, it was Flip, Float, Fly and Strega Nona’s Harvest, both perfect stories to read during planting season. Flip, Float, Fly talks about seeds and how they work, blowing dandelions, and the nature of sticker burrs and such. Strega Nona, of course, in Tomie dePaola typical fashion, covers not just gardening season – but an entire culture of a family and their village and what fresh vegetables can mean to people. (More typically, the nature of their rituals to ensure that they get an abundance of these fresh vegetables.)
Of course, when we’re not reading and planting ourselves… we’re out and about playing in creeks and inspecting the forest.
Author/Illustrator: Lori Nichols
I would have gotten this review up earlier in the week except every time I pick it up to look at it the kiddo stops me and says, “Oh Mommy, read it again, it’s so beautiful.”
So we’ve read this on repeat all week and have yet to put a line down about it anywhere.
We love that the girls are named after trees. We love that they spend 90% of the story outside. We love that they are sweet, sweet, but realistic sisters.
The girls play outside making fairy gardens and blowing dandelions – something we do a lot of. Collecting worms is also a household specialty; kiddo once delivered earth worms to my sister’s kitchen table and insisted they have lunch along with her and her cousins. My sister was none too thrilled about this and sent kiddo and the worms back outside where they belonged.
We love how familiar the girls’ lifestyle is, how much these aspects of their lives are in fact the best parts of childhood. We love… well, we simply love everything about them. Kiddo has asked that I buy this one for our collection, as we picked this up at the library. We will do just that as soon as I find it. We’ll purchase the other books in the series as well.
Title: Swirl By Swirl
Authors: Beth Krommes & Joyce Sidman
Genre: Picture Book / Educational
We actually read this one quite a bit ago, I was hoping to review it when I finally got around to purchasing it, but I can’t wait any longer. It’s too wonderful to keep under wraps any longer and it has been an inspiration to my kiddo who now draws swirls and “round ups” into all her artwork.
The book is all about finding math in nature. About how snails, flowers, and everything have mathematical patterns that create functional things we can see. It first page by page identifies all these things… spider webs, tendrils on foliage, the curls of animals’ tails, etc.
Then, it explains the how and why of it all.
Kiddo’s eye lit up at the end of the book every time (we had to read it over and over again before we turned it back into the library). My four year old’s mind was blown.