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Staff Picks: Books

ONE HUNGRY BUNNY WITH EARS SO FUNNY

Hungry Bunny is a fun, interactive preschool picture book about, ( yes, you guessed it), a hungry bunny. This bunny's tummy rumbles and grumbles, so he sets off to pick some juicy apples that just might be the perfect snack to appease his appetite.

The young reader can help bunny perform his apple gathering task by shaking the tree so that the apples fall down, blow away the leaves, etc. This book also has a handy "red scarf", ( really a bookmark ribbon), to help our little buck-toothed protagonist climb the tree and even make a makeshift bridge. In the end, bunny and his family enjoy some freshly baked apple pie and share it with the reader! Imagine that!

By New York Times bestselling author and illustrator Claudia Rueda. This is an all-around wonderful book to please the fancy of the younger set!


What Makes a Garden Grow?

A really wonderful, sad and yet hopeful story, The Rough Patch written and superbly illustrated by New York Times bestselling author Brian Lies is about a fox named Evan and his devoted dog.

Truly the best of friends, Evan and his pooch do everything together. Of all the activities that they engage in, they most relish working in Evan's magnificent garden! It is almost a magical place for plants, and everything they planted there thrived.

But one day , completely out of the blue, Evan sees his beloved canine friend lying dead in his doggie bed and everything in their wonderful existence changes.Evan first shuts himself out from the outside world by staying inside his house. He then decides to vent some of his dark feelings by cutting and slashing his beloved garden to the ground and disposing of the resultant plant trash by throwing it into a large pile. In place of his once beautiful garden filled with fragrant flowers and vibrant vegetables, newly sprouted, unattractive, prickly, dark weeds grew and so this garden became a sad, desolate place which matched his now never-changing mood.

However, one day he finds a pumpkin vine had snuck under a fence from the neighboring yard. His first inclination is to destroy it, but he rationalizes that since it was fuzzy, prickly, and spidery, that he would let it be. Evan ends up watering it and caring for it and decides to enter the pumpkin in the local fall fair. His pumpkin wins third place and as a prize he gets to choose either ten dollars or a pup found inside a cardboard box. Evan's first inclination is to take the money but he then hears a scratching sound coming from inside the box and thinks it wouldn't hurt to peek inside. He ends up adopting one of the pups and drives it home in his old red truck. And the rest( as they say) is history.

 A well written book on the topics of friendship, loss and redemption. Accompanied by beautifully detailed illustrations done with heart. This winner of a book is sure to please kids and many adults as well!

 

 


A Donkey Named Winslow

Sharon Creech is a multiple award winning author of Moo, one of my all time favorite J fiction books. So, when i saw that she had published another, titled Saving Winslow, just this past September 2018, i grabbed it and read it in one sitting. The book is a short 165 pages making it a very engaging, quick  read.

This time , the story revolves around middle schooler Louis and a donkey named Winslow. Louis is surprised when his father gives him a day-old , gray, mini-donkey from Uncle Pete's small farm. The newborn donkey's mother is too sick to care for him, so both adults hope the animal will fare better under Louis's attention, this despite his track record for nurturing young animals in the past  have never been successful. Louis however, is undaunted by his past pet failures , and accepts the mission to care for this pitiful donkey, even though is parents and others tell him not to get too attached to the young animal because it will probably end up dying in a day or so. Undeterred, Louis is determined to succeed this time.

The ending is a somewhat surprising revelation about the special bond between boy and donkey, and the special love that letting things go requires. A well written book that will tug at the heartstrings of any school aged child who loves animals. Sharon Creech has done it again!


A Story of Love and Cats

Catnip: A Love Story by Michael Korda is a small whimsical true story of delightful doodles of cats( and once in a while a stray horse or two), engaged in human-like activities and situations. It is the author's acknowledgement of his love for wife Margaret who loved both cats and horses.

After a diagnosis of malignant brain cancer and two unsuccessful surgeries,Margaret's prognosis was not encouraging. To distract her from the ever more powerful and uncomfortable medical treatments she had to endure, Michael began sending to her his drawings of cats via email.Although not an ardent cat lover himself, he observed the cats and their individual personalities, sketching quickly rendered cartoons of them on the back of old manuscripts in the tack room of their horse barn. The cats were depicted playing musical instruments,cooking, eating meals at the table, etc much to Margaret's delight.

Unbeknownst to Michael, Margaret started sharing these feline depictions with various friends, who shared them with their friends, one of whom was a publisher. And so, this compilation of the drawings came to be; a wonderful and loving graphic tribute to the late Margaret.

This is a touching and very  personal story both humorous and sad in its expression of everlasting love, one that I will not soon forget. Absolutely charming!


Animals that Work Together

I recently discovered a wonderful new children’s non-fiction series entitled, “Animal Teamwork.” Books on Elephants, Wolves, Gorillas, and Meerkats are now part of the collection. Each book details how the animals live and work together, and like many great non-fiction picture books, extra facts added to each page provide additional chances for young readers to learn more about these incredible creatures.


A Dog Named Doug

A Dog Named Doug by Karma Wilson and illustrated Matt Myers is a fun book for children and adults, especially for anyone who has a dog or knows a dog who loves to dig holes. This story features a daring dog named Doug who cannot stop digging. There is much repetition of the "D" sound throughout the book, "Once there was a dog named Doug. Doug liked to dig, but when Doug dug... " Doug meets a ground squirrel who challenges him to dig holes and longgggggg underground tunnels. Consequently Doug digs to the White House, a farmer's fields where Doug digs a hole SO big that a huge tractor falls into the hole! Doug digs to mountains and all the way to China! Doug digs directionally: North, South, East, and West! The simple, expressive, colorful illustrations are excellent and this is a helpful book for teaching alliteration and homonyms. The Kalamazoo Public Library has many books by Karma Wilson and many books illustrated by Matt Myers.


A VERY SPECIAL BOX TURTLE

The author of "Box Turtle"  is John Himmelman, an award -winning author and illustrator  of over 80 books! He also happens to be a naturalist who has traveled throughout both North and South America studying wildlife.

This book is beautifully illustrated with colorful depictions of a box turtle and her journey which begins in a New England forest in 1892. With the passage of time the little turtle's forest home is invaded by newly built houses and cars driving on a dirt road. One of these cars slightly damages her shell. Despite the injury, the turtle survives and becomes a pet for a young boy who before entering college releases the turtle back into the woods.

Box turtles live on land, not in ponds or water and should never be considered for pets.The Eastern box turtle can live anywhere from 40 to well over 100 years in age. Supposedly, the oldest living box turtle on record was believed to be about 145 years old!

This is a great book for kids with a valuable conservation message.


You're Safe With Me

As soon as I saw You're Safe With Me, by Chitra Soundar and Poonam Mistry, I wanted to tell you all about it. In this brand new Grow neighborhood book, Mama Elephant comforts the young animals of the forest through a scary storm. She soothes their fears about the rain, lightning, thunder, and wind. The unique and beautiful illustrations will awe readers of all ages. The art alone will make you want to take this book home with you and the sweet, simple story makes for a calming read.


Friendly Greetings to All

A recent addition to KPL's Je Nature category is Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel, who previously authored They All Saw a Cat. In this outing, Brendan introduces us to black and white cats, then zebras, panda bears and colorful parrots, fish, tigers, lizards, etc. The list goes on and on.

The idea is that a world to see is a world to know and that knowledge usually begins with a friendly greeting of Hello Hello.

With rhythmic text, exuberant art and an important message relating to conservation and protecting our diverse planet, each of these encounters celebrates nature's differences and yet marvels at its wonderful similarities. It also makes a point to mention that many of the animals depicted in the colorful illustrations happen to be threatened or endangered.

A worthwhile addition to any picture book collection and especially recommended for kids 3 to 6 years of age.


Hello Wildcat Moto

Moto and Me: My year as a Wildcat's Foster Mom is a recent nonfiction children's book written by wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas. Sometime ago, she lived out in the African bush in a tent on the Masai Mara wildlife reserve in Kenya. Originally, she had only planned on staying just a few months, but instead fell in love with the area and ended up remaining there for almost three years taking animal photos.

The book starts out describing her close encounters with various wildlife such as hyenas, hippos, and snakes just to name a few. However, her most exciting, enduring and most heartfelt relationship was with a lost and helpless serval kitten who became separated from his mom during a forest fire. Local reserve animal rangers ask Suzi to be the two-week-old serval's foster mom, to teach him how to survive, and when he was old enough , to release him back into the wild.

Suzi names the young serval cat Moto, which means "fire" in Swahili, the language spoken by most people living in the Masai Mara region. She feeds him, bathes and brushes him and presents him with a plush toy named Mr. Ducky. In time, she allows him to venture outdoors to learn to catch his own prey , under her watchful eye. 

This informative book boasts many pleasing and amusing photos, as well as very good information on the caring of servals, ( and no, they should never be considered by anyone as potential  pets).    It especially resonated with me because it carefully links the importance between wildlife rescue and release. It's a winner for anyone in love with all things wild and wild felines in particular.