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Staff Picks: Books

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.


Ocean Meets Sky

Ocean Meets Sky is a delightful picture book with wonderful illustrations.  Little Finn, who lives by the sea, goes on a magical journey in search of the place his grandfather told him stories about. It is the place with the ocean meets the sky.  Along the way, he sees many incredible sights and visits intriguing places like the Library Islands.  Preschoolers will enjoy the pictures and words created by the Fan Brothers


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.


Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover

Did you know that NASA ran a competition for members of the public to pick a name for Curiosity? The winning name for the nine-foot self-propelled rolling laboratory was submitted by Clara Ma, a sixth grader from Kansas. I like how the book about Curiosity begins: "Wherever you are in the world right now, I'm a very long way away." This new large-format non-fiction book is narrated by Curiosity in the first person and tells the story of the rover's mission, design and development, launch and landing, and continuing exploration of the red planet. With excellent illustrations that tell the story along with an anthropomorphized rover that doesn't talk down to readers, this is a great choice for the science and technology minded. If you are curious about the technology that humans are developing and using to explore other worlds, I think you will really enjoy this one. 


Jubari Jumps

This picture book is such a delight, and it brings back so many memories of my youth.  Young Jabari is finished with his swimming lessons and is excited about becoming a "great jumper".  But as his turn to jump from the high diving board gets closer and closer, he begins to feel more and more...hesitant.  I love how Jabari's dad reassures him and helps him face his fear. SPLASH!  If only I had a book like this to read before I took my first jump from a high diving board.  Gaia Cornwall has done a nice job with this story and the illustrations.  Young swimmers will enjoy it.


A VERY BIG FRIENDLY UMBRELLA

Amy June Bates makes her debut as both co-author and illustrator of the brand new JE book titled The Big Umbrella. Amy's co-author is her seventh-grade daughter Juniper, who came up with the idea for this story while sharing an umbrella with others in a rainstorm.

The tale starts at the front door of a house where there stands an umbrella with a smiley face, eyes, and a nose. This very friendly looking umbrella is picked up by a young girl who uses it to shelter herself from a heavy rain. Various other people who all happen to be different from each other, ( some tall, some hairy, others big or slender etc.) also embrace the cover that the big red umbrella provides. Each one is welcome because there is always room for everyone who seeks refuge from the pouring rain.

A wonderful , gentle story with appealing illustrations and a great message of acceptance and giving! I highly recommend it.


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.


 

 

 


Marley Dias Gets it Done: And So Can You!

In Marley Dias’s new book, the founder of #1000BlackGirlBooks describes the background of the movement that she created and how young people can organize to change the world. Dias writes about how reading Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming changed her life, how she realized that there were not nearly enough books that reflected kids like her. Her school reading list at the time was filled with stories about white boys and dogs: Shiloh, Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows… all great books, she says, but why no black authors? Great question. When Marley’s mom asked her what she would change about the world, she said she’d like to make it so that kids everywhere could read books with black girls - books that accurately reflect the wide range of kids' identity and experience. Children are better off when they see themselves reflected in the books that they read. As Jacqueline Woodson says, "Seeing a story on a page about a black child written by a black author ... legitimizes your own existence in the world, because you're a part of something else. 'Look, I'm here in this book.'" 

Marley Dias's activism has been effective in motivating change within the institutions that control how books are created and discovered. Read Marley Dias’s story, as she tells it, because it is inspiring. She includes practical information about how to be an effective activist and how their adults can help. Young people have always changed the world and Marley Dias, with support from caring adults, truly has done so. Here's an excerpt to get you started reading Marley's book right now, if you so choose.