Small Wonders: Jean-Henri Fabre & His World of Insects, by Matthew Clark Smith, illustrated by Giuliano Ferri published in 2015 by Two Lions
My clear favorite for this week is this fascinating biography of a wonderful entomologist. This Frenchman was a keen observer who took time to wonder and look and discover.
And he was an excellent writer with a passion to lure all of us “to see the world through fresh, patient eyes — to appreciate the mystery and wonder of even the smallest creatures.” For his beautiful writing about nature, he was nominated for a Nobel Prize in Literature.
Matthew Clark Smith has the background and heart of a naturalist, and communicates the beauty of Fabre’s pursuits in his captivating text. Ferri’s watercolor and pencil illustrations are radiant and lovely. Highly recommended for ages 5 and up.
darling and bursting with helpfulness
Whose Shoe? by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier published in 2015 by Clarion Books
This brilliant author-illustrator team have concocted an immensely satisfying tale of a conscientious little mouse who finds one, lone, shoe.
He is determined to find its owner, who must be missing it dreadfully. When his task is accomplished, his reward is sweet indeed! Charming to the nth degree, for ages 2 and up.
a lovely ode to the annual beach vacation
See You Next Year, by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Todd Stewart published in 2015 by Owlkids Books
Coming to us from Canada, here is the quintessential family week at the beach. From the long drive to the coast, to the ever-present seagulls, beach umbrellas, and soothing rhythms of the days. Nothing changes, and that is why this little girl likes it.
This year, though, she makes a new friend. Together they share the familiar, and when they leave, they know they can count on one more common thread to their beach vacations — seeing one another the next year. Great little beach read, with striking illustrations, for ages 2 and up.
a magical glimpse of nighttime
The Night World, written and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein published in 2015 by Little, Brown and Company
Award-winning author/illustrator Gerstein artistically, creatively explores nighttime in his latest book. One little boy and his cat, Sylvie, are the only ones awake and creepity-creep, out they step into the mesmerizingly-different back yard night world.
Chalky-black illustrations, sinuous and mysterious and fabulous, hold so much to discover! Then, the star-studded sky slowly brightens and swooosh! — daylight spreads with color galore. Fantastic book full of wonder and discovery for ages 2 and up.
gorgeous look at the fascination and elegance of a whale
The Blue Whale, written and illustrated by Jenni Desmond published in 2015 by Enchanted Lion Books
British artist Jenni Desmond has taken a marvelously creative approach to simply telling us all about blue whales.
Gorgeous artwork cleverly communicates an outstanding amount of interesting information about these intelligent, graceful giants. This is science that tastes like chocolate fudge ice cream. Brilliant work, for ages 5 and up. Here’s hoping she tackles more books that get published in the U.S. Thank you, Jenni and Enchanted Lion!
outstanding story bubbling with warmth and contentment
Sunday Shopping, by Sally Derby, illustrated by Shadra Strickland published in 2015 by Lee & Low Books Inc.
This exceptional story is based on Sally Derby’s childhood memories. Evie and her grandma have a Sunday night tradition that’s delightful and heartwarming, and Evie is here to tell us all about it.
It involves dressing in nighties and fancy hats, gathering scissors, tape, and the Sunday newspaper, and “going shopping.” But the real ingredients of this memorable routine are love, companionship, strength, contentment, optimism — profound treasures that belong to this dear pair. Shadra Strickland’s brilliant illustration work exudes imagination and vitality. I love this offering, for ages 4 and up.
ridiculous and seaworthy
Yak and Gnu, by Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Cat Chapman published in 2015 by Candlewick Press
Yak in his kayak and Gnu with his canoe, are out for a paddle.
Along the way they encounter a host of other sailors and their various craft. Goats in boats! Flotillas of gorillas! Join the nautical party and enjoy a crazy splash of humor, lilting rhyme, and the friendliest yak and gnu you’ll ever meet. Great fun for ages 2 and up.
jaunty crows in a peppy rhyme
Counting Crows, by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Rob Dunlavey published in 2015 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
One, Two, Three…crows in a tree!
Flap on over and join the rollicking rhythm of this snazzy flock of crows. Kathi Appelt’s rhyme is marvelously contagious, toe-tapping, sunny…all of that. Plus you get to count up to twelve…eventually. Love the jaunty red, white and black artwork here. It fits the text smashingly! Delightful, for ages 2 and up.
all aboard for Antarctica
Sophie Scott Goes South, written and illustrated by Alison Lester published in 2012 in Australia; first U.S. edition in 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Alison Lester is a favorite Aussie author/illustrator of ours. Probably one of our all-time favorite books is her The Journey Home.
Lester went on a real journey to Antarctica, then fictionalized it in this fascinating, upbeat, travelogue by nine-year-old Sophie Scott. Find out about life on board a massive icebreaker, witness iceberg and penguin sightings, explore Antarctica in a special snowmachine, get caught in a blizzard, enjoy a King Neptune party — and much more. Photos and Lester’s charming drawings accompany Sophie’s 30 days of entries. Fantastic read for ages 7 and up.
Just Ducks, by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Salvatore Rubbino first U.S. edition 2012 by Candlewick Press
Here’s a title I’ve been meaning to fit in to my blog for years. It’s Nicola Davies’ vivid, child-friendly introduction to all things ducky, masterfully tailored to preschoolers.
And the amazing Salvatore Rubbino’s equally friendly, exceptionally-striking illustrations. Ducks are one of those parts of nature that so many of us have access to, making them a perfect starting point for observation and learning.