Welcome back to Middle Grade Monday! This week I am reviewing The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City, by Jodi Kendall. Thank you to @KidLitExchange for a copy of this book to review. All opinions are my own.
Summary from Goodreads:
Josie Shilling’s family is too big, their cramped city house is too small, and she feels like no one’s ever on her side. Then, on Thanksgiving Day, her older brother, Tom, brings home a pink, squirmy bundle wrapped in an old football jersey—a piglet he rescued from a nearby farm. Her name is Hamlet.
As a child, I loved visiting the tide pools. The wonderful sea anemones were always my favorites. I was very fortunate. I grew up in Los Angeles and I’m pretty sure that we took field trips to the Leo Carrillo State Park frequently and to learn about the amazing marine life that lived in tide pools. Living the rural south, I don’t have many opportunities to expose my kids to the wonders of tide pools, but, of course, that’s where books come in.
Tide Pool Secrets, by Narelle Oliver, is an ingenious lift-the-flap book published on slightly thicker stock than your average book. The flaps help the book be interactive while also showing how sea life can camouflage itself and how changes in the tide impact tide pool life.
There are so many great books out there for kids these days, it can be fun to put a grouping together to highlight a specific theme or idea. When I recently got a review copy of Shark Nate-O, which is coming out this April, it made me think of all of the fun books with a Shark theme. So sink your teeth into these great books!
As mentioned, I received an unfinished review copy of Shark Nate-O, by Becky Cattie and Tara Luebbe from the #kidlitexchange. This book is GREAT! It is about a little boy who loves sharks, knows everything there is to know about them, wants to be a shark, but doesn’t know how to swim. With wonderful word play, we watch as Nate learns how to swim and becomes truly “jawsom.” The book even has a spread of “Nate’s Shark Facts” for all of those shark lovers out there. Continue reading →
Here in the south we don’t get a lot of snow, and that’s a good thing, because when we get even the slightest warning of a trace, the entire area FREAKS OUT! The problem is that people here don’t know how to drive well in the snow and there are not a lot of plows available, but it is kind of funny to watch.
With all that said and the fact that it is January, the snowiest month, I thought it would be appropriate to put together a collection of books about snow.
Gail Gibbons is a master at writing non-fiction texts for kids that are still fun to read. In her book, It’s Snowing, young readers get a complete lesson in snow from how it forms, where it falls, different types of snow storms, and how to stay safe and have fun. Gibbons does a great job of breaking up the info so that kids of all ages can enjoy this book and get useful information that they are ready for. Continue reading →
I love being able to talk to my daughters about art and share a love of viewing art. We don’t have a lot of access to museums where we live, so I have to supplement with books and through their amazing art program at school. To engage kids in art, you have to make it come alive. That is exactly what Carolyn Bracken managed to do in her upcoming book, Mr. Owliver’s Magic at the Museum.
In this fabulous book, Mr. Owliver is a night watchman at the Animaltown Art Museum. He loves his job and is perfectly happy to have the night shift, considering he is an owl. His job starts when everyone is leaving the museum at the end of the day, so he spends his night being able to see famous paintings without any crowds and at whatever pace he wants. Over the years, he has come to see the characters in these paintings as his friends. Continue reading →
All animals are pretty amazing, but what child hasn’t been fascinated by elephants? In North Carolina we are fortunate to have one of the largest natural habitat zoos, so watching the elephants roam and frolic is pretty special. The huge animals are pretty awesome to watch, especially if they are coating themselves in dirt or playing with each other.
One thing that we have been told about elephants is that they have amazing memories. In Thirsty, Thirsty Elephant, author Sandra Markle tells us of the true story of an older elephant in Tanzania who helped her herd find water during a drought. As the synopsis explains:
During a drought in Tanzania, Grandma Elephant is in search of water for her herd. Little Calf follows along and mimics her grandmother at each stop on their journey. When Grandma leads them to a watering hole she recalls from years before, the elephants are overjoyed and Little Calf splashes about with her tender leader. Grandma’s persistence and powerful memory is something Little Calf will never forget.
The story is told through the fascinating generational differences between Grandma Elephant and Little Calf. While Grandma leads the herd in search of water, we see how Little Calf hasn’t yet mastered getting water from her trunk to her throat. Unfortunately, the watering hole is being used by a wide variety of animals and soon there is not enough to go around. Continue reading →
Alan Rabinowitz is an American zoologist who has spent his life studying wild cats and was called ‘The Indiana Jones of Wildlife Conservation’ by TIME Magazine. But as a child, Rabinowitz struggled to fit in due to a very pronounced stutter. In the picture book, A Boy and A Jaguar, Rabinowitz tells his story to young children as a way to encourage those who struggle to find their own voices and for those who have found their voice, to speak up for those in need.
As a child, Rabinowitz simply couldn’t get the words out. It made it difficult for him to go to school, let alone have friends. However, when he talked to animals, he could speak without stuttering. He felt a bond with the animals. He felt that they were misunderstood and mistreated, just has he was. As a child, he promised his pets that if he ever found his voice, that he would keep them from harm. Fortunately, his father saw the bond that he had with animals and frequently took him to the Bronx Zoo.
Rabinowitz learned tricks to get him through school and finally found a program that helped him deal with his stutter. But even when speech was less of an issue, he still much preferred the company of animals over humans. His work took him to Belize to study jaguars and to ultimately fight to protect them.
This is a beautiful book that can really encourage children to think about they way that they treat others, the way that they treat and respect animals, and how one person can be a change for good. Rabinowitz was up against a lot of really challenging obstacles, and yet he persevered. The story also shows how Rabinowitz followed his passions and made good on his childhood promise to protect the animals. In a world where we are told by many different people how we should act and what we should do when we grow up, Rabinowitz listened to his inner voice and took solace in the places that gave him the most peace.
The only thing that I felt was missing from this book was any sort of author’s note to explain just who Rabinowitz is and the work that he has done. He is a very well respected animal activist and he founded the organization Panthera, a group devoted to protecting wild cats and their ecosystems. Turns out that Rabinowitz also does work advocating for stutterers as a spokesperson for the Stuttering Foundation of America. From a childhood where teachers considered him “disturbed,” he proved them wrong and has truly become a voice for those in need.
Every Wednesday I try to post a non-fiction picture book as part of the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy. There are truly so many amazing nonfiction picture books being published these days, it can be hard to contain myself sometimes. Make sure to check out Kid Lit Frenzy and the linked blogs to find some more fabulous books!
Out of heartbreak can come amazing strength.
Helen Frances Theresa Delaney Martini was an ordinary woman living in New York. When her first baby died and doctors said that she couldn’t have any more children, her heart broke. So did her husband’s. To ease that pain, her husband, Frank, followed his heart and got a job at the Bronx Zoo. Two years later, he brought home an abandoned lion cub and Helen’s life changed forever.
In Mother to Tigers, George Ella Lyon tells the amazing story of Helen Martini. When her husband brought a lion cub named MacArthur home, he told her to “do for him what you would do for a human baby,” and she did. She fed and cared for the lion cub in her living room. When she helped her husband bring three tigers back to the zoo after nursing them at home, she realized that not only did the cubs still need her attention, but that there would always be zoo babies in need and yet there was nowhere at the zoo to take care of them.
She begged the zoo to give her a room and on her own she created the first zoo nursery. For a time her work was unpaid and then in August 1944 she became the first woman keeper in the history of the Bronx Zoo. She helped many baby animals survive and her concept of a zoo nursery soon spread. Her work was monumentally important in the lives on many animals and it is about time her achievements were shared.
I have been encouraged by the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy to post about a nonfiction title each week. While I wouldn’t classify this book as a nonfiction picture book, most of the books that I post on Wednesdays will be. Please check out Kid Lit Frenzy for an amazing resource of nonfiction picture books.
“Long ago, everything from the changing of the seasons to the passage of the Sun through the sky was an unsolved mystery. So people came up with stories to explain how things came to be. These stories – known as myths or fables – varied from place to place, but all had a shared thread running through them: they set out to explain the inexplicable, to offer a version of the world that made some sense.”
So begins the book the Usborne Illustrated Fables from Around the World. This beautiful book offers 18 wonderful myths and fables from around the world that at one point helped people try to understand the world around them. Continue reading →
Sharon Robinson invites us to travel with her to Tanzania in her book Under the Same Sun published by Scholastic Press. This lushly illustrated book is based on a family trip that Robinson and her mother took to Africa to visit her brother and his family and to celebrate her mother’s 85th birthday. Robinson is the daughter of the famous baseball superstar Jackie Robinson, and while she and her brother grew up in the suburbs of Connecticut, her brother moved to Tanzania in 1984.
The most beautiful portion of this book takes place in the first half when the family in Tanzania gets the home ready for their guests, when they wander through the marketplace, and then when the go on a safari through Sarengeti National Park. The illustrartions of the animals, by AG Ford, were absolutely stunning. Continue reading →