July 31, 2019

100 Bugs: A Counting Book by Kate Narita, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 9:06 pm by suebe2

100 Bugs:
A Counting Book
by Kate Narita
illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman
Farrar Straus and Giroux

When a boy and girl wake with the dawn, they head outside.  The artwork on their bedroom walls, drawings of all kinds of bugs, is a clue to upcoming activities – counting bugs.

I love it when I find a book that handles a concept in a new way. As the subtitle reveals, this is a counting book but it is counting in tens as the young explorers head into their yard.  The first bugs they find are walking sticks:

“1 by the old hose,
9 by the gold rose.”

Next they find ten dragon flies, 2 in one location and 8 in another.  Then ten leafhoppers make an appearance, as you’ve certainly guessed in groups of 3 and 7.  This pattern continues until night falls and they locate ten lightning bugs, ten in one location and 0 in another.

There are so many things to love about this book.  Not only does it explore numbers one through ten, it also takes young readers by tens up to 100.  It is just as serious about exploring the world of insects including both fairly common insects like ladybugs but also the more unique damselfly as well as the plants to be found nearby.  In fact, there are just as many plants features as there are insects.

Of course, as I say this, I have to recall that what is common to one environment is unique in another.  I discovered this when a friend thought she was having vision problems when the lightning bugs made their nightly appearance in our yard.  A native Australian, they were something she had only seen once before in her life.

Suzanne Kaufman’s brightly colored illustrations bring the plants and insects in this book to life for young readers.  I have to admit that my favorites are the tiger swallowtail butterflies, something we see only occasionally in my area.

The rhyming text makes it a fun read aloud.  It would also make a great stepping off point to learn more about counting and ecosystems.  Give this book a place on your classroom shelf.




July 26, 2019

The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 7:17 pm by suebe2

The Circus Ship
by Chris Van Dusen

We’ve all heard of circus trains but this is the story of a circus ship steaming past the coast of Maine in a heavy fog.  For the safety of all, the captain wanted to drop anchor and wait for the weather to clear.  But Mr. Paine the circus boss had other ideas.  Stopping would mean being late to a performance in Boston and he just wouldn’t have it.

Not surprisingly, the ship ran into a rocky ledge, broke apart and went down.  The captain and crabby owner made it into the lifeboat.  The animals finally made it to shore.  The islanders were shocked to see such a wide variety of wildlife that hadn’t been there when they went to bed.  An alligator, a monkey and a zebra all make their presence known and the islanders are not happy.

But the tiger manages to make people see how valuable the animals can be to the community.  When the circus owner returns, the islanders decide that they are willing to go all out to keep their animal friends.

I could give way more detail about this rich story but I don’t want to spoil it.  You need to get ahold of the book and read it yourself.

The art will look familiar to anyone who is a fan of the Mercy Watson books.  Van Dusen is the illustrator of that series but both the author and illustrator of this book, based on real events.

In 1836, a circus ship went down off the coast of Maine.  Although there were rumors that the elephant survived, it is believed that most of the animals died.  Van Dusen found this story but re-imagined it.  What would happen if the animals survived? He tells his story in a fast-moving rhyming text.  My favorite illustrations involve the tiger but then I’m a cat lover.

Given the excitement of the ship wreck and the fire, I wouldn’t choose this book for bedtime but it would make an excellent read aloud.


July 16, 2019

And the Bullfrogs Sing by David L. Harrison, illustrated by Kate Cosgrove

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 2:18 am by suebe2

And the Bullfrogs Sing:
A Life Cycle Begins
by David L. Harrison
illustrated by Kate Cosgrove
Holiday House

“It is spring. Time to find a mate.
A male bullfrog sings loud and
deep, rumm rumm rumm.”

So begins And the Bullfrogs Sing. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Harrison’s work, he is a master at creating a seemingly simple text that packs in a wealth of information.  This text includes bullfrog calls, egg laying, the differences in male and female frogs, how long it takes a frog to mature sexually, life span and more.

My husband is a frog enthusiast so I was expecting an enjoyable book but wasn’t expecting to learn a lot.  I hadn’t known that frog eggs can taste bad to some fish — a brilliant adaption.  The fact that bull frogs hibernate twice before mating, ie they are about two years old?  I didn’t know that either.  I should have remembered just how much info Harrison packs into one of his books.

At first glance, I thought that Cosgrove’s illustrations looked like collage.  But her art work combines pencil with digital work to create a natural world largely composed of blues and greens.  The images aren’t realistic but they are welcoming.

This book would make a perfect jumping off point for discussions on growth, the life cycle, frogs, and the aquatic ecosystem in which bull frogs life.  The text is short enough not to overwhelm preschoolers and the call of the bullfrog, rumm rumm rumm, will create a chorus for young readers to sing.  Invite young readers to draw the stages of a frog’s life cycle or to create collages inspired by the book.

Compliment this picture book with other books featuring frogs.  Possibilities include The Frog Book by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page or, for readers who prefer fiction, I Don’t Want to Be a Frog by Dev Petty.


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