May 23, 2017

Rah, Rah, Radishes! A Vegetable Chant by April Pulley Sayre

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 9:14 pm by suebe2

Rah, Rah, Radishes! A Vegetable Chant
by April Pulley Sayre
Beach Lane Books

“Rah, rah, radishes!
Red and white!”

“Carrots are calling.
Take a bite.”

From radishes and carrots to squash and asparagus, the produce aisle gets treated to a rollicking fast paced rhyme in this picture book by nonfiction author and poet April Pulley Sayre.

Although most of the text is devoted to the vegies in question, Sayre also covers the importance of bees and sun.  An author’s note at the back of the book also discusses the definition of a “vegetable” in dietary terms, the importance of color to nutrition and veggies that didn’t make their way into the book.

Whether the topic is poetry, diet or colors, this book is an excellent choice.  Short enough to read aloud it is sure to engage young readers in discussion whether or not they are trying to figure out what is a radish or if carrots can be a color other than orange.

Young learners would have fun listing the many vegetables in the book, grouping them by color or shape or even in alphabetical order and coming up with ways they can be eaten.  A simple vegetable soup or salad would be an excellent classroom project as would a graph of what vegies each student has eaten within the last 24 hours.

Invite young learners to create their own vegetable poems with that poem is a chant like the one written by Sayre, list poem, or an acronym.  Another possibility would be to create a vegetable still life and have the students draw, paint or create collages based on what they see.

This book presents an almost endless array of possible activities.  Share it with your young learners and let them get creative!



May 11, 2017

Trout, Trout, Trout! (A Fish Chant) by April Pulley Sayre, illustrated by Trip Park

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:03 am by suebe2

Trout, Trout, Trout! (A Fish Chant)
by April Pulley Sayre
illustrated by Trip Park

“Threespine Stickleback,
Freshwater Drum.
Lake Chub.
Creek Chub.

Page after page of this fishy chant are filled with the names of . . . can you guess it? . . . North American fish.

The chant itself is both rhythmic and rhyming and contains the names of a great many fish found throughout the United States and Canada. Most of the fish are native speicies.  A few were introduced, intentionally or otherwise, by man. Although the main text doesn’t give any additional information on the various fish, a bit on each fish listed can be found in the back matter.  Over forty fish are listed in the order in which they appear in the main text.

Trip Park’s digital illustrations are silly and fun but also give enough detail to tell one fish from another.  That said, these illustrations are far from scientific but definitely add to the fun with schooled fishing carrying backpacks, sunning fish in beach chairs and you definitely need to see how the Starhead Topminnow turn the tables on the Northern Pike.

This book would make a great addition to the classroom or home bookcase.  Read it as you discuss poetry and then challenge young readers to create their own chants using the names of family members, hobbies are favorite foods.  It would also make a top-notch Father’s Day or Mother’s Day gift for a parent or grandparent who enjoys fishing, especially if they share this hobby with a young reader.

The only things this book is lacking, in my own humble opinion, is a bit of information on writing a chant.  Still it is definitely a book that you should share with your poetry mad or fish crazy young reader.  Chum! Chum! Chum!


January 13, 2017

Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep by April Pulley Sayre, illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 8:02 pm by suebe2

squirrels-leapSquirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep
by April Pulley Sayre
illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Squirrels wrestle.
Squirrels leap.
Squirrels climb.
Squirrels sleep.

Squirrels certainly are busy little creatures, scampering and jumping, barking and hiding food.  Author April Pulley Sayre’s gives a poetic look at an animal most of us know relatively little about.

First Sayre introduces readers to the most common types of US squirrels — the red squirrel, the grey squirrel, the fox squirrel and the flying squirrel. She then focuses on the fox squirrel showing us what it does from down to dusk. Readers learn common behaviors including what they eat and how their food-storing habit affects their environment. An author’s note following the main text discusses the squirrel’s life cycle as compared to that of the trees they inhabit as well as giving more information on how they impact their habitat.

As with many of Sayre’s books, Squirrels Leap would make an excellent read-aloud.  The rhyming text is short and straight forward while simultaneously presenting the reader with a great deal of information. The text is short enough to be read quickly which would give a class or other group time to discuss squirrels, habitat, animal movement and more.

Complimenting Sayre’s text are Jenkins illustrations. Jenkins is well-known for his combination of cut- and torn-paper collage and the illustrations in this book do not disappoint.  A wide variety of papers lend the illustrations a host of textures including making the squirrels look fuzzy as they scamper among crisp, shiny leaves.

This book is an excellent introduction to squirrels or the topic of how animals interact with and impact their environments.  A must for the classroom and the library.


May 21, 2015

Here Come the Humpbacks by April Pulley Sayre, illustrated by Jamie Hogan

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:30 am by suebe2

Here Come the Humpbacks
by April Pulley Sayre
illustrated by Jamie Hogan

In every ocean on Earth, humpback whales swim through the waters.  Here comes a humpback — a baby whale being born.  The reader follows this calf and its mother from the quiet waters of the Caribbean where a male escort whale accompanies the pair.

First the escort whales and the other adults with no calves leave.  then finally the mother and her calf swim north.  Past Delaware and New York they swim toward Canada where they find the feeding grounds as well as hungry orca.

I can’t really tell you everything without simply summarizing the book spread by spread. Sayre’s does a great job detailing the lives of the giant sea creatures.  She tells how they are born, what they eat, how they feed, and what is dangerous to them.

I like to read about whales but this book still included information I didn’t know. The whales that scientists once thought were aunts and grandmothers helping raise the calf are actually male escorts waiting for the female to be ready to mate.

If you have a younger reader, stick with the main text on each spread.  It will tell you a complete humpback story.  If you have an older reader or one who is major whale enthusiast, you can also read the sidebars — details about the whales written in smaller script.  That said, you could also read the sidebars without the main text.  Either way, your young reader will learn quite a bit about whales.

Jamie Hogan used charcoal and pastels on sanded paper to create illustrations that combine soft, slightly blurred lines with saturated color.

Share this book with your class if you are studying ecosystems or whales.  Share it if you are learning about animal babies or migration.  This is definitely a top choice to share with eager, young minds.


April 20, 2015

Eat Like a Bear by April Pulley Sayre, illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 1:22 am by suebe2

Eat Like a Bear
by April Pulley Sayre
illustrated by Steve Jenkins
Henry Holt and Company

I have to admit that I’m a huge fan of both April Pulley Sayre and Steve Jenkins.  When I saw both their names on the cover of a book, I snatched it up.

“Can you eat like a bear?”

Immediately, Sayre poses a challenge to her reader.  Can you do it?  Huh, can you?  If you’re reading this at story time, you’ll probably get more than a few answers and a roar or two.  But before readers really know if they can eat like a bear, they need to know what that means.

A bear breakfast begins in April when bears emerge from their dens.  There’s still snow on the ground but the bear hasn’t eaten for four months.  Four months with no food!  Still, not much is available and the bear has to make do with a long drink from the stream and some horsetail shoots.

Yes, the bear is eating shoots.  I knew that bears are omnivores eating whatever and whenever but I didn’t really understand what that meant for a bear who has emerged when very little has started growing.

Sayre follows the bear through the year commenting as it eats a variety of plants, insects and a bite of game here and there.  Honestly, it was surprising that the bear could bulk up on what, to me, looks like a meager diet.  But bulk up the bear does although some scientists argue about whether or not it truly hibernates as discussed in Sayre’s author’s note.

As much as my discussion focuses on Sayre’s contributions to the book, don’t discount Jenkins work.  His cut and torn paper collage bring the bear and her environment to life.  I loved the way the torn edges revealed the fibers of the brown bear paper, yielding a furry look for the beast. For the most part, Jenkins backgrounds are sparse but that helps the reader to focus on the bear and all the information in Sayre’s text.

Share this one with young nature lovers or someone with a favorite teddy bear.  Readers young and old are almost certain to learn a little something about that bear out there.



January 19, 2015

Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayre

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 1:52 am by suebe2

Raindrops Roll
by April Pulley Sayre
Beach Lane Books

If you’re already a fan, here’s another great book by April Pulley Sayre.  If you don’t know her work, pick this one up to share with the youngest readers on your list.

Sayre is a top notch author for creating books that make science kid-friendly for the youngest readers.  This time around her topic is rain.  What is it like for the smallest animals who live outdoors when water falls?

Sayre discusses the approaching rain and as it begins to fall all the way through the very last drop.  But what happens to those droplets once the rain quits falling?  Sayre covers that too and she doesn’t with the simplest text imaginable.

“And when the sun shines . . .

raindrops slowly dry.”

Sayre’s text is simple and straightforward but also poetic and it is complimented by gorgeous photography.  As much as I love the cover photo (see above), my very favorite is the one near the beginning of the book that shows a tree frog just barely visible in his hiding place.

Following the main text of the book, Sayre has included an extensive author’s note about the science of rain.  Between this and the main text, the book is a top notch choice for early readers who are learning about the water cycle.

Share this book in your class room but remember, the gentle lyrical text would also make an excellent bedtime story as the rain patters on the windows.


January 7, 2013

Dig, Wait, Listen: A Desert Toad’s Tale by April Pulley Sayre

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 1:10 am by suebe2

digDig, Wait, Listen:
A Desert Toad’s Tale
by April Pulley Sayre
illustrated by Barbara Bash

Skitter, skitter, scratch.

Thunk, thunk, thunk.
Clink, clunk,
clink, clunk.

Pop, pop, pop.

Desert toad waits, burrowed way down deep in the desert sand.  She listens for the sounds of the rain.  It will start with a light plip, plop before it pounds across the desert floor.  It sounds dangerous but toad needs this rain so that she can lay her eggs.

Sayre’s text is simple, short and poetic as it introduces young readers to Couch’s spadefoot toad.  Very few people will see this toad because it spends much of its life underground where, even in the desert, it is cool and damp.

As Sayre’s readers learn about these awesome toads, they are also introduced to a variety of other desert wildlife including giant desert hairy scorpions, ord’s kangaroo rats and gila woodpeckers.

Bash’s watercolors, pencil and ink art work captures the range of vibrant colors found in the desert as well as the subtleties of a world that seasonally feels very monochromatic as plants and animals struggle for survival.

With a brief, lively text, this book makes a great read aloud and will appeal to animal lovers of all ages.




May 7, 2012

Vulture View by April Pulley Sayre, illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 1:56 am by suebe2

Vulture View
by April Pulley Sayre,
illustrated by Steve Jenkins
Henry Holt
AR 1.1

I have to admit it — I’m disgustingly fascinated by turkey vultures.  I love to watch them circle in the sky, rocking back and forth gently in the air currents.  As much as I love to watch them in the air, that’s where my interest stops.  I know what they eat and that’s enough for me.

Still, April Pulley Sayre is one of my favorite nonfiction picture book authors and Steve Jenkins is an amazing illustrator so I picked this up to see what they could do with this topic.

The book covers a vulture day from sun up one day to  sun up the next.  It describes how they soar on the air currents (hurrah!) and drink in the various smells on the search for food (apprehension rising).  Not to worry, the book is accurate while being sensitive of the fact that not all readers will be ready for an up-close-and-personal look at vultures dining.

Jenkin’s collage illustrations depict everything from vultures flying to their actual food but do so in a way that isn’t overly detailed or gory.  The book couldn’t be honest and deliver this in any way that would be more gentle.

Hurrah to Jenkins and Sayre for accurately depicting the web of life and showing young readers a bit about an animal that few people know much about.

My favorite illustrations are the silhouettes of roosting vultures against a red evening sky although Jenkins ability to depict fluffy white clouds amazes me.

This is probably more of a boy book than a girl book but it is definitely a worthy ready for any youngster who loves nature.  With a 1.1 AR level it would also be suitable for newly independent readers who still love highly illustrated texts.


February 12, 2009

Trout Are Made of Trees by April Pulley Sayre

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 3:36 am by suebe2


Trout Are Made of Trees (AR 3 . 3 )

 By April Pulley Sayre

Illustrated by Kate Endle


Sayre successfully presents the web of life to younger children in this simple nonfiction picture book.  She begins with a leaf falling into a stream.  As the leaf decomposes it is eaten by insects who are eaten by trout.  Families camping catch the trout and have them for dinner.

Wait!  Wait!   When you tell it like that, it sounds potentially gruesome, but it isn’t.  Details are age appropriate and thus are not likely to offend.  For children who are ready for a bit more information, there’s an extensive author’s note.  I was impressed by how Sayre has managed to explain stream ecology in simple, straightforward terms. 

Endle’s collage illustrations depict the various animals in authentic detail.  Her colors are earthy and rich.

This book is a must for young nature lovers and kids who are nuts about science.  Try it as a read aloud and share it with the whole family.


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