Wednesday, April 19, 2017

In Celebration of Earth Day! Animal Planet: Animal Bites Series

A couple weeks ago, we received a package with two books from the Animal Planet Animal Bites series in the mail. We were on our way to gymnastics practice, so I handed the books to my youngest daughter to read on the way there. The books we received were: Animals on the Move and Baby Animals. Little J had the Baby Animals. For the next 20 minutes during the drive, all I heard coming from the back seat was a series of "Awwws!" and "Oh my goodness look at this cute little animal!" I was laughing out loud from her dramatic reaction to the images in the book. She was smitten with the cute and cuddly creatures. She just couldn't get enough of those adorable little babies. When we got home, my oldest grabbed both books and spent hours reading all the tidbits and facts contained within the books. I love it when I discover books that capture both my daughters' attention, books that have enough interesting information to keep my ten-year-old intrigued and enough vibrant photos to keep my youngest enthralled. What makes these books even more fantastic is that they a packed full of scientific information- which is exactly what a scientist mamma wants to be providing for her daughters.

Sunday marked the beginning of National Park Week, and Saturday is Earth Day. I felt that this week would be the best time to share with you, my readers, these latest awesome and amazing additions to the Animal Planet Animal Bites series.

Hiking at Red Top Mountain State Park
 We have been celebrating nature and science these past couple of weeks by hiking at state and national parks, visiting ZooAtlanta, and on Saturday participatin in the March for Science.
Looking out over Lake Allatoona at the birds
It is great getting the kids out into nature, and we are lucky to live within a short drive of some great places to spot wildlife.
Pretending to be the Lorax at Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield National Park
My daughters even insisted on bringing their new Animal Planet books to ZooAtlanta to check out if they saw any of the animals featured in the book.
While the elephants were on the move, the kangaroos had no interest in moving in the hot Atlanta sun.

We even went up to Amicalola Falls and attended a science lesson about birds of prey to learn more way animals move.



So, I guess you can safely say, my kids loved the books and made sure they were part of our adventures.


Animal Planet Animals on the Move (Animal Bites Series)

Age Range: 7 - 10 years 
Grade Level: Preschool - 3 
Lexile Measure: 870 (What's this?) 
Series: Animal Bites 
Flexibound: 80 pages 
Publisher: Animal Planet (March 7, 2017) 
Language: English 
ISBN-10: 1618931792 
ISBN-13: 978-1618931795

About the Book


With more than 200 gorgeous photos of animals in their natural habitats, there's action and adventure on every page of Animal Planet Animals on the Move. This fast-moving addition to the Animal Bites series provides kids in the first years of schooling with the perfect bite-sized view of their favorite animals. Arranged thematically with a focus on animal behavior and family relationships, young readers will explore sections about migration, fast and slow, hunting and playing, and animal movement on land, in the air, and in water, Special book features designed for this age group include simple graphics and 'Just Like Me' sidebars with fascinating animal facts for young readers to learn more about themselves and the amazing animals that share our world.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of books in the Animal Bites series benefits the principal partners of R.O.A.R. (Reach Out. Act. Respond.), Animal Planet's initiative dedicated to improving the lives of animals in our communities and in the wild.

My Review


Animals on the Move combines beautiful photography with eye popping graphics that will capture the attention of a wide age range of children.  Whether it is flying squirrels or lizards running over the surface of water, the author and designers of this series of books do a fantastic job of honing in on the quirky facts about animals that will get kids excited about science. In addition to the content, the book contains a glossary, index, list of resources, and a couple of activities.
I wish a review could do justice to the photography in the book, but there are really no words for how amazing animals look when captured in flight or on the run.

There are a couple of things I would add, if I had my way, to help answer questions my children had when reading the books. First, there are "Info Bites" sections that include information about specific animals. It would be really helpful to have not only the home listed but to also include a small map of the world with the location of the animals highlighted. The second thing I would add periodically throughout the book would be ways that kids could help protect the animals or animal homes. My kids are always asking me how they could help animals, and it helps to have simple steps kids could take to make a difference, like clipping the plastic that comes around soda cans.


Animal Planet Baby Animals (Animal Bites Series)


Age Range: 8 - 12 years 
Grade Level: Preschool - 3 
Lexile Measure: 800 (What's this?) 
Series: Animal Bites 
Flexibound: 80 pages 
Publisher: Animal Planet (March 7, 2017) 
Language: English 
ISBN-10: 1618931784 
ISBN-13: 978-1618931788

 About the Book

With more than 200 adorable photos of baby animals and their families, there's serious "aw" factor on every page of Animal Planet Baby Animals. This fun addition to the Animal Bites series provides kids in the first years of schooling with the perfect bite-sized view of their favorite animals. Arranged thematically with a focus on animal behavior and family relationships, young readers will explore sections about life cycles, feeding, play time, conservation, getting around, and much more. Special book features designed for this age group include simple infographics and 'All Grown Up' animal facts to help kids learn more about how young and adult animals differ-just like humans!

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of books in the Animal Bites series benefits the principal partners of R.O.A.R. (Reach Out. Act. Respond.), Animal Planet's initiative dedicated to improving the lives of animals in our communities and in the wild.


My Review

Honestly, you can NEVER go wrong with a book full of baby animals. Children and adults, alike, love to see just how cute animals are before they grow up. This book kept my four-year-old entertained for hours. She kept saying, "Aww!" on every page. My older daughter loved reading about how mothers take care of their young. Just like the other books in the Animal Bites series, in addition to the content, the book contains a glossary, index, list of resources, and a couple of activities.

My absolute favorite photo in the book is of a duck-billed platypus nursing her young. The shot is amazing and information provided in the caption of the photo was intriguing. It is hard to imagine such a seemingly hardy animal like that gently holding multiple infants and nursing them!

Not only did both my daughters find this book to be thoroughly engaging, but I did as well. I cannot say enough for the photography that Animal Planet includes in this series of books.


Want to join in the fun and get a sneak peek on how awesome this series of books are? Check out this activity packet that goes with the books.

What a copy of these books? I am thrilled to announce thatTime Inc. books is giving away not one or two, but all six books in the series to one lucky reader! Leave a comment letting me know how you celebrate Earth Day.

 FTC Required Disclosures:
 *I received review copies from the publisher free of charge. All opinions expressed in this review represent my honest opinions about the book. **This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. If you purchase the books through these links, I receive a small portion of the payment, which I use to support this blog. Thanks for your support!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Happy Dreamer by Peter H. Reynolds Prize Pack Giveaway!

During the day, I work as a scientist at a college. The students right now are ragged. They are desperately trying to make it through the end of the semester and finals. I wonder how many of them could use a little motivation as they sprint to the finish line? I hope, as my mom did, that they were given motivational books at graduation from high school, and they can sneak some inspiration before finishing the semester.

As graduation day approaches, I know many people will be looking for a book to purchase to give to their graduate. While Happy Dreamer is a children's book states it is geared towards ages 4-8, I firmly believe that this book would make a great gift. This book screams, "Dream Big!" But, this book also has quiet moments reminding the reader to keep moving forward during tough days. This is a great lesson for little growing minds, but I also think it would serve these tired looking college kids I see every day.

I am so excited to share that Scholastic will be providing one lucky reader of my blog with a copy of this book and another super special surprise...read on to find out!





ABOUT THE BOOK


HAPPY DREAMER
By Peter H. Reynolds
Release: March 28, 2017
Recommended for ages 4-8

In the same spirit as OH, ALL THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!, the beloved, worldwide bestselling creator of The Dot and Ish inspires readers of every age to find their own unique path to happy, and to always follow their dreams with HAPPY DREAMER.

Picture book and creativity guru Peter H. Reynolds brings us a universally poignant celebration of the colorful spectrum of what it means to dream and the many ways to find happy!

While the world tells us to sit still, to follow the rules, and to color inside the lines, Happy Dreamer celebrates all those moments in between when the mind and spirit soar and we are free to become our own true dreamer maximus! In Peter's signature voice and style, this empowering picture book reminds children of how much their dreams matter, and while life will have ups and downs, he enlists readers to stay true to who they are, to tap into their most creative inner selves, and to never ever forget to dream big!
Peter H. Reynolds' latest inspirational book is a perfect gift for graduations, new babies, milestone moments, and any happy occasion throughout the year for any age!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Peter is a New York Times bestselling children's book author and illustrator of many books for children, including the Judy Moody series, written by Meghan McDonald; The Dot; Ish; Sky Color; and Allison McGhee's Someday, selling more than two million books in over 25 languages around the globe. In 1996, he founded FableVision with his brother Paul as a social change agency to help move the world to a better place by creating "stories that matter, stories that move." He lives in Dedham, Massachusetts, with his family.










And now....the big prize!!!


HAVE HAPPY DREAMS! Let your mind and spirit soar at night! One winner will receive:
  • A gorgeous hardcover copy of Happy Dreamer
  • AND a Doodle pillowcase! The doddle pillowcase is a speciality pillowcase that invites the dreamer and sleeper to doodle their own dreams on the pillow.

(Open to US addresses only.
Prizing and samples provided by Scholastic.)


So to win, I want to know what kind of dreamer are you? One lucky person who comments on this post or on my social media pages for Instagram or Facebook will be randomly selected to win the prize.   

Contest Open from April 10, 2017 through April 17, 2017 at midnight.

Don't forget to check out Scholastic - my awesome prize pack sponsor.

Follow Scholastic on Twitter & Instagram
Like Scholastic on Facebook
#HappyDreamer

Teachers, make sure to check out the Happy Dreamer teacher's guide with lots of amazing activities: http://www.scholastic.com/pdfs/HappyDreamerKit.pdf


How to purchase: 


FTC DISCLOSURE

Thank you @Scholastic for sending me a copy of Happy Dreamer in exchange for sharing information about he book and providing the prize pack! This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. If you purchase the books through these links, I receive a small portion of the payment, which I use to support this blog. Thanks for your support!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Margarita Engle deserves a Bravo!

My oldest daughter is 10 now, and she has no interest in reading together. Granted, I have been busy reading at night with my four-year-old, but I miss the conversations I used to have with Miss M. She is the reason I started the blog. While I don't expect her to change her desire to read solely on her own, I think I have come up with a way to engage in a dialogue about books with her.

It all started a couple of weeks ago...

Miss M brought a book over to me, slammed it down on the dining room table, and said, "Mom! You HAVE to read this book."

She is a voracious reader. And sometimes she shares little bits and pieces about books she she is reading, but she never makes book recommendations for me. The book she brought me was The Lightning Dreamer by Margarita Engle.


That night I devoured the book, which is written in verse, and was left with a richness in my heart. This is exactly the type of book I want my daughter to be reading. This book was not about catty girls in the lunchroom. She gets enough of that at school. This book brought to life a world I never realized existed. In my perfect little bubble here in the USA, I never thought about slavery in Cuba. I never thought much about the plight of young girls who lived long before I was born. And, neither had my daughter. Because of this book, we had long conversations about arranged marriages, slavery, and what it means to be mixed race. All of these complex themes that I might never broach under normal circumstances became the springboard from which I was able to engage in thought provoking conversations with my daughter.

I immediately went onto Amazon and ordered two more of Ms. Engle's books: The Firefly Letters and Bravo! 

When The Firefly Letters arrived in the mailbox, I sat down with a pencil in hand and read the book. As I read, I did what might horrify many readers- I wrote notes and underlined each phrase or word that moved me.

Some passages were too profound for a comment. I just underlined the words and hoped my daughter would read and reflect on the words.






 Some descriptions were so fanciful, like the idea of tame flamingos, I wrote a quick note.
And other times, when a central theme to the story would have an important moment, I wrote questions to hopefully prompt discussion after she had time to read the book.

When I was done, I handed my daughter a heavily marked up novel and waited for her to read it. Hoping it would help spur discussions between us.

Well it worked! After finishing the book, she remarked that my underlines and notes helped her make connections to other books we had read, to current political events, and to emotions that we all feel. It felt like our own mother daughter book club. We debated how we would have acted in similar circumstances, but more often than not, we remarked how we simply couldn't imagine being in a circumstance anywhere remotely like the ones the characters in the books experienced.

Several days later, our third book by Margarita Engle arrived: Bravo!

  • Author: Margarita Engle 
  • Illustrator:  Rafael Lopez 
  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (March 14, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805098763
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805098761

About the book: 

Musician, botanist, baseball player, pilot―the Latinos featured in this collection come from many different countries and from many different backgrounds. Celebrate their accomplishments and their contributions to a collective history and a community that continues to evolve and thrive today!
Biographical poems include: Aida de Acosta, Arnold Rojas, Baruj Benacerraf, César Chávez, Fabiola Cabeza de Baca, Félix Varela, George Meléndez, José Martí, Juan de Miralles, Juana Briones, Julia de Burgos, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Paulina Pedroso, Pura Belpré, Roberto Clemente, Tito Puente, Ynes Mexia, Tomás Rivera


My Review: 

Bravo! is a children's book that simply must be in every library and school. This is a book of poems featuring the accomplishments of a select group of amazing Hispanics. Each poem is written from the perspective of the person being featured, allowing the reader to walk a mile in their shoes. In an age when there is a desperate need for children's books representing our diverse culture, I love that this book was written by a Cuban-American author and illustrated by a person of Mexican heritage. The words, the imagery, the colors feel authentic. I especially like the diverse spectrum of accomplishments chosen for this book. The people featured include activists, businessmen, parishioners, artists, athletes, scientists, and librarians. A child reading this book will truly be able to envision any life they would like to lead through the words of those that came before them. My favorite illustration in this book can be found on the leaves at the beginning of the book. It is the image of a child lying on her back reading a book. Out of the book, pouring down on her, are little rainbow droplets. That is what reading this entire book felt like- like having a beautiful rainbow of culture rain down upon the reader.

FTC Required Disclosures:
 **This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. If you purchase the books through these links, I receive a small portion of the payment, which I use to support this blog. Thanks for your support!
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