Saturday, June 11, 2022

Early Readers

Derting, Kimberly and Johannes, Shelli R. Murray, Joelle (illus.)
Vivi Loves Science: Sink or Float
February 15th 2022 by Greenwillow Books
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

In this second book in a series, Vivi and her class visit an aquarium with their teacher, Ms. Cousteau.Since Vivi loves marine biology, she is very excited. The children get to touch a stingray, see sea turtles, and learn about the habits of flatfish. The scientist at the aquarium teaches them about the swim bladder in the flatfish, and shows them how to make their own out of a balloon and bottle. The concept oVivi's love for science is great to see, and there are a number of other books in this I Can Read series, some involving Vivi, and some with Cece and Libby as main characters. STEM related books are in great demand, and are a good way to encourage children, especially girls, to investigate different areas of science. I was surprised at how very detailed the information about the swim bladder was, but it was also well explained and easy to understand for early elementary school readers. The pictures and examples help visually represent the concept well. The spacing of the text and pictures is particularly helpful, with shorter lines of text located directly under the picture of the concept being explained, instead of in one clump at the bottom of the page.

The illustrations are brightly colored and appealing, with lots of blue for the water, but with bright pops of yellow in Vivi's clothing and various fish. Ms. Cousteau and the scientist are women of color, and Vivi and her classmates represent a variety of ethnicities, although there is nothing in the text that specifically states any cultural connections. 

If my land locked middle grade readers are any indication, marine biology is fascinating to a lot of children, and emerging independent readers will enjoy tagging along on Vivi's field trip. Pair this was books like Mihaly's Water: A Deep Dive of Discovery, Lawler's Oceans of Love, and National Geographic Kid's Ultimate Ocean-Pedia, but be prepared to make a swim bladder out of a ballon and a small glass bottle. It's the plastic tubing that you'll need to find in advance, since I know I don't have any lying around the house!f low density and high density is explained and demonstrated so that the children understand how the flatfish is able to stay on the bottom of the tank. Vivi gets to ask more questions, and is happy to go home and tell her goldfish, Bubbles, what she has learned. Instructions for recreating the swim bladder experiment are included at the end of the book. 

Kessler, Liz and Stone, Joanie (illus.). 
The World of Emily Windsnap: Emily’s Big Discovery 
April 12th 2022 by Candlewick Press

While it might be too soon for original readers of Kessler's The Tale of Emily Windsnap (2003) to have children of their own, the nine book series is still in print. Emerging readers can get a good introduction to Emily, a girl who discovers she is half-human and half-mermaid with this early reader book. 

Even though Emily and her mother live on a boat, her mother won't let her play in the ocean because she thinks it is too dangerous, and you never know what it out there in the water. Emily isn't happy with this, since she sees her friends having fun, but she gets a clue as to why her mother is keeping her out of the water when swim classes are held at school. She starts to feel very strange in the water and has to be helped out. The instructor tells her it was just a cramp, but Emily is suspicious. One night she sneaks out to take a dip in the ocean, and she feels her legs turning into a fin! When she gets caught in some rocks, she is saved by Shona, another mermaid who is surprised that Emily didn't know she was a mermaid. The two are happy to be friends, and as she sneaks back home, Emily looks forward to more underwater adventures. 

The illustrations in this are particularly charming, especially the sandy beach scenes. While there are no cultural connections explained in the text, Emily's mother and Shona have darker complexions, and the scenes at school show children of a variety of ethnicities. The background of the illustrations often take the entire page, and the text is incorporated into the scene instead of being relegated to just the bottom of the page, which I always enjoy. 

Books where children have magical powers or abilities are always popular with young readers, especially when they are fun tales of adventure involving fairies, unicorns, or other magical creatures. This story is stripped down from the original but still is a great mermaid story for readers who enjoyed June's Mermicorn Island series, Dadey's Mermaid Tales, or  Hazen's Mermaid Mary Margaret.

Boyer, Christian. So Cute! Puppies.
February 1st 2022 by National Geographic Kids
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

The immediate draw of this book is clearly the wonderful pictures of puppies! There are Papillions napping, Golden Retrievers romping, and Pugs making puppy dog eyes, but there is also a lot of good information about dogs and their habits. There is information about the fact that puppies are born in litters, with statistics about the largest litter, and a great timeline ofwhat puppies look like after they are first born, and how they grow. Did you know that puppies reach  maximum cuteness at around two months, when they are usually adopted? There is also a little bit of information about human and dog interactions, and the fact that puppies love to be talked to. 

National Geographic books always have excellent photographs, and this is definitely true in this book. The pages, though only about 7"x 7", are packed with lots of details, so this would be a great book to stick in a diaper bagto use to distract small children. The cover might need reinforcing; it's paper over board, and the copy I received had a couple of small rips. This will not hold up to being chewed on by either young children or puppies! The small size makes it easy to cover with clear contact paper. 

There are a number of books in the So Cute! series, including titles about pandas, penguins, and koalas, and are a great nonfiction accompaniment to dog books like Ahn's Pug Pals, Soderberg's Puppy Pirates, Higgins' Good Dog books, and Clarke's Dr. Kittycat series (there are plenty of other animals in those, including dogs!). This is also not a bad book to have on hand for adults who have had a particularly trying day and don't want to look at any more computer screens in order to see cute puppies!

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