Nesting by Henry Cole; illustrated by Henry Cole. 2020. Micron pens and acrylic paints. Published by Katherine Tegen Books.
Brief summary: Young readers learn about two robins making a nest in an apple tree. The mother robin lays four eggs and keeps them warm until they hatch. Now, both robins must take turns feeding their babies despite a storm and a snake. When the hatchlings have grown and have feathers, they leave the nest, learn to feed themselves, and grow fat for the winter months.
Comments: Robin blue end pages. Illustrations are done with black pen and blue acrylics.
This book would go well with the spring unit of study.
Author’s Note in the back with more robin facts.
Squeak! by Laura McGee Kvasnosky; illustrated by Kate Harvey McGee. 2019. First painted the black layer in gouache resist and then painted the color digitally in Photoshop. Published by Philomel Books.
Brief summary: Early in a forest’s morning, the breeze of the wind went past a mouse’s ear causing him to *squeak*! That *squeak!* floated to a chipmunk causing him to chatter in the branches of a pine tree. A pine cone falls into the river below making a *splash!* in the water. All of the creatures in the forest’s habitat experience the result of the wind’s first touch of the mouse’s ear resulting and ending with the mouse again.
Comments: Fun way to learn about the sounds of the forest. This book could be read to introduce a hearing unit and a forest habitat. This also could be an onomatopoeia introduction book.
Warbler Wave by April Pulley Sayre and Jeff Sayre. 2018. Photography. Published by Beach Lane Books.
Brief summary: Warblers migrate back up north in the spring stopping along the way to eat and continue the journey each night. Readers will learn what type of food they eat, other animals in their habitat, characteristics of various types of warblers, and other facts about these precious migratory birds.
Comments: This husband and wife team created another beautiful nature book. April Pulley Sayre books are the examples I use when teaching about the various mediums used to illustrate picture books. I can just imagine how quiet and still one would have to be to get these top-notch photos that spread across each oversized page. Lyrical prose.
There is a complete write-up in the back of the book about these birds and their amazing migration. I had no idea that there are fifty different species of these songbirds. The author and her husband set aside the first two weeks of May to enjoy the warbler migration. Live near Toledo, Ohio? Don’t miss The Biggest Week in American Birding, a festival celebrating the warblers’ migration.
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After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up by Dan Santat; illustrated by Dan Santat. 2017. Published by Roaring Book Press.
Brief summary: The story begins after Humpty Dumpty gets out of Kings County Hospital and has recovered from his fall, that is physically recovered. Humpty Dumpty tells and shows the reader about his fear of heights that developed from the fall. He is unable to enjoy anything up high. He walks past where the accident happened and really wants to be up high where the birds are, but just can not. He watches the birds from the ground until one day a paper airplane flies by him piquing his interest of flying and being up high. After a lot of perseverance, he comes up with the perfect paper airplane and takes it to the wall to fly. It goes over. He nervously climbs the wall to retrieve it and discovers what his true self is afterall.
Comments: One of my all-time favorites! My students in all grades loved this book and especially the surprise ending. As we checked in books, I had the nursery rhyme on the Smartboard when they came in. (I never assume they know the nursery rhymes). I taught the book as a fractured nursery rhyme and before I read the book to them, explained what are the characteristics of fractured folklore. The students were mesmerized by the story and illustrations. The younger ones had to think a bit more to get the ending and what happened. Afterwards, with the older students, this led to many conversations about their own fears and overcoming them. I could see this being shared by a counselor to talk about fear.
Writing. This could be the beginning of a writing exercise with nursery rhymes and what happened afterwards. What happened after the mouse ran down the clock? What happened to Baa Baa Black Sheep’s wool?
Art connection. Origami. The paper airplane books are now checked out all the time. I had to put out extra paper and was amused how several students would gather in a circle to make airplanes. New rule: No throwing paper airplanes in the library.
North, South, East, West by Margaret Wise Brown; illustrated by Greg Pizzoli. 2017. Adobe Photoshop–digital illustrations. Published by HarperCollins.
Brief summary–While siting in a sycamore tree, a baby bird asks his mother which direction she should fly for her first flight. The little bird flies up north and finds it too cold. She decides to go south and finds it too hot. She then flies to the west but misses the sycamore trees causing her to turn around to fly east. The baby bird grows up and has children of her own who ask her which direction is the best to fly.
Comments: This is a sweet and gentle story unpublished before by Margaret Wise Brown(1910-1952). It could be included in a directions and/or mapping unit of study. “What would we find if we went north of the school?” Google maps could be used showing the current direction and then ask what a bird would see going north, south, west, or east. This could also be used to talk about how we have to make our own decision of direction in life. The mother bird did not directly answer her baby when asked which direction is the best. She left that up to the chick to discover.
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