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.
Almost Time by Gary D. Schmidt & Elizabeth Stickney; illustrated by G. Brian Karas. 2020. Pencil and digital color. Published by Clarion Books.
Brief summary: Ethan asks his father if it is sap running time yet after sitting down to eat pancakes that have applesauce instead of maple syrup. The week after, Ethan’s dad makes him corn bread but still no syrup. He keeps asking his father when it will be time. Each Sunday, Ethan gets another answer. The days finally warm up with more sunlight. It’s maple syrup season! Ethan helps his father boil the syrup and pour the thickened liquid into bottles. Pancakes with syrup at last.
Comments: Young readers can relate to looking forward to having pancakes with syrup for breakfast but keep getting everything else instead.
I would include this book in the how things are made unit.
The maple syrup season is when the days are around 40* and the nights are below freezing which are usually between mid February to mid March.
Birdsong by Julie Flett; illustrated by Julie Flett. 2019. Pastel and pencil(composited digitally). Published by Greystone Kids.
Brief summary: Young Katherena and her mother move from their city house by the sea to the country. In the summer, Katherena is encouraged by her mother to meet their neighbor, Agnes and the elderly woman’s dog, Ôhô. Agnes encourages the young girl to draw. Over the seasons, they develop an intergenerational friendship and share each other’s passion of art. Agnes’s daughter visits her mother and welcomes the little girl to join her to sit at the old woman’s death bed until it is time to say goodbye.
Comments: This is such a nice and gentle story of a friendship between two artists. The ending when Katherena sits at Agnes’s side after covering the bedroom walls with her drawings of birds to give the elderly woman a beautiful sendoff is so touching.
I recommend this book for school counselors to have in their collections for students who may be experiencing death of a love one.
Dormouse Dreams by Karma Wilson; illustrated by Renata Liwska. 2017. Pencil, colored digitally.
Brief summary: The dormouse is deep asleep in his tree unaware of winter slowly turning to spring. The snow melts and animals come out of hibernation all around him while he continues to sleep and dream. A friend knocks on his door and wakes him. They get married and then are seen in the tree dreaming together.
Comments: This is an adorable book about that time when winter starts to slowing disappear and the hibernating animals are coming out to greet spring. This is not a narrative nonfiction book as several of the forest creatures are playing with darts, skiing and engaging in other outdoor games while the little dormouse is asleep in a tree above them.
I looked up dormouse, because I did not remember ever hearing about these type of mice when I was growing up. I found out why. First, they are not mice but are related more to squirrels. Also, they are not found in the United States but are in Europe, Africa, and Asia. They do hibernate for a long time– six months or more.
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The Marvelous Thing That Came From a Spring: The Accidental Invention of the Toy That Swept the Nation by Gilbert Ford; illustrated by Gilbert Ford; photography by Greg Endries. 2016. “Drawn and colored digitally with found objects into dioramas, and photographed.”
Brief summary: Richard James worked as an engineer of the U.S. Navy in 1943 trying to invent an object that would keep ship equipment from vibrating when on the rough seas. A torsion spring fell onto his desk and bounced in an interesting way. He took it home where his son dropped it on the stairs and was amused how it appeared to walk down the steps. His wife came up with the name slinky which means “graceful and curvy in movement.” Mr. James had four hundred made and took them to several toy stores until one allowed him to demonstrate how it worked selling all 400 in ninety minutes. The couple created more with its instant popularity and built a small factory.
Comments: Mrs. James took over at this point, as her husband left to do missionary work in Bolivia. She advertised the slinky on television, which I found one of the commercials on youtube along with the famous song from my own childhood days. Betty James was inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame. Narrative nonfiction/biography. Author’s notes. I found the illustrations to be unique and interesting.