On Earth by G. Brian Karas (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2005) is a wonderful book to show your young reader the vastness of their home, planet earth, in space. I like this book because it could be used for an introductory science lesson on seasons and movements of the earth and sun, but it also makes for a book parents can share with younger readers because of its easy to grasp illustrations and simple text. Starting with, “On earth we go for a giant ride in space, spinning like a merry-go-round,” Karas explains how the earth is tilted, why we have day and night, how the tilt causes our seasons and how months and years go by, all in kid-friendly illustrations. We are meant to pause and dwell over many of the pages in order to fully grasp the science. These pages are balanced with other pages that only need a brief pause to harness a sensory detail such as the warmth and light of the sun, but that promote a caring for this special planet that is our home, and produce a nice pace to the reading experience.
This book lends itself to rereading since the science concepts are new to young readers, and not necessarily easy to grasp quickly. The bold, yet simple illustrations will help; I love the scenes of beds or beaches taking up a quarter to a half of the globe and suspect kids will too. And as your child ponders the pages, you too should stop and share. You might catch a distant memory of your early awareness and awe of living on our special planet. I found myself reflecting on my many journeys around the sun, and hope you will too.
OK, I know, Dog didn’t go anywhere. I just found a book new to me about him. I first fell in love with Dog when I read Dog Loves to Read by Louise Yates. https://lisaconnors.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/dog-loves-read-across-america-day/
Now I’ve discovered an equally endearing read in Dog Loves Drawing (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012). Your young reader will delight in Dog’s imagination as he and his friends not only take, but also create their own journey though the blank pages of an art journal. I won’t give it away; you’ll need to see for yourself – but there is a monster!
You and your young reader will delight in sharing Dog’s journey. Just make sure you’ve a new blank journal and some crayons for when you finish. There’s sure to be some wild imagination flying about.
This week’s recommendation is not a Valentine’s Book, but it easily could be. Hedgehugs and the Hattiepillar by Steve Wilson and Lucy Tapper (Henry Holt and Company, 2015) gives the reader a heavy dose of cuteness and love. Hattie and Horace, two adorable hedgehogs, are best friends. One day they come across a caterpillar egg and embark on a wonder journey very similar to that which young children experience when observing the life cycle of a butterfly. However, Horace and Hattie take their wonder a step further, hoping they too can transform from a caterpillar to a butterfly – a notion that might enter into young minds too*.
I won’t steal the magic of how they try to transform for you. Obviously, hedgehogs can’t turn into butterflies. However, if you’ve ever marveled at nature – whether a grand event, a glimpse of something rare, or the daily happenings in your backyard – I dare say you may agree with me that Horace and Hattie indeed were transformed.
So for this time of year, a time when we’re often feeling a little down, I highly recommend Hudgehugs and the Hattiepillar. It will have you humming, and it just might get you excited about finding some magic of your own.
* My son loved to count the callies on my asclepias in the mornings of our Houston home. When he was three, we moved to Virginia. One day soon after arriving, he told me that he was once an egg in my belly, and then a caterpillar, but that he turned into a butterfly and flew to Virginia.
A Wasp Builds a Nest by Kate Scarborough and Martin Camm (Firefly Books, Ltd. 2016) is a masterpiece almost amazing as a paper wasp nest itself. If you don’t know how amazing and intricate a paper wasp nest is, you need to read this book. Its pages build along with the description and illustrations of how each layer of cells is constructed, making it easy to understand what is going on inside. There are close-up illustrations of the cells and larvae, and informative text to explain what is happening.
That’s all pretty magical, but what struck me the most is the layered concept of the seasons in the description of all this nest building. I already knew that wasps build new nests every year, but I was still overcome with awe. Why? Once I saw what’s happening inside and understood the detail of the nest construction, all the work involved, and the cooperation among the wasps – with all this occurring between March or April and September – and ending in the death of the original queen, well, awestruck is the only way to describe how I felt.
This is not just a book for insect or nature lovers. It’s a book for everyone, because a daily dose of awe-inspiring nature is sure to enthuse, and hopefully motivate a reader to care for the world around him or her.