children, girls, mathematics, science

Ara the Star Engineer

Author: Komal Singh
Illustrator: Ipek Konak
Genre: Children / STEM
ISBN: 978-1-989025-05-5
Pages: 40
Price: $15.95

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Ara is named after a seven-star constellation, and she’d love to know how many stars there are in the sky. With her faithful companion robot, DeeDee, she visits Innovation Plex for help in solving her problem.

First, she visits Kripa, the prolific problem solver, and discovers she needs a plan to program DeeDee to count stars. Next, she meets Parisa, the intrepid innovator, who helps her build an algorithm. Diane, the code commander, teaches Ara how to build her own code. And finally, Marian, the tenacious troubleshooter, upgrades DeeDee’s hardware, so she has enough memory to count all the stars.

Using courage, creativity, code, and collaboration, Ara succeeds in programming DeeDee to count all the stars in the universe. She sets a terrific example for all girls (and boys) who see their futures in technology, as she works through her problem in a logical and systematic manner. Ara the Star Engineer is a fun read with a great message.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

animals, children, nature

Hidden Critters

Author: Stan Tekiela
Publisher: Adventure Publications
Genre: Animals / Nature / Children
ISBN: 978-1-59193-812-5
Pages: 48
Price: $14.95

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The ability to blend in with its surroundings can mean the difference between life and death for many animals. In Hidden Critters, Stan Tekiela shows kids some of these animals that survive by hiding.

Tekiela is a gifted nature photographer who has captured images of the animals in hiding and in plain sight, so kids can see them in their natural settings. In the first picture, kids need to try to find the hidden animal. The second picture shows it in plain view. Closing pages provide fun facts about each of the animals featured: burrowing owl, gray wolf, southern flying squirrel, American alligator, brown creeper, short-tailed weasel, bullfrog, praying mantis, white-tailed deer, and polar bear. A key to the hidden critter pages is also included, showing exactly where to spot these animals.

Nature lovers of all ages will enjoy this book. I highly recommend it for home and classroom.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, Christian

Dinosaur Devotions

Author: Michelle Medlock Adams
Illustrator: Denise Turu
Publisher: Tommy Nelson
Genre: Children / Dinosaurs / Christian / Devotions
ISBN: 978-1-4002-0902-6
Pages: 160
Price: $14.99

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Illustrator’s website
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It’s so much more fun learning about the Bible when you can do it with dinosaurs. Not only will kids learn solid Christian teaching – they’ll also acquire some impressive knowledge of 75 different prehistoric beasts.

Each of these two-page devotional entries shares a Bible quote, details some interesting facts about one particular dinosaur, and relates the dinosaur’s qualities to Christian behavior. Then a “dig deeper” question is asked, followed by a prompt for Jurassic journaling.

Did you know the Baryonyx dinosaur most likely ate a diet of fish? Dinosaur Devotions shares this information with kids before explaining the words of Jesus sending his disciples out to be fishers of men. Then it asks them to dig even deeper, and come up with a list of people they would like to invite to church – and do it!

Dinosaur Devotions is perfect for middle-grade kids who love dinosaurs and are open to hearing about Christian living in a fresh and interesting way.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

animals, children, nature

Look at Me!

Author & Illustrator: Jim Arnosky
Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books
Genre: Children / Nature / Animals
ISBN: 978-1-4549-2809-6
Pages: 40
Price: $16.95

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Many animals have coloring that allows them to blend in with their surroundings, camouflaging them from being seen by predators. But some animals have colorful and unusual features that are meant to attract mates, as well as avoid being eaten. Look at Me! shows us some of these creatures and their stunning displays.

Male turkeys spread their tail feathers, and strut to attract females. African bullfrogs blow up to twice their size to avoid frog-eating snakes. Deer have antlers and sheep have horns for battling other males during mating season. These as well as many other interesting animals are introduced with beautiful illustrations, including some fold out spreads.

Nature’s wonders never fail to please children, and Look at Me! is a delight to read. Kids (and teachers) will love it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

animals, children

Which Animal Is Fastest?

Author: Brian Rock
Illustrator: Carolyn Le
Publisher: Arbordale
Genre: Children / Animals
ISBN: 9781607187455
Pages: 32
Price: $9.95

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Illustrator’s website
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King Lion is hosting a race to determine the fastest animal. But before he can crown cheetah the champion, the other animals protest. Why should the race be for quickness over a short distance? There are other ways to measure speed – why won’t he use those instead?

After listening to all their pleas, King Lion finally decides to hold an Olympics. Each animal now has the chance to show off its skills in the best possible setting, and the winners of each event are congratulated.

The final pages detail each of the speeds of the winning animals in their specialty. Activities and questions are also provided for teachers who might want to use this book for science lessons. Which Animal Is Fastest? is a fun read for animal lovers, and will be a big hit in the classroom.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

art, children, crafts, creativity

Proggy Menagerie

Author: Hayley Smith
Publisher: Good Books
Genre: Crafts
ISBN: 978-1-68099-337-0
Pages: 128
Price: $14.99

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Have you ever imagined making your own soft and snuggly rag rug animals? This process isn’t as hard as it might seem. Using simple supplies like fleece and burlap, you can build adorable critters. Proggy Menagerie will show you how.

In this unique craft book, you’ll learn how to make woodland creatures (fox, badger, hedgehog, squirrel), farmyard favorites (lamb, pig, bat, duck), perfect pets (kitten, puppy, bunny, tortoise), feathered friends (parrot, owl, robin, penguin), and water babies (clown fish, seal, turtle, frog). The creation of each animal is demonstrated with pictures and written instructions explaining each of the steps. Reduced-size patterns (with instructions for enlarging) are provided for cutting the pieces to be assembled.

Although I didn’t attempt one of these adorable proggy animals, I felt confident in reading the detailed instructions that I could have easily created them. Children will need an adult’s assistance in assembling these, but will easily grasp the proggy technique. I highly recommend Proggy Menagerie.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Figley vs. the Mookling Hat (Mutasia)

Authors: Suzanne Cotsakos & Ryan McCulloch
Illustrator: Ryan McCulloch
Publisher: Mutasian Entertainment
Genre: Children
ISBN: 9780692106327
Pages: 48
Price: $15.99

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When everyone in Mutasia starts wearing Mookling hats, Figley decides he needs one, too. After all, he can’t be left out of the fun. But when he tries to find one for the party that evening, his efforts end in failure. So he does the best he can, and arrives at the party with a Squonk hat, instead.

Initially, the others are puzzled by this silly, squishy hat. But when they decide his hat is so much more special than their Mookling hats, they all have to get one, too. Once everyone is wearing Squonk hats, they wonder why they don’t feel as unique as they thought they would. Figley knows the answer, and after sharing it with the rest of the Mutasians, they know what to do. Soon everyone is sporting the hat that best fits their personality.

Figley vs. the Mookling Hat is a silly story that encourages individuality. By exaggerating the ridiculousness of everyone doing the same thing, it shows kids that it’s best to be themselves, even if they’re different from their friends. And they might discover that their way is just as cool as everyone else’s.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Suzanne and Ryan stopped by Bergers Book Reviews for an interview. Please be sure to check it out here!