animals, nature

The Gift of the Deer


Author: Helen Hoover
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
Genre: Nature / Outdoors
ISBN: 978-0816631285
Pages: 224
Price: $16.95

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Every so often I long to read a book simply about wildlife or nature in general. The book has to have good story, entertaining characters, and a satisfying ending. It is necessary that the tale comes alive in my mind and stimulates my imagination. The Gift of the Deer does all this and more.

Helen and Adrian (Ade) gave up life in the city to move to a remote cabin in the wilds of northern Minnesota. On one Christmas Day during a particularly brutal winter, they noticed a new visitor out among the usual birds and squirrels they feed outside. The fully mature buck was thin, blind in one eye, and obviously struggling to survive winter’s harsh treatment. Deciding to help this deer survive became a decision that would affect the lives of Helen and Ade forever. For four years afterward, they had the privilege to observe and get to know a growing family of deer throughout the seasons. Hoover’s vivid descriptions are presented with the eye of a seasoned naturalist, and her husband’s illustrations further bring the imagery to life.

By reading these personal accounts that cover four captivating years, the reader has the opportunity to see nature in its purist form and learn a side of deer behavior that is very rare indeed. The Gift of the Deer is a golden opportunity to absorb a good story and exercise the imagination. I recommend this book to nature lovers of every sort.

Reviewer: Gene 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

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

children, nature

My First Wild Activity Book


Author: Isabel Otter-Barry Ross
Illustrator: Maxime Lebrun
Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books
ISBN: 978-1-62686-957-8
Pages: 32
Price: $12.99

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Children may not be able to take a trip around the world to visit natural habitats, but they can do this from the comfort of their own homes. With My First Wild Activity Book, kids will explore the rain forest, desert, ocean, mountains, forest, savanna, and polar ice.

Each location has several activities: search and finds, counting, mazes, matching, connect the dots, coloring, and stickers. An answer key is also provided. At the end of each section, there is a space for young adventurers to place their explorer completion badge.

This activity book is more about fun than learning, and the amount of actual information provided for each section is manageable for small children. But by playing with this book, they will discover these seven different habitats and hopefully be curious enough to want to know more. Kids will love this fun activity book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, nature

Rock Collecting for Kids / Rock Log


Author: Dan R. Lynch
Publisher: Adventure Publications
Genre: Kids / Nature / Geology
ISBN: 978-1-59193-773-9
Pages: 144
Price: $12.95

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Rock collecting is a simple and fun hobby for kids. Rocks comes in so many interesting shapes and sizes, from soft to hard, and have some spectacular colors. They’re so easy to find in backyards, school yards, and parks. Kids can also buy polished stones and split open rocks that reveal the crystals and rings hidden inside.

Rock Collecting for Kids helps kids identify the cool rock they’ve found, while Rock Log gives them a place to record it. Each log entry makes a note of time, place, description, and a place for a drawing of the rock. Fun facts are included in the side margins.

Budding geologists will enjoy this rock collecting set. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

animals, children, nature

Whose Baby Butt?


Author: Stan Tekiela
Publisher:Adventure Publications
Genre: Children / Nature
ISBN: 978-1-59193-783-8
Pages: 48
Price: $14.95

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Baby animals have the cutest features, including their fuzzy, little butts. But can you identify the animal by its baby butt? Whose Baby Butt? uses this question to introduce kids to ten adorable baby animals.

One one two-page spread, kids see a photo of the baby butt to identify. A short blurb accompanies it, ending with the question, “Whose baby butt is this?” In the second two-page spread, the baby is pictured in full, often with parents and siblings, along with a description of the animal. The final pages of this book include more facts about the animals pictured.

Kids love baby animals, and they’ll get a kick out of identifying them by their baby butts. I highly recommend this fun nature book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

animals, children, nature

What Eats That?


Author: Ryan Jacobson
Photographer: Stan Tekiela
Publisher: Adventure Publications
Genre: Children / Nature
ISBN: 978-1-59193-749-4
Pages: 32
Price: $14.95

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Photographer’s website
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“A food chain is a string of living things that eat (and might be eaten by) other living things.” What Eats That? explains the concept of a food chain to kids, showing the relationships between predator and prey.

Each animal in a food chain is pictured, along with an explanation of what it eats. A teaser then prompts kids to turn the page and find out who eats it. Beginning with a butterfly eating the nectar of a flower, there is a progression all the way up to humans and the natural end of the food chain. Just for fun, kids are encouraged to build their own food chains beginning with a mosquito. The eating habits of the animals pictured are included in the appendix.

As an animal person, I was a bit worried that I’d see cute and cuddly animals described as dinner. But the authors mostly stay away from those prey, focusing more on insects and cold-blooded animals. Kids will enjoy learning about the food chain with this book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

animals, art, children, nature

Paint by Sticker Kids: Beautiful Bugs


Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
Genre: Children / Art/ Nature
ISBN: 978-1-5235-0295-0
Pages: 34
Price: 9.95

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Creating images of bugs has never been easier with Paint by Sticker Kids: Beautiful Bugs. Each bug design contains numbered stickers that kids can peel and stick in the designated spot on the diagram. Designs are printed on perforated card stock with colorful backgrounds, suitable for displaying their sticker bug creations.

Some of the featured bugs include: ladybug, spider, beetles, firefly, and butterflies, as well as many other interesting creatures. The age range listed for this book is K-6, but younger children may need some adult assistance to make sure the stickers end up in the right place. Tweezers are recommended for proper placement, and stickers are not removable.

Each design is a puzzle which can only be revealed by proper placement of the stickers, so kids will enjoy the act of creating a beautiful bug. I highly recommend this enjoyable nature activity book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, nature

The Runaway Dandelion


Author: Jill Regensburg
Illustrator: Leticia Plate
Publisher: EarthWardProject
Genre: Children / Nature
ISBN: 978-0998459608
Pages: 48
Price: $10.99

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One day, some large equipment arrives in a beautiful meadow and rips out all the trees and plants, before a huge house is built and a lawn planted. After the owners finish spraying for weeds, one lone dandelion survives, but she’s lonely. All her friends are gone. So when her yellow flower petals turn to a fluff of seeds, she floats away to another meadow that looks inviting.

Now she lives with people who care about the environment, and she’s much happier. They grow their own vegetables, use solar and wind power to heat their home, and play outdoors rather than watch too much TV. And best of all, they think dandelions are a tasty addition to their fresh salads. They don’t want to kill her – they really appreciate her.

Sustainable living is not an idea many city dwellers give much thought to, but even if one lives in the suburbs, it’s possible to be more mindful of the environment. Kids will learn about this concept as they follow the little dandelion to her new and nicer home. A glossary of terms is also included. I highly recommend The Runaway Dandelion.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, nature

Treecology


Author: Monica Russo
Photographer: Kevin Byron
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Genre: Nature / Children
ISBN: 978-1-61373-396-7
Pages: 144
Price: $15.99

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The forest offers children a wonderful environment to explore. They can enjoy the bright colors of autumn, the fresh green of spring, or the barren landscape of winter. Each tree has its own distinguishing characteristics just waiting to be discovered.

Treecology offers the young naturalist an opportunity to view the trees around him, seeing them in a new light. Thirty activities and observations are included to guide him in making his discoveries, and lots of interesting facts about trees and forests are provided. Forests are home to animal populations as well as insects, and many of these are also discussed.

Kids love being outdoors in nature, and Treecology will encourage them to see the trees and forests around them in a new way. I highly recommend this fun and educational resource.

Reviewer: Alice Berger