Review: You Can Be A Nature Detective


You Can Be A Nature Detective

Author: Peggy Kochanoff

Publisher: Mountain Press Publishing Company, 2009

Source: Public Library

What makes that spit you sometimes see on grasses?

Why do leaves change color?

Can you identify which frog or toad is calling out in the night?

Will that caterpillar turn into a moth or a butterfly?

Whose footprints (tracks) are those?

Why don’t spiders stick to their own webs?

How can a mushroom grow so quickly?

Who built that nest?

Some kids really like the outdoors and are curious about how the natural world works. This book will provide an excellent resource for their explorations. It explains, in simple, easily-understandable language, all of the above questions. It also provides plenty of pictures that further help with understanding.

For a small volume, it packs plenty of information. And if you have a reader who likes this type of book, there are others available, too. Check out this link: for more books by Kochanoff.


Review: The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables

landscapes of anne of green gablesReview:

The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables

Author: Catherine Reid

Publisher: Timber Press, Inc., 2018

Source: Personal Purchase

Anyone who has read Anne of Green Gables – or any other of L. M. Montgomery’s books, for that matter – knows that setting is an essential part of the story. Montgomery almost always used Prince Edward Island, the place where she grew up, as the backdrop for her books. But Prince Edward Island is more than just a place; it provides a background that allowed Montgomery to spread the wonder of the natural world which she felt always gave her an inner source of strength. Her stories are rich in sensory detail and help fuel our own imaginations. Anyone familiar with the Haunted Wood or Hester Gray’s garden will know exactly what I mean. It’s no wonder so many fans of Montgomery’s work want to visit the island and experience its beauty for themselves.

For die-hard Anne fans, this book is a must read. There are excerpts from the book, Montgomery’s journals, and other works including her autobiography, The Alpine Path. Reid explores the importance of nature to Montgomery. Although Anne of Green Gables is not autobiographical, there are many similarities between the fictional Anne and the real-life girl Maud (the name by which she preferred to be known). There are also many photographs included, some taken by Montgomery herself. However, the photographs of the modern-day PEI are the most beautiful. Readers might ask: Hasn’t Prince Edward Island changed? Of course, it has. Yet there is still a lingering feeling, the certainty that we, too, can find “a wonderful lightness of spirit and a soul-stirring joy” (pg. 250) when we visit the area – even if only through the pages of this book.

Timber Press has a series of books inspired by classics with an all-important setting. The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: A Walk Through the Forest That Inspired the Hundred Acre Woods and The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Frontier Landscapes That Inspired the Little House Books are also available. I have not seen these selections – but I will be looking for them!

Review: The Ultimate Book of Sharks

ultimate books of sharksReview:

The Ultimate Book of Sharks

Author: Brian Skerry, with Elizabeth Carney and Sarah Wassner Flynn

Publisher: National Geographic Partners LLC, 2018

Source: ARC

What’s the first thing you think of when someone mentions sharks? Maybe Jaws? Or maybe you think of some other shark attack?

Skerry’s new book, The Ultimate Book of Sharks, goes into great depth about sharks. Are they really the fierce predators portrayed in movies? (Yup, kind of – although there are some that are not.) Does wearing yellow in the water make you more vulnerable to shark attack? (I am afraid that is true, too.) Will sharks really attack a boat? (Well, they will bump a boat and take a nibble. That’s just to see if it is edible. Fortunately, they don’t eat wood or plastic and aren’t vengeful, no matter what the movies portray)

Although you may know a little about sharks – again, thanks to movies – the reality is that there is tons of information most people don’t know. “Sharks, you’ll find out, come in a dazzling variety of shapes, colors, and sizes” (pg. 9). There are about 500 species of shark, with more being discovered all the time! Chapter 1 gives a list of the different shark orders and a sampling of the sharks found in each order.

Sharks are found all over the world and even in the deepest, darkest depths of the oceans. In fact, there are glow-in-the-dark sharks! All sharks have extraordinary abilities. Check out Chapter 2 to learn just how amazing their senses are. “Imagine being able to hear your friend whisper ‘hello’ from the other side of your school” (pg. 43). Or how would you like to have such a strong sense of smell that you can sniff a drop of blood in the water half a mile away? It certainly makes sharks seem even more impressive and fearsome.

Does this book make sharks scarier? No, it helps us gain an understanding of these amazing creatures. (It helps that it clarifies that humans really aren’t on a shark’s diet; usually it is a case of mistaken identity.) It explains the importance of sharks to our ocean and lastly lists ways in which we can help protect sharks.

As always with National Geographic books, the photographs are truly impressive. Skerry’s anecdotes of up-close-and-personal experiences with sharks makes the book seem so much more real that you may forget all about movie version sharks. Well, maybe not entirely, but at least when you are watching you can say, “Hey, that isn’t true!”


*Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Review: StarTalk


StarTalk (Young Reader’s Edition)

With Neil deGrasse Tyson

Publisher: National Geographic, 2017

Source: ARC

You might already be familiar with the StarTalk radio or TV broadcasts. If so, you will already have an idea of what to expect. If not, this book will be a good introduction.

If your expectation is that this is a book solely about space, you’ll be disappointed. Section One is about space with topics ranging from what Mars is like, what a wormhole really is, and where comets come from.

Section Two, however, is titled Planet Earth. This unit looks at the question: how was Earth formed? It also investigates how space affects our planet. Here the book begins to delve into areas which, at first glance, might not seem related to space.

For example, readers will learn about the water cycle. So how does that relate to space? Well, scientists think that our planet’s water might have gotten here, at least in part, from comets. (Read pages 90-91 for the full explanation.) And even though it is not technically “space information,” the book lists some very interesting facts about water. Did you know that it takes 700 gallons of water to produce every T-shirt manufactured in the United States? Or that household leaks lose at least 3 billion gallons per day? (pgs. 104-105)

Section Three is titled Being Human. This section is a bit more futuristic, exploring such topics as time travel and our interactions with aliens – and zombies. Once again, it brings up the thought-provoking question: What will our future really be like?

SpaceTalk opens our ideas of space in a very understandable and relatable manner. Readers will understand that Earth is more than a single “big blue marble” hung in space; it is an interconnected part of the whole universe.


*Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Review: NG Kids 2019 Almanac

Review:NG Almanac 2019

National Geographic Kids 2019 Almanac

Ages: 8-12

Source: ARC

I haven’t put together a quiz for a bit but when I received my copy of the 2019 Almanac by National Geographic Kids I knew it was time!

1. Which of the “Big Cats” is the largest?

a. Jaguar

b. Leopard

c. African Lion

d. Bengal Tiger

2. How many flowers must bees visit in order to produce an average-sized jar of honey?

3. Which animal has the most genes devoted to the sense of smell (which helps them to have a better sense of smell)?

a. Elephant

b. Rat

c. Dog

d. Horse

4. What is a ‘zombie star”?

5. Which is the largest ocean?

a. Atlantic Ocean

b. Pacific Ocean

c. Arctic Ocean

d. Indian Ocean

6. How much time did the longest rainbow last?

7. How much does a cloud weigh?

8. Can you name three types of tornadoes?

9. Did you know that glass is 100% recyclable and that it can be recycled an endless number of times? Check out page 110 in the section titled “Going Green.”

10.What is a baby mouse called?

In addition to fun facts like these, you’ll get plenty of quizzes, games, and jokes. There are activities like making your own barometer. There are tips to write effective letters and how to ace the next science fair. It includes a lot of resource material like maps and a list of Presidents. And – as always – the book includes plenty of great photos.



  1. The Bengal Tiger can weigh from 240-500 pounds. However, the African Lion, with an average weight between 365-420 pounds, isn’t exactly a house cat. Jaguars and Leopards are relatively small, with weights of 180-250 pounds and 66-176 pounds, respectively. See page 33.
  2. 5 million (pg. 89)!
  3. The elephant has 1.948 olfactory receptors. Rats have 1,207, dogs have 811, and horses have 1,066 (pg. 95).
  4. A zombie star is the surviving fragment of a star that has exploded (pg. 151).
  5. The Pacific Ocean has a surface area of 65,436,200 sq. miles and contains 47% of the Earth’s water area. The Atlantic Ocean has 25% of the Earth’s water area, while the Indian Ocean has 21% and the Arctic Ocean has only 4%. (See pages 206-207).
  6. It lasted for six hours!
  7. A light, fluffy cloud typically weighs about 216,000 pounds (pg. 212). I guess I should stop comparing fluffy meringue to clouds!
  8. In addition to land tornados, there are fire whirls and waterspouts. Learn more about these dangerous funnels of rapidly rotating air on pages 216-217.
  9. See above
  10. A baby mouse is called a pinky (pg. 63).


*Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.











Review: Animals at Night


Animals at Night

Author: Anne Jankéliowich

Illustrator: Delphine Chedru

Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc., 2017

Source: Public Library

Let’s explore the world at night. It’s actually a pretty busy place as 1/3 of vertebrates and 2/3 of invertebrates are most active during the night hours.

Animals at Night answers some of our most basic questions about nighttime animals and their activities:

Why do these animals prefer the night?

How do nocturnal animals see in the dark?

Then it introduces us to common (and some less common) animals from many different environments. We discover animals of the desert, the mountains, ponds and riverbanks, the forest, fields and orchards, country roads, farms, the beach, and even our own backyards and gardens.

The best part of this book is the glow-in-the-dark areas included on every page. This feature makes the book ideal for nighttime reading, but be sure to be close to a lamp that you can easily switch on and off. I hope it inspires you and your listeners to do some nighttime investigations of your own!


Review: Yoga Frog


Yoga Frog

Author: Nora Carpenter

Illustrator: Mark Chambers

Publisher: Running Press, 2018

Ages 4-8

Source: ARC

For those looking for a different type of activity – something physical, for instance – why not try some yoga?

Anyone who wants to share a yoga practice with children should get a copy of this book. Actually, it is so wonderful that even newbie adult practitioners might want to give it a try. One evening I based my practice on this book and found I loved it.

Readers start the morning with Frog, who is not a morning person and can be a tad grumpy. Together Frog and reader can go through a complete program from warm up to cool down.

The text explains each position in easy-to-understand language. Here is an example:



Sit in an imaginary chair.

Lift your arms in front or alongside your ears.

Feel your strength.

See? Easy! I shared this book with a four-year-old friend and she agreed with me.

Now add the illustrations of a cute and wonderfully flexible little frog, and the poses are very clear even to young readers. I loved the pull-out chart, too. Frog is adorable!

There is a brief note to parents at the end of the book explaining the benefits of yoga. Carpenter, who is a certified yoga instructor, gives a few useful tips in this section, too.

My only complaint is that there isn’t more! How about a nice bedtime routine to help Frog relax?



Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.




Review: Dr. E’s Super Stellar Solar System

solar systemReview:

Dr. E’s Super Stellar Solar System

Author: Bethany Ehlmann with Jennifer Swanson

Publisher: National Geographic Kids, 2018

Ages 9-12, Grades 4-6

Source: ARC

This new offering by National Geographic Kids is part of the Science SUPERHEROES series. Bethany Ehlmann – aka Dr. E – is a planetary geologist. She studies rock, not only from Earth but from the other planets in our solar system.

This could be a bit of a heavy topic. However, Dr. E has approached it in a way that will interest young readers. Some sample chapter titles include Our Cosmic Neighbors, Planets, Frozen Worlds, Volcano Worlds, and Craters. Each chapter is introduced with a comic before Dr. E dives into the denser material. And even that is handled in a clear and understandable manner.

The book is packed with cool facts. Learn why dust – stardust, in particular – is so important (pg. 28). Find out why poor little Pluto got a demotion (pg. 23). Learn which planet may have diamond rain (pg. 99). And if you believe that a crater is just a big hole, check out pages 88-89. And if this is a topic that interests you/your child, see page 87 to learn how you can become a planetary mapper.

The photos in this book are enough of a reason to purchase it. We can view the surface of many of the planets. There are also close-ups of specific features, like the dunes on Titan, windblown sand ripples on Mars, or the northern polar ice cap on Mars. Absolutely beautiful!

And at the risk of sounding like a corny infomercial, if that’s not enough there are experiments to try. One of these activities explains how Earth moves on its axis. Another activity helps construct a star viewer. And in another one readers learn how to create a convection current. Although some of these experiments do need adult supervision or help, most are not overly complicated and don’t need unusual materials.

While this book is interesting to read, it would also make a great classroom resource. A+ all the way!


Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Review: Astronaut Aquanaut

Review:astronaut aquanaut

Astronaut Aquanaut

Author: Jennifer Swanson

Publisher: National Geographic Kids, 2018

How do space science and sea science interact?  They are more alike than many people realize. Explore these extremities with the help of this new book by Jennifer Swanson and National Geographic Kids.

Here are just a few of the similarities:

  1. In both space and the sea, explorers will need to bring their own oxygen supply. Plus, since neither environment is warm and cozy, scientists who study these places need protective gear in order to survive.


  1. Both environments are dark.


  1. Whether you want to become an astronaut or an aquanaut, the requirements are similar. The first step for both careers is a four-year degree in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM).


  1. Living conditions in either a long-term space or underwater mission are similar. Think snug.


  1. In both environments, robotic technology is essential.


  1. Almost all space conditions can be mimicked under the water.


  1. There is garbage everywhere – both in the depths of the ocean and in the depths of space.


Of course, each environment has unique features and challenges. In space, there is no gravity. Actually, that is incorrect. In space it is microgravity. (Check out pages 14-15 for the in-depth explanation.) Under water, divers experience an additional force: buoyancy. (And again – check pages 16-17 for technical details.)

With plenty of great photos, quotes from astronauts and aquanauts, and experiments to try at home that help readers understand complex topics in simple ways, Astronaut Aquanaut brings fresh perspective to modern-day explorers.


*Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.




Review: Colorama


Colorama: From Fuchsia to Midnight Blue

Written by: Cruschiform

Publisher: Prestel, 2017

This book is not really one of my read-aloud selections, but I think it will make an excellent resource for anyone whose children are artists, especially those who like to use colored pencils and paints.

Each page names a color and gives a brief write-up relating to that color. The following page is a full color sample.

Here is an example description:

“Cotton Flower

People first grew cotton more than 3,000 years ago. After blossoming, cotton flowers change into cushioned pods of soft, white vegetable fiber. Then, when they burst open to release their seeds, the fiber is picked and turned into yarn and other woven materials, which can be used to create all types of fabrics. At present, cotton flower is the most worn textile in the world.” (007)

There are 133 different shades to explore.


Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.