June 30, 2014

Explore Canada

Canada Doodles
by Megan Radford
drawings by Peter Cook

Kids can doodle their way across Canada with this amusing activity book. Basically, they're asked to complete a collection of pictures that depict various Canadian tourist spots. For example, they can draw moose white-water rafting at Hell's Gate rapids, add helmets to buffalo at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, or fireworks exploding over Parliament Hill. There are too many Toronto-centric pictures, but otherwise, this compact little book is perfect to take along on any Canadian road trip.

The Big Book of Canada: Exploring the Provinces and Territories
by Christopher Moore
illustrations by Bill Slavin

Before embarking on a cross-Canada road trip, kids would do well to check out Moore's book. It'll give them a brief overview about each province or territory's geography, history (with timeline), important people (past and present), prominent cities, law and order, and statistics (provincial mottos, flowers, population). Then there are the interesting and unusual stories about Newfoundland vocabulary, Maritime poetry and song, Niagara Falls daredevils, Alberta weather, and Cree writings.

With modern and archival photographs, recipes, and Slavin's colorful maps & illustrations.

A big, entertaining look at Canada that kids will actually read and enjoy.

June 27, 2014

Ouch! Insects that sting

The Really Wicked Droning Wasp and Other Things that Bite and Sting
by Theresa Greenaway

Alarming close-ups of wasps, hornets, bees, ticks, caterpillars, scorpions and horseflies abound in the pages of this large-format book. Best to be avoided if such things freak you out.

Large easy-to-read font provides interesting tidbits about each insect. 

Good for ages 4 - 6.

June 25, 2014

Prehistoric bugs

Paleo Bugs: Survival of the Creepiest
by Timothy J. Bradley

Kids who like dinosaurs will have no trouble reading about prehistoric bugs such as the gigantic meganeura dragonfly, the crab-like limuloides, or the armor-plated arthropleura. They'll also like the easy-to-copy drawings.

Good for budding paleontologists.

June 23, 2014

Fascinating insects

Weird Insects
by Michael Worek

The insect on the cover, an Australian stick insect, is certainly weird looking but mostly, the insects pictured in this book are not weird at all. With their iridescent colours, delicate antennae, and gossamer wings, these insects are amazingly beautiful. Brief text provides each insect's Latin name along with descriptions of its habitat, defenses, and life cycles.

June 20, 2014

Questions about flies, insects, and animals

How Do Flies Walk Upside Down? Questions and Answers about Insects

by Melvin & Gilda Berger
illustrated by Jim Effler

All manner of insect-related questions are answered in this excellent reference book. Examples of queries include:
  • why are there so many insects?
  • do insects have blood?
  • how fast can insects fly?
  • what do larvae do?
  • how can you tell a moth from a butterfly?
  • how do fireflies make their light? 

Read the book straight through and become an insect expert!

How Many Ways Can You Catch a Fly?
by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

How many ways can you catch a fly? snare a fish? hatch an egg? use a leaf? dig a hole? eat a clam? Animals can do all these things, and in a variety of different ways. This attractive book will tell you how.

As always, Jenkins' simple text and paper collage illustrations both inform and entertain young readers.

June 18, 2014

Insect poems

A Book of Flies: Real or Otherwise
by Richard Michelson
drawings by Leonard Baskin

The poems in this collection focus on nine different species of flies and four nonflies. Words and pictures depict imaginary, fanciful creatures based on literal interpretations of the flies' names. So a dragonfly is spouting flames and has an extra long tail, while the words describe a knight's unsuccessful attempt to save a damsel from it: Too late! / (for this hot date) / The dragon ate / her -- fried. Each painting is followed by smaller, realistic drawings of the actual insect and accompanying text which describes physical or behavioral characteristics or miscellaneous facts. 

Bug Off! Creepy, Crawly Poems
by Jane Yolen
photos by Jason Stemple

The beauty and mystery of tiny living insects are celebrated with Yolen's playful verse. Here's what she asks of a lovebug:  

Has your
better-half bug
Has you mate
you alone,
the comfort
of your hug?
Are you a 
so low

June 16, 2014

Meet the fly

The Fly
by Elise Gravel

The Fly is a nonfiction book presented as a short graphic novel. The drawings give human personalities to the common house fly, while the text provides interesting facts about them. That most of these facts are disgusting add to the appeal.

Focus on Flies
by Norma Dixon

Dixon's book would make a good companion to Gravel's little book. Focus on Flies provides more information about fly behaviour, fly anatomy, and fly locomotion. It even has a few facts about mosquitoes. The realistic drawings and photos are attractive too.

June 13, 2014

Old baseball trivia

Hey Batta Batta Swing! The Wild Old Days of Baseball

A humorous look at American baseball history, such as uniform designs, team names, player nicknames, and the fine art of cheating. Sprinkled throughout are definitions of unusual baseball terms like cranks (baseball fans), frozen ropes (hard-hit line drives), and Annie Oakleys (walks). The old-timey illustrations perfectly complement the enthusiasm of the text.

A fun read.

June 11, 2014

Negro League Baseball

We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball
written & illustrated by Kadir Nelson 

An outstanding book about the heroes of Negro League Baseball, written in the voice of an everyman player. The reader becomes a witness to the beginnings of the Negro League until its decline with the integration of baseball in 1947. It is a story of determination, racial segregation, poor conditions, low pay, independence, and the love of the game. The players' strength, dignity, pain, and athleticism are expertly captured in Kadir Nelson's magnificent paintings. 

Highly recommended.

June 9, 2014

It's baseball season!

How Baseball Works
by Keltie Thomas

An entertaining book about baseball, filled with interesting facts, fun anecdotes, and helpful playing tips. Kids can practice the easy exercises that will help them become control pitchers or spray hitters. They'll also enjoy the action-filled photos and pictures.  

For both casual fans and baseball fanatics.

June 6, 2014

Basketball poetry

The Basket Counts
by Arnold Adoff
illustrated by Michael Weaver

Adoff's concrete poems mirror the movement, the feel and the sounds of the rhythmic game of basketball.

Slam Dunk
poems compiled by Lillian Morrison
illustrated by Bill James

An energetic collection of poems that pay tribute to the game and its players. 

excerpt from "The Man They Call Dr. J", by Pete Vecsey:

...The man soars,
hand outstretched like
a giant derrick, vacuums
the ball to his fingertips
drawing it safely to his 
chest in midair. Then in a
bewildering flash, he's
charging downcourt, shifting
gears, changing directions,
hustling past opponents, 
driving toward the basket.