Tag Archives: Children’s Book

Voting With A Porpoise

A new book to help educate our small fry on the importance and meaning of voting: Voting With a Porpoise by Russell Glass, Sean Callahan and Daniel Howarth (illustrator).

It is a whale of a book:

A pod of dolphins (and their porpoise friend, Petey) is in trouble. Their reef no longer provides the food they need to survive. The pod can’t figure out what to do until Petey suggests they hold an election to decide.

2018 Parent and Teacher Choice Award winner, Voting With a Porpoise is a fun, timeless, and beautifully illustrated story that teaches children how elections and voting have the power to solve hard problems.

The authors created this book to help change the culture around elections and voting. To that end, 100 percent of the profits for Voting With a Porpoise will be donated to 501(c)(3) non-partisan voting-related causes focused on getting more people of all backgrounds to the polls, such as Rock the Vote, Vote.org, TurboVote, and others.

This book is the next best thing to lowering the voting age to 16! Or lower!

It Takes a Village by Hillary Clinton

Did you know that Hillary Clinton wrote a children’s book? Illustrated by the amazing Maria Frazee.

It Takes a Village: Picture Book

Former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton’s first book for young readers, inspired by the themes of her classic New York Times bestselling book It Takes a Village, and illustrated by two-time Caldecott Honor recipient Marla Frazee, asks readers what can they do to make the world a better place?

It Takes a Village tells the heartwarming and universal story of a diverse community coming together to make a difference. All kinds of people working together, playing together, and living together in harmony makes a better village and many villages coming together can make a better world. Together we can build a better life for one another. Together we can change our world.

The book will resonate with children and families and through the generations as it encourages readers to look for a way they can make a difference. It is a book that you will surely want to read again and again, a book you will want to share and a book that will inspire.

Treecology: A Children’s Nature Book Worth A Close Look

Treecology: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring the World of Trees and Forests is an excellent new nature activity book for kids of a fairly wide range of ages.

Like a tree, the pattern of the book is pretty straightforward but fractal like; you start off simple but end up pretty much anywhere in the world of ecology. The book begins with the basic definition of a tree, simple tree anatomy, some phylogeny, some tree physiology and biology, but then branches off (pun intended) into things that are related to trees, like things that live on them, eat parts of them, etc. Seeds and seed dispersal come in around this point as well, as one might expect. The role of trees, or tree related images or tree names, etc. in human culture is also explored.

As indicated by the subtitle, these lessons are organized into thirty things you can do. Some of these things simply involve looking (dividing your local landscape’s larger plants into “tree” and “not a tree,”, etc.) while some involve more intense observation (like telling different trees apart) or interaction (including, of course, waxing leaves and similar activities).

The book includes some great tips on observing (or attracting) forest insects. I think Huxley’s Buggy Camp could have used some of this info this week to help them find tree-related buggy creatures in the nearby woods.

This book can probably work in any North American region, as it is not too specific at the species level, and pretty generic at the genus level. As it were. There is more than enough activity in this book, in terms of both amount and diversity, to keep a family with any number of kids busy on several weekends. The activities are also spread out across seasons fairly well.

Monica Russo has written and illustrated several nature books for children, and authored “Nature Notes,” a column in the Sun Chronicle. Kevin Byron is a nature photographer who’s work is widely recognized.

The book, published by Chicago Review Press, will be out on September 1st, but I think you can actually order it now.

Evolution Book For Young Children: Grandmother Fish

In a previous life (of mine) my father-in-law, an evolutionary biologist, kept an oil painting of a fish on the wall of the living room. At every chance he would point out, to visitors or to anyone else if there were no visitors, that he kept a portrait of his distant ancestor hanging in a prominent location, pointing to the oil painting. It was funny even the third or fourth time. It isn’t really true, of course, that this was his ancestor. It was a bass, more recently evolved to its present form than humans, I suspect. But it is true that the last common ancestor of humans and fish was a lot more like a fish than like a human.

I know it is hard to find good books about evolution for kids, and it is even harder to find a book for really young kids. A book needs to be written for the audience, engaging, entertaining, and all that — it needs to be a good book — before it can also teach something. A book that teaches but sucks as a book doesn’t really teach much.

Recently, Jonathan Tweet of Seattle Washington sent me a draft of a book he was working on that is such a thing, a good book that teaches about evolution and targeted to young kids. He had sent the book around to a number of experts for two reasons. First, he wanted to make sure he wasn’t saying anything wrong vis-a-vis evolution. Second, he wanted to make sure he got his facts straight at another level so he could provide useful and accurate footnotes for the adults who might read the book for the kids. I had a comment or two, but really, he already had his ducks in a row and the book, with the notes, was in good shape. It had evolved, as a project, very nicely.

The book is: Grandmother Fish: a child’s first book of evolution. From his blurb:

Grandmother Fish is the first book to teach evolution to preschoolers. While listening to the story, the child mimics the motions and sounds of our ancestors, such as wiggling like a fish or hooting like an ape. Like magic, evolution becomes fun, accessible, and personal. Grandmother Fish will be a full-size (10 x 8), full-color, 32-page, hardback book full of appealing animal illustrations, perfect for your bookshelf. US publishers consider evolution to be too “hot” a topic for children, but with your help we can make this book happen ourselves.

Jonathan made a kick-starter to raise 12,000 to produce the book. He’s already reached that goal and is now edging towards the stretch goal of $20K.

You can visit the kickstarter site HERE. You can download an early draft of the book. Personally, I plan to make this a Christmas gift for several friends and relatives who have kids the right age, assuming it is available by then. You can also see a several videos by the author and illustrator.

You can go to the Kickstarter site now and invest in any one of several different products that will be sent to you.

You may know of Tweet’s other work on Dungeons & Dragons and similar projects.

I recommend the book, strongly. Thank you for writing it, Jonathan.

S is for Science Book for Toddlers

G is for Galaxy: An Out of This World Alphabet (Alphabet Books) is one of a series of kid’s alphabet books with an interesting twist. The pages have the usual big letter, a picture of something that starts with that letter, and a short sentence or two referring to that word. But on the same page is anywhere from one to a few paragraphs of extra text written at a basic level but seeming targeted to the adult who is reading the book to the kid, providing additional context, background, and details. For instance:

“G is for Galaxy, a big family of stars so bright. Our is called the Milky Way, a small part we see each night.”

Cute little poem.

Then, off to the side on the opposing page…

“A galaxy is a family of stars, but in such a huge family you’d never meet every member. There are billions of stars in one galaxy. Planets are part of a galaxy, too. So are dust and gasses. Gravity keeps the family together. We are in the Milky Way Galaxy. It is a huge galaxy of about 100 billion stars, but astronomers remind us that the Milky Way is just one galaxy out of billions. Galaxies come in different shapes and sizes. Our galaxy has been compared to a big pinwheel”

I think it is a brilliant idea. Huxley was not that impressed but sometimes a specific book will grow on him after a while.

Other books in the series include A is for America, W is for Wind: A Weather Alphabet (Sleeping Bear Alphabets), I is for Idea: An Inventions Alphabet (Sleeping Bear Alphabets), Z Is for Zookeeper: A Zoo Alphabet (Alphabet Books), and T Is for Teacher: A School Alphabet (Alphabet Books).