Saturday, February 11, 2012

Kid Konnection: Nature Books

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. Today I'm going to feature two fun and educational picture books from Dawn Publications.

Summary: Old MacDonald had a … garden? Yes! Sing along with young Jo MacDonald as she grows healthy food for people and wild creatures. E-I-E-I-O! Find out how butterflies, bumblebees, and birds help a garden to thrive – and how you can help them too. And keep an eye on one mysterious plant. What will it become? Youngsters learn about garden ecosystems and stewardship through this playful adaptation of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.” -- Dawn Publications

JO MACDONALD HAD A GARDEN by Mary Quattlebaum and illustrated by Laura J. Bryant is a slightly new twist on the classic song Old MacDonald Had a Farm. In this cute picture book, a young girl named Jo creates her own garden with the help of some friends. The illustrations are adorable and the text is catchy since it can be read to the tune of Old MacDonald Had a Farm. 

Booking Son and I both enjoyed this book, even though on the surface, it's probably a little young for him. (The book is geared towards children three to eight years old.) He had fun reading (and singing), but it wasn't until the end of the book that he really perked up. On the last page of the book, Jo has recreated her garden after the cold winter months. The book asks the reader to find the seven creatures that helped Jo with her garden as well as all seven of the plants in her garden. And then it asks the reader to go back and find the pages where each item initially appeared. Booking Son loved this challenge!

And then came my favorite part of the book -- the educational pages. The last page of the book shows all of the animals and plants with explanations of how each one is important in a garden. There are also some fun ideas for indoor activities and some suggestions for how to be a good young gardener. I thought this book was cute, but the educational aspects of it made it even more impressive!

This book is available in both hardcover and paperback and it's perfect for home or school. There is even an educator's guide page on the publisher's website that suggests some great ideas to enhance your reading experience. For example, there are pdfs for seven activities including how to make a school garden for wildlife and how to examine a speck of garden soil.

Booking Son and I both recommend JO MAC DONALD HAD A GARDEN especially as the spring approaches!

Summary: Follow the tracks of ten woodland animals but . . . uh-oh . . . watch out for the skunk! Children learn the ways of forest animals to the rhythm of “Over in the Meadow” as they leap like a squirrel, dunk like a raccoon, and pounce like a fox. They will also count the babies and search for ten hidden forest animals. Cut paper illustrations add to the fun in this delightful introduction to a woodland habitat.

Once again, Marianne Berkes makes learning fun. Kids will hop, slurp, and munch as they imitate and count the animals. Like Over in the Australia, the cut-paper illustrations will inspire many an art project. Plus Marianne provides tons of ideas for activities and curriculum extensions about forest animals, literature, and writing. Teachers and parents, as well as kids, are the winners here. -- Dawn Publications

As much as we liked the last book, I think we liked OVER IN THE FOREST: COME AND TAKE A PEEK by Marianne Berkes and illustrated by Jill Dubin even more. This picture book might be aimed at a slightly higher age range, so that could be the reason; however, I think it's because this book did such a wonderful job of combining fun and learning.

OVER IN THE FOREST can be read to the tune of Over in the Meadow. In fact, the book includes the entire song with music and lyrics. The story shows a variety of woodland animals with cute cut paper illustrations. I loved how this book teaches children not only about woodland animals, but also the names of their young. In addition, the book counts the animals up from one to ten; and it also shows the different animals' tracks.

The book was very cute but I was most pleasantly surprised by the ending. Each page of the book includes some surprise creatures. Booking Son loved going back and finding these hidden animals. Thankfully, there is a key in the back of the book with illustrations and explanations for each animal. I admit that I couldn't always find the creature, but he didn't seem to have the same issues I did.

In addition to the hidden animals, there are other great sections at the back of OVER IN THE FOREST. Once again, it's the educational section that really makes this book outstanding. There is an explanation of what a forest is as well as details about all ten of the animals featured in the book/song. There are also some tips from the author about being a wildlife detective and there is a list of additional resources (both books and online) that will help children discover more about forest animals. Another interesting section is titled Tips from the Illustrator where she details how she went about creating the pages of this book.

I can't stress how perfect OVER IN THE FOREST is for classrooms. It is also available in hardcover or paperback and I think both are reasonably priced. The book is fun and educational and sure to be a hit. (Booking Son said that he was afraid to take it in to his classroom because the kids might fight over the book!) The publisher has provided a few downloadable activities to supplement the book including a bookmarks and some classroom ideas.

I was extremely impressed with OVER IN THE FOREST and I highly recommend it as a fun way to learn about the forest.

Thanks to the publisher for providing review copies of these books.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too! 


bermudaonion said...

Vance probably would have preferred Over in the Forest: Come Take a Peek too - he always loved books with animals. Both books look adorable!

Beth F said...

Oh I wish my nieces and nephews were young enough for these. Both books look fun and all kids in my family loved everything nature. I bet these would be good for parents who are homeschooling.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I love that Over the Forest teaches the names of the young. I always had trouble with that when I was little!

My Kid Konnection today is a selection of picture books on civil rights, for Black History month.

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

I love picture books that are educational. These are the kind my son gobbles up, especially the challenge of finding things in the books. With young kids who are now so tech savvy (ipods, apps and computers) these books will be especially appealing.