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scrounge: /skrounj/ informal verb: to actively seek [books] from any available source

Prehistoric Actual Size is a really neat book that highlights several extinct species from long ago, including some dinosaurs, but also other kinds of animals such as a giant millipede, a terrifying-looking horned rodent, and a "terror bird," among others. Since dinosaurs tend to get most of the attention in the prehistoric world, it's nice to see a variety of creatures here.

The illustrations show each creature as their actual size, as the title indicates, which is easy for some, but for others means only small parts of them actually fit in the book, such as teeth or a claw. It's a fairly large-sized book, but it also includes a fold-out page to give a bit more room to a few creatures.

Scrounged From: A used book sale

Format: Hardcover
Author/Illustrator: Steve Jenkins 
Pages: 36
Content Advisory: None

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National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry is a large keepsake book full of gorgeous animal photography, and includes poems about animals from many well-known poets such as Robert Frost, Ogden Nash, Hilaire Belloc, Mary Ann Hoberman, and many more.

I really had no idea there were so many child-friendly poems about so many different kinds of animals. The book is organized into sections which start off with some well-known animals such as "the big ones" and "the winged ones" but goes on to include categories like "the strange ones" and "the noisy ones." 

We're reading through this book this year and my kids and I are enjoying it. Some poems are funny, most are short, most are also straightforward, though some are more abstract, but the photography helps anchor the subject matter. This would be a great book for any home with children -- but also for adults who love animals and poetry too!

Scrounged From: Amazon

Format: Hardcover
Author: Various -- edited by J. Patrick Lewis
Pages: 192
Content Advisory: None

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On the surface, Mixed looks like a book about mixing colors. I'd been looking for something like this that would give kids a visual of primary/secondary colors, and I thought it would be great if it was told in a story format to make things more interesting.

Turns out this story does involve mixing colors, but it has a lot more going on and I really like how the deeper issue was portrayed through a relatively simple story. With descriptive but succinct text, the narrative begins with three color populations living together in a city, who soon decide to live apart after an argument about which one is better. Each color keeps their distinctive traits sequestered in their own part of the city, until one day a blue and a yellow meet, fall in love, and decide to... *gulp*... mix!

So while it's about art, it's also about racism, and could probably be applied to many other distinctives that have become ways by which people have tried to assert superiority over others. Perhaps it's oversimplified, but for a short and sweet fable, I though it worked really well, and didn't feel heavy-handed to me.

Scrounged From: Our local library

Format: Hardcover
Author/Illustrator: Arree Chung
Pages: 40
Content Advisory: None

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Dictionary of Dinosaurs is a really neat collection that lists all the dinosaurs discovered up to this point. Length, diet, and when/where the animal lived are provided for each dinosaur, as well as a name pronounciation guide (very helpful!) and the meaning of the name, some of which are very interesting. I learned that there is a dinosaur whose name was inspired by Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky poem (borogovia)!

On each page, a dinosaur or two (but not all of them) are highlighted with a color picture, a blurb of information, and a silhouetted picture comparing the dinosaur's size to that of a human. Most of the more well-known dinosaurs (tyrannosaurus, stegosaurus) are highlighted this way. Since marine reptiles and flying reptiles are no longer considered "dinosaurs" (something that apparently happened between when I was a kid and when I had kids old enough to like dinosaurs), they are unfortunately not included in this book.

In the beginning of the book is some general information about time periods, fossils, etc., but I found this statement interesting: 

"New information about dinosaurs is being discovered all the time. Dinosaurs often change name, or their dates change once more information is found out about them. This means it's a very exciting field to get into and learn about. You could even discover or name the next dinosaur one day!"

In other places, the book notes that certain dinosaurs may not actually be separate species, but scientists made the best guess they could based on the evidence. I really like the way this portrays science as an ongoing effort rather than a static collection of information. 

As is obvious from the title, this isn't likely the kind of book you'd want to sit down and read all in one sitting, but it's a great reference for dinosaur-loving kids, full of colorful pictures and current information -- for now!

(Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.)

Scrounged From: NetGalley

Format: Kindle
Author: Matthew G. Baron
Illustrator: Dieter Braun
Pages: 184
Content Advisory: None

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At first I wasn't sure whether The Honeybee might be a little too cartoonish for my tastes, and it's true that the bees are depicted in a whimsical way, but I ended up really enjoying this book for several reasons:

1. Isabelle Arsenault's illustrations. I'm not the only one who's now on a quest to read all of her books, but after this and You Belong Here, I adore the way she portrays nature, especially here with the lovely balance of colors, and the bright shades of gold which are vibrant without being garish. 

2. While the bees are given faces and look a bit cutesy, this book still aims to be accurate in its depiction of how bees spend their lives, from foraging to making honey to dancing, and more. This book would work great for a science unit on bees, perhaps along with Charlotte Milner's more fact-laden The Bee Book.

3. The text is poetic rather than straight narrative, but it also retains enough structure (such as rhyme) and focus to tell the story of bees in a linear, engaging way. There are so many action words here that even the text itself seems buzzing with the exuberance and busyness of the bees. 

Scrounged From: Our local library

Format: Hardcover
Author: Kirsten Hall
Illustrator: Isabelle Arsenault
Pages: 48
Content Advisory: None

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