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

Yearly archive for 2018.

Warbler Wave is a book featuring beautiful, detailed photography of bright yellow warblers, with poetic and gently rhyming text that describes their actions and migration events. 

While I don't see many warblers where I am in Maine, I remember seeing them and reading about them while living in Maryland, and thought they were such cheery-looking birds. This was a nice way to learn more about them as an adult -- the book's text is fairly spare, but there are a couple more pages of information at the end, for adults and older children. 

I think my favorite photos are the ones of warblers caught right in the act of catching flying insects to eat -- so neat! I enjoy any book that not only invites us to marvel at the wonders of creation, but provides quality, engaging photos to draw us in and appeal to our inner "birder."

Scrounged From: Our local library

Format: Hardcover
Author: April Pulley Sayre and Jeff Sayre
Pages: 32
Content Advisory: None

More Reviews at Amazon

The title of Red Sails to Capri confused me initially. Was "Red" a person who sailed to Capri? Or did something with red sails sail to Capri? And if so, what and why? All that aside, I ended up enjoying this book more than I thought I would.

The sails indeed belong to a ship which shows up in the harbor of Capri, carrying three travelers who are each looking for something slightly different. They stay at an inn owned by the family of Michele, a boy who is the main character. The travelers eventually become intrigued by a cove on the island that the locals fear -- and yet no one seems to know why. I won't give too much away, but it was fun to see adventure trump fear here, and even neater to realize that the name of this cove is an actual place on the island of Capri in Italy -- be sure to google it once you've finished!

I wouldn't really call this story a "mystery" just because there is a bit of mystery in it -- but still, I enjoyed the eccentric characters, especially the banter between Michele and Angelo, and also Michele's mother, a cook who has a complicated repertoire of songs that must be sung to her food at just the right time, or else it is ruined. She treats her dishes and ingredients as if they were cantankerous people who must be appeased before they deliver the finished product. 

Scrounged From: A friend on GoodReads

Format: Paperback
Author: Ann Weil
Pages: 160
Content Advisory: I don't remember anything objectionable for the age group it's aimed at.

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Esperanza Rising is a story inspired by the author's ancestors who came to the United States from Mexico around the time of the Dust Bowl. Esperanza (which means "hope" in Spanish) enjoys a privileged life in a rich family until her father is killed and she and her mother flee to America. 

I like the way Esperanza changes as a character during the course of the story. She has a hard time adjusting to a new life of labor where she doesn't even know how to use a broom, given her former lifestyle. But she also sees how the class differences that used to divide her from her servant friends are disappearing as they travel and work together.

The themes of wealth, power, strength, and weakness are explored throughout the story, as well as the importance of family and friendship. I couldn't help but notice the timeliness of this book considering how immigration is in the news these days. Overall it was a very readable story and I enjoyed it -- I could definitely see using it for a history unit.

Scrounged From:

Format: Paperback
Author: Pam Munoz Ryan
Pages: 304
Content Advisory: Death of a loved one takes place, though it is not explicitly described. 

More Reviews at Amazon

Round is another neat "concept book" from Joyce Sidman, similar to her Swirl by Swirl book about spirals in nature (see my review here).

Here we explore the concept of "round," from planets and the moon to berries, eggs, and other things that grow. The text is poetic and is written from the first-person perspective of an observant child. It's really fun to think about just how many different contexts this shape appears in. In the text and in an informational page at the end, we also get to explore other concepts that contribute to circles and spheres: gravity, growth, weight, etc.

It's amazing how one simple shape can guide us from tiny things to the enormous and distant, as well as from young to old. I really enjoyed the scope of this book, expressed with such simplicity.

Scrounged From: Our local library

Format: Hardcover
Author: Joyce Sidman
Illustrator: Taeeun Yu
Pages: 32
Content Advisory: None

More Reviews at Amazon

On a Magical Do-Nothing Day is nostalgic for me, having spent a few years of my childhood in Scotland by the North Sea, where it rained frequently. If I'd saved all of my outdoor play for a sunny day, I would have been inside most of the time, and with four homeschooled children (at the time), I'm sure my mom needed a break once in a while. Consequently, my siblings and I spent many hours in our large backyard in our rain jackets, making "soup" from puddles, bouncing on the moss, watching slugs, climbing trees, and more. 

In this story, a child is reminded of the beauty of the natural world, after losing their video game in a stream. Perhaps the "lesson" is obvious, but the text is sweet and the illustrations are so beautiful with the earth tones contrasted against the child's bright orange raincoat. Also, the text manages to be evocative of ideas such as stillness, silence, solitude, pondering, observation, exploration, and even the way that these things can help us to look at familiar places and family members with new eyes.

I hope children will enjoy this book, and that it won't just be one of those stories that adults want children to like.

Scrounged From: Our local library

Format: Hardcover
Author/Illustrator: Beatrice Alemagna
Pages: 48
Content Advisory: None

More Reviews at Amazon

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