scrounge: /skrounj/ informal verb: to actively seek [books] from any available source
After looking at many of these books full of intricate, cluttered images, the photographs in A Drop of Water are quite a contrast with their simplicity, portrayal of motion, and more minimalist approach.
This book is a fascinating photographic exploration of many of the different properties and actions of water: freezing and melting, surface tension, evaporation and condensation, diffusion, frost and dew, refraction, and more. The photographs of the falling drops of water are particularly interesting, but there are also photos to illustrate the other concepts, including bubbles, steam, snowflakes, etc.
While the text tends to focus on the smaller and more easily observable aspects of water, there is a little bit of "big picture" information as well, such as a brief description of the water cycle. This would be a great science supplement for elementary-age students and older. Even though the text was a bit wordy for my kindergartener (though it's not excessively so), we still very much enjoyed the photographs, and were even inspired to try an experiment after seeing the pictures of a drop of blue food coloring gradually diffusing through a glass of clear water.
Scrounged From: Our local library
Author/Illustrator: Walter Wick
Content Advisory: None
National Parks of the U.S.A. is a wonderful collection of facts and intricate, textured illustrations highlighting some of the more popular national parks in the United States.
The book focuses on one region of the United States at a time, showing a blurb of each national park and where it's located on the map, and then features some of the more notable ones with a double-page spread of a larger illustration and summary, followed by another double-page spread with more details and tidbits about the park's interesting features, such as animals, plants, geologic formations, weather, Native American history, and more.
Many of the more popular parks are featured, such as Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Denali, Death Valley, the Badlands, etc. I was also glad to see my home state of Maine featured by way of Acadia.
Even though I'm kind of a homebody, this book made me want to travel! It's a great way for kids to learn more about the amazing natural wonders of our country, as well as some of the history of their preservation.
(Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.)
Scrounged From: NetGalley
Author: Kate Siber
Illustrator: Chris Turnham
Content Advisory: None
Adventures with Waffles is a Norwegian tale by a Norwegian author, all about two children who live next door to each other: Trille and Lena. They are nine years old, and get into all kinds of mischief together, because they are best friends -- or at least, Lena is Trille's best friend, but he often wonders whether or not she is his. Lena is the loud one with crazy ideas, while Trille is more subdued, but he follows through on some craziness of his own.
One of the topics in the story, aside from general mischief and close shaves, is the fact that Lena has no dad, and wants to figure out a way to get one. Another topic is death: Trille's "Auntie Granny" dies, and he struggles with his feelings of missing her. There are a couple very sensitive scenes where he talks about this feelings with trusted adults, and I really liked how he was free to express such things -- especially the scene were his father plays him a new song he wrote called "Sad Son, Sad Dad."
As over-the-top as the adventures sometimes are (though nothing too absurd), it's the realistic relationships and caring family that is really at the heart of this book. As an aside, the way the characters are silhouetted on the cover and on the beginning page of each chapter reminds me a little bit of the illustrations in the Bobbsey Twins books. Though there are no larger illustrations in the book, the chapters are fairly short, making it a good read-aloud for early-elementary-aged children.
Scrounged From: Sonlight
Author: Maria Parr
Content Advisory: A death happens in this story (of Trille's "Auntie Granny," but it is handled sensitively.
Even though "bullying" is a hot topic these days, sometimes I find that I still view it in a caricatured way. When I hear that a book is about bullying, I instantly picture a masculine "backpack in a tree" sort of thing. But as we know, bullying does not have to involve a swirlie or cartoonish, overt, physical humiliation -- it can be more subtle and persistent, and that's the type that's portrayed in The Hundred Dresses.
Wanda Petronski, a Polish immigrant, is teased for wearing the same dress every day. When she says she has a hundred dresses, she is teased even more. Later on, the girls find out she was telling the truth, just not in the way that they had expected. The story focuses on Maddie, one of the girls in Wanda's class. Although she is not the primary instigator, she still stands by while her friend teases Wanda, and it isn't until Wanda moves away that she starts to feel bad about her passivity. I appreciated this bit of realism because I'm sure many of us can attest that it isn't until we look back on a situation that we can often see much more clearly how we were in the wrong. Many things feel just fine when we're in the middle of them.
That's what I think this story does so well -- not just in portraying some instances of bullying and evoking pity for the person bullied, but also showing one character's gradual realization that what she did was wrong, even though it didn't feel overtly bad or cruel at the time. Because of this, Maddie vows to be more vigilant in her treatment of others and to never "stand by and say nothing" again. She recognizes that this is a choice she will have to make again, and becomes far more aware of how she will respond to that choice in future situations.
Scrounged From: HomeschoolClassifieds.com (Sonlight Core A)
Author: Eleanor Estes
Content Advisory: Girls treat Wanda in a demeaning way.