Every girl dreams of being a princess at least once. But how does a princess look like? Which color does her hair have, is she small or big? And what does she like? Does she love unicorns, cats or maybe alligators?
„Every girl is a princess“ by Mylo Freeman confirms that every girl is a princess in her own way! The book delights with colorful illustrations. Flaps on each page and simple questions engage young readers and support logical thinking: “Princess Naomi loves turtles. On her crown is a rainbow. Could this be her crown?” The delightful illustrations show girls of every part of the worlds: Princess Ushi, Princess Adinda, Princess Rosalina, Princess Isabel and her friends introduce little girls to a colorful “princess world” and show, that every princess has her own way to shine.
Each princess is wearing her own crown. But who does the last golden tiara belong to? A mirror on the last page reveals that every girl is a princess – and every boy is a prince. “Look and see for yourself if you don’t believe it!”
Mylo Freeman’s book is clearly a typical “girl” book – little readers will love the pink title and background, the friendly princesses with their vibrant dresses and the sparkling crowns on every page. The book is a great way to introduce kids to a more diverse world! While recommended for age 3 up, simple questions and easy to lift flaps make this book a great title to enjoy with toddlers or even read to younger infants. Just be careful: This is not a board book; the exciting pages might not respond well to chewing… 🙂
„Every girl is a princess“ was published by Cassava Republic, a small publisher based in Abuja, Nigeria. Cassava Republic would like to promote writers from all over Africa: “Our mission is to change the way we all think about African writing. We think that contemporary African prose should be rooted in African experience in all its diversity.”
Author and illustrator Mylo Freeman grew up in The Hague and lives in Amsterdam. She has been a full-time writer-illustrator since 1993 and has published over 50 picture books.
Our daughter loves nature. And she’s extremely curious and rarely satisfied with quick explanations. Last week we discussed why snails are slimy for about one hour, only to switch topics, debating why hummingbirds only eat nectar and can’t digest seeds. Her interest in everything is one of the reasons why preschool-age is so much fun! I finally got to share all the cool non-fiction books and have an excuse to expand our book collection further. 🙂
But: Explaining science to children and adults without scientific background sometimes actually is rocket science. I should know – I had to edit my articles for a popularly science magazine a zillion time until our editor-in-chief was convinced they didn’t contain “too much science as not to confuse anyone”. What was really tough, when genetics was your passion, but you didn’t want to make the topic to bothersome. 🙂 What might sound silly is actually true. You don’t want to make science too confusing, boring and annoying – but at the same time you want to keep to the facts, too, and not leave too many details out. There are lots of great nonfiction books for children out there, that hit the mark – and others that we didn’t like as much.
“BUGS!” is one of the scientific books for children that is head-on. The book was published in cooperation with the Natural History Museum in London, so it packs a lot of information into a little over 30 pages. Readers accompany “Agent Eagle”, the senior librarian of the “Eagle-Eyed Explorer Club”, on his latest mission: Filing a report on the history of bugs. Agent Eagle goes back millions of years in time! His journal contains detailed information about bugs, their history and their life. The report doesn’t leave lots of questions – thorough explanations will satisfy even the most curious mind. The illustrations are not too colorful, they could have been from a museum collection – but maybe this is what Agent Eagle had in mind? And the expandable 6-feet timeline, prominent feature of the “What on Earth”-books, makes definitely up for it! A little quiz on the last pages helps young readers to check their knowledge.
“BUGS!” makes a complex topic attractive. The Indiana Jones lookalike Agent Eagle and his exploration keeps young readers involved. And this is the key, when it comes to complex topics that could become overwhelming. Taxonomy of bug ancestry, fossils, sacred bugs and past bug scientists: These matters might not sound too interesting, but middle school and high school aged readers with an interest in biology will learn a lot about bugs and their history.
When it comes to science books for children, the target age range defines into how much details you can go. That being said, the complex topic makes “BUGS!” more appropriate for middle school age and was a great read for me as adult with science background. Our five-year-old daughter loved to look at the pictures and had lots of questions. The text was a little bit complex for her, but this was not surprising as this book is written for a different age range.
Publishing house “What on earth” brought another great non-fiction book into our house. “Bugs!” is a keepsake book that will hold the interest of a wide age range from Kindergarten to High School! The book is part of four titles exploring the world of dinosaurs, bugs, plants and mammals with super-sleuth Agent Eagle as guide.
We recently had an unusual number of school closures due to snow. That is, unusual for the Pacific Northwest… Snow days always make Finja and me a little crazy. She misses her preschool friends. I don’t get work done, don’t get my workout in. That’s why I stocked up on craft kits at the beginning of the winter. Nothing like laying out some nice things to do for the little one and having a bit of peace. Peace for 12 minutes or so… Finja can be a real girl and she likes glitter. So, when we decided to build an indoor fairy garden she was all in – as long as we could put some glitter aka “fairy dust” on it. Said, done. Well, almost. Because you know what happens when a four-year-old gets a small tube with fine glitter in her hands, right? The glitter goes – everywhere…
That’s why I really had to laugh when I held the hardcover edition of “Glitter” by Stella J. Jones, published by Tiger Tales, in my hands just a few days later. “Glitter” not only has glitter on every page, what makes it an absolute page-turner for preschool-aged girls. No, “Glitter” is just about this: Glitter getting everywhere, in every corner and cranny… But let’s start at the beginning.
Gloria is a little rhino and the heroine of this story. Gloria’s favorite color is glitter and “everything in her life has a little bit of razzle-dazzle”. While Gloria loves her glitter slippers she is convinced everyone in her neighborhood needs a little bit of glitter. Dashing away on her “glitterama-razzamatazz scooter” she leaves a little bit of glitter everywhere.
She glitters the banker, the barber, the baker, the chef and the cabinet-maker, the plumber, the drummers, the teachers… But instead of being gloriously happy, they find this glitterama rather awkward. Unfortunately scrubbing off glitter is not so easy – it goes everywhere… And it gets messy. Soon the whole town is dusted in a small cloud if Gloria’s glorious glitter. What will happen now? Unexpectedly, the whole town is “smiling, giggling, chuckling, and chortling”. “Just like the glitter that was spread all around, the happiness traveled right through the town.”
Author Stella J. Jones wrote an entertaining, humorous book that heightens the spirits and makes reading fun. “Glitter” was illustrated by Judi Abbot, who studied at art school in Milan. Her colorful graphics are not only glittery and pink, they teem with life and basically catapult you into Gloria’s town to dust you with some of Gloria’s glorious glitter. Perfect, as Gloria’s story about spreading kindness and joy is just about this: Not taking life too serious, having fun – and being cheerful. Just like glitter goes everyway, happiness spreads. So, don’t worry, be happy…
Needless to say: Finja loves “Glitter” and the razzle-dazzle on every page. We had a good laugh about our experience with the fairy-dust who still sticks between the floorboards. Although “Glitter” doesn’t seem to have a serious, deeper meaning other than being kind and sharing the joy it’s so nice to read a feel-good-book occasionally!
written by Stella J. Jones
illustrated by Judi Abbot
Publisher: Tiger Tales
The older Finja gets (or maybe, the older I get 😀 ) the more we enjoy exploring nonfiction-books. Finja is a curious child and there probably wasn’t a day without at least two-hundred-forty-five “whys” in months. She wants to know everything and sometimes comes up with really weird questions: How do the bones get into a body? Are stuffed animals born from other stuffed animals? Which part of an animal does meat come from? Why do plants need sunlight? When she’s not satisfied with my answer she’s searching for one herself, which sometimes can be a little confusing. Did you know that this little girl is convinced her favorite mac and cheese with a bunny on the package are made from bunny meat? Yes, I know…
Maybe you remember me mentioning the German “Wieso? Weshalb? Warum” book series from Ravensburger. By now Finja has almost every book out of this series and she still enjoys reading it again and again. Anyway, every book is made in a similar matter so I was searching for other science books for kids. There is not a lot of educational material for preschool age children on the market, especially when it comes to more abstract topics like genetics or the cycle of life. I still have some books from university at home, but there are hardly appropriate for a four-year-old…
My question was answered when we received a review copy of “Things that grow” from Libby Walden, published by 360 Degrees. 360 Degrees is a new imprint of Little Tiger Group. The description of 360 Degrees is more than promising: “360 Degrees illuminates a multitude of curiosities, from the inner workings of a spacesuit to the physiology of a penguin, and from the life-cycle of lemmings to the intricacies of Chinese characters.” So, exactly what we were searching for!
The format of “Things that grow” is unusual for a biology book for children. The rather small volume fits in the hand of preschoolers and elementary school children. The accurate, but still artistic illustrations by Becca Stadtlander made our daughter curious for more. That is, more information about basically everything in our world…
“Things that grow” describes the world around us from a seed to a tree, the development of the animal kingdom including the “missing link” and the evolution of man and finishes with a quick description of our universe, including the “big bang” and the ever-changing surface of our planet earth. The book offers a lot, from facts to little crafts like growing cress in an egg shell.
The language is not too bloomy, but matter-of-fact and accurately. Finja might not have been able to grasp the meaning of each chapter without additional explanations. For us this was not a problem at all, as we enjoyed the journey together – “Things that grow” had something for both of us. I still would recommend “Things that grow” more for elementary school children than preschoolers – the recommended age range according to the publisher is 7 to 10.
Author Libby Walden is an editor at Caterpillar Books. You can find more information about her on her blog “Through the wardrobe”, which is partly inspired by one of her favorite children’s books, “the supremely brilliant The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe”.
When the first settlers set foot on American soil, they encountered wolves everywhere. But due to hunting and habitat changes there were hardly any wolves left by the middle of the 20th century… 1978, the wolves were listed as a threatened species in forty-eight states. In 1995 thirteen wolves from Canada were released on the Yellowstone National Park. The following year another ten wolves followed. The experiment was a success with now over hundred wolves living in Yellowstone. But, even more important: The wolves play an important role for the health of other species and the balance of the ecosystem.
“The wolves return” by Celia Godkin, biologist and associate professor at the University of Toronto as well as award-winning author and illustrator, explains the journey of reintroducing wild wolves to Yellowstone and the consecutive changes in the environments of the park in kid-friendly words.
Wolves had been extinct in Yellowstone for a long time and the return of the big carnivores has a huge effect on the local wildlife, which in return changes the environment and local wildlife: As wolves primarily prey on weak elks, they keep the herds smaller, but healthier. The elks move from the bottom of the valley to the higher areas with more trees for shelter, which gives the seedlings which were previously eaten by elks the chance to grow. Within years, the valley changes to a wooden area with tall trees. Beavers use this trees to build dams and beaver houses to raise families. Beaver ponds are a home for waterfowl and fish, which in return attract ospreys and otter. Berry bushes are growing back and provide food and shelter for birds, insects and bears. Fewer elk also let bison herds increase in size. But wolves not only control the number of elks. As huge predators, the coyotes leave Yellowstone. They prey now becomes food for hawks, weasels, badgers and foxes… After almost 20 years the return of a few wolves changed the face of Yellowstone National Park forever. Would you have guessed that a single species can have such a high impact?
Ecology is a complex topic, but Celia Godkin does a great job with explaining biological correlations to children from preschool to middle school age. Her texts are easy to understand, without complicated technical terms or terminology. What wakes the love for nature are her artwork: True-to-life pencil and watercolor illustrations capture the attention of children and adults from the first page on. It’s hard for an expert to explain scientific topics in easy words and almost impossible to find the right words suitable and plausible for children. Celia Godkin does an expert job! The appendix of the book gives a short overview of the history of wolves in the US and is a great add on for older children, teacher and parents.
Our daughter loved “The wolves return”. She is interested in nature in general and loves wolves – she wants to convince me that our local coyotes are “just baby wolves” each time we spot one… It was really enjoyable to teach her about one of her favorite animals and the development of an ecosystem within a short time span. I studied biology at university and am acquainted with the basics of ecology, although it never was my specialty. I didn’t even know of the return of the wolves to Yellowstone and had a great time researching the topic. We will follow on this topic tomorrow as I found some interesting videos and materials online… I can just guess what a great resource this book is for homeschooling parents or teachers! The publisher also provides a teaching guide, which was unfortunately not online yet at time of this review.
Long story short: “The wolves return” is a great non-fiction book with an environmental message for children every age. It’s a great way to raise children who love nature and are sensible to the ecological problems. “The wolves return” is another wonderful children’s book by Pajama Press, an independent publisher from Canada.
Are you already in Christmas mood? I have to be honest: We started packing Christmas packages for Germany about a month ago and I always felt like a pretender because I just didn’t feel the holiday vipe yet… Well, with Thanksgiving around the corner the mood is finally catching up with me – especially while browsing all the wonderful Christmas stories!
We are not a religious household, but Christmas is important for us anyway. It’s just about being together, thinking of the people you love, getting in touch with every good friends abroad and getting in a special, merry mood. Our daughter and we enjoy decorating our condo, visiting Santa at the local zoo and packing small baskets to surprise our friends at December 6th, Sant Nicolaus day.
In Germany, where there is no Santa but a “Christkind” (Christ child) I always had the feeling Christmas had a more religious touch. This goes for decorations as well as for Christmas books for kids, which mainly show angels and most times refer to the birth of Jesus. Or I’m just too old and was growing up in another area… Anyway, I really enjoy books that point out the importance of Christmas without bible references. And as someone who loves Northern Europe I finally found one of my favorite Christmas stories!
„Otto and the secret light of Christmas“ was written and illustrated by the Finish mother-daughter team Nora and Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin. The hero of the story, elfin Otto, finds himself on a long travel to find the “light of Christmas” to brighten the dark Finish winter days. His motivation: A postcards, proclaiming the “Light of Christmas” and wishing light in the midst of winter. Otto heads north, hiking dark forests, snowshoeing through deep snow, skiing down hills and riding on a reindeer`s back. The journey he started alone brings many new friends and adventures: Otto meets an apple-loving badger named Badger, encounters the king of the forest, warms up in a Sauna with Klupu, strong trolls living on the plains of Lappland and shares a tea with Snow Lonttis. Most of these creatures originate from Northern Europe folklore – together with the stunning illustrations of snowy plains, Northern villages and dark forests the reader is thrown deep in the Finnish landscape. Can there be a setting more Christmas-sy?
Finally, Otto’s journey nears an end: A campfire under the North Star where he joins an old man, which Otto addresses as “Father Yule”, one of the pre-Christian name of the Norse god Odin. “I have been called that”, laughs the old man. Otto has been looking for Christmas – but has he found it?
I’m sure what we have found: A magical Christmas story to share with children every age. „Otto and the secret light of Christmas” is a story about the real meaning of Christmas aside religious meaning and a tale that can be enjoyed by children and adults every culture and background. It would make the perfect read aloud for a preschool or elementary school! Reading „Otto and the secret light of Christmas” aloud is absolutely charming, the authors use a wonderful, poetic language. Hearing the story of Otto and his new friends you can almost feel the snow crunching under your shoes and hear the wind howling in the tree tops. I was craving Otto’s favorite drink, blueberry tea, after the last chapter! Speaking about chapters: Although the tale around Otto is absolutely wonderful it might be a little extensive for younger children to read in one sitting. Luckily the authors dedicated one separate chapter for every encounter. This makes „Otto and the secret light of Christmas” not only more accessible for younger readers, but also turns this book into a perfect companion for the holiday season. The 14 chapters could make a literary advent calendar of one of a kind!
We really loved the „Otto and the secret light of Christmas“ and I’m sure we’ll read it many many times this Christmas season and in the years to come! The book makes it easy for me to explain our meaning of Christmas with the words of “Father Yule”:
Moving to the US wasn’t as big of a culture shock as we expected. Well, at least not until the results of the presidential election came in… We live in the liberal Pacific Northwest, so life is not so different from rainy Germany. After Finja was born I realized that education and upbringing in the US definitely is different from childhood in Germany though. One example: Stranger danger. Even with a policeman as a dad, my sister and I never were explicitly warned about strangers. Not because we were distrustful by nature, but it seems as if our parents were just not afraid of some outsider would come and swipe us away. I thought this was a generation conflict – after all I pedaled my bike through the dark woods when I was middle school aged. You can’t compare the 80s and 90s with today, can’t you? But speaking with my parent friends in Germany made me realize that it’s only not a question of generations – it’s a question of culture as well.
So with a naturally friendly and outgoing daughter I thought it was time to tell her about not wandering away (she loves to do that!) and not trusting anyone she doesn’t know – and even be careful of people she knows. But how can you do it without inflicting distrust and fear of other human beings?
I didn’t search for Nicole Snitselaar’s “Little fox, lost”, but it was the perfect solution to our problem.
The storyline is simple: Little fox takes a walk with this mother who gets caught up in a friendly neighborhood chat. Little fox is bored – and soon so fascinated by his tracks in the fresh snow that he doesn’t realize how far he is wandering off. Little fox finds himself in the depth of the forest, all alone and scared… A friendly owl offers to take him back to his mother. Little fox almost agrees, but then he remembers a song his mom taught him:
“If you ever are lost my child
Don’t let a stranger guide you.
Be still and I will search the wild
Until I am beside you.”
The friendly owl understands – and together they wait, singing Mama fox’s song until she finally arrives to bring little fox home.
“Little fox, lost” is a gentle story about getting lost and finding your way home again. We loved the snowy winter setting and the cute forest animals as well as the significance of the story – the illustrations by Alicia Padron are calming, they have a huge part in talking about a difficult topic without being frightening. Mother fox’s rhyme “If you ever are lost my child” is easy to remember for children every age. This little ear worm can give them confidence if they should ever get lost for real.
“Little fox, lost” was published by Pajama Press, an independent publisher who’s goal it is “to produce high quality, award-winning books that are appealing to children, young adults, librarians, teachers and parents.”
I can’t believe it’s been so long since I posted the last book review… Here I am, reading at least four books each day (…to our daughter, that is…) and you have to wait so long for another blog post… But, with the start of the new preschool year I’m positive I’ll be able to improve during the next months! 🙂
One of the reasons I didn’t have any time to review new books (…or read any, other than Kidlit…) is that Finja started sleeping even less during the summer months. She didn’t nap since she was about 1 1/2, and we always worked with about 10 to 11 hours of nighttime sleep only, but now she started to get down to nine or even eight hours. More time to do fun things, more time to read – less time to write… That’s why I choose today’s book of the day: „SHHH! I’m sleeping“ by Dorothee de Monfreid. Is there a better book to read to a girl who just doesn’t have time to rest?
„SHHH! I’m sleeping“ is one of the newer comic-style books for preschool aged children. It took me some time to get used to comic books, especially when reading aloud – but reading with different voiced did the trick. Good for us, because “SHHH! I’m sleeping” is a fun little book about bedtime routines and how hard it can be to finally find some rest.
The story: Eight dogs are sound asleep in two tall bunk beds when one of the dogs, Nono, is awakened by another dog’s snoring. He asks one of his friends for a story, which awakens another dog, who wants to borrow a toy. And so it goes… Soon all the dogs are cuddled under one tiny blanked, enjoying a bedtime story. As each dogs awakes, his reading light is being flipped on – and soon every light shines, except the snoring Popov’s…
“SHHH! I’m sleeping” is a cute book, an unconventional bedtime story and easy to understand for toddlers, preschoolers and elementary school children. Finja loved to discover each dog’s movement and talking about his feelings and what he needs to finally get some rest. Is he thirsty? Is he lonely? The comic-style illustrations are expressive and fun to look at, especially in an oversized board book format.
This book was published by “Gecko Press”, a publisher located in New Zeeland. According to Gecko Press, the publishers aims to encourage children to love to read. “We champion strong stories rich in language and illustration – books that are ‘crunchy’.” ““SHHH! I’m sleeping” definitely is such a book! Definitely a new favorite at our house, sure to bring smiles during bedtime.
More information: „SHHH! I’m sleeping“
written by Dorothee de Monfreid
Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Board book: 24 pages
Publisher: Gecko Press
Do you love Puffins? We do! Puffins can be found all over the Northwest and Finja is always excited to discover this wonderful birds during our visits at the Washington and Oregon coast. Puffins can also be found in Scottland, where the publisher “Floris Books” with the imprint “PictureKelpies”, a series specialized in picture books about Scottland and Scottish culture, is located.
“Harris the hero” is one of three books about the puffin Harris and his family and friends. Harris lives on an island full of other puffins, but he’s feeling lonely, longing for a friend or a spouse of his own. Soon Harris sets out to travel the world – but instead of ships, hot air balloons and rockets he finds a little seal that needs his help. Harris doesn’t hesitate to help the seal baby, finds new friends on the way – and more. The series continues with “Skye the Puffling” – review coming soon. 🙂
Author Lynne Rickards tells the humorous story of a brave bird, who sets out to find a new life and through helping others helps himself. Written in rhyme “Harris the hero” is fun to read, even for people like me who aren’t found of poems and verse. We especially loved the colorful, expressive pictures full of life, who appeal to parents and children likewise. Lynne Rickards and Gabby Grant make the concept of helping others fun and palpable for preschoolers and elementary school age children!
It’s always fun to review an English translation of a German children’s book! „Little fairy makes a wish“ can be found in German bookstores under the titel „Die kleine Elfe wünscht sich was“ and is part of a series about the little fairy, who needs a new dress, can’t sleep or celebrates Christmas. Most of this books as well as other titles by Daniela Drescher have been translated into English as well.
Daniela Drescher is author and illustrator of this book about the little fairy and her friend, the mole. Mole hopes to one day fly just like the fairies do – “oh, how wonderful would that be!” Fairies can make wishes come true when they find fallen stars – and so the fairy and her friend start their search for a fallen star. When mole’s wish is granted he discovers that he loves the feeling of flying, the night breeze in his fur, “the moonlight dancing with the flowers and the wind brushing through the grass.” More than everything he gets homesick though. At the end of this adventure the mole is feeling lucky, but also tired – and is glad to be able to shuffle into his snug, narrow and dark underground home “just as it should be”.
“Little fairy makes a wish” reminds me of several books I read as a child. The classic artwork of this book and as its message make it a timeless fairytale about making wishes come true, adventures and finding your way back home. Sometimes we all wish for a change, to experience something new, just to realize that what we have is exactly where we belong.
This book was published by Floris Books, an independent publishing company based in Edinburgh, Scotland.
More information: „Little fairy makes a wish“
written and illustrated by Daniela Drescher
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Floris Books