Newtons Book News

Childrens Book Reviews

Learning from Books and National Winners

These learning books can help children, from ages three to six, learn basic concepts (unless otherwise stated). Also, the coveted Newbery Awards (for ages nine through twelve) and Caldecott Awards (for picture books) were just announced. The Caldecott medal went to “Radiant Child: The Story of Your Ingrid Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat” by Javaka Steptoe. The four honor books are “Leave Me Alone”, by Vera Brosgol, “Freedom in Congo Square”, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, and written by Carole Boston Weatherford, “Du Iz Tak?”, by Carson Ellis, and “They All Saw a Cat,” by Brendan Wenzel. The Newbery Medal went to “The Girl Who Drank the Moon”, by Kelly Barnhill. Three Newbery Honor Books also were named: “Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan”, by Ashley Bryan, “The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog,” written by Adam Gidwitz, and illustrated by Hatem Aly, and “Wolf Hollow,” by Lauren Wolk.

An Excessive Alphabet (Avalanches of As to Zillions of Zs), by Judi Barrett, and illustrated with pen and ink and colored digitally by Ron Barrett, showcases lots of objects that begin with each letter. What a nice addition to learn as there are many more items that begin with each letter. Each page is filled with items beginning with a specific letter along with a theme of that letter. “Globs of Gs” has gluey looking Gs as well as items that begin with that letter sticking to those “Globs”, such as gingerbread man, a ghost and a glove.

ABC’s on Wheels, by Ramon Olivera, displays many parts and situations having to do with transportation while going through the alphabet. “Aa is for axle, Bb is for bumper”. Ee shows a man pushing a truck and represents “empty”. Ff shows the same truck at a gas station and representing “full”. The pictures are painted with a retro atmosphere.

An Artist’s Alphabet, by Norman Messenger, shows gorgeous paintings of capital and lowercase letters found in nature. The cover shows curving swirling waves in the shape of Cs. The letter B has caterpillars making the curvatures and the stem of the letter has a leaf with holes eaten away by the bugs.

ABC: The Alphabet from the Sky, by Benedikt Gross and Joey Lee, is a most unique and modern science to locate and find letters. By using satellite technology, letters can be seen from way up high. For example, “D” is a parking lot filled with cars and “L” is actually a long and curved golf course seen from far away. There is much to learn about earth’s formations from this amazing book.

One Lonely Fish (A Counting Book with Bite), by Andy Mansfield and Thomas Flintham, is a clever die-cut book that will have youngsters easily learning to count from 1 to 10. The first fish is small and yellow. Upon turning the die-cut page that is slightly smaller, the second fish is a little larger and a different color and so on. There’s a surprise waiting when you reach number 10.

123 Dream, by Kim Krans, showcases gorgeous ink drawings with splashes of rainbow colors found throughout. The reader can count each of the fauna or flora emphasized according to the number found on each page. This book is a delight!

Write and Wipe: Counting is one book in a series of “Write and Wipe” books published by Scholastic. This interactive book is perfect for helping youngsters to learn counting amounts as well as practicing writing numbers. The numbers go from 1 to 10 and as you practice, just wipe away and practice again.

Animals by the Numbers: A Book of Animal Infographics, by Steve Jenkins, is filled with impressive paper-cut pictures of dozens of different animals along with facts, comparisons and unusual groupings and graphs of animals. The information found throughout will likely inspire more investigations from the reader. Have you ever wondered which bird or insect flaps faster than others? The circle graph shows the gnat having the most flaps per second: 1,000 bps. This book is best for ages six and up.

Octopuses One to Ten, by Ellen Jackson, and illustrated using Adobe Photoshop by Robin Page, demonstrates the many wonders of this most unusual sea creature. Each page has interesting facts according to the number being counted. For instance, on the page featuring the number three, you learn that these animals have three hearts. Each page begins with a simple rhyming couplet. You’ll learn more information on each page about octopuses. When you reach number ten, there are ten more pages highlighting different types of these animals. This book is good for all ages.

Five Little Ducks, by Denise Fleming, is not only a counting book, but also teaches the days of the week. This beautifully illustrated book, created by using pulp painting, is over-sized with double open-page scenes that fill the pages. Papa duck is featured here but you will also find Mama. The simple rhyming text has a rhythm that almost begs to be sung.

Hap-Pea All Year (The Pea Series), by Keith Baker, is back and teaching the months of the year. These rascally peas are full of mischievous antics in digitally illustrated two-page spreads. Each month highlights a specific holiday or event that makes that month special. The rhyming text permeates the jovial scene that will make you smile!

Big Bear Small Mouse, by Karma Wilson, and beautifully painted with acrylic paint by Jane Chapman, is a fun rhyming story about woodland animals and the concept of opposites. There’s “Slow Badger, fast Hare / Small Mouse, big Bear!” Wren flies low, Owl flies high. The woods are quiet but the animals are loud. This book will be a delight for youngsters to learn from and point out concepts learned betting this book will be reread over and over again.

Is That Wise, Pig?, by Jan Thomas, is a hilarious counting story as well as logic that begs to be read out loud! These cartoon-like drawings are likely to make you chuckle as you read about Mouse seeking help to make soup. Both Pig and Cow excitedly volunteer to help and the counting begins. Mouse puts in one onion and Cow contributes two cabbages. But Pig wants to put in three umbrellas where upon comes the title of the book. The story continues on in this format and kids will giggle all of the way through. But watch out for a big surprise at the end!

Shapes, Reshape!, by Silvia Brando, is made to make you think and strategize and count. Every other page has a grouping of different colored shapes. All of these shapes are rectangles and squares. One double-page spread shows a grouping of these shapes on one side with a simple text game on the opposite side. Now try and guess what these shapes will turn into before turning the page. This book is brilliant!

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