THE DIGGER AND THE FLOWER Written and illustrated by Joseph Kuefler (Balzer & Bray; $17.99, Ages 4-8)
★Starred Review – Kirkus,School Library Journal
The Digger and the Flower by Joseph Kuefler adds a welcome new dimension to the popular construction trucks theme: thoughtfulness about the area being destroyed. When Digger finds a flower, watching over it becomes his hobby. His level of involvement escalates when the flower’s land is surrounded; eventually, it succumbs to new building.
Digitally created images contrast Digger’s sunny yellow with the muted black, gray, and white urban surroundings. The bright blue and green of the small flower imbues this cityscape, awakening something within Digger and compelling him to act. Even without the text, this vivid story is delightful.
In Joseph Kuefler’s 48-page picture book, we are shown humanity and kindness—a powerful message that addresses our need to care for the environment and one another. Yet, the book can also be read simply as another cool story about big machines.
In the early nineteenth century it took six months to travel coast to coast by horse and wagon. Rugged terrain and violent weather made the journey difficult and dangerous. The alternative, sailing around Cape Horn, took at least six months and was equally dangerous.
Dreams of a transcontinental railroad had great promise: quicker travel time, new communities, and improved opportunities for trade and commerce. It took years to advocate and raise money for this massive project. When President Lincoln signed the Pacific Railroad Act of 1862, two companies, the Central Pacific, laying tracks eastward, and the Union Pacific, laying tracks westwards, raced to complete the job.
The work required staggering feats of engineering, which award-winning historian MartinW. Sandler effectively demonstrates using period photos and weaving mind-blowing facts into the narrative. Workers had to blast through mountains to build tunnels and erected some of the highest bridges known. Supplies had to be hauled over mountains on horseback or cart to the workers. Conditions were grueling: prairie fires, cattle stampedes, severe weather, and Native American attacks. Each job had its physical challenges: imagine graders who hauled tons of dirt away or track layers who lifted and placed rails that weighed 500 to 700 pounds!
Sandler critically examines more controversial issues such as corruption, discrimination against the highly efficient Chinese workers, and the severe impact on the life and culture of the Plains Indians.
When the two rails finally met, tens of thousands of workers had laid over 18,000 miles of track and joined the two coasts of a rugged continent. Travel time, coast to coast, was reduced to one week.
The author has made dramatic use of archival photographs to enhance the engaging and informative text, all accompanied by easy to follow maps. A fascinating final chapter discusses what happened to the main personalities. Educators and parents should check out the publisher’s great teacher’s guide and audio excerpt. Highly recommended for teachers and librarians serving grades 5 and up and a great resource for 19th century United States history and train enthusiasts.
Making a List and Checking it Twice courtesy of bookseller and reviewer Hilary Taber –
Looking for a great book for a young child in your life? Still have that hard to buy for niece, nephew or grandchild on your list? No worries! As a children’s bookseller I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to see a lot of children’s books all year long. So, I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite board books from the 2015 publishing year to help you with your last minute shopping.
With the new Star Wars movie coming out soon what better way to indoctrinate or err…teach a new generation. Each soft, needle felted scene is a recreation appropriate for learning first words. Princess Leia teaches the word “princess,” Luke Skywalker is our example of the word “learn,” and so on. Each scene is so lovingly recreated that every page is of the utmost quality.
This gem of a board book takes toddlers through several occupations from firefighter to teacher that they might aspire to in the future in a lift-the-flap format. By listening closely to the text, your little one may be able to guess the job of the person behind the flap. These are all people in your community as well, so it’s a nice roundup of all the people who help us!
This is an adorable book! Perfect for a one-year-old or early two this lift-the-flap, tactile book uses pictures of pups to teach colors. Pull out tabs through out the book make the dogs move (even the dog on the cover pulls on the shoe string in his mouth if you pull the red tab). Rhyming text, and a chunky, durable cover make this a great gift.
The ultimate battle! Two boys meet. One has a shark toy and the other has a toy train. A hilarious imaginative battle ensues Of course if the battle is underwater then Shark is going to win, but if it’s on land then Train is going to have the upper hand! What about a visit to a library? Right, neither of them would win that one! Witty, funny, and it combines sharks and trains in one book. That’s a sure winner right there.
Yumi Heo writes and illustrates such wonderful books! Red Light, Green Light is no exception. This board book has been one of my favorites to recommend this year because it’s both interesting and straightforward. Lift-the-flap elements combine with rhyming text about all the signs that youngsters can see on the road in the car while being driven around town. This book is perfect for the little transportation enthusiast in your life, and great for both girls and boys.
Reviewed by Hilary Taber
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Little Explorers: My Amazing Body and Little Explorers: On the Move & A Giveaway!
Good Reads With Ronna is excited to be one of the first bloggers working with little bee books to help spread the word of their new publishing venture. Today we’re busy buzzing about their line of Little Explorers books so read on! We’ve also got a great giveaway to enter when you’re done reading about little bee books’ two new nonfiction books below. Just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter. Good luck!
“Introducing little bee books, a new US division of Bonnier Publishing! We are a small and passionate team dedicated to making beautiful and innovative books for children ages 0-12. Our debut list is now available, in bookstores and online. You can view all of our upcoming books by clicking here.
In honor of the release of our very first books, we’re running three exclusive giveaways (GRWR, readertotz and Geo Librarian). The giveaway you’ll find here runs from January 14th to February 4th, 2015: Good Reads with Ronna was kind enough to host our giveaway for one copy each of Little Explorers: My Amazing Body by Ruth Martin and Allan Sanders Little Explorers: On the Move.Both books are part of Little Explorers, a new, interactive nonfiction series for curious youngsters (recommended for ages 4-8). With more than 50 and 30 flaps respectively to lift, each book provides little ones with hands-on fun and fab facts.”
Little Explorers: My Amazing Body – Featured in this book are eight spreads that teach children all about the human body in an easy-to-understand, sometimes humorous way. First there’s Why Are We All So Different? But are we really? These pages explore what makes us unique individuals and what we all have in common. The second spread covers that age old question Where Did I Come From? but honestly covers more about how a baby grows inside his/her mom’s tummy and how youngsters grow after they’re born. I was fascinated to learn in this section that each day we lose between 50-100 hairs on our head though new ones soon grow in their place. Kind of makes me want to vacuum more often!
Other questions addressed are: How Does My Body Work?, Where Does My Food Go?, What Does My Brain Do?, How Do I See and Hear?, Why Don’t I Feel Well? – I got a kick out of the castle image used to help youngsters understand being healthy versus getting ill. “Just like a castle, your body is built to defend itself against attack and fight off sickness.” After a bad germ invasion, cartoon-like healthy knight germs have a duel. Under one flap labeled Attack! it says, “Germs can get inside your body through the air, from sneezes and coughs. They also spread in blood, sweat, or spit. Touching something dirty can spread germs to your hands.” Under the Defend! labeled flap it says, “Your body makes special germ-fighting cells every day. Some of these eat up the invading germs. Others remember the germs (LOVE THIS!) so that they can fight back harder next time.” The last section, and the perfect place to end the book, poses this important question: How Can I Take Care of My Body?
Little Explorers: On the Move – This interactive book will keep youngsters engaged for hours on end as they explore the fascinating world of transportation. They’ll pour over colorful spreads and lift a multitude of flaps while learning about Bikes & Scooters, Cars, Buses, Trains & Trolleys, Boats, Aircrafts, Trucks & Vans and last, but certainly not least, Busy Workers (vehicles such as ambulances, garbages trucks and snowplows). In Bikes & Scooters kids can absorb important info like “Be Safe! A strong helmet and elbow pads can prevent you from getting hurt if you fall off.” And what parent or caregiver doesn’t appreciate that lesson being shared? Readers can see the many shapes and sizes of bikes, the parts of a bike and find their personal faves: from racing to recumbent, tandem to unicycle. In cars they’ll look at limos, convertibles, police cars and lots more. Then, lifting the flaps, they can have a peek inside the limo to see who’s getting a ride. Maybe your child prefers to look under a car’s hood to check out the engine or guess what the interior of a vacation caravan/trailer looks like. And is that the comic duo of Laurel and Hardy I spy on the tandem bike?
– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel
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