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Nature is Just Outside Your Window

Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature (Candlewick, $19.99, ages 3 and up) written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Mark Hearld, has been sitting on my coffee table for months now, begging me to write up my review of this incredible book about nature. With stunning paper-cut collage illustrations by Mark Hearld, Outside Your Window is a compendium of information, ideas, and even recipes related to the world outside our window.

The book is organized by season and Nicola Davies introduces each section with a brief description of what that season beholds. Each section includes a variety of poems describing various flora and fauna of the seasons, from the worms, to the birds, to the weather. Mark Hearld’s spectacular artwork appears in two-page spreads, and are not only colorful and creative, but full of details to keep your child (and yourself) enthralled in the descriptions of life scribed across each page.  Davies’s writing, while accessible to children, is also informative and educational.

From the life cycle of a butterfly to the glowing nature of the stars in the night sky, Outside Your Window is brimming with knowledge to be gained about all things nature. But this is far from a simple book written in verse. Author and Biologist Nicola Davies also includes pieces such as “Five Reasons to Keep Chickens,” and “Making Compost”–real life examples that can be put into practice by the budding farmer or gardener.  She even goes so far as to include recipes for such things as Berry Crumble to enjoy in Autumn, and seed cakes to make for the birds in Wintertime.

I adored this book from the moment I picked it up; it is a hearty book filled with beautiful images and illuminating poetry which you will love having in your library. The best part is, you can enjoy it with your child bit by bit, reading it as the seasons pass by outside your window, and putting into practice some of the suggestions for enjoying nature found in the book. Your child will be captivated by the lively illustrations, and you might even learn something you did not know about some obscure yet utterly fascinating fact of nature!

Today’s review comes courtesy of proud new mother Karen B. Estrada.

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A Counting Book To Grow On

I have always loved the bold graphics of Ammo books and that includes this board book designed with your toddler in mind.  Counting in the Garden ($14.95, Ammo Books, ages 18 mos. and up) written by Emily Hruby who teamed up with her brother Patrick Hruby for the illustrations, succeeds on all counts.

Little ones will be captivated by the colorful images of all the wonderful things growing in a young boy’s garden: from 1 onion, with many, many peels to 5 fresh watermelons, shiny and green to 10 tender tomatoes, juicy and delicious! And surprise there are even snails, butterflies, sunflowers and tulips, too, adding a vitality to the world outside just waiting to be explored … and in the end, eaten.  Parents will love reading this book to youngsters or letting them study each page to discover nature’s treasures on their own.

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A Butterfly Fable

The school year may be over for teacher Therese Louk who we welcome back as today’s guest reviewer, but she’s always on the lookout for great books to read to her students:

33663825Spring has sprung and with it come butterflies.  I read Adios Oscar!: A Butterfly Fable by Peter Elwell to my second grade class and had rave reviews from each student.  They laughed and enjoyed the story of Oscar’s adventures.  There is a great message embedded in the story to always try to achieve your dreams.  There were many favorite parts in the story from the students.  Ask your child which part is his/her favorite.  It may change each time your read it.
Oscar is a curious caterpillar who meets a beautiful Monarch butterfly on his way to Mexico.  Oscar is so intrigued by the lovely wings on the butterfly.  After conversing with Bob (the beautiful butterfly), Oscar decides it is time for him to do some research on his own to find out if he truly will grow wings.

Enter Edna
Edna, the reliable bookworm, introduces Oscar to the most fabulous library to research any topic he would like.  He becomes convinced he will become a beautiful butterfly and fly to Mexico.  He begins to learn Spanish tp prepare to talk to the other bugs when he gets Mexico.
Oscar soon goes through his metamorphosis stage dreaming of beautiful wings.  When he wakes up, he knows he has wings and is very excited.  It isn’t until Oscar sees himself in a mirror that he discovers he is not a butterfly but a moth.  Oscar doesn’t let anything stop his spirits.  He continues on his venture to get to Mexico and be with the other beautiful butterflies.
Read Adios Oscar! to find out if he gets there.
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