Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes

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by Nicola Davies

Davies excels at taking tiny parts of our world and making them relevant and understandable to children. Neat illustrations with a retro look help make the scientific concepts relevant and interesting.

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Big picturebook (not very long)

Available from public libraries

Ages 5-12

Recommended

Reviewer: Doreen

 

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In the Middle of the Night

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By Aileen Fisher

When a girl doesn’t want a puppy or toy or any other traditional birthday gift, but only wants to go out for a walk in the middle of the night, the result is this poetic picture book with lovely retro illustrations. Join the girl and her dad as they discover the mystery and beauty of the night with small, fascinating, middle-of-the-night nature discoveries—the girl’s best birthday present ever.

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Picturebook

Ages 3-10

Available second-hand

Recommended

Reviewer: Doreen

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Many: The Diversity of Life on Earth

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by Nicola Davies

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A tall picturebook with lots of things to look at, this book “Many” celebrates the incredible diversity of life on earth and also reminds us to care for the creatures on it! Well-researched and charmingly illustrated, kids will love to see the latest species that have been discovered, as well as the species that are now extinct. They will learn a little about the difficulty in identifying species as well as how plant and animal species rely on one another. Although the book doesn’t say it, every page shouts, “Truly, we have a great Creator!” (Not too long to read in one sitting.)

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Picturebook

Available from public libraries

Ages 4-10

Recommended

Reviewer: Doreen

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Bunny the Brave War Horse: Based on a True Story

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by Elizabeth MacLeod

A look at history through a picturebook, this books tells of the little-known role of several million horses used during WWI. The real-life police horse from Toronto, Ontario, helps keep the kids interest as the story covers quite a bit of ground. And, although the book touches on some heavy topics such as the death of a main character, poison gas, and heavy gunfire, the simple, childish pictures manage to convey the scene without showing guns, bombers, or the dying.

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Picturebook with more detailed information on the last pages.

Ages 3-12

Available from public libraries

Recommended

Reviewer: Doreen

Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist

 

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by Karen Prior

You know John Newton and William Wilberforce, but did you know that they were part of the Clapham group? And that each member had a key role to play in the religious awakening and political reform of their day? Meet Hannah More, the prolific writer who in William Wilberforce’s words had a great impact on society: “Individuals who are not in parliament seldom have an opportunity of doing good to considerable numbers. Even while I was writing the sentence I became conscious of the falsehood of the position; witness Mrs. Hannah More, and all those who labour with the pen.”

Here is a book for those who love biographies, are pursuing a writing career, or who want a fuller picture of the anti-slavery work that was going on in England at that time. Well-written!

Nonfiction

Ages 16-adult

Available from public libraries

Recommended

Reviewer: Doreen

Julie of the Wolves

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by Jean Craighead George

I don’t know about the unabridged version of the chapter book “Julie of the Wolves,” but this one hour audio version gave a brief but eye-opening look into the changing lifestyle of the Inuit in North America. It also gives you a close look at wolf behaviour, the northern landscape, and traditional Inuit ways of living off the land. Listening with an adult would be helpful as children would benefit from a discussion of why Julie doesn’t stay with her long-lost father, in the end.

Ages 8-14

Fiction

Natural History

Available from public libraries

Recommended

Reviewer:  Doreen

Into the Woods: John James Audubon Lives His Dream

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by Robert Burleigh

A poetic look at the work of John Audubon. If you know nothing of him, it would be better to start with the brief autobiographical note at the end of the story. Told in rhyme as a letter to his father, the book highlights his love for birds and nature. True (but brief ) excerpts from his journal are what make the book worth reading. Illustrations are well done.

Ages 6-12

Picture book

Available from public libraries

Recommended

Reviewer: Doreen

Outside your Window: A First Book of Nature

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by Nicola Davies

Another book for when you are eager to begin sharing the great world outside with your three year old, but in a more gentle, poetic way. Again, each page spread covers a different topic, but with more whimsical artwork than the Usborne My Very First Our World book. A very thick, full-colour, picture book.

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Ages 2-8

Available from public libraries

Recommended

Reviewer: Doreen

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Helen Keller

When checking out nonfiction books on a famous life like this one, there are so many options, that it can be overwhelming. Disappointing, too, if you order books without seeing them, and they turn out to be dull. So here are a variety of books for a variety of ages on Helen Keller.

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Hand in Hand: based on the real-life story of Helen Keller and Martha Washington, by Jean Little

The author develops this historical fiction novel based on the real relationship that Helen had as a girl with Martha, the cook’s daughter, who was her first friend.  Chapter book, ages 7-10.

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Annie and Helen, by Deborah Hopkinson and Raul Colon

A picture book that begins with Helen’s inability to communicate and ends with the joy of her first letter written home by herself. A thorough and clear explanation of Annie’s methods, with large illustrations for children, and real excerpts from Annie Sullivan’s journal at the time. Picture book, ages 5-10.

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Helen Keller and the Big Storm, by Patricia Lakin, easy reader

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Helen Keller’s Best Friend Belle, by Holly M. Barry,  picturebook

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Helen’s Big World: The Life of Helen Keller,  by Doreen Rappaport

This picture book is similar in style to Annie and Helen, but covers Helen’s whole life from babyhood to death. The large pictures make it attractive to children, and the text is very clear, interesting and informative. Quotes sprinkled throughout are from Helen’s journal this time, instead of Annie’s. Well-done. Picturebook, ages 5-10.