Quick Kids Reviews #6

 Title: Monster Sharks
Author: Brenda Gurr
Illustrator: R.J. Palmer
Source: Free ARC from becker&mayer! kids

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from becker&mayer! kids via NetGalley. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.

Goodreads Summary: “Did you know that the prehistoric mega-shark called Megalodon was thirty times larger than a great white shark? If Megalodon were still alive, it would be able to destroy entire boats and swallow people whole! This nightmare-inducing shark continues to fascinate–and horrify!–shark fans everywhere.

Monster Sharks: Megalodon and Other Giant Prehistoric Predators of the Deep brings to the surface everything there is to know about this famed monster and explores other giant sea monsters from the past, including Tylosaurus (the deadliest marine hunter of its time) and the Elasmosaurus (a swimming reptile with a neck four times longer than a giraffe.)

Bring Megalodon to life with this 17-piece, 8.5″ long, intricately detailed Megalodon skeleton, complete with a 2-part stand. Assemble it yourself!”

Review: What can I say? I live with two little boys who love dinosaurs, monsters and prehistoric sea creatures. This book is exactly the kind of thing I would (and have) given them for various holidays, checked out at the library for them, or that they would select at their school book fair. There is something so compelling about creatures that roamed the earth (or, in this case, the sea) long before people were a blink in evolution’s eye.

The illustrations are realistic and stunning, so life-like they could be artistic photographs. Personally, I’m much more drawn to prehistoric sea creatures than dinosaurs, and this book did not disappoint. Jam-packed with facts about a variety of ancient sea “monsters”, this book is a fun and informative read for kids and parents alike.

Title: Counting Birds: The Idea That Helped Save Our Feather Friends
Author: Heidi E.Y. Stemple
Illustrator: Clover Robin
Source: Free ARC from Seagrass Press

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from Seagrass Press via NetGalley. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.

Oh my gosh, give me a second while I swoon over the illustrations. They are amazing! And the illustrator’s name – Clover Robin – is pretty fantastic, too. But wait. There’s more! The book itself is equally fabulous. Written by Heidi E.Y. Stemple, the daughter of an avid bird lover and the esteemed children’s author Jane Yolen, it is no surprise that this book is great.

This non-fiction picture book introduces us to a great lover of birds, ornithologist and writer Frank Chapman. Birds were his passion and when more and more birds were becoming endangered due to overhunting, he had to take action. The result was the beginning of one of the largest bird conservation and citizen scientist efforts ever.

At the time, hunting birds on Christmas Day was a tradition. Hunters would make a game of it, breaking off in groups that would hunt and kill as many birds as possible. Whoever killed the most won. Frank Chapman disliked this tradition, for obvious reasons, and sought to change it. In his birding magazine, Bird-Lore(now Audubon Magazine), he proposed an alternative to his readers: hunt the birds, but count them instead of killing them, and then submit the data they collected to the magazine for a final tally. The first year was successful, and as the years have passed, the tradition has continued, growing beyond anything Chapman could ever have expected.

Again, the illustrations are superb, but this book is truly the whole package. It is exactly the kind of non-fiction my children go gaga over. It is factual, historical, and about animals! In truth, I loved it as well. The older I get, the more interested I become in birds, and picture books are so straightforward, I feel like I got a lot of information in a quick and fun way.

A great book for the whole family!

Title: Little People, Big Dreams, Simone de Beauvoir
Author: Isabel Sanchez Vegara
Illustrator: Christine Roussey
Source: Free ARC from Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from Frances Lincoln Children’s Books via NetGalley. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.

This edition in the Little People, Big Dreams series by Isabel Sanchez Vegara introduces children to the life of Simone de Beauvoir, (known best as the mother of feminism) in the form of a picture book.

If you follow my blog, you already know how much I love this series. Love. Love. Love. And I truly appreciate introducing historical women who have changed the world or left an indelible footprint on it. In particular, I love the introduction of strong, intelligent, independent women like Simone de Beauvoir, who arguably paved some of the foundational pieces of the women’s movement. However, I felt this particular book didn’t go quite deep enough. While I appreciate that the intended audience is children, there has to be enough information to impress upon the reader why this particular woman was important. It does very little good to introduce children to the most important feminist in history if you don’t first explain feminism and why it’s important. I believe this can be accomplished in a manner that is appropriate for children, but that didn’t happen here.

Despite that bit of disappointment, her independent lifestyle, academic pursuits, and social activism are all discussed in the book and she is certainly a worthwhile figure to introduce to children.

Not my favorite in this series, but still worth a read.

5 Replies to “Quick Kids Reviews #6”

  1. These reviews are great! Extinct creatures hold an inherent fascination, and there is always room for another good book about them. Counting birds introduced me to some things I didn’t know: the story of Chapman and his introducing the idea of counting birds instead of killing them. That is a brilliant idea as people do much better with a substitution for a tradition rather than just being told that what they are doing is wrong. Jane Yolen’s daughter??? I had no idea she was a writer! This book is a keeper! The series on women is a good idea and I have read several of your reviews. I do think you are right that there needs to be more explanation of concepts or maybe choose people whose contributions are in more concrete areas. For example, radioactivity or the right to vote. Kids can get their heads around those kinds of things. Thanks for sharing these books!

    • Thank you! One of the wonderful things about having kids, especially at this particular time in my life, is how much their interests have sparked new interests for me, and that I’m learning along with them, in many cases. This is definitely true when it comes to prehistoric/extinct animals.

      Isn’t it amazing that her mom is Jane Yolen? Again, I only know of her because of my children, and I didn’t know until after I read the book. But it definitely makes sense. Apple? Tree.

  2. Great reviews Myndi. I really enjoyed Counting Birds as well. It may be a book geared to children, but I learned a lot from it as well. I also love the Little People, Big Dreams series, and this one was not one of my favorites either, but I had not heard of this woman (I know, shameful) so it was an interesting read for me. Happy New Year.

    • Not shameful at all! History as we’ve learned it is so heavily weighted towards “his” part of the story that I think a lot of people, women included, have taken for granted that there aren’t any “her” stories worth learning about. We know now that isn’t true, or at least, the truth is starting to unfold, but it will take a long time before women like Simone de Beauvoir are well known. That’s exactly what makes this series so exciting! I just wish they had done a better job in this particular instance.

      And Counting Birds is probably my favorite children’s book that I’ve reviewed so far. For a long time, I avoided requesting children’s books, but now I feel like I’m getting so much out of them personally, that I’m hoping I’ll get more approvals in that genre since I’ve been reviewing more of them. It was really your reviews that encouraged me to crack that nut, so to speak. So thanks for that!

      • When I was a teacher librarian, I used to work with older classes. We always did a unit on “Picture Books” I didn’t call them children’s or easy readers because there is often so much older persons can get out of them. I enjoy reading the children’s books I get as ARCs whether I read them with my grandchildren or not.

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