999 Frogs (Two Books by Ken Kimura)

My son and I enjoyed 999 Tadpoles by Ken Kimura dn Yasunari Murakami (May 2011) when we read it years ago, so I was excited to see the two sequels to it in our local library.


999 Frogs Wake Up (North South, 2013) is a fitting read for the beginning of spring. As the frogs emerge from the mud after a long winter, Mother Frog is disturbed when she only counts 998 of her babies. Where is the last one? When Big Brother is found to still be sleeping, the frogs decide to find out who else may be sleeping in the early Spring. I really enjoyed this book because I see the educational value of learning about animals that sleep over a long winter. As an adult, I enjoyed the anticipation, knowing that the silly young frogs would meet one of their own predators in their search to wake the other animals! My daughter enjoyed the story too.

999 Frogs and  Little Brother (North South, 2015) has a different feel to it from the others in the series, because this book starts back when the frogs are still tadpoles and it focuses on one of the frogs for a portion of the story. The youngest frog has not quite become a frog yet and must remain in the pond by himself, and he is delighted when a small young crayfish becomes his friend, thinking they are brothers. Thus, Big Brother (the littlest frog) makes a dear friend. When he eventually must leave the pond too, the friendship continues, because the young crayfish comes to the rescue of the frogs at a later date. I liked the emphasis on friendship. Although Big Brother truly was the youngest and smallest, he still could find a friend with whom to play. Never underestimate the power of a friend, even if you have 998 siblings! Note: I received a digital copy for review consideration.

Secrets of the Apple Tree by Carron Brown and Alyssa Nasser (Raisin Reads Review)

I recently became a consultant for Usborne Books and More, award-winning children’s fiction and nonfiction, because I love their books so much. I figured I should work for discounts while I’m in the process of buying and sharing all that I love!

One of the first books that I ordered (this in my business start-up kit) was Secrets of the Apple Tree by Carron Brown and Alyssa Nasser. Secrets explore the various habitats for animals around an apple tree, from the birds in the nest and the worms in the ground, to the squirrels in the hollow space and the fungi growing on a fallen branch. As an educational book, it provides plenty of fodder for learning and exploring the habitats.

But the content is only the first fun thing about the book. As a part of the “Shine-A-Light” series, Secrets of the Apple Tree provides an interactive hands-on guessing game for the young reader as well. Continue Reading

How We Learn by Benedict Carey

I read How We Learn by Benedict Carey (Random House, September 2014) at much the same time as I read Born Reading, so I found the correlation between the two quite interesting. Both books were written for very different and unique reasons and for different audiences. But, since I’m a homeschooling mom, I found that I was an appropriate audience for both!

How We Learn is definitely a more technical book, with plenty of references to studies in learning techniques from the past 50 years and more. Nevertheless, Mr. Carey wrote with a familiar tone sometimes, with examples from his own life. These felt more like digressions to me (I honestly did not want to know about his college drug habit!) but overall, the book had a professional feel due to the research involved.

Concepts Mr. Carey covered include basic concepts on how memories form and how we forget, how we best hold on to things we want to learn, what to do about distractions and other difficulties to learning, and how to best tap in to the subconscious to retain learning. I found the most interesting and useful concepts to me as a homeschooling teacher and parent to young children were those about how getting wrong answers and actually forgetting concepts helps strengthen long-term retention. I am all the more eager to give my children “pre-tests” and provide a spiral method to learning and then eventually revisiting concepts.

I also found that it helped me approach the things my son has forgotten in a different way. When he’s forgotten and relearns it, he is more likely to retain it for longer!

In retrospect, the book has stayed with me. While the technical details have escaped me, the basic concepts of learning and forgetting have intrigued me as a teacher. I think it’s a valuable contribution to for the library of teachers and learners!

Note: I received a digital copy of this book for review consideration.