Draw-A-Saurus by James Silvani

Draw-A-Saurus by  James Silvani (Ten Speed Press, September 2014) is the perfect book for a kid who love two things:

  1. Drawing
  2. Dinosaurs

I know one such kid, so I was delighted to come across this book. With clear step-by-step instructions, the author/illustrator shows the process for drawing realistically proportioned dinosaurs of all kinds. There is plenty of amusing side-comments interspersed in with the illustrations. On top of all that, Mr. Silvani provides facts about the dinosaurs, including explanations of what things we know for sure and those we do not know for sure.

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What is Poetry? by Trudi Strain Truit

What is Poetry? by Trudi Strain Truit (Lerner Publishing, September 2014) is an attractive nonfiction book for early readers. It teaches common types of figurative language and common formats of poetry (free verse, rhyming, and so forth). Even better, it provides sample poems to demonstrate the concepts. It has large text for the young reader, a glossary, and attractive images to keep children turning pages.

I can see my son enjoying this book, especially if I told him we were studying poetry in our homeschool. Although he sometimes decides on a nonfiction subject to seek out books for, I am not sure I can picture him picking this one up on his own unless he had something to spark his interest in poetry.

Note: I received a digital copy for review consideration.

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires


The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires (Kids Can Press, April 2014) is a STEM book. (For those not in the “know,” as I was not until recently, STEM is educational slang for something relating to Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mechanics.) A creative girl heads out to make the “magnificent thing,” but cannot seem to get it right for quite a while. Trial and error, experimentation. She keeps going. It is not easy, and finally she succeeds!

I loved how the author-illustrator included multiple pictures per page. You can see the girl’s growing frustration as she works, creates, and starts anew. I also enjoyed how we could see her creations throughout the story, but we could never quite see what she was making until the very end. Her facial expressions can show the reader (and young STEM workers) that creation takes lots of work, lots of mistakes, and lots of concentration. She had a great idea, but it took quite a while to get to her finished “magnificient thing.”

I see lots of educational value in this book for schools, but I also believe it is a strong, fun story with clever illustrations. Non-readers can still enjoy it by reviewing the pictures. This will be a winner with kids, for sure!

Note: I received a digital copy for review consideration.

Nest by Esther Ehrlich

Nest by Esther Ehrlich (Random House Children’s Books; published today!) is an emotionally charged novel about a young girl facing stark change after her mother develops a serious disease. Naomi, “Chirp” to her family and friends, is a bird-loving sixth grader on Cape Cod in the early 1970s. Her life is full of nature and her loving family. As her family struggles with her mother’s degenerative condition, she must grow up faster than she intended. Continue Reading