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Science and Humor Join Forces in New App

The new app, Toca Lab: Plants combines mystery, science and humor with the joy of discovery to empower kids to create their own hybrid plants. The app offers kids scientifically inspired pieces of lab equipment, five different stations and 35 all-new plant characters waiting to be discovered. $2.99 in the App Store, Google Play and Amazon.

Fun PBS Educational Apps for Families This Summer

PBS KIDS has a range of apps for kids with fun and educational content this summer, as families hit the road or head to the pool. All PBS KIDS apps are available to download in the App Store for free. 

Kart Kingdom for tablet (ages 6-9): It provides a safe, child-friendly experience featuring a growing collection of fun, educational games for players as they interact, craft and complete quests.  

Nature Cat’s Great Outdoors (ages 3-8): The Nature Cat-themed app encourages kids to explore outside using their camera to engage with nature and each other.  

Daniel Tiger for Parents: Parents and kids can learn together about feelings, self-control, responsibility, kindness and more.  

PBS KIDS Games App (ages 2-8): The Games App brings all of the games into one place. The app includes curriculum-based games focused on math, science, reading, spelling and more.

— Jenny L. Heinbaugh

Book Reviews

Books for Summer Fun

By Mary Quattlebaum

babies / tots

Ladybug Girl and Her Papa

Wife-and-husband team Jacky Davis and David Soman capture a child’s sense of curiosity about and joy in the outside world. This colorful sturdy board book is the perfect companion for neighborhood adventures with the zesty tot in your life. Lulu, Papa and their trusty basset hound hike a trail, explore a stream and even set sail in a cardboard box for a bedtime pirate tea party. With her polka-dot boots and bright imagination, Lulu leads the way, inspiring her dad, dog and young readers alike with enthusiasm for what’s around the next corner.

ages 3 – 7

The Blue Hour

What happens in the time between the end of day and the descent of night? Author/artist Isabelle Simler beautifully conveys the deepening darkness of dusk in the natural world through her lyrical text and rich palette of blues. Dusk is a time of busyness for some, like the “frantic silver-blue sardines” and glass snails, and a quiet settling down for others, like the morpho butterfly, cornflowers and big blue whale. This would be a wonderful bedtime read-aloud on a family camping trip, or a way to encourage youngsters to be alert to the wild flora and fauna in their communities.

ages 8 – 12

The Great Treehouse War

Winnie loves whiling away time in her treehouse. She can relax after a busy school day or mull over creative ideas for stories. But her parents’ divorce seriously curtails Winnie’s treehouse time as each parent strives to spend meaningful moments with her. The fifth grader is overwhelmed – until she takes refuge in her leafy sanctuary in protest. She is joined by nine friends who have parent issues as well. National Book Award finalist Lisa Graff tells this engrossing, high-spirited tale through a mix of traditional narrative, texts, diagrams and illustrated handwritten notes from the various kids and parents involved.

Mary Quattlebaum is the author of 24 award-winning children’s books, most recently “Together Forever: True Tales of Amazing Animal Friendships,” and a popular school/conference speaker.