Mary Quattlebaum reviews books to Celebrate Earth Day and National Poetry Month.
By Susan Stockdale, Peachtree, 2021, $16.99
Red, blue, speckled and striped birds flutter through the pages of this stunning picture book by acclaimed author/illustrator Susan Stockdale. Lively rhymes engage the ear and bright pictures acquaint youngsters with the appearance and habitat of each bird. Back matter includes short descriptions and a matching game. A family read-aloud of this paean to the world’s winged beauties is the perfect way to celebrate April as National Poetry Month and Earth Day on April 22.
Ages 4 – 8
Secrets of the Sea
By Evan Griffith
Illustrated by Joanie Stone, Clarion, 2021, $17.99
In lyrical prose, Evan Griffith tells the true story of the remarkable marine scientist Jeanne Power. As a young woman in Sicily, she first became intrigued by the animals in the surrounding sea. She wanted to study them, not as dead specimens as was the scientific mode in the 1800s, but as living creatures. To do this, she invented the first glass aquarium and also set up large pens in tidal pools. She published her findings, confronted male scientists who tried to take credit for her work – and started over again when the ship carrying her notebooks and research was lost at sea. Through vibrant color and line, artist Joanie Stone brings Powers and the natural world to vivid life.
Ages 9 and up
By Leslie Bulion
Illustrated by Robert Meganck, Peachtree, 2021, $16.99
Leslie Bulion spins a delightfully informative web sure to catch a reader’s interest with its mix of poems and sidebars. The text relays the importance of spiders to a healthy planet, for without them, “populations of their prey would explode – including disease carriers such as mosquitoes and flies, as well as pests that devour our wild plants and cultivated crops.” Readers learn about the Golden Wheel Spider, the Ray Orbweaver and other arachnids that use “sun-shimmer silk” to catch “six-legged web guests” for dinner. Backmatter includes a glossary, ways to find and watch spiders and notes on the poetic forms – haiku, cinquain, tanka – should youngsters wish to pen their own animal poems.
The Deepest Breath
By Meg Trehan
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021, $16.99
With sensitivity and grace, this novel-in-verse charts the coming-of-age of a girl named Stevie as she grows to better understand her complex feelings about her single mom and the dark ocean and its denizens. And what about that excited fizziness in her chest when she’s around her friend Chloe? Resonant details (Chloe’s weekly change of nail polish, Stevie’s mom’s silences at key moments) skillfully anchor introspective Stevie’s story to the page.
– Jenny Heinbaugh reviews The Bright Siders’ New Album
“A Mind of Your Own”
The Bright Siders is a unique musical collaboration between Nashville-based Americana songwriter Kristin Andreassen and Brooklyn-based child psychiatrist Kari Groff, M.D. Together, they create music with the purpose of helping children connect to their emotions. With playful lyrics and contagious melodies, “A Mind of Your Own” offers a practical guide to raising emotionally intelligent children who, one day soon, will take those skills with them as they experience the beauty in growing up and becoming themselves. Available from Amazon, Apple Music, Bandcamp and Spotify.