Mixed Media

Summer Splash

Mary Quattlebaum reviews books to Celebrate Summer


Bunnies in a Boat

Bunnies in a Boat

By Philip Ardagh

Illustrated by Ben Mantle

Candlewick, 2023, $17.99

Dive into beach and pool fun with these rambunctious rabbits! Bright, exuberant illustrations accompany rollicking rhymes: “Bunnies in a boat!/Bunnies in a boat!/Dashing and a-splashing!/Let’s hope they stay afloat!” Little ones will thrill to the mischief and mayhem – and to an ending that locates the lop-eared crew on an airplane, ready to start their shenanigans all over again.

ages 4 – 8

How the sea came to Be

How the Sea Came to Be

By Jennifer Berne

Illustrated by Amanda Hall

Eerdmans, 2023, $18.99

Kids curious about the ocean will love this poetic, informative book about “our mysterious, beautiful sea,” which came into being “billions and billions of years ago.” This talented author-illustrator team follows the beginnings of the “teeniest, tiniest stirrings of life” and charts the slow growth, over time, to today’s variety of sea life: flounder, squid, sharks, starfish, clams and the “gigantic blue whale.” Extensive back matter anticipates and helps answer a child’s questions.

Gertie the Darling Duck of WWII

Gertie, the Darling Duck of WWII

By Shari Swanson

Illustrated by Renee Graef

Sleeping Bear, 2023, $18.99

This compelling true story reminds us of the uplifting power of compassion and kindness, even during a country’s darkest days. In 1945, as World War II rages on, a duck – later named Gertie – lays her eggs at the top of a tall post in the Milwaukee River, near a drawbridge. Soon the city, the whole country and even American soldiers overseas are riveted by the “plucky” Mallard mom, and they worry about the little feathered family during a storm. Gertie and her ducklings are rescued and re-located to the window of nearby Gimbels department store and then to a local park, thanks to those who took her under their collective wing: drawbridge tenders, boatmen, reporters, a duck expert named Larry and thousands of concerned and cheering onlookers.

ages 9 – 12

A Home for Every Plant

A Home for Every Plant

By Matthew Biggs

Illustrated by Lucila Perini

Phaidon, 2023, $29.95

This fascinating, well-researched book takes readers ‘round the world, visiting 66 amazing plants in streams, lakes and tropical wetlands and in places such as the Amazon rain forest, South African desert and Tundra. Kids get to know the tropical Christmas cactus, the desert-inhabiting pebble-like Lithops and the woolly cudweed saw-wort, which grows on the tallest mountain in the world. For youngsters wanting to flex their own green thumbs, author and BBC gardening expert Matthew Biggs provides information on caring for and growing plants at home, including lavender, thyme, sunflowers and Swiss cheese plants.

Forest Flow

Forest Flow

Jessa Campbell & The Saplings

Jessa Campbell writes upbeat, danceable, STEM- and ecology-based songs inspired by the musical tastes of her own children and informed by adult bands with which she regularly performs. The album “Forest Flow” includes songs like “Rainbow Flow,” which features two-time Grammy-nominated SaulPaul and “Movement is Chemistry” featuring LDW. Your kids will love “Vuela, Vuela Fly” with Palo-Mah and Jessa Campbell singing a bilingual story about monarch butterflies and “Swim With Me,” an ode to the joys of swimming. Available on all major platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube and Bandcamp.