Sometimes, as readers and reviewers, we get so caught up in the “newest and best” releases that we forget about the goldmine of exceptional kids’ books that already exist! The following are some books the Audrey Press Team has read over the last 4+ years that they feel are worthy of a fresh look. Enjoy!
Pax by Sara Pennypacker
War is coming. This means that everyone must make sacrifices, including the young boy and his pet fox that he’s raised from a kit. Peter leaves Pax along the side of the road. Well, he’s more forced to do it by his father, who is off to join the war. So now Peter is alone, living with his grandfather who has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and doesn’t know how to say a comforting word to his grandson. And everything feels wrong. Peter’s anxiety spikes; he knows he’s done the wrong thing, and now he must correct it.
Peter takes off in the middle of the night with his pack and a map, planning to retrace his steps and find his way back to Pax. Hopefully, the fox hasn’t moved too far away. But a wrench is thrown in his plan when he falls and snaps a bone in his leg. After trying to make progress on his own with a broken leg, Peter comes across an older woman with a peg leg living alone in the forest. Vola, an ex-soldier and retired medic, takes Peter in, feeds him, sets his bone, and teaches him how to live with one leg, all while learning the truth from this young boy.
Meanwhile, Pax has to learn to live on his own as a wild fox for the first time in his life. Early in his journey, he comes upon a group of foxes that begrudgingly take him in. Bristle, Runt, and Gray become his new family as he waits for his boy to return if he will ever return. Both creatures, boy, and man, deal with the price of war and the separation it has caused them. They will forever be changed, as will the world around them.
Pax by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Jon Klassen is a uniquely original and beautiful tale told from two perspectives–the boy, Peter, and the fox, Pax. I can’t remember reading a book told from the perspective of an animal in which it was not overly personified. Pax is a fox, a domestic fox, but a fox nonetheless. He has instincts and respects the rules of the forest. It was so interesting and heartbreaking to read about the separation. I think many people can relate to a lost pet, but this story takes it in a new direction. Plus, you all know that here, at Jump Into a Book, we love our foxes!
They All Saw A Cat by Brendan Wenzel
The Great Big Body Book by Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith
Along with the narrative of our changing bodies, this book includes fun facts about our bodies. For instance, did you know that our tongues have their own individual prints?
Hoffman and Asquith do an absolutely wonderful job of conveying acceptance in all types, shapes, forms, and colors of our bodies. Because in the end, despite the differences that we see, we’re all humans with the same basic body parts, and we all deserve to be treated as human beings, nothing less.
Fun Science: A Guide to Life, The Universe, and Why Science Is So Awesome by Charlie McDonnell
If this book had been my science textbook, I probably would have been a lot more interested in science as a kid! McDonnell presents all the necessary scientific information we ever need (just kidding kids, keep learning), but in a super fun way! The exciting illustrations break up the monotony that can be associated with science textbooks.
McDonnell also includes Super Fun Facts every once in a while just to keep us on our toes. For example: “For any Star Wars fans, there’s also a galaxy that NASA refers to as the Death Star Galaxy. The Death Star galaxy is currently blasting a neighboring galaxy with an immense jet of radiation and particles. While both galaxies do have supermassive black holes at their cores, the Death Star appears to be the more aggressive of the two.” How cool is that?
There is so many fun, amazing, mind-blowing things that science explains to us, and this book is pretty extensive in the topics it covers the universe, the solar system, the earth, life, the body, the brain, the cell, the elements, and the particle. McDonnell even goes into psychology a little bit with a discussion of memory and learning.
Follow the Moon Home: A tale of one idea, twenty kids, and hundred sea turtles by Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” -The Lorax
How many kids think it would be so cool to see a baby sea turtle hatch and waddle over the sandy beach to the ocean, their home? I still think that’s cool! and Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson tell this wonderful story about one girl, with the help of her friend, classmates, and community, who made a difference and saved hundreds of baby sea turtles by spreading awareness in their community about turning off the lights along with the beach.
This book does a wonderful job of encouraging young activists to take part in the world around them. Many kids think that they can’t make a difference. But that’s not true! There are kids all over the world who are making a difference in the world. Vivienne and her classmates are one example of that in their work with the baby sea turtles, based on a real project in South Carolina, which now claims the Loggerhead Turtle as its state reptile.
How to Be a Hero by Florence Parry Heide and Chuck Groenink
Gideon, more than anything in the world, wants to be a hero. He doesn’t care about his nice house with his nice parents and all his toys. All he wants is his picture on the front page of the newspaper, to be a hero like the princes in the storybooks. But what does a little boy have to do to be a hero? Be courageous, intelligent, caring? Or is it just as easy in being in the right place at the right time to help someone out?
Heide and Groenink have created a charming storybook about a boy wanting more than he has, like in the stories of old. I thoroughly enjoyed that the book follows Gideon’s stream of thought, thinking things as he would. And when he thinks he’s paying attention, he’s really missing so many opportunities to be an everyday hero. I love this little story of missed opportunities that still lead to a happy ending.
How can YOU be an Everyday Hero?
- Give someone a compliment.
- If you see bullying, say something. Speak up. Don’t be a bystander.
- Help a neighbor find a lost dog.
- Help someone to carry their groceries in.
- Do the dishes for your mom and dad.
- And anything else you can think of!
As parents, we want/need quality books with extension activities to help our young ones unplug and create memories. Pulling books from shelves, and stories from pages is also an important act that will the habit of being life-long readers. Quality books with companion book extension activities are not only working to create special family time, but it also allows kids to solve the world’s problems without major consequences. A Year in the Secret Garden is just such a book.
This delightful children’s book is co-written by Marilyn Scott-Waters and Valarie Budyar and it offers original month-by-month activities that allow readers to delve deeper into the classic children’s tale, The Secret Garden.
Within the 120 pages (with 150 original color illustrations and 48 activities)families will find many activities inspired by The Secret Garden that encourage them to step away from technology and enjoy getting hands and feet into the black earth of a family garden. This book will make a great gift and be the catalyst for many hours of family growth, learning, and FUN!
Grab your copy ASAP and “meet me in the garden!” More details HERE!