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The Angle, July 2019 – Book Review

Summertime is perfect for breezy beach reads, shaded hammock reads, and bedtime stories while the sun slips below the horizon. Our July book inspirations range from a “beat-the-heat” seashore tale starring some old friends, to an entertaining picture book that will spur even pre-readers to explore the riches of the natural world. We also commemorate the Apollo 11 moon landing, which took place 50 years ago this month—this story will resonate with any child’s sky-high aspirations!

For Infants and Toddlers

A Hippy-Hoppy Toad

by Peggy Archer and Anne Wilsdorf (Schwartz & Wade $16.99) Age 1-5

Summer days often mean exploring the natural world, whether it’s in the park or simply our own backyards. Even ordinary twigs, frogs and insects prove fascinating to newly ambulatory babies and toddlers, as illustrated in this irresistible read-along picture book!

Pages full of micro-adventures tell how the titular toad is catapulted through the damp, leafy world around him, encountering birds and bees and dogs and leaves, always hopping from one encounter to the next. Evocative ink-and-watercolor pictures capture both the comedy and (light) peril of the tiny toad’s exploits.

Kids won’t be able to resist the rhyming word play with fun sounds and a sing-song cadence, and can easily be encouraged to act out the story; parents and teachers should be prepared to keep this action-packed book in heavy rotation!

For Preschool and Beyond

Mae Among the Stars

by Roda Ahmed, illustrated by Stasia Burrington (HarperCollins $17.99) Age 3-7

For all the children who dream of being astronauts but don’t look like Neil Armstrong, here’s the equally inspiring story of the first African American woman to travel in space. Mae Jemison is an engineer, physician, teacher and NASA astronaut who oversaw medical experiments on the Space Shuttle Endeavor—truly an inclusive role model for today’s generation.

But before all that, she was a little girl with big dreams and a love of science. This engaging picture book tells the story of her curiosity and persistence, emphasizing how her family encouraged her imagination and told her, “If you believe it, and work hard for it, anything is possible.”

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, this 2018 book is a terrific tool to inspire children of all backgrounds (boys and girls alike) to become part of America’s scientific future.

Clam-I-Am!: All About the Beach

by Tish Rabe, illustrated by Aristides Ruiz and Joe Mathieu (Random House $9.99) Age 2-6

This entertaining volume is part of the authorized Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library but nearly indistinguishable from a Dr. Seuss original. Seuss fans will recognize the two classic pug-nosed and wide-eyed children splashing with a garden hose in the book’s opening pages; they’re soon lured away by the equally iconic goldfish-in-a-bowl, who takes them to the beach for some real waves.

The Cat in the Hat is there, along with blue-haired Thing One and Thing Two, and together we all meet a variety of shore dwellers such as horseshoe crabs, jellyfish, seagulls and more. There’s seaweed and driftwood and plenty more providing inspiration for children to explore and show off their new knowledge on a family beach trip this summer.

With catchy rhymes and whimsical illustrations, kids will effortlessly learn about ocean habitats, biology and weather from some of the most reliable “teachers” in preschool-age literature.

Note: Age recommendations are based upon publisher guidelines and parent feedback. Prices are publisher’s list; discounts are usually available.

Return to The Angle, July 2019