Dawn Publications (Facebook/Twitter/blog) has three new children’s nature books for the Spring season that are geared toward kids ages 4-10, and I am happy to share a little about each one with you. Like I have mentioned before, this publisher produces wonderful books about nature for kids; they are entertaining, beautiful illustrated, and engaging, for kids and adults alike. And most important, they are full of accurate information about the animals and ecosystems they portray. These books do not focus on the Pacific Northwest, but I think kids should learn about plants, animals, and habitats from all over the world.
The Mouse and the Meadow, written and illustrated by Chad Wallace, follows a young mouse through his first exploration of the meadow. He first encounters a spider, a bee, and a caterpillar, learning from each about what other creatures eat, pollination, and metamorphosis. From a friendly turtle the mouse learns that there are dangers in the meadow – that while a spider eats smaller creatures, the mouse himself could be prey for other creatures such as snakes and predatory birds. And just as a garter snake almost snaps up the mouse for a meal, the snake has to defend itself against a hungry weasel. The mouse’s adventure continues, crossing the paths of a rabbit family, fireflies, and an owl, as he learns all about where he lives. As the mother rabbit told him, in the rhyming text wonderfully penned by Wallace, “Every creature in this field, and in the sky above / Plays a part in making this the meadow that we love.” Information for parents and educators at the end of the book discusses animal communication, altruism (for the mouse received help from others), and a little about meadows, as well as a few nature activities to try out. The Mouse and the Meadow also comes with a free “pop-up” app that can be downloaded (for both Apple and Android users), making reading this book an interactive adventure in itself!
Similar to The Mouse and the Meadow in story, Carol L. Malnor’s On Kiki’s Reef follows a newly hatched sea turtle through its first exploration of its world. But going beyond the mouse’s day in the meadow, we follow Kiki as she grows and eventually returns to where she was born to lay her own eggs. We meet a variety of sea creatures: a clownfish, tangs, wrasses, a barracuda, a shark, a seahorse, a parrotfish, an octopus, all living around the coral reef she now calls home. But she soon returns to the beach, and starts the journey for a whole new set of baby sea turtles, some of which will make it, and others not so lucky. On Kiki’s Reef demonstrates an animal’s life cycle perfectly for young readers, with Trina L. Hunner’s paintings depicting the vivid color palette of ocean creatures and habitats. For the informational section, Malnor includes prompts to learn about the different species of sea turtles and links for how people can help sea turtles. She also describes many other animals shown throughout the book, and there’s a map showing where coral reefs are in the world’s oceans.
Marianne Berkes uses the rhythm of the Mother Goose tale “This is the House That Jack Built” to explore the world of an American alligator in The Swamp Where Gator Hides. With each page, we are introduced to an animal that shares the swamp habitat with the gator, such as frogs and turtles to egrets and ducks. Then the gator must decide which animal will be his lunch, and he is no longer hidden. With fun digital illustrations from Roberta Baird, The Swamp Where Gator Hides is a delightful look at a habitat and the animals that live in it.
As for most of their titles, Dawn Publication offers downloadable activities related to its books for classroom use. Find them here.