After reading so many books with talking bunnies and dogs, of mice that look cuddly and sweet, of mischievous cats and raccoons, it’s a relief, of sorts, to enter the world of realism, especially one that has the stamp of the prestigious Smithsonian Institution. The realism comes if not through the photographs, then through the information.
In the “First Look” series of board books, published by Soundprints, you find out in “First Look at Insects,” that the praying mantis uses her long back legs to catch a snack and that a dragonfly can fly forward, sideways, and even backward. In “First Look at Space,” you get to learn about the solar system, the sun and the Milky Way. And in “First Look at Dinosaurs,” you begin the long journey of learning the correct pronunciation of dinosaurs, in addition to finding out about the dinosaurs’ myriad defense apparatuses—horns, club tails and big teeth. With the purchase of these books, you’re entitled to download an e-book and also printable activities, such as making your own insect out of an egg carton or creating your own bug dessert with chocolate pudding.
In the “Baby Animals” series, published by Soundprints, you are treated to wonderful photographs of different animals—in “Baby Penguin Waddles,” “Lion Cub Roars,” and “Fawn and her Family,” the sentences are simple and relate to the photograph. These books, too, come with activities and e-books to download.
In “Where Do I Live?” you get to play a guessing game. The animal gives you clues, quietly slipping in facts about itself in a rhyme scheme, and you guess the name of its home. For instance, “I am a bumblebee, striped all over. I bring nectar home from a patch of clover. Worker bees live in my home, and it is filled with honeycomb. Where do I live?” Turn the page. “A hive!”
These series are a nice addition to remind you and your little one that these animals, in fact, exist!
Nina Schuyler‘s first novel, The Painting, (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill/2004), was a finalist for the Northern California Book Awards. It was also selected by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of the Best Books for 2004 and a “Great Debut from 2004” by the Rocky Mountain News. She currently teaches creative writing at the University of San Francisco and is working on a third novel.