A boy and his mother are canoeing on a pond in the Adirondack Mountains. It is peaceful place, maybe even dull. Or, is it? The boy asks his mother, “What’s down there?”
So many things! His mother tells him about them, from the minnows, crayfish, and bullfrogs to beavers hunting “delectable roots” found in the mud and otters clawing for freshwater mussels.
And, over the pond? A great blue heron catches one of those minnows for his dinner. A moose munches a mouthful of waterlilies. As the sun sets, mother and son paddle back to shore and head for home. In the dark, life goes on at the pond. Raccoons come out to prowl, and catfish glide as they seek their suppers in the cool of the night.
Kate Messner’s Over and Under the Pond does several things very nicely. First, it tells a soothing story, perfect for bedtime. But it also introduces an ecosystem, making the science of living things and the secrets found below a pond’s surface very accessible, and it manages to do so without sounding like a textbook.
Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast are the best of friends. The best of friends any leftover could ask for.
But their neighbor, Miss Brie, tells them that the syrup is almost all gone! "A single drop's left! Just a drop!"
Pete the Cat is learning a new dance—the COOL CAT boogie! Pete knows he can dance, but once his friends come along show them their dance moves, Pete thinks his moves are bad.
"Dancing is like magic!" Pete says. "When I hear a groovy beat, I'm full of happy in my feet! I won't give up! I love to dance. Let me give it one more chance."
Pete repeats this mantra every time he feels like giving up. Eventually, Wise Old Owl tells Pete, "It doesn't matter how you move, as long as you are being you!"
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Are you looking for books on animals and insects? Check out these fun non-fiction and easy readers below.
Animalogy: Animal Analogies by Marianne Collins Berkes
Uses analogies to teach the similarities and differences between animals, including their sounds, physical adaptations, behaviors, and classes. (catalog summary)
Animals: A Visual Encyclopedia by James Buckley
Animal Planet Animals: A Visual Encyclopedia profiles the seven major animal classes—mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, arthropods, and other invertebrates—and features more than 1,000 stunning color photographs of animals in action. (catalog summary)
In Carole Lexa Schaefer’s The Children’s Garden, there are so many things to see—and do! It’s the children who are watering, weeding, and scattering seeds. They are also the ones who enjoy the many vegetables and herbs. Brightly colored illustrations, by Pierr Morgan, are cheerful and relatable.
Young readers and listeners may be inspired to start their own gardens, whether on a windowsill, in the backyard, or by taking part in a community garden. Gardening teaches children how nature works and to value their own work in the world. Gardening also allows them to enjoy the literal fruit of their labors and is a great way to spend more time outdoors.