Books With The Tag: #nature

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Today’s enormous #nonfiction book for kids is: The Incredible Fold Out Book of Animals from DK Canada–and incredible is right!  These tri-folds are GIGANTIC and feature exciting animals in action!  A few familiar and a few unusual animals make appearances here and the pages are packed with fun, up-close facts about each amazing animal!  

This bright, bold book is an action-packed addition to your smalls library, sure to be enjoyed as they grow!  Recomended 4+up.



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Today’s gorgeous non-fiction book for kids is An Anthology of Intriguing Animals from DK Canada.

This incredible anthology has more than 100 animals, each photographed AND illustrated for small eyes to enjoy.  With gold gilded pages and a ribbon bookmark to keep your place this book is wonderfully giftable.  It’s packed with story-style facts about animals PLUS fun tidbits of mythology surrounding each animal.

Arranged from the largest animal to smallest this encyclopedia had creatures neither me OR my small had seen before–making it a perfect book to enjoy as a family!  Reignite your wonder of nature with this stunning book.  Recommended ages 3+up.



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Today’s #nonfiction book for kids is an enormous flap book called Peek and Seek, illustrated by the wonderful Charlotte Milner, published via DK Canada.  

This big book is packed with facts about animals and nature and each spread has twenty-eight things to count and find!  Seriously, these flaps are so big they exceeded the limits of my tiny studio!  A lively, sturdy book for small hands filled with rich, colourful illustrations by the talented Charlotte Milner.  A great way to introduce nature through play to toddler & preschool smalls and a wonderful seek and find book for the little kid crowd!  Recommended 3+up!



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Today’s book is Junior Maker from DK Canada and we are SO excited there is a junior version in the “maker” series!  This book is chalk full of crafts and projects to explore a variety of themes: space! nature! history! animals! science! And all aged down to our preschool and K level smalls!
We had so much fun with this book that we tried TWO different activities: some adorable stone animals and a four season nature tree.  
These activities require some prep but many of the parts can involve your small:  collecting rocks, sorting yarn balls and of course, preparing to paint.  The best part of these activities was truly the painting.  Getting to paint rocks was a treat, and mixing colours to match the seasons was pronounced “so exciting!”

Other commentary from my three year old test lab:

 - “I can pick any animals I want?”  (This led to demanding I somehow craft a skunk on a rock as we find all things stinky hilarious right now. I did my best.)
 - “I can put the leaves ANYWHERE I want?” (I feared a blend of seasons but he actually kept them all separate)

I adapted little bits of these projects easily for my guy.  He loves squeezing out glue so we got glittery “snow” glue to decorate our winter tree.  There’s lots of room to easily fit each activity to your own child.  

Overall A++ from our team here at the Small Protagonist.  

Bonus Blog Callout?  I focused on painting ONE rock for ONE minute and my son starting painting HIMSELF into a skunk.  Photo for your enjoyment.



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Today’s #picturebook is Summer Color by Diana Murray, illustrated by Zoe Persico and published via Hachette (via their imprint Little Brown Books for Young Readers).

This beautiful picture book is brimming with lively, painted images capturing the many colours and textures of summer.  Gentle, rhythmic text follows two children on an adventure through the weather.  Nature comes to life along with the rumbling power of a summer storm.  A wondrous rainbow finishes this sweet tale.

We loved naming colours and spotting animals in this gorgeous, lap-sized picture book.  A sweet read to cuddle up with at bedtime on summer nights.  Recommended 2 & up.



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Today’s #picturebook is The Honeybee by Kirsten Hall & illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault via @simonschusterca.  This gorgeous book spares no details, brimming with yellow and black from end paper through every page!  We love this friendly tour of a bee’s life with its simple, rhythmic text that inspires movement and onomatopoeia-like reading.  
There’s never been a better time to get your smalls excited about our friendship with bees!  This book follows a friendly bee from flower to hive and everything that happens in between.  
We love the bright colours and especially bright orange of the pollen.  Bees see the ultra violet spectrum so flowers look much, much different to them, infinitely more colourful and exciting–we thought the illustration style capture that feeling here!  
This book comes with its own age recommendation (4-8) but we feel the smaller smalls can benefit from the beautiful colours and exciting, noisy word choices of the writing.  Recommended 3+up from us!  Buzz buzz!



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Today in our continuing “Spring is Sprung” reviews for DK Canada’s FAB non-fiction for kids books:  Forest Life & Woodland Creatures a wonderful collection of nature facts and fun, hands-on activities to do with your small!  

What we loved:
 - the visual layout with loads of things to spot and name
 - the simple categories of seasons, animals and plant life perfect for preschool and up
 - the fun and varied activities (crafts! food! costume masks!)
We chose the make bear masks as a certain small member of my household is in love with “going on a bear hunt” right now.  He was pretty excited to pour glue all over anything and surprised me by meticulously sticking brown “fur” on his bear mask for a solid seven minutes!

Recommended for smalls 2.5 & up and their nature loving grown-ups of all ages!



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Spring is sprung here at the blog & we are celebrating with some DK Canada non-fiction books this month!

Today’s title is I Can Grow a Flower a visual guide to how flowers grow.  We loved the simple journey from seed to flower in this colourful book as well as the fun lift-the-flaps!  We seeded a vegetable garden with our small protagonist inside in our sunny window and have just started hardening it outdoors in the box each day.  He’s loved watching seeds sprout just like in our book. 

A great first time gardening book for smalls 1.5 & up!

Bonus blog call-out:  this book comes with an adorable sunflower size growth chart to measure your smalls!



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Today’s #picturebook marks our “Week of Elly MacKay”.  Elly MacKay is a talented paper artist and author of whom we at the blog are a longtime fan!  We are very excited to feature one of her books every day this week AND even more excited that she agreed to an interview AND offered a giveaway (watch for it on Friday!).

First up is:  If You Hold a Seed via @runningpress​ the heartwarming story of a seed and a little boy growing up together through the seasons that ends full circle with the grown boy sitting in that tree with his own son.  The illustrations in Elly MacKay’s books are photographs of her wondrous, hand created paper sets.  I was particularly moved to read that she created this book while pregnant with her son–it definitely captures many of the feelings we have for our smalls.  A wonder-filled book, bright with colours and light and alive with nature and seasons.  My small and I were inspired to head to the great big garden centre in town and choose a little plant to grow together (as seen in the photograph!) and I think you will be inspired to do the same after reading this very special book with your own smalls.  Recommended 2+up.

Elly MacKay agreed to an interview with us & shared some “behind the scenes” photographs of her work.  Thanks so much Elly!  Readers, please enjoy seeing the magic that goes into her work:

1.  Can you tell us a little about how you create the beautiful images in your books?

To make my illustrations I use paper, light and photography. I first do a sketch to work from. I then imagine the picture 3 dimensionally and draw each layer onto Yupo paper. I use ink to colour the layers, then cut them out. I set the layers up inside a little theatre, securing everything with wires and tape. Then, I light the scene. I often use backlighting and filters to create atmosphere. I use several different lenses on my camera, to create depth or distortion. I often take about 20-50 images, adjusting the lighting and playing with the different filters or moving the characters around. It is a lot of fun.

2.  We read in your bio that you studied print making but also had an informal education in the paper arts via the Movable Book Society by train as a teenager?  That sounds super exciting!  What was it like?

It was great! My mom has an adventurous spirit. She is also an author of ‘how to’ books on paper art. When I was a kid, I was her ‘tester’. When I was 15, I told her that I wanted to be a paper artist so she thought she’d help me on my journey by introducing me to members of The Movable Book Society, a group of paper engineers and artists. We found a free pass to travel on Amtrack so off we went! We met wonderful people along the way who taught me about Victorian optical toys, paper theatre, artist books and simple mechanisms I could use in my dioramas. (Here is a picture of me looking quite serious with some of the dioramas I made back then.)

3.  One of the many reasons we love your books is the sense of movement and play caught in the images.  How important is play in your art making?  And what would you like to say to kids and their parents about play as they read your books together?

Thank you! Yes, I think that is why I like printmaking too. I like surprise elements. With printmaking you don’t know quite what something is going to look like until you lift the paper from the press. I was never into making editions. I liked changing the printing plate as I worked. Working in my theatre is much the same. Sometimes working with something you can’t completely control, frees you. It takes away some sense of ownership, and makes things less precious. I like that.

I guess I see picture books as a sort of playground for parent and child. It is a place they can meet to discuss their feelings and ideas, make silly sounds and cuddle. My most recent book is a wordless book called Waltz of the Snowflakes. What I love about wordless books is that they invite play. They can be more challenging to approach but offer opportunities. Waltz of the Snowflakes is as much about The Nutcracker, as it is about emotion. My son likes to make the faces that the children are making as we read the story, while my daughter likes to give us a soundtrack and dance her arms around. I hope parents and children will bring their own sense of play to the story.

Thank you for answering all our questions Elly!  Here are some amazing photographs of her work on the upcoming Red Sky At Night (via Tundra) out in Spring 2018 and a sketch from a fairy book she is currently working on called The Tallest Treehouse (releasing later in 2018).



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Today’s book is a non-fiction picture book titled Lifetime by Lola Schaefer via @chroniclebooks.  A lovely lapbook filled with simple numbers in nature, how many sets of antlers a caribou will have in its lifetime, how many holes a woodpecker will peck and how many baby seahorses one seahorse will birth.  From one to a thousand this book gradually builds in scale and is a simple, fascinating study perfect for ages 5+.  Feels particularly like a fabulous grandparent book to me!  I’ve loved it since I first saw it three years ago.

Lola Schaefer has a library of titles and resources under her belt as a teacher, writer and writing coach.  Learn more about her here.  Chronicle Kids Books is fun, quirky imprint with a treasure trove of unique kids books.  Check out their catalogue here if you like.

Woodpecker doorknocker via Wild Birds Unlimited.