Book Review: The Hidden Life of a Toad

61Um+-+hYBL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Author/photographer Doug Welchsler’s book The Hidden Life of a Toad (Charlesbridge) pretty much covers it all. This 48-page book takes readers from toad eggs (Day 1) through Day 1099, and then to “A new Day 1.” It covers a full life cycle, (minus death) with detailed and rather amazing photographs of all of it.

I enjoyed Doug’s child-friendly language:

“Now the tadpole is fat and round in front with a long skinny tail behind. It has the familiar tadpole shape.”

“Time to look for a home. The toadlet goes hopping, hopping, hopping through the forest. It is hardly bigger than a pea.”

The story concludes with a new batch of tadpoles emerging from eggs, but follows with pages devoted to a glossary, the difference between a frog and a toad, toad facts, saving toads, getting the photos, other books and websites to visit, and even a map of North America showing toad ranges, tucked in the back on a credits page.hidden-life-of-a-toad-spread

This book is a must-have in school libraries, in the homes of nature lovers, and in every nature center in toad range. (Love that, “toad range.”)

Age: 4-8 years

Grade Pre-K-3

48 pages



Book Review: Buffalo Music

Buffalo Music (Clarion Books, 2008) by Tracey E. Fern and illustrated by Lauren Castillo, is a beautiful book based on the life of conservationist61Pp180ElVL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_ Mary Ann Goodnight, who is credited with creating the first captive buffalo herd in the 1800s when numbers of buffalo had plummeted. Goodnight eventually used her herd to re-populate Yellowstone National Park. Tracey’s story is told in folksy voice, and Lauren’s loose, child-friendly illustrations draw the reader in. An author’s note at the end gives further information about Molly Ann Goodnight, as well as a suggested reading list for more information on the American Bison.

This book is a great pick for those teaching about North American animals, endangered species, over-hunting, and bringing species back from the brink. The length of the text makes if more appropriate for mid to upper elementary kids. Preschoolers would likely have a difficult time sitting still for this one. Still, a great pick!


Book Review: Been There Done That: Reading Animal Signs

In keeping with the current theme of my month, (which is school author visits with friend and college, Jen Funk Weber, most days this month) I am reviewing Jen’s book, Been There, Done That: Reading Animal Signs (Arbordale, 2016). 61-+hU9EitL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

Jen is a world traveler, having visited a Japan, Africa, Greece, Italy, the Galapagos Islands, and more. However this book focuses on the animals that live right outside her back door, in Alaska. In this book, two children hike in Alaska, looking for wildlife. But wildlife is stealthy, and is often there watching us, even when we don’t see them. Instead, the kids see signs that the animals have been there, have done that. A twist ending, leaves this a very memorable book!

Andrea Gabriel’s beautiful water colors  illustrate the walk, as Helena, the Alaska-living character in the book explains the signs she sees to her friend and visitor, Cole. Through the book, readers get a glimpse into the lives of snowshoe rabbits, salmon, eagles, beavers, moose and bear.  As with all Arbordale books, there are interesting activities in the back matter to further  the learning experience, and a free online teacher’s guide found here.snowshoe-hares-580w

This book would be a wonderful addition to programs dealing with North American animals, or a program that promotes hiking, getting outdoors, or forest therapy (a concept that intrigues me!)