Plants & Weather

Winter is Coming

•        Targeted Audience: PreSchool, Lower Elementary (Ages4-8)
•        Genre: Fiction Picture Book
•        Author: Tony Johnston
•        Illustrator: Jim LaMarche
•        Publication Date: August 26, 2014
•        Binding: Hard Cover (E-book also available)
•        Dimensions: 11″ x 9.5″
•        Printing: Full Color
•        Length: 40 Pages
•        Retail: $17.99
•        ISBN: 978-1442472518

Winter may be here already, but it’s never too late to read this magical book with your child. . .

I knew this would be a special book when I learned it was written by Tony Johnston, one of the most outstanding children’s book authors of all time. Winter is Coming is a story told from the view of a young girl who brings her sketch book and binoculars outside with her every day to observe fall as it gracefully turns into winter. The leaves are changing, and the animals are preparing for a long winter too. Woodpeckers stuff acorns into the holes of a tree. A hungry lynx dines on a nearby beetle. Chipmunks stuff their chubby cheeks with nuts from pine cones. Canadian geese begin their journey south. The temperature is dropping and soon snow begins to fall.

Perfect Poetic Verse With Spectacular Illustrations
Tony Johnston is a master at poetic verse and I am a huge fan of her style of writing without rhyming. Her words flow like gentle falling leaves and they paint the perfect picture of each natural outdoor scene in the book. You must pinch yourself to be reminded that you are not the child right there in each scene in the story. Along with Tony’s words that “paint” the story, are NY Times Best Illustrator, Jim LaMarche’s spectacular paintings of nature. Even in the inside front and back covers are outstanding illustrations, and I for one, can’t get enough of them.

What This Book Teaches
Winter is Coming offers readers a most enjoyable and expressive lesson in nature and the changing of seasons. The scarcity of food for animals is so well presented that readers can’t help but feel their plight. The book leaves you with a new desire for doing your part to preserve the environment and a greater appreciation for your own cozy home.

Why You Must Buy This Book
Winter is Coming is one of those truly special picture books that remind you why the physical book must never perish. It’s so wonderfully written and illustrated, it is to be savored line by line, page by page. The story will invite conversation about animals’ habitats and changing seasons and will make your child more interested in preservation. He or she may also be inspired to sketch and write about the natural beauty in your own backyard.

About the Author
Tony Johnston has written more than 120 books including many award-winning titles for young readers such as Bone By Bone By Bone (Roaring Brook Press). Since her youth she has been devoted to nature. She live on a ranch in California with her husband. Check out more titles by Tony Johnston on Goodreads.

About the Illustrator
Jim LaMarche is one of the most talented artists working in children’s books today. His Santa Cruz, California/ 25MBmany successful books include Rainbabies by Laura Kraus Melmed and Albert by Donna Jo Napoli, which was selected as a New York Times Best Illustrated Book; and Up and Raft, which he also wrote. Most recently he illustrated The Carpenter’s Gift by David Rubel. Jim lives in Santa Cruz, California.

The Prairie That Nature Built

  •    Targeted Audience: Preschool, Lower & Upper Elementary (Ages 4-10)
    •    Genre: Non-Fiction
    •    Author: Marybeth Lorbiecki
    •    Illustrator: Cathy Morrison
    •    Publisher:Dawn Publications
    •    Publication Date: September 1, 2014
    •    Binding: Paperback
    •    Dimensions: 9″ x  11″
    •    Printing: Full Color
    •    Length: 32 Pages
    •    Retail: $8.95
    •    ISBN:978-1584694915

    Life on the Prairie in Cumulative Rhyme
    A prairie may look like a desolate flatland from a distance, but with The Prairie That Nature Built readers discover all the life that is teaming in the trees, grasses and below the surface. The book is written with rhyming verse so kids can enjoy reading out loud as they marvel at the illustrations. They uncover animals that burrow, some that fly, others that squirm,  pollinate, graze or hunt. The impact weather patterns and fires have on the prairie and all its inhabitants are wonderfully demonstrated. The rhyme all comes together at the end with a cumulative verse.

    A Well-Rounded Educational Experience
    As with all Dawn books, in the back of this book is an Explore More section filled with fascinating facts. Here readers learn more details about prairies, where they can be found, how they thrive and how they are being threatened due to use for farming and building. Following that there’s a list of the different types of animals one would find on a prairie, some suggested activities, organizations that support prairie conservation and other books to read on the subject.

    Vibrant Digital Illustrations with Incredible Detail and a Pop-Up App
    I must confess that I used to be unimpressed with digital artwork, but Dawn books changed my mind in recent months; the detail and depth of the digital illustrations of their books is remarkable.  The Prairie That Nature Built is no exception. Illustrator Cathy Morrison captures extraordinary accuracy of the animals and plants of the prairie with her illustrations, and I’d love to know how she managed to do it! You can even see the maze of plant roots beneath the surface, intricate tunnels dug by the animals and incredibly beautiful depictions of lightning and fire. You can’t help but be overwhelmed by these vibrant, realistic depictions! To make the learning experience extra special, there’s a free pop-up app for this title that will make the already spectacular images come to life.

    What This Book Teaches
    With illustrations as intricate as these, children can see life in a prairie they would not be able to see in person, such as animals lurking in the tall grass and thriving below the surface. Add to that the pop-up experience they can have with the free app. Children often hear about conservation, but the prairie is such a disappearing habitat in North America, that they may not learn about this important landscape without books like this. Readers will sharpen their read aloud skills and learn the rhythm of reading rhyming verse. After reading the story and studying the images, they will be eager to learn more about the significance of prairies and discover the history of this habitat upon which our country was built. Let’s educate our children about our precious earth so they can be informed about how to preserve it.

    Children’s Books that Shape the Future
    As a parent of a grad student at The University of Colorado at Boulder, working toward a PhD in geomorphology (the study of landforms, like rivers and glaciers, and the processes that shape them), I know how vital books like these can be to get kids interested in science. The Prairie That Nature Built is a great way to inspire many a reader to pursue an interest in the earth and even perhaps a future in a scientific field. There’s a shortage of earth scientists, and we must do all we can to change that.

    About the Author
    Marybeth Lorbiecki grew up in St. Cloud, Minnesota, near a prairie, before she knew it was called a prairie. Instead it was simply her favorite place for exploring and hiding amid the tall grasses. She would always be spotted by meadowlarks, who saluted her with song. That prairie was built over with homes, and she no longer found her friends the larks there any more. When Marybeth moved to Hudson, Wisconsin, she became part of a group that taught the community about the amazing prairie that nature built. She brought her daughters and son to wander through the prairie grasses. Together they helped preserve prairies nearby so the meadowlarks would have a place to nest and sing. She’s written more than twenty-five books for kids, many of them about the places, plants, and animals she loves, including the prairie dog!

    About the Illustrator
    Cathy Morrison is an award-winning illustrator who lives on a shortgrass prairie in Colorado, at the western edge of Morrison-Cathythe Great Plains in view of the Rocky Mountain National Forest. She watches the grasses, the animals and their burrows, as well as floods and fire—all close up and personal. She began her career in animation and graphic design, but discovered her passion for children’s book illustration while raising her two children. After several years illustrating with traditional media, she now works digitally, which helps the publisher adapt the art into interactive book apps.