Daily Press (Sunday)

Kids’ books look at the naturally marvelous

- Caroline Luzzatto Caroline Luzzatto has taught preschool and fourth grade. Reach her at luzzatto. bookworms@gmail.com

In fall, as the leaves change color and Thanksgivi­ng reminds us of how much there is to treasure, it’s the perfect season to soak in some books about the wonders of the natural world. Whether it’s tiny mushrooms on the forest floor, glowing comets in outer space or the creatures in between, there’s so much to marvel about.

“Cosmic Wonder: Halley’s Comet and Humankind” by Ashley Benham-Yazdani.

(Ages 3 through 7. Candlewick Press. $18.99.)

Halley’s Comet sweeps past Earth every 76 years, and “in all of its travels, the comet had never seen a planet like this before.” In her sweeping story of past, present and future, author/ illustrato­r Ashley BenhamYazd­ani considers the wonder of change on the planet, as humans become aware of the heavens and “gaze right back” when the comet looks down.

Through war and peace, collapse and renewal, the comet returns again and again to Earth and its humans, and when it comes back in 2061, it “will see the world they are shaping now.”

“Fungi Grow” by Maria Gianferrar­i, illustrate­d by Diana Sudyka.

(Ages 4 through 8. Beach Lane Books. $18.99.)

Every glorious page of Maria Gianferrar­i’s book pays tribute to the wondrous variety and strangenes­s of fungi, from the indigo milk cap to the toothy hedgehog mushroom to the slimy dog stinkhorn.

Following their journey from spore to thready, rootlike mycelium, to showy fruiting body, readers get a peek into the hidden world of fungi and their role in healthy forests. “Mushrooms sprout. Parasols pop out. Mushrooms fan, arc, spread their skirts,” and then spread their spores for the process to begin again.

Readers will never look at this odd world of poison, parasites, decay and delight in quite the same way again.

“Be Thankful for Water: How Water Sustains Our Planet” by Harriet Ziefert, illustrate­d by Brian Fitzgerald.

(Ages 4 through 8. Red Comet Press. $19.99.)

It’s easy to take water for granted, but Harriet Ziefert’s engaging ode to the stuff that makes life possible will awaken young readers to the glory of life on a wet planet — and the need to preserve it for the sake of all the planet’s inhabitant­s.

She celebrates “big whales and dolphins, sea turtles and sharks,/ Octopus, jellyfish, long eels with sparks.” She also warns about the “factory black sludge, old plastic galore” that can damage the watery world and encourages young readers to protect this most precious stuff.

“Desert Jungle” by Jeannie Baker.

(Ages 5 through 8. Candlewick Press. $18.99.)

With her startlingl­y detailed collage illustrati­ons, Jeannie Baker depicts a boy’s journey of exploratio­n through the Sonoran Desert with his grandfathe­r, at first frightened and then amazed as the seductive landscape begins to reveal its secrets.

“This valley is full of secrets, chico,” his grandfathe­r says. “Open your heart, listen, and see what wonders show themselves.” Indeed, the desert’s secrets slowly unfurl, from a hummingbir­d hovering nearby to a coyote lurking just out of sight — and the boy’s fear is replaced by love for the “wonder of the wild.”

“Find Out About: Animal Camouflage” by Martin Jenkins, illustrate­d by Jane McGuinness.

(Ages 5 through 9. Candlewick Press. $17.99.)

From stick insects and flower mantises to crafty octopuses vanishing into the reef, this introducti­on to the many ways animals hide is overflowin­g with illustrati­ons that beckon readers to look very, very closely.

It’s hard not to be amazed (and a bit alarmed) by the African Gaboon viper, vanishing into leaf litter on the forest floor, or the horned lizard, blending into the pebbly desert. As a bonus, the book ends with animal showoffs — poisonous or venomous creatures who wear bright warnings to scare away would-be predators.

 ?? ??
 ?? ??
 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States