Covers of Composting by Koontz & Harrad and Garden Wigglers by Loewen & Peterson.

Worm Books

Everything has gone wormy here at the Dorchester Memorial Public Library this spring. To help this along, Janet Ward made an Adopt-a-Book donation so that we could buy some new worm books.

Covers of Composting by Koontz & Harrad and Garden Wigglers by Loewen & Peterson.
Two books for young children about worms and compost

Our new books are Composting: Nature’s Recyclers, by author Robin Koontz and illustrator Matthew Harrad, and Garden Wigglers: Earthworms in Your Backyard, by author Nancy Loewen and illustrator Rick Peterson, both published by Picture Window Books. These books are written for quite young children, but they’re full of information. Everything is written in relatively simple language, and unfamiliar scientific terms like setae, the very fine bristles that cover a worm’s body, and clitellum, the band around the worm that becomes the shell containing its offspring, are explained in language and concepts even a quite young child should understand. Although an American book, it adheres to international standards of science and gives metric as well as imperial measures — useful for us here in Canada. Each book is only twenty-four pages long, but contains a table of contents, a science project that children can do at home, a glossary, and an index. The attractive illustrations, though not realistic in fine detail, are designed to be very clear and unambiguous in their simplicity. We’re very pleased to have these in our library and we recommend them for K-2 classes or anyone doing composting with younger grades or their pre-schoolers.

My Heart Fills With Happiness, by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Julie Flett

My Heart Fills With Happiness is a simple and charming board book to share with your baby or toddler. The beautiful illustrations by Flett show small children engaged joyously in everyday things – watching bannock bake, singing with an older sibling, dancing in the sun, holding a parent’s hand, while the text repeats, “My heart fills with happiness when …” every few pages. As is usual with Flett’s illustrations, there are lots of details to linger over, providing good opportunities for conversation and language-building interaction. Look! Do you see the puppy? What’s it doing? Can you find the ladybugs in the flowers? What’s that? Is it a frog? Do you think the boy sees the frog? It ends by addressing the child directly, “What fills your heart with happiness?” leaving room for more conversation and reflection.

Let’s do Nothing, by Tony Fucile

Summer – a time for doing nothing. Friends Frankie and Sal have done everything they can think of to do: sports, drawing, baking, board games, comic books. Sal decides they should try doing nothing, sitting like statues in the park. Frankie’s imagination gets away from him, though, and he ends up frantically shooing pigeons. Sal says they should be giant redwood trees. Frankie imagines Sal’s dog … well, you can guess. The pictures tell much of the story in this fun new picture book, a great choice for reading aloud.

Photo of Ook the library gorilla reading Let's Do Nothing
Let’s Do Nothing, by Tony Fucile

Forest has a Song, by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, illustrated by Robbin Gourley

Forest has a Song is a delight, a book of poetry that follows a child’s relationship with the nearby forest through a year, from winter around to winter again. The mood changes from poem to poem, as does the style. The watercolour illustrations depict sometimes only the girl and her dog exploring the woods, and sometimes her brother and parents as well. My favourites were “Song”, from which the title of the book is taken, “Farewell”, the final poem, and oddly, “Bone Pile”, in which she contemplates the last skeletal remains of some forest animal.

Literacy Tip: Reading poetry and nursery rhymes to babies is a fun and easy way to help babies learn the sounds and rhythms of language, even before they begin to use words themselves. There are many rhyming books that have simple, bouncing rhymes and bright pictures. Remember Dr. Seuss’s Hop on Pop or the Berenstains’ Inside, Outside, Upside Down? Traditional nursery rhymes are another source of poetry for young children. Sheree Fitch is known for her poetry for older kids, but she has also written books for babies, such as Kisses, Kisses, Baby-O. Ook’s favourite poetry to read to children, even babies, is by A.A. Milne. His two books of children’s poetry, When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six, are also available in one volume as The World of Christopher Robin. Even when children don’t know what the words mean, the sounds are beautiful, and as they grow older listening to the poetry, they begin to learn new words from the context.

Wild Berries, by Julie Flett

Wild Berries, by author-illustrator Julie Flett, is an account of a day in the woods, as Clarence goes blueberry-picking in a clearing with his grandmother. There are two editions of this book, one in English, with a few words also given in Cree, and one (Pakwa Che Minisu) entirely in Swampy Cree. The story itself is simple and sparse, suitable for reading to very young children or for beginning readers to try on their own. The Cree words, one per page, and the word they translate are printed in a large, contrasting font, and the Cree is also visually distinguished by being set in a different colour, so that a child reading for themselves can sound them out and learn something new, or pass over them without feeling they have failed at something , as their reading ability allows.

What particularly distinguishes this book, which was honoured as the 2014-2015 First Nation Communities Read choice, is Flett’s beautiful artwork. The muted colours and clean-edged figures of animals, people, and trees create both a quiet mood and a sharp clarity; there is a sense of peace and late-summer heat, with the red sun beating down. One can almost hear the crickets.