The Lost Words, by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris (2017, 2018)

Nonfiction
8 to adult

The Lost Words, by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris (2018)

Pick up a copy of the Oxford Junior Dictionary and you’ll find the latest technological words like chatroom, blog and voicemail. But you won’t find acorn, buttercup, minnow, panther, and dozens of other natural world words that were cut to make room for the new entries. Robert MacFarlane noticed, and decided to do something. He collaborated with artist Jackie Morris to create what they call a “spell book” in a bid to conjure back 20 of the lost words. Both are British, and there is a decidedly British flavour to the book, celebrating childhood fascinations for conkers and brambles, newts and wrens, weasels and willows, though happily these are words equally familiar to Canadians and Americans, and doubtless in many other English-speaking places.

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Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School (#1), by Julie Falatko, illus. by Colin Jack (2018)

Humourous Fiction
7-10

Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School, by Julie Falatko, illustrated by Colin Jack (2018)

Sometimes a title just grabs you and says Read Me. This is one of those titles. It’s the first of two reviews I’m doing this week, both of them books for children. There are three books in the “Two Dogs in a Trench Coat” series; this is the first. Sassy and Waldo are two dogs whose lives are devoted to eating food, protecting the household from the evil squirrels, and napping in the sun. Until they realize Stewart, the boy in their house, needs saving from a place called School, a place he goes every day and returns dejected and bored. Thanks to Waldo’s surprising ability to speak English, the two dogs finagle their way into the classroom, where they learn just how exciting school is, and help Stewart make a friend along the way.

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The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City, by Jodi Kendall (2017)

Contemporary Fiction
8-13
The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City, by Jodi KendallMiddle-schooler Josie Schilling feels invisible in her big family – she’s neither the eldest nor the youngest, and is often overlooked in the bustle of crowded life in a small city townhome. She focuses her energy on her gymnastics, but is struggling to manage the moves as her too-tall body makes it difficult. When her brother Tom comes home from college with an unwanted runt piglet, Josie’s love for animals kicks in and she convinces her parents to give little Hamlet a temporary home until she can find someone to adopt her. Read More »

Mason Jar Science: 40 Slimy, Squishy, Super-Cool Experiments, by Jonathan Adolph (2018)

Nonfiction
8-13
Mason Jar Science, by Jonathan AdolphWith two visiting grandsons in the house when this arrived, it’s been put to the test! Plus the cover is quite appealing – I liked it right away, and both boys leafed through it without prompting. It’s nicely organized into six sections. The introductory pages cover What’s So Great About Science?, Why Mason Jars?, and Using the Scientific Method to Solve Mysteries. Then the 40+ experiments are divided into five sciences: The Magic of Chemistry, Earth Science for Earthlings, The Root of All Fun – Botany, It’s Alive! Biology, and Understanding Matter in Motion – Physics. Read More »

Cry, Heart, But Never Break, by Glenn Ringtved (2001, 2016)

Illustrated Book
4-9
Cry, Heart, But Never Break by Glenn RingtvedThis is the second of two books I’m reviewing today on grief and death. They are challenging issues for any of us, and when children are involved, books can offer a way for adults to help kids grasp an understanding of death and accept the pain of loss. This tender and sensitive book offers an honest and gentle approach to an impending loss. Four children are sharing a kitchen table with Death, who has come for their beloved grandmother. Death is presented as a visitor, a kind one, whose heart is surprisingly full of a love for life. The children naturally try to deter Death from his task. Read More »

50 Hikes with Kids – Oregon & Washington, by Wendy Gorton (2018)

Nonfiction
Adult
50 Hikes with Kids - Oregon & Washington, by Wendy GortonHiking with kids is one of those activities that sounds easy but is fraught with potential pitfalls. They get tired, bored, cranky, hungry and pouty, unless you plan the excursion with care. Wendy Gorton is committed to helping families get outside, and to that end has compiled a list of 50 hikes in the Pacific Northwest that are sure to get youngsters interested in spending time outdoors. The hikes are all easy to moderate, with no elevation gain over 275 m (900 ft) and none more than 7 kms (4 miles) in length. The book features 32 hikes in Oregon and 18 in Washington. The vast majority are, reasonably, within short drives of the main cities in both states – Seattle, Portland, and Bend, with a few selections on the eastern edges of the states. Read More »

Duck Soup, by Jackie Urbanovic (2008)

Picture Book
4-8
Duck Soup, by Jackie UrbanovicThis delightful and comical picture book is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and is still in print – it’s easy to see why! The book was first published in 2008, when it earned a starred review from Kirkus. I recently discovered it on my library’s bookshelves and immediately fell hard for this funny and silly story that will appeal to young children. Max the Duck likes making soup and has had both hits and misses, from the yummy-sounding squash gumbo to the Cracker Barrel Cheese and Marshmallow soup. But this time, this time Max is about to create his culinary masterpiece. Read More »