Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Friday, May 3, 2019

Look Up, Look Down, Look All Around

While it's important when developing collections to center our focus on those readers we primarily serve, it's also worth remembering they have members of their immediate or extended families who need to read.  For this reason, there was never any hesitation to place picture books in a middle or high school library (or board books in an elementary school library).  Picture books are powerful whether the narrative comes from someone's imagination or gathered information.

On the release date of picture books, sometimes the same titles are available in board book format.  Nerdy Babies: Ocean and Nerdy Babies: Space (Roaring Brook Press, May 7, 2019) written and illustrated by Emmy Kastner are two such books.  With cheerful, informative and humorous text and images our youngest readers (and those who read to them) are invited to travel the oceans and into outer space.  Let's first see what the watery realms reveal.

Off the coasts, 
swirling between
each continent
on our planet . . .
you'll find the ocean.

 Although most of our planet is covered by ocean water, we can't drink it.  It's salt water.  Animals live on shore and hunt for food in the ocean like birds.  Some ocean dwellers show themselves on the surface of the ocean when they need to breathe or sleep.

The sun not only warms the ocean but helps plants and animals who live there.  Ocean life, like blue marlins and leatherback sea turtles, migrate just as birds do.  Animals in and around the ocean stay warm because of their blood, fur, feathers or blubber.  Do you know how many miles deep the ocean is?  Do you know which ocean animal is kin to elephants?  You can be as curious as a marine biologist no matter your age.

We need to look up, farther than our eyes can see, to explore outer space.  As big as the oceans are outer space stretches on and on and on.  What can we find there?

Hello, Nerdy Babies!
Do you ever wonder about
You probably do.
You're curious.

It's home to countless stars.  The temperature is cold.  You'll float up there because of the absence of gravity.  It's quieter than quiet; there is no sound.

In our solar system planets spin in orbit around the hot, hot, hot sun.  It takes Earth 365 days to go around the sun.  Our moon spins along the orbit too.  Did you know footprints made on the moon will always stay there?

Each of the eight planets has unique characteristics.  One of them is the smallest.  Another one spins backward.  And still another is home to the tallest mountain in the solar system.  Neptune is so far from the sun; it can't complete one orbit in any recorded human's lifespan.  Astronauts are as eager to learn about outer space as anyone else of any age; especially a nerdy baby.

The spare narrative of Emmy Kastner peaks readers' interest.  It provides answers to questions they might have about oceans or outer space.  They will be fascinated by all the topics she covers in the limited pages.  Her additional text in speech bubbles and captions supplies facts and humor. Here are two more passages.

Most of the ocean is cold.


Since fish are cold-blooded, their bodies
adjust to match warm and cold water.

Do you love the moon?
Earth sure does!

They travel around together.


Sturdy case covers with expandable binding, durable pages and vibrant colors give immediate appeal for the intended audience.  Four babies wearing eyeglasses and appropriate attire appear throughout the books.  Two different ones introduce the topics on the front but all of them are shown on the back of the book cases.

When the case cover is opened the narrative and illustrations begin.  They continue until the final page.  Definitive lines, delicate details and easily identified shapes permeate the images.  Readers will enjoy identifying all the elements in each picture; a tiny hermit crab coming out of a shell, baby turtles heading to the water, a teddy bear wearing a pair of water goggles, or a beverage bottle drifting inside a space capsule.

The pictures are either double-page, full-page or several small illustrations are loosely framed on a single page. The backgrounds vary according to the location.  The text, speech bubbles and captions are placed in a manner to promote participatory reading.  All the creatures and space objects are animated

Two of my many favorite illustrations are on a double page and a full page.  On the first a white canvas is used to highlight an array of colorful ocean creatures.  Some of the animals are put in an ocean setting which frames them.  In the lower right-hand corner, the child seen on the front of the book case has changed his gear.  His teddy bear is diving with him.  He asks DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE?
The second picture is placed on a white background which acts as a wide border.  One of the children is running across our moon, wearing a white space suit.  The footprints remain.  The moon is smiling with closed eyes.  A few stars can be seen in the darkened background.

Whoever reads Nerdy Babies: Ocean and Nerdy Babies: Space written and illustrated by Emmy Kastner will find themselves smiling at the author's use of imagination, information and art.  Trust me.  I've been smiling for hours.  I recommend these for both your professional and personal collections.  They will work wonderfully for one-on-one reading or with small groups.  They are certain to prompt further research, discussions and learning.

To learn more about Emmy Kastner and her other work, please follow the link attached to her name to access her website.  Emmy Kastner has accounts on Instagram and Twitter.  There is a separate website for Nerdy Babies.  At the publisher's website you can view interior images for Nerdy Babies: Ocean and Nerdy Babies: Space.  The cover reveal for the books is at the Nerdy Book Club.  Emmy Kastner is featured at author Jarrett Lerner's website and at teacher librarian Travis Jonker's School Library Journal 100 Scope Notes.

No comments:

Post a Comment