Book Review: Books for the Jr. Investigator

Posted by Big Universe on Feb 7, 2013 5:03:39 AM

magnifying glass There are two facts we know about kids.

  • They have lots of questions.
  • They love (corny) jokes.

One of the best ways to tap into their natural curiosity and sense of humor is with a book. They may be clever, but with the right book, you can sneak a little bit of learning right past their eagle eyes.

I confess, I am a HUGE Sylvan Dell Publishing fan, and have been for a long time. Their informational picture books consistently offer young audiences quality stories. Each story is built around a practical learning topic, with additional activities in the back that are perfect whether you read the book in school or at home. The fact that you'll find every title in both English and Spanish shouldn't be dismissed, either.

This week's book reviews are a selection of Sylvan Dell Publishing titles that guide kids to discovering answers to their question. These are stories that are more about the show and less about the tell.

Read on

Deductive Detective | El detective deductivo
written by Brian Rock; illustrated by Sherry Rogers
Sylvan Dell Publishing, 2013
Book Level: unknown; Audience Level: LG

How can this be? Someone stole Fox's cake from the Cake Contest ... on Owl's watch, no less. Thirteen bakers and twelve cakes. There's a thief in the house! Deductive Detective is on the case. He surveys the scene, collecting clues, and shares his process, all while eliminating suspects.

  • The story is fast paced. Kids will "quack" up at the clever word play. That said, some of the double entendre may be missed; and some adults may not appreciate the misspellings for effect (e.g., Moose makes a chocolate moose cake).
  • Bright, busy illustrations give young listener's plenty to look at. Some pages are text-heavy, so the quality illustrations will keep their attention.
  • In addition to the factual data, each spread includes a subtraction problem ... sneaky, sneaky!
  • This is a fun story to share and offers opportunities not just for prediction, but as a model on how to solve other problems.
  • Highly recommended for school or home. Deductive Detective would make a great gift for an elementary student, paired with a magnifying glass, a small notebook, and a pencil.

Similar to Deductive Detective: Fur and Feathers by Janet Halfmann, Gobble, Gobble by Cathryn Falwell, and Happy Birthday to Whooo? by Doris Fisher,

nature picture book Read on

Habitat Spy| Veo, veo un hábitat
written by Cynthia Kieber-King ; illustrated by Christina Wald
Sylvan Dell Publishing, 2011
Book Level 3.7; Audience Level: LG

Visit and explore thirteen habitats, from the arctic to woodland forests above ground, and caves and marine environments below. Each spread asks kids to find natural objects in the imagery. Each habitat is presented with rhyme and action verbs, making it less story and more poetry like.

  • Readers use their visual detective skills to find the items described in each poem. Some are easy, like the animals; but others take a little more knowlege, like finding the hemlock in the forest.
  • Simple poems and beautiful illustrations make this an excellent selection for developing readers. The text is accessible and the imagery helps them decode words that may be unfamiliar.
  • Beyond the natural detective work, there is a broad array of action verbs. This can be useful for helping young writers expand their word bank with more descriptive vocabulary.
  • There are four pages of content in the back. The Creative Minds section is always good, but this is one of the best I've seen.
  • Highly recommended for school, and particularly home. This would be great to read before a trip to the zoo, a hike, or a walk around the neighborhood.

Similar to Habitat Spy: Julie the Rockhound by Gail Langer Karwoski, Deep in the Desert by Rhonda Lucas, Desert Baths by Darcy Pattison, Felina's New Home: A Florida Panther Story by Loran Wlodarski, and

Topics: Personal Experiences, Reviews

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