Today’s post brings you a baker’s dozen worth of interesting reads! I always enjoy using the term, a baker’s dozen, and mentioning that it is of course, not 12, but 13 (and sometimes 14). In fact, one of my favorite books to gift has been Your Favorite Seuss: A Baker’s Dozen by the One and Only Dr. Seuss (well, more to do with Dr. Seuss than the word Baker’s Dozen but that helps too!) But for some weird reason, I either completely forgot or never bothered to find out the origins of this phrase; and so I decided to fix that right away. And this is what I found out:
So Why is a Baker’s Dozen 13?
Medieval England laws required bakers to price their bread relative to the price of wheat used to make it. Sometimes bakers “cheated” their customers by overpricing undersized loaves, leading to severe punishment (fines, flogging, or worse). Unfortunately, it was difficult for bakers to ensure that their baked goods always came out the same size due to fluctuations in the baking process itself. Therefore, they ended up throwing in one more when customers ordered a dozen, to ensure they wouldn’t end up short and hence avoid any repercussions.
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And then the books themselves
Today’s books are all part of the reading I had to do (enjoyably) as a round 1 judge for the Cybils Awards Nonfiction categories. As I mentioned in my earlier post, I am certainly breathing a huge sigh of relief that round 1 is done! We have submitted our finalist list for the awards (you can have a look at that list on January 1st on the Cybils website for all categories!); and now all that is left for me to continue reading the few I did not get a chance to read but the other judges did love!!
And then pick up books from all the other categories as well. Last but not the least, share my thoughts of those books here with you! Starting with…
A Baker’s Dozen Worth of Interesting Reads
5 Minute Really True Stories for Bedtime
Was I surprised once I started reading this book after looking at its title and the cover? You bet I was!! In spite of the fact that I had looked at the subtext and that it is published by Britannica, its contents pleasantly surprised me, and totally educated me. Each bedtime “story” will enrich your mind and capture your interest effortlessly with a brilliant combination of fun, compelling narrative and colorful, detailed illustrations. As you turn the pages, you will discover how different animals sleep, learn about the
ABC What an Informed Voter You’ll Be
A book that takes young readers through the alphabet and illustrates various concepts related to government using basic black-and-white drawings and a short definition. While the book does not have as many voting specific facts as I would have expected, it is a decent starter book for introducing varied aspects from C for Constitution or L for Law to X for the Tenth Amendment or V for Veto. This can also work as a coloring book with the b&w drawings.
Can a Tree Be Blue?
We loved the simple yet colorful illustrations; a combination of some that’re more detailed and realistic (a close up of leaves or other part of the tree) and others that are beautiful, whimsical, yet realistic painting of the trees themselves. The author uses the central question in the title of the book – can a tree be blue? – to introduce different types of trees, their colors, and how many of them change colors with the seasons. A great way to help young readers apply their knowledge of colors and nature. Also loved the finding activity as well as scavenger hunt idea included at the end.
Cityscape: Where Science and Art Meet
I loved the concept of the book; considering I love photography and that I have an architect in the family (my brother), I have always explored cityscapes to see where science and art meet. As for this book, while I loved the photographs, sometimes the placement did not work for me, as I felt it was too crowded. The rhyming text was sparse and fun but again placement made it tough for me to actually see the rhymes.
That said, I loved how the words complemented the ideas, and also that this book can serve as a wonderful way to show readers how STEAM operates everywhere around us using the examples shown in the book (the photographs). The list of “questions to ponder as you wander” at the end will encourage young (and older) readers to look more closely around them when next they explore familiar surroundings. I would have loved a listing of the places where these photos were taken (as a curious traveler myself!)
Crossings: Extraordinary Structures for Extraordinary Animals
Title: Crossings: Extraordinary Structures for Extraordinary Animals
Author: Katy S. Duffield
Illustrator: Mike Orodan
Length: 48 pages
Genre: Children’s Nonfiction/Animals (3 – 8 years)
Publisher: Beach Lane Books (October 13th 2020)
Source: Review copy from Publishers
Crossings: Extraordinary Structures for Extraordinary Animals brings to light the efforts being made by wildlife-lovers across the world to help animals safely travel across our increasingly urban world. Written by Katy S. Duffield, Crossings is unlike any children’s book I’ve read in that I had little to no idea about its subject matter. From elephant underpasses in Kenya to woven rope bridges for squirrels in Australia,
Duffield illustrates several ingenious ‘wildlife crossings’ put up all over the world. The writing is surprisingly lyrical for a children’s book, with interesting vocabulary used throughout, and the full-page illustrations done by Mike Orodan are beautiful. In addition, each page consists of an interesting fact that complements the topic well and a summary page provides a useful synopsis while also adding additional information. As easy to read as it is to recommend, Crossings is perfect for young nature enthusiasts.
Simple, cute and fun drawings with straightforward minimal text that together do a wonderful job of explaining feelings and emotions; and most importantly that it’s OK to feel different emotions. This book is deceptive in that it does so much even with its sparseness. Readers of all ages will get something out of this sweet powerful picture book about feelings. And the workbook included at the end will appeal to everyone; can be used by parents, educators, and care-givers to work with kids, and can even be used as a group/family exercise simply because!
Let’s Eat!: Mealtime Around the World
A fun look at well, mealtime around the world! Readers are taken on a foodie journey around the world and learn not just about different foods people eat but also about eating habits, special treats, mealtime rituals, and more interesting food related trivia.
Each two-page spread includes a story about a person or family from a different part of the world, which includes the various facts revolving around food, along with quirky yet beautiful illustrations filled with details that add to the information. A book that is bound to leave you with cravings, and an appetite!! This picture book is not just for the little ones…
Let’s Fly a Plane!
Interesting illustrations and informative dialog-style narrative will make this appealing to the target audience. Loved that scientific concepts are explained in an age-appropriate way without making it boring. Backmatter includes an experiment for readers to try out, a quiz to discover what they learned, an about the author note, and a glossary.
A straightforward book that will appeal to, well, all those interested in learning more about rock-climbing. This book guides readers through the basics factually and answers various questions along the way that readers might have about this sport. It achieves this through an effective combination of photographs and informative text.
Solar Story: How One Community Lives Alongside the World’s Biggest Solar Plant
Title: Solar Story: How One Community Lives Alongside the World’s Biggest Solar Plant
Author/Illustrator: Allan Drummond
Length: 40 pages
Genre: Children’s Nonfiction/STEM, How things work (4 – 8 years)
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (March 17, 2020)
Source: Edelweiss eARC/e-Review copy from publishers
The story of the largest solar plant in the world, the Noor Solar Power Plant in Morocco’s Sahara Desert, told through the everyday life of a schoolgirl in a small village next to the plant. It is definitely an interesting read. I learned many facts (that I did not know earlier) – about solar power itself and about this power plant (wow, it is huge). It was definitely cool to read about about how the sun’s heat helps generate electricity, as well as how this solar plant has and is impacting the lives of the people who live around it.
While this book’s format — with a unique combination of fun narrative story, captions, sidebars, and an author’s note included before the narrative ends — might be a little confusing, this book is an information power-plant in itself. And the illustrations are definitely charming and include fun details that add to the narrative.
Underground: Subway Systems Around the World
I loved this little powerhouse of facts! That is what this book is, filled with cool facts and even cooler illustrations about the subway systems around the world. Each two-page spread consists of a fact page followed by a find page; and I am not sure I can pick a favorite between these two.
Readers are easily drawn into the subway (book, I mean) as they discover fun facts, and then find themselves seeking objects relevant to the featured city. A great addition to any bookshelf (though it might end up open to a page on the table more often!)
Winged Wonders: Solving the Monarch Migration Mystery
Title: Winged Wonders: Solving the Monarch Migration Mystery
Author: Meeg Pincus
Illustrator: Yas Imamura
Length: 40 pages
Genre: Children’s Nonfiction/STEM, Nature (7 – 10 years)
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press (March 15, 2020)
Living where we do, the monarch butterfly is certainly a huge part of our lives. I recall driving down to the Monarch sanctuary in Pacific Grove a few years ago (unfortunately the only such trip I took, and not sure why I have not attempted it again) during the viewing season but did not have much luck at the time.
This book takes readers on a delightful journey of queries and discovery, all at the same time. As we turn the pages, each one filled with simply beautiful and colorful illustrations befitting the featured Monarch, we learn fun facts in the form of questions as we are subtly introduced to the concepts of citizen-science!
You’re Invited to a Moth Ball: A Nighttime Insect Celebration
Title: You’re Invited to a Moth Ball: A Nighttime Insect Celebration
Author: Loree Griffin Burns
Illustrator: Ellen Harasimowicz
Length: 40 pages
Genre: Children’s Nonfiction/STEM, Nature (5 – 8 years)
Publisher: Charlesbridge (April 7, 2020)
Source: e-Review copy from publishers
Totally loved the conversational tone of this book, and of course, the detailed, vivid photographs too!! Moths are certainly fascinating, and definitely insects I would love to party(attend a ball) with; thanks to Loree Griffin Burns and Ellen Harasimowicz for making me more aware of that fact! This is a wonderful combination of an educational, entertaining nonfiction read and a cool, fun how-to book that encourages readers to spend time outdoors (I know I love that part). Back matter includes further details for holding your own moth ball, additional information about moths, a glossary, and author and illustrator’s notes.
A learning, night-time adventure waiting to happen!!
Your Favorite Seuss: A Baker’s Dozen by the One and Only Dr. Seuss
Title: Your Favorite Seuss: A Baker’s Dozen by the One and Only Dr. Seuss
Author/Illustrator: Dr. Seuss; And edited by Janet Schulman and Cathy Goldsmith
Length: 368 pages
Genre: Children’s Classics, Fiction (5 – 9 years, and up)
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers;(October 12, 2004)
Source: Personal library
A perfect gift; and as I mentioned earlier, one of my favorite books to gift ever. It includes 13 beloved stories of this master-author, and has many cool bonuses. Each story is prefaced by an essay from someone else who was influenced by Dr. Seuss, and that story in particular; and the book also includes additional biographical information about Dr. Seuss, more background on his stories, photographs, and other memorabilia (early drafts, artwork, and more). The stories themselves and all the additional matter makes this book a must-have!!
Some reviewers point out that multiple pages of the original books sometimes find themselves on fewer pages in this book, and note that this makes this book somehow lesser. But I did not feel that this edition detracted from the magic of Seuss in anyway. I have the originals of some of these books, and love both versions – the original book, and the inclusion in this book – equally.
Linking these books @ It’s Monday, What Are You Reading over at TeachMentorTexts
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, have you read any of these books? If yes, your thoughts on them, or on my reviews? If not, your recommendations for similar reads, if any? As always, I welcome any and all comments on this post