The Bear Ate Your Sandwich

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich, by Julia Sarcone-Roach

BearAteSandwichcover“By now I think you know what happened to your sandwich.  But you may not know how it happened.  So let me tell you.  It all started with the bear.”

The narrator tells of a happy bear in a forest who finds a truck with baskets of berries in the truck bed.  After the bear eats and falls asleep, the truck drives out of the forest and into a city.

Warm, colorful illustrations (acrylic paint and pencil) tell the story of the curious and playful bear’s journey from the forest to the sandwich.  The illustrations show the bear climbing and exploring, scratching his back on a lamp post, walking through wet cement, and looking for things to eat.  The bear follows his nose to a park and sees the sandwich.

“Your beautiful and delicious sandwich all alone.  He waited to make sure on one saw him (not even the sandwich) before he made his move.  It was a great sandwich.  The bear loved it.”

The bear is surprised to find dogs in the park and runs away — eventually getting back to his home in the forest.

A cute twist in the ending reveals a Scottie dog standing over a scrap of lettuce, telling the story to a little girl.  So who ate the sandwich?  The dog?  Or a bear?  Share this picture book with young children – you’ll all enjoy the fun sandwich-eating bear story.


Me…Jane, by Patrick McDonnell

mejanebookHow did Jane Goodall grow up to live in Africa and study chimpanzees at the Gombe Stream Game Reserve (now Gombe Stream National Park)?

This is a wonderful picture book about Jane Goodall as a child — told simply, with fun, colorful illustrations.

When Jane was a young girl, she had a stuffed animal chimpanzee named Jubilee who went everywhere with her.  Jane loved to be outside, watching birds, animals, and insects.  She read books and learned all she could about the plants and animals around her.  For example, she and Jubilee hid in the chicken coop to watch the hens and discover where eggs came from.

“It was a magical world full of joy and wonder, and Jane felt very much a part of it.”

Jane climbed trees and explored outdoors.  She read books about the natural world, and about Tarzan of the Apes.

“Jane dreamed of a life in Africa, too…a life living with, and helping, all animals.”

And, Jane’s dream came true.

There is additional information about Jane Goodall, the Jane Goodall Institute, and Roots & Shoots program – with website addresses.  There also is a message from Jane Goodall encouraging everyone to do something to make the world a better place.

Me…Jane features McDonnell’s illustrations, as well as drawings that Jane Goodall created as a child.  Me…Jane is a Caldecott Honor Book.

Dr. Jane Goodall is known for her work with chimpanzees, and also as an environmentalist, humanitarian, and United Nations Messenger of Peace.

Patrick McDonnell is the creator of the Mutts comic strip and books  —

Our Tree Named Steve

Our Tree Named Steve, by Alan Zweibel, illustrated by David Catrow

1treeStevebookA father writes a letter to his children, who are away visiting grandparents.  The letter tells the story of a tree, and also of the family through the years.

The family bought some land to build a house.  When they all went to see the land, the children found a large tree that held their attention.  The youngest child, who couldn’t say ‘tree,’ called the tree ‘Steve.’  The parents asked the builders not to cut Steve down during the house construction.
Steve was there from the start, and became a part of the family’s life, holding swings and jump ropes, standing as third base, or a hiding place.

“Yes, right there in the center of our yard, this weird-looking tree grew to become the center of our outdoor life.  Through all our barbecues, campouts, dance parties…Steve adjusted to our every need.”

Steve stood through snowstorms, an overflowing sewer, a tree doctor visit, and many other events.

“Through the years Mom and I have tried to show you, in a world filled with strangers, the peace that comes with having things you can count on and a safe place to return to after a hard day or a long trip.”

The father concludes the letter explaining that a storm came through their area, and that they couldn’t save Steve from the storm.  The huge tree snapped and fell over.

“But even in his final moments, when he could have fallen on our house, Sari’s swings, Kirby’s house, or Mom’s garden, Steve performed his last trick and protected all of us to the very end, and friends like this are hard to find.”

The book ends with a picture of a new tree house in another tree, perhaps made of Steve’s wood, and the family dog standing on a huge stump.

The illustrations are lively, and bring the story to life.  This is a fun picture book to share with your family.

The Secrets of Stonehenge

The Secrets of Stonehenge by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom

secretsofstonehengeIn this non-fiction picture book, Manning and Granstrom take a close look at Stonehenge.  This is an informational picture book for slightly older children, or for preschoolers and up with a strong interest and longer attention span.

Manning and Granstrom begin their book in Stone Age Britain 10,000 years ago, and continue through the Neolithic age with first farmers 6,000 years ago, the idea of gods and goddesses 5,000 years ago, to the beginning of Stonehenge 5,000 years ago.  Construction progressed in stages – with the digging of a ditch, bank construction and digging of Aubrey holes (that likely held wooden posts) 5,000 years ago.  The 80 bluestones came from the Welsh mountains on boats and rafts 4,500 years ago.  And, the giant saren stones were moved from Marlborough Downs after that (still 4,500 years ago), carved into shape, raised into pits, and capped with lintel stones.

The authors discuss the technology of the times, and how the people might have moved, carved, and raised the stones – and that it might have taken most of the people in the South of England.  The authors also explore what the stones might have been for – and what sort of ceremonies might have taken place there.  They discuss the importance of the solstices – midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset.

Pages also discuss nearby Durrington Walls that might have been a gathering and feasting place associated with Stonehenge.  The authors talk about the ancient peoples, how archeologists find clues in graves and near important gathering places, and important discoveries like the Amesbury Archer and the Stonehenge Archer.

There is a glossary of terms at the end of the book, as well as a short, illustrated timeline on the inside covers.

This is an excellent book for introducing readers to the mysteries of Stonehenge.

To learn more about the authors, visit


Gravity by Jason Chin

gravity book“Gravity makes things fall to Earth.  Without gravity, everything would float away.”

Chin’s non-fiction picture book explains gravity in a way that everyone, even the youngest listeners, can understand.  The simple text is accompanied by colorful, engaging illustrations.

The illustrations follow a young boy playing with space toys on a beach, then follow the toys into space demonstrating what would happen if gravity didn’t exist.  The toys fall to Earth later in the book, surprising three other children who are selling lemonade.  The boy on the beach is then surprised by lemons and a pitcher of lemonade.  The mini story and illustrations will keep readers smiling and interested as they learn about gravity.

Chin follows the story with two illustrated pages that give a more in-depth explanation of gravity.  Topics covered include:  defining gravity as an invisible force, mass and gravity, distance and gravity, measuring gravity, and orbiting around the Sun.

This great book teaches about gravity in a fun, easy-to-understand manner.  Chin also has written Redwoods, Coral Reefs, and Island.

Velma Gratch & The Way Cool Butterfly

Today I felt as if Monarch butterflies were fluttering everywhere in my little part of Vermont.  I think this group will migrate south to overwinter, then return in the spring.  So, this picture book review is timely.

Velma Gratch coverVelma Gratch & The Way Cool Butterfly by Alan Madison and Kevin Hawkes

Velma was the youngest of the three Gratch sisters – and the third sister to be in the first grade.  She felt overshadowed by her older sisters.

“Everyone from the class guinea pig to the principal had magnificent memories of the older Gratch girls.  But they could hardly even recall Velma’s name.”

Velma tried to get people to notice her.  She sang very loudly in music class.  She ran very slowly in gym.  She muddled math problems and refused to read.  She was sent to the principal’s office (the first Gratch sister to do that).

Velma really liked science.  They learned about rainbows and volcanic activity.  They started learning about butterflies.  Velma paid extra close attention to the lessons.  She asked her sisters if they had studied butterflies in first grade – and found that they had not (one studied worms, the other studied frogs).  So, she was the first to study butterflies.  She read everything about butterflies that she could find in the library.  The Monarch butterfly was her favorite.

Velma’s first grade class went on a field trip to the Butterfly Conservatory.  (Her sisters hadn’t been there, and thought it sounded cool.)  It was a wonderful place with butterflies flying around – even landing on a few classmates.

Just as it was time to leave a Monarch butterfly landed on Velma’s finger.  And, it wouldn’t get off.  Of course, “Velma was in heaven.”  But, the butterfly needed to stay at the conservatory.  Everyone tried to get it to move (without touching it, which could damage its wings).  Finally, Velma had to leave with the butterfly on her finger.

The butterfly stayed on her finger on the bus back to school, at night while she slept, during gym, and math, and reading, and ballet, and soccer…..  “Soon everyone, from the class guinea pig to the principal knew about Velma and her butterfly.”  The principal told Velma that the butterfly had to go.

“Oh, I’ve tried to get it to go,”  Velma moaned, “but it just won’t”

“Well, no one will ever forget this,”  the principal fumed.

Velma’s frown pretzel-twisted into a small smile.

And, Velma knew what to do – help the butterfly migrate.  Velma led the principal, her class, and her sisters to the park.  There, they found the guide from the conservatory carefully releasing a sack of Monarch butterflies.

“The monarch jumped onto her nose, as if to give her a kiss, and then took flight to join its friends.  Over the treetops it flew, over the skyscrapers, and up into the wild blue, orange, and black yonder on its way to Mexico.”

This is a great picture book – with a fun main character, lively illustrations, and some interesting information about butterflies.  It was one of my daughter’s favorites.



Poached – Book Review

Poached by Stuart Gibbs

Reviewed by Daughter, age 10

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail




About the book, Poached:

poached book coverIt all started when Vance Jessup bullied Teddy Fitzroy into dropping an arm and foot (from a mannequin) into the shark tank at FunJungle.

When he was being chased by security guards, Teddy escaped by hiding in the koala exhibit with Kazoo the Koala.  He still had the backpack that Vance had given him with the arm and foot in it (now mostly empty).  Teddy accidentally fell asleep in the exhibit for half an hour.  When he woke up, the guards weren’t searching for him any more.

Teddy’s situation got worse.  Security video showed him entering the exhibit with a big, somewhat empty backpack slung over one shoulder, and exiting with the backpack on both shoulders – with the backpack looking like it could have something in it.  And, Kazoo the Koala was missing – replaced in a tree by a gift shop stuffed animal.

Teddy knows that Large Marge, the head security guard at FunJungle, won’t bother looking for the real criminal because she is too busy trying to find evidence that Teddy took Kazoo.  So Teddy has to catch the real criminal himself.

What follows are exciting adventures as Teddy works to unearth the truth,including swimming in the shark tank, and talking to Summer McCraken, the daughter of J.J. McCraken, the owner of the zoo.

I loved this book.  I would recommend it to anyone who likes animals or very gripping books.


The Magic Rabbit

The Magic Rabbit by Annette LeBlanc Cate

themagicrabbit “Ray and Bunny lived together in a tiny apartment in the city.  They were business partners.  Ray was a magician, and Bunny was his loyal assistant.

They were also best friends.  They did everything together.”

So begins a fun story about two friends and a little magic.

Each Saturday Ray the magician and Bunny, the rabbit, performed a magic show outside in the downtown area.  One day, things were pretty crowded downtown.  As Ray said the magic word (Abracadabra), and Bunny was getting ready to leap out of the magic hat in a shower of glittering stars, a juggler on a unicycle crashed into them.  Bunny was tossed from the hat, and chased away by a dog.

Ray looked for Bunny.  And, Bunny looked for Ray.  Bunny found a park, and even little bits of pretzel to nibble on.  But, Bunny couldn’t find Ray.  When it got dark, Bunny really wished he and Ray were together at home.

Bunny hopped down a dark alley to rest and discovered some popcorn….and some glittering stars from their magic show.  Bunny was able to find more glittering stars – and a trail of stars that led him back to Ray.

This is a sweet story of friendship, shown from the bunny’s point of view.



First Day of School

School is back in session for many families around the country.  Students starting new schools, students returning to the same school, and students starting school for the very first time…..and teachers starting school again, too.

I posted this last year, so this is a post from the vault.  I really just love this picture book – good for sharing with anyone who has those first day jitters.

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg, illustrated by Judy Love

FirstDayJittersIt is the first day of school.  Sarah Jane Hartwell hides under her covers and says she isn’t going to school.  It’s a new school, and she doesn’t know anyone there – and she doesn’t want to go.

“That’s just it.  I don’t know anybody, and it will be hard, and…I just hate it, that’s all.”

Mr. Hartwell tries saying different things to reassure her, and to get her out of bed.  Finally Sarah tumbles out of bed and gets dressed.

Mr. Hartwell drives her to school.  Her hands feel cold and clammy.  She is nervous.  Mr. Hartwell points out the school principal.

“You’ll love your new school once you get started….There’s your principal, Mrs. Burton.”

Mrs. Burton shows Sarah to her classroom, reassuring her along the way through the crowded hallways.

“Don’t worry.  Everyone is nervous the first day.”

Then, Mrs. Burton introduces Sarah to the class.  And, in a nice twist, we learn that Sarah is the teacher.

This is a fun picture book for the start of a new school year, or for children switching schools after the school year has started.  The illustrations don’t show enough of Sarah for the reader to guess that she is an adult – keeping the surprise until the end. Sometimes it helps if children know that even teachers get nervous the first day of school.  A good picture book to share as the start of school approaches.

Seal Island School

Seal Island School by Susan Bartlett, illustrated by Tricia Tusa

sealislandschoolcoverSeal Island, Maine had one school and one teacher.  Forty-nine people lived on the island.  Each year a new teacher came to the school, and each year he or she left in June.  The teachers all said it was too lonely there.

Pru Stanley really liked this teacher, Miss Sparling, and wanted her to stay on the island and be the teacher for a long time.  Pru discoverd that Miss Sparling was saving up money for a Newfoundland dog because, “they’re good company.”

Pru received a pony for her birthday and Miss Sparling taught her how to care for him and ride him.  Pru realized that she had a gerbil, a dog, and a pony, but Miss Sparling was alone.  Pru decided to save up and buy her teacher a Newfoundland dog so Miss Sparling would stay on the island.  Pru and her friend, Nicholas, collected cans for cash, and even worked helping unpack boxes in the local store.

Other story threads include a message in a bottle from a girl on the mainland – the students wrote to her via mail and she wrote back – and even visited; and the worry that the Seal Island School would close the next year because there must be “at least five kids to afford a teacher” – six children attended the school, but one would be too old the next year, and one might move away.

With the help of many friends, Pru succeeded in getting a Newfoundland dog (from a rescue organization) for Miss Sparling and giving it to her at the end-of-year ceremony.  This book has a happy ending – with Miss Sparling staying on as the school teacher, the girl who sent the message in a bottle coming to live on the island, and the school having enough students to stay open.

This is a good book for young readers who are ready for chapter books, but still enjoy shorter chapters with some black and white illustrations throughout.