What a great selection of books, with 48 Grasshopper Estates and Chickenology being some of my favourites and depending on how wet I get, the Prank Lab.

48 Grasshopper Estates

This picture book was the first one my 12 year old grabbed from the pile and started reading, although later suggested he wasn’t actually reading it and couldn’t tell me how he liked it. I can. I thought it was wonderful – full of imagination.

Sicily Bridges lives at Grasshopper Estate although she has never seen grasshoppers or grass, but no matter, Sicily has an amazing imagination and is able to create anything she needs – a dragon to protect her from monsters in the closet and a boat to sail across the ocean. What she didn’t have was a friend to go with her to Mars, so she goes about creating ones that have everything they need to live on Mars, except they are afraid of heights, and Sicily finds they aren’t the friends for her. Sicily finds the perfect match for all her friends, including herself.

What a great book by Sara de Waal with illustrations by Erika Medina. I love Sicily’s imagination, her realization of what she needs and her determination to find a friend. I love the secondary characters, including Mrs. Rubenstein who embraces who Sicily is while encouraging every step of the way.

48 Grasshopper Estates is $21.95 and is from Annick Press.


My apologies to authors Barbara Sandri and Francesco Giubbilini and illustrator Camilla Pintonato because, I confess, when I first opened Chickenology I thought “an entire book about chickens” followed by who would read it?

Me. I would read it. Cover to cover, with each page offering a new piece of information I did not know about chickens.

It was so interesting. I knew chickens were pets (and known people who have had them) but did know they have actually been acknowledged by doctors as emotional support animals and they are “capable of alleviating fear, including that experienced by some passengers on airplanes.” Of course, they also induce fear for those who are terrified of birds and pecking chickens, but I digress.

The book talks about chickens through the ages, chickens in stories, how to keep chickens and their eggs (as well as answering the age-old question, what came first, the chicken or the egg).

The book also highlights a few chicken varieties including the Ayam Cemani, which are completely black including their organs and skeletons – cool, and the La Feche breed, with its horn-like comb. During the Middle Ages, it “was a victim of great superstition”. Called the bird of the devil, many were burned at the stake. Poor things.

Chickenology is $28.95 from Raincoast Books and Princeton Architectural Press.

The Bare Naked Book

The Bare Naked Book by Kathy Stinson is an updated book of the same name from 1986, which at the time, caused quite the stir as it showed naked bodies and talked about them in a children’s book.

This updated book shows diversity – in skin colour, in cultural representation and physical ability. There are young bodies and old bodies, thin bodies and fat bodies. And while you see a penis and a vagina, they are simply labeled genitals “leaving adult readers free to talk with children about variations in gender identity and genitalia, and the words they might prefer to use to refer to them.”

Each body part is shown, with each offering various words to what it might look like and I chance for children to point it out to themselves: “Chests and breasts with hair, with milk and nipples like buttons. Where are your nipples?”

I agree with Stinson that Melissa Cho’s illustrations are wonderful. I particularly liked the bum page and the absolute glee on the child who has escaped from the bathtub and is running away from adults.

The Bare Naked Book is $21.95 and is from Annick Press.

Birds Explore their Extraordinary World

I love birds. I love watching them as they fly over my head, swoop and catch a fish and eat out of my hand. I find them fascinating.

In Birds Explore their Extraordinary World by Miranda Krestovinikoff, we learn about a variety of birds from birds of prey and flightless birds to nests, birdsong and extreme cold.

What I like about this book is that it is full of information about each type of bird for example in Flightless Birds, there is a subsection called Ture flightless birds and a several paragraphs of information on the kiwis, kakapos and ostriches, among others. Some bird descriptions left me wanting to know more than the basics provided in the description. What I dislike most about this book is that the birds are illustrated rather than pictures of the actual bird. The illustrations are nice, but if I am going to read a book about birds, I want to see what they really look like.

Birds is $32.50 and is from Raincoast Books and Bloombury.

Hello, Rain!

In this book by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Chris Turnham, we meet a little girl and her dog who love the rain from listening to it plink, plunk, plonk on the rooftops to getting dressed and going outside to enjoy the words, sounds and sights that comes from rain while jumping in puddles, watching water gushing down streets and landing in nature. The little girl enjoys all that rain brings outside and inside, offering a book that shows the magic rain.

This book makes me happy. The little girl loves everything that a spring/summer rain brings and we get to join her in her happiness. There is lots to look at in the illustrations and in addition to the main story, the author points out things we may or may not see –  rain going down to thirsty roots and the foxglove, poppy and yarrow that are happy to take the liquid.

Hello, Rain! Is $24.99 and is from Raincoast Books.

I interviewed Kyo Maclear. You can read it here.

Prank Lab

I am not sure I want my son to read Prank Lab as he is already looking to dump buckets of water on my head or sabotage bottles, so liquid comes into my lab.

In Prank Lab by Wade David Fairclough, Chris Ferrie and Bryne Laginestra, kids can learn “25 hilarious experiments, scientific practical jokes” with step-by-step instructions that will help up the prank game.

There are four sections, each with a minimum of five practical jokes (many of more) including Edible Poop? (Making a Mess) and Spilled Milk (Clean Classics). There is also a Messing with the Mind and Wanna Bet? Sections. Each prank offers a list of victim, mess, danger, funniness and science scale, along with a shopping list, warnings to a future me, did you know, fast facts as well as more information and some science behind it.

It’s good to know when you are covered in ice water when the water bottle explodes that your child is learning. It’s also good to know there are enough pranks in there, you can likely get him back.

Prank Lab is $24.74 and from Raincoast Books and Sourcebooks.

A copy of these books were provided by Annick Press
and Raincoast Books for an honest review. The opinions are my own.