Amphibiana: Warty Toads

Kids will love this informative and entertaining installment.

If your child loves any kinds of amphibians or reptiles, or you’re simply looking for a great series of books to help supplement your science learning, the Amphibiana series from Bearport Publishing might be right up your alley. This interesting and fun-to-read series includes books such as Amazing Water Frogs, Slimy Salamanders, and Little Newts. Other titles in the series include Tricky Tree Frogs, Leaping Ground Frogs, and the book my daughter and I just finished, Warty Toads.

We have been looking into getting a fire-bellied toad—I had a few as a child, but I honestly can’t remember much about their care—after receiving a free aquarium from my aunt, and I thought this book might help us better understand the animal as well as toads in general. My daughter and I just made a few toad homes in our yard out of broken flower pots we had around (we painted them and put them on their sides, filling them up part-way with a bit of soil), so we might even spot some of the toads we’ve seen in the book.Warty Toads is filled with actual photos of toads, which really helps with the descriptions and identification of the animals. There’s everything from lore of toads (such as the fact that people once thought a toad bone could protect them from an angry dog—or that the toad itself had the magical ability to silence a noisy room!) to myths debunked (no, toads do not cause warts), the differences between frogs and toads (toads are a type of frog), and where you can find toads all over the world in the wild (which is just about everywhere).

We weren’t disappointed with the different types of toads, either. There was this really blobbly looking toad called the spadefoot toad, a neat toad with spikes on his sides known as the crested forest toad, and super cute golden toad. Several neat toad defense mechanisms, such as the secretion of poison and the puffing up to scare a snake away—which made a common toad seem as if he were walking!—were also displayed.

Unfortunately we did not learn more about the fire-belly toad, but we did get to see toad eggs, tadpoles, toad legends, and all kinds of other interesting information, which was just as cool. Any animal loving kid would definitely enjoy this book, and there is plenty to both learn and enjoy from its pages.

A Great Book for Coping with the Death of a Cat

Cat Heaven by Cynthia Rylant offers Hope and Optimism to the Grieving Pet Owner

If your family has recently suffered the loss of a family cat, Cat Heaven is a book that just might help soothe the pain and bring a brighter outlook to children and adults alike. Written and illustrated by Newberry Medalist Cynthia Rylant, Cat Heaven offers a happy view of what might happen to a cat after all its nine lives have been spent.

Rhyming verses describe Rylant's comforting and optimistic views on the afterlife of the cat. For instance, no cat has to worry about getting stuck in a tree in heaven, because they can simply fly down to the bottom whenever they like. Another verse describes how countless cat toys zoom past every minute, while another scene shows a cat curled up on God's lap.

Rylant's illustrations, executed in paint, are playful, colorful, and appealing. A variety of cats are depicted, making for a good chance of seeing a cat in the pages of this book who looks similar to your family's deceased pet.

Due to the nature of the book's subject matter, I wouldn't recommend this title unless you're ready to open up a conversation about death and the afterlife with your child. The religious tone of the book might also be off-putting to some readers, depicting a basically traditional heaven-as-paradise viewpoint and a single, male god complete with white hair and beard. Even so, Cat Heaven presents lots of pleasant and comforting ideas that might be helpful and healing to the child who has recently lost a pet.

Cat Heaven is available from Blue Sky Press, an imprint of Scholastic.




Check out this Book about Animal Brothers and Sisters

Coming soon is a new paperback edition of a much-loved animal book—Sisters and Brothers: Sibling Relationships in the Animal World, written by Robin Page and illustrated by Steven Jenkins. The book offers an insightful, entertaining, and educational look into sibling relations in the animal world.

From the anteater who's an only child, to the armadillos who are born in sets of four identical siblings, Sisters and Brothers highlights lots of interesting creatures. Readers will learn about black widow spiders, lizards, elephants, and more in this fun to explore 32-page picture book.

Author Robin Page and illustrator Steven Jenkins have worked together on several projects including Move! and What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?, and the team has won awards for their brilliant collaborations. Sisters and Brothers is just as satisfying and well done as the team's other efforts, and fans of this duo won't be disappointed.

Having Sisters and Brothers available in paperback makes this delightful book more accessible to a wider audience. Filled with interesting information and intriguing imagery, this is a book to look at and love often. The book is also available in a hardcover edition and it can also be downloaded on Kindle.

With starred reviews from Book List and School Library Journal, it's no wonder animal book enthusiasts are getting excited about the upcoming release of the Sisters and Brothers paperback edition. Share it with you little ones and start a dialogue about sibling relations, or give as a gift to your favorite animal book enthusiast. Sisters and Brothers: Sibling Relationships in the Animal World paperback edition will be out this March 20th, 2012 from Sandpiper.



This Puppy Book is Perfect for Fashionista Animal Fans

If you know any little ones who are into puppies as well as fashion, Scholastic Books has an animal book you might want to consider. I Love Puppies, compiled by Tammi Salzano and designed by Michelle Martinez, this hardcover, spiral-bound title is half book, half journal. With a mix of facts and funny images, as well as plenty of room to add your own creative contributions, it's an unusual title that provides lots of entertainment and plenty of educational value.

The book is divided into sections with tabs, making it easy to find a favorite page in a flash. The book opens with a section titled “A Little About Dogs,” offering information about the six different groups of purebred dogs, a quiz to help you pick the perfect dog that's just right for you, and some quick tips on caring for and pampering your pet.

There's a section devoted to “Puppy Fashion,” filled with fun ideas for dressing up and having glamorous fun with your special pup. There are instructions for making your own designer doggy couture, party ideas, and more.

Another section titled “Tricks and Treats” provides training tips and recipes for healthy doggy treats you can make yourself, while “Doggy Jokes and Games” offers a maze, a word scramble, silly jokes, space to draw your own doggy pictures, and more. “The Puppy Gallery” ends the book with plenty of pages and prompts to add your own photos and drawings and puppy-related musings.

For the creative kid in your life who loves animal books and a little bit of glamour, I Love Puppies is sure to please.

Great Animal Book, Trivia Book, and Concept Book

Big and Little by Marilyn Easton Has it All

Big and Little by Marilyn Easton is a delightful animal book that teaches kids interesting facts about the animals that share our world. Published by Scholastic Books in 2011, this paperback title is an affordable, entertaining choice for young readers.

The book explores a series of adult animals and their babies—one page describes a cat, the next page a kitten. Each animal name is written in a bold typeface at the bottom of the page, making it easier for beginning readers to learn these animal words.

Interesting information about each animal is presented in an easy-to-read style, making this book an entertaining and enjoyable book to have your child read out loud. Find out why puppies sleep so much, learn how to decipher your cat's meows, discover how many teeth a lamb has, uncover the secret of the giraffe's long tongue, and explore many other fascinating facts about animals.

Animals featured in Big and Little include elephants, chimpanzees, pandas, cats, dogs, sheep, lions, polar bears, kangaroos, hippos, horses, cows, ducks, giraffes, and sea lions, depicted and described in both their mature adult stage and also in their baby stage.

The book is illustrated with full-color, up-close photographs of actual animals, making this book a really solid guide for some basic animal information to present to the youngest readers. Big and Little is also a great concept book, teaching the difference in big and little, adult and baby.

If you're looking for a charming, fun, and educational animal book for young readers, Big and Little should be at the top of your list.

Bats at the Library is a Cozy Cold-Weather Read

When the weather is cold, snuggling up under a blanket with your child and a good animal book can be just the sort of comforting warmth that really hits the spot. Bats at the Library is the perfect book for a cold weather snuggle.

Written and illustrated by Brian Lies, the book describes the adventures of a band of bats that are lucky enough to discover that a window at the local public library has been left ajar. They fly in and explore the many books and adventures that open to them through the world of reading. From riding on the backs of charging stallions to pulling a magical sword out of a stone, the bats do it all.

They don't just stop at the books, though. These playful bats also have fun at the copy machine and water fountain, making a bit of mess and misbehaving like one might expect a gang of bats to do!

The illustrations are very skillfully executed, with stunning detail and a charming, imaginative quality that invites the reader right into the pages of the book. The bats are drawn fairly realistically, despite the impossible things they do throughout the story. The tones are generally dark, enhancing the cozy, close-up feel of Brian Lies art.

Brian Lies is an award-winning author and illustrator, and his earlier title Bats at the Beach was a New York Times bestseller. Bats at the Library was published in 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Company, and although it's a few years old, it's still well worth a look.


The Ultimate Cat Book

Cat lovers, rejoice! Out this April, 2012 from Anness publishing house is The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Cats, Cat Breeds, and Cat Care.

Written by Alan Edwards, a judge with the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy in Great Britain and an experienced breeder, the book includes reliable, expert information on all things cats. Trevor Turner, an experienced breeder and renowned veterinarian, acted as Editorial Consultant for the book.

The book covers most of the world's cat breeds, from the common to the rare and exotic. Shorthair tabby cats, Persians, Bengals, the Sphynx, the Manx, and the Siamese are all included, along with skews of other cat breeds—some of which you might not have ever heard about!

Each breed is described in detail, with characteristic appearance and typical temperament clearly defined. Grooming needs and other special concerns regarding each breed are also included.

With plenty of full-color photographs to show off each variety of cat, just browsing through the pictures in this book is a delight for the animal lover. For the individual or family who's looking to welcome a new kitty into the home, this book is an invaluable reference that will help you find the cat that's the best fit for your lifestyle. At 256 pages, the paperback edition is handy and concise yet thorough enough to provide a broad range of basic information about the wild world of cats.

Whether you're searching for the perfect pet, or you just want to learn as much as you can about cats, The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Cats, Cat Breeds, and Cat Care is sure to please.


Classic Animal Books to Read with your Kids

Some books we remember for a lifetime, and many of these we first discover in childhood. If you're looking for a story that will make a lasting impression on your little reader, check out any of these classic animal books:

Frog and Toad: The Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel offers humor, wit, intelligence, understanding, compassion, and fun to the developing reader. Featuring Frog, a happy-go-lucky fellow who's always ready for excitement, and his best friend Toad, a practical, solid, and wary chap, the books follow the pair through a series of short adventures.

The Poky Little Puppy: Written by Janette Sebring Lowrey, The Poky Little Puppy is the story of a playful pup who has the habit of poking his nose where he shouldn't. The curious puppy disobeys his mother and realizes that nothing beats the comfort of family, in spite of all those impossible to follow rules about staying out of trouble.

The Wind in the Willows: This story by Kenneth Grahame follows the hardships, triumphs, and often amusing antics of a gang of animal friends whose personalities are very different. When Badger, Ratty, Mr. Toad, and Otter get together, the adventures never end.

Winnie the Pooh: Written by A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh is the story of Christopher Robin and his friends—Tigger, Piglet, Rabbit, Owl, Roo, Kanga, and of course, Winnie the Pooh himself. Perfect for the child who is reading independently and ready for a greater challenge, Winnie the Pooh offers sweet stories and engaging plots.

These books are classics for a reason: they're good! What are your favorite animal classics? Why not read one to your child tonight?

Swim to Recovery: New Book Explores Canine Hydrotherapy

Swim to Recovery: Canine Hydrotherapy Healing is a new dog care book that's truly unique. Out this January, 2012 from Hubble and Hattie, the book covers all aspects of canine hydrotherapy—a special form of underwater exercise for dogs.

Canine hydrotherapy is useful in rehabilitation from physical injuries, and its gentle, low-impact nature makes it appropriate for many dogs with joint problems. It's also great for providing general exercise to help maintain your dog's health and fitness.

Swim to Recovery is the work of author Emily Wong, a graduate of Writtle College with a degree in Animal Management. She's not only a qualified canine hydrotherapist through the National Association of Registered Canine Hydrotherapists and the Canine Hydrotherapy Association, she is also a true animal lover and friend to dogs, and her compassion, dedication, and spirit of innovation make Swim to Recovery shine.

The book explores all the basic aspects of canine hydrotherapy and includes information about other alternative treatments for dogs. An overview of canine health issues, their symptoms, prevention, and treatment options is included, as well. Especially interesting are the case studies: Wong has included the stories of several dogs who were successfully treated through canine hydrotherapy, allowing the reader to gain a firmer grasp on the real-life benefits that this type of therapy can offer.

At 128 pages, this paperback edition is a concise and easy read. Whether you have an overweight dog that could use more exercise, a dog who simply likes to swim, a dog who needs a low-impact sport, or a dog requiring post-operative or pre-operative rehabilitation or conditioning, Swim to Recovery offers a unique option to consider. Get the book, grab your dog, and hit the pool—both you and your furry friend will enjoy the fun!


Owl Watching, Anyone?

Most bird watchers focus on song birds and other diurnal birds, but if you're looking for ways to enrich your animal observation experiences, consider watching owls. Owls are mysterious and aloof creatures, and if you don't know where to look, when to look, or how to look, you're not likely to spot any. Now there's a new book available that teaches all the basics of owl watching: Guide to Owl Watching in North America by noted owl expert Donald S. Heintzelman. Released from Dover Publications at the end of December, 2011, the book explains many aspects of owl watching. From habitats and preferred foods to typical behaviors, you'll learn a lot about owls that might lurk in the shadows near your own home. Snowy owls, screech owls, barn owls, great gray owls, potted owls, great horned owls, and other common North American owl species are described, and tips for finding and viewing each one are included. The book also explores owl-watching sites in 40 U.S. states and Canada.

Owl watching equipment such as telescopes, pellet bags, flashlights, and recording equipment is also described in great detail, and various types and methods of owl watching are outlined. Seasonal migrations, conservation issues, and environmental adaptations are explored, as well. Eighty-four illustrations and photographs help bring the text of the book to life. Donald S Heintzelman's Guide to Owl Watching in North America is a great book for any bird watcher, and it's especially enjoyable for the animal lover who is looking for something a little off the beaten track!