PICTURE BOOK REVIEWS: Watersong/Thirsty, Thirsty Elephants/Grand Canyon


In glorious onomatopoeia, Tim McCanna takes the reader on a dazzling journey as a fox seeks shelter from a rainstorm.


As the rain begins, a little fox seeks shelter. But then it builds and builds into to a torrential storm.

Wash! Wham!
Lash! Whirl!
Bash! Swirl!
Hiss! Slap! Slam!

Both a visual feast and a joy to read aloud, this stunning picture book showcases the power and beauty of nature.


Wow!  What a beautiful book!  Not only does the text work well for a read-a-loud during story time, but the theme of the water cycle fits into the state curriculum.  But my favorite part of the book is the gorgeous illustrations.  It was a brilliant move on the part of the illustrator to put a fox into the mix as we follow the storm and its aftermath.  I am eager to use this book with my students as we explore the water cycle.  It's wonderful to have another beautiful book to share on this topic.  The onomatopoeia is a great stroke as it makes for a delightful chorus for both reader and listener to share. The variety of beautiful coloring in the illustrations as well as the different perspectives on the fox make this not only a fun book on an important topic, but a gorgeous work of art.


Elephants never forget

During a drought in Tanzania, Grandma Elephant is in search of water for her herd. Little Calf follows along and mimics her grandmother at each stop on their journey. When Grandma leads them to a watering hole she recalls from years before, the elephants are overjoyed and Little Calf splashes about with her tender leader. Grandma's persistence and powerful memory is something Little Calf will never forget. Based on true events.

Sandra Markle's acclaimed nonfiction writing takes on a more lyrical style alongside Fabricio VandenBroeck's gorgeous illustrations making this story of animal behavior accessible for younger readers.

Back matter includes further information about the phenomenon of a herd of elephants that survived a drought, as well as fascinating elephant facts.


Sandra Markle has written another winning book about a fascinating topic.  Elephants are a topic I never tire of reading about, their intelligence and memory, the power of the bonds between mothers, daughters, and grandmothers, and the numerous ways they communicate.  This picture book focuses on the influence of an older, experienced matriarch in helping her herd survive the drought conditions they face.  And VandenBroeck's illustrations highlight the closeness of the herd and the harsh but beautiful land in which they somehow manage to survive.  In addition to it's focus on the inner workings of a matriarchal elephant herd, the book also powerful presents the importance of water for all living things. Another quality work from a talented natural world voice.


Rivers wind through earth, cutting down and eroding the soil for millions of years, creating a cavity in the ground 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and more than a mile deep known as the Grand Canyon.

Home to an astonishing variety of plants and animals that have lived and evolved within its walls for millennia, the Grand Canyon is much more than just a hole in the ground. Follow a father and daughter as they make their way through the cavernous wonder, discovering life both present and past.

Weave in and out of time as perfectly placed die cuts show you that a fossil today was a creature much long ago, perhaps in a completely different environment. Complete with a spectacular double gatefold, an intricate map and extensive back matter.


The amount of work that must have gone into this book is astounding.  Each gorgeous page highlights the grandest of all canyons and the wildlife and ecosystems that call it home.  The illustrations and text take the reader through both the current Grand Canyon but the layers that time has used to create it.  Additional information at the back adds detail for those who are curious.  But for me it's the amazing illustrations that make this book.  The gorgeous four-page spread is especially awe-inspiring. For those, like me, who have never seen the Grand Canyon in person, this book makes for an amazing recommendation for doing so.  Not only is this a great introduction to the natural history of this remarkable place, but it's a stunning reminder of just how amazing the world we live in is and how much we still have to learn about it.  I'd definitely call this one a Caldecott contender.


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