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Nature Books for Kids

Everything Bird: What Kids Really Want to Know About Birds
By Cherie Winner
Northword Books for Young Readers, 64 pages, $10.95 (ages 8–11)

If birds don’t have teeth, how do they chew their food? Can an owl really turn its head all the way around? These are just two of the questions science writer Cherie Winner tackles in this thorough and engaging exploration of the avian world. Photographs of birds representing a wide range of species grace nearly every page, complementing Winner’s fact-laden text. For example, vultures—with their bald, wrinkly heads— are ugly for a good reason: They eat dead animals and must, she explains,  “reach way inside the oozy, smelly body to get the tastiest bits of food. If they had feathers on their head and neck, the feathers would become covered with stinky goo.”  While an appended list of resources provides ample fodder for further ornithological research, it’s Winner’s infec-tious enthusiasm that will inspire any budding birdwatcher. “No matter how much you know about [birds],” she writes, “or how often you see them, they always give you something new to marvel at.”—Julie Leibach

 

On Meadowview Street
By Henry Cole
HarperCollins, 32 pages, $16.99 (ages 4–8)

When Caroline and her family move into their new home on Meadowview Street, the young girl notices something peculiar: There doesn’t seem to be a meadow in sight of the rows of whitewashed houses and manicured lawns. After spotting a little blossom amid the lush grass in her own yard, however, Caroline is inspired to protect it from the lawn mower. What begins as one girl’s effort to nurture a flower eventually becomes a family plan to foster a community of plant life and animals. “The more Caroline and her family worked on their yard, the more it changed. It was now a home to many things,” writes Henry Cole. “In no time there were birds and insects everywhere, around the tree and zipping among the flowers. Soon the wren house was full of twigs for a nest.” Charming illustrations of the industrious pig-tailed heroine—as she proudly admires a freshly planted maple tree, builds a birdhouse with her father, and lugs a rock to a pond dug for thirsty creatures—will remind children that they really can make a difference. It might just take a bit of dirt under their fingernails.—Julie Leibach

 

Kids’ Book Classic

The Lorax
By Dr. Seuss
Random House, 72 pages, $14.95 (ages 6–9)

In this timeless allegory, Dr. Seuss’s lilting rhyme carries a weighty message about the dangers of greed-driven defores-tation. The Lorax’s home is a paradise, where all creatures live harmoniously. Here, bearlike Brown Bar-ba-loots dance, Humming-Fish splash, and Truffula Trees—their tops like giant pom-poms—wave “mile after mile in the fresh morning breeze.” But when an entrepreneur sets up shop producing Thneeds, a versatile product “that-all-people-need,” the otherworldly Eden starts to crumble. One by one, the invader chops down the magnificent Truffulas for their tops, thereby disrupting nature’s delicate balance. Enter the Lorax, an adorably stout, mustached forest spokesperson who berates the factory owner for his carelessness. Shaking a fuzzy finger, he complains that the operation is “glumping the pond where the Humming-Fish hummed! No more can they hum, for their gills are all gummed” and the fish must now “walk on their fins and get woefully weary, in search of some water that isn’t so smeary.” What were once comical illustrations in a spectrum of fruity colors fade to nightmarish shades of grey, brown, and purple as the once-blissful forest inhabitants grow weary, forced into exile. Even nearly 40 years after it was written, The Lorax is worth revisiting.—Julie Leibach
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The Lorax
A classic tale relates a timeless message.

















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