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Nature’s Cradle

The Hot Off the Press Spotlight segment showcases new books from our current Hot Off the Press list to further assist parents, teachers, librarians, booksellers, and other book enthusiasts in finding engaging books for all types of readers.

Shinrin-yoku is the Japanese practice of “forest bathing,” a form of mindfulness and meditation that happens in nature, preferably in a forest away from the distractions of modern life. There have been promising studies indicating that reconnecting with nature on such a basic level—really focusing on the scents, sounds, and sensations of the living world around us—has a positive impact on our health and well-being. From increased oxygen levels and the development of more cancer-fighting proteins to significantly reduced stress and depression, being immersed in nature grounds and centers us, giving us respite from an increasingly chaotic world. To honor the environment (and keep the Earth Day celebrations going), this week’s Spotlight features titles from our April Hot Off the Press list that take us out of doors and show us the awesome power and breathless beauty of the natural world around us.

The Bee Mother, by Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson); illus. by Natasha Donovan (Portage & Main Press / HighWater Press) — Nonfiction, Picture Book, Animals, BIPOC Characters and Creators, Science / Nature, ages 7-12.

Learn about the life cycles of different kinds of bees in this enlightening picture book.

As flowers and trees begin to bud and bloom, Nox Ap, the bee mother, emerges from her winter sleep. To the Gitxsan, she is nature’s gardener. Without her hard work as a pollinator, we could not enjoy the fruits of strawberries and huckleberries. Follow her life from the first thaw of spring to the end of autumn.

In the seventh book of Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson)’s Mothers of Xsan series, readers will discover the important role of the bumblebee, the honeybee, and the yellow jacket wasp in the Xsan ecosystem.

Behold the Hummingbird, by Suzanne Slade; illus. by Thomas Gonzalez (Peachtree) — Nonfiction, Picture Book, Animals, Science / Nature, Concepts, ages 4-6.

Lyrical text and gorgeous illustrations take flight in this exploration of the tiny, gorgeous hummingbirds and its astonishing abilities. Hummingbirds are tiny and pretty, so you might find yourself taking them for granted. But these little birds are remarkable, fierce, and talented. In Behold the Hummingbird, readers will learn about species that can hover like a helicopter, fly backwards and upside down, and consume half their body weight in a single day.

Earth’s Incredible Places: Grand Canyon, by Susan Lamb; illus. by Sean Lewis (Flying Eye Books) — Nonfiction, Prose, History, Science / Nature, Animals, ages 7-12.

A captivating, illustrated introduction to one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon National Park.

Stretching across a rocky plateau in America, carved deep into the rocks by the rushing Colorado River, lies the Grand Canyon. Its bands of rock tell us about millions of years of our planet’s history and the indigenous Hopi, Havasupai, and Navajo tribes that have ties to the land. Today at least five million people visit Grand Canyon National Park every year.

This stunning illustrated guide is packed with incredible facts about this natural wonders’ wildlife, people, geography, and history. The Grand Canyon has captured humankind’s imagination since the Ice Age. Now it is your turn to explore!

Extreme Survival: How People, Plants, and Animals Live in the World’s Toughest Places, by Ben Lerwill; illus. by Daniel Long (Nosy Crow) — Nonfiction, Prose, Action / Adventure, Science / Nature, Animals, ages 7-12.

Discover how to navigate the vast Australian outback, keep yourself alive in a sandstorm in the Arabian desert, avoid a bear attack in a North American forest, explore the dark depths of the Atlantic Ocean, and even perform a spacewalk in orbit!

Find out how the people, plants, and animals who live in these incredible places have learned to survive, and what we can do to help protect these amazing environments for the future.

Come on an intrepid adventure to the world’s most extreme places:

  • Arctic Circle
  • North American Forests
  • The Depths of the Ocean
  • Amazon Rainforest
  • Pacific Desert Island
  • The Alps
  • Arabian Desert
  • African Savannah
  • The Himalayas
  • Australian Outback
  • Antarctica
  • Outer Space

Firefly Galaxy, by Sarah Nelson; illus. by Estrellita Caracol (Barefoot Books) — Fiction, Picture Book, Science / Nature, Animals, Family / Community, ages 4-6.

Sofia and her siblings can hardly wait for nightfall – Sofia hopes to fill a jar with fireflies! When at last Mars flickers, and the owl begins to hoot, Sofia and her family venture into a dazzling summer night where firefly light is like a glittering galaxy. Lyrical text and gorgeous collage artwork are supplemented by informative endmatter on finding fireflies and protecting their habitats.

A Forest Full of Music, by Suzan Overmeer; illus. by Myriam Berenschot (Clavis) — Fiction, Picture Book, Music / Art, Science / Nature, Animals, ages 4-6.

Toby dreams of singing along with the blackbirds. But when his dream finally comes true, everyone runs away. That’s how awful his singing sounds! Toby flees into the forest, because he’ll never be able to make beautiful music . . . right?

A cheerful book about discovering unexpected talents when you think you don’t have any. For musical stompers ages 5 years and up.

From the Farm, to Our Table, by Sarah Rowe; illus. by Amanda Morrow (Gnome Road Publishing) — Fiction, Picture Book, Animals, Science / Nature, Family / Community, ages 4-6.

Based on the author’s homesteading lifestyle, this book is sure to be a hit with farm-loving (and curious!) kids. Colorful, playful illustrations add layers of warmth and fun as readers follow twin siblings across the family farm to gather ingredients to make a shepherd’s pie.

Kai’s Ocean of Curiosities, written & illustrated by Joséphine Topolanski (Blue Dot Kids Press) — Fiction, Picture Book, Science / Nature, Animals, Action / Adventure, ages 4-6.

Curious young readers will delight in this whimsical and exquisitely illustrated ocean adventure led by deep-sea diver Kai in her yellow submarine!​Kai is an explorer. She is also extremely curious, especially about the vast and silent sea.

What’s on the other side of the kelp forest?

Are the squid sending secret messages to each other?

Where did all the coral go?

Why are the fish always in such a rush?

Could jellyfish have come from another planet?

Welcome to Kai’s Ocean of Curiosities, where you are invited to take your own walk beneath the waves. Simple line-cut illustrations in white and deep blue capture the calm beauty of the ocean, and the bright pops of Kai’s red diving suit and her yellow submarine will delight young explorers and adults alike.

This book is the perfect gift for nature-loving adventurers and classroom educators interested in marine biology, ocean conservation, and the many mysteries of our seas.

Mount St. Helens, by Annette M. Clayton (North Star Editions / Apex) — Nonfiction, Early Reader, Science / Nature, History, Action / Adventure, ages 7-12.

This book describes the causes and aftermath of Mount St. Helens’ 1980 eruption. Short paragraphs of easy-to-read text and plenty of colorful photos help readers stay engaged and supported. The book also includes a table of contents, fast facts, sidebars, comprehension questions, a glossary, an index, and a list of resources for further reading. Apex books have low reading levels (grades 2-3) but are designed for older students, with interest levels of grades 3-7.

Songs of the Birds: A Guide to North American Bird Calls and Songs, by Isabel Otter; illus. by Clover Robin (Tiger Tales Books) — Nonfiction, Picture Book, Science / Nature, Environment / Sustainability / Recycling, Animals, ages 4-6.

Delve into seven beautiful North American habitats and discover an amazing variety of birds. Includes a sound button with 24 bird calls or songs.

There is a fascinating world of birds right outside our door! Delve into seven beautiful North American habitats and discover an amazing variety of birds, from the dark-eyed junco and northern cardinal to the red-tailed hawk and mountain bluebird. The book includes stunning paper-cut artwork and a sound button with 24 bird calls or songs to help readers identify birds in the wild.

The Souls of Flowers, by Pavlína Kourková & Klára Mandausová; illus. by Pavlína Kourková (Albatros Media) — Nonfiction, Illustrated Prose, Science / Nature, Art / Music, History, Teen.

A visually captivating botanical guide that features exquisite illustrations and intriguing insights into the world of common flowers and plants.

Discover the beauty and significance of 21 common meadow and garden plants through breathtaking full-page illustrations, detailed information, and poetic reflections on botany. Drawing inspiration from nature’s most exquisite flowers, acclaimed Czech botanical painter Pavlína Kourková explores the countryside with infectious enthusiasm. Her watercolor renditions captivate not only the eye but also the heart, providing insights into the origin, occurrence, and symbolism of these plants.

Tasha’s Voice, by Carmen Bogan; illus. by Floyd Cooper & Daria Peoples (Yosemite Conservancy) — Fiction, Picture Book, BIPOC Characters and Creators, Nature / Science, Friendships, ages 4-6.

In this companion to the ground-breaking Where’s Rodney?, a Black girl finds connection on a day out in nature.

Tasha is a girl who has trouble using her voice to speak in school or to even make a friend. Then her class visits a park, the best park ever. With the help of an encouraging park ranger, an understanding teacher, some new companions, and a tiny turtle, Tasha finds her voice

This story takes place on the same class trip featured in Carmen Bogan’s and Floyd Cooper’s Where’s Rodney?, once more showing the power of nature to transform a child.

Beloved illustrator Floyd Cooper began the illustrations for this book; his mentee Daria Peoples finished them. In the back of the book, readers will learn how the book was completed following Cooper’s passing in 2021 and will find two of his original sketches.

A Tree for Me, by Carole Gerber; illus. by Helena Pérez García (Familius) — Fiction, Picture Book, Science / Nature, Family / Community, Environment / Sustainability / Recycling, ages 4-6.

Explore nature and nurture your love for gardening in the picture book A Tree for Me by poet and author Carole Garber and illustrator Helena Pérez García, perfect for Arbor Day, Father’s Day, and beyond!

 There are amazing trees that live in our world—yellow poplar, American beech, crepe myrtle, and so many more! But how do you know which ones are which? Follow along in this heartwarming tale as a father lovingly teaches his son to identify eight common trees in a park and then surprises him with his own tree to plant and nurture. With beautiful, realistic illustrations and true facts interwoven throughout the story, A Tree for Me makes learning about trees fun! And as a bonus, resources to help you pick and plant a tree are included at the end of the story, so you can surprise your child with a trip to the nursery and their very own “tree for me.”

The Unlikely Hero: The Story of Wolf 8 (The Chronicles of the Yellowstone Wolves, Book 1), by Rick McIntyre & David A. Poulson (Greystone Kids) — Nonfiction, Prose, Animals, Environment / Sustainability / Recycling, Science / Nature, ages 7-12.

For readers of Pax and A Wolf Called Wander comes the gripping true story of one of Yellowstone’s most famous animals, Wolf 8: a runt of the litter who surprised everyone by becoming a powerful leader.

In this page-turner, renowned wolf researcher Rick McIntyre and award-winning author David A. Poulsen join forces to tell the remarkable tale of Wolf 8. 

Newly reintroduced along with his pack to Yellowstone National Park, Wolf 8 struggles at first. Small and bullied by his siblings, he must learn to fend for himself in his new home, learning to hunt, compete for food, and even stand up to a grizzly bear 10 times his size. One day, little 8 meets an alpha female raising a litter of pups on her own. Her mate was killed by humans. Can little 8 rise to the occasion and help the young family survive? Is he ready to be an alpha wolf? Based on McIntyre’s own sightings of Wolf 8 and told in a thrilling style, The Unlikely Hero is an unforgettable adventure—and a rare glimpse into the fascinating world of wolves and a coming-of-age story for underdogs everywhere.

Water: Discovering the Precious Resource All Around Us, written & illustrated by Olga Fadeeva; translated by Lena Traer (Eerdmans Publishing / Eerdmans Books for Young Readers) — Nonfiction, Picture Book, Environment / Sustainability / Recycling, Science / Nature, History, ages 7-12.

A curiosity-sparking book about water in rainstorms, the Great Lakes, the drip from our taps, and other places in our world. 

Water is everywhere, and we rely on it every single day. But do you ever wonder about water? How much water is on our planet? What happens when there is too much water or too little water? Why does it rain? What are lakes, rivers, seas, and oceans? Why are the seas and oceans blue and salty? What lives underwater? What about water in human history—how did people get water in ancient times? How do we get water today? What do humans build to travel on the water, and how have we harnessed waterpower? How do we protect this amazing resource for the future? Gorgeous and informative, Water invites children to tour through science and history with two characters they may recognize from Wind: Discovering Air in Motion. Colorful acrylic art and energetic text help readers learn about the natural resource we have depended on since the beginning of life itself.

For more great book suggestions, be sure to check out the full April Hot Off the Press list!

List compiled by CBC’s resident book connoisseur, Brooke Pisarsky. Check out other Hot Off the Press Spotlight book lists on our blog.

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