Select Page

Animals Reviewed

by Association of Zoos & Aquariums

Elementary and middle school children, along with their parents and teachers, will love this book. It is a hilarious review of wild animals from around the world! Each animal is rated in a humorous way that tells the reader a little something about the creatures. Animals Reviewed also includes the common name for the animal, its scientific name, and a zoo or aquarium where it can be found. This information is great because some of these animals may tickle a child’s curiosity and may motivate them to do more in-depth research about the animal. They may even be able to go see the animal in person if a zoo or aquarium nearby has one in residence. Enjoy!

”I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”


Make Music!

by Norma Jean Haynes, Ann Sayre Wiseman, and John Langstaff

Another wonderful book for adventurous children and grown ups who want to have fun making music! The book is laid out in categories starting with Beginning Notes (pun intended I’m sure!); Household Things that Ring and Ping; Body Music; Percussion Beats and Rhythms; Breath Music: the Winds, The String Section; Instruments from the Workshop; and Creating Music. I’m excited just writing down the names of the sections and that’s not all. This book has beautiful photos of real children in action and having so much fun with music. Make Music is a great resource for an afterschool studio or for the vacation home or cabin, or at home on a school break, or ongoing project. The audience for the projects would probably be elementary-age children because of their skill and social levels; although, very clever teachers or parents could probably modify some of the projects for younger children as well.

Hatching the Cosmic Egg

Written by Michael Dorer Illustrated by Beth Wilson Music by Andrew Kutt

Michael Dorer, a well- known Montessori educator, author, and conference presenter, has now written his first children’s book and it’s ‘wonder-full.’ Hatching the Cosmic Egg opens with a request for the reader to “think of the very biggest thing you can.” I’m already intrigued and excited, and I think elementary children will be, too!

On each of the next few pages is a gorgeous, two-page, colorful drawing of very large earthly things that children might imagine and the author asking; Is it a great, gray elephant? Next two-page spread: A tall, snowy mountain? And so on. Then he begins to ask about more stellar images like the sun and the stars. This is so cool because the book brings the child’s mind to bigger and bigger images leading up to: It’s the UNIVERSE!

Now the story begins! This book encourages and entices children to think big about the universe, about themselves, and their part in the universe. Dorer, being the great storyteller that he is, seamlessly incorporates concepts from the great lessons and brings the readers to an awesome affirmation that they are connected to and part of everything in the universe.

Beth Wilson’s illustrations are perfect for the story, both in style and simplicity. They add to the wonder of this book. And, there’s more. With each book comes a CD with music and song by Andrew Kutt that enhances the story for readers in a totally different genre. This book needs to be in every home and classroom!

The Memory Box

Written by Joanna Rowland Illustrated by Thea Baker

Editor’s Note: I would like to personally thank Lorna for picking this book to review. My family suffered a great loss this year. It has had an enormous impact on all of us, especially my two grandsons (ages seven and eight). After reading this review, I immediately ordered this book on Amazon. This is such a difficult part or ‘adulting,’ but it is so needed to help children who struggle (often silently) to understand and find a way to celebrate and remember someone they loved so much.

The Memory Box is a very helpful book for children who have lost a loved one. It brings to light a variety of emotions from fear to sadness to happiness that children may experience as they go through the grief process and beyond. Sometimes, adults find it difficult to talk about feelings and death, especially if the person who has died is someone they loved as well. This book helps adults, as it tells a story about a child who is grieving, what feelings she experiences, and how she creates a “memory box.” The illustrations are lovely, almost whimsical, and yet realistic. At the end of the book there is a section to help adults support children through their loss. Children four years old through elementary and possibly the middle school years would benefit from The Memory Box.

Treasure Basket Explorations

Written by Laura Wilhelm Photos by Gryphon House and Shutterstock

Treasure basket exploration is a terrific idea for not-yet-mobile infants. The concept could be modified in some ways to better fit toddler’s through kindergartener’s strong sense of order. I struggled a little bit with this concept because I know from my own observations, as well as those of Maria Montessori and interactions with children in the early childhood years (birth-6 years old), that this period of time in a child’s development is crucial for preparing an environment that instills a very orderly way of thinking. At the infant and toddler stage of development, little ones are all about moving and exploring, so the baskets work well. There is a certain amount of order to it because the objects are contained within the basket. They come out of the basket and, when finished, return to the basket (sometimes by the infant or toddler—more often than not by the parent or teacher). The baskets are almost like introductory work for the primary level (3-6 years old), where the activities are contained in baskets or on trays but are designed to teach a skill rather than just allow for exploration.

I need to do more research about “heuristic learning” to truly understand what it is. As I read this book, it sounds like you put a bunch of stuff in a pile and the children get to “explore” it. For me it sounds a bit too unstructured for 3-6-year-olds, as they are really ready for order and imitation rather strictly exploration. Their activities always have some flexibility for exploration but also have a beginning, a middle, and end within each activity.

So, there are some very usable ideas for the infant-toddler years, and some ideas that can be modified for older children in Treasure Basket Exploration.

The Montessori Toddler: A Parent’s Guide to Raising a Curious and Responsible Being

Written by Simone Davies Illustrated by Hiyoko Imai

When I looked at the cover of this book I was intrigued. It was simple with a kind of unique illustration of a shelf with activities, and it was written for parents of toddlers—encouraging signs. Then I looked at the table of contents which was 3.33 pages long. Hmmm. Busy parents with small toddlers. Looks a little off-putting to me. So, I flipped through the book. I like photos and illustrations. There were very few photos and quite a few illustrations, but lots of words to read in this 248- page volume. Oh boy!

I made myself look more closely, and what I found was delightfully appealing. That huge table of contents I discovered was because the author listed each topic in each chapter, so it looked a lot more daunting than it truly is. Many of the topics listed are half a page to two pages at most. A parent can easily read a quick snippet and put the book down. They can also easily look up a specific topic that they are interested in because the topics are listed in such detail.

After looking more carefully, I really like the design. Simone Davies is very thorough. Her knowledge, understanding, and enjoyment of this age group is very apparent, and she shares it well with her audience. Often toddlers are misunderstood and so behave in ways that parents find difficult. Davies touches on some key points when thinking about toddlers. The first two chapters give parents valuable information about this stage in a child’s development and a brief introduction to Montessori. The rest of the book helps parents see their role as changing from a servant during infancy to a guide during toddlerhood and beyond. She brilliantly describes how to create a home environment that supports toddler success, both physically and emotionally, with furnishings and activities, as well as discipline.

The Montessori Toddler is a great resource for parents of infants, so that they can prepare for toddlerhood and for parents of toddlers who are already in the midst of toddlerhood.