A Leaf Can Be…

January 25, 2012

A Leaf Can Be…

By Laura Purdie Salas

Illustrations by Violeta Dabija

Millbrook Press, 2012

ISBN #978-0-7613-6203-6

Grades K-2

Nonfiction picture book

Visit Wendy’s Wanderings for all the excellent Nonfiction Monday titles.

“A leaf can be a…Shade spiller…Mouth filler…Tree topper…Rain stopper….”

Spare, simple verse follows the many ways leaves contribute to nature and life in this lovely, appealing picture book. The job of leaves changes with the changing seasons and the book traces these events with Salas’s lyrical poetrytext. Soft greens wash the pages until the seasons change and Dabija’s mixed media art makes the book lovely and soft, inviting the reader into a gentle, and sometimes not so gentle, world of nature.

Back matter includes specific facts and examples of each of the word choices used. The book also has glossary and further reading suggestions.


Take a leaf walk. Each time you see a different kind of leaf, have one child collect one. Back inside, draw outlines of each leaf. Then decide on a way to organize the leaves by finding similar characteristics. Post and label your collection with the categories.

Scroll down at this site to see lots of leaf activities.

The author has a site with activities to accompany the book. She also has links to fun leaf activities there.

This is an exciting book. Check other reviews at:

Wrapped in Foil

NC Teacher Stuff


National Science Standard: Variation of traits; structure and function

Book provided by Lerner.

The Green Mother Goose

April 27, 2011

The Green Mother Goose

By Jan Peck and David Davis

Illustrated by Carin Berger

Sterling Publishing; Sterling Children’s Books, 2011

ISBN #978-1-4027-6525-4

Picture book

Besides The Green Mother Goose, Jan Peck and David Davis are the authors of many other books for children. I’ve seen their terrific school visit program, too, and it’s a fun one.

“Together we’ll do it—

We’ll help save the Earth,

Our emerald home,

The place of our birth.

Come now, rhyme with me,

Let’s turn our hearts loose,

And fly ‘round the world

With Green Mother Goose.”

This clever, creative book takes a look at classic nursery rhymes and makes them “green.” The suggestions in each rhyme explain or provide ways that everyone can help improve the Earth. Rather than preaching about saving the Earth, the information is available for the taking in a fun-filled, short rhyme that will stay with you. Authors Peck and Davis surely had great fun matching rhymes with green ideas.

The Green Mother Goose is a great book to open dialogue with kids about the Earth, recycling, and what they can do on their own. The rhymes cover the simplest steps, like recycling, to the more complex additions of windmills and solar panel additions. It also opens the discussion of new vocabulary, for the book is rich in terms related to helping the environment.

The whimsical appeal of the art serves to focus and expand on the ideas behind the writing and sets a perfect tone for the book. The cut paper collage comes from “found papers and ephemera.” The book is produced with a “practice what you preach” style mentioned on the credits page.

The Green Mother Goose lends itself to a unit for Earth Day, reading, units on the environment, recycling, story time, and introducing the National Science Standards about organisms and their environments and changes in environments. It would make a fun poetry memorizing unit and a wonderful Reader’s Theater production. I can also see it in a PTA program and school wide presentation produced by the students—especially for Earth Day activities.

It’s delightful to pick up a book and really love it. This is one of those books. It would be an excellent lesson if paired with the original Mother Goose nursery rhymes. What a fun discussion!

 Activity 1

Choose one of the rhymes from the book. Identify the environmental concept from the new rhyme and research it to find more information. Write a paragraph explaining the problem and suggest some ways to help.

Activity 2

Make a list of activities mentioned in the book to help save the Earth. Create a poster suggesting things kids can do to help the environment and Earth. Decorate the poster with cut paper collage similar to the art in the book.

Saving the Earth suggestions

Activities to help

National Geographic’s green tips

National Science Standards: organisms and the environment; changes in environments

Book from my own autographed library collection. Jan and David signed it at TLA!

Arbor Day Square

August 4, 2010

Arbor Day Square

By Kathryn O. Galbraith

Illustrated by Cyd Moore

Peachtree Publishers

ISBN# 978-1-56145-517-1

Grades 2-4

Picture book

“’Hmmm.” Katie takes a deep breath.

‘Everything smells new,’ she tells Papa.

And everything does.

 Their prairie town is growing weeks by week. Now they have stores with glass windows. A church with a steeple. And a schoolhouse with desks for all seventeen students to sit in long rows.”

In beautiful language, this gentle book relates a story of Arbor Day in its infancy through the eyes of young Katie and her father in a growing prairie town. The town lacks one thing—trees. So the townspeople take up a collection of coins to use to send away for fifteen trees. When the trees arrive, the people come together to plant all of them, including the flowering dogwood that Katie and Papa claim as their own special place in memory of Katie’s mother. As the trees grow year by year, so does Katie. The story comes full circle at the end to reveal the town square filled with trees as the neighbors again gather to celebrate planting trees.

Soft pencil and watercolors support the text in lovely, clear colors with accurate details of prairie life at that time filling the pages with energy. The story is followed by an author’s note about the founding of Arbor Day by J. Sterling Morton. First celebrated in Nebraska on April 10, 1872, Arbor Day is now celebrated by every state, commonly around the last Friday in April.

Look for a new teacher’s guide coming this fall to accompany this lovely book . I’ll be the author of the guide—my seventh teacher’s guide. Peachtree has guides to many of their books, so visit them here.


Although Arbor Day has passed for this year, it’s never too early to read this book or to make plans! Find the date of your state’s Arbor Day. Look up the trees that grow best in that state’s climate zone. Plan a celebration of your own. Buy and plant a tree as part of your Arbor Day celebration.

This site will show you the date of Arbor Day in your state.

See celebration ideas here.

Find out which climate zone you live in.

Learn more about Arbor Day at the Arbor Day Foundation site.

Nonfiction Monday is here at Moms Inspire Learning.  Visit to see all the great nonfiction offerings.Nonfiction.monday

National Science Standards: Science as a human endeavor; characteristics of organisms; organisms in their environment

Book donated by Peachtree Publishers


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