Getting in touch with nature isn’t difficult; one just has to make a bit of an effort. While our lives seem to revolve around more and more man-made things, our very existence depends on our environment and the natural world.

Anytime is a good time to explore nature, even in the dead of winter. Spring offers the grand opportunity to marvel at the earth reawakening. Don’t hurry past the first spring flowers; stop and share the beauty and magic with the kids in your life. Take note of the return of migratory birds and how their songs fill the world with joyful music. Watch the buds come out on the trees, the smell of thawed dirt, and on and on.

Another great way to share the natural world with kids is to read interesting books together on this subject. The books reviewed today touch on this topic in three different ways. By becoming more aware and sensitive to the natural world, there’s no telling what good things may come of that!



Books to Borrow


The following book is available at many public libraries.

“The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate” by Jacqueline Kelly, Henry Holt, 338 pages

Read aloud: age 10 and older.

Read yourself: age 12 and older.

Calpurnia (Callie) Tate is eleven years old in the summer of 1899. Her small town in Texas is blazing with high temperatures that nearly suffocate every living thing. Callie escapes the heat by spending a lot of time at the river. Her grandfather, an avid naturalist and considered by Callie and others as ill-tempered, takes an interest in Callie’s budding enthusiasm for the natural world.

As Callie and her grandfather work together exploring, collecting specimens, and conducting experiments, the two develop a close relationship. In the meantime, Callie is learning how to be the only girl among six brothers, and, much to her mother’s dismay, is determined to forge her own path as a young female scientist at the turn of the century.

Through flawless writing and believable characters, relationships, hopes and dreams, “The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate” is certain to be a sure-fire hit with older girls.



Librarian’s Choice

Library: Carroll County Public Library, 136 Court St., Carrollton, Ky.

Library Director: Hillary Arney

Youth Services Librarian: Leslie Sutherland

Choices this week: “Owl Babies” by Marti Waddell; “The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate” by Jacqueline Kelly; “Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen



Books to Buy

The following books are available at favorite bookstores.

“Plant the Tiny Seed” written and illustrated by Christie Matheson, Greenwillow, 2017, 40 pages, $15.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 3 – 7.

Read yourself: age 6 – 7.

There is magic in seeds, and this accessible nature book makes that clear in a fun way.

From planting the little seeds, to gently watering, an abundance of sunshine, and then a little rain, then more sun, and soon the seedlings emerge, followed by beautiful flowers! Who else might appreciate and help with the garden? Hummingbirds, earthworms, ladybugs, bees and more.

Colorful, cheerful illustrations on a white background abound on every page. A delightful (and instructional) introduction to the joy and magic in gardening, Plant the Tiny Seed is perfect for young horticulturalists.

“The Tree” a fable written and illustrated by Neal Layton, Candlewick, 2017, 32 pages, $16.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 4 – 8.

Read yourself: age 7 – 8.

A tree is home to a nest of birds, a burrow of rabbits, a family of owls, and a nest of squirrels. The land where the tree stands is for sale, and when the new arrivals show up with their dreams and saws and lumber and more to build their new home, they set to work right away.

The couple begin to saw down the tree, but are quickly met with a terrible surprise when the current residents of the tree fall, fly and scamper away in fear. The couple feel terrible about this, and so, begin to work on an alternative plan – one that will be good for everyone.

A delightful story perfectly complemented with fun, expressive illustrations, this seemingly simple story offers reflective thought on empathy and learning to live harmoniously with all living things.



Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children’s literature. She can be reached at kendal@sunlink.net