There were also several books that I had been hearing about but I hadn't been able to put my hands on UNTIL TODAY. The first one is called "A Fine Dessert" by Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall. Sophie Blackall just won the Caldecott award for her latest book "Finding Winnie" so you know the pictures are going to be gorgeous but this is a really great compare and contrast story. It's about four different families across the last four hundred years and how each of them creates the same simple dessert. It's a simple, lovely book that will make you want to run out immediately and make the dessert!
The second book is non fiction. It's called "Mrs. Harkness and the Panda" by Alicia Potter and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. I love Melissa Sweet's work and this one is gorgeous! It's about a woman named Ruth Harkness. In 1934, her husband, William, set off for China to bring back a panda. Unfortunately, he died during his expedition and Mrs. Harkness was left to consider what to do next. She decided that she should go and get the panda. Back in the 1930s, travel to China was arduous and as a single woman, somewhat dangerous. Mrs. Harkness persevered. It's interesting reading this now, through the lens of almost 100 years, how appalling it seems to have this woman go and remove an animal from it's habitat and bring it half way around the world to live out it's life in a zoo. However, in the notes at the back of the book, the author mentions that at the time, people were shooting pandas for sport and that by seeing the pandas in the zoo, that people were inspired to take better care of them. This will be an interesting one to have in our library, where our Montessori students feel strongly about taking care of the earth.
Here's a little bit of footage of when Mrs. Harkness brought the second panda to the zoo. There is no sound track but you can see what they looked like.
The last one is a fun one called "Nancy Knows" by Cybele Young. It's a very simple story about an elephant named Nancy. Nancy knows many things and can remember many things, but there is something she can't quite remember. The art work in this one is really great and this will make a terrific lap book for oral language because the kids are going to have a really good time naming all the things that Nancy can think of. Some of them are sorted into categories and some are more random but they are all beautiful.