Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Best Children's Water Books for the Holidays

Here is a list of some of the best water resource books for children right in time for the holidays. UW-Wisconsin's Water Library has all the books listed available for check out! Request these books for a holiday story time or buy one from a local bookstore for a last-minute gift!

1. If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano illus. by Erin Stead

If You Want to See a Whale is Julie Fogliano's prosaic tribute to the wonder of childhood paired with Erin Stead's masterful artwork. Fogliano's directions for seeing a whale are charming when they insist, "If you want to see a whale you will need a window...and an ocean." This book is a soothing introduction to imaginative play centered around ocean life. Stead's artwork features pelicans, pirate ships, lighthouses and other water-themed delights. Poetry and ocean life will make this a book your children will cherish for years. As a bonus, it is also available for the Kindle. 

Starred Reviews for If You Want to See a Whale from Kirkus Reviews, Publisher's Weekly and Booklist. 

2. Water in the Park: A Book About Water and the Times of Day by Emily Jenkins illus. by Stephanie Graegin

If a bustling New York City park could talk, what would it say? Emily Jenkins' book explores the unexpected day-to-day routine of a pond and other features of a busy park located in Brooklyn, NY. This simple, but unique, story will introduce young children to the concepts of the water cycle from sunrise to sunset--from first dog wading in the park's pond to last toddler to hurry out of the rainy playground. Older children will enjoy finding subtle surprises in Stephanie Graegin's detailed pencil and watercolor illustrations. A wonderful book for introducing children to many water-related science concepts. 

Starred reviews for Water in the Park from Booklist and BCCB. 

3. Rain by Linda Ashman illus. by Christian Robinson

Photo taken from Amazon.com page about this book.
World's collide when a crotchety old man, intent on rainy day misery, has his hat returned by a frog-imitating young whipper-snapper. Linda Ashman's succinct text paired with Christian Robinson's colorful illustrations make for a soothing story time during any weather. Rain shows the readers that dealing with different weather is all a matter of perspective. A great introduction to lessons on the topic of weather, rain, the water cycle or humidity.

4. 999 Frogs Wake Up by Ken Kimura

Reading about frogs waking up from a long winter nap will have the youngest readers longing for springtime. Ken Kimura's whimsical book follows these frogs as they journey to wake up all of the swamp animals. Along the way they try to avoid the scary snake! The design of this book's illustrations are stunningly simple yet beautiful. An excellent choice for frog and swamp enthusiasts in every family. Also a great companion to Kimura's 999 Tadpoles.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Secrets and Surprises at Chicago's Famed Shedd Aquarium

There is a secret life thriving behind the scenes of Chicago's famed Shedd Aquarium.

Though they often go unseen, the aquarium's library and archive play crucial roles in supporting Shedd's aquatic creatures. The library recently reopened in a new location after being closed for nearly 9 months.

Here are some surprising facts I learned by going "behind the scenes" of the Shedd Aquarium with Manager of Information Services and Archive, Alisun DeKock:

1. Hops grown in Shedd's sustainable gardens were turned into a limited-run beer called 'Penguin Hops' by Chicago's Revolution Brewing. During its initial run, one dollar was donated to Shedd Aquarium for every beer sold, which equated to a $2,500.00 donation.

2.  The library boasts 30+ VHS tapes in its collection, which DeKock points to with pride. On a serious note, the library boasts more than 6,000 books and 80 active periodical subscriptions. DeKock described the newly acquired database access as "A real boon to the researchers at the aquarium." Researchers, aquarists, tour guides, and trainers use the library resources.

3. John G. Shedd is rumored to have said, "Live your life clean and upright. So live that you not having to fear from publicity." Much easier advice to follow in a pre-Facebook world. The archive housed at the aquarium features extensive materials on John G. Shedd's personal and professional life. The archive also has documents from the early planning stages of the aquarium, which highlights letters exchanged between Shedd and founders of other aquariums and zoos.

Epigrams, Maxims and Miscellaneous by John G. Shedd--quotes and quips that
show Shedd's personal philosophies and thoughts can be found in the archive. 

4. Much like Chicago's Field Museum and Adler Planetarium, the fortune amassed for creation of the aquarium came from Chicago's once-booming catalogue industry. 

5. The aquarium integrates iPads into exhibits to display information about different species. This is less expensive than the old custom-built information kiosks (remember those?) and iPads are easier to replace and their content is easier to modify. And guess who writes the informative content for the iPad displays? Shedd's own librarian, Alisun DeKock.

6. There is an incredible Great Lakes exhibit featuring lots of touchscreens and interactive exhibits, including a sturgeon-petting station. They also have a sea lamprey and other invasive species on display.

7. Alisun's pick for favorite creature at the Shedd Aquarium? The Seadragon. 

The name fits.
8. My picks for favorite creatures at the Shedd Aquarium? Caiman Lizard, Seahorses, Bubbler Jellies. 

9. January is an offseason for visitors to the Chicago area, so plan your Shedd Aquarium trip for the new year and avoid the crowds!

The Water Library had a great experience visiting the Shedd Aquarium. A special THANKS to Alisun DeKock for showing us all the secrets and surprises.