Home in the Cave by Janet Halfmann

 Before today, I was fairly certain there was nothing that could make bats seem adorable. Janet Halfmann’s new book, Home in the Cave, just proved me wrong.

Baby Bat loves his home in the cave. He doesn’t want to learn to flap his wings or go out and hunt. When Pluribus Packrat rescues him after a flying mishap, they explore the deepest, darkest corners of the cave and find many amazing animals that depend on the bats for food. Is Baby Bat brave enough to help the others?

Though I adore Halfmann’s work, I had reservations about traveling through a book about bats and cave-dwelling critters; even if all of them were depicted so charmingly by Shennen Bersani. But despite beetles and mites, and rattlesnakes and spiders, I found myself drawn to Home in the Cave. Young readers are treated to an ecology lesson that also teaches them about trying new things and becoming more independent. By giving Baby Bat the right motivation (helping others) Pluribus Packrat helped Baby Bat realize what bats mean to the habitat in which they live and the creatures they share it with.

Also included is educational information about: caves, rock formations, cave habitats, and bat echolocation. Kids can compare bats, birds, and humans. There’s also a brief section on whether bats are good or bad based upon the information they just read.

Home in the Cave would be an excellent addition to any school or home library. Highly recommended!

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Paperback:32 pages
  • Publisher:Sylvan Dell Publishing (February 10, 2012)
  • ISBN-10:1607185318
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607185314
  • SRP: $9.95
  • Also available in a hardcover edition

I received a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions. I received no monetary compensation of any kind for this review.

What’s the Difference? by Suzanne Slade

Title: What’s the Difference?
Author: Suzanne Slade

Illustrator: Joan Waites
Paperback or hardback: 32 pgs, Hardback and Paperback
Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing

Publication date: March 2010
ISBN-13: 978-1-607180-708 (H) $16.95/978-1-607180-814 (P) $8.95 

Reviewed by Kathy Stemke

This endangered animal subtraction story points to the ways man has helped endangered animals to change their fate.  Each charming rhyme by author Suzanne Slade offers a simple subtraction problem for children to solve. 

“Twelve furry otter pups in a grassy bed, two hunt for clams below.  How many rest instead?” 

While children learn about animal habitats and eating habits this book points out how the Endangered Species Act has protected many animals.  Joan Waites’ beautiful watercolor illustrations bring the different environments to life. 

“Gray bats hibernate inside warm caves during winter. There are only about nine caves in the U.S. where endangered gray bats can hibernate, and the openings of some have been blocked.” 

The plight of eagles, prairie dogs, butterflies, whooping cranes, gopher frogs, crocodiles, salmon, bowhead whales, gray bats, manatees, otters, and red wolves are discussed in detail.  As a teacher I can recommend What’s the Difference? as a great resource in the classroom or home library. 

As with all of Sylvan Dell’s books there are several fact and activity pages in the back of the book.  Sylvan also provides many on-line resources for teachers and students to use.



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Panda’s Earthquake Escape by Phyllis J. Perry

Title: Panda’s Earthquake Escape
Author: Phyllis J. Perry

Illustrator: Susan Detwiler

Ages: 4-8
Paperback or hardback: 32 pgs, Hardback and Paperback
Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing

Publication Date: March 2010
ISBN-13: 978-1-60718-071-5 (H)  $16.95/978-1-60718-082-1 (P)  $ 8.95

Reviewed by Kathy Stemke

This delightful story is based on the real life story of a Giant panda who did escape from the destroyed Wolong Panda Reserve when the 7.9 earthquake rocked Northern China on May 12, 2008.  Author Phyllis Perry uses the adventures of a mother panda, LiLing, and her one-year-old cub, Tengfei, to teach children about the endangered panda, and how they adapt to dangerous situations. In Panda’s Earthquake Escape, mother and cub escape from the wreckage. Confused and afraid, they get lost! How will they survive outside their reserve? Where will they find food and shelter?

“Tengfei watched.  He had never seen anything like this before.  These were not bamboo shoots, but he was really hungry.  Finally he tried one of the bulbs.  It wasn’t so bad.  He ate several more.  While they were eating, the earth beneath their feet began moving again.” 

With the help of Susan Detwiler’s vivid illustrations, children will fall in love with this mother and her cub as they experience this event through the eyes of these gentle animals.

 In “the creative minds” section at the end of the book you will find fun Panda facts and a life cycle sequencing activity.  Teachers will love the two pages of earthquake facts as well.



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Felina’s New Home by Loran Wlodarski

Title: Felina’s New Home
Author: Loran Wlodarski

Illustrator: Lew Clayton
Paperback or hardback: 32 pgs, hardback or paperback
Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing

Publication Date: March 2010
ISBN-13: 978-1607-180685 (H)  $16.95/978-1607-180791 (P)  $ 8.95

Reviewed by Kathy Stemke

Felina the Florida panther’s beautiful forest home began to shrink, as humans take over more and more of her space.  Loran Wlodarski tells the story of this scared and confused animal as trees are disappearing and roads are being built in her habitat.   Felina finds many other animals are suffering as well.  Will the animals adapt?  Can children help to make the animals safe and happy? 

Lew Clayton’s illustrations help bring this important story to life.  Whether we see garbage in the water supply or sharp cans that cause injury to the animals, Ms. Clayton’s colorful illustrations transport you to the Florida forest. 

“Fun Fact: If panther’s catch a large meal, they may eat it over several days.  If so, they will frequently cover it with leaves and sticks to keep it fresh and hidden from other scavengers. “ 

The fun facts and life cycle information in the back of the book will help parents and teachers to continue the learning process.  The activities encourage children to think about endangered animals and how they can help. As a teacher I recommend this book for everyone’s library.



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Newton and Me by Lynne Mayer

Title: Newton and Me

Ages: 4-8
Author: Lynne Mayer

Illustrator: Sherry Rogers
Paperback or hardback: 32 pgs, Hardback or Paperback
Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing

Publication Date: March 2010
ISBN-13:  978-1-60718-067-8  (H)  $16.95/
978-1-60718-078-4  (P)   $ 8.95

Reviewed by Kathy Stemke

Lynne Mayer’s story of a boy and his dog, Newton, playing and discovering the laws of force and motion will delight kids everywhere.  Whether this duo is playing with a ball or solving a problem with a wagon full of rocks, they illustrate how Newton’s laws of motion affect the world we live in every day. 

The whimsical illustrations by Sherry Rogers will fascinate young children as they find new details with each reading.  The clever rhymes will help new readers to navigate easily through this informative story. 

“Saturday morning I was asleep in my bed,

when Newton, my dog, dropped a ball on my head.

Then Newton and I ran out the back door,

We had the whole day to play and explore.” 

In the “Creative Minds” section at the back of the book Ms. Mayer recaps the laws in simple language, and asks the children some questions to reinforce and continue the learning process.  

 “A pull is a force that moves something toward you.  What are some things in the book that the boy pulls? What are some things that you might pull?”

She continues to challenge kids by asking them to match up these laws with illustrations from the book.  More facts about Sir Isaac Newton and his important contributions to math and physics are included here as well.  As a teacher, I treasure Lynne Mayer’s book, Newton and Me, as a fun-filled, and useful tool for every classroom.



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