With the terrible calamity in Japan, as well as Spring arriving, I thought it might be a good idea to review books that help educate children about natural disasters, weather and the seasons. The first four books are non-fiction and are good for ages 7 through adult. The rest of the books are picture books that deal with spring and the seasons and good for ages 4 to 8.

Forces of Nature, by Chana Stiefel, is a “Weather Channel Kids” book that features the major natural forces that affect the earth. This colorfully photographed book naturally progresses with topics that cover two pages beginning with a brief summary and a diagram of inside the earth. From there, many more topics are showcased, including earthquakes. It progresses from there to volcanoes, clouds, thunderstorms, wind and then waves (which gives a good explanation as to how tsunamis develop). There are simple facts placed in highlighted boxes on each subject as well as tips on how to stay safe in the event of a weather alert.

Planet Earth, by Barbara Taylor, is part of the “Navigators” series and has a similar format with just two pages on each subject. This approach makes the information covered more kid-friendly due to a format that invites reading.  This book doesn’t feature photos like the previous book, but has colorful drawings with cross-sections and diagrams depicting the subjects of each page. This book covers more of the natural terrain of the world but also has a section describing earthquakes. In that section, there is a tremendous depiction of a tsunami.

How the World Works, by Christiane Dorion, and illustrated by Beverley Young, is a wonderful account of our physical world with pop-ups, pull-tabs, wheels to turn and more. This interactive examination includes seasons, night and day, earthquakes and the water cycle. The brightly drawn colors invite the readers in and the interaction will keep them in.  The only downside to both books is the portrayal of the theory of evolution as fact on two pages.

How the Weather Works, also by Dorion and Young, has the same format as the previous book with similar pop-ups, pull-tabs and more. Easy to understand concepts and diagrams are on display that include the makings of tornados, hurricanes, weather and climate. The vivid illustrations and pop-ups are compelling invitations to this fascinating subject.

How Does a Seed Grow?, by Sue Kim, with photos by Tilde, is a clever representation of what happens to seeds. Each page opens, in this smallish board book, to reveal tiny seeds. The seeds then open to a flap that exposes a cross-section of a plant growing out of the ground with both roots and leaves uncovered. And from that flap, you open a picture twice the size of the book revealing the fruit the seed turned into. There is much to learn and guess about in this fun, interactive book.Sales Rank: 241,882 Age Range: 4 to 6 ISBN-13: 9781416994350

ISBN: 1416994351 

SynopsisSeasons, by Anne Crauaz, is a unique gem enlightening little ones to be aware of much more of what’s going on around them. “Springtime smells beautiful.” “Sometimes summer is the taste of sand in your mouth!”  As you go through the seasons, chances are all who read it will feel and sense the simple beauty in this book. Even the palate of colors seems to wash over you as easily as the seasons drift by. The tree blossoms on the front and back cover also usher in the growing season.

Flora’s Very Windy Day, by Jeanne Birdsall, and illustrated by Matt Phelan, is a delightful tale of dealing with a much younger sibling. In the initial pages, before the actual story begins, the brilliant illustrator sets the stage with Flora and her young brother, Crispin, painting.  But he spills all over her paper. She’s mad and mother sends them both outside.  But the wind is blowing hard and soon blows Crispin up into the sky. Flora must save him as she also blows up near him. The wind sets in motion adventures for both and by the time they return to the ground, Flora has a better attitude towards her little brother. Check out the last wordless page. The airy drawings of ink, pastels and watercolor give a billowing feeling of wind throughout.

Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit: A Book of Changing Seasons, by Il Sung Na, is another of his beautifully drawn picture books much like his “A Book of Sleep.”  A white rabbit is featured throughout the book with winter as that season progresses to spring. The birds and animals prepare for the cold and then the snow melts and green comes back and white rabbit isn’t white anymore. This effortless book, with the simple text and picturesque full page pictures, melts together like winter and spring.

Water, Weed and Wait, by Edith Hope Fine and Angela Demos Halpin, and illustrated by Colleen Madden, is a great celebration of an elementary school preparing and planting a garden. The story teaches the value of hard work that continues even after the garden is planted. The 3 P’s learned here are “plans, plants and people.”

Nibbles:  A Green Tale, by Charlotte Middleton, tells the importance of sustaining a garden in order to maintain a producing garden. Nibbles is an adorable guinea pig who loves to eat dandelion leaves. So he begins his garden by retrieving the last seeds from his low supply of plants. There is much to learn of the importance of gardens. The mixed-media collage art works perfectly as you’ll likely become enamored with Nibbles!

City Dog, Country Frog, by Mo Willems, and illustrated by Jon J. Muth, is another book about seasons, but with much more subtlety involved. City Dog meets Country Frog in the spring and their friendship continues through to summer and fall. But when winter comes, City Dog can’t find his friend. Spring brings new life and new understanding to the cycle of life. The gorgeous spread of colors signifies the magnitude of color through the seasons.