K2 Science
Animals in my Backyard: Deer
McGill, Jordan (Author)
This appealing book from the Animals in My Backyard series introduces basic information and vocabulary about deer. Designed for beginning readers, the brief, large-print text uses common “sight words” as well as a few subject-specific ones (antler, buck, doe). Repetition is used effectively in the paired text boxes on facing pages, such as “He can run fast with his strong legs,” and “With his strong legs, he can jump and swim.” Nicely designed, the double-page spreads typically feature one large, bordered photo on each page, with the occasional double-page illustration. The color photos show up clearly on the glossy pages. Two appended pages provide additional “Deer Facts.” Readers motivated to enter the book’s code on the publisher’s AV2 Books website will have access to audio and video clips, web links, activities, and more. Clear illustrations and simple text combine to make this a good choice for beginning readers and, as a read-aloud choice, for younger children.
Carolyn Phelan Issue: October 1, 2011
I Am An Elephant
What aspects of this product did you like the most? This book was a perfect beginning reader. We loved that the text was enlarged and the sentences were simple and filled with high frequency words. I appreciated the objectives being started at the beginning of the book as well. The facts in the back of the book were nice to provide deeper meaning for more advanced children. The pictures were crisp and engaging. Parts of the added media online was also a strength of the product. We particularly liked the videos and audio of the facts. I loved the interactive website that accompanied this book. The book itself was very basic, but the website provided some excellent videos, audio clips, puzzles, and activity sheets. The photographs were clear and caught the attention of the kids. The sentences were simple and the print was clear. I liked the concept of connecting the book to the internet site. This product is an excellent way to teach young child how to go from reading information in a book to investigating a topic further though online resources. It was very much like a research project, but done in an easy, fun, and efficient way. It could teach children the joy of reading. It could teach them facts about elephants. There were some activities on the website made by the publisher that taught putting words into a sentence. Yes, I feel this book is a high quality selection that engages kids at their level of interest and learning. It is difficult to find nonfiction books with simple, sight word filled books. This book mastered providing meaningful sentences that even the youngest of readers would be able to decode. The clear pictures and supportive online media made the book even better. I know I will be purchasing more of these AV2 books for our family. I would recommend this product to parents.
I Love My Pet Cat
Cat, part of the six volume “I Love My Pet” series, presents a simple introduction about cats. Each page displays a high quality photograph of a cat, along with an interesting fact. At the end of the book, longer explanations (a few sentences) of each fact are included, along with a thumbnail image of the accompanying photograph from the page the fact was printed on. These details round out the simplicity of the facts, making this book a decent first resource for young children who own or would like to learn about cats. There is an interesting web element to this book, which is part of the AV² Media Enhanced Books. A code and URL are included that offer readers access to even more information online about cats. On the website, there are embedded videos, links to external information about cats, word games, a quiz, and other activities. These activities and extras enhance the learning potential from this book and would be useful for homework projects.
Courtney Novotny
K2 Social Studies
Community Helpers: Health
Books in the Community Helpers series spotlight people who work in particular sectors such as transportation or the arts. In Health a diverse group of people represents seven occupations: doctor, nurse, optometrist, fitness teacher, nutritionist, counselor, and dentist. A large, color photo fills each double-page spread, along with a text box carrying a sentence, such as “I check your teeth and gums to make sure they are healthy.” A border encircles a small portrait photo of the community helper and an identifier such as “I am a dentist.” All the clearly reproduced photos provide clues that will help children guess who is speaking. Rounding out the presentation are vocabulary lists and two pages of “Health Facts.” The publisher provides access to additional content when the book’s code is entered on their AV2 website. Primarily designed for children who are learning to read, this simple, colorful book is also recommended for preschool units on community helpers.
Carolyn Phelan
Science
Backyard Animals
Linking print with media is the concept behind the six-volume "Backyard Animals" series. Though there are several other titles in the original series, these six titles are AV² Media Enhanced Books, which, according to the publishers, "provide readers with access to enriched and enhanced content." Each 24-page book covers the same topics, presented in the same sequence, as the other books in the series. Topics in the 12 chapters include size, appearance (focusing on the adaptations that help the animal to survive), habitat, food, shelter, life cycle, and history (from the animal's first appearance on Earth and its impact on indigenous peoples and early settlers to its present-day situation in terms of numbers and range). There is a section that explains what to do if one encounters the animal in the wild and another section that provides a couple of myths and legends. At the back of the book are frequently asked questions, and fascinating facts appear throughout the book. The text is printed in a large font and is easy for readers to comprehend. Illustrations include colour photos, charts, diagrams and small inset maps indicating the animal's home range. A table of contents, a list of words to know and an index are provided. The final page offers an explanation of how the AV² aspect of the series works. Here, readers will find the various symbols, common throughout the series, that can be found online and which will describe a specific type of activity- an audio link, a video, a web link or an activity or experiment.

…once students arrive at the title's enhanced content, they are rewarded with a great deal of extra information about the animal which they are researching. There are brief audio clips with a read-along option, several video clips, downloadable worksheets (comparison charts, matching activities, life cycle reviews, comprehension questions, etc), interactive jigsaw puzzles to put together, more legends, and a slide show. Links to Hinterland Who's Who, National Geographic and the Discovery Channel, to name a few, provide plenty of information as well. This marriage of print and electronic media is very timely and sure to appeal to the majority of readers.

Beavers discusses the importance of the beaver to the fur trade and compares the North American to the European species. Other topics in this title include the building of lodges and dams, the animal's physical adaptations (for example, sharp, chiseled teeth that can grow one meter every year), and a legend about how the beaver got its flat tail.

The bison is the largest land mammal in North America. Bisons features bison relatives, such as the wisent, wood bison, yak, water buffalo, African buffalo and cattle (complete with size and weight comparisons), the bison's special way of digesting plant material by means of its two stomachs, and how bison protect themselves from predators.

There are four species of lynx: the Canada lynx, the Eurasian lynx, the bobcat, and the Iberian lynx which lives in Spain and is the world's most endangered cat. In Lynx, readers will learn, among other things, how the lynx sets up its shelter, how it hunts and how it takes care of its young.

Moose describes the largest members of the deer family. These animals are even-toed ungulates, animals that walk on hoofs that grow from the tips of their toes. Their vast range covers northern Europe and Russia, nearly all of Canada's forests, and many states in the U.S.A. Among the usual topics, readers will also find out about Bullwinkle, perhaps the best known moose in the world, who, along with his friend, Rocky the Flying Squirrel, entertained millions of children via their cartoon television show between 1959 and 1964.

AV² books have successfully dovetailed the print medium with the electronic medium. They employ trusted information providers, such as National Geographic, in the hopes that these links will reasonably stand the test of time. The publisher also states that all of the media-enhanced books are monitored regularly to update URLs and web sites.
Carolyn Phelan