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Soundprints: Smithsonian Oceanic Collection

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Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea

By Janet Halfmann
Illustrated by Steven James Petruccio
Soundprints, 2008
Ages 4-8, nonfiction picture book story

(Out of print)

The Story

It's a sunny July day in the Canadian Arctic and Narwhal is returning from the sea to his summer home near land. Inuit children watch happily as Narwhal and his pod swim and dive beneath the shimmering blue water. With his long unicorn-like tooth and his thick layer of blubber to keep him warm, Narwhal's body is designed for Arctic life. But it is not always calm in the Arctic bay. Will Narwhal be able to fend off a pod of killer whales and find his way out of an inlet blocked by ice before swimming out to sea for the winter?

Checked for accuracy by curators at the Smithsonian Institution and has additional fun facts, a glossary, and points of interest.

Reviews

  • "Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea is a great book for kids. It is educational, but told in a way that will make kids enjoy learning about this unusual creature. . . .Add in the beautiful and realistic pictures, and it makes this book an all around winner." —Front Street Reviews
  • "Janet Halfmann once again gives young readers nonfiction information at a fiction-like interest level with Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea. . . .This is the sort of picture book young children really enjoy. It has some suspense, some character investment and lots of science information thrown in for good measure. . . .The watercolor sea-hued illustrations, by Stephen James Petruccio, further enhance the telling. . . .This is a beautiful addition to classrooms and libraries." —Reading Rumpus
  • "A wonderful read; entertaining and informative. Perfect for the family or school library." —Armchair Interviews
  • "I give this a high-five for the interesting, riveting text and the beauty and accuracy of the illustrations. If you love animals and want to share your interest with your children, this is the book for you." —Stories for Children Magazine
  • "We've read and enjoyed other animal books by Janet Halfmann (about polar bears and alligators, and, my favorite, hermit crabs). If you have an animal-loving child, about five-years old, with an appetite for non-fiction, her books are the best I know of for peaceful, shared learning at the end of the day." —Charlotte's Library

Hermit Crab's Home: Safe in a Shell

Hermit Crab's Home: Safe in a Shell

By Janet Halfmann
Illustrated by Bob Dacey & Debra Bandelin
Soundprints, 2007
Ages 4-8, nonfiction picture book story

(Out of print)

The Story

A young hermit crab spends her days tucked safely inside a seashell near the Caribbean Sea until one day she outgrows her shell. Land Hermit Crab searches for a new shell, but the ones she finds are either too big or already occupied. Without a shell, Land Hermit Crab has no protection—will she be able to find a new home?

Checked for accuracy by curators at the Smithsonian Institution and has additional fun facts, a glossary, and points of interest.

Reviews

  • "Author Janet Halfmann offers concise, crisp text that takes us through the entire life cycle of a hermit crab in a fun, informative way. Combined with the awesome, accurately-detailed illustrations by Bob Dacey and Debra Bandelin, I give this book a high five for being a positive learning experience for your child to discover facts about and the habitat of these sea creatures, and how they should be handled when discovered." —Stories for Children Magazine
  • "Hermit Crab's Home is a fascinating children's picturebook following the life cycle of an ordinary female hermit crab. . . .The gentle, realistic color artwork adds the perfect touch to the wonderful tale highly recommended for children's library and private collections alike." —Midwest Book Review
  • "This breathtakingly illustrated book tells the story of one hermit crab. . . .The author writes beautifully. . . .Well done! This would be a splendid book for a child or classroom that keeps a hermit crab pet." —Children's Literature
  • "Halfmann brings biology alive for young readers with her skillful storytelling. . . .The content is directed toward children aged four to eight, but any child who likes wildlife will enjoy this book. It is a fantastic learning experience, even for adults, and is equally entertaining for all ages. Hermit Crab's Home is sure to become a family favorite and will be read again and again." —BreeniBooks
  • "The Best Hermit Crab Book Ever. . . . One reason I liked this book so much is that the pictures are up close and low down--the world as a crab might see it. The menacing ghost crab looming above is quite spooky, the sand castle quite magical." —Charlotte’s Library

Polar Bear Horizon

Polar Bear Horizon

(also available in Spanish: El Horizonte del Oso Polar)

By Janet Halfmann
Illustrated by Adrian Chesterman
Soundprints, 2006
Ages 4-8, nonfiction picture book story

Available as an app at Oceanhouse Media
(Book is out of print)

Parents’ Choice Approved

The Story

It is spring. Time to leave the den! At the top of the world, snow stretches to the horizon and beyond. Polar Bear’s two cubs have so much to see in this world of white. One morning, Polar Bear takes her cubs for a walk and keeps on going. The cubs put their paws in their mother’s huge tracks as they follow her. Will Polar Bear and her cubs complete the long and dangerous journey to the sea?

Checked for accuracy by curators at the Smithsonian Institution and has additional fun facts, a glossary, and points of interest.

Review

  • "Halfmann's writing is clear and relaxed; it is a pleasure to read. . . .[The book is] packed full of information, and interesting little plot elements, and include[s] more explicitly informational details and glossary at the end." —Charlotte’s Library

Dolphin's Rescue: The Story of a Pacific White-Sided Dolphin

Dolphin's Rescue:
The Story of a Pacific White-Sided Dolphin

By Janet Halfmann
Illustrated by Steven James Petruccio
Soundprints, 2005
Ages 4-8, nonfiction picture book story

(Out of print)

Based on a true event.

The Story

Leaping, soaring, bursting above the waves—a group of dolphins swims along with a research ship. The scientists on board watch and clap as the dolphins do acrobatic flips. The dolphins leap higher and higher. Then, one of the dolphins leaps so high and soars so long that when he comes down, the ship is under him. He lands on the deck with a loud thump. The scientists rush to make sure Dolphin is okay. Will the scientists be able to save Dolphin?

Checked for accuracy by curators at the Smithsonian Institution and has additional fun facts, a glossary, and points of interest.

Reviews

  • "Illustrated in an attractive, naturalistic style with atmospheric grays and blues, the spreads give a wonderful view of life under water. . . . this attractive and informative book will find an audience among marine-life enthusiasts." —School Library Journal
  • "I like how this book introduces children to the animals of the ocean in a way they can understand and makes you want to experience the ocean. Steven Petruccio does a beautiful job with the illustrations. . . .I would recommend this book for anyone trying to instill a love of nature in children. I could also see elementary teachers using this book for great science classes on how dolphins use sound to locate items and for large motor activities as children could pretend to leap and jump like dolphins as my daughter's friend did." —Book Scoops

Pelican's Catch

Pelican's Catch

By Janet Halfmann
Illustrated by Bob Dacey & Debra Bandelin
Soundprints, 2004
Ages 4-8, nonfiction picture book story

(Out of print)

The Story

A young pelican rests in a mangrove tree off the coast of Puerto Rico. Now that she has learned to fly, Pelican must learn to fish! In a small bay near a lighthouse, Pelican spots a school of sardines and dives into the clear, blue sea. Again and again she dives, but she isn’t able to capture a fish. Other brown pelicans are feasting all around her. Will Pelican figure out how to capture fish for herself?

Checked for accuracy by curators at the Smithsonian Institution and has additional fun facts, a glossary, and points of interest.

Reviews

  • "Well Done." —2005 Benjamin Franklin Awards
  • "This book is a nice introduction to science books for younger children. . . .Brown Pelican's behaviors are described in a story format which is approachable and interesting to read. . . .The text and illustrations reflect each other very well which is key in nonfiction for young children." —The Well-Read Chlld
  • "Halfmann depicts the life of a brown pelican very well. She has written this nonfiction book in a story format which allows her to show the bird's habitat, social life, physical characteristics and behavior within the interesting narrative arc of a single day. . . .The illustrations by Bob Dacey and Debra Bandelin are superb. The birds soar and dive with so much life and drama." —Senor Parrot's Perch
  • (Audio Book) "Youngsters will be fascinated as they follow a young brown pelican in its first few months of life. . . .Listeners will be transported to the seashore with realistic sound effects, especially water sounds. Bob Dacey’s and Debra Bandelin’s realistic drawings will help readers visualize the scene." —Chicago Parent

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