"Obviously, she wasn't some silly, superstitious little kid who believed in ghosts or any of that nonsense but ... if ever ghosts did exist, this was exactly the sort of place they would be." Amelia, the protagonist of the Gateway series written by Cerberus Jones, is reflecting on her new home, a rundown hotel her parents just bought.
What Amelia doesn't know for much of The Four-Fingered Man is that the hotel her parents bought is a gateway for aliens, with a portal under the caretaker's house that opens wormholes to a variety of planets. Her father, a scientist, has been tasked with keeping track of these intergalactic travels, which are becoming more unpredictable.
Each story in the series has a self-contained plot but builds on the overarching storyline of life at this hotel. The books in this series engaging science fiction/mystery reads for late elementary or middle school students, with short chapters, fairly large text, and occasional illustrations. There are eight books in the series, ranging from 780-900 Lexile, each fewer than 160 pages.
"Mom, how do you say 'frog' in Spanish?" I'm starting to get these questions on a regular basis from my almost-five year old. He is very curious - and I love that he is aware of different languages! So I have been quite eager to get my hands on Usborne's My First Thousand Words: Spanish.
And this book doesn't disappoint. It is comprised of 50 pages of pictures and words in Spanish! Each double spread focuses on a different theme: the tool shed, school, toy store, the countryside, etc. 15 of the double spreads show an illustration of the theme and are bordered by individual drawings of objects and their name in Spanish. The other 11 double spreads contain more individual pictures, like animals or sports.
What's great about this set-up is that the book has dual purposes: it introduces new words and is also a great look-and-find book! The illustrations are wonderfully detailed, which will make for hours of exploration and discovery.
But the book doesn't stop there: at the back, you'll find a comprehensive index of each word, how to pronounce it, and its English translation. The index is sorted by the words in Spanish, so it doesn't serve as an English/Spanish dictionary - but it is great for double-checking meanings and pronunciation! And if that's not enough, the book is internet linked, which means you can find it on the Usborne Quicklinks page for further pronunciation help and interesting facts about Spain.
It's that book you'll rely on as you introduce your kids to new languages!
Buy My First Thousand Words in Spanish here ($12.99, hardcover)
Check out all the books in the series here
"The best ice skaters can spin around on one foot up to 115 times without stopping" (p. 15). Also, at the annual La Tomatina festival in Spain, people throw around 1 million tomatoes at each other (p. 10). Oh, and one more thing: most Ancient Greek and Roman marble statues were originally painted (p. 25).
When I first opened The Usborne Big Picture Book: General Knowledge, I sat at my desk and pored through it for about half an hour. Every page is packed with interesting facts... I couldn't put it down! And there are so many tidbits of information, I am still learning something each time I pull it off the shelf. (Did you know a guy named Dave Kunst walked around the world in the 70s over the course of four years?)
One thing that makes this book so captivating is the way the information is presented. Each page is its own theme - Back in Time, On the Move, Animals, Natural Wonders, Record Breakers, etc. - and the facts are all presented with creative illustrations, so it's both a visual and written experience. Check out examples in the photos! You come for the pictures and stay for the fascinating info. :)
Incidentally, did you know that submarines extract oxygen from sea water, so the crew inside can breathe? (that's from page 9, "On the Move") Sorry, I can't help myself. Ok, so picture my excitement about all this stuff and translate it to kids! They will love exploring these pages and sharing their new finds with you. And what a great way to find topics they want to delve into deeper! This would make an incredible homeschool book... or really, an incredible book to have at the home of anyone who wants to learn something new.
It's that book that makes you more knowledgeable and more curious at the same time.
Oh, and by the way, Bangkok's name in full is Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit (p. 3).
Hi there! I'm Christine - Usborne Books & More independent consultant, kids' book fan, English teacher, mom of two boys.