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Review: Fly High, Fly Low- San Francisco with children

Review: Fly High, Fly Low- San Francisco with children

 Fly High, Fly Low (50th Anniversary ed.) offers a wonderful tour of San Francisco from a bird’s perspective.  The book opens with pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge, China town, cable cars-there’s even a cable car museum, and Coit tower.  Birds see quite a lot as they fly over a town!  Every morning, the pigeons fly to Union Square park to find breakfast.  After breakfast, they stop by Fisherman’s wharf,  and back through the Golden Gate Bridge before settling down for the evening in the big letter “B” of the Bay Hotel. Everything was going well until the sign was removed with their nest still in it!  Fortunately, Midge was able to alert the movers that her nest was in the letter B, but when Sid came back, there was no sign of his family.  Sid has quite an adventure trying to find his family, sailing over the waterfront, peering from the bridge, when suddenly, he gets stuck in a dense fog (which as everyone knows is not unusual in San Francisco)!  Will Sid ever find Midge? This is a charming book about the search for the perfect home and provides a great tour of the highlights of San Francisco.  It would be a fun adventure to find all of the locations pictured in the book and settle in for a snack at Emporio Rulli Il Caffe at Union...

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Review: Humphrey the Lost Whale-San Francisco with children

Review: Humphrey the Lost Whale-San Francisco with children

Humphrey the Lost Whale written by Wendy Tokuda and Richard Hall with illustrations by Hanako Wakiyama is based on the true story of a whale who swam from San Francisco Bay up the Sacramento River and got stuck and how the community helped him find his way home Every year, humpback whales migrate north from Mexico to Alaska along the West Coast of the United States.  In 1985, Humphrey made a detour.  Instead of swimming up the coast, he turned under the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco Bay.  At first, he was viewed as a special treat.  Humpback whales usually stay in deeper waters and seeing one so close to the city was exciting.  But instead of swimming back out to sea as he should, Humphrey turned the wrong way up the Sacramento River, and moved further away from the ocean.  He swam into fresh water, managed to squeeze under a tiny bridge and got stuck in the narrowing river. People knew that something had to be done quickly.  Whales don’t do well in fresh water and Humphrey was starting to look sick.  The Coast Guard and scientists quickly came up with a plan to save him.  It’s hard to safely move something that’s 40 feet long and weighs approximately 79,000 pounds!  So the Coast Guard and the scientists decided to use sound to help get Humphrey to swim in the right direction.  Using a combination of irritating noises and the sounds of whales eating they got him to turn around and start swimming down the river.  Everything was working until he got back to the little bridge.  Humphrey was afraid to go under the bridge. The more they made the irritating noises by banging on the pipes, the angrier Humphrey became.  He wanted to get away from the noise and couldn’t figure out what to do.  Time for a new plan!  Read the book to find out how they got Humphrey to swim back out to sea and what happened to him afterwards. You can trace Humphrey’s journey using the end papers in the book and the notes include photographs and more factual information about Humphrey’s rescue.  This inspiring story of a community coming together to rescue Humphrey was great...

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By the Great Horn Spoon!

By the Great Horn Spoon!

By the Great Horn Spoon!by Sid Fleishman is a rip roaring swashbuckling kind of a tall tale.  It’s a great book (though the cover on this edition is awful).  Twelve year old Jack stows away in a potato barrel on a boat from Boston to California with his Aunt’s butler, Praiseworthy, in an effort to make his fortune and help his Aunt Arabella save the family home.  The book is great for reading aloud and it’s one my six year old doesn’t want me to put down. The first half of the book focuses on the trip itself, with Jack and Praiseworth stowing away aboard the Lady Wilma in Boston, stopping in Rio de Janeiro, heading for Cape Horn and crossing through the Straits of Magellan in an effort to beat another boat. We’ve had interesting discussions regarding the six months it took Jack and Praiseworthy to get from Boston to California and comparing that to how we can now fly there in less than a day.  I wasn’t sure how to tag this book, it doesn’t really take place in Boston, but it does a good job of contrasting the life that Jack was leaving with the adventures and dangers of the Gold Rush and how the lure of instant riches drew people from all places and walks of life.  By the end of the story fortunes are made and lost and made again, but they never quite make it back to Boston! During the Gold Rush, San Francisco grew from 200 residents in 1846 to more than 36000 in 1852.  There’s a gold rush trail that traces the original shoreline of the city.  There’s also a gold rush tour which talks about the fleet of abandoned ships mentioned at the end of  By the Great Horn Spoon!   It must have been quite a sight, ships abandoned as everyone headed to make their...

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Review: Redwoods-San Francisco with Children

Review: Redwoods-San Francisco with Children

Redwoods by Jason Chin opens with a little boy sitting and waiting for his train when he spies an abandoned book. When he opens the book, magical things begin to happen.  I’ve always enjoyed the magical places that books take us and Redwoods takes us into the little boy’s imagination.  As he reads about redwoods, dinosaurs appear in the windows of the train. The roots of the trees appear as he exits the subway station and learns that the root system of redwoods can “travel more than one hundred feet from the tree” and he exits the train into a forest surrounded by redwoods that can grow more than 200 feet tall. Redwoods does a good job of exercising the imagination and teaching about Redwoods as the little boy explores a forest while never leaving the city. In the U.S., the coast redwoods (Sequois sempervirens) only grow in a strip of coast reaching from southern Oregon down through central California and are well worth seeing. Muir woods is an easy drive from San Francisco.  If you’re traveling further north, the Mystery Tour near the Oregon/California border in Klamath, CA provides a gondola ride through the trees of the Redwood National and State Parks. The Redwood National and State parks run for about 37 miles along the northern California coast and offer lots of hiking and exploring opportunities along with junior ranger programs for kids. The Redwoods are awe inspiring and definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area. If you’d like to add Redwoods to your child’s library, click...

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Review: Pop’s Bridge-California with children

Review: Pop’s Bridge-California with children

Pop’s Bridge by Eve Bunting was first published in 2006.  It tells the story of the building of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco from the perspective of Robert, the son of one of the ironworkers building the bridge. There’s so much to do and see in San Francisco, but it is well worth visiting the Golden Gate Bridge while you’re there.  You can walk, drive or bike across and the views are spectacular. Robert watches the building of the bridge from Fort Point with his friend Charlie whose dad is a painter on the bridge.  Built at the height of the California Gold Rush in 1853, Fort Point was designed to protect San Francisco harbor from foreign attack and is now a National Historic Site.  It’s full of history and a really nice place to wander around.  It’s still one of the best places to get a close up view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Robert and Charlie watch the building of the bridge everyday.  In the beginning of the story, Robert thinks that the ironworkers are the most important bridge workers and downplays the role of the painter’s like Charlie’s father, but in the end, he realizes that they’re equally important and the jobs they’re doing are equally dangerous.  Pop’s bridge does a good job of capturing the emotions surrounding the building of the bridge, the riskiness of the venture, and how it captured the hearts of the city....

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