Monday, September 17, 2018

Nonfiction Monday


Forces: Physical Science for Kids by Andi Diehn introduces young readers, ages 5-8, to this science concept.

The book opens by illustrating some of the many ways in which the word “force” is used in everyday life. From there, the text continues to on to the topics of gravity, magnetism, and friction and explores the idea of force as expressed through the opposing forces of pushing and pulling.

Examples are pulled from everyday experiences and are both entertaining and thought provoking. A pair of Hands-0n experiments and a basic glossary reinforce the content.

A fun introduction to simple science concepts.


Thursday, August 30, 2018

Frankenstein Day


August 30 is Frankenstein Day celebrating English author Mary Shelley who wrote one of the world’s most read monster novel, Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus.
Mary Shelly was born on August 30, 1797. She began writing hr novel when she was 18, and the first edition was published anonymously in London on 1 January 1818, when she was 20. A second addition, carrying her name, was published in 1823 in France.
With that thought in mind, I’m sharing this earlier post.



There is plenty of spooky fun in this collection of poems about monsters facing their fears and dealing with everyday situations that become weirdly complicated. The Invisible Man gets a haircut, the Phantom of the Opera has the song, "It's a Small World," stuck in his head, The Creature from the Black Lagoon forgets to wait an hour before swimming. Wolfman, Bigfoot, Dracula...they're all here and demanding to be read aloud.

Rex followed this 2006 success with more monster inspired fun in the 2008 Frankenstein Takes the Cake, detailing Frankenstein's wacky Wedding. The monster cast includes Dracula, the Sphinx, The Headless Horseman and even an alien encounter to produce plenty of laugh-out-loud moments.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Nonfiction Monday


Maggie: Alaska’s Last Elephant by Jennifer Keats Curtis relates this true story for ages 4-9 in a narrative nonfiction story that is rich with sensory imagery.



Beginning with Maggie’s arrival at the Alaska Zoo as a baby, the story focuses on her life following the loss of her friend, Annabelle, an Asian elephant. With Maggie’s only companion gone, she adopts a tire for company. Despite the zoo keepers’ best efforts, loneliness and the pervasive cold eventually take a toll and her health declines.

 Fortunately, the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in California already had two groups of elephants and were ready and willing to give this lonesome elephant a new home. How do you move and 8,000-pound animal? Slowly and carefully as it turns out and with a lot of help.

Young readers will enjoy discovering important information about elephants, and the remarkable details of Maggie’s rescue in this child-friendly and beautifully illustrated text.
Curtis does an excellent job of describing the sequence of events that result in Maggie finding a happy new life with her own special friends. And there are plenty of elephant-related facts to absorb along the way.

 The book concludes with a section titled: For Creative Minds, which provides additional reading on Elephant Herds, Zoos, and A Question and Answer section with Maggie’s keeper Michelle Harvey.

A 30-page cross curricular Teaching Activity Guide is available online. The book is also available in Spanish.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Nonfiction Monday

I'm a day late, but here's another book to add to your STEM collection for home and school libraries.

Energy: Physical Science for Kids by Andi Diehn introduces young readers, ages 5-8, to the amazing world of energy with a look at the many ways in which energy is used, stored, and replenished.





Beginning with a look at children utilizing energy in their active day, the book identifies what occurs when energy levels drop, and continues on to explore the ways in which humans and familiar animals restore their energy through nutrition and rest.
Of course, animals aren’t the only lifeforms that utilize energy and an examination of basic photosynthesis (without actually using the term) reveals that plants also use energy to grow.
The latter portion of the book focuses attention on chemical energy, heat energy, electrical energy, and light energy and the ways we incorporate those forms of energy in daily life.
Clear, simple language and colorful illustrations invite youngster to explore the many types of energy that surround them every day.
Examples are pulled from everyday experiences and are both entertaining and thought provoking. A pair of Hands-0n experiments and a basic glossary reinforce the content.
A fun introduction to simple science concepts.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Nonfiction Monday



The Oregon Trail: The Journey Across the Countryfrom Lewis and Clark to the Transcontinental Railroad by Karen Bush Gibson offers readers ages 9 to 12 an interactive exploration of American’s Westward expansion. 



An introduction plus six chapters build a rich chronological picture of the major stages of growth beginning with the early 1800s. Chapters include primary sources and QR codes to augment the 120 page text.  The end of each chapter checks understanding by asking readers to answer the “Essential Question” addressed in the chapter. In addition, sidebars define “Words To Know” and text boxes highlight important events, concepts, facts, and biographies to enrich the reading experience. The end of each chapter offers a variety of hands-on activities to focus attention and reinforce specific content by digging deeper into individual topics such as: preserving plants, writing treaties, planning for a cross-country trip, or building a fort. Multiple perspectives offer glimpses of life as African American slaves & settlers, immigrants, Native Americans, and homesteaders.


Timelines, colorful maps, illustrations, and photographs together with a glossary and additional resources provide plenty of visual interest and support the content.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Nonfiction Monday


Innovators: The Stories Behind the People Who Shaped the World with 25 Projects by Marcia Amidon Lusted, introduces readers, ages 9 to 12, to a comprehensive selection of inventions from the delicious Toll House chocolate chip cookie to life-saving cancer detection.


An introduction provides an overview of the engineering design process, explains the differences between inventors and innovators, and discusses diversity in innovation and its effect on the perception of women and minorities in this important work.


Each of the six chapters pose an important question to keep in mind throughout the reading. Activities at the end create opportunities for readers to apply what they have learned.

Chapter One, The Medical World, acknowledges the well-known scientists like Edward Jenner and Louis Pasteur. It also shines a light on less familiar individuals such as Dr. Daniel Hale Williams who performed the first open-heart surgery, Dr. Virginia Apgar who saved many infant lives by creating a test that enables physicians to assess a newborn baby’s health, and Dr. Charles Drew who developed a method of preserving plasma for use in transfusions during surgery. Building on that legacy are people like Stanford student, Jack Andraka who is focusing on using nanobots to fight cancer, and Harvard University’s Angela Zhang who is part of a research team exploring ways to use nanoparticles to target cancer cells.

Chapter Two, Solving Problems With Science, looks at the varied ways in which scientists have advanced human knowledge beginning with Galileo’s work in astronomy. African American, Benjamin Banneker’s skill in engineering and mathematics brought him to the attention of President Thomas Jefferson, who relied on Banneker to help design the layout of Washington, D.C. Mary Anning advanced our knowledge of prehistoric animals, Eliza Pinckney’s experiments with selective breeding created new plant varieties, and Rachel Carson exposed the environmental dangers of pesticides.
  
Chapter Three, Happiest at Home, focuses on a wide range of inventors who developed the electric light, windshield wipers, paper bags, disposable diapers, microwave ovens, and dishwashers. Attention is also give to innovators such as Lillian Gilbreth whose attention to efficiency led to better designs for appliances, Madame C.J. Walker who invented hair care products for African-American Women, and George Washington Carver’s many innovative uses for peanuts from printer’s ink to cooking oil. What would home life be without delicious snacks? Let’s not forget Ruth Graves Wakefield’s Toll House chocolate chip cookies, the legendary George Crum’s potato chips, and Arnold Fornachou’s ice cream cones.

Chapter Four, Engineering New Solutions, highlights the advances that began with the Industrial Age from Eli Whitney’s cotton gin and Alfred Noble’s dynamite to Stephanie Kwolek’s Kevlar and Elon Musk’s Space X. A variety of inventions are discussed including World War I gas masks, steam-driven boats, locomotives and cable cars, elevators and escalators, , steam engines, reusable rockets and Maglev trains.

Chapter Five, Hands-On Technology, covers topics from Gutenberg’s printing press to cell phones and computers with some interesting stops in between. Did you know that an almost all-female  team of codebreakers broke the secret of Germany’s Enigma machine during World War II or that Hedy Lamarr, a famous Hollywood actress, invented an anti-jamming device for torpedoes and that her “spread-Spectrum” technology is used in modern Wi-Fi?

Chapter Six, Innovative Accidents, explores Silly Putty, Play-Doh, Slinkys, Mr. Potato Head, Legos, and Super Soakers that all were developed for other purposes ranging from cleaning wall-paper to holding astronaut’s tools.

Chapters include primary sources and QR codes to augment the 122 page text.  In addition, sidebars define “Words To Know” and text boxes highlight important events, concepts, facts, and biographies to enrich the reading experience. The end of each chapter offers a variety of hands-on activities to focus attention and reinforce specific content by digging deeper into individual topics.

Timelines, colorful maps, illustrations, and photographs together with a glossary and additional resources provide plenty of visual interest and support the content.

Highly recommended for STEM classrooms and programs.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Nonfiction Monday



Architecture: Cool Women Who Design Structures by Elizabeth Schmermund with illustrations by Lena Chandhok offers readers an overview of architectural history that is paired with a look at the careers of three women who are modern working architects.
A brief introduction highlights the book’s topics for readers ages 9 – 12. 

Chapter one examines the history of architecture from one of the earliest towns, Jericho on the Jordan river in Palestine and traces changes from Stonehenge in England, the Egyptian pyramids, Roman and Greek advances, through the Renaissance and on to the Art Nouveau trend of the 1900s. The movement toward Modernism that developed during the two world wars receives it’s share of attention as well, with a look at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and the Freedom Tower in New York City. The chapter concludes with a discussion of women in architecture, focusing on Zaha Hadid, and Sophia Hayden Bennett, and the obstacles they’ve faced in a male dominated profession. The chapter notes that “While 42 percent of graduates in architecture are now women, only 25 percent of professional architects are women.”

Chapters two “Patricia Galván”, three “Farida Abu-Bakare”, and four “Maia Small” highlight each woman with a thoughtful biography of their early years, education, and professional careers with an emphasis on how their backgrounds, talents, and determination enabled them to face their individual obstacles to career success. Patricia Galván focuses her career on commercial and interior architecture. Farida Abu-Bakare is well-known for the science labs she designs for universities. Maia Small is an urban designer.

Throughout the book, text boxes explain important concepts such as The Golden Mean, Linear Perspective, and Architectural Styles, highlight career options for Civil Engineers, Product Designers, and Construction Managers, and draw the reader’s attention to significant facts or individuals.  

Primary sources and QR codes appear throughout and a timeline, glossary, and further resources for readers complete the book.


The Gingerbread Cowboy Book Trailer