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.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Nonfiction Monday

The 2018 Boston Marathon is on Monday, April 16th. If you’re looking for some inspiration, then I have just the story for you.

DREAM BIG A True Story of Courage and Determination by Dave McGillivray, race director of the Boston Marathon, is an autobiographical picture book that captures Dave’s physical and mental struggle to realize his dream of being a successful athlete.

Too small to be the popular choice for team sports and always picked last, he discovers running at the age of 12. Encouraged by his beloved grandpa, Dave adds a mile to his run on every birthday. At 17, with no training or experience, he sets his sights on completing in the Boston Marathon, only to collapse at mile 18 and end up in a hospital instead of the finish line. Dave puts his feelings of failure aside and begins a serious training regimen, but more disappointments and challenges await.
His grandpa dies just a couple of months into training. Despite the loss, Dave perseveres, but when the big day finally arrives, Dave wakes up sick. Determined to race in memory of his grandpa, Dave soon falters and partway through mile 21 he fears he go another step. Slumped on the sidewalk, he discovers he’s at his grandfather’s cemetery. Memories of his grandpa inspire Dave as he struggles to his feet and finishes the race…a failure no longer.
Young readers will discover an inspiring story that carries a strong message of courage, perseverance, and the ability to overcome challenges. Better yet is Dave’s closing remarks as he explains that his dream of becoming an athlete was transformed into an opportunity to provide other athletes with the chance to realize their running goals by his willingness to explore alternate paths to success. 
Award-winning artist, Ron Himler’s illustrations create a lovely visual journey that serves the text well without overpowering the narrative.
An illustrated map of the Boston Marathon route and a final page of related activities completes the book.
Recommended for school and home libraries.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Are You Ready For Groundhog's Day?

Check out the ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS page on my website: Janet Squires Books . You'll find literature, science, and math activities inspired by my book, JUST LIKE GULLIVER, that you can download or print.
Share the story of a groundhog who is afraid of his shadow until a fun-filled adventure helps him find his courage on Groundhog Day. An author's note provides facts about groundhogs and you'll discover curriculum connections to shadows, groundhogs, folklore, and Groundhog's Day.
"...Thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end, “Just Like Gulliver” is especially recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to family, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.”
 Midwest Book Review December 2016

Save the Date!

I'm going to be at the Simi Valley Library on February 3rd 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM for READING ROUNDUP AT THE LIBRARY Family Book Festival 2018. If you're in the neighborhood be sure to come by and check out the many great activities. I'll be reading, giving a presentation about my life as an author and signing books which will be available for purchase.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Save the Date!!

This is always a fun event with dozens of authors in many different genres on hand to introduce you to their work, share their experiences in panel discussions, and answer questions. Come discover a new favorite author or book!

The Gingerbread Cowboy Book Trailer