Monday, October 12, 2020

Nonfiction Monday

 

RIVER OTTER’S ADVENTURE by Linda Stanek with illustrations by Shennen Bersani relates a narrative nonfiction story about a young river otter that sneaks into a zoo. The text offers a compare and contrast tale as the otter explores living like the reptiles and mammals that are encountered one after another.  She enjoys pretending to be a trunk-swinging elephant, a slippery salamander, a stalking tiger and others, but each encounter also reminds her of what she’d miss about being an otter.

 


The author weaves facts into the read-aloud story and expands on the factual material at the end. Colorful double-page spreads provide realistic reinforcement to this charming and educational offering for young readers ages 4-8.

 Readers will find the text engaging and will discover more information in the final section, titled For Creative Minds, where additional discussions provide a wealth of facts.

“Basic Needs and Living and Nonliving Things” reviews the various requirements that otters depend on and challenges readers to identify which things in a river otter’s habitat are living or nonliving. “North American River Otter or Sea Otter?” provides an informational chart to help readers differentiate between the two types of otters. “North American River Otter Adaptations” discusses the special ways in which otters are uniquely suited to their environment.

 The publisher, Arbordale, provides teaching activities guide at Arbordalepublishing.com.

 An excellent STEM resource for introducing young readers to otters and the concept of adaptation. Recommended for home, school, and library.

Monday, October 5, 2020

 ANIMAL HOMES by nature photographer, Mary Holland, introduces young readers to the methods in which animals construct and use their homes for shelter in this new addition to her collection of award-winning books.



Full-color closeups are underscored by age appropriate text that offers insights into the many ways in which animals build their homes. Some utilize natural materials – beavers form their lodges using branches and mud. Squirrels fashion nests of twigs, bark, leaves, and moss. Other animals like bears, woodchucks, foxes, and coyotes live in dens and tunnels underground. Insects have a variety of home building skills. Bald-faced hornets chew wood and their saliva creates a paste that dries into paper. Spittle bugs create a home fashioned from bubbles.

The book identifies an audience of ages 5-8. Younger readers will enjoy the strong visual impact of the images and benefit from reading with an adult or older sibling. Experienced readers will find the text engaging and will discover more information in the final section titled For Creative Minds where additional discussions review the many specific ways in which animals are home builders. A “Mix and Match” page challenges readers to match photos of animals with their choice of building materials.  “Which Are Animal Homes?” asks readers to identify pictures of animal dwellings. A third section provides an opportunity to pair an animal with its home.

The publisher, Arbordale, offers a teaching activity guide that is available at Arbordalepublishing.com.

An excellent STEM resource. Recommended for home, school, and library.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

A Lovely Review of Desperate Straits

Netgalley just notified me that Lisa Garrett (Reviewer) has just reviewed Desperate Straits.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Full Text:
I loved this book. The writing was very atmospheric and I felt as if I was in the midst of the story, right in the Wild West. The cast of characters were strong and resilient.
Many thanks to Janet Squires Books and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Nonfiction Monday


Biodiversity:Explore the Diversity of Life on Earth with Science Activities for Kids by Laura Perdew with illustrations by Tom Casteel offers an overview of life from the first single-cell organisms through the varied lifeforms that exist today. The text, which is designed for readers in grades four to six, is thoughtfully divided into six chapters that systematically develop each concept.

The book opens with a double-page geologic time scale and a vocabulary list which is followed by an introduction, What Is Biodiversity?, that discusses the basic concepts of ecosystems such as kelp forests.  The biodiversity and interconnection of ecosystems is explored through an up-close examination of a tree both as a specific organism, but also as a diverse ecosystem of birds, animals, insects, fungus and an assortment of microorganisms.
Chapter One, A Short History of Life On Earth, references the geological time table to answer the question, “How has life on earth become so diverse?” The Paleozoic Era saw the rise of early organism like Trilobites and primitive fish. Land plants developed into forests, and environments provided ecosystems for primitive amphibians and reptiles. The Mesozoic Era is known for dinosaurs, the first flowering plants, and the appearance of mammals. The Cenozoic Era is marked by the presence of primates, the diversification of birds, and familiar mammals such as mammoths and saber-toothed cats.
Chapter Two, Biodiversity Everywhere, examines the ways in which environmental factors such as temperature, precipitation, and geography determine the distribution of species on land and in water. Why do rainforests, which occupy less than two percent of the earth’s surface, account for fifty percent of earth’s biodiversity? Endemic species, like the Texas blind salamander, are so perfectly adapted to their environment that they don’t exist outside of their specific location. Extremophiles occupy niches from 660° F deep sea hydrothermal vents to the frigid waters beneath two miles of polar ice.
Chapter Three, Why Biodiversity Matters, discusses ways in which ecosystem stability is protected by biodiversity. Pollination, decomposition, and food webs are essential to the health of the planet and dependent on the variety of plants and animals that occupy earth’s many environments.
Chapter Four, Biodiversity And Humans, builds on the previous chapters by demonstrating the many ways in which humans are dependent on and benefit from earth’s biodiversity. The security of our food supply is supported by bees and other pollinators, as well as the many organisms that create healthy soil. Half of our modern medicines are derived from nature’s plants, animals, fungi and bacteria. Recreational opportunities rely on healthy natural environments.
Chapter Five, Threats To Biodiversity, focuses on the ways in which the presence of seven billion humans on earth impact the health of our planet. Climate change, ocean acidification, pollution, habitat loss, poaching, and invasive species pose unique challenges. Pesticides have been found in honey. Every year 9 million tons of plastic go into the ocean.
Chapter Six, Protecting Biodiversity, considers the question “What can we do to protect biodiversity on Earth?” Protection can take many forms, both large and small: conservation, innovation, and implementing laws, treaties, and policies to safe guard the health of our home on the small blue planet called Earth.
Vocabulary is highlighted in Words To Know sidebars.  Related STEM projects are listed to check knowledge and offer hands-on reinforcement for concepts.  Each chapter includes a QR code to enable readers to access primary sources. Readers are challenged to ask questions and use critical thinking skills in response to calls to action: Essential Question, Consider This!,  and Did You Know? Photographs and illustrations enhance content and provide excellent visual interest.

The book is well organized and the content expands on familiar facts and introduces readers to details that are often overlooked. It is not only educational, but is also a pleasure to read. The conversational tone and age-appropriate vocabulary is appealing.
Recommended for STEM home and school libraries.



Monday, June 29, 2020

Nonfiction Monday


Planet Earth: Finding Balance on the Blue Marble with Environmental Science Activities for Kids by Kathleen M. Reilly with illustrations by Tom Casteel introduces readers in grades four to six to the basics of environmental studies.

An introduction – Welcome to Planet Earth – offers background on environmental problems, defines vocabulary and explains the six steps of good science practices.

Chapter One, Earth: Our Spot In Space, takes a big picture look at the global ecosystem, discusses basic components of the five major biomes, then provides a compare and contrast close-up of each. Deserts cover one fifth of the earth’s surface. Tundra temperatures may drop to -50°. The Aquatic biome consists of all the fresh and ocean waters and makes up 70% of our earth’s surface. Forest biomes are subdivided into groups: rainforests, coniferous, and deciduous with each attracting a unique population of plants and animals. Grasslands are nearly treeless in comparison, but are home to a wide variety of herbivores and the carnivores that prey upon them.

Chapter Two, The Planet Of Air And Water, focuses on the two unique factors that make our planet inhabitable unlike all the other planets in our solar system. Our atmosphere provides air for almost every plant and animal. Mammals, reptiles, and birds breath using lungs. Fish breathe by passing water over their gills which allows tiny blood vessels to transfer up to 85% of the oxygen in the water to their bloodstream. Plants breathe through microscopic stomata on the leaves. The chapter also discusses the layers of earth’s atmosphere, wind patterns, ocean currents, and water cycles.

Chapter Three, Our Star, The Sun, highlights the many ways in which solar power creates natural energy to fuel life on earth, influences air circulation and water cycles, and helps us tell time.

Chapter Four, Life On Earth, takes a closer look at the ways in which life interacts by delving into the classification of animals, exploring the concept of symbiosis, studying adaptations and discussing food chains and webs.

Chapter Five, Pollution, takes a systematic look at the variety of ways that pollution impacts the many different systems that were covered in chapters one through four. Land is contaminated with herbicides, pesticides, garbage, and plastics. Chemicals in the 300 billion cigarettes discarded yearly in the United States kill microscopic animals important to the marine food chain and the plastic filters kill animals that mistake them for food. Air pollution, water pollution, acid rain, and environmental disasters such as oil spills and volcanic activity have a variety of negative impacts.

Chapter Six, Climate Change, begins with an overview to explain the concept and then examines the importance of greenhouse gases. The text invites young scientists to calculate and reduce their carbon footprint, discusses ozone depletion, and the danger of ultraviolet rays.

Chapter Seven, Recycling, focuses attention on several of the ways in which certain materials such as plastic, paper, and glass are recycled. There is also a section offering tips on up-cycling materials. The chapter also takes a look at natural recycling via composting.

Vocabulary is highlighted in Words To Know sidebars.  Related STEM projects are listed at the end to check knowledge and offer hands-on reinforcement for concepts.  Each chapter includes a QR code to enable readers to access primary sources.
Readers are challenged to ask questions and use critical thinking skills in response to calls to action: Essential Question, Try This!,  and Did You Know? Photographs and illustrations enhance content and provide excellent visual interest.

The book is well organized and the content expands on familiar facts and introduces readers to details that are often overlooked. It is not only educational, but is also a pleasure to read. The conversational tone and age-appropriate vocabulary is appealing.
Recommended for STEM home and school libraries.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Nonfiction Monday


The Long and Short Tale of Colo and Ruff by Diane Lang with illustrations by Laurie Allen Klein uses a fictional story as means of providing readers with basic information about a variety of animals in a compare and contrast format.




Colo, a young cougar, relies on her long tail for balance and can jump great distances. Her friend Ruff, a bobcat cub, has a short tail and can’t keep up and worries that there is something wrong. Together the friends set out to see if there is a better tail for Ruff. In the process they discover a lizard, Redtail hawk, skunk, and gopher and those encounters lead Ruff to an important realization.

Following the story text is a Creative Minds section with multiple activities to reinforce understanding of the content.
Cat Comparisons charts comparative facts about cougars, bobcats, and housecats.
Cat Maps illustrates and describes the habitat and range of North America’s bobcats, ocelots, cougars and lynxes.
Tail Adaptations discusses the physical adaptations that influence balance, turning speed and steering, and defense.
Match the Tail challenges readers to pair pictures of tails with their animals.

The book identifies an audience of ages 5-9. Young readers will enjoy the strong visual impact of the images and benefit from reading with an adult or older sibling.
The text was fact-checked by Animal Program Specialist from the Columbus Zoo. Most double-page spreads contain brief paw-print highlighted call-outs with additional information.

Additional Educational Resources are available at:

Monday, June 1, 2020

Nonfiction Monday


ANIMAL SKINS by nature photographer Mary Holland introduces young readers to the variety of furs, feathers, and scales utilized by animals in this addition to her award-winning Animal Anatomy series.


Age appropriate text offers insights into the many ways that animals utilize their skin for survival: as protection from the cold and wet, as camouflage, or as a means of warning away predators. Although written with children in mind, adults will learn new facts as well. Porcupines have three types of hair: underfur for warmth, guard hair that acts like whiskers to alert the porcupine to its surroundings, and quills for protection. Frogs can absorb oxygen through their skin. Many male birds wear feathers that are more brilliantly colored than the females.  Why?

The book identifies an audience of ages 5-9. Younger readers will enjoy the strong visual impact of the images and benefit from reading with an adult or older sibling. Experienced readers will find the text engaging and will discover more information in the final section titled For Creative Minds where readers are challenged to review what they have learned:
  •  “Match The Skin To The Animal” pairs thumbnail photos of skin with the host animal.
  • “How Animals Use Their Skins” asks which animal uses its skin to breathe, crawl, keep warm, defend itself, camouflage itself, and warn others.
  • “Special Skins” discusses some the unusual skin of moles, honey bees, turkey vultures, and the gray treefrog.
  • “Skins and Animal Classes” explains how animals can be sorted into classes by their skin coverings.

The publisher, Arbordale, has aligned this book to NGSS, Core, and state standards. An extensive teaching activities guide is available on Arbordalepublishing.com.
Animal Skins is an excellent STEM resource. Recommended for home, school, and library.

The Gingerbread Cowboy Book Trailer