Monday, February 11, 2019

Nonfiction Monday


Marshes and Swamps! With 25 Science Projects for Kids, by J.K. O’Sullivan with illustrations by Tom Casteel introduces readers from 7-10 to these unique wetland habitats.


The introductory chapter, What Are Marshes and Swamps? provides a thoughtful discussion of these two environments by comparing and contrasting elements such as location, plant life, and the animals that inhabit each. The following chapters delve more deeply into those topics along with examining the importance of these ecosystems in animal migration, the nutrient cycle for organisms, filtering water, and their influence on climate change. An easily understood discussion of the threats now facing these important natural systems is paired with strategies that individuals and communities can utilize to protect these valuable habitats.
Readers are encouraged to think like scientists as they observe the results of classroom experiments, make notes, analyze results, and draw conclusions. Experiments provide opportunities to explore important concepts such as the essential ways in which marshes and swamps protect against erosion and filter pollutants to protect access to clean water.
Cartoon-style illustrations are augmented here and there with photographs to create visual interest. Text boxes set out challenges labeled INVESTIGATE or CONSIDER AND DISCUSS. WORDS TO KNOW defines important vocabulary. DID YOU KNOW? highlights special facts. Each chapter concludes with a series of hands-on STEM projects to enable students to reinforce learning, enhance understanding, and develop critical thinking skills.
Recommended as a valuable STEM resource for home, school, and library collections.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Nonfiction Monday


Oceans and Seas! With 25 Science Projects for Kids by Anita Yasuda with illustrations by Tom Casteel invites readers from 7-10 to explore the amazing world beneath the sea.

Six well-organized chapters introduce young oceanographers to the basic concepts of oceans and seas from ancient mythologies to the modern challenges of conservation in an aquatic frontier that is still largely unexplored. Multiple topics are examined: Extraordinary Exploration - Creatures of the Deep - Ocean Plants – and Oceans, Wind, and Climate to encourage students to think like scientists. Investigate hydrothermal vents 8,000 feet below the surface and the remarkable creatures that live in the shadow of undersea volcanoes. Discover the special adaptations of hatchet fish and vampire squids. Delve into the unique properties of kelp that makes that plant an important ocean resource.
Cartoon-style illustrations, augmented here and there with photographs, create visual interest. Text boxes set out challenges labeled INVESTIGATE or CONSIDER AND DISCUSS. WORDS TO KNOW defines important vocabulary. DID YOU KNOW? highlights special facts. Each chapter concludes with a series of hands-on STEM projects to enable students to reinforce learning, enhance understanding, and develop critical thinking skills.
Recommended as a useful STEM resource for home, school, and library collections.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Nonfiction Monday


A Day in a Forested Wetland by Kevin Kurtz with illustrations by Sherry Neidigh takes readers on a twenty-four-hour journey through a riparian forest rich with wildlife.




Green darners rise with the sun to hunt flies while snapping turtles wait to ambush prey. Sunset brings forth bats, frogs, flying squirrels, and a bobcat family. The cadence of the rhyming text is appealing and readily accessible for readers.  The narrative is packed with fascinating information about the diverse inhabitants of this ecosystem – from Caddisflies armoring themselves with rocks to barred owls hunting crayfish.

The illustrations enrich the text and are drawn in the natural palette of the environment with colorful patches of color to highlight special moments.

As with other books by Arbordale, this story contains a Creative Minds section that includes factual information to provide points of discussion for parents and lesson options for teachers. Keystone Species: Beaver discusses the important ways in which the beaver supports the forested wetland habitat. Beaver Sam Forested Wetland Sequencing offers a step-by-step look at the way in which this environment changes over time. Wetlands compares the four types of wetlands: Forested Wetland, Marsh, Bog, and Fen. Find the Animal challenges readers to correctly match names and descriptions with the animals pictured in an image of the forested wetland.

Recommended for home and school libraries. Great addition to STEM studies.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Nonfiction Monday


Which Animal is FASTEST? by Brian Rock with illustrations By Carolyn Le attempts to answer the question in the guise of a race held by Lion, the King of Beasts.



However, it turns out that determining the fastest is more complicated than you’d think. How can mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, and fish be fairly assessed? Do four-legged animals have an advantage over two-legged animals? Written in an energetic narrative-nonfiction style, Rock packs plenty of facts into the story and creates multiple discussion points as the animals debate ways in which to determine a fair competition. The solution turns out to be an entertaining animal Olympics in which animals compete on land, in water, and in the air. In true Olympic tradition, awards are given and a graphic details the varied categories, winners, and speeds from Fastest Land Animal: Cheetah to Fastest Punch: Peacock Mantis Shrimp.

Following the race statistics, there is a Creative Minds section that includes factual information to provide points of discussion for parents and lesson options for teachers. Animal Movement explores the many ways in which animals can move. Different Animals Have Different Strengths raises questions about how to evaluate the differing strengths of various creatures. Animal Body Parts provides an opportunity to test knowledge by matching animal body parts to the what that part is used for. Speed Sequencing asks readers to imagine how race results might vary if the circumstances of the race were altered.

Recommended for home and school libraries. Great addition to STEM studies.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Picture Book Friday


Once Upon A Snowstorm by Richard Johnson is a charming picture book with a twist. The tale is told entirely without words, inviting young readers to imagine their own interpretations of the events that flow across the beautifully illustrated pages.



The story begins with a lonely father and son enjoying the beauty of the falling snow. When the boy becomes lost, he’s discovered by woodland animals and finds refuge and friendship among the forest creatures.  Eventually, his longing to be reunited with his father inspires a kindly bear to undertake the long journey home. Father and son are reunited, but now the bear is in danger of being shot until the boy steps in and becomes the rescuer by explaining the bear’s presence to the father.  The father’s understanding and acceptance of the bear opens a path to friendship with all the other animals and puts an end to the father’s and son’s solitary existence.

The illustrations are detailed and imaginative. The snow scene is engaging with the flakes transforming into racing deer, rabbits, foxes, and birds. Clever snapshots that focus on small details: the hands of father and son as they lose touch with one another, the astonished faces of each animal that mirror the boy’s surprise are juxtaposed with richly-colored double page spreads.

There is a thoughtful use of perspective employed throughout to emphasize individual plot points such as the minute image of the boy in the blizzard’s field of swirling white or the huddled form of the exhausted boy lit by the faint light of starry animal constellations spread across a double page spread of inky night.

Young readers will find much to discover as they identify details to incorporate into the narrative. Once Upon A Snowstorm offers a delightful opportunity for parents and children to collaborate on storytelling as they discuss the various images and explore their meanings.



Monday, January 7, 2019

Nonfiction Monday


Oliver’s Otter Phase by Lisa Connors with illustrations by Karen Jones follows Oliver
as he spends a day trying to live like an Otter.



But what does that mean? Otters arrange their food on their stomach. Otters secure their babies with kelp to keep them from floating away. Otters hold food in an underarm pouch. Otters hold hands when they sleep. Oliver delights in finding out what life as a pretend otter is all about. Try as he might, he also discovers that in the end, he’s more successful being a boy.

As with other books by Arbordale, this story contains a Creative Minds section that includes factual information to provide points of discussion for parents and lesson options for teachers. Marine Mammals defines the characteristics of mammals in general and the specializations of sea otters. Sea Otters and You compares and contrasts otters and humans. Sea Otter Tools provides an opportunity to test knowledge by matching otter skills with the ways in which Oliver uses tools. Sea Otters and River Otters creates a Venn diagram to examine the characteristics and behaviors of these two related species.

Recommended for home and school libraries. Great discussion starter for STEM studies.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Nonfiction Monday


Nature photographer Mary Holland introduces young readers to the many variations and adaptations of ANIMAL EARS in this new addition to her award-winning Animal Anatomy series.




Stunning full-color closeups fill most of the double page spreads and are underscored by age appropriate text that offers insights into the many ways in which animals use their ears to survive. Although written with children in mind, adults will learn new facts as well.  Did you know that not all ears are located on the head? Katydid ears are on their legs. And while most animals have a pair of ears, the Praying Mantis has only one which is located in a groove on the underside of its body between its front legs. Fascinating!

The book identifies an audience of ages 4-9. 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 additional discussions review the many specific ways in which animals utilize their ears. A “Mix and Match” page challenges readers to pair photos of animals with the correct set of ears. “How Do Ears Hear?” provides a more detailed look at the mechanism of hearing and also alerts readers to the fact that not every person is able to utilize this important sense. “Ear Questions” answers three important questions: Why do some animals have very small ears? – How do owls hear so well? – Can ears do anything but hear?

The publisher, Arbordale, has aligned this book to NGSS, Core, and state standards in science, math, and social studies. An extensive teaching activities guide is available on Arbordalepublishing.com.

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

The Gingerbread Cowboy Book Trailer