Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Review of Which Is Round? Which Is Bigger? by Mineko Mamada

Sunday, August 19th, 2018

Which Is Round?
Which Is Bigger?

by Mineko Mamada

Kids Can Press, 2013. First published in Japan in 2010. 28 pages.
Starred Review

I thought this was going to be a ho-hum concept book. But it surprised me.

The first spread asks the question, “Which one is round?” We see an apple and an armadillo. The answer seems obvious.

But when we turn the page, the apple has been eaten down to the core, and the armadillo has curled into a circle. Now the page asks, “Which one is round? What do you think?”

We get similar questions – and shifts – with questions about which one is bigger, longer, faster, higher, and red (an apple versus a watermelon – outside and inside).

It’s a simple book, and very short. But I love the question after each shift, “What do you think?” What a wonderful opening for interesting conversations with your children! And what a lovely way to get them to think critically and look again.

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Nonfiction/which_is_round.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Can an Aardvark Bark? by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

Can an Aardvark Bark?

by Melissa Stewart
illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Beach Lane Books (Simon & Schuster), 2017. 32 pages.
Starred Review

I don’t need to keep on raving about Steve Jenkins’ ultra-realistic cut paper illustrations. In this book they’re paired with a text that invites young readers to wonder and to learn.

This book is in question-and-answer format, and all the questions are about animal sounds. The title question answers, “No, but it can grunt.” There’s also a paragraph on that page about when an aardvark might grunt. When we turn the page, we find out “Lots of other animals grunt too.” There are pictures and short explanations of the grunting that comes from river otters, Hamadryas baboons, white-tailed deer, and oyster toadfish.

The same format is used with six more types of animal noises: barking, squealing, whining, growling, bellowing, and laughing. All the questions asked rhyme (“Can a giraffe laugh?”), and one animal can actually make the rhyming sound! (A porcupine can whine. Who knew?)

The animals are not your typical animals seen in every animal book – and the pictures of them are varied and attention grabbing. I like the picture of the ostrich growling, across the page from other growlers like a platypus, a king cobra, and a coastal giant salamander.

This book has too much detail for preschool storytime, but it has exactly enough detail for a bright precocious preschooler who eats up information. This will carry easily through early elementary school students who will be fascinated enough to learn to read even the longer words.

This engaging format with striking illustrations and surprising animal facts puts a whole new spin on animal sounds. A brilliant early science book.

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Nonfiction/can_an_aardvark_bark.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Jump, Little Wood Ducks, by Marion Dane Bauer, photography by Stan Tekiela

Saturday, July 21st, 2018

Jump, Little Wood Ducks

story by Marion Dane Bauer
photography by Stan Tekiela

Adventure Publications, Cambridge, Minnesota, 2017. 32 pages.
Review written in 2017

Here’s a photo illustrated picture book that should work well in story time – with facts about wood ducks in the back.

I had no idea before reading this book that wood ducks build their nests in trees, about 30 feet above the ground. Here’s what happens to those wood duck babies (This is from the back of the book):

Within 24 to 48 hours of hatching, the ducklings are eager to jump out of the nest and get started in life. Before leaving the nest, the mother allows her ducklings to climb and jump all over her. Mama sits patiently while the youngsters jump around like popcorn popping. She doesn’t help the babies jump – they do it all on their own.

When the mother decides it’s time to leave, she flies to the ground and calls softly to the ducklings. Each duckling climbs swiftly to the cavity entrance and launches into the air. They jump one at a time or go out 2 or 3 together. The entire process of leaving the nest takes under 2 minutes. All ducklings need to exit quickly so that the whole group can stay together with their mother.

But the main text of the book imagines that the last 3 ducklings are reluctant to jump. It’s awfully high. They’d rather stay comfortable in their nest. There’s a nice refrain with the last duckling just whispering “Uh-uh.” The language is simple and makes a suspenseful story. I wouldn’t want to jump, either!

The gorgeous photo illustrations are what makes this book wonderful. The author weaves in facts about wood ducks as the mother duck tries to entice her children out – like the yummy things they’d eat (water bugs) and the habitat they’d jump into. The pictures have plenty of variety, but above all show the adorable ducklings. Stan Tekiela must be an incredibly patient photographer to have captured these so perfectly.

adventurepublications.net

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Picture_Books/jump_little_wood_ducks.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Octopus Escapes Again! by Laurie Ellen Angus

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

Octopus Escapes Again!

by Laurie Ellen Angus

Dawn Publications, 2016. 32 pages.
Starred Review

This beginning science book is so simple, our library system is shelving it with picture books – but it’s also full of facts.

Facts about the common octopus are indeed presented as a story – the story of an octopus spending her day looking for food – and meanwhile escaping the predators who want to eat her.

Along the way, we learn what sort of creatures an octopus likes to eat, but especially the clever ways an octopus escapes being eaten.

The illustrations are gorgeous, and with a wide amount of variety. Done with cut paper, there’s a nice realistic effect.

I already knew that an octopus is clever. This one escapes by squeezing into an empty shell, by using its ink to confuse an attacker, by speeding away with a blast of water through its siphon, by releasing an arm, and by quickly changing color to camouflage itself.

The story is simple enough to read to preschoolers, but there is a paragraph of facts about each escape technique. At the end of the book there are five pages of back matter, complete with ideas for enrichment activities.

A fantastic choice for beginning science lessons.

dawnpub.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Nonfiction/octopus_escapes_again.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Creekfinding, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrations by Claudia McGehee

Monday, May 28th, 2018

Creekfinding

A True Story

by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
illustrations by Claudia McGehee

University of Minnesota Press, 2017. 40 pages.
Starred Review

This picture book tells the true story of restoring a lost creek.

How can a creek be lost? Years before, a farmer had used a bulldozer to fill the creek with dirt, so he could turn the prairie into a cornfield – growing corn where the creek used to be.

A man named Mike Osterholm bought the farm and planned to restore the prairie. Then a neighbor told Mike that he used to catch brook trout at that very spot. Mike set to work to restore the creek.

The book shows the many steps this took. He started with old photographs to mark out where the creek had been. Then he used a bulldozer and an excavator to dig a path for the creek.

Mike said the water remembered.
It seeped in from the sides,
raced down the riffles and runs,
burbled into holes, filled the creek.

But a creek isn’t just water.
It’s plants, rocks, bugs, fish, and birds.

The book goes on to explain how they got each of those ingredients into the restored creek.

It took years to restore the creek, but now:

If you went to the creek with Mike,
you’d see water.

But a creek isn’t just water.
You’d see brook trout and sculpin.
You’d hear the outdoor orchestra –
herons, snipe,
bluebirds, yellowthroat warblers;
frogs, returned home;
and insects –
thousands, and thousands,
and thousands of insects.

Now a new generation can catch trout on Brook Creek – and a new host of creatures has a home.

The art in this book is amazing and evocative of the prairie. The illustrator’s note at the back is poetic:

One hot July afternoon, I visited Prairie Song Farm, home to Brook Creek, to gather images and impressions for this book’s illustrations. As I waded into the deep greenness, all sorts of creatures – winged, scaled, feathered and furred – bustled in the grasses and along the water banks. I wanted to re-create the textures and colors I saw, so readers could “walk” alongside Brook Creek as they learned about its restoration. I made the ripply, sturdy lines of earth, water, and sky in scratchboard and painted the prairie greens, creek blues, and everything in between with watercolors and dyes.

Because of the simple language and picture book format, young children can enjoy this book. But older children will get even more out of the story and learn many things about creatures, creeks, and prairies.

upress.umn.edu

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Nonfiction/creekfinding.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars, by Seth Fishman

Monday, April 23rd, 2018

A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars

by Seth Fishman
illustrated by Isabel Greenberg

Greenwillow Books, 2017. 36 pages.
Starred Review

Here’s a picture book for kids about the enormous numbers in our world.

For example, there are about seven billion five hundred million (7,500,000,000) people on earth – and they weigh about the same amount as the approximately ten quadrillion (10,000,000,000,000,000) ants on earth!

There are about three hundred seventy billion billion gallons of water on earth, and about three trillion trees. In the course of an average lifetime, you might eat up to 70 pounds of bugs.

That’s the kind of statistics this book is full of. There’s a nice touch that when a big number is given in numeral form, you’ll also see it written out in words. (Our minds glaze over all those zeros.)

One truly mind-boggling part is toward the back, where it says:

By the time you’re done reading this book, almost every single number in it will have changed, getting bigger or smaller right before your eyes.

Even the number of stars.

At the very back is an Author’s Note with a nice explanation of how we can figure out these numbers without trying to count to a hundred billion trillion, which is impossible. There’s a nice explanation of estimates:

These numbers are sort-of-definitely-ALMOST true. Let me explain. Some of these numbers change so quickly that to give you an exact number would be impossible. For instance, we don’t really know if the full weight of all the ants on earth equals the full weight of humans. But we can estimate that there are 3.5 million ants per acre in the Amazon rain forest. With some serious snooping, fact-checking, and extrapolating we can estimate a very large number of ants on earth, one that means the combined weight of all these ants should be near the combined weight of all humans, or maybe dogs, or mice. And yes, you might eat some of those ants. you might eat many different types of bugs – though of course I don’t know exactly how many, or whether you’ll do it on purpose. Maybe a fly will zip into your mouth as you bike, or you’ll swallow a spider while you snore at night. But it will be near 70 pounds’ worth over the course of your life (about the total weight of a golden retriever).

Estimates can help you imagine sizes and compare one big fact to another. That is why this book is called A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars, and not One Hundred Nineteen Sextillion Fifty-Seven Quintillion Seven Hundred Thirty-Seven Quadrillion One Hundred Eighty-Three Trillion Four Hundred Sixty-Two Billion Three Hundred Seven Million Four Hundred Ninety-One Thousand Six Hundred Nine Stars. We can get very near the correct number on many things, near enough for us to understand how big they are – especially in comparison to the world around us.

Here’s a lovely way to play with the concept of great big numbers all around us.

sethasfishman.com
isabelnecessary.com
harpercollinschildrens.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Nonfiction/hundred_billion_trillion_stars.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of ABCs from Space, by Adam Voiland

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

ABCs from Space

A Discovered Alphabet

by Adam Voiland

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017. 40 pages.

The author of this book is a science writer for a website called NASA Earth Observatory. He found the shapes of all the letters of the alphabet – in satellite images of the earth!

Some of the images look more like the letters than others. This would be an excellent book for a child who already knows their letters, but might be more difficult for one just learning the shapes.

But there’s more fun at the end. He gives details at the back of where and when each picture was taken and what type of image was used, whether Natural-color or false-color. A map shows the locations on earth that are covered. There are FAQs about the images and about the science (weather and geology, especially) at the back.

Mostly, I couldn’t stop looking at this book because it’s gorgeous and amazing. We have a beautiful planet!

adamvoiland.com
earthexplorer.usgs.gov
earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/FalseColor/
science.nasa.gov/ems
earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/ColorImage/
simonandschuster.com/kids

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Nonfiction/abcs_from_space.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of The Elephant Keeper, by Margriet Ruurs, illustrated by Pedro Covo

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

The Elephant Keeper

Caring for Orphaned Elephants in Zambia

by Margriet Ruurs
illustrated by Pedro Covo

Kids Can Press, 2017. 48 pages.

This fascinating true story is presented in picture book format, even though there’s a lot more text than what is usual in a picture book, so this is for upper elementary school children.

The author features an African boy named Aaron who found a baby elephant swimming in a hotel swimming pool. No other elephants were around, so his mother was probably a victim of poachers. The elephant needed to go to an elephant orphanage. Aaron was good with animals – and ended up working at the elephant orphanage himself and helping with the baby’s recovery.

The way the story is presented isn’t strictly true, as we learn from the notes in the back – Aaron wasn’t actually the one who found the elephant (named Zambezi) in the pool, but he was involved in Zambezi’s care and ended up working in an elephant orphanage.

But the story does a lovely job highlighting the plight of elephants whose families are killed by poachers. Every several pages, there’s a spread apart from the story with photos of elephants and background facts. These are inserted at a point where the reader finds them very interesting.

So this is a lovely book for teaching kids about elephants and how humans are trying to save them from extinction. As well as the story of how a life was changed and a boy’s love for animals turned into a career saving them. Notes at the back tell kids how they can adopt an elephant or help in other ways.

gamerangersinternational.org
kidscanpress.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Nonfiction/elephant_keeper.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Where the Animals Go, by James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti

Friday, January 12th, 2018

Where the Animals Go

Tracking Wildlife with Technology in 50 Maps and Graphics

by James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti

W. W. Norton & Company, 2017. First published in Great Britain in 2016. 174 pages.
Starred Review

This is an amazing, fascinating, and eye-catching book.

This book is a set of maps and charts showing how animals move around the world. There are migrations diagrammed and feeding patterns and responses to wind currents. There are maps for every continent and every ocean, and there are maps for land animals, creatures of the air, and creatures of the sea. The format is extra large, and some pages pull out to be even larger. All the maps and graphics are beautifully done.

I thought I could read through this book quickly, because so many of the oversize pages are covered with maps. But there’s text to go with every map, and the print is tiny! So it took me longer than I thought, and it would take some time even to read just a map or two.

Here’s how the Introduction begins:

From footprints to fallen feathers, nests to droppings, the history of where animals go has been a history of physical traces. This book is about a new era, one in which the traces we follow are imprinted not in the earth but in the silicon of computer chips. And while the maps and studies we feature rely heavily on data processing, the desire to study animal movements with new inventions long predates the Information Age. In 1803, John James Audubon was tying threads to the legs of songbirds in order to prove that the same individuals returned to his farm each spring; a map from 1892 illustrates the month-by-month migration of seals in the North Pacific; in 1907, a German apothecary equipped pigeons with automatic cameras in order to document their journeys; in 1962, three scientists from the University of Illinois taped a radio transmitter to a duck; and in 1997, two of the world’s first GPS collars confirmed that elephants from Kenya sometimes cross the border into Tanzania.

The maps in this book show things about animals such as baboon troupes in Kenya, mountain lions crossing the Alps, elk inside and outside Yellowstone, pheasants in the Himalayas, pythons in the Everglades, information flow among ants, sharks around Hawaii, sea otters in Monterey Bay, bird migration paths, and density of penguin colonies.

Each page is packed with information – so it’s no wonder it takes a long time to read – but the maps are eye-catching and communicate lots of information quickly. You’ll be pulled in, then want to know more.

This book lets you in on new discoveries scientists are making about animals all the time – now that we have more effective ways to track them and learn about their worlds.

Once you open this book, you’ll have a hard time putting it away.

wwnorton.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/where_the_animals_go.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?

Review of Grand Canyon, by Jason Chin

Saturday, January 6th, 2018

Grand Canyon

by Jason Chin

A Neal Porter Book (Roaring Brook Press), 2017. 48 pages.
Starred Review
2017 Sonderbooks Stand-out, #4 Children’s Nonfiction

Here’s a stunningly illustrated and meticulously well-presented story of the ecology, geology and history of Grand Canyon.

First, the book explains that there are different ecological communities in different levels of the canyon. Then it also talks about the many different rock layers in the canyon.

Then we’re taken with a father and daughter on a hike through the different layers and different ecological communities. All around the borders, we’ll see drawings of different animals and plants that inhabit that layer.

But the most striking part about each layer is a cut-out window showing a fossil or rock found today – and when you turn the page, you see that thing in its habitat when the fossil was formed.

For example, the girl sees a fossil of a Trilobite in a rock today, then turning the page takes her back in time, under the sea, where Trilobites roamed the sea floor. Later the girl sees fossil footprints, and then in the past, she sees a lizard walking over windswept dunes and leaving those footprints.

It’s an interesting and imaginative way of presenting the material and is striking and easy to understand. There’s a fold-out spread with a panorama of Grand Canyon, and 8 pages of more details at the back of the book.

This is a fact-filled, gorgeously illustrated book that will reward multiple rereadings.

mackids.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Nonfiction/grand_canyon.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

What did you think of this book?