Posts tagged science
What’s So Special About Planet Earth? by Robert E. Wells
Sometimes Earth can be uncomfortable with weather that’s either too hot or too cold, and huge storms seem to come out of nowhere. In this introductory book about the planets, author Wells invites kids to pretend they’re visiting each of the planets in our solar system to find a new place to live. (As he says, “If you’re thinking about moving, you’d want to visit first, to see if the planet was right for you.”) The journey brings us to all eight planets in our solar system, Earth included, and at each we learn about distance from the sun, planet diameter, orbit time, number of moons, temperatures, and more. Each planet is interesting, but none seem to quite fit the bill for what humans, plants, and animals need in a home. When we finally travel back home to “our” planet, Wells explains why Earth is just right for us and the animals and plants we live with. He also tells us that we haven’t always taken good care of our home (pollution, etc.) and there are ways to make it better. He talks about recycling, reducing use of resources, and reusable energy. After all, planet Earth is pretty special–we’d better take care of it!
Bright, cartoon-like illustrations make the book fun, and some pages are written and drawn at different angles so readers have to rotate the book, which makes it interesting. In some ways, What’s So Special reminds me of The Magic School Bus series (more…)
Even an Octopus Needs a Home by Irene Kelly
In this charming picture book, Irene Kelly offers diverse coverage of the habitats of animals and insects world-wide. How do bees build the honeycombs they live in? What does a parakeet nest look like? How many paper wasps can live in one hive? Where does a polar bear raise its cubs? Kelly’s colorful and detailed picture book will answer these questions and more. Describing the homes and their rationale for everything from termites and badgers to coral reefs and chimpanzees, Kelly covers a lot of ground.
Even an Octopus Needs a Home is loosely organized into house types to offer clear transitions between very different animals. (Categories include tree houses, towers, lodges, burrows, floating homes, mobile homes, and bubbles.) At times the paragraphs themselves aren’t visually linear, which might confuse some kids, but the integration of the text in the illustrations—including some close-up pictures with labels—will help to keep the books’ subject matter interesting for most. The illustrations are a mix of ink and watercolor, and best of all, they’re accurate depictions of the animals she describes. (more…)
What to Expect When You’re Expecting Joeys: A Guide for Marsupial Parents (and Curious Kids) by Bridget Heos; illustrated by Stephane Jorisch
(Reviewed via digital ARC.)
Congratulations, marsupial parents-to-be! You’re about to meet your tiny bundles of joy. They’re called joeys.”
And so begins the miracle of life… for kangaroos, Tasmanian devils, and koalas. In this fun, tongue-in-cheek introduction to the birth and life cycles of marsupials, kids will learn what a marsupial is and the different ways one can be born and cared for. Whether you’re an expectant Red Kangaroo or an Antechinus with a newborn, you can expect to care for your joey–your baby–and provide it milk and protection during its infant months. Some marsupials have pockets–some have pockets that seal against water or dirt when burrowing, and some have pockets that are upside down or that open in the middle–while others merely tighten their stomach muscles to hold their young. Some marsupials will have as many as twenty babies while others will have one at a time. Did you know that a kangaroo can temporarily stop the growth of an unborn baby inside if the current joey isn’t big enough to leave the pouch? (I sure didn’t!) (more…)
First Light by Rebecca Stead
Thea lives in Gracehope, a world cut deep into the ice sheet below Greenland. She is the last in a long line of daughters who created Gracehope, a peaceful haven of safe living where hunters from the past cannot track down her people for supposed witchcraft. Thea knows, though, that Gracehope must expand if her people are to continue successfully, and she yearns to see the forbidden surface of the Earth and experience the sun and stars for herself.
Peter lives in New York City but is on vacation in Greenland with his parents as they conduct research in the barren ice-lands. Peter’s dad, an expert on glaciers and the effects of global warming, and his mom, a microbiologist, claim to be taking data for a study and writing a book, respectively, but Peter can tell they’re looking for something more. Only when he discovers Thea and her life below the surface does he realize what that something is…
Together, two kids from completely separate–yet surprisingly connected–worlds join together in a struggle for survival and the truth. Stead writes a compelling story that will draw readers in as they root for the underdogs and experience the fantastic worlds and abilities of both Thea and Peter. In Peter’s world science is king, and Stead includes it readily and skillfully in her narrative. In Thea’s world it is history that reigns supreme, though she is quick to learn that history can be re-written by anyone with enough power and reserve. (more…)
Which of these helped to heal wounds: spider webs, moldy bread, or a dead man’s skull? (Trick answer: all three!)
In this fun look at ancient “cures” for physical ailments, author and illustrator Carlyn Beccia has cleverly combined ancient history and modern medicine to create an interesting picture book for kids of varying ages. Beccia’s illustrations are colorful, and the start of each section (Colds, Wounds, Fevers, etc.) gives at least three potential cures, asking the reader which they think will prove beneficial, before continuing on with the answer(s) (along with origins of the “cure” all the way from pre-historic man to modern-day research). Some ailments or treatments include an expanded note on history. (Have you ever noticed, for example, how the modern-day symbol for Rx looks similar to–and may have originated from–the hieroglyph for the Eye of Horus?) (more…)
(Review based on ARC of the book.)
In this thrilling, debut novel of “cataclysmic natural disaster,” Alex Halprin lives in modern-day Cedar Falls, Idaho, playing video games and arguing with his little sister on a regular basis. One day when his family has left for the weekend to visit an uncle, the unthinkable happens: Yellowstone erupts in a volcanic super-eruption, leaving thousands of miles under layers of ash and projectile rock with no modern form of communication and few resources for immediate survivors. Alex begins the harrowing journey to Warren, Illinois, where his family is–he hopes–safely harbored with other relatives.
Alex’s journey is laborious and often heart wrenching as he cross-country skis through the ash. He makes his way through cities, towns, and open, desolated land, meeting friends and strangers alike and finds himself running from cutthroat murderers, looters, and others like him just trying to survive. At one stop, Alex passes out from injuries and ends up at a farm where strangers Darla and her mother nurse him back to health; a steady relationship begins to bond the two teenagers. When tragedy strikes again and forces them back on the road, Darla accompanies Alex on his journey to Illinois, and they continue to skirt danger, both environmental and man-made. (more…)
A short while back I absolutely ripped apart an introductory geology book because, well, I didn’t like it. That is not the case this time around.
The Wonders Inside the Earth explores everything from the external forces of weather and planetary rotation to the geology and hydrology that has shaped the world. Each page spread covers a single concept, breaking it down through images and specific examples and diagrams, almost like a large, expanded glossary. See-through page layers give this book an interactive feel and help to expand the understanding of some terms. The illustrations are large and colorful, utilizing images as well as diagrams of processes to engage the reader. Images of animal life and human interaction—penguins, antelope, clams plus surfers on the waves, sunken ships on the sea floor—give some depictions a fun touch, allowing kids to relate to what they’re seeing. A series of chapters on human relationships with the earth, such as oil and coal usage, is straight forward and non-judgmental—issues such as pollution and global warming are clearly not the intended focus of this book. (more…)