Category Archives: Science

Tree by Melina Sempill Watts


Tree
by Melina Sempill Watts
Change the World Books, 2017

I loved this book, it consumed my imagination.  Tree starts out as an acorn and grows to be nearly 250 years old.  We share in the tree’s experience as Indian cultures are replaced with Mexican and eventually Caucasian cultures.  The reader also experiences how Tree learns to connect and communicate with the environment around it; its in these connections that we learn the science.

Ms Watts knows her science and writes this fictional piece in layman’s terms to describe the science.  She packs so much into each section, it’s what I would call very dense writing, but when I got done I felt so connected to the story, to the character, and to the science of it.  It’s an eye and heart opening story.  (Written for adults, although teens may find it fascinating as well.)

Ms. Watt attended UCLA and worked 14 years as a Watershed Coordinator in the area where the story takes place.  Visit Ms Watt’s youtube interview (https://youtu.be/tUx3twJDisQ) to meet her and share in her enthusiasm about the story.  Anyone with an affinity to trees or interest in the environment will find the story fascinating and inspiring.

You can read more reviews and order on Amazon.

Kirkus Reviews gave Tree a 5 Star review:

…. The saga of Tree becomes a window into the immensity of nature, simultaneously dynamic and everlasting, and the ways that humans have come to upset the ancient balance. Watts writes in an elegant, highly detailed prose that shows an incredible knack for chronicling the minutiae of the natural world. …    An ingenious and satisfying tale about a single live oak. … Read complete review at https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/melina-sempill-watts/treeT/

Book Summary

Tree is a novel about a tree written from a unique point of view: the chief narrator is a tree. Tree uses magical realism as a key to access the interrelated emotional realities of the many species that share one pristine valley in Topanga, California. Grass, birds, other trees and animals come to life on the pages, while one 19th century Mexican woman and one 20th century school boy, hearts opened by grief and loneliness, come to know one California live oak whose 229 years span the evolution of four human civilizations, Chumash, Spanish/Mexican, Yankee and new money Hollywood, which each leave their mark upon the landscape and upon Tree. The author’s obsessive botanical, scientific and historical research give substance to a world that feels both as real as last weekend’s dust on hiking boots and as mind altering as a fully fledged mystical experience. Take a journey into the heart of the woods where every plant shines Tree will change how you see nature.

Little Leaders, Bold Women in Black History

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Leaders, Bold Women in Black History
by Vashti Harrison
Little, Brown and Company, 2018

Little Leaders celebrates 40 well-known and little-known women who changed history in little or big ways.  From currently popular women, like Oprah Winfrey, to little-known women like Alma Woodsey Thomas.  Like other collections of women  who made a difference, I’m amazed at the variety and caliber of careers, especially those in history where women having careers wasn’t allowed.  From medical researchers, to physicians, to spies, to astronauts, engineers, filmmakers and more.  For many of these women, they made their mark against all odds, just quietly going about their work. An inspiring and eye-opening collection for girls and boys from all backgrounds.

Read more reviews and purchase on Amazon.

Zoo Scientists to the Rescue

Zoo Scientists to the Rescue
by Patricia Newman, photographs by Annie Crawley
Millbrook Press, 2018

Written in kid-friendly terms, this book provides a fascinating, in-depth look at how zoo scientists are helping orangutans, black-footed ferrets and black rhinos, three animals on the Critically Endangered list.

Meredith Bastian studied orangutans in the field for several years, observing behaviors from the moment they woke, until they laid down to sleep. Her data has helped orangutans in both the wild and in zoos. She later worked at the Philadelphia Zo to integrate conservation into its operation.

Jeff Baughman helps manage the revival of the almost extinct black-footed ferret. In 1981 130 ferrets were discovered and Jeff is instrumental in expanding the population and returning it to the wild.

Rachel Santymire studied black rhinos in Africa to learn how to help them in zoos and in the field.  Rachel specializes in studying ‘poop’, which provides invaluable information about their lives.

The book also provides zoo history, conservation, and career information about zoo scientists.  The photos are outstanding and draw in both young and adult readers.

Read more reviews and purchase on Amazon.

If You Were the Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If You Were the Moon
Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Jaime Kim
Millbrook Press, 2017

A quiet bedtime story that introduces all the things the moon does, like “Tease the Earth: peek-a-boo!” (no moon to full moon) and “Challenge the ocean to a tug-of-war.” (gravity) Each page explains how the moon ‘plays peek-a-boo and ‘tug-of-war’.  Personifying the moon, children will see the moon as their friend.  Adults will likely learn a little about the moon, too.

Read more reviews and purchase on Amazon.

The Blue Whale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Blue Whale
by Jenni Desmond
Enchanted Lion Books, 2015

This is a perfect ‘boys’ book that, with a kid-voice of awe and excitement, introduces the greatest mammal on earth, the blue whale.  Readers learn a whale’s heart is the size of a small car, about 1,300 pounds and its tongue is three tons!  They learn 50 people could fit inside a whale’s mouth.  While a whale eats 35 million krill a day, its throat is only as wide as a grapefruit.  The illustrations cleverly show all the whale details throughout the story and features ‘whales’ wherever possible, like the kitchen table is shaped like a whale.  They even get a geography lesson thrown in.  Targeted for the 4-7 year old, they will have fun reading it over and over to learn about the gigantic whale.

Read more reviews and purchase on Amazon.

My Awesome Summer by P. Mantis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Awesome Summer by P. Mantis
by Paul Meisel
Holiday House, 2017

Through a cleverly written journal by P. Mantis, we follow his life.  From the day he was born, May 17, to the time he leaves his short life, October 17.  We meet his 150 brothers and sisters who devour plants and are devoured by birds.  P Mantis pretends to be a stick and survives attacks by his predators.  He loves summer and shares his escapades, but then fall arrives and he beings to move more slowly.  He returns to where he was born and lays eggs, which will be born next spring.  The story gently closes, with “I’m going to lie down now and take a long nap.  Good-bye!”

Mantis’ voice is upbeat and kid-like so early readers can follow along and see P. Mantis’ life through P. Mantis’ eyes. A great way to introduce children to a single insect’s life cycle. On the inside pages, adults will find more details about P. Mantis’, including websites.

Read more reviews and purchase on Amazon.

Ice Boy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ice Boy
by David Ezra Stein
Candlewick Press, 2017

Ice Boy lives in the freezer with his family.  His parents said the best thing that could happen to an ice cube was to be chosen, but Ice Boy wanted more.  His parents said to never go outside, but he did.  His doctor said never go in the sun, but he did anyway.  He had a great time exploring the world, but soon he became….Water Boy.  A clever story introducing the water cycle, geared for the youngest readers.

Graphically, we see the world from an ice cube’s point of view where ice cream cones, fudgsicles, muffins and ice cream sandwiches decorate or are used for furniture in his home.

In the end, Ice Boy meets back with his parents and Ice Boy takes them on an adventure!

Read more reviews and purchase at Amazon.

The Skydiving Beavers, A True Tale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Skydiving Beavers, A True Tale
by Susan Wood, illustrated by Gysbert van Frankenhuysen
Sleeping Bear Press, 2017

A recounting of a true story that happened in 1948 in McCall, Idaho, when, after the war, people and houses were taking over the beaver’s territory.  It soon became apparent that beavers and people don’t mix well when dammed water flooded roads and land for food became land for houses.  Elmo Heter, a staff person for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, decided they needed to move the beavers to some open land, many miles away.  But how? After many ideas and several practice parachute jumps with Geronimo, a senior beaver, Elmo had a plan.  That fall they successfully moved a beaver colony to an open area.

Well-written, well-paced out, and written in a friendly voice, this is a delight to read.

Read more reviews and purchase on Amazon.

Sea Otter Heroes, The Predators that Saved an Ecosystem

 

Sea Otter Heroes, The Predators that Saved an Ecosystem
by Patricia Newman
Millbrook Press, 2017
Sibert Informational Honor Award for Non-Fiction

Why is the Elkhorn Slough, an estuary, where freshwater mixes with ocean water, contain abundant meadows of seagrass, whereas nearly every other estuary on the Pacific coast does not?  This book tells the story of a scientist who wondered why and studied the phenomenon until he knew.

With generous photos, charts, graphs, and ‘clues’, author Patricia Newman keeps readers curious and turning the pages, while she discusses each hypothesis the scientist made and discarded during his research. In clear, age-appropriate language, Newman invites readers to do their own thinking.  She shows them how much it works to reach the “aha” moment and how much more meticulous work it takes to prove a hypothesis.  The book discusses how the findings are applied to other environments.  It also includes a section that invites readers to rethink their relationship with wildlife.   Sea Otter Heroes is an excellent introduction to science, scientific method, and environmental studies.  The science was performed off Monterey Bay, California.

Read more reviews and purchase on Amazon.

Out of School and Into Nature, The Anna Comstock Story

Out of School and Into Nature, The Anna Comstock Story
by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Jessica Lanan
Sleeping Bear Press, 2017

A delightful introduction to Anna Comstock, a naturalist and artist, who became a scientist in the 1800’s, well before women were allowed to do so.  From a very young girl, she loved being in nature and learned many things through observation.  At college, she learned more about insects and was inspired to draw them.  Which led to her carving lines into a woodblock and printing them.  Her fine art were used in colleges and to help teach farmers about insects.  Author Suzanne Slade sprinkles delightful phrases throughout the story, such as “nutty as an oak tree” and “spread faster than dandelion seeds on a windy day.”  When Anna discovered nature was not taught in the schools, she created curriculums and taught teachers about nature.  In this way, she helped inspire future naturalists, today’s environmentalists.

An inspiring nature book for young children.

Read more reviews on Amazon.