Category Archives: Science

The Water Walker

The Water Walker
by Joanne Robertson
Second Story Press, 2017

Based on a true story that began in 2003, Nokomis (Ojibwe tribe in Ontario Canada) loved water and one day had a dream telling her that water will one day be more valuable than gold if we didn’t take care of it.  In her dream she was asked what she would do.  She and three friends formed the Mother Earth Water Walkers and set off to walk around the entire great lakes to get the public’s attention on water conservation. During 2015 she put nearly 4,500,000 footsteps on her sneakers.

Told simply, and using Ojibwe words throughout, I found this story inspiring, that one person in simple ways can bring attention to a public need.

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Earth! My first 4.54 Billion Years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earth! My first 4.54 Billion Years
by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by David Litchfield
Henry Holt and Company, 2017

Told from Earth’s playful and proud voice readers learn all about how earth began and exists today. Using humor and familiar terms, “You can call me Planet Awesome” will keep pages turning.  First, we learn all about Earth’s family, including the Milky Way family that has billions of planets.  Then we learn of Earth as a baby and how it formed oceans and land over thousands of years. Using a timeline, it shows progression and changes in life on Earth, from plants, bugs, dinosaurs, mammals to humans. Earth notes humans are the only creature to ever care about Earth, but also the only creates that forget to “share and play nice and clean up after themselves.”

This is friendly introduction to the science of Earth.  Illustrations are big, bold, bright, friendly and easy to read.  Young scientists will study and ask questions, fortunately there is back matter that includes sources for more science on earth!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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