Tag Archives: science

Farm Anatomy: The Curious Parts & Pieces of Country Life

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Unlike most of the books I feature here, this is not a book for reading aloud from cover to cover. Instead, this is a book for dipping in and out of, admiring the extensive illustrations and learning myriad new things. Chapters on land, barns, tools, planting, animals, food, and crafts provide an entry point for just about any range of interests and this book would make a wonderful present for just about anyone of any age.

Randomly opening the book to a section on poultry, in four pages we learned: the anatomy of an egg, how to identify (by their footprints) predators that could attack the flock, the average number of eggs one hen lays each year, two ways to tell how old an egg is, and the type of duck my mother had as a girl (a Call duck).

My oldest loves to read through this book on his own and is lobbying for us to try some of the recipes (especially the maple fudge).

Author: Julia Rothman
Illustrator: Julia Rothman

Franny K. Stein: Mad Scientist series

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This series, about a slightly-diabolical genius whose science skills far outpace her social skills, has been making the boys HOWL with laughter. In a very happy coincidence, the poem generator above was part of tonight’s bedtime reading. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Author: Jim Benton
Illustrator: Jim Benton

 

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11

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High above
there is the Moon,
cold and quiet,
no air, no life,
but glowing in the sky.

Here below
there are three men
who close themselves
in special clothes,
who–
click–lock hands
in heavy gloves,
who–
click–lock heads
in large, round helmets.

It is summer here in Florida,
hot, and near the sea.
But now these men are dressed for colder, stranger places.
The walk with stiff and awkward steps
in suits not made for Earth.

This outstanding book tells an amazing story, reads like poetry, is full of interesting facts, and is beautifully presented. It is not a short book, but reading it aloud is a pleasure.

Author: Brian Floca
Illustrator: Brian Floca

 

Birds of a Feather

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This book doesn’t have many total pages, but it is enormous (well over a foot tall and almost a foot wide), heavy, and attractive. It very well designed; filled with interesting flaps, pop ups, puzzles, and avian tidbits; and recommended for kids large enough to pick it up easily and treat it gently.

Author: Bernadette Gervais and Francesco Pittau
Illustrator: Bernadette Gervais and Francesco Pittau

 

Million series

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Visualizing a million, billion, or trillion (or other concepts like compound interest and the metric system) isn’t easy, unless you read this fun series of books.

For example, a tank big enough to hold a million goldfish would be big enough to hold a whale. A tank big enough to hold a billion goldfish would be as big as a stadium. And a tank big enough to hold a trillion goldfish would be as big as a city harbor. (Keeping in mind a tank should hold one gallon of water for every one inch goldfish!)

Steven Kellogg’s cheerful illustrations keep things light, bright, and engaging. How Much is a Million? is our favorite of the series.

Author: David M. Schwartz
Illustrator: Steven Kellogg

Violet the Pilot

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Violet is “a mechanical genius” with a particular gift for building flying machines, a faithful canine sidekick, and supportive parents. What is not to love about book starring a strong, independent, STEM-focused female protagonist whose skills and moxie lead her to save the day?

Well… First, the book presents Violet’s inclinations as way outside the norm for a girl: “while other girls were playing with dolls and tea sets, Violet played with monkey wrenches and needle-nose pliers.” Although this book was just published six years ago, this feels outdated. Second, Violet is an outcast. She eats lunch alone; other kids make fun of her; and she hopes to compete in an airshow because, if she wins a prize, “maybe then the kids at school would be nice to her.” While she ultimately saves the lives of an entire Boy Scout troop, and gains the respect of her community, there is real pain here that the wish fulfillment doesn’t hide.

But the boys love this book and focus on Violet’s brilliant designs, her dog, and the happy ending. (We do talk a bit about how the other kids at school are being unkind and missing out by not getting to know her.) This is the first book on this blog that we discovered through my oldest bringing home books from his school’s library, but I’m guessing it won’t be the last.

Author: Steve Breen
Illustrator: Steve Breen

Encyclopedia Prehistorica series

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Layers upon layers of scientific information are presented in this series through eye-popping pop ups (each double page spread has one big pop up, plus lots of smaller ones hidden in mini-attached pages). It is perfect for kids who love animals and science (and have learned to be gentle with delicate books).

Author: Matthew Reinhart
Illustrator: Robert Sabuda

The Magic School Bus series

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Ms. Frizzle, who may be the coolest teacher ever, has a magic school bus which takes her (sometimes reluctant) class on incredible trips. They travel on the ocean floor; get lost in the solar system; have an electric field trip; explore in the time of the dinosaurs; and go inside the earth, a bee hive, a hurricane, the human body, and the waterworks. Yet they are always back before the end of the school day without anyone knowing of their adventures.

These books are well designed and fun to look at, are packed (packed!) with scientific information, and have fun stories too (with the exception of Lost in the Solar System, which has a truly annoying guest student as a major focus–I avoid that one whenever possible). I expect that, once the boys get older, they will enjoy reading all of the dialogue boxes and side notes that I usually skip in the interest of time. Their favorites are: Inside the Earth, Inside a Bee Hive, Inside a Hurricane, In the Time of the Dinosaurs, and At the Waterworks.

Author: Joanna Cole
Illustrator: Bruce Degen

Wings, Horns, and Claws: A Dinosaur Book of Epic Proportions

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This is a straightforward book with beautiful woodcut illustrations, an ever-appealing subject matter, and ever-appreciated pronunciation guidance. Our favorite dinosaur in the book is pictured above. The boys agree its tail might take out a T-rex and the oldest thinks it looks like “a very early kind of knight.”

Author: Christopher Wormel
Illustrator: Christopher Wormel

How to Scratch a Wombat

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Currently, we are completely infatuated with wombats.  Diary of a Wombat was our gateway story; now we cannot get enough of those charming, stubborn marsupials.  This nonfiction follow-up to Diary has lots of information (quite straightforward and unblushing information–if you are uncomfortable reading about bums and scat, this will not be the book for you), lists (e.g., “How to Find a Wombat in the Bush”), a glossary of Australian terms (e.g., “bush” means “a wilderness area”), quizzes (e.g., “Are You a Wombat?”), real-life stories (the author has actively lived among wombats for more than 30 years), and charming illustrations.  In case it isn’t already clear, this book is very educational and very, very funny.

Author:  Jackie French
Illustrator: Bruce Whatley