STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books

Black History Makers

@Booklist_Briana made a Pinterest board for my February Booklist Quick Tips for Schools and Libraries column: Focus on STEM: Black History Makers.

(And my Booklist editor @gillianengberg added a thumbnail of the cover of my forthcoming picture book Up! Up! Up! Skyscraper (Charlesbridge, May 2017) to the byline.)

It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Sir Cumference and the Fracton Faire

Sir Cumference and the Fracton Faire
written by Cindy Neuschwander; illustrated by Wayne Geehan
2017 (Charlesbridge)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

“They’re Fracton numbers, my lady,” the woman answered. “They are used to measure equal pieces of something, such as this beautiful cloth.”

Lady Di of Ameter and Sir Cumference are visiting a fair with their friend the Earl of Fracton. In Fracton, you can buy a whole item or pieces of it. Lady Di spies a bolt of red fabric, but while she is getting a lesson on numerators and denominators from the seller, the fabric disappears. Meanwhile, Sir Cumference and the Earl are craving a snack so they chat up the cheese monger. He provides a lesson on equivalent fractions, which disappoints Sir Cumference because he, like an overeager second grader, thought choosing a large number for the denominator would guarantee more cheese. When the cheese monger turns to cut from the cheddar wheel, it’s missing too! In fact, all of the vendors are missing items. Momentarily flummoxed, the Earl decides to think like a thief which allows him to devise a fracton-like plan to catch the stealing stinkers. Through the medium of a puppet show, a reward of one valuable gold coin is offered to the customer that can find the largest fraction written on pieces of paper distributed throughout the fair. The Earl surmises that only a visitor to Fracton would be delighted with a low numerator and a high denominator. Sure enough, a motley crew leader boasts of having found 1/32 and is outwardly annoyed when his fraction is not declared the winner. Case closed.

Fractions are one of the hardest topics for math students in grades 2-5. So when an engaging resource can be found to propel their learning, there is mathematical mirth to be had. The concepts are explained in an enlightening way both textually and visually. You also get the added bonus of fun wordplay, which is a hallmark of the Sir Cumference book series. All hail this new addition to a venerable math series!

Ultimate Oceanpedia

Ultimate Oceanpedia: The Most Complete Ocean Reference Ever
by Christina Wilsdon (Author)

Booktalk: From tsunamis and sea turtles to riptides and reefs, learn all about the creatures, science, and ecology of our oceans, which cover more of the planet than all the continents and are just as important! Travel through all parts of the ocean to learn how it affects of our world, including storms and climate. Amazing facts, photos, illustrations, and diagrams are found throughout this book, along with conservation tips, weird-but-true facts, and a mini ocean atlas. Challenges to the health of our ocean and its creatures are also presented along with what people are doing to keep it pristine for generations to come.

The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean. It’s so big that it could hold all of the Earth’s continents, with room to spare. It contains nearly half of Earth’s ocean water.

But the Pacific isn’t just the biggest ocean. It’s also the deepest. The average depth of the Pacific is about 14,040 feet (4,280 m)–more than 10 times the height of New York City’s Empire State Building. It’s also home to the deepest place on Earth: Challenger Deep, which sits in the Mariana Trench, a canyon on the ocean floor. Challenger Deep plunges 35,827 feet (11 km).

It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

The Astronaut Instruction Manual

The Astronaut Instruction Manual: Practical Skills for Future Space Explorers

by Mike Mongo, read by Mike Mongo with foreword by Alyssa Carson

Listening Library, 2017

47 minutes


The Astronaut Instruction Manual began as a book on Inkshares, basically a “Kickstarter” for self-published books.  Largely do to its author’s subject knowledge and enthusiasm, it became a popular seller, hence the recent release of the audiobook version.  According to the Hollywood Reporter, there is also a television series in the works.

Mike Mongo narrates his own book with an infectious enthusiasm for guaranteed to draw you in to this practical and inspirational look at the future of space travel.

My complete review of The Astronaut Instruction Manual may be found in AudioFile Magazine, in print and online at this link [].

(See all of my reviews at Shelf-employed)

 Copyright © 2017 L.Taylor at Shelf-employed. All Rights Reserved.

It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

Rise of the Lioness

rise-of-lionessRise of the Lioness: restoring a habitat and its pride on the Liuwa Plains

by Bradley Hague

56 pages; ages 8-12

National Geographic Children’s Books, 2016

The Liuwa Plains are in Western Zambia – a perfect habitat for zebras, wildebeests, and lions. Back in 1972, the plains were declared a national park. But as the 20th century drew to a close, the plains were radically changed by war and poaching.

In less than a single human generation, Liuwa’s ecosystem collapsed and by 2003, when peace finally settled, there was only one lion left: a lioness called Lady.

The thing about animals is that they don’t just live in their environments; they shape them, too. And the Liuwa Plains without its top predators was “the environmental equivalent of tearing down a dam or blowing up a road,” writes Hague. The loss of the lions created a trophic cascade, affecting the behavior of almost every animal in the habitat.

This book follows the scientists who studied Lady and figured out how to rebuild the local ecosystem. That meant reintroducing animals, including lions – easier said than done. But after many years, the Liuwa ecosystem was restored. This is a story of perseverance, patience, and pride.

Head over to Archimedes Notebook for another book focusing on predator-prey interactions.

STEM Friday

It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

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Amanda the Mammal

Amanda the Mammal: What Is a Mammal?
by Linda Ayers (Author), Katy Hudson (Illustrator) and Mark Oblinger (Contributor)

Booktalk: Amanda is surprised to learn that she is a mammal. It must be true. She learns the characteristics of mammals in this fun song. (The book comes with a CD.)


It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Faraway Fox

faraway-foxFaraway Fox

by Jolene Thompson; illus. by Justin K. Thompson

32 pages; ages 4-7

HMH, 2016

This was the forest where I lived with my family. We used to race through the undergrowth and rest under the great shade trees after playing all day.

Faraway from his family, Fox wanders the same forest he grew up in. He remembers beautiful trees and streams. But the landscape he travels through is unfamiliar, filled with cars and houses, and paved over.

What I like about this book is that is shows wildlife in an urban landscape. It also highlights the challenges a fox – or any other wild animal – faces when trying to return to their familiar habitat. This fox is lucky, because he won’t have to dodge cars while crossing a busy highway. Instead, people have engineered a better solution to help him get home.

In an author’s note, Jolene Thompson discusses human encroachment into wild animal habitats, and some of the things people are doing to minimize the impacts. Wildlife crossings have been built under highways and over highways to ensure that animals aren’t cut off from the resources they need. She provides resources for people who want to learn more.

Beyond-the-book activities over at Archimedes Notebook.

STEM Friday

It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

Site Meter Copyright © 2017 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.

I Am Josephine


I Am Josephine: (And I Am a Living Thing)
by Jan Thornhill (Author) and Jacqui Lee (Illustrator)

Booktalk: Meet Josephine: a spirited and curious girl, a big sister, and a human being. She’s also a mammal, an animal, and a living thing–all identities she explores with readers in this simple informational picture book.




It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Architect Academy

architect-academyArchitect Academy

by Steve Martin; illust. by Essie Kimpimaki

64 pages; ages 7 & up

Kane Miller, 2016

Part activity book, part “training manual”, this book presents architecture in a fun way. In the first pages you’ll get your trainee architect badge and a peek at what’s in store: you’ll learn about famous buildings, create designs for buildings, develop math skills architects need, and carry out special projects.

The first “assignment” is to design your very own dream home, complete with floor plans and a model. Then it’s off to site plan review and drawing plans to scale. Congratulations! You are now a Qualified Draftsperson and ready for construction. But first, some math.

This is a perfect book for the kid who likes to build. It brings together diverse aspects of architecture and construction, including discussion of materials, climate, and design. You can even build a bridge (punch-out parts on the jacket). Kids will be introduced to eco-architecture, landscape architecture, and naval architecture. At the back is a pull-out game, poster, and lots of stickers you can use to mark your progress through the academy “lessons”.

STEM Friday

It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

Site Meter Copyright © 2017 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.