STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books

Extreme Survivors ~ Animals that Time Forgot

Extreme Survivors, Animals the Time Forgot (How Nature Works series)

by Kimberly Ridley

48 pages; ages 10-13. Tilbury House, 2017

They’re prowling around the planet now … prehistoric beasts whose ancestors survived the catastrophes that wiped out the dinosaurs. Don’t look now, but one might be lurking in your backyard…

That’s an introduction that grabs your attention! Prehistoric beasts in the backyard? Absolutely. Also in the ocean, on the beach, sliming across a jungle floor. In the pages of this book, Kimberly Ridley introduces readers to ten creatures that have survived the centuries: the toothy goblin shark, the spiky tuatara, horseshoe crabs, tardigrades, and more. And she reveals their survival secrets.

Running throughout the book is a conversation about evolution – the gradual change in organisms over generations. Organisms that are better adapted to their environment tend to be preserved through later generations, Ridley explains. She provides examples of natural selection in action and discusses advantages of certain adaptations. Like the comb jellies that, more than 550 million years ago, were among the first animals to evolve skin and muscles. Even more important than having a primitive “brain”, these animals had an anus – so food could go in one end of their digestive system and be excreted out their rear end. This adaptation allowed digestive tracts to develop, further allowing evolution of larger animals. Pretty cool, huh!

Of course there is Back Matter! More info on extreme discoveries, and a couple of nicely illustrated timelines plus quick facts on every animal: how big it is, what it eats, what eats it, when it appeared on earth. And for kids who want to dive deeper into the topic, Ridley provides a list of books and websites.

Want to know more? Head over to Archimedes Notebook for an interview with Kimberly Ridley.

STEM Friday

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

Copyright © 2018 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.

Pluto Is Peeved

Pluto Is Peeved: An Ex-planet Searches for Answers
by Jacqueline Jules (Author) and Dave Roman (Illustrator)

Today, August 24, is PLUTO DEMOTED day!

Booktalk: Pluto is peeved. And who can blame him? He was once considered one of the Solar System’s nine planets but was unceremoniously demoted. “Why do scientists think it is all right to change things?” is just one question Pluto asks as he roams the science museum in search of answers.


BONUS! Download the Readers’ Theater Script:

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

Copyright © 2018 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.


The Monarchs are Missing

56 pages; ages 8-12. Millbrook Press, 2018

The Monarchs are Missing: A Butterfly Mystery, by Rebecca Hirsch

One of the things we used to do with our kids was tag monarch butterflies as they began their southbound journey. In our neck of the woods that means heading out to the hayfields with net and tags in the first weeks of September.

Rebecca Hirsch begins her book with kids in the field, capturing monarchs to tag for the Monarch Watch citizen science project. The monarch butterflies they tag will head south on a journey of nearly 3,000 miles from across the eastern US and Canada to Mexico. How they do that is a mystery. What’s not a mystery: that monarchs are in danger. Every hear fewer butterflies reach the forests in Mexico where they spend the winter.

Why are the monarchs disappearing? That’s what scientists want to know, so Hirsch profiles scientists in the field. We learn how field scientists count butterflies, and how human land use affects monarch populations. Habitat loss, climate change, parasites … these are just some of the issues that monarchs face. Fortunately, there are things people can do to make the world a better – and safer – place for monarch butterflies, from creating milkweed corridors to planting native flowers in our back yards.

Yay for back matter! Hirsch provides further reading, seed sources for butterfly plants, and plenty of ways kids (and adults) can get involved as citizen scientists.Want to get started watching monarchs? Check out her website here.

Check out more books about bugs at Archimedes Notebook.

STEM Friday

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

Copyright © 2018 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.



by Julia Groves (Author / Illustrator)

Booktalk: Travel deep into the rainforest — what elusive and fascinating creatures will you find there? Delicate, colorful, and distinctive animals live in this precious and endangered habitat.




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

Copyright © 2018 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.


The Lizard Lady

The Lizard Lady,  by Jennifer Keats Curtis and Dr. Nicole F. Angeli; illus. by Veronica V. Jones. 32 pages; ages 4-8.  Arbordale, 2018

If you’ve ever wanted to go on a field trip through thick Caribbean forests in search of the endangered St. Croix ground lizard, this is your ticket. The lizard doesn’t live on St. Croix anymore, because it was hunted to extinction by introduced mongooses. But the lizard does life on surrounding islands, and Dr. Nicole Angeli is on a mission to help them survive and thrive.

Dr. Angeli, known to all as the Lizard Lady, has to use all her senses to find these tiny, secretive reptiles. When she captures one, she takes it to her shack where she can weigh it and make observations. Then she carefully returns the lizard to the spot she found it.

What I like about this book: the list of things the Lizard Lady carries with her when she heads off on a hike! Waaay more than a notebook and pen. I also like the back matter. There’s information and maps showing St. Croix and the surrounding islands in the Caribbean. There’s additional information on the St. Croix lizard and its adaptation, as well as the invasive mongoose. And there’s a great bio-note on Dr. Angeli.

St. Croix lizards are just one of many threatened and endangered reptile species. Head over to Archimedes Notebook to find out more about Komodo dragons (not dragons at all) and other cool reptiles.

STEM Friday

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

Copyright © 2018 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.

Baby Loves Gravity (Baby Loves Science series)

At Wrapped in Foil blog this morning, I am taking a look at the latest edition from the Baby loves Science series:  Baby Loves Gravity by Ruth Spiro and illustrated by Irene Chan .

Using short sentences, age-appropriate examples, and colorful illustrations the book will entice babies, toddlers and preschoolers to explore their world.

“Gravity is even at the park!
Baby climbs up…
…and gravity helps him down.
Whee! Baby loves gravity.

Some question the validity of introducing high-level science concepts to toddlers whose brains aren’t fully developed yet (for example, Kirkus). On the other hand, it is easy to underestimate children. I’ve had a four year old explain to me that he didn’t want to go faster than the speed of light because he wouldn’t be able to see where he was going. My feeling is that if they are interested in gravity, you will know. If they aren’t, go on to something that does interest them.

Give Baby Loves Gravity a try. If nothing else, you will learn the correct vocabulary to use and be prepared to answer all the non-stop why questions you are going to get when your child is a bit older.

Nothing says summer like mosquito bites

Itch! Everything you didn’t want to know about what makes you scratch

by Anita Sanchez; illus. by Gilbert Ford

80 pages; ages 7-10. HMH books for Young Reader, 2018

“You probably never give skin a thought,” writes Anita Sanchez, “until it gets itchy.” And then you can’t stop scratching. But to understand why things itch, we need to understand how skin works and how our body reacts to stings and bites.

In the following chapters, we are introduced to things that make us itch: lice! fleas! mosquitoes! bedbugs! fungi! and plants with spines, needles, and poisons. Yes – there are things lurking and growing in our backyards that will make us itch.

What I like about this book: it’s fun to read and full of unexpected (and cool) facts.  Even as she describes the pesky plants and bugs that bother us, Anita offers cool insights into their lives. We learn how fleas leap, how burrs inspired velcro, and how bedbugs talk to each other. Even better, she provides plenty  non-toxic alternatives for treatment. Did you know that a dab of minty toothpaste can soothe an itchy bug bite? She’s even got a recipe for de-skunking!

The writing is clear, and the illustrations engaging and sometimes humorous. I like the back matter, too: an author’s note about the inspiration for this book plus the usual glossary, bibliography, and an index that’s like having a quick-link to info.

STEM Friday

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

Copyright © 2018 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.

The Universe Ate My Homework

The Universe Ate My Homework
by David Zeltser (Author) and Ayesha L. Rubio (Illustrator)

Booktalk: Abby hates doing homework. In fact, she’ll do just about anything to get out of it. So when she discovers an amazing scientific recipe for creating a parallel universe where she’ll never have to do homework again, she’s ready to jump right in. There’s just one small wrinkle?–she might not be able to find a way back.

Snippet: “Abby,” came her mother’s voice, “are you doing your homework?”

“I’ve got it in my hands, Mom!”

Abby didn’t understand about the atoms, but she understood about the squeezing. She squeezed with all her might.

See the book trailer.

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

Copyright © 2018 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.

Terrific Tongues!


Terrific Tongues!

by Maria Gianferrari,  Illustrated by Jia Liu.

Boyds Mills, April 2018.  ISBN 9781620917848.

I have to wait a few months before I am permitted to re-post reviews I write for School Library Journal, but here it is—better late than never.

I tested this book in a school classroom. The kids enjoyed it and were able to remember the differences between the animals’ tongues.

PreS-Gr 3–An expressive monkey acts as a guide to the animal kingdom’s most
interesting tongues. Liu chooses the monkey’s own mouth to illustrate,
literally, the many things a tongue is similar to—straw, sword, nose,
and mop. In each instance, Gianferrari’s simple analogy appears in
large font with a humorous illustration. “If you had a tongue like a
sword, you might be a…” In the first example, the monkey’s tongue is
actually a sword as he dukes it out with a fencer. On the following
page, we discover the answer, “Woodpecker!” and see a rendering of a
woodpecker in its natural habitat, its long pointed tongue stabbing
underneath the bark of a tree. A short paragraph explaining the workings
of the animal’s tongue is embedded within the illustration. Readers
will enjoy finding the monkey in each habitat, too. Eleven creatures are
featured in similar fashion. Back matter offers greater detail and also
explains the workings of the human tongue. The appealing cover and
bright, cheery illustrations will capture the attention of even casual
browsers. VERDICT A fine addition to early nonfiction collections.

School Library Journal. Feb2018, Vol. 64 Issue 2, p112-112. 2/9p. Copyright © 2018 School Library Journal, the property of Media Source, Inc. Reprinted here with permission.


See all my reviews at Shelf-employed.

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

Terrific Tongues!

ages 4-8; Boyds Mills Press, 2018

Animals are amazingly adapted to live in different habitats. Fish use fins and tails to move, birds fly, and cats pounce and bound on four feet. Here’s a book that takes a closer look at animal adaptations.

Terrific Tongues, by Marie Gianferrari; illus. by Jia Liu

You use your tongue for a lot of things: licking ice cream cones, tasting food, and helping shape the words you speak.

But can you use your tongue like a straw? Moths do. They have long, tubelike tongues that roll up like garden hoses! Moths use their tongues to reach down into tubular flowers to sip nectar – I’ve watched them do this in my garden! Some animals have tongues like swords, or windshield wipers.

What I like about this book: On one page, Marie sets up a situation. For example, “If you had a tongue like a washcloth, you might be a….” Turn the page and you discover what sort of creature has such a strange and useful tongue. I’m pretty sure our tongues seem strange to moths. Or frogs.

I love the bright, playful illustrations. I also like the back matter: one spread provides lists of things tongues do, and another tells more information about each of the animal tongues featured in the book, from forked snake tongues to radulas.

Head over to Archimedes Notebook where you’ll find a couple more books about animal adaptations.

STEM Friday

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

Copyright © 2018 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.