STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books


Terrific Tongues!

9781620917848

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)

Advertisements


Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon

Countdown_main
Countdown : 2979 Days to the Moon

By Suzanne Slade

Illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez

Peachtree Publishers

2,979 days after President Kennedy announced,

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth,”

this nation did just that. Not only did we achieve the goal, we did it all in the days before personal computers, cell phones, ATMs, and video games were invented. If you visit the historic Mission Control room in Johnson Space Center, you will be amazed at what was accomplished with the technology of the time.

In free verse poetry, Suzanne Slade recounts the extraordinary journey, both daring and dangerous, that culminated in the first humans to walk on the lunar surface.

“The men steal a last glance at their beautiful home,

then Borman begins the TLI countdown: “9,8,7,…”

With each passing second,

excitement builds at Mission Control.

No astronaut—American or Soviet—

has ridden a rocket beyond Earth orbit.

“3,2, light On. Ignition,” Borman announces.

“Ignition,” Lovell confirms.

The third-stage engine reignites,

sending the craft on its long trek to the Moon.

As Apollo 8 screams into space,

Borman, Lovell, and Anders

become the first humans

to fly above Earth orbit.”

The text is presented against a backdrop of illustrations in pastel, colored pencil, and airbrush.  Gonzalez has created a delicate balance of realism and magic. The artwork is recognizable as images seen in news media of the era, and yet, it is elevated with a patina of enchantment. The resulting combination is stunning.

Between chapters, there are two pages detailing each Apollo mission, which include photos,  astronaut bios, and mission statistics, e.g., dates, duration.

Extensive back matter includes more information on Apollo 11, and Author’s Note, Illustrator’s Note, Selected Bibliography, Sources for Quotations, and Photo Credits.

As the nation contemplates manned missions to Mars, it is fitting to look back on the sacrifices and triumphs of an earlier space-traveling generation.
Notes:

See all my reviews at Shelf-employed.

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


The Bridge: How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York

9781419728525_p0_v3_s600x595

The Bridge: How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York

by Peter J. Tomasi
Illustrated by Sara DuVall
Abrams Comic Arts, 2018

If you’ve never watched the Ken Burns documentary, “Brooklyn Bridge,” you may not fully grasp the truly marvel qualities of the Brooklyn Bridge.  Besides being an engineering masterpiece, it is an architectural beauty, and the result of a heroic and lengthy commitment by the Roebling family and countless workers.  The Bridge: How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York is the true story in graphic format of the epic task of building the bridge.

The book begins in 1852, when the bridge was just a dream in the mind of John Augustus Roebling and his son Washington.  Washington Roebling’s father was a non-nonsense man, who doled out praise sparingly, but had great faith in his son. In 1862, after designing the bridge and receiving approval for its construction, John Augustus Roebling died and the young Washington Roebling became the chief engineer—a job that he eventually shared with his wife, Emily, after he contracted what was then an unknown disease.

Peter J. Tomasi tells this heroic story with little need for explanatory text, employing artistic license to recreate dialogue that rings true and gives a real feel for the political and personal dramas that unfolded throughout the fourteen years that passed during the bridge’s construction.  This is not an entirely personal story however, Tomasi includes ample description of the actual engineering of the bridge—a process with many failures and tragedies on the road to eventual success.

This is Sara DuVall’s first graphic novel and the style is simple and appealing.  The colors are bright and engaging, but background details are minimal, allowing the reader to focus on the expressions, the emotions, and the individual episodes that tie this epic story together.

The Bridge: How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York is well researched and accurately captures in graphic format this engineering marvel and the personal triumphs and sorrows associated with it.

See a slide show of images from The Bridge at Abrams Books.

Enjoy these actual photos from the New York Public Library’s digital collection.

“View of Manhattan waterfront and Brooklyn Bridge under construction; temporary footbridge ”
The New York Public Library Digital Collections.
1877

Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy,
The New York Public Library. “View of Manhattan waterfront and Brooklyn Bridge under construction; temporary footbridge ”
New York Public Library Digital Collections.
Accessed May 18, 2018.
http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/75c1c390-9f35-0132-e3a4-58d385a7b928

 

View of Manhattan from Brooklyn; men working on bridge cables; Fulton ferry boat “Hamilton”; sailboats, 1885

Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History,
Local History and Genealogy,
The New York Public Library. “View of Manhattan from Brooklyn; men
working on bridge cables; Fulton ferry boat “Hamilton”; sailboats”
New York Public Library Digital Collections.
Accessed May 18, 2018.

http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/7c0ce5f0-9dc2-0132-d343-58d385a7bbd0

“Pedestrians on the Promenade (copy of #23:7)”
The New York Public Library Digital Collections.
1895.

Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy,
The New York Public Library. “Pedestrians on the Promenade (copy of #23:7)”
New York Public Library Digital Collections.
Accessed May 18, 2018.
http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/bfc671e0-9f3a-0132-96cc-58d385a7bbd0

Note: My copy of The Bridge was provided by the publisher.

 

See all my reviews at Shelf-employed.

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


Ultimate Space Atlas

6302802

Ultimate Space Atlas

By Carolyn DeCristofano

National Geographic Kids, 2017

National Geographic Kids Ultimate Space Atlas is a picture book-sized, softcover atlas.  It’s small and light enough to take with you on car trips, vacations, etc.  That’s the beauty of an atlas.  The reader can invest as much or as little time as she wants—scan the Cool Facts, enjoy the images, or read more in-depth passages about constellations, lunar phases, favorite planets or the possibility of life in space.

Immediately following the Table of Contents is the very helpful section “How to Use This Atlas.” Despite this being the digital age, using an atlas is a useful exercise in learning how to group, classify, and present information.  The same skills that are used in creating an atlas, are those used in creating research papers, PowerPoint presentations, essays, and more. An atlas helps a child to process the questions:

  • What information do I have?
  • What portion of that information do I want to share?
  • What is my purpose in sharing it?
  • What is the best way for me to present it?

But enough of librarian geekery, the point is that the atlas is organized into tabbed sections, Sky-High, Observing Space, Inner Solar System, Outer Solar System, Our Galaxy and Beyond, and Mapping Space.  Each section contains similar insets against a background of images – natural photographs, colorized images, and artistic impressions. The lack of glossy pages takes away a bit of space’s luster, but space is magnificent even in matte finish. A few pages of fun activities round out the atlas and would suffice to keep a child occupied while waiting for dinner at a restaurant.

Ultimate Space Atlas includes:

  • Table of contents
  • How to Use section
  • Glossary
  • Index
  • Seven tabbed chapters
  • Credits

Read more of this this review and see all of my reviews at Shelf-employed.

stemfriday.tiny

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

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


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

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 [http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/121233/the-astronaut-instruction-manual-by-mike-mongo/].

(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)


The Official ScratchJr Book

Because I’ve shown an interest in coding in the past, No Starch Press was kind enough to offer me a review copy of The Official ScratchJr Book by Marina Umaschi Bers and Mitchel Resnick. (2015)

Sadly, I don’t have an iPad or Android-based tablet, so I was unable to download the ScratchJr app to test it, but judging by the book and my experience with Scratch, I’m sure it’s a wonderful tool for inspiring creativity and logical thinking.

Here’s what I like about The Official ScratchJr. Book:

  • It targets a very young audience – ages 5 and up
  • It can be useful for parents and teachers and librarians – especially those who might find coding to be intimidating
  • Unlike the Hour of Code (which I love and have used as a resource for library programming), The Official ScratchJr Book focuses more on inspiring creativity than learning the nuts and bolts of logical thinking
  • The above statement notwithstanding, it still can be used to learn the nuts and bolts of simple coding and logical thinking

If at first there was a great rush to teach kids to code, there is now a push in the opposite direction. Just Google “Should kids learn to code?” and you will find a wealth of opinion on either side. Personally, I liken the “argument” to car repair.  In days gone by, many people knew how to do most repairs on their automobiles.  Now, cars’ systems are so intricate, that most people have trouble doing anything other than the simplest of repairs.  Most people have cars.  Should we know how to repair them?  No, I don’t think so.  There will also be a need for an auto mechanic. But, knowing how to change a flat tire sure comes in handy!  If working on cars appeals to you, become a mechanic.  The same is true of coding.  Give it a try.  If your kids are looking for a follow up to the Frozen Hour of Code project, “Code with Anna and Elsa,” The Official ScratchJr Book is probably a good place to start (if you have a tablet that can run the ScratchJr app).

I’m going to pass my copy along to my school district’s media specialist.  The kids have Chromebooks and should be able to make good use of it.

(See all of my reviews at Shelf-employed)

 Copyright © 2016 L.Taylor at Shelf-employed. All Rights Reserved.

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

 


Bee Dance

Bee Dance by Rick Chrustowski
(Henry Holt, 2015)

9780805099195

Suitable for sharing with a story time group, Bee Dance is presented as a conversational entreaty to bees,

Waggle faster, honeybee!

Buzz louder!

Your dance points the way to the prairie.”

Bee Dance is lyrical nonfiction with large, bright, cut-paper illustrations.  An author’s note contains additional facts and the author’s source material.

See a slide show of images from Bee Dance on the publisher’s website.

You can watch an actual “waggle dance” below.

Bee Dance was also reviewed on this site by Archimedes Notebook.  I thought it was worth mentioning again.