STEM Friday

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Books


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My Awesome Summer

My Awesome Summer,  by P. Mantis

by Paul Meisel

40 pages; ages 4-8

Holiday House, 2017

P. Mantis had a wonderful summer, full of bird-watching, hide-and-seek, fine food, sibling rivalry, and flight lessons. There are a few scary moment, like the time she almost got eaten by a bat, and narrowly escaping spider webs. But for the most part it was a summer to remember.

What I like about this book:

It’s fun to read! Written from the point of view of a praying mantis, it’s set up as diary entries. For example:

June 2

All the aphids are gone. I’m hungry. Growing so fast! I ate one of my brothers. Okay, maybe two. Fine dining? Or sibling rivalry? Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. P. Mantis also reveals her most important trick: how to be still and look like a stick. This gets her out of a lot of dicey situations.

I also like love that what would usually go into back matter has been put on the end papers. Small-ish chunks of information about praying mantises and their ecology are accompanied by illustrations. The end pages are where you learn what mantises like to eat, how they use camouflage to hide from predators, flight, and laying eggs. That’s where cool websites are and a very tiny glossary.

I like the cover, too. Who can ignore a face like Mantis’s? Plus the monarda! Heading out to my garden to see if any of her cousins are hanging out amongst my flowers right now!

Head over to Archimedes Notebook for some beyond-the-book activities.

STEM Friday

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

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Books about the Birds and the Bees

People who read my Archimedes Notebook blog know that I love bugs. Ants, bumble bees, clear-winged hummingbird moths, beetles of all colors and kinds! And I found a cool field guide perfect for kids who want to learn more about insects.

Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Insects

By Libby Romero

160 pages; ages 8-10

National Geographic Children’s Books, 2017

This is so much more than a field guide. Introductory pages tell where to find insects, how to be safe around insects (avoiding stings, bites, and defensive chemicals), and how to protect insects. Each page introduces an insect, giving its scientific name along with notes about ecology and behavior and photos. There are text boxes noting things to look for, listen to, plus hands-on activities (how to draw a dragonfly), plus plenty of “Insect Inspector” side bars. Every few pages you’ll find an “Insect Report” focusing on specific features: wings, how to tell an insect from a “bug”, and the art of insect deception.

Helpful back matter includes a photographic “Quick ID Guide”, a list of books and apps for discovering more, a glossary, and index. And all of that is in a pocket-sized guide with tough, flexible covers.

Bird Braniacs

by Stacy Tornio and Ken Keffer;  illustrated by Rachel Riordan

104 pages; ages  5 – 13

Cornell Lab Publishing Group, 2016

The subtitle for this book is “activity journal and log book for young birders.” It is meant to be written in, drawn in, shared with friends. Part activity book and part birding journal, Bird Brainiacs is the perfect book to tuck in a backpack, or toss in the picnic basket when heading off to the park. There are quizzes, “mad-lib” fill-in-the-blanks, games, nature challenges, personality questionnaires, word scrambles, and bird facts. I love the hands-on science stuff: a do-it-yourself bioblitz, bird count, and nest-watching. There are enough bird-log pages to get you started on a summer’s worth of birding plus some how-to-draw pages for the doodler in us all. I know the age range is for up to 13 years, but heck, this looks like fun for the whole family.

STEM Friday

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

Site Meter Copyright © 2017 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.


Up! Up! Up! Skyscraper

Up! Up! Up! Skyscraper

by Anastasia Suen; illus. by Ryan O’Rourke

32 pages; ages 3-7

Charlesbridge, 2017

Dig, dig, dig!

Pour, pour, pour!

Pound, pound, pound!

What’s going on behind that tall board fence? Put on your hardhat and let’s find out.

Machines and people work together to build a skyscraper. So tall it touches the clouds. So if they’re building up, why are they digging down? Because tall buildings need sturdy foundations.

Anastasia Suen takes readers behind the fence and into the world of a construction site. Active language engages kids in what’s going on, and additional text explains why. Bolt by bolt, beam by beam, we travel up, up, up to the top of the building. Once the skeleton is completed it’s time to put the “skin” on – the metal and glass panels that hold everything in. And then, at last, with a fold-out page that extends high above the others, we see the finished skyscraper.

Head over to Archimedes Notebook for some beyond the book activities.

STEM Friday

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

Site Meter Copyright © 2017 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.


Two Truth and a Lie

Two Truths and a Lie

by Laurie Ann Thompson and Ammi-Joan Paquette

176 pages; ages 8-12

Walden Pond Press, 2017

When a nonfiction book begins with a warning that some of the stories included are not true – you know it’s going to be a wild read. The thing is, the authors point out, there are lies all around us. Truths, too. Anyone trying to keep up with political news knows that sorting fact from fiction is really important.

But lies aren’t partial to politics; you’ll find plenty of shady stories masquerading as scientific truths. Like stories about a fungus that infects insects and takes over their brains, creating bug zombies. Oops – that IS a true story.

What Laurie and Ammi-Joan (who likes to go by Joan) do in their book is play a game with readers. They present three wacky science stories and challenge you to figure out which one is fake. For example, one group of three animal stories features a chicken who lived without its head – and performed in a circus sideshow, a cave-dwelling salamander that looks like a dragon, and a tree-dwelling octopod that lives in rainforests.

Which two are true? Which is the lie? They tell you at the back, and give lots of source notes for the stories so you can do your own research. They also include a few words about how to tell truth from lie when reading articles online and in the paper. It’s like a guide to finding facts in the news world.

Drop by Archimedes Notebook for an author interview game called Two Truths and a Lie


Karl, Get Out of the Garden

Karl, Get Out of the Garden! Carolus Linnaeus and the naming of everything

by Anita Sanchez; illus.by Catherine Stock

48 pages; ages 7-10

Charlesbridge, 2017

Karl Linne was in the garden again. He just wouldn’t stay out of it!

Karl, get out of the garden!

Karl’s mom dreams that he’ll become a lawyer, or perhaps a minister. His father thinks he should apprentice to the shoemaker. But Karl loves spending time in the garden. He loves learning the plants, and watching the insects. So he tells his father that he wants to go to medical school.

Once there, he begins learning how to use plants for healing. There’s a big problem though: with so many names for plants, how does he know which is the correct plant to use? Karl decides that what the world needs is a consistent system for naming plants (and other living things) – a system that will help organize life.

What I like about this book: It’s a fun way to delve into the history of science, and also learn why we have scientific names for plants and animals. I also like that author Anita Sanchez includes some of the controversies about naming species – especially the idea of including humans. Imagine! Naming humans as if they were just another animal! Worse yet – lumping them in with mammals like groundhogs and cats! The very nerve!

Today I’m sharing books about plants and gardening over at Archimedes Notebook. Head on over for more book reviews and some hands-on activities.

STEM Friday

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

Site Meter Copyright © 2017 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.


Books about Baby Animals

If you love to read about baby animals, here are two new books that are just delightful.

Baby on Board

by Marianne Berkes; illus. by Cathy Morrison

32 pages; ages 3-8

Dawn Publishing, 2017

When you were a baby, someone carried you.

Have you ever wondered what animal parents do?

They may not have baby backpacks or strollers or carriers…  but wild animal moms have figured out how to transport their kids from one place to another.

Kangaroos use pockets, mama otters become rafts, and mother possums give their young piggy-back rides. Even dads get into the picture.

Fun, rhyming language and realistic illustrations introduce youngsters to the diversity of transport their woollier – and featherier – wild friends experience. Back matter includes a matching game and plenty of resources for further exploration.

Baby Animals (Animal Bites series)

by Dorothea DePrisco

80 pages; ages 4-8

Animal Planet/ Time Inc. Books, 2017

Many animals lay eggs and build nests – and not just birds! This photo-rich book focuses on  babies from across the animal kingdom. Information is presented in small, “browsable” chunks with many entry points. You can use the table of contents, or use the colored tabs to guide you in your wildlife safari: yellow for close-up look at animals, orange for a gallery exhibit highlighting diversity, and there’s even an icon labeled “just like me” that compares how animals and humans behave in similar ways.

Some of the animals highlighted are bunnies, owls, red pandas, dogs, skunks, and more. Back matter includes baby animal activities, resources, and a glossary.

Review copies from publishers.

STEM Friday

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

Site Meter Copyright © 2017 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.


Just Hatched: books about birds

Birds are back! They’re gathering nesting materials, checking out the bugs in the garden, and filling the morning with song. Here are three recently hatched books to tickle your bird-lover’s thirst for true stories.

Duckings (Explore my World series)

by Marfe Ferguson Delano

ages 3-7; National Geographic Kids, 2017

High in a tree, a wood duck mother checks her nest.She sits on her eggs to keep them warm. Then one day, peck, peck, peck. Ducklings are ready to hatch. Large-print words or simple phrases set off sections of a baby bird’s life. Crack! They hatch. Jump! They leap out of the nest and down, down, down … to a pond. Text describes the life of a duckling, and photos invite us right into their day, from learning what to eat (bugs are good) to following mom everywhere. Back matter includes comparing ducks with other animals that hatch out of eggs, “ducky details”, and how to be a duckling.

Otis the Owl

by Mary Holland

ages 4-9; Arbordale Publishing, 2017

Beautiful, detailed photos take us right into the first few months of a baby owl’s life. Otis, and his sister, are the cutest, fluffiest sad-eyed babies you’ve ever seen. Mary Holland shows all aspects of a baby owl’s life, from hatching to eating voles, mice, and the occasional chipmunk. Sometimes Otis and his sister fight over the food their parents bring. Other times, he and sis are best friends, preening each other’s feathers and standing watch at the nest hole. Back matter includes information on owl pellets, a guessing game, and details on owl anatomy.

Birds Make Nests

by Michael Garland

ages 4-8; Holiday House, 2017

Two-page spreads show a diversity of birds and the nests they build. Some nest in trees, others nest on the ground. Some use grass to make their nest, or animal hair, spider silk, lichens. Others use sticks and mud. Some nests open at the top; some nests open at the bottom. Kids might recognize some as visitors to their back yard or local park. Others live half-way around the world, giving parents an opportunity to show on a globe or world map where those birds build their nests.

Dive into the “Beyond the book” activities 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.