Tag Archives: Science

The Human Body Survival Guide – George Ivanoff

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Penguin Australia September 2020

ISBN: 9781760896744

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $24.99

As it happens the Kid is looking at the human body for the science component of her home schooling this term. Of course, as the diligent teacher-librarian/gran that I am, I have organised a lot of useful resources for her – none of which will be anywhere near as gross or fascinating as George’s new survival guide! In fact, the day it arrived, she picked it up and there were many gasps and groans as she flicked through it – a pretty fair indication that all your kiddos who delight in the gruesome and ghastly will love it :-).

Sections such as Red Spurty Stuff, Pooping it Out and Dead Stuff will likely be the first that readers dip into (for want of a better expression) and the gross-o-meter throughout will aid them in their reactions. Fact boxes, extracts from articles, images and diagrams galore all help put together a thoroughly disgusting journey through the body and it’s mysterious workings.

There is a particularly welcome section on body image which will empower young readers to view themselves positively and the book’s conclusion has a useful glossary plus some excellent further reading links.

It is definitely a book that will take some time to work through as the readers pore over each fact, article, diagram, table, illustration and more.

Any kiddos from around ten years upwards will enjoy this one and obviously, it will be featured on the Kid’s reading list for this term. I feel confident she will ferret out the most odious of facts to share with me.

George is one of those amazing authors who can skillfully turn his hand to adept and engaging writing across many genres. The fact that he is just a tiny bit crazy (eccentric?) is a bonus [thought you’d like that addition, George!]. He is also one of the most fun people I’ve ever met :-).

Don’t miss out on George’s mad scientist/not-a-real-doctor videos and check out his Q&A with Better Reading here.

Highly recommended for your readers from middle primary to middle secondary.

Seeds – Carme Lenniscates

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Candlewick Press

March 2020

Imprint: Candlewick  Studio

ISBN 9781536208443

Another timely book – certainly for us – as we’ve been re-invigorating and re-planting our veggie patch after a long hot summer. Magical seeds are popping up in the propagator on our front verandah waiting until they are sturdy enough to be planted out in the bed.

But this book is not just about the wonder of seeds in the literal sense. It also speaks to our little people about figurative seeds – the seeds of anger which can quickly flare up into nasty weeds but also the seeds of kindness  and those of smiles which we should all be sowing liberally. (Lord knows we could use a lot of that in some sectors of society at present!)

This is a beautiful book which moves from scientific explanation of seeds undergoing their transformations to a philosophical metaphors for human emotions and behaviour seamlessly.  Definitely one worth adding to your classroom program on either basis as there will much rich discussion ensuing.

Most children love gardening and growing things – even the too-cool teen is still keen to garden (in fact she’s just helped spread two large bags of horse manure over the veggie patch!). The wonder of watching plants erupt from tiny capsules is one that never loses its joy.

Why not combine your reading and philosophy with some science-based work (gotta love cross-curricular topics!)?

Highly recommended for little people from ELC upwards.

Under the Milky Way – Frané Lessac

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Walker Books Australia

January 2020

ISBN: 9781536200959
Imprint: Candlewick
Australian RRP: $24.99
New Zealand RRP: $27.99

 

I had the very great pleasure of meeting Frané at the 2019 Voices on the Coast Literature Festival (thank you again for the lovely sketch of Duffy!) and she is such a wonderful and warm, not to mention talented creator.

While arguably it is for her Australian themed books that (for most readers) she is best known, this one focuses on North America – the USA and Canada – and connects these by means of the Milky Way,  the splendour of which is something which we can all appreciate.

Each vibrant double spread focuses on one location and includes special little facts, both scientific and cultural, that will fascinate readers making this a very beautiful factional offering. It concludes with another spread which gives some fabulous astronomical information about our galaxy.

I absolutely adore this book – Frané’s illustrations alone are always such a joy – and there is no doubt in my mind that young readers will feel likewise. The subject matter is one which is somewhat neglected in our collections for kiddos but is certainly one that deserves to be better known.

Beneath a blanket of stars, crowds cheer at Little League games, campers share fireside stories, bull-riders hold on tight, and sled dogs race through falling snow — all under the Milky Way. Vivid artwork, engaging verses, and facts about the United States and Canada will captivate readers of all ages in a joyful offering from Frané Lessac.

Highly recommended for readers from around 7 years upwards.

 

What Stars Are Made Of – Sarah Allen

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Penguin Random House

April 2020

ISBN: 9780241427965

Imprint: Puffin

RRP: $14.99

This is just a wonderful heart-warming book on many levels and has introduced me to not only a new author but new information.

Libby Malone is 12 years old and passionate about science so much so that she wants to be a scientist when she grows up. Her favourite scientist is the over-looked Cecilia Payne – first woman Astronomy Chair at Harvard and the first person to postulate the theories on what stars are made of – work which was discounted but then appropriated by men in the field.

Libby also has Turner Syndrome – a condition of birth that has affected her physical development in many ways – but about which she is pretty pragmatic although she does sometimes wish she had a friend other than the school library.

Her older sister  Nonny, whom she adores, is now married and living away from the family but returns when her husband has to go away to work and she is pregnant and needs to have a safe haven. Libby worries over Nonny’s baby and the fact that Nonny and Thomas are struggling financially. Her mind races with ‘what ifs’ and so she inspired to take up a challenge that could change their lives and help them secure a home of their own. She determines to enter a new Women in STEM competition initiated by the Smithsonian  and of course she has the perfect subject in her much revered Cecilia.

At the same time new girl Talia arrives at the school and like Libby she also stands out from the crowd mostly because she is Samoan. The pair forms a tentative but increasingly stronger friendship which sees them both encourage and support each other through crises and challenges, and ultimately rejoice together.

This has much of the same deep ‘feels’ as books such as Wonder and will appeal to upper primary/early secondary students in just the same way. Libby encounters and triumphs over the petty meanness of both the ubiquitous school bully boy and an even more odious adult, editor of her school history textbook. She and Talia both pursue their goals with determination and singular focus and both have the measure of success they both need to affirm their chosen paths.  And of course, the arrival of baby Cecilia, though not without its dramas, is the magical icing on Libby’s cake.

The warmth and love of family and special friendship, self-pride and identity are all well teased out concepts in this novel and the reader feels immense connection with the characters.

I would recommend it highly for readers from around 10 years upwards and certainly if you have kiddos who have loved Wonder then this would be a natural to add to their ‘If you liked…’ list.

Dr Karl’s Random Road Trip Through Science – Dr Karl Kruszelnicki

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Harper Collins

October 2019

ISBN: 9780733340321

ISBN 10: 0733340326

Imprint: ABC Books – AU

RRP:  35.00 AUD

There can be no denying Dr Karl’s contribution to making science hip and fun for all ages. In this, his 45th book (!!!), he takes readers on an amazing and colourful journey through many different aspects of science particularly topics that are ‘hot’ at the moment.

Really, where to start is the question! Do you want to know more about genetics and pregnancy? Or perhaps you’d like to investigate whether cannibalism is nutritious? Maybe it’s the eternal question of why wombats poo cubes? Or possibly it’s the mysteries of coral spawning you are seeking to unravel?

All these and much much more will be revealed over the course of almost 200 pages of astounding facts and articles all of which are colourfully illustrated with collages and pictures from Pilar Costabel.

Readers of all ages from around ten to adult will delight in delving into this treasure trove of scientific wonder and likely repeatedly as they discover more and more fascinating snippets.

A fabulous teaching guide is located here if you choose to use this in your classroom.

Highly recommended for all those who seek to learn more about the weird and wacky world of science.

Startalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson: Young Readers Edition

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Penguin Random House

Paperback | $17.99
Published by National Geographic Children’s Books
Mar 20, 2018 Middle Grade (10 and up)| ISBN 9781426330872

Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist/author/TV and radio personality, has been a popular identity for decades and many young readers will know his special blend of pop culture, science and comedy particularly from the National Geographic.

This is a super volume for that kid who just loves random facts – sometimes seemingly unrelated – and is a veritable smorgasbord of ‘dip in, dip out’ information on a variety of fascinating topics.

What do I pack for Mars?

How do we get water?

Where does creativity come from?

Why don’t we have flying cars yet?

These are just a sample of some of the major questions covered but the book contains so much extra with fact boxes, provocations and biographical snapshots and more. This will be guaranteed to keep your reader entertained for hours – although it’s entirely possible your own peace will be interrupted with many ‘did you know…?’ moments.

Lavishly illustrated with some stunning photography this is not only a mine of information but a visual treat. My personal favourite ‘dip in’ is the section on zombies *grin*.

Whether to put on your library shelves or as a gift for your budding geek, this is a super volume and I highly recommend it for readers with inquiring minds from about ten years upwards.

Something Rotten: A Fresh Look at Roadkill – Heather L. Montgomery

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Bloomsbury

November 2018

ISBN 9781681199009
Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

 

RRP: $22.99

Yep, you did read that title correctly! It’s not for the ‘squeamish or faint-hearted) but it is completely and utterly engrossing (haha grossing!) and often rather humorous. Wildlife researcher Montgomery passes a tyre-treaded rattlesnake as she is jogging one day and on the impulse of all good scientists – why?-  goes back to pick it up so that she can investigate the mystery of how rattlers can retract their fangs without biting themselves.

After dissecting that first snake and satisfying some of her curiosity about these remarkable animals and, indeed, finding out more than she had ever known, Montgomery sets off on a ‘roadkill’ journey. She met with researchers and collectors, she helped with dissections and examinations, she found out there is a wide, wide world of biologists who are just as interested in dead animals as live ones.

These are the folks who are helping save animals from diseases and impacts from introduced species and human activity.  There is the scientist who identified a new species of bird just from one wing, a boy who rebuilds animals from the bones up, the researchers trying to find a cure for the cancer that is threatening the Tasmanian Devils and more.

It won’t be to everyone’s taste but I’m pretty sure that will only apply to adults. I think there will be many readers both boys and girls who will not only appreciate the science of it but the gruesome-ness and the irreverence.

The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare – Shannon Hale & Dean Hale. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

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Penguin Random House

Hardcover | $14.99
Published by Candlewick
Sep 25, 2018

ISBN 9780763688271

Without a doubt this series is one of the most popular with our newly independent readers. There is rarely a copy left in the series box and also sold out rapidly at our recent book fair.  They are not just the right level for these readers but have some vibrant illustrations and contain some great incidental information or concepts.

As one might guess by this title this one has some very useful science embedded in the wacky story line of a volcano experiment gone wrong after having some monster hair added to its mix. Luckily Princess Magnolia forgets her nervousness about her seeds and plants poster, zips into her Princess in Black alter-ego and along with her scientifically minded princess friends is able to resolve the problem satisfactorily.

This series has shed an entirely new light on princesses (they are far removed from the Disney variety) with resourcefulness, resilience and cooperation to the fore and also embrace an inclusive slant with their depiction of the various girls.

All in all it has a lot to offer for young readers with fun as well as some great values.

Highly recommended for readers from around six years upwards.