Saturday, January 17, 2015

Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos by Stephanie Roth Sisson

Star Stuff is a picture book biography of Carl Sagan, astrophysicist and original host of Cosmos, the PBS series about the universe. This biography deals with Carl's early years and development of his fascination with stars and planets. There's numerous illustrations depicting Carl's neighborhood in New York and the night sky that Carl loved to dream about. Several of the illustrations are in wide format or fold out orientation, so that the reader can imagine outer space along with Carl. The end of the book shows Carl on t.v. and assembling a recording for the 1977 Voyager spacecrafts---a recording which is still being carried out into the far reaches of space! This book is a good introduction to astronomers and outer space for kids 5 and older.

Spic and Span! Lillian Gilbreth's Wonder Kitchen by Monica Kulling

"Spic and Span!..." is the biography of Lillian Moller Gilbreth, a woman of many hats: inventor, industrial engineer, author, professor and psychologist. In addition, Lillian was the mother of eleven children! Lillian and her husband Frank were one of the first efficiency experts in the early 1900's. They analyzed worker's movements and made recommendations for their improved performance and safety. Lillian's husband passed away unexpectedly, which left Lillian with the task of providing for her large family by herself. Consequently, she went to work for Macy's analyzing the efficiency of their cash handling process. With limited time to cook for the family, Lillian found herself trying to improve the flow of her own kitchen. This led to a new area of expertise: kitchen design and invention. She invented the electric mixer and pedal-opening trash can, among other things. The clarity of writing and illustration in "Spic and Span!..." lends itself to readers ages 7-12.  It's a great introduction to a little-known woman who was a pioneer in the field of industrial engineering (and also part of a series entitled "Great Idea Series" which showcases other obscure inventors).

Monday, November 24, 2014

Desert Life: a Close-Up Look at the Natural World of a Desert by Barbara Taylor

Each chapter in Desert Life features a different species that has adapted to survive in this harsh habitat.  From examples of snakes and turtles to gerbils and cacti, this book proves that living in the desert takes special skills and aptitudes, particularly the ability to go without food or water for several days.  Young readers will enjoy learning about these species for the first time.


Deserts by Seymour Simon

Desert Giant: the World of the Saguaro Cactus by Barbara Bash

Watching Desert Wildlife by Jim Arnosky


Desert Tortoise

easyLearn Adaptations in Animals

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum app


The Massachusetts Desert

Desert Animals

The Top of the World: Climbing Mount Everest by Steve Jenkins

Explore the dangers and excitement of climbing Mount Everest as you enjoy the beautiful cut-out collage illustrations of The Top of the World. This book introduces several new concepts, including Himalayan culture and mountaineering to young adventurers who want to know more about extreme travel.


Danger on the Mountain: Scaling the World's Highest Peaks by Andrew Donkin

Everest: an Eyewitness Book by Rebecca Stephens

To the Top: the Story of Everest by Stephen Venables


Airplane Mount Everest

Mount Everest Travel Guide



Wachusett Mountain winter sports

MA mountains and peaks

Mount Greylock

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus by Jen Bryant

This book is an introduction to Peter Mark Roget, the man who devised the thesaurus. Ms. Bryant tells of Roget's birth in Switzerland and move to England when a young child. Being shy, Roget's youth is spent reading books and compiling lists, something that serves him well later on. Roget eventually becomes a tutor and a doctor, more sources of information that will help write his thesaurus. After starting a family and establishing his medical career, Roget notices other books of word lists which aren't as effective as his. This gives him the courage and inspiration to publish his own work in 1852. The illustrations throughout the book use text and collage in Melissa Sweet's inventive way. Historical objects (book bindings, type drawers, Roget's pages etc) are incorporated throughout and much of the text has synonyms provided. At the end of the book, there's additional notes and a timeline on Roget. The Right Word is a fun and informative book for ages 5 and older.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Railroad Fever: Building the Transcontinental Railroad 1830-1870 by Monica Halpern

This non-fiction chapter book starts with an introduction to the earliest industrial technologies that would eventually create the transcontinental railroad. Each chapter focuses on a specific theme, from the conditions of the workers to native life in the Wild West.  The Great Race between the Union and Central Pacific railroads boasts its own chapter, culminating in the driving of the golden spike where the two rails meet.  Railroad Fever is a great book for older middle school readers.


Bandanas, Chaps and Ten Gallon Hats by Bobbie Kalman

The Railroad by John R. Matthews

The Industrial Revolution by Hilarie N. Staton


Industrial Revolution

UP Steam


Holiday Train Rides

Train Gallery at Wenham Museum

Chatham Railroad Museum

Monday, November 17, 2014

Seeing Stars by Dandi Daley Mackall


Sparkly stars seem to light up this book of introductory constellations.  With poetic narration, Seeing Stars compares constellations in the sky to their imaginary counterparts.  A bear outline helps children conceptualize the Great Bear, for example.  All of the constellations appear together at the end of the book, making it perfect for early grade readers.


The Big Dipper by Franklyn M. Branley

Stars! Stars! Stars! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace

Older than the Stars by Karen C. Fox


Star Walk

Astronaut Trainer



Boston University public open night

Astronomy after Hours, Museum of Science