Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Water is Water by Miranda Paul



This is a gorgeous picture book about the various states of water: rain, fog, clouds, puddles etc. While the main part of the book is poetic rather than educational, there's informational matter in the back which helps to explain the water cycle. Instead of overly explaining the scientific aspects of water, the text plays with words and the images tell a story of a family (probably in New England) encountering water throughout the days and seasons. Lovely watercolors by Jason Chin. A good introduction to the water cycle for younger elementary ages.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Ann Elizabeth's Diary by Anne Elizabeth Rector and Kathleen Krull




This is a short, but sweet and informative diary of a twelve year old girl, Ann Elizabeth Rector, who was born in 1899 in West Virginia. She grew up as an only child in New York City and in this year-long diary recounts life there: her schooling, friends, family and desire to be an artist. Eventually, Ann Elizabeth does become an artist, initially as a fine artist and in later years as a crafter of toys. Throughout the diary are actual illustrations done by Ann Elizabeth, in addition to historical information and photos of  Ann Elizabeth. This is a great book for girls (or boys) who are between 8-12, and interested in art and/or history.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick



This book tells the true story behind Winnie-the-Pooh. Finding Winnie is a story within a story: the reader is learning about Winnie while the mother in the book tells the story to her son. It opens with a soldier heading off to WWI. At a train stop, the soldier sees a bear sitting with a trapper. Being a veterinarian, the young soldier has sympathy for the bear and buys him from the trapper. Winnipeg, or Winnie as she is later called, acts as a mascot for his fellow soldiers while at training camp and travels with them to England. As Winnie gets a bit older and the soldier has to go to the front, he gives her to the London zoo. While there, Winnie befriends a small boy named Christopher, whose father goes onto write about the bear in children's books. This is a true story, but told in a personal and interesting way (the author is the great-granddaughter of the soldier.) Sophie Blackall's illustrations are lovely and muted, giving the book a sweet, vintage quality.

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.

Readalikes:

Deserts by Seymour Simon

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

Watching Desert Wildlife by Jim Arnosky

Apps:

Desert Tortoise
http://www.nps.gov/moja/photosmultimedia/desert-tortoise-iphone-app.htm

easyLearn Adaptations in Animals
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/easylearn-adaptations-in-animals/id579406670?mt=8

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum app
https://www.desertmuseum.org/visit/geotrex.php

Places:

The Massachusetts Desert
http://www.marlborough-ma.gov/gen/marlboroughma_concommisn/parks/desert_area

Desert Animals
http://www.desertusa.com/animals.html

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.

Readalikes:

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

Apps:

Airplane Mount Everest
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/airplane-mount-everest/id875998232?mt=8

Mount Everest Travel Guide
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id565946637

Mountaineering
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.max.Mountaineering&hl=en

Places:

Wachusett Mountain winter sports
http://www.wachusett.com/

MA mountains and peaks
http://www.franklinsites.com/hikephotos/Massachusetts/

Mount Greylock
http://www.summitpost.org/mount-greylock/150465