Friday, October 2, 2015

Amphibians and Reptiles

Amphibians and Reptiles: a Compare and Contrast book
by Katharine Hall
32 pages; ages 4-8
Arbordale Publishing

People who study amphibians and reptiles are called herpetologists. Ask them what they study, and they lump 'em all together into one large group they call "herps". Still, frogs and toads have some similarities, and they are very different from snakes and tortoises.

Katharine Hall compares how reptiles and amphibians are similar - they are cold-blooded and hatch from eggs. She also compares how reptiles differ from amphibians. Most amphibians have smooth skin, while reptiles tend to have dry, scaly skin. Photographs illustrate the important features: eggs, skin, fangs, webbed feet.

At the back are pages that go beyond the simple story. There kids can learn more about the five classes of  vertebrates (things with backbones) and play a mystery sorting game. There's a wonderful page that explains what being a herpetologist is all about, and what you'll need in your "herpetology research kit" and more.

If you really love frogs, then head over to Sally's Bookshelf today where there's a bunch of frog-related activities.

Today's review is part of the STEM Friday roundup. Drop by STEM Friday blog for more science books and resources. Review copy from the publisher.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Super Moon, Eclipse, and Space Books

Sunday night will be special - not only is it the night of the full harvest moon (a "super moon" no less) but it's also a chance to see a complete lunar eclipse. The moon orbits around the earth in an imperfect circle, so sometimes it is far away from the earth and sometimes it is closer. This fall, the moon is closest to the earth, and so the full moons look bigger that usual. People call them "super moons".

What makes the moon turn dark and red? Find out in this infographic.Something else cool is happening, too: this coming Sunday night is a lunar eclipse. An eclipse happens when the moon passes through the earth's shadow. If you're in the eastern part of the US, head outside around 9 pm and watch the moon. Here's more about the lunar eclipse - or you can click on the poster.

Earth isn't the only planet in our solar system that has a moon - Saturn has more than 50 moons, and Jupiter has at least 67. Makes you wonder what a "super moon" or eclipse would look like from one of those planets.

Speaking of Saturn and Jupiter... Capstone has just published a new series called "Smithsonian Planets". Got questions about where the fastest winds in the solar system are? Whether people are going to Mars? What Saturn's rings are made of? Then you'll want to read about "The Secrets of Jupiter" and all the other planets: Earth, Mars, Mercury, Neptune, Saturn, Uranus, and Venus.

(What about Pluto, you ask? As you might recall, Pluto was determined to be "too small" for regular planet-hood, so is now considered a dwarf planet or Kuiper Belt object - even though it has plenty of moons of its own.)

The Secrets of Saturn
by Kassandra Radomski
32 pages; ages 7-10
Capstone Press, 2015

What I like about the books in this series is that they begin with some basic info about the planet: distance from the sun (886 billion miles for Saturn), number of moons, day-length. On Saturn a day is 10 and a half hours, but it takes 29 Earth years to make one complete orbit around the sun. So winters would be really long.... great for skiers, though how one would ski on a gas giant is anyone's guess.

Then there's the wind: at Saturn's equator, wind speeds reach up to 1100 miles per hour. Compare that to the fastest wind on Earth, 246 mph, and that was during a hurricane. Kids will learn a lot about the planet, moons, and history of ancient astronomers in this photo-rich book. The text explains concepts well in kid-friendly language, and there's lots of fun stuff: a timeline of Cassini mission, a scientist spotlight, speculation on what scientists will find next.Here's the latest news from Saturn.

Future space cadets might be interested in Enslow's new "Launch into Space" series. These books explore the earth, moon, stars, solar system and the sun. Here's one I like:
Astronauts Explore the Galaxy
by Carmen Bredeson
32 pages; ages 7-10
Enslow Publishing, 2015

The book opens with some introductory information about astronauts, with each page focusing on one aspect: free fall, what jobs they do, space walking. What do they eat in space? Apparently the same stuff I eat for lunch, only packaged differently - and there's a great photo of some of their food. You learn how astronauts brush their teeth, use the toilet, and keep their muscles in shape. There's even some tips for astronauts to be.

Today's review is part of the STEM Friday roundup. Drop by STEM Friday blog for more science books and resources. Review copies from publishers.