Friday, August 14, 2020

Darwin's Rival: Alfred Russel Wallace and the Search for Evolution

When you think about the theory of evolution, chances are you think about Charles Darwin. He's the one who came up with the idea, right? The truth is a bit messier...

Darwin's Rival: Alfred Russel Wallace and the Search for Evolution
by Christiane Dorion; illustrated by Harry Tennant
64 pages; ages 10 - 14
Candlewick Studio, 2020

“In June 1858, the prominent scientist Charles Darwin received a letter from a young British explorer and naturalist… it proposed a new idea to explain how living things evolved over time.”

That young explorer’s name was Alfred Russel Wallace. Born at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in what is now Wales, he worked as a surveyor. As he tramped around the hills he developed a keen interest in nature and science – and began collecting beetles. At that time some naturalists were proposing a daring idea: that living things gradually change over time.

Wallace wanted to learn more, so in 1848 he boarded a cargo ship bound for Brazil and spent the next four years exploring and mapping a river, collecting fish and birds and insects.

This is the tale of exploration, field research, shipwrecks, and a friendship between two naturalists that evolved over time. Both Wallace and Darwin wrote about natural selection and the evolution of new species. It was Wallace’s letter that prompted Darwin to write his book, On the Origin of Species. Rather than competing against each other for credit, both tried hard to treat each other fairly – to the benefit of all.


What I like about this book: At its heart, it’s an adventure story. There are maps showing Wallace’s routes, spreads showing diversity of beetles and butterflies and birds, and some great historical perspectives.

Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy provided by the publisher.


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Explore Outdoors ~ Hummingbird Moths!


It's a bird! It's a plane! Nope, it's a hummingbird moth! Look at that long, curly tongue and those clear see-through wings. And there, at the back end, it almost looks like a tail. These little guys are almost as big as hummingbirds and even make a low hum as their wings whir.

If you are lucky enough to come across one of these moths, spend some time watching them. The good folks over at the Caterpillar Lab have some photos of the babies...

Friday, August 7, 2020

Solve it! for Kids ~ a podcast for all ages

Ever wonder how scientists, engineers, and experts solve problems? If so, you will want to check out the Solve It for Kids podcast. My friend and colleague, Jennifer Swanson co-hosts with Jed Doherty – and they get the scoop directly from experts on they solve problems in their really cool jobs.

New podcasts are released each Tuesday. Each podcast is a half-hour long interview with a scientist doing their thing. And they’re archived so you can catch up on any you’ve missed.

Want to know how to build teeth out of soap? You can find out here.
What about measuring particles that you can’t see? Or figuring out how to communicate with astronauts on Mars? You’ll find those here and here. Each episode includes a challenge for kids (and curious adults) – which is great because, as Jennifer and Jed say, “You’ve got what it takes to solve the world’s biggest challenges!”

Jennifer is a member of #STEAMTeam2020 and also the creator of the STEM Tuesday blog. You can find a review of her most recent book, Beastly Bionics here and find out more about her at her website.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Explore Outdoors ~ milkweed visitor


Milkweeds are wonderful butterfly plants ~ not just for monarchs, either. When they pop up in my flower garden, I let them grow. Sometimes I find beetles on them, or caterpillars.

Who do you notice visiting milkweed plants?