Friday, September 20, 2019

The Lost Forest

The Lost Forest 
by Phyllis Root; illus. by Betsy Bowen
40 pages; ages 4 - 9
Univ Of Minnesota Press, 2019

theme: maps, forests, wildlife

How do you lose a forest?

Especially when trees are so tall you can’t see their tops. So big it takes two or more people holding hands to reach around. You’d think a forest of trees like that would be easy to find – but in 1882, in Minnesota, a survey crew lost an entire forest. It disappeared right off their maps! Great news for the trees – they kept right on growing. Great news for the other plants and the animals living in the forest – they kept on raising seeds and babies and continuing their community of life.

For more than 75 years the mistake stayed on the map, protecting the trees from the lumberjacks’ saws and axes. Now the forest is protected and you can go visit 350-year old pines. So it is a lost-and-found forest, right?

What I like love about this book: I love the way Phyllis Root tells her story, with a sly wink to the reader. “If you were trying to turn this rollicking land into straight lines on paper, you might make a mistake,” she writes.  She reminds readers that the trees had never been lost. Neither had the orchids, porcupines, and other wild plants and animals. They knew exactly where they were!

I love the illustrations by Betsy Bowen. They pull you right into the woods. I like the endpages – maps of the township – and the plentitude of back matter. There you’ll find out more about old growth forests and some of the species you might find there. You can find out more about surveying, and there’s a fun section called “how to talk like a surveyor”.

Beyond the Books:

Map your backyard. Here’s a great blog post to inspire you. And another link.

Use legos to build a map of a place you know, or a place in a story. Get some ideas here.

Today we're joining other book bloggers over at STEM Friday, where you can discover other cool STEM books. And we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website . Review copy provided by the publisher.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Wednesday Explorers Club ~ Plants that fight back!

...continuing our field trip through the Beardsley Zoo Historic Greenhouse (Bridgeport, CT)...

After passing through the humid green zone, we came to the dry plants.

Plants with spines! Cacti (or you can call them cactuses) tend to live in deserts. They store water in succulent leaves, and some have beautiful blooms. But you don't want to pet these plants.

These dainty flowers grow on stems covered with spines. "Don't touch me!" it says to potential enemies. "Don't even think about it!"

I'm not sure what the real name for this guy is - I think it looks like a large, fuzzy spider.

They say that, in an emergency, the pulp of the barrel cactus can be chewed for its water content... but you'd need a good pair of leather gloves!

 This "Bunny Ears" cactus may look cute, but you don't want to pet it!

Friday, September 13, 2019

A rotten book!

Rotten! Vultures, Beetles, Slime, and Nature’s Other Decomposers 
by Anita Sanchez  ; illus by Gilbert Ford
96 pages; ages  7-10
HMH Books for Young Readers, 2019

theme: decomposers, ecology, nature

“It’s a rotten world,” writes Anita Sanchez. No matter where you look, from the backyard compost pile to the landfill – and even in the back of your fridge – things are decomposing. And that’s a good thing, because imagine what the world would be like if nothing broke down. Decomposed. Rotted away. What would happen to dead animals, orange peels, that pile of dog poop?

In this book we meet dung beetles –the little critters that especially love the dung of plant-eating animals. Turns out, dung beetles are major players in the battle against global warming.

We meet vulture and other scavengers that feed on the flesh of dead animals. Scavenging is a pretty good strategy because dead meals don’t fight back!

We meet the “fun guys” of the decomposer club, fungi. They excel at breaking down the tough bonds that hold molecules of wood together, Sanchez writes. They turn fallen logs into humus – crumbly dark soil perfect for growing new plants. We meet ants, termites, slugs and slime molds, and even take a field trip into our own homes to check out what’s rotten.

I love the way Sanchez makes rotten things sound like the most exciting stuff to look for! And her hands-on challenges: follow sandwich crusts and a “rot it yourself” test. And I really like the last chapter about Rotten People – and we’re not talking about scallywags, thieves, and politicians!

Today we're joining other book bloggers over at STEM Friday, where you can discover other cool STEM books. And 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, September 11, 2019

Wednesday Explorers Club ~ A Field Trip! part 1

 Last month I visited the Beardsley Zoo, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. I expected to see red pandas, tigers, and tortoises - and I did. But I did not expect a greenhouse.

 And what a cool greenhouse it was. I was amazed all over again at the wonderful diversity of plants. So today, we're looking at some of the beauty of leaves: colors, patterns, designs.

Spots splattered across succulents! Stripes ziggedy-zagging the length of tall leaves!

Brilliant colors with contrasting ribs and margins.

Now it's your turn:
What kinds of leaf colors and designs do you see on the plants growing in your neighborhood?