A couple weeks ago I was digging up potatoes and found lots of worms. One was so big I thought at first it was a skinny snake! As noted a couple weeks ago, worms are good guys in the garden: they help aerate the soil and break down plant material so it decomposes.
There are fungi and bacteria, spider mites and compost critters. She's even got a chapter titled, "poop, pets, and pests"! While some of these too-small-to-see creatures are helpful, others are downright dangerous, disease-causing dirt-dwellers.
These two books are part of Capstone's new "Tiny Creepy Creature" series. Two other books, Food Intruders and Body Bugs round out the set. They're written with third and fourth-graders in mind, but at a level that will interest older children. Each book manages to cram a lot of useful info and close-up photos into 32 pages.
Review copies provided by the publisher.
Friday, September 28, 2012
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Friday, September 21, 2012
By Sandra Markle; illustrated by Leslie Wu
32 pages, ages 4 – 8
Peachtree Publishers, 2011
This weekend marks the beginning of fall. From here on the days grow shorter – at least on this half of the earth. Down under, days are getting longer. Down under is where Sandra Markle lives, a wonderful writer and author of Butterfly Tree.
Perhaps you’ve noticed the Monarch butterflies – they’ve been all over my garden sipping nectar from the flowers and getting ready to hit the road… the skyway of migration. Too soon they’ll be gone, heading south to Mexico. It’s a long journey, too far to fly at one stretch. So they’ll have to make a few rest stops on the way.
And that’s what Markle writes about…. A magical moment when a young girl and her mother discover Monarchs just hanging out. The story begins one afternoon in early September, when Jilly sees something way out over Lake Erie. It looks like it’s raining black pepper from a clear blue sky, but as it comes closer it becomes a shimmery orange cloud. Is it smoke from a faraway fire, she wonders? Or the breath of a dragon?
Jilly and her mom follow the mysterious cloud into the woods, dark and deep. They find a tree covered with orange leaves that, when disturbed, explode in a flutter of wings. It’s Monarch butterflies; hundreds of them.
Markle writes a warm memory of a mother and daughter - and a dog named Fudge - exploring nature. For us nature geeks she includes a map and resources at the back. This is a great book to share for the season.
The illustrations are every bit as wonderful as the story. Leslie Wu’s paintings have a soft, dream-like quality that evokes “memories”.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Care to join me? Just head out with your notebook and a pencil, or grab a camera and look closely at the world around you. Come on! It will be an adventure.
Friday, September 14, 2012
You see, our bridge is closed. Has been for months. The Dept. of Transportation has deemed it unsafe to drive on at any speed - though it's perfectly usable for bicycles and skateboards and just walking across. So they plan to tear it down this fall, sometime soon, and begin building a new bridge.
Here are a few more flowers I saw this week:
|small flowered willow herb|
What sort of things do you find growing between the cracks of sidewalks and along the sides of the roads in your town? What plants are moving in on abandoned parking lots? Do you have an old bridge that's closed? What's growing on it?
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Friday, September 7, 2012
by Vivian French; illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg
32 pages; for ages 5-8
Candlewick Press, 2009
I love books about gardens, so I had to get my hands on a copy of Yucky Worms. Not that worms are yucky – they’re great garden helpers and, during this season, they’ve got extra work in the compost pile.
In this book worms are gardening friends. They eat rotting leaves, dead insects, bits of old flowers. In the process they help aerate the soil and leave behind marvelous castings (aka “worm poop”). But being a worm can be dangerous: there are all sorts of predators that love worms for breakfast.
What I love about this book – aside from it being about worms – is the nifty sidebars that get kids “up close and personal” with worms. Juicy bits of info like how worms move and that they have five hearts and use stones and dirt to grind up food in their stomachs. At the back there’s even a section on “How to be a Wormologist” with hands-on activities.
Right now is a good time to check on worms… I know they’re active in my garden because every now and then I find a worm hole all plugged up with bits of leaves. If you have a compost bin you’ll find them there, too, helping to turn kitchen scraps into food for the garden.