Friday, November 29, 2019

Books for Bird Lovers

Winter is coming and it’s the perfect time to watch birds ~ birds at the feeder, birds hanging around the park, birds creeping up and down trees as they hunt for insects hiding in bark crevices, and birds gleaning seeds from the garden flowers we never trimmed.

So today I’m sharing books about birds ~  here on Archimedes and also over at Sally’s Bookshelf. Theme for the day: birds, citizen science

Bird Count
by Susan Edwards Richmond; illus. by Stephanie Fizer Coleman
32 pages; ages 4-8
Peachtree Publishing, 2019

I shake Mom in the dark. “Wake up, sleepy head! It’s Bird Count Day!”

Ava is excited because this year she gets to keep tally of the birds “her” crew finds during the annual Christmas Bird Count. She’s dressed for the weather, and has the tools she needs: a notebook, a pencil, and most importantly, her eyes and her ears.

What I like about this book: We get to go along on the bird-finding field trip without leaving the warmth of our cozy home. Bird-by-bird we meet (and count) owls, chickadees, catbirds and geese. It’s a great way to become familiar with how the bird count works, in case we want to join a local census circle. Back matter tells more about each species featured in the book as well as additional information about the Christmas Bird Count. 

The Puffins Are Back (New & Updated)
by Gail Gibbons
32 pages; ages 4-8
Holiday House, 2019

A small boat comes close to an island of the coast of Maine.

Scientists have returned to study a puffin colony. Concerned about the population decline, they built burrows and brought chicks to the island. Now, years later, the scientists continue to observe the colony, learning more about the bird’s behavior.

What I like about this book: The illustrations are so inviting, and make me want to linger on the page. And the text tells a wonderful story of determination to save these iconic birds.

Beyond the Books:

If you have a bird feeder, you can become a Citizen Scientist by collecting data for Feeder Watch. Learn more at Feeder Watch.

Create your own back yard bird count. Keep track of all the birds you see during a 15-minute period of time. If you do that every month, you can get an idea of how bird populations change with the season. All you need are a notebook, pencil, and a bird guide (or two). You can also use  Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s online bird fieldguide and Audubon’s online bird guide.

Make a paper-plate puffin. Here's how. While the glue dries, learn more about the puffinresearch at Matinicus Rock.

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 copies provided by the publishers.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Wednesday Explorers Club ~ Reflecting on Fall

The other day we took lots of photos of the river. It was a calm place, and the reflections were wonderful. These two photos are taken from the same rock, one looking upstream, one looking down. It's amazing how different a river can look depending on the light.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

We LOVE Animal Books!

Who doesn't love a new book about animals? Here's a bunch just out that will inspire you to look closer at footprints, animal babies, and the news.

theme: animals, adaptations, animal families

Whose Footprint Is That?
By Darrin Lunde; illus. by Kelsey Oseid
32 pages; ages 3-7
Charlesbridge, 2019

Whose footprint is that?

We see a print made by two pointy toes – pointy toes belonging to a mountain goat. Later, prints left by flamingos, dinosaurs, a snake. Wait! Snakes don’t have feet!

What I like about this book: It’s a simple, straightforward introduction to the kinds of footprints animals leave behind – along with more information about why the footprint looks the way it does. I like the “who left this footprint” mystery before the animal reveal. And I really like the kinds of footprints people can leave, depending on their footwear.

We Love Babies!
by  Jill Esbaum
40 pages; ages 2-5
National Geographic Children’s Books, 2019

Big or tiny, fast or s-l-o-w…..

It doesn’t matter whether the animal baby is striped, spotted, hard-shelled, or featherless – this photo-packed book captures the cuteness of baby animals.

What I like about this book: If you read the text without stopping to – wait! isn’t that just the cutest little jerboa? Ok, back to the words: if you read the text all the way through you realize it’s a fun poem about fur, feathers, beaks and bills. There are plenty of action words, and plenty of photos showing babies climbing and hanging and bouncing around. Every now and then the cheerleading squad shows up to lead a chant (we love babies! yes, we do!). I also like that the back spread identifies each animal baby and provides a special name that the baby is called. Did you know that a baby alpaca is called a cria?

So Cute! Koalas
by Crispin Boyer
32 pages; ages 3-7
National Geographic Children’s Books, 2019

Koalas may look like teddy bears, but they aren’t bears. They are marsupials that live in Australia and spend their days in the treetops, grazing on eucalyptus leaves.

What I like about this book: This book is brimming with cuteness, from the engaging photos to the breezy text that describes koala lives. There are text-boxes with lots of extra info, such as the one that tells what koalas do when a forest fire burns their habitat.

Beyond the Books:

Go on a Footprint Hike. The best places to find footprints are on fresh snow or in mud. You might find some familiar animal tracks (cats, dogs, squirrels, birds) and some interesting human tracks. Check out this guide for help, or pick up a copy of a field guide to animal tracks.

What makes baby animals so cute? Look at these photos of baby animals and see if you can find some common features that make baby animal faces so appealing.

Koalas are in danger from the wildfires in Australia, and rescuers are using specially trained “sniffer dogs” to help rescue koalas trapped by the fires. Read more here and here.

Today we're joining other book bloggers over at Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copies provided by the publishers.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Books that celebrate our Connections with Nature

theme: environment, poetry, art

This week’s books are about the environment ~ what’s in a wetlands, and the environment around us ~ but they’re also about poetry, art, and hope.

Otters, Snails and Tadpole Tails 
by Eric Ode; illus by  Ruth Harper
32 pages; all ages
Kane Miller Books / EDC Publishing, 2019

Will I find you here
where cedar wears her mossy shawl ….

With an otter as our guide, we meet the amphibians, mollusks, birds, mammals, insects, reptiles, and plants that inhabit a wetland.

What I like about this book: I love that the otter shows up in most of the spreads – as though they’re our tour guide. It reminds me of the time my youngest insisted there “might be otters” in our little stream and so we hiked the length of it – finding crayfish, insects, mammal tracks, birds … but no otter! And there’s a wonderful poem about the heron that “measures the morning in slow, perfect strides” – which perfectly captures the heron that stalks the river’s edge nearby.

I love Ruth Harper’s artwork. Can’t think of a medium more perfect for capturing the feel of wetlands than watercolors!

You Are Never Alone 
by Elin Kelsey; illus by Soyeon Kim
32 pages; ages 4 - 6
Owlkids, 2019

Every moment
   this beautiful planet
        showers you with gifts

From the rain that provides our water, to the trees that give us oxygen to breathe, Elin Kelsey celebrates our connections with nature. We are a part of nature, and nature is part of us.

What I like about this book: Hope permeates this book. When coral reefs break, they can heal. When animals get sick, there is an entire pharmacy in the soil and plants. I like how Elin shows our wild connections, emphasizing that when we are in nature we are not alone. And I like how she brings in fun and interesting science: that mud is good for us.

I’m always intrigurd by Soyeon’s illustrations. She builds intricate dioramas and then uses sections of them to illustrate the spreads. What’s cool about this book: unfold the cover and you’ll find all of Soyeon’s  dioramas. If you look closely, you can see how they are connected.

Beyond the Books:

When something in nature sparks your curiosity, find out more about it. Maybe it’s something you read about or observed. So investigate. Write a story or poem about it. Make a diorama or painting about it. And share it with your friends.
This teaching guide has tips for poetry and line breaks

Wetlands are special - and important - places. Learn more about them in this short video by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and on the World Wildlife Fund page (tons of cool resources).

Head behind the scenes with author Elin and illustrator Soyeon at Owlkids. Videos and a teacher's guide 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 copies and galleys provided by the publishers.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Wednesday Explorers Club ~ Where the Snow flies

The other day I went for a walk and discovered that weather can be very local. Heading down one road, we were buffeted by cold wind and snow falling around us. But - turn a corner and walk a few hundred steps - and we're surrounded by sunshine. And it's ten degrees warmer (no wind!). Taking a look back, I could see the flurry - a faint cloud hugging the trees and road we'd just walked.

Likewise, in the summer we get local rain showers. It can be pouring buckets in the village, but turn onto our road and it's dry. There's often a clear division showing where the cloud sat. On that side: rain. On this: nothing.

How's the local weather where you live?

Friday, November 8, 2019

What's Up? The Sky!

Today's themes are: space, stars, scientists

Always Looking Up: Nancy Grace Roman, Astronomer 
by Laura Gehl  ; illus by Louise Pigott and Alex Oxton
32 pages; ages  5-7
Albert Whitman & Company, 2019

Young Nancy Grace loved to look up at the endless night sky.

Her dad’s job kept the family moving from place to place, but Nancy knew it was the same night sky that extended across the country, no matter where they moved. Nancy loved the sky so much that, as a kid, she started an astronomy club. She and her friends mapped the stars. But Nancy wanted to learn more. She challenged the notion that science was a subject meant for men, and went on to college. As an astronomer she worked with radio telescopes, became NASAs chief of astronomy, and dreamed of building a telescope that could float above earth, capturing images of black holes and galaxies far, far away. Her work and vision – the Hubble telescope – is still orbiting above, sending gorgeous images from space to this day.

What I like about this book: I love the beautiful images of space that Hubble has been beaming to Earth over the past 29 years – nearly twice Hubble’s expected life-span. But I never thought about who had the vision for such a telescope. “Many people over many decades worked to make the Hubble Space Telescope a reality,” writes Laura Gehl. But Nancy Grace earned the nickname “Mother of Hubble”. And yes, there is indeed back matter: more about Nancy Grace in the author’s note and a timeline of her life.

One North Star: A Counting Book
by Phyllis Root; illus by Beckie Prange and Betsy Bowen
36 pages; ages 8-12
Univ Of Minnesota Press, 2016

Who lives here under one north star?

One by one, we meet the plants and animals that share the land beneath the star. Phyllis Root takes readers on a field trip through bog and marsh, along river and around lake, across prairie and into the woods, counting flora and fauna as we go. The woodcut and water illustrations by Beckie Prange and Betsy Bowen provide additional opportunities to explore diverse habitats and plants and animals living there.

What I like about this book: Each page introduces different species. For example, One moose… but on the next page it’s two bats and one hawk. By the end of the book we’ve met 55 different plants, birds, fish, insects, mammals, and herps. I also like that Root includes the reader in her book. “You live here, too,” she writes. “We all live together under one north star.” Nine pages of back matter provide further opportunity for curious young naturalists to explore each habitat and the wild things living there. And (very important) – how to locate the north star in the sky above you. I give this book a constellation’s worth of stars, and One Big North Star.

I confess that I, too, love watching stars. Those that remain in their proper constellations ... and those that fall from the sky (not really stars, but meteors). My mom would take us outside and tell us star stories, and I remain convinced there is a dragon in the sky – if only I can find it. So I truly enjoyed writing about things in space for the Super Science series (Rourke Educational Media). My book, Sky Spies, came out this fall.

Beyond the Books:

Look at the stars. All you need is a dark place and a thermos of hot cocoa – and a cloud-free sky. If you have binoculars, take ‘em along. A star chart helps – here’s one (you can change the location for where you’re watching – click on the wrench icon)

Who watches the stars with you? While you’re out gazing at the sky, keep your ears – and eyes (and possibly your nose) – open for clues about who else shares the stars with you.

Want your own telescope? Here’s directions on how to make one with a few items you might find around your home.

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 copies and ARCs provided by the publishers.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Wednesday Explorers Club ~ Woolly Bears!

Why did the Woolly Bear Cross the Road? To find a good spot to sleep!

They may not predict how long, or how cold, winter will be, but woolly bear caterpillars can make their own antifreeze so they can survive the winter. We, on the other hand, have to rely on multiple layers of sweaters and copious amounts of hot cocoa!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Snack, Snooze, Skedaddle

Snack, Snooze, Skedaddle: How Animals Get Ready for Winter 
by Laura Purdie Salas; illus by Claudine Gévry 
32 pages; ages 5-9
Millbrook Press, 2019

theme: winter, animals, nature

Soak up the sun, breathe in the breeze, munch crunchy apples that fall from the trees.

Because nights are growing longer, days are getting colder, and soon snow and ice will cover the landscape. Laura Purdie Salas shows how different animals prepare to survive the winter. Some, such as hummingbirds and butterflies, migrate. Others store up nuts and seeds, or build layers of fat, and spend the winter napping. And others grow extra layers of hair so they can keep warm.

What I like about this book: Rhyming text reveals survival secrets of twelve different animals, from worms to mammals. And yes, humans are counted amongst those mammals. A line of smaller text, offset by squiggly lines, offers additional details. Claudine Gévry’s illustrations are filled with details inviting readers to explore the spreads that show animals across the two seasons of autumn and winter.

And there is back matter! Salas provides more information about the three basic winter survival strategies: migrate, hibernate, or tolerate. Following pages tell more about the migrators, hibernators, and tolerators, and end with a glossary.

Beyond the Books:

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a great resource for learning more about bird migration. Here’s an article about bird migration basics, and here’s the migration forecast map.

Spend a month watching the wild animals and birds in your yard, neighborhood, parks, or nearby fields and woods. Jot down the dates when you see (or hear) geese flying overhead, or other birds. Make a list of animals you see staying. Are the birds that hang out in winter the same ones you saw in the summer?

If you live in a place of winter snow and ice, what do you do to adapt to the colder temperatures? Put on extra layers? Build snow forts and glide on ice? Do you eat different kinds of food than you do in the summer?

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.