Friday, August 28, 2020

You Can Be a Primatologist

You Can Be a Primatologist: Exploring Monkeys and Apes with Dr. Jill Pruetz 
by Jill Pruetz
32 pages; ages 4 - 8
National Geographic Children's Books, 2020

theme: animals, scientists, families

Hi! My name is Jill Pruetz, and I’m a primatologist.

Primatologists study primates, including monkeys, lemurs, and chimps. Dr. Pruetz studies chimpanzees on the African savanna, and shares tips for future primatologists. She talks about what a typical day in the field is like, what chimps like to eat, and how she observes their behaviors. All that observation means a lot of note-taking.

Dr. P asks questions, such as: how do her chimps make and use tools for hunting? and do they remember you? There’s a spread showing the stuff she carries with her into the field, and a great section on how studying primates helps protect them. And she ends with tips for how you can become a primatologist.

What I like about this book: I love the photos and how close Dr. P gets us to the chimps. And I really liked her response to the question, “does your job ever get boring?”

Beyond the Books:

Find out more about Dr. P’s research. You can read her blog posts here, and meet the members of her chimp group here.

Learn more about primates by reading a book or articles about them. Here is one place to start.

If you want to be a primatologist, you have to be good at observing and recording what animals do. So grab a notebook and binoculars (if you need them) and find an animal to observe: neighborhood squirrels, your cat or dog, birds in the trees – even ants. Write down what they do and how they do it.

Today 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, August 26, 2020

Explore Outdoors ~ Little Bees do a Big Job

My garden is a haven for small bees of every make and model: metallic green bees, fuzzy gray bees, huge shiny black carpenter bees, and yellow-and-black bumble bees. On a warm afternoon it can be positively noisy with all the humming and buzzing.

Next time you pass by a patch of flowers, pay attention to the insects flying - and crawling - around on the flowers. Coneflowers, like this, attract a diversity of bees as well as butterflies, beetles, and flower flies. They're like a busy take-out place.

Friday, August 21, 2020

If You Take Away the Otter

 If You Take Away the Otter
by Susannah Buhrman-Deever; illus. by Matthew Trueman
32 pages; ages 5 - 8
Candlewick, 2020

theme: ocean, animals, ecology

On the Pacific coast of North America, where the ocean meets the shore, there are forests that have no trees.

They are forests of kelp and other seaweeds, providing a home to sea stars, octopuses, fish of all kinds and, trundling along the bottom, sea urchins. The king of these forests is the sea otter. The otters dive into the deep waters and fill up on fish, clams, crabs, and prickly sea urchins.

“There is just enough seaweed, enough seaweed eaters, and enough meat eaters to help the forests thrive,” writes Susannah Buhrman-Deever. But there was a time when people took the otters away.

With the otters gone, the sea urchin population grew. They ate the kelp forests. The ocean changed…

What I like about this book: I like how Susannah uses two levels of text to tell the story of what happens when one species (people) takes too much. I like Matthew Trueman’s luscious underwater scenes and the details of the ocean animals he paints. What I really like, though, is the sense of hope: that when we take care of our part of the planet, the animals and plants can come back into balance. Back matter includes more information about kelp forests and sea otters, as well as resources for curious naturalists to explore further.

Beyond the Books:

Learn more about sea otters, kelp, and sea urchins. This video shows how otters are ecosystem superheroes. This one takes you on an underwater adventure.

You can help save sea otters, even if you don’t live anywhere near an ocean. Check out these things you can do.

Visit an otter at a zoo or aquarium. River otters live near streams and rivers across North America. Some may live near you, so anything you do to help sea otters will help river otters, too. If you can’t get to a zoo, here’s a video of a river otter at the national zoo.

Today we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. You can find out more about Susannah Buhrman-Deever at her website. Review copy provided by the publisher.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Explore Outdoors ~ Teasels


Teasels are fun to watch. They bloom bit-by-bit, with flowers opening in a ring and then spreading up and down. There's always wildlife in and around the flowers - and in this case, between the flowers.

 Check out this time-lapse photography of teasel flowering (by Neil Bromhall)

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?