Friday, July 30, 2021

Finding the Meaning of "Frogness"


by Sarah Nelson; illus. by Eugenie Fernandes 
32 pages; ages 3-7
‎Owlkids, 2021   

theme: frogs, nature, imagination

Just before dusk, rain clouds bloom way out over the sea. We wait.

Sammy and Chocolate (a puppy) are waiting for the frogs to sing. They hike way out to the marsh because This is the night they will Catch A Frog! They hear them everywhere – but there are no frogs in the reeds and no frogs under a log.

What I like about this book: I love – really love – the page that has the frog songs spelled out in huge letters (while the kid and dog fall asleep). Because I also know how hard it is to find singing frogs near a pond, in the weeds, and along a creekbank. It takes two to triangulate, and even then you might never see those sneaky, noisy frogs. The illustrations are marvelous, and the idea of “frogness” just pulls me in. 

And there is … Back Matter! About frogs – how many, what their calls sound like, and how they sing, croak, rattle, peep, trill, trummm, and chuckle. Cool facts, too. Did you know that a species can have a slightly different call depending on where they live? Frogs have accents!

Beyond the Books:

Get to know your frog calls! Listen to the frogs in and around your neighborhood - they don't all live in ponds. Here are some recordings of frogs and toads that live in Indiana - but some may live in your area, too. 

Discover a Fun Frog Fact. Author Sarah Nelson has a whole list of fun frog facts, and lots of "frogness" over at her website.

Play leap frog - or, better yet, create your own frog game. It can be a card game or a board game - or an action game. One idea: cut some lily pads out of green paper and tape them onto the floor. Then hop from one lily pad to the next. Have fun making your own frogness!

We’ll join Perfect Picture Book Friday once they resume. It’s a wonderful gathering where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copy provided by the publisher.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Explore Outdoors ~ Growing Old


One day the field is filled with yellow composites ~ dandelion-like blooms atop tall, hairy stems. Within days the petals fade and the flowers go to seed. Even as that's happening, new buds are getting ready to bloom. 

Look for aging flowers in your yard and around the neighborhood. Take a photo or draw an aging plant that you find. What do you notice?

Friday, July 23, 2021

Where do the Animals Live?


Do You Know Where the Animals Live?: Discovering the Incredible Creatures All Around Us 
by Peter Wohlleben and translated by Shelley Tanaka 
84 pages; ages 7-10
Greystone Kids, 2021

Author Peter Wohlleben invites readers to go on a journey of discovery through the pages of this book. You don’t need to go to a zoo to see animals, he says – they live all around you. In the first chapter he highlights animals that you might find living in your backyard. He ponders why birds fly south, whether animals have houses, and then takes us on a field trip to find stream animals.

Chapter two focuses on what animals eat – and the things they leave behind! In another chapter he focuses on animal babies, and reminds us that birds aren’t the only ones to lay eggs. We get an insider’s look at how animals grow up, different kinds of animal families, and what happens to them as they grow older. There’s a chapter on survival strategies, one on language, and a great discussion about animal emotions.

Scattered throughout the pages are “try this” activities and “look closer” features that focus on specific animals or topics. This is a great book to put in the hands of any kid who wants to grow up to be a forest ranger, zoo keeper, veterinarian, animal trainer …. I would have loved it as a kid – and as a homeschooling parent.

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 ARC provided by the publisher.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Explore Outdoors ~ Butterflies

 I've allowed the milkweed to infiltrate the borders of my garden. It's taken a couple years of encouraging them to grow, taking out some of the non-native ornamentals to give them room, and even giving them a drink during the hot season. But this year they are blooming and attracting a variety of insects. Here are a couple of the butterflies that have been hanging around.
an Essex Skipper ~ look at that tongue!

Banded hairstreak
What butterflies are you seeing fluttering around your backyard and through the neighborhood?

Friday, July 16, 2021

A Walk in the Woods

 theme: nature, STEAM, observation

This month I’m reviewing books that explore different habitats and biomes. Today we’re off to the woods.

Look What I Found in the Woods 
by Moira Butterfield; illus. by Jesus Verona 
32 pages; ages 2-5
Nosy Crow (Candlewick), 2021

Follow me. I know the way.
We’re walking through the woods today.
Look what I found!

This is such a fun book to read before you head of on a walk through the woods. And maybe to carry along with you. It’s part field guide and part treasure hunt. Some spreads invite you to look for specific things: a signpost, wild strawberries, beetles. 

 Other spreads explain how to identify things, such as what kind of snail shell you’ve found, and how to tell a tree by its leaves or needles.

What I like about this book: It’s fun! I love the die-cut cover, and the scavenger-hunt type lists of things to find. I love that this book is all about observations, and the questions support visual literacy. And that the author asks young naturalists to be thoughtful while exploring, and only collect things they find on the ground (if you’re going to use items in art or to study).

If I gave stars, this book would get some.

Beyond the book:

Collect seeds from trees and observe them. Take them apart and learn more about how those trees grow. Try planting some seeds. I once planted a maple seed, and it grew! And every spring I find baby oaks growing from acorns that squirrels have buried in my garden.

Make some rubbings of tree bark. Put paper against a tree and rub the side of the crayon against the paper. The design of the bark will show. Now compare your rubbing to the tree’s bark. Are there some details your crayon couldn’t pick up?

Draw a picture of something you see on your walk in the woods. It could be a mushroom or a bird or a flower… Then give it to a friend and tell them where to find it. 

Go on a woodland scavenger hike – but instead of collecting items, take photos or draw pictures. Here's a place to find a woods walk printable scavenger hunt.

We’ll join Perfect Picture Book Friday once they resume. It’s a wonderful gathering where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copy provided by the publisher.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Explore Outdoors ~ Looking at a Flower


What do you notice when you look at a flower?
Its color, for sure. Maybe the way the petals are shaped, and how many there are.
Its center. The way it catches the light, and creates shadows.
How the blossoms look before they open, all curled into a bud.
Tiny hairs on the stem and leaves. And the shape of the leaves.
And, if you're very lucky, the bees and flies and butterflies that visit the flower.

For more looking-at-a-flower ideas, check out the GROG BLOG today, where we're taking a nature break.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Exploring Where the Whales Live

theme: whales, conservation, oceans

Show Us Where You Live, Humpback 
by Beryl Young; illus. by Sakika Kikuchi 
40 pages; ages 3-7
Greystone Kids, 2021

Show us where you live, Humpback, in the warm waters of this southern bay.

This is the story of a whale and her calf, a child and their mom. The Humpback whale and her calf glide together, safe in their home. The child and mom run through a park, a place where the child feels safe.

The adult Humpback whale is the size of a school bus. One day her calf will be that big. The child is growing too – though will never reach school bus size! 

What I like about this book:
It celebrates whales and our connection to them. Spread by spread the author compares – and contrasts – the whale calf and child. They both learn new things, but different things. They are growing stronger, each splashing in water and blowing bubbles. The whale leaps up, up, up! The child jumps high, too. 

Welcome Home, Whales 
by Christina Booth 
32 pages; ages 4-9
Blue Dot Kids Press, 2021

When I first heard her call, it came from the bay, echoing off the mountain like a whisper while the moon danced on the waves.

One child hears the whale, hears her call of joy and of sadness. The whale, a right whale, wanted to come home, but it did not feel safe,

What I like about this book: There is such a powerful feeling of caring in this book. Caring that can bring together people to make the world a safer, better place for right whales. The illustrations are soft and inviting. And there is wonderful back matter about right whales, where they live, and what those large white patches are called. There’s also a section about conservation efforts and what you can do to welcome whales back to their homes.

Beyond the Books:

Learn more about Humpback whales here and Right whales here.

Sing like a whale. Did you know Humpback whales make up their songs? You can hear a Humpback Whale song here

Make a whale out of a plastic milk jug. All you need to do is raid the recycle bin, rinse out the jug, and then use a sharpie to draw the mouth. When you cut the mouth open, the jug turns into a whale-scoop. Hot glue some eyes or use permanent markers to decorate. Here's how.

We’ll join Perfect Picture Book Friday once they resume. It’s a wonderful gathering where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copies provided by the publishers.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Explore Outdoors ~ Colors in the Landscape

There are lots of yellow flowers blooming in the wild patch in my yard, and in my gardens where I've let the wild things grow. Yellow and orange seem to be the color of the season right now. 

What colors are the flowers blooming in your neighborhood?

Friday, July 2, 2021

Let’s Visit the Seashore!

theme: nature, animals, ocean

This month we’re going on adventures to explore different habitats and biomes. First up: the seashore. Being an inland dweller, I have only visited the shore a few times – mostly in summer, but once in late fall (which was delightful!). The lakeshores I know and love are too rocky for barefoot wandering and there is no sand for building castles, but there are plenty of noisy gulls and fishy smells and watery sounds galore.

Seaside Stroll 
by Charles Trevino; illus. by Maribel Lechuga 
32 pages; ages 3-7
Charlesbridge, 2021

Usually I begin with the first line of the book, but today I’m highlighting the language on page three: Slow steps—shuffle, straddle, saunter … sand.

This is the story of a girl on a seashore walk with her doll and mom. They make wonderful discoveries, and there’s a bit of angst when the doll tumbles into the tidepool. All ends well, though, after a warm bath and a snuggle into a quilt for a story. Though the book features a winter walk to the shore, it’s a perfect read for any season. 

What I like about this book: It’s filled with Luscious Language! And even more cool – it’s alliteration. Every single word in the book, noun or verb or adjective, begins with S. The illustrations are marvelous. I especially love the illustration of the girl from the point of view of something at the bottom of the tide pool. Back matter includes notes about the words, and some things to find at a beach in winter.

Go Wild! Sea Turtles 
by Jill Esbaum 
48 pages; ages 4-8 years
‎National Geographic Kids, 2021

Graceful glider.
Seagrass nibbler.
Mollusk muncher.
That’s a sea turtle!

Jill Esbaum pulls us into the watery world of sea turtles from page one. We learn about their habitat, their size (they can weigh as much as four car tires!), adaptations that allow them to live in the ocean, what they eat, how they build a nest, and what life is like for a hatchling. There’s information about threats sea turtles face, and what kids can do to help.

What I like about this book: It’s fun to read and filled with photos. We get to meet all seven kinds of sea turtles; did you know there were seven kinds? Back matter includes a parent’s section with STEAM activities. 

And now one just for fun:
Weird But True Ocean 
by National Geographic Kids
208 pages; ages 8-12
National Geographic Kids, 2021

Did you know that the Lion’s Mane nudibranch, which is a sea slug, makes a secretion that smells like watermelon? Me neither. But there it is, in white and red on page 20 of this compilation of 300 “fin-tastic” facts from the deep blue sea. What a fun book to toss into the beach bag or back seat travel box for the next trip to the beach, zoo, aquarium, or wherever you go this summer. Another cool fact: octopuses taste with their suction cups. And here I thought they used them to stick onto lids so they could open jars. 

Beyond the Books:

Explore the Shore. If you live near a seashore, go for a walk and observe the birds and shore life. If you live too far from the ocean, find a shore you can explore. Maybe along a lake, or a river bank. What kinds of plants do you see? Birds? Animals? What kinds of sounds do you hear? What is the texture of the sand (or rock) that makes up the shore? Come back in the winter and compare what the shore looks, sounds, and smells like. Visit at different times: early morning, late afternoon, night time when the stars fill the sky.

Explore a tide pool. If you live nowhere near a tide pool, see if there are any tide pool exhibits at a local zoo, aquarium, or discovery center. Or virtually explore tide pool creatures via this video (about 5 minutes long).

Explore sea turtles. Learn more about sea turtles at See Turtles. Then grab a paper bowl and construction paper and make your own sea turtle buddy. Here’s how. Then head over to the handy sea turtle tracker at Sea Turtle Conservancy. Click on active sea turtles to follow a turtle – or two or three. Their journeys are mapped out.

We’ll join Perfect Picture Book Friday once they resume. It’s a wonderful gathering where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copies provided by the publishers.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Explore Outdoors ~ Poppies!

 I have a poppy that has steadfastly grown near my garden gate. Every year I watch it, from it's hairy leaves unfolding to the fat buds that eventually open into bright red flowers.

This summer, get to know the lives of the flowers in your neighborhood. 


Friday, June 25, 2021

B-C-D-E... What if we Begin With a Bee?


Begin with a Bee 
by Liza Ketchum, Jacqueline Briggs Martin, & Phyllis Root; illus. by Claudia McGehee 
40 pages; ages 4-9
Univ. Of Minnesota Press, 2021

theme: bees, life cycle, seasons

What’s inside this hole in the ground? One bee.

That bee is a rusty-patched bumble bee, and when she emerges from the ground, she will be ready to start her very own colony. She flies from flower to flower, sipping nectar and collecting pollen. She also searches for a place to raise her young: an old mouse burrow, a mole hole – underground is best. (Though I once discovered a bumble bee building a nest in a forgotten straw bale…)

Bumble bee nests are not like honey bee nests at all! Instead of building a waxy comb of cells, the bumble bee queen crafts wax pots for her eggs.

What I like about this book: I love the fun language. For example, when the eggs hatch:
Are they bees yet?
Little white grubs,
no eyes, no legs, 
eating machines.

photo by Ilona Loser, creative commons

When they go through the pupa stages: Now are they bees? In love the “are we there yet” questions. But finally – finally! – they are bees. And boy, do they have work to do. Clean the nest. Gather food. Care for larvae. Then bee season ends, and the bees die. Except for one bee, snugly hibernating in her hole. Next year’s queen that will start the cycle again.

I also love the illustrations – scratchboard art by Claudia McGehee. It looks like woodcut lines.
And, need I say, there is Back Matter! More information on the endangered rusty-patched bumble bee and a list of then things we can all do to Be a Friend to Bees.

Beyond the Books:

Get to know your local bumble bees. They are usually so intent on collecting pollen that they won’t notice you, so you can get close enough to get a good look. If you have a camera, click bee pics so you can identify them later. Make sure to jot down notes: How big is this bumble bee? What colors of stripes does it have? What time of day is it – some bumble bees are early risers, some work later? 

Follow a bumble bee around. What color of flowers does she visit? How long does she stay on one flower? If you have a watch with a second hand, you can time her. How many flowers does she visit before she flies away home? And are they close together or in a line?

Try writing a story about your bumble bees with a friend or two. Begin with a Bee was written by three authors. “Writing is most often a solitary act,” Jacqueline Briggs Martin wrote on her blog. “We sit with paper and pencil, or computer, by ourselves, and build a story word by word, tear it down, build it again. But there is another kind of writing—collaboration—when we work with friends to create a story that is richer, more textured than what one writer alone might do.” You can read more here.

Draw a picture of one of the bumble bees that visits flowers in your neighborhood. Then check out this video in which Claudia talks about her process in illustrating Begin with a Bee (a 15-minute segment). She did a lot of research, and was surprised to learn just how different bumble bees are from honey bees. She even discovered a rusty-patched bumble bee in her own garden!
Check out this activity workbook (maze, coloring pages, and more) from the publisher.

Some resources for curious bumble bee watchers:
Great Sunflower Project ~
Xerces Society ~

We'll join Perfect Picture Book Friday when it resumes. PPBF is an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copy provided by the publisher.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Explore Outdoors ~ Pollinator Week!

 This week (June 21 - 27) is Pollinator Week! The entire week is dedicated to recognizing the unseen - and unsung - heroes of our world: bees, butterflies, flies, beetles, and other insects that pollinate our plants.

 Most people are familiar with honey bees and bumble bees pollinating flowers. But tons of flies do that work as well.

Sometimes you'll find different types of flies hanging out together on an umbel.

I often let part of my yard go wild. Buttercups blossom in the tall grass, and about three weeks ago I noticed a fly hanging out in the buttercups. I think this is a tachinid fly, and I've read that they pollinate buttercups. But this spring is the first time I've seen them - or at least paid attention to what the flies buzzing around me are doing.

Learn more about pollinator conservation over at the XERCES Society - and what you can to do save the bees, flies, and other insect pollinators.

And on Friday, join me for a look at Begin With a Bee, a new picture book about the rusty-patched bumble bee.

Friday, June 18, 2021

We Came Out of the Blue

Out of the Blue: How Animals Evolved from Prehistoric Seas 
by Elizabeth Shreeve; illus. by Frann Preston-Gannon
32 pages; ages 6-9
Candlewick, 2021

theme: prehistoric life, evolution, STEM

Life began in the vast empty sea, when Earth was young.

From single-celled microbes to dinosaurs and beyond, this book takes readers on a fantastic journey. First stop: the Edicaran period, 546 to 635 million years ago. Back then, the sea was filled with “strange and squishy creatures.” At the end of that period there was an explosion of diversity. Millions of years passed, through another couple periods and then: fish! insects! mollusks! It is the Devonian period (359-419 million years ago).

What I like about this book: It is wonderful storytelling about life, the universe, and extinction after extinction. And yet, some of those early animals survived to populate the land and change. I love the artwork, too.

This Friday is the start of Cephalopod Week, where folks celebrate cuttlefish, octopuses, and squid, so I had to ask Elizabeth One Question: What is your favorite cephalopod?
Elizabeth: Oh, this is a tough choice but I’ve got to say…ammonites! These amazing mollusks emerged over 400 million years ago, made it through the Permian Extinction 252 million years ago when 96% of marine species disappeared (phew!), and exploded into many different sizes and shapes during the Triassic. Ammonites swam backwards using their tentacles for jet propulsion, a seemingly inefficient technique that kept them zooming around for around 350 million years.

In fact, ammonites (ammonoids) are one of the most successful animals of all time. Over 10,000 different species once inhabited Earth’s oceans, and their distinctive shapes provide important index fossils wherever oceans once existed. Some were shaped like ice cream cones or paper clips, but most were spiral. These were the cinnamon buns of the prehistoric seas! Some even had spikes! Ammonites disappeared in the same extinction that wiped out non-avian dinosaurs 66 million years ago. But their fabulous cephalopod relatives live on, including squid, octopuses, and cuttlefish.

Beyond the Books:

Learn more about the geologic time scale here.  

Check out Elizabeth’s video introducing Out of the Blue and why she wrote it here. She’s made a series of videos about different creatures, from ancient to modern times. You can learn about the many creatures featured in her book at her collection of videos.

Learn more about cephalopods over at the Science Friday website. There are links to virtual tours and even a movie night - all happening over the next few days.

Elizabeth is a member of #STEAMTeam2021. You can find out more about her at her website.

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, June 16, 2021

Explore Outdoors ~ Shagbark hickory flowers


For a short time in the spring (late May through early June) it looks like someone has decorated the twigs of our hickory tree with green tinsel. These are the flowers on our shagbark hickory tree. For all the years I've watched our tree, I haven't paid much attention to the flowers. And yet I know they're there because every fall we've got hickory nuts. Turns out that shagbark hickories are monoecious - that means they have male flowers (the long catkins) and female flowers (tiny flowers at end of the twig). They depend on the wind for pollination.

You know what else is monoecious? Cucumbers, summer squash, melons, and pumpkin plants. If you grow any of those, take a look at their flowers this summer and see if you can tell which ones are the female flowers and which ones are the male flowers. 

Friday, June 11, 2021

There is Stuff Between the Stars!

Have you ever looked at the night sky and wondered what's between those stars? You aren't the only one.

theme: space, women in science, STEM

The Stuff Between the Stars: How Vera Rubin Discovered Most of the Universe 
by Sandra Nickel, illus. by Aimée Sicuro 
48 pages; ages 6-9
Harry N. Abrams, 2021

Vera always liked looking at the night sky.

She loved watching how the stars move, and started studying maps of the night sky. She even built her own telescope, using a lens and a cardboard tube. When she went to college, she wanted to learn more about the universe – but young women weren’t welcomed into the world of astronomy. That didn’t stop her from learning about the stars, and it didn’t stop her from studying on her own.

What I like about this book: Vera is persistent. We see her ask questions: do galaxies rotate around the center of the universe like the constellations circle the North Star? How do stars at the edge of the galaxy move? And could she create a women’s bathroom at the observatory where she worked simply by taping a skirt to the figure on the door? Over time, the male astronomers begin to accept Vera’s idea that dark matter stretched between the stars.

Also – there is Back Matter! The author’s note contains more info about Vera Rubin and how galaxies move. There’s a timeline of Vera’s life and a selected bibliography for curious young astronomers who want to learn more.

Beyond the Book:

Observe the night sky.
What do you notice? How does it change from one month to the next, from early night to late night? Do the constellations rotate around the North Star?

Learn more about Dark Matter over at NASA’s Space Place.

Sandra Nickel is a member of #STEAMTeam2021. You can find out more about her at her website.
Today we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's websiteReview copy provided by Blue Slip Media.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Explore Outdoors ~ Mayapples


One corner of my yard lies under dappled shade of maples and cottonwoods. A colony of mayapples lives there, and has thrived (and even grown) over the years. Mayapples are native to our area, so I am always delighted to see them bloom and grow.

In early spring, the leaves push up, like folded umbrellas. Then they open, two large, deeply lobed, leaves per stem. Eventually a white flower blooms - tucked in the axil of the leaves. Its petals look waxy, accented by the yellow stamens. The best way to get a good look is to lay on your tummy - or be a very small animal. Eventually they produce a small lemon-shaped fruit - a tasty treat for box turtles and other wildlife.

This week, keep your eyes peeled for:
  • white flowers
  • hidden flowers
  • plants with umbrella-leaves
  • flowers with lots of stamens

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Explore Outdoors ~ Maple seeds have wings


Maple samaras are seeds with papery wings. When I was a kid, we used to collect maple samaras to play with. Some were big, and when you opened up one of the seeds, they were sticky - sticky enough to put them on our noses and pretend we were rhinoceroses. A better game was whirlybirds. The samara is perfectly designed to helicopter from a tree to a distant location. That paper wing helps it fly, so it can find a place to grow beyond the shade of its parent tree. They are built for seed dispersal.

When you find some maple or ash samaras, drop them from a height and measure how far they travel. Or toss them in the air and watch them twirl their way down.

If you're adventurous, try snacking on maple seeds. They're a bit bitter, but the folks over at Eat the Weeds suggest leaching them before roasting.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

A Nature Walk

 Come with me on a nature walk at the Fleisher preserve (Watertown, CT). It's cool in the shaded forest, and the ground is still muddy in many places. You can hear a pileated woodpecker hammering away in the distance; closer are calls of robins and warblers and the burbling brook. 

Look up!

and listen.....

look down...

and all around.


 Canada mayflower,


and ferns, uncurling into spring.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Taking a Nature Break ...



 Last week I took a "nature hike" around my yard. It had just rained (2.1 inches) and a front was blowing in. 


The may apples were just leafing out - they have beautiful white flowers if they don't freeze. And the fruit trees were blossoming - but it was too chilly for bees. And yet a third kind of daffodil was blooming. I love the buttery color!

I'm taking a few weeks off from Archimedes Notebook to finish a book. But I'll be taking daily nature breaks to look at the flowers, bugs, snails, birds, mushrooms, lichens, clouds, trees, stars, puddles, frogs. Please join me in doing that. And if I have time, I'll post some nature pics.

... back with book reviews in June.

Friday, April 30, 2021

So You Want to be a Cyberspy?

Cyberspies: Inside the World of Hacking, Online Privacy, and Cyberterrorism 
by Michael Miller 
120 pages; ages 11-18
Twenty-First Century Books/Lerner, 2021

In this book, Michael Miller provides a primer on cyberspying. He shows how digital threats are used against individuals, businesses, and entire governments. Each chapter focuses on a specific aspect of cyber threats, and includes steps you can take to protect yourself.

The first chapter takes readers into the world of cyberintelligence – and yes, there are jobs for those who are interested.  He gives a glimpse into cyber command at NSA. From there, he shows how people can use computers to legally search government records, news archives, and more. He contrasts that with a chapter describing how people use computers to obtain private – and in some cases secret – information. They often employ phishing emails to obtain access to business and government secrets.

A pair of chapters take a close look at cyberspying and politics. Miller shows how individuals and government entities have used digital technologies to hack elections. He pays particular attention to the 2016 election in the United States, the fake twitter accounts and propaganda spread through social media. And he answers the question: Which is more hackable – voting machines or mail-in ballots? He also defines the difference between real “fake news” (propaganda and outright lies) versus the tendency for some people to label real news as “fake” when they don’t like it. And he discusses why some people are more prone to fall for fake news/propaganda than others. Miller knows his stuff, because a couple years ago he published an entire book about Fake News, reviewed here.

Miller discusses cyberattacks against businesses and governments. Hospitals have lost access to their computers, tying up admissions and patient care for hours. Towns, school districts, and library systems have been held hostage to ransomware attacks. The perpetrators are usually criminals extorting victims for money.

Cyberterrorism is a broader attack on a country or region’s systems and infrastructure. These attacks, backed by governments, tend to go after power grids, telecommunication systems, financial institutions, and other systems. The goal is to destabilize the society and create chaos. Miller documents cases of cyberwarfare.

The need for cybersecurity has skyrocketed leading Miller to close with a chapter on career advice for potential cyberspies.

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, April 28, 2021

Explore Outdoors ~ Sit and Listen


There is so much happening during this season. Forsythia blooming, dandelions and violets popping up all over my yard. And birds everywhere: drumming on dead trees, calling from the hayfield, honking overhead. So about ten days ago I stood outside my house, in a nice sunny spot, and just listened. 

And I made a sound map. (here's how)

Notice - this time I jotted down the date, and even the time and temperature. And there'e even a minute flying insect squashed on the page (top left) - not that I intended the little guy any harm... just meant to brush it away.

This week take a listening break. What do you hear?