Posts from the ‘reference book’ Category

UNLIKELY ALLIES

Dragon Lightning: Dragon Dreamer Book 2

Written and illustrated by J.S. Burke

If you read Book One in this series, you probably already love the complex communities of dragons, octopi and squid that you have encountered. These beautifully described creatures introduce their readers to unique habitats in a fantasy world explained in real scientific terms. Readers become immersed in adventures, while learning about real scientific phenomena like volcanoes, lightning and glaciers.

Book Two introduces us to Drakor who is experiencing the red lightning from a volcanic eruption. He lands on a thin piece of ice. Arak, Taron and Dorali are traveling up north on a wooden skiff. They come upon the injured Drakor and rescue the ice dragon. He is mystified by these golden dragons as well as the octopi traveling with them. Each species will teach and learn from each other. The dragon communities are aware that their communities may face extinction. Their octopi friends under the sea fear underwater destruction.

Readers learn about the “might makes right” society of the ice dragons and the democratic, healing ways of the golden dragons. The peaceful octopi must use force to defend themselves against the squid. Principles of science are interwoven with fantasy and philosophy.

Smooth flowing prose accompanied by simple but elegant illustrations mark this tale as a winner for fans of science, fantasy and adventure. Widespread appeal for pre- teens, teens and adult audiences. What adventures await the dragons in Book Three?

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ANALYZING ANTS

Ants: Amazing Facts about Ants with Pictures for Kid

Written by Hathai Ross

The author packs a lot of information into this reference book about ants. Many kids enjoy watching them while exploring outdoors or under glass in an ant farm.

These fascinating creatures live in all parts of the world except Antarctica. More than 12,000 species have been alive for millions of years. Ants live in colonies and are social insects with designated roles. Broadly speaking, there are queens, workers, and male ants. The queen is the largest in the colony whose only job is to lay eggs. Male ants’ only responsibility is to mate with the queen. Worker ants feed the larvae, defend the colony, and remove the waste.

Ross spends a bit of time describing Argentine Ants, Pavement Ants, House Ants, Carpenter Ants, Crazy Ants and Fire Ants. The author describes their appearance, environment, daily life and interesting characteristics. Amazing facts include their exceptional strength, being able to carry twenty times their weight, and the fact that they fight till the death. Ants usually crawl in lines because they are following the pheromones of ants that have crawled before them. There are one million ants for every single human living on earth.

I would have liked to see more photos included in the book. At times the text begins to sound like a list of facts rather than a story about ants, but this book is an excellent reference for children who are interested in these fascinating creatures that are all around us. Recommended especially for young scientists in the eight to twelve age range. Good starting point for a research project.

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SPIDER SLEUTHS

The Spider Quest: The Secret Life of Lollipop Lisa

Written by Sharon Skretting

Illustrated by Elizabeth Porter

 

Lisa is an independent strong willed fourth grader who isn’t afraid of being different. She does not conform to the crowd in the way she dresses or how she expresses her opinions. Lisa received the nickname Lollipop or Lolli because she does enjoy eating lollipops and because they are as colorful as her appearance.

When Miss Warner decides that the class will keep a daily journal, Lisa is reluctant because she is afraid someone will read her private thoughts. After thinking about it, Lisa decides she will solve that problem by keeping two journals, the second one to record her private thoughts. Unlike the other girls in the class, Lisa is not afraid of the spiders kept inside a jar. One day, they escape from the science corner and screaming chaos erupts inside the classroom. Once Miss Warner establishes order, the students put their minds to work employing all the things they learned about spiders in order to find them. They discuss how spiderlings hatch, the kinds of food they eat, where they hide, how they molt, and the way spiders move from place to place.

Will Lolli and her friends use their smarts to find the missing spiders? If found, what should they do to prevent their escape in the future? In reading this adventure, one discovers a lot about spiders and the reasons we should not be afraid of them. This book is recommended especially for children ages seven to ten. It is an excellent choice for reluctant readers because the length is manageable and the pictures make it easy to follow the text. As an added bonus, both students and teachers are given the opportunity to download their very own secret journal.

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LOVE AND LEADERSHIP

Leadership Lessons Learned from Mom

Written by Mark Villareal

An interesting book that discusses qualities of leadership by correlating them with lessons that the author learned from his mother. The author begins the book in early childhood when his mother guided him to listen to the little voice in his head whenever he needed to decide whether something was right or wrong. She taught him not to be a loner, and to push himself to become involved. Villareal explains how his mother encouraged him to dream big and reach for the top while teaching him to understand not everyone will get the trophy. As he grew older, she taught him not to exclude others, be a good example, and avoid taking shortcuts to success. The author learned to stand up for himself when he believed that he was right, but to learn the difference between having pride and being too full of pride. Life will not always be convenient and be accommodating, we must learn to accept defeat graciously at times, then pick ourselves up to try harder next time.

These are all valuable lessons in developing leadership. Rather than learning these skills by reading a leadership training manual, Villareal tells a charming story that entertains and inspires. Unfortunately, not all children grow up in an environment with parents who make the effort to teach and model these values. Recommended for young adult and adult audiences.

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HOME SCHOOLING 101

Home Schooling: Home School Education and Parenting

Written by Margaret LaRue

 

This book is a general overview on the topic of homeschooling. The author is not speaking from experience as a homeschooling parent but instead attempts to present the pluses and minuses on the topic. LaRue begins by listing some advantages of homeschooling such as educational, physical, religious, and emotional freedom, fewer arbitrary standards, no busywork, and closer family ties. Her list of disadvantages include, financial and time restraints, less opportunity to participate in sports, being branded as outside the norm, and less free time for the homeschooling parent.

The rest of the book concentrates on the basics such as how and what curriculum to choose with their advantages and disadvantages, suggestions on determining a child’s learning style, how to create lesson plans, planning field trips, and suggestions on instilling and maintaining the motivation of students. La Rue packs a lot of essential information in one book for anyone considering undertaking the home-school experience. I suggest this book as an excellent resource for those not considering the process. Those already engaged in home school might criticize it for being too general. It does not specifically address the concerns those already engaged in the process face.

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PARENTAL POINTERS

Terrific Twos: Positive Views on Parental Discipline

Written by Merry Palmer

I found this book to be an effective resource for parents searching to get a handle on positive discipline techniques for toddlers and even for older children. The author presents a common sense approach coupled with examples of situations and suggestions as to how to cope. Toddlers are experiencing a rapid growth in gross motor, fine motor, cognitive and social skills. Beginning with the dreaded word “no” the author suggests providing other options and choices where possible. Readers learn about the tone of voice, making eye contact, and combinations of words that work well for the toddler. Language should be succinct and simple, while at the same time, encouraging the child to learn new vocabulary.

A large part of the book deals with discipline, how to explain the need for discipline, how to use it as a teaching tool and how to be fair in exercising it. The author explains how to get a child to understand the need for taking responsibility for her actions, and how to apply effective strategies of discipline for children of different ages. In conclusion, parents need to remember to exercise patience and control of their own emotions; advice that sometimes can be difficult for parents, but certainly a worthwhile goal for every parent.

I highly recommend this quick read as a great reference book for both new and experienced parents.

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