Posts tagged ‘biology’

A SEA-SATION!

The Dragon Dreamer

Written and illustrated by J.S. Burke

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The author of this book is multi-talented. She is a marine biologist, teacher, chemist, artist and geologist. In this book targeted for middle grade students, she somehow manages to weave these disparate elements together in a well-written educational fantasy adventure.

The story shifts between two groups: the golden dragons who are in danger because their life-giving copper supplies are running low, and the octopuses who live on undersea reefs. The main protagonists, Arak, the dragon, and Scree, the octopus healer, will be thrown together by a chance accident. They will work together first as trading partners and later as loyal friends. Each of them will lead their people to safety as they face extinction. Though they speak different languages, they learn to communicate. Burke does a masterful job of character development by uniquely combining the elements of caring, cooperation, romance and diversity. She successfully weaves together an intricate plot that celebrates diversity and intertwines ancient myths and legends with the scientific facts of marine biology.

Readers are taken on an exciting page turning adventure in which you empathize with characters as they face each new obstacle. At the same time, almost without realizing it, you are learning about the food chain, volcanoes, sharks and giant squid. The glossary included at the end is a nice resource for the scientific background. Targeted for readers ages nine and older, the book has a wider appeal for young adult and even adult audiences. A book that entertains while providing an education is a welcome addition to any bookshelf. Highly recommended !

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THE BUZZ ON BEES

A, Bee, See: Who are our Pollinators and Why are They in Trouble?

Written by Kenneth Eade

Photographs by Valentine Eade

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The author decided to write a children’s edition of his adult book. You might expect it to be written by a biologist, but Kenneth Eade is a lawyer with the vision to look ahead toward environmental responsibility. He begins by explaining the interdependence of plants and animals and then introduces the bee as our most important pollinator. Bees have been at work for more than one hundred million years. There are thousands of kinds of bees, but Eade concentrates on the most common types like the honey bee and the bumblebee, and how they accomplish their work. Most of us are aware of the bees work, but are less familiar with the fact that moths and bats pollinate plants at night. Did you know that bats pollinate three hundred kinds of fruit and cacti?

The reader will learn how the honeybee colony is organized into queen bee, workers and drones. Did you know that honeybees have five eyes that help them navigate with light, color and direction? For years I have been telling children to stand still when any type of bee flies near them. I felt vindicated that this is the right action. What I found really interesting is that worker bees have two stomachs, one for eating and one for storing the nectar they gather, They even have tiny bags on their hind legs for carrying the pollen to the hive. I was never aware of the processing bee that puts nectar into a honeycomb cell nor that she adds an enzyme that allows it to ripen and dry into honey. Such a perfect food for the bees which lasts for years and provides nutrition for humans as well.

Bees are endangered now because excessive land clearing depletes home-sites for bees as well as other animals. At the same time the wildflowers are disappearing. Many farmers treat their crops with pesticides that kill bees. Children can help by urging their parents to plant wildflowers in their gardens and writing to government representatives to make them aware of environmental concerns.

This book contains beautiful photographs and is well written. It belongs on the shelves of every elementary classroom. Younger children can learn a lot about plants, animals and the environment by using this book as a reference. Older children might use it as a starting point for more advanced study. This book is enlightening and informative for all ages.

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