Posts tagged ‘science’

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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IT’S A HOOT

Owls: A Children’s Book About Owls: Types of Owls, Owl Facts, Owl Life, and Owl Images

Written by William Widman

There are more than 200 species of owls living on every continent except Antarctica. They live in forests, deserts and the tundra. Owls are raptors or birds of prey. They might be as small as six inches or as large as three feet. Owls are territorial and tend to reuse their nest. They have huge eyes and excellent hearing. Their specially designed wings enable them to be silent in flight and their feather colors help them to camouflage themselves. Sharp and powerful talons and claws assist in capturing and holding prey. Many owls have names determined by their environment like barn owls and snowy white owls. Different types of owls emit different calling sounds; the Great Horned Owl makes the familiar, “Hoo, Hoo sound, while the Barred Owl vocalizes a call similar to a monkey.

The author includes photographs of each type of owl, as well as nesting pictures and owls in flight. They are colorful and detailed. He suggests that you carry binoculars and a journal pad while owl watching in the woods. I really enjoyed the links provided within the book that allow the reader to hear and experience the sounds that various owls emit.

Recommend this book for children ages six and older who enjoy reading about animals. Librarians and teachers should consider adding this nonfiction kindle book to their reference collection.

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SPIDER SURPRISES

All About Spiders: A Picture Book for Kids About Spiders

Written by Jasmine Williams

Okay, spiders are not the most endearing or popular creatures. There are more than 43,000 species on earth; they live on all continents except Antarctica. Many people are terrified of them, but only two spiders are actually deadly to humans, The Black Widow and the Brown Recluse. Spiders are arachnids with bodies consisting of two parts. The silken webs they weave are not only used to trap food. The Goliath Bird-Eating Spider is the largest spider and it accomplishes exactly what its name implies. Several spiders are as small as the head of a pin. I learned that a Hawaiian spider is nicknamed the Happy Faced Spider because it seems to be smiling at us.

 

The photos in this book are unique because they are enlarged to display the features written about in the book. Children will have no difficulty understanding the concepts and information. Budding amateur scientists and animal lovers can learn a lot. The author does not shy away from using challenging vocabulary. For this reason, younger readers will need adult explanation, but readers in the seven to ten group should be able to read independently. Recommended for teachers and librarians to include on their research shelves. It may even convert some spider haters.

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A FLYING CIRCUS

In the Land of Broken Time

Written by Max Evan

Illustrated by Maria Evan

Translated by Helen Hagon

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Charming tale mixing elements of fantasy, magic, adventure, and time travel. Christopher is looking out his window when he sees the circus passing by. He desperately wants to go out and investigate, but his mother refuses because he has been ill with a cold. Christopher sneaks out and arrives at the circus tent. A young girl his age named Sophie helps him gain admission. Their adventure begins when they are chased by a cleaning woman who looks like a witch. They hide in a hot air balloon basket and discover a golden retriever circus dog named Duke sleeping inside. Suddenly the fugitives find themselves aloft. What an adventure lies before them!

The three become friends and allies. Landing in The Forest of Chornos, they discover a magic sundial, and a professor called Temporis Certus who experiments with hourglasses and time.. He gives them advice on how to escape by sailing down a river into the town on the other side of the forest. There the trio encounter a gnome, a nefarious regent and the time machine that could allow them safe passage home. Duke finds himself in a strange predicament. Will Duke ever find his way back to the circus? How will Sophie and Christopher solve the shifts in time and adjust the time machine to return to their past?

This book is targeted for ages six through twelve; it is a chapter book most appropriate for children in grades three to six. The book is well-written, fun and fast paced. There are plenty of surprises and intriguing characters. Nice blend of fantasy with a bit of science intertwined. I hope to see additional books written by this talented couple.

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BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

Becky and the Butterfly Girl

Written by Janet Young

Illustrated by Vladimir Cebu

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Charming picture book featuring a child named Becky who guides her young readers on a tour of her butterfly garden. Becky’s garden is designed as a wild flower garden with water features, a pond filled with fish, birdhouses and bee houses, but most importantly it provides a safe haven for butterflies. Monarch butterflies are quickly disappearing due to the rapid expansion of roads and cities. Becky’s tour leads us through cone flowers, monarda, asters, goldenrod and milkweed. This garden is free of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. The monarch butterflies lay their eggs on the underside of milkweed leaves; which are the only kind of food they eat, but which are poisonous to humans. Once the eggs become caterpillars, Becky’s dad carefully moves them to a cage where they continue to feed on milkweed leaves until they form a chrysalis. After about ten days they emerge as butterflies, when they are carefully released from their cage.

The illustrations depict Becky and her beautiful garden plants and animal friends. Story is based on Becky Lecroy, a genuine character whose parents raise monarch butterflies in their own wild flower backyard. Nice way to teach children about the life cycle of the monarch butterfly and the importance of conserving the species. Targeted for grades preschool through grade four, this book should be included on classroom shelves in elementary school as well as those in libraries and environmentally conscious parents who might want to undertake the project on a smaller scale. I personally plant milkweed in my tiny garden to encourage monarchs to settle there. Sadly, in recent years, I have noticed a dramatic drop in the lovely creatures that used to fill my backyard.

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UNLIMITED POTENTIAL

The Tiniest Tumbleweed

Written by Kathy Peach

Illustrated by Alex Lopez

TinyTumbleweed

Beautifully told tale with two protagonists. The story opens with a Mother Tumbleweed discussing her tiny baby with her husband who is concerned that the tot will be too small to make seeds. At that same time a young baby sparrow is hatching; his father is concerned that the baby will be too small to fly and spread seeds. Both the sparrow and tumbleweed experience sadness as they watch their siblings grow and they remain smaller than their peers. Their respective parents continue to reassure their children that size does not really matter as they teach their young the skills needed to reach their own full potential. When the desert rains come, tumbleweed works hard to make seeds, while tiny sparrow learns to flap his wings and hop. One day as fate might have it, a rainstorm brings the tiny sparrow and the tiny tumbleweed together. They learn how to work together to make each other reach their goals.

This is a beautiful book on many levels. The fictional story teaches children a lot about disabilities and strength of character as well as the value of family support. Targeted for preschool through grade three, the book works on many levels. Beautiful yet simple illustrations enhance the text as a read aloud for preschoolers. Lessons embedded within the text are appropriate for primary grade children. I like the lesson plans included for teachers to supplement interdisciplinary curriculum. Fun Facts could be the start of science projects, and the curriculum questions provide many avenues of exploration for the teacher or parent of a home schooled child. As some other reviewers mentioned, I noted some spelling and editing errors, which is the reason I gave the book four instead of five stars.

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