Tag: science

2016 AAAS/Subaru Science Books Prizes

The American Association for the Advancement of Science and Subaru presented the winners of the 2016 prizes for Excellence in Science Books. The prizes “recognize recently published works that are scientifically sound and foster an understanding and appreciation of science in readers of all ages.”

Here are the winners:

CHILDREN’S SCIENCE PICTURE BOOK

A Chicken Followed Me Home!: Questions and Answers about a Familiar Fowl

A Chicken Followed Me Home! Questions and Answers about a Familiar Fowl by Robin Page

MIDDLE GRADES SCIENCE BOOK

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The Octopus Scientists: Exploring the Mind of a Mollusk by Sy Montgomery

YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE BOOK

How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of de-Extinction

How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction by Beth Shapiro

HANDS-ON SCIENCE BOOK

A Kid's Guide to Keeping Chickens: Best Breeds, Creating a Home, Care and Handling, Outdoor Fun, Crafts and Treats

A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens by Melissa Caughey

Glow by W.H. Beck

Glow by WH Beck

Glow: Animals with Their Own Night-Lights by W. H. Beck (InfoSoup)

This nonfiction picture book invites young readers to explore the world of bioluminescence. Set against black backgrounds these glowing creatures pop on the page. The book not only shows different organisms that glow, but also explains why they glow too. Children will learn the terms for the chemicals that allow the light to be created and also see that there are some creatures who glow but no one knows quite why. Filled with dazzling photographs, this is a book that will fly off the shelves of public libraries as kids are hooked by the fish on the cover.

Beck has the book written at two levels. The larger font offers a less specific look at the organisms themselves and therefore a simpler experience. The smaller font allows readers to learn more about each creature. More information on each is also found at the end of the book where size, Latin name, and the depth they live at is given for each. This is a book that is engaging and fascinating. The text is restrained and focused, offering enough information to appeal but never standing in the way of the dazzling creatures themselves.

The photographs in the book are exceptional. Each shows the light of the creature against a black background, allowing that creature attention by the reader. The photos were taken by several different photographers, yet they make for a cohesive book thanks to their similar nature and the beauty they depict. I particularly enjoyed the firefly photo and the glowing shoreline.

An awesome book that is sure to appeal to children who enjoy nature and bizarre creatures, this is a winning science book for public libraries. Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from copy received from HMH Books for Young Readers.

Review: Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova

Awkward by Svetlana Chmakava

Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova (InfoSoup)

Peppi has just started a new school when she manages to trip over her own feet in the crowded hallway. When a boy tries to help her, she panics and pushes him away when kids start to say she’s his “nerder girlfriend.” Peppi feels awful about this and buries herself in her new group of friends in the art club. Though she tries to avoid him, Jaime is everywhere. He’s assigned as her science tutor and is part of the science club, the art club’s arch rivals. Soon the two clubs are at war with one another, but Peppi is starting to be friends with Jaime. How can a budding middle school friendship survive the club apocalypse?

The story is over the top in a good way. It captures the story of Peppi, a nice artistic girl who just cannot bring herself to apologize to Jaime, even if she knows that what she did was wrong. So often protagonists are either completely socially inept or entirely extroverted, Peppi is a clear introvert but one with lots of friends and a clear social circle.

Chmakova has a style that will appeal to manga readers and anime viewers. She uses several tropes from those genres to great effect from the streaming tears on people’s faces in reaction to great dismay to the isolated images of angry leaders where they are backlit and scary. Chmakova also manages to keep her graphic novel very diverse, not only is Peppi herself diverse, but other characters who populate the story are diverse as well with a variety of racial, ethnic and abilities. It is subtly done and makes the entire book feel like a real school.

A dynamic graphic novel, this book will appeal to those in middle school and those headed there, artists and scientists alike. Appropriate for ages 10-13.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

2015 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prizes for Execellence in Science Books

AAAS Logo

The winners of the 2015 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books have been announced. The prizes recognize newly published works that are “scientifically sound and foster an understanding and appreciation of science in readers of all ages.”

The winners are four categories as shown below:

CHILDREN’S SCIENCE PICTURE BOOK

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Emily Sutton

 

MIDDLE GRADES SCIENCE BOOK

Mission: Mars

Mission: Mars by Pascal Lee

 

YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE BOOK

Extreme Medicine: How Exploration Transformed Medicine in the Twentieth Century

Extreme Medicine: How Exploration Transformed Medicine in the Twentieth Century by Kevin Fong

 

HANDS-ON SCIENCE BOOK

The Kid's Guide to Exploring Nature

The Kid’s Guide to Exploring Nature by Brooklyn Botanic Educators, edited by Sarah Schmidt

Review: The Story of Life by Catherine Barr

The Story of Life by Catherine Barr

The Story of Life: a First Book about Evolution by Catherine Barr and Steve Williams, illustrated by Amy Husband (InfoSoup)

Starting before there was life on earth, this nonfiction picture book takes readers on a journey from 4.5 billion years ago to today. Volcanoes and black ocean water with some areas that were warm from underwater volcanoes created the tiny bits that formed the basis of life. Cells started growing, some using sunlight, water and oxygen that changed the very earth itself. Over millions of years, cells developed into different forms of life and became the first animals. The seas became full of life and animals and plants started to expand to the land. Then an unknown disaster hit and most of the life on earth was destroyed. It became cold and dark, giving a chance for huge dinosaurs to emerge and take over. Millions of years passed again and insects and mammals appeared. A meteor hit the world though, and then it was time for the mammals to survive. Humans evolved from those mammals and spread across the world, bringing us to the present day.

This basic look at evolution offers a sense of the length of time that it has taken to get us from basic cells to humans today. On each two-page spread there is information on how long ago this scene was taking place. The text on the page has lots of information on the changes happening, the progress towards new life, and also the series of disasters that has caused sudden death on the planet. This is a fascinating look at evolution that is appropriate for even preschool children to begin to understand the science that created life on earth.

The illustrations by Husband are playful and fun. They add a lighthearted touch to the serious scientific information. At the same time, they are have scientific labels for important objects and ideas that let children better understand the progress of evolution that they are learning about.

A strong picture book that explores evolution and will inspire children to learn even more about prehistoric times. Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.

Review: The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (InfoSoup)

Callie returns in triumphant fashion in this second Calpurnia Tate book following the Newbery Honor-winning first novel. Calpurnia continues to study science and nature at her grandfather’s side. Together they begin to dissect worms and insects, moving upwards towards vertebrates. Callie develops several scientific devices to measure latitude and barometric pressure. When the barometric pressure drops seriously low and an unusual gull shows up in the yard, Granddaddy heads to the telegraph office to sound the alarm for coastal areas, but there is little to do in places like Galveston Texas where tens of thousands of lives are lost. Meanwhile, Callie’s brother Travis is continuing to bring home stray animals like armadillos and raccoon, leaving Callie to help hide the evidence. Their cousin who survived the hurricane in Galveston comes to live with them, moving into Callie’s room and bearing secrets of her own. Through it all, Callie struggles with the expectations for girls around the turn of the century, trying to find a way forward towards education rather than marriage.

Kelly writes of science in a way that will have any reader eager to start looking at the writings of Charles Darwin, reading about health issues of cows and horses, dissecting their own grasshoppers, and heading outside to find the North Star. She turns it all into an adventure, filled with outdoor excursions, smelly animals, and rivers to explore. At the same time, it is also a look at the expectations of a girl from a good family and the difference between her future and that of her brothers. Callie’s struggle with this inequity speaks to her courage and her tenacity, two parts of her character that are evident throughout the book. This dual nature of the novel adds lots of depth to the story, allowing fans of nature and fans or strong heroines a shared novel to rejoice about.

Kelly’s characters are wonderfully well rounded. Callie is not perfect and is far more interesting and human for that. She is not patient, hates to play the piano and sew, and speaks up at times that would be unseemly. At the same time she is wonderfully wild, brazen at times, and heroic at others. She stands by those who support her and thwarts those who oppose her. She cunningly uses people’s self interests to promote her own and is constantly learning from those around her. Even the secondary characters are well drawn and have depth. From Granddaddy to Callie’s mother to her cousin Aggie, all can surprise because they are crafted as full human beings.

This romping novel is a fitting and fabulous follow-up to the first. Appropriate for ages 8-12.

Reviewed from copy received from Henry Holt and Co.

Review: Mesmerized by Mara Rockliff

Mesmerized by Mara Rockliff

Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno (InfoSoup)

When Benjamin Franklin went to France to ask them for their help in gaining freedom for the American colonies, he discovered that they were fascinated by science. Particularly, they were abuzz about Dr. Mesmer, a man who staged shows and used an unseen force that he claimed was similar to electricity to cure people of their health issues and control their thoughts. Even Marie Antoinette was taken with Dr. Mesmer and in awe of his powers. The King of France asked Ben Franklin to explore what the force was. So Franklin started the very first blind test, literally, by blindfolding people and experimenting to see if they could tell if Dr. Mesmer was using the force or not. In the end, several things were discovered like the placebo effect and the amazing power of the human mind itself.

Rockliff writes a rollicking book where science is what everyone wants to know more about but also where science is in its infancy. This look at a specific moment in history is dynamic and great fun, particularly due to the personalities involved and also the fact that it demonstrated scientific ideas that are still in use today. Rockliff relishes the fun of the entire story along with the reader, allowing this story to carry forward on its own wild pace which will delight teachers looking for a book on science that is fun to share aloud.

Bruno’s illustrations add to that wild feel with their fancy flounces when talking of Dr. Mesmer and the straight-forward but period touches when Franklin takes the page. There are full color double-page spreads mixed with other pages with more white space. The illustrations have a broad sense of humor that ties in well with the text.

A fabulous nonfiction book that is sure to surprise and enthrall history and science buffs. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.