Author: Tasha

Finding Wonders by Jeannine Atkins


Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science by Jeannine Atkins (InfoSoup)

This compelling verse novel tells the story of three girls who grew up to be women who made their own personal mark on science. There is Maria Merian, a girl born in 1647 who loved nature. Through careful observation, she discovered the metamorphosis of butterflies. Her artistic talents also helped document the life cycles of insects. Born in 1799, Mary Anning helped her father collect stone curiosities in England. When she saw a huge creature in the rocks, she discovered the first of the many fossils and dinosaurs she would uncover during her life. Born in 1818, Maria Mitchell grew up helping her mapmaker father in Nantucket. Exploring the night sky together, she spent years looking through her father’s telescope before discovering a new comet. All of these women battled societal expectations and familial pressures to become the scientists they were.

Atkins uses verse to directly tell the stories of these girls, the way they were raised and how they grew to become scientists. Readers unfamiliar with them will be amazed that they were able to reach such prominence in the time periods they lived and that their fathers were the ones who allowed them the freedom to learn and explore. These women demonstrate that through tenacity and determination one can become exactly who they were meant to be, despite almost everyone disapproving. The tales are inspiring and insightful.

Atkins has chosen three women whose stories work particularly well together. There are commonalities between them even though they span more than a century and involve different types of scientific endeavors.  The strong focus on faith in all of the stories shows the way that scientists even today must reconcile their religious beliefs with scientific truths. Faith is handled with a frank sincerity here, an important part of family and life, but also something that can be personal to an individual.

Beautifully written, these brief glimpses of amazing women in science will introduce new sources of inspiration to young readers. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Boys and Reading


Two of the largest studies of reading habits of children in the UK have been recently completed.

They show that boys of every age typically read less thoroughly than girls, no matter what sort of literature they are reading. They tend to take less time to process what they are reading and skip parts as well. Finally, they also choose things to read that are too easy for them.

Though boys read nonfiction more than girls do, the studies demonstrated that boys are not any better at reading nonfiction as thoroughly as girls are. There is also no relationship to socioeconomic status seen in the studies.

Topping said: “What you need is teachers, classroom assistants, librarians spending time with a child to talk about choices in reading; possible suggestions for more challenging books in the context of what they are interested in.

“We are not saying read hundreds of classics and that everything will be all right. They need to read challenging books in a subject in which they are interested.”

Details on the large studies can be found in The Guardian.


This Weeks Tweets, Pins & Tumbls

Here are some cool links I shared on my Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr accounts this week:

Canas Verdes:


8 Brutal Truths of Raising a Book-Loving Kid | Brightly

JK Rowling plans five Fantastic Beasts films – BBC News

Malala Yousafzai Lands Picture Book Deal

Must be October…The books we love are painted on pumpkins!

Pure imagination: illustrator Robert Ingpen on the value of childhood dreaming

Stephen King’s First Children’s Book Coming in November

There are some absolute crackers on the guide to great books Go see for yourself!

"Great Comfort" Book Arts #alteredbooks:


Campus Libraries Write a Tech-Savvy New Chapter

In Praise of the Public Library Answer Desk

What books mean to rough sleepers – and the library that helps them

The perfect day:


5 Graphic Novels to Read to Get Spooked

Keeping It Real: The Grittiness of Contemporary YA – Los Angeles Review of Books

What’s Next for Jay Asher?

King Baby by Kate Beaton


King Baby by Kate Beaton (InfoSoup)

From the author of Hark! A Vagrant comes a second picture book. King Baby is born to loving and devoted subjects, his parents. People bring gifts and in return King Baby bestows blessings upon them. He smiles and coos, but a King can also be demanding. When he doesn’t get his toy fast enough, he can be cranky. And his subjects don’t understand his demands, so King Baby has to do something new and bold. He crawls! Then he starts to grow and grow into a Big Boy. But as he grows up, who will rule his subjects?

Beaton has created a picture book that fully embraces the experience of new parenthood and will also work to show children about to be siblings just how very demanding a tiny baby can be for attention and time. Still, there is also the fact that they grow up so fast, quickly leaving babyhood behind. The use of imperious and lordly demands makes the book very funny and may allow overwhelmed families a little laugh about their small bundles of joy.

Beaton’s signature art work is a delight. The baby as little more than an egg with a crown captures those first few weeks perfectly. The crown remains perched on his little head all the way through tantrums and royal demands. The chaos of a home with a baby is also fully depicted with exhausted parents in hoodies and sweatpants and the floor littered with bottles, toys and clothes.

If you have a new little king or queen of your own or are expecting one to move in soon, this is a book that will have you and your other children giggling and agreeing. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.


Governor General’s 2016 Finalists

The finalists for the Governor General’s Literary Awards have been announced and the winners will be revealed on October 25th. Two of the categories are specifically for younger readers. Here are the finalists for those categories:


Calvin The Emperor of Any Place

Calvin by Marine Leavitt

The Emperor of Any Place by Tim Wynne-Jones

Once, in a Town Called Moth A Thousand Nights (A Thousand Nights, #1)

Once in a Town Called Moth by Trilby Kent

A Thousand Nights by EK Johnston

The Unquiet

The Unquiet by Mikaela Everett



The Branch A Hungry Lion, or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals

The Branch by Mireille Messier and Pierre Pratt

A Hungry Lion or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins

Ooko Tokyo Digs a Garden

Ooko by Esme Shapiro

Tokyo Digs a Garden by Jon-Erik Lappano and Kellen Hatanaka

The White Cat and the Monk: A Retelling of the Poem “Pangur Bán”

The White Cat and the Monk by Jo Ellen Bogart and Sydney Smith

Prime Minister’s Literary Awards Shortlists

The shortlists for the Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for 2016 have been announced. The awards cover Australian literature in a variety of categories with two of them focused on younger readers. Here are the shortlists for those categories:


Adelaide's Secret World The Greatest Gatsby: A Visual Book of Grammar

Adelaide’s Secret World by Elise Hurst

The Greatest Gatsby: A Visual Book of Grammar by Tohby Riddle

Mr Huff Perfect

Mr. Huff by Anna Walker

Perfect by Danny Parker and Freya Blackwood

Sister Heart

Sister Heart by Sally Morgan



Becoming Kirrali Lewis Green Valentine

Becoming Kirrali Lewis by Jane Harrison

Green Valentine by Lili Wilkinson

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1) In-Between Days

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

In Between Days by Vikki Wakefield

A Single Stone

A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay

Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes


Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes (InfoSoup)

All Garvey seems to do is disappoint his father. His father would like him to play sports and to enjoy them too, but Garvey isn’t athletic. He’d much rather read science fiction and learn about science. Feeling bad about himself, Garvey consoles himself with food and starts to gain weight. He has one friend, who encourages him to join the school chorus. Soon Garvey is making new friends and displaying his talent. He becomes the new soloist for the chorus and his interest in music starts to build a bridge to his father via a new route.

Told in verse, this book of poetry is brief and powerful. Garvey’s situation with his father reads a organic and volatile, the desperation to connect creating even more of a distance between father and son as the failures continue. Garvey’s use of food as a solace is intelligently done, offering hope that he can find his footing again but also not seeing weight loss as the ultimate solution or weight as the real problem. Verse allows Grimes to cut right to the heart of these situations, revealing the layers of issues at play.

Garvey is a bright, funny character. He is shown as a good friend, supportive and also accepting. As Garvey begins to reach out and try new things, he is rewarded by the chorus also reaching out to him. Again, the progress is done in a natural way. Nothing is perfect and there is no magical solution here. It is hard work, talent and slow progress towards a better place.

A shining look at loneliness, bullying and the ability of music to break down barriers. Appropriate for ages 8-12.

Reviewed from library copy.