Tag: science

Rivers of Sunlight by Molly Bang

Rivers of Sunlight by Molly Bang

Rivers of Sunlight: How the Sun Moves Water around the Earth by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm (9780545805414, Amazon, GoodReads)

This is the fourth picture book collaboration between Bang and Chisholm. All of the picture books done by Bang as author and illustrator and Chisholm, professor of Ecology at MIT have focused on the sun. This picture book is all about how the sun works to move water through the water cycle on earth. The role of the sun as it evaporates water to vapor. The way the sun heats and cools water. The way that water moves around the earth via ocean currents. It’s a book about the power of the sun and the value of water on earth with an emphasis on conservation and care.

Bang and Chisholm have created a group of picture books that celebrate our earth and the wonder of the sun. This book includes water, looking at the small amount of fresh water that actually exists on earth, the way that water cycles through our world, and the power of the sun in all of these systems. The book is told in the voice of the sun, speaking as the source of winds, the power of evaporation, the source of ocean currents.

Bang’s illustrations are lit by the sun. She rims trees in yellow, lights mountains in gold, and swirls lemon through the oceans. She shows the water in the atmosphere as a river of its own, dappled and bright but also subtle against the bolder parts of the illustrations. There is a delicacy to it that emphasizes how humans can damage water on our planet.

Another winner from this collaboration of art and science, this picture book shines. Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from copy received from The Blue Sky Press.

Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere by Elise Gravel

Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere by Elise Gravel

Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere by Elise Gravel (9780062351265)

When Olga discovers an unusual creature, she soon realizes as she researches it that she has potentially discovered a new species. She dubs the species olgamus ridiculus and names her particular specimen “Meh” because of the noise he makes. Olga knows some things about Meh, she knows he has rainbow-colored poop, that he smells bad, that he loves to sleep in buckets, and that he can hold things with his tail. Unfortunately though, Olga doesn’t know what to feed him and he has rejected almost everything she has. Luckily though, Olga has friends in her community to help, even if she personally prefers animals to humans, including a librarian, an owner of an unusual food store, and maybe even a new boy she just met. It will take all of them to figure out the answers to Meh along with some help from unlikely people as well.

Gravel embraces the science of discovering a new creature in this elementary-school novel. The book keeps a light and playful tone as it demonstrates the process of discovery, research and investigation. Olga is a character who embraces her role as a scientist, taking it very seriously that things are documented appropriately as she works through figuring out Meh and his species. Throughout the book, humor and silliness prevail, making it very readable.

The use of plenty of illustrations makes this book all the more approachable for children. The illustrations almost create a graphic novel here, creating even more of the playful tone of the text. The illustrations are colored only with pink and red and drawn in a loose cartoon style that works well.

A welcome addition of a young female scientist as a main character of an elementary graphic novel. Appropriate for ages 6-8.

Reviewed from copy received from HarperCollins.

The Friendship Experiment by Erin Teagan

the-friendship-experiment-by-erin-teagan

The Friendship Experiment by Erin Teagan (InfoSoup)

Maddie isn’t looking forward to middle school. Her grandfather died over the summer and they are clearing out his house to prep it for sale. Her best friend has changed schools too. Maddie enjoyed writing Standard Operating Procedures for her grandfather, helping him cope with his dementia as his Alzheimer’s progressed. So she continues to write SOPs in her lab notebook and carry it with her all the time. She brings it to middle school and starts to document ways to cope with middle school and with the kids she eats lunch with. Meanwhile, middle school becomes a mix of good and bad. Maddie is allowed to work in the college’s science lab with her father. But her blood clotting disorder starts to flare up more, though not as much as her older sister’s. Maddie gets into a serious fight with her best friend, and manages to anger the new kids she has just started to become friends with. It’s clear that middle school is going to take a lot more experimenting to get right.

Teagan writes with a solid and consistent tone in this middle grade novel. Her touch is light and filled with humor, offering a way to see past the disasters that Maddie is facing in middle school. She weaves Maddie’s interest in science throughout the story. It is more than a hobby for Maddie, it’s a way of life. From her swabs of bacteria to the way she looks at projects, Maddie faces it all as a scientist.

Maddie is a warm and wonderful protagonist, still she is also entirely human. She makes plenty of mistakes in this novel, managing to lose all of her friends at once through actions all her own. She can be angry, impulsive, and inflexible and still readers will enjoy the time they spend with her and her scientific mind. The topic of hemophilia and the way the disorder is used in the novel is intelligently done, creating yet another source of angst and separation for Maddie.

A strong STEM novel that deftly shows that girls and science mix very well. No experiments needed to prove that hypothesis. Appropriate for ages 10-12.

Reviewed from e-galley received from Edelweiss and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

 

Nanobots by Chris Gall

nanobots-by-chris-gall

Nanobots by Chris Gall (InfoSoup)

A boy creates robots that are so small, you can’t see them with the naked eye. He calls them “nanobots” and starts to equip them for special jobs that only they can do. There are the Seekerbots that explore amoebas, Mechanobots that work fixing things, Helobots that stick together to make something new, Medibots that work in the human body to repair it, and many more. So the boy took the robots to the science fair where there was also a very large robot. The large robot though was not put together quite right and not functioning well. So the little nanobots rushed to help and repair him. Soon he was a huge and amazing robot that looked new! But would the nanobots still win the science fair?

Gall has created a picture book that will appeal to children who love superheroes and comic books. Filled with lots of details about each of the nano-sized heroes, there is a pleasure in just learning about each type of tiny robot. The story is eclipsed by the robots themselves, but it serves both as a structure for the book and a way to show exactly what an impact the nanobots can have out in the world.

Told with a broad sense of humor, the illustrations highlight the various types of nanobots. Each has a personality all their own with some being very hip and others more childlike. The illustrations are bright and colorful and have a throwback vibe to robots from the 50s and 60s that is very appealing.

Sure to appeal to fans of robots and comics, this picture book is smart and funny. Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Waylon! One Awesome Thing by Sara Pennypacker

Waylon One Awesome Thing by Sara Pennypacker

Waylon! One Awesome Thing by Sara Pennypacker (InfoSoup)

Waylon loves science and spends a lot of his time thinking about all of the cool inventions he could create from his scientific knowledge. His favorite ideas right now focus on how to manipulate gravity for his own means. But things in his life are not all going smoothly right now. His sister, who insists on being called Neon, doesn’t act like she used to now that she’s a teenager. One kid at school is splitting the fourth grade boys into two teams and Waylon isn’t sure which team he is on. A kid with a criminal record just came back to school and is even scarier than last year. It’s all changing around him and it looks like only Waylon can solve the crisis by being a bridge from one side to the other.

This novel brings young readers another amazing character from the author of the Clementine series. Waylon, just like Clementine, is incredibly easy to relate to. He is dynamically human, getting into scrapes and situations that readers may face themselves. As always, Pennypacker’s prose is written with a surety and skill that allows young readers to relax and simply immerse themselves in the world that she has created for them.

Pennypacker makes sure to bring just enough humor to the novel to make it accessible for reluctant readers. The playground dynamics set just the right tone. The unique way that Waylon views the world through science makes those issues more dramatic as Waylon sees himself very isolated. The theme of loneliness and then finding a way to reconnect is done in just the right tone.

An awesome new protagonist from Pennypacker is something worth celebrating! Appropriate for ages 6-8.

Reviewed from e-galley received from Disney-Hyperion and Edelweiss.

 

Samira and the Skeletons by Camilla Kuhn

Samira and the Skeletons by Camilla Kuhn

Samira and the Skeletons by Camilla Kuhn (InfoSoup)

Samira is having a good day, enjoying school and spending time with her best friend, Frida. But then her teacher says something perfectly horrible. She explains that inside everybody is a skeleton with a skull, ribs, spine and more. Samira is horrified and soon can’t see anyone without seeing their skeleton without skin. She starts to avoid her classmates, particularly Frida. Luckily her mother has a great plan. She offers to remove Samira’s skeleton entirely right there in the kitchen. But Samira’s skeleton doesn’t want to lay still for the operation and runs outside and off to the park where Samira’s skeleton and Frida’s skeleton run around together and soon Samira can see Frida as herself once again. Of course, there is still tomorrow’s lesson to get through…

Samira is a child with a huge imagination, one that just won’t shut off easily either when it gets an idea. The story is a refreshing one with a parent who deals with the issue in a calm and playful way, saving the day. Samira herself is complex and interesting, a girl who visualizes ideas intensely, reacts to her own imagination with zing and has no problem being entirely herself.

The illustrations are fantastic with plenty of personality and good humor. Samira is an African-American child and her best friend is Caucasian. Another very clever aspect of this story is to show that we are all the same underneath our skin. So when Samira is seeing everyone as a skeleton, suddenly there is no race in the class, just bones. It’s a subtle message that the book introduces and never belabors.

A dynamic and funny look at the intersection of science and imagination. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.

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