Tag: science

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

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.