Two Looks at the Animal Kingdom for Kids

When you are a writer, sometimes it can be disappointing to find out there is already a book published on a topic you were thinking about exploring. This week two nonfiction book for middle grades came across my desk that show magnificently how two books on the same topic, in this case the animal kingdom, can have very different voices and each finds its own place on the shelf.

The two books are:

TIME For Kids Book of Why: Awesome Animal Kingdom by Editors of TIME For Kids Magazine

Overall, with its question-and-answer format and smaller size, Awesome Animal Kingdom has many characteristics kids will find attractive. It is a quick read and contains a great deal of information about humans to draw the reader in (facts they can relate to). The format is also highly appealing to reluctant readers. In fact, it is likely you will find children taking turns quizzing each other on fun facts like “why do birds sing” and “how do eyelashes work” when they read this book.

Animalium (Welcome to the Museum) by Jenny Broom and illustrated by Katie Scott

Animalium is larger and denser, and also covers the topic of the animal kingdom in much richer detail. For example, the two page spread about sponges is titled with the phylum name “Porifera.” Underneath is a description of sponges as a group. What catches your eye is the illustration of nine different sponges on the right side, laid out like classic scientific illustrations. Each is labelled with the scientific name of the species, its size and a fact or two about each one. The end of each section shows a common habitat where the members of the group can be found, such as “coastal waters” or “arctic tundra.”

Below is an infographic with a point-by-point comparison of some of the features of the two books.

animal comparison(Note: Actually humans are mentioned once on the primate page of Animalium, so the percentage is a very small amount above 0%).

The bottom line is that Awesome Animal Kingdom and Animalium are two different books on the same general topic that serve two different audiences. It is likely that even the same child may find them both useful, as his or her needs and interests change. Consider both when studying the animal kingdom.

Related activities:

See Classification of Organisms at Growing with Science

Disclosures: Awesome Animal Kingdom was supplied by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

 

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

 

 

 

Posted in Animals, Middle Grade Nonfiction, Nonfiction, STEM Friday | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Hearing From the 2015 YALSA Nonfiction for Young Adults Award Finalists

Last week I was fortunate to have a bit of space in my schedule, which was just enough time to sign up for the School Library Journal Webcast:  “A Conversation with the 2015 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Finalists.”  Each of the finalists was represented, four by the authors and one by the editor who worked closely on the book. It was golden!

Some tidbits from the webcast:

  • Two of five finalist authors are young adults, and Maya Van Wagenen is only 16.
  • Articulate Maya Van Wagenen is already working on her next book, a novel.
  • Witty Shane Burclaw’s memoir came from his blog of the same name.
  • Candace Fleming didn’t want sidebars in her book because she thinks they distract the reader. Her editor agreed.
  • Power author Steve Sheinkin draws cartoons. Since no one will buy them, he puts them on his blog.
  • Emily Arnold McCully’s roots are in illustration. Her next book features a hippopotamus.

The awards will be announced on Monday, February 2, 2015.

In case you were wondering, the YALSA Nonfiction finalists for 2015 are:

Laughing at My Nightmare
by Shane Burcaw

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia
by Candace Fleming

Ida M. Tarbell: The Woman Who Challenged Big Business–and Won!
by Emily Arnold McCully

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights
by Steve Sheinkin

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek
by Maya Van Wagenen

What an eye-catching cover!

Have you read any of these titles yet? Which do you think will win?

 

Disclosures: I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

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Multicultural Children’s Book Day Shines with Sparkalina

Have you heard the big news? It’s time for the second annual  Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Celebrating Diversity in Children’s Literature being held on Tuesday, January 27, 2015.

PicMonkey Collage

The co-creators of this event are Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book. They have done a wonderful job generating excitement and promoting the event.

Why multicultural books? They say:

Mission:

Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Mia and Valarie are on a mission to change all of that. Their mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these types of books into classrooms and libraries. Another goal of this exciting event is create a compilation of books and favorite reads that will provide not only a new reading list for the winter, but also a way to expose brilliant books to families, teachers, and libraries.

“MCCBD team hopes to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along…”

You may want to:

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After signing up to participate, I found out I would be receiving a brand new picture book from author Shana Bernabela to review. I feel so lucky.

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Sparkalina (Sparkalina Brights) (Volume 1) by Shana Bernabela and illustrated by Maythe Carpertino is a delightful little book with a big message:  It is okay to be different!

Sparklina Brights lives for glitter and sparkles. Her clothes are shiny, her pencils shimmer, even her breakfast bowl and spoon are sparkly. When Sparklina encounters the neighborhood bully, aptly named Tiger Rex, he puts down her look and says it is weird.  Sparkalina is deeply hurt, but her wise mother knows exactly how to help her appreciate her unique qualities.

Many readers are going to be able to relate to Sparkalina’s struggles with identity and self-esteem. In fact, in this interview author Shana Bernabela reveals she had similar issues when she was young. Sparkalina (Sparkalina Brights) (Volume 1) helps give victims of bullying some much-needed tools to feel more confident.

Activities to Accompany Sparkalina:

Wow, this book really begs to be accompanied by some sparkly crafts and activities to reinforce learning. Prepare to be bedazzled.

1. Dress up!

What better way to try on new identities and looks than a game of dress up?

Gather:

  • Scarves
  • Bright clothes
  • Wacky shoes
  • Costume jewelry
  • Hats
  • Tiaras

The fun outfits in the book are sure to be inspirations. Make it a party and have the “paparazzi” take a lot of pictures.

2. Design sparkly clothes

Gather:

  • Glitter glue (takes some time to dry)
  • Paper:  construction, poster, shiny wrapping paper, etc.
  • Glitter shakers
  • Glitter tape
  • Sparkly stickers, etc.
  • Scissors
  • Markers

Have the children draw and cut out clothes, either to stand alone or as outfits for paper dolls. Then decorate the outfits with all things sparkly.

spark-craft-1Let their imaginations run wild!

Extension:  The book mentions several items that could also be fun to decorate, such as:

  • Pencils
  • Plastic or paper bowls (for decorative purposes only)
  • Plastic spoons or forks (for decorative purposes only)

Series: Sparkalina Brights
Paperback: 24 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (December 31, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1505481937
ISBN-13: 978-1505481938

Disclosure: Book provided by the author for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

 

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 Let’s not forget the Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Celebrating Diversity in Children’s Literature Sponsors.

2015 Sponsors include:

Platinum Sponsors: Wisdom Tales Press, Daybreak Press Global Bookshop, Gold SponsorsSatya House,  MulticulturalKids.com,   Author Stephen Hodges and the Magic Poof, Silver Sponsors: Junior Library GuildCapstone Publishing, Lee and Low Books,  The Omnibus Publishing. Bronze Sponsors:Double Dutch Dolls, Bliss Group Books, Snuggle with Picture Books Publishing,  Rainbow Books,   Author FeliciaCapers,   Chronicle Books   Muslim Writers Publishing ,East West Discovery Press.

CoHosts: The co-creaters have nine amazing Co-Hosts, as well. You can view them here.

Posted in Multicultural Books, Picture book- fiction | Tagged | Leave a comment

Belle, the Last Mule of Gee’s Bend Moves More Than Wagons

A number of years ago my sister-in-law took me to visit an exhibit of quilts from Gee’s Bend, Alabama (Catalog of the quilts). I had no idea idea what to expect, but the quilts and their stories were incredibly beautiful.

Because of that experience I knew immediately why there were quilts hanging in the background of the cover illustration for Belle, The Last Mule at Gee’s Bend: A Civil Rights Story by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Bettye Stroud, with illustrations by John Holyfield. What I didn’t know was the amazing true (but fictionalized) story of the connection of Belle the mule and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the story, Alex is waiting in Gee’s Bend while his mother shops for one of the famous quilts. Across the street he spots an old mule eating collards in someone’s garden. At first he thinks it is a mistake, that the mule has wandered in from a nearby pasture. He soon learns, however, that Belle the mule is given perks like collards from the garden because of the important duties she performed during the civil rights movement. One of duties was drawing the wagon that carried the casket of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through Atlanta.

Belle is a tale of quiet determination leading the changes. Reading it is a perfect way to observe Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday and to help celebrate Black History Month in February.

Related Activity:

In this book, the quilts are in the background. However, quilts can be a powerful way to tell a story too.

Young children love to play with fabric. Have them assemble scrap pieces to form a quilt, and perhaps create some memories or a story of their own.

Gather:

  • Scraps of fabric from worn out clothes or leftovers from sewing projects
  • Scissors
  • White glue (dries slowly) or craft glue
  • Paper for backing (optional, but gives more structure if needed)
  • Fabric markers (optional)

Show the children some quilts. Let them free explore with the fabric and then ask them to make their own quilts. Once the pieces have been cut out, lay them in a pattern and then glue them together by placing glue at the edges and overlapping the pieces. Have a spot to lay the quilts aside to dry.

If your children are particularly crafty, try this marbleized paper quilt. Lovely!

For inspiration, watch this video of a quilter from Gee’s Bend who started when she was seven years old.

Age Range: 5 – 8 years
Grade Level: Kindergarten – 3
Lexile Measure: 710L (What’s this?)
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Candlewick (September 13, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0763640581
ISBN-13: 978-0763640583

 

Disclosure: Book provided by my local library. I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Posted in Picture book- fiction | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Adding a Comment on a (Blogger) Blog

While participating in the Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge this weekend, I have been leaving quite a few comments on blogs. What an experience!

Because one of the Bloggiesta challenges was to create an infographic using Piktochart, I decided to show (in a less-than-serious way) what leaving a comment on a Blogger blog is like for a WordPress user.

Adding CommentThose are screenshots from an actual attempt to leave a comment using my WordPress profile.

To Blogger users:  including the Name/URL option makes it easier for non-Blogger users to comment.

Final solution:  I eventually revived my old Blogger profile, although I still lose comments the first time.

 

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While leaving comments was a challenge, Piktochart is the most fun I’ve had in ages. It is very easy to learn. I had made my first infographic in minutes.  I recommend it!

 

Posted in Humorous, Internet Savvy | Tagged , | 6 Comments