Middle School Book Tackles Climate Change

Just in time for the UN Climate Summit (and after the hottest summer on record), is a new middle grade book Lug, Dawn of the Ice Age by David Zeltser that brings awareness about climate change by comparing it in a funny way to what our ancestors may have experienced during an ice age.

No one will listen to Lug the caveboy when he says that there is an ice age coming. After all, he spends more time painting cave walls than catching big beasts. After he gets banished, he meets a helpful girl named Echo from another tribe. Will they be able to save his people from the saber-toothed tigers and from freezing?

With a humorous tone and cartoon-like illustrations – similar to some other popular series for this age group – Zeltser pulls off a difficult message without making it too heavy. The story has some other serious themes as well, such as dealing with bullying, being different, and animal rights.

As a scientist who prefers nonfiction, I was a bit disappointed with some of the elements, such as dodo birds running around (they were only found on the island of Mauritius) and Lug being a caveboy (there is a general consensus that our ancestors probably weren’t in caves a lot). For readers who fit the middle grade target audience, however, and who prefer fiction, this book is likely to be a hit.

Lug, Dawn of the Ice Age is perfect for the reader who likes a mix of humor and adventure. It might just strike the funny bone of young readers and at the same time let them see denying climate change for what it is.

Check out the the book trailer for a better feel for the book:


Private note: Thanks to Rowan! :-)

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Grade Level: 3 – 7
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: EgmontUSA (September 9, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1606845136
ISBN-13: 978-1606845134

Disclosures: This book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. 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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Informational Books about Oceans for Kids

When a child sees the ocean for the first time, he or she is likely to be very curious about it. One way to satisfy that curiosity is to pull out some great informational books and read.

Beginning readers might be ready to explore Oceans and Seas (Acorn: Water, Water Everywhere!) by Diyan Leake, available soon.

oceans-and-seas

In Oceans and Seas, the reader will find out what an ocean is, what lives in the ocean, and how waves form, all of which are introduced with short sentences and carefully controlled vocabulary. Needless to say, it is illustrated with beautiful color photographs and includes a map with the five oceans labelled. The best part is on the last page, where parents and teachers can find suggestions for appropriate hands-on activities to do before and after reading the book. You definitely want to read that page first.

Reading Level: Grades PreK-1
Publisher: Raintree (October 9, 2014)
ISBN-10: 140628386X
ISBN-13: 978-1406283860

Slightly older children might enjoy Oceans (Habitat Survival) by Claire Llewellyn.

After identifying the world’s oceans as habitats, the text explains the kinds of animals and plants (really algae, which are protists) found there and how the various types of organisms are interrelated in a food web. The book is illustrated with color photographs, with explanations that are set off and highlighted nicely.  The dangers to sea life and how we might protect it are also included.

Oceans would be appropriate for a unit or report on oceans, habitats or marine ecology.

Grade Level: 2 – 4
Publisher: Raintree Perspectives (August 1, 2012)
ISBN-10: 141094607X
ISBN-13: 978-1410946072

This week we are highlighting more ocean science books and activities for kids at Growing with Science blog (posts to be added throughout the week).

Do you have any ocean science books or activities to share? Let us know in the comments and we’ll pin them to our Ocean Science Pinterest board.

ocean-themed-childrens-books

We also have a growing list of ocean and beach science-themed children’s books at our sister blog, Science Books for Kids.

Disclosure: These books were provided by the publisher for review purposes. 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.

nonfictionmonday

Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.

Posted in Nonfiction, Nonfiction Monday Review, Science | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Physical Sciences for Kids: It Matters!

This summer I have been teaching chemistry to some high school students. While gathering information, I have been amazed at the books that are available to introduce chemistry concepts to very young children.

For example, All about Matter (Science Builders) by Mari Schuh introduces the three most common states of matter:  solid, liquid and gas, as well as explains what matter is in such a way that a preschooler could understand. Even more astounding, she does this all in only 151 words!

As you can see from the cover, it is illustrated with big, colorful and visually-interesting photographs.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 1
Series: Science Builders
Paperback: 24 pages
Publisher: Pebble Plus (August 1, 2011)
ISBN-10: 142967105X
ISBN-13: 978-1429671057

I was also pleased to find The Solid Truth about Matter (LOL Physical Science) by Mark Weakland and illustrated by Bernice Lum for slightly older children.

The-solid-truth-about-matter

Books in the LOL Physical Science series are full of cartoons, jokes and funny asides. That doesn’t mean the science is less than serious, however. The concepts are there, the vocabulary is there, and the explanations are clear.

This book is perfectly tailored for reluctant readers. What better way to learn about the common states of matter than through the life cycle of a snowman (pg 19). Brilliant! (Although the reverse of going directly from solid to gas (sublimation) is actually more commonly known as desublimation or deposition.)

In any case The Solid Truth about Matter is a good, solid book to have on hand for science units.

Age Range: 8 – 10 years
Grade Level: 3 – 4
Publisher: Fact Finders (August 1, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1429693029
ISBN-13: 978-1429693028

popular-chemistry-books-for-kids

Want more? Try our growing list of popular chemistry books for kids.

Disclosures:  These books were provided by the publisher for review purposes. 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.

Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. Join us at the Nonfiction Monday blog.

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Change the World with Plant a Pocket of Prairie

Have you heard about how the monarch butterfly is rapidly disappearing? The children’s picture book, Plant a Pocket of Prairie by Phyllis Root and illustrated by Betsy Bowen, is a quiet, gentle book that just might inspire you and your family to plant a garden to help the monarchs and the many other plants and animals harmed by loss of habitat.

Phyllis Root starts by disclosing how the prairies are almost all gone, in fact the back matter she explains that less than one percent of native prairies remain. She then highlights examples of relationships between specific plants and animals in the prairie ecosystem, such as between foxglove beardtongue (a type of Penstemon) and hummingbirds;

hummingbird-dbg-wkids

Hummingbird

 

between monarch butterflies and milkweeds;

beautiful-monarch

Monarch Butterfly

common-milkweed

Common Milkweed

butterfly-weed-dc

Butterfly Weed

 

goldfinches and sunflowers;

goldfinch-ps

Lesser Goldfinch

sunflower-back

Wild Sunflowers

and purple coneflower and skippers.

skipper-on-lantana

Skipper Butterfly

She explains that by growing prairie plants, even in small pockets, the animals that use them will come to visit. In a whimsical twist, she asks who else might come if the pockets of prairie are big enough and the illustration shows a bison mother and calf.

In the back matter are lists of mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and plants found in prairies, perfect for a jumping off point for designing a garden.

Betsy Bowen’s woodblock print illustrations are a lovely accompaniment to Root’s text. They capture the open, airy look of the prairies beautifully. You might want to buy a bookstand and display the open book on a shelf or coffee table because the illustrations are that moving.

Even though Plant a Pocket of Prairie explores the prairies of Minnesota, the book has a much more general appeal and a serious message about preserving habitats that can apply anywhere. It is an inspirational book for children of all ages who love being outdoors and who enjoy nature. Pick up a copy today!

 

prairie-look-2Wouldn’t a garden like this be wonderful? Let me know if you are encouraged to plant a garden with your children.

Ages 5-10
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press (May 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0816679800
ISBN-13: 978-0816679805

Related:

See more about Plant a Pocket of Prairie and related activities in a previous post at Growing with Science.

Disclosures:  This book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. 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.

Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. Join us at the Nonfiction Monday blog, or now at the Nonfiction Monday FaceBook page.

Posted in Animals, Nonfiction, Nonfiction Monday Review, Picture book- nonfiction, Plants | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Chicago Review Press Does It Again: Industrial Revolution for Kids

Chicago Review Press has a new book out this month in their wonderful collection of American history titles: The Industrial Revolution for Kids: The People and Technology That Changed the World, with 21 Activities by Cheryl Mullenbach.

The Industrial Revolution was a time of sweeping changes. New technologies led to booming industries and resulted in vast modifications to the lives of many people, particularly the children. Readers will learn about not just the big names of the period, like inventor Thomas Edison and Photographer Jacob Riis, but also some people who are not household names, such as Lucy Larcom, who worked in a mill as a child. What were their lives like? How were their lives different from ours and also from their ancestors? Mullenbach pulls from the stories of real children to make history relevant to the young reader.

If you are familiar with the books in the Chicago Review Press For Kids series, you know they stand out because of the hands-on activities sprinkled throughout the text. Even at the middle school age and above, hand-on learning is so important for retention and in-depth understanding. For example, one of the activities is to design a living quarters for a family living in a tenement with the dimensions 10 feet by 10 feet. It is one thing to read about the small space, it is another to try to actually make it work. Although not provided, the project could bring about further research into what types of furniture a tenement family might have owned. It is easy to image how any of the projects might inspire  a young reader to jump into a more in depth investigation into different aspects of the era.

The Industrial Revolution for Kids is a versatile book that would be useful as a resource for a school report or research project, as a homeschool text for a unit on American History, or as a way for adults to quickly browse and brush up on history. See how history can be made relevant and interesting with this unique, hands-on learning approach.

Related activity:

One suggested activity in the book is to investigate the science of cycling. This video shows how advances in technology that started during the Industrial Revolution continue to improve the bicycling experience.

For more, try The Science of Cycling at the Exploratorium.

Age Range: 9 and up
Grade Level: 4 and up
Series: For Kids series
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Chicago Review Press (August 1, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1613746903
ISBN-13: 978-1613746905

Interested in learning more about this series? Check my review of World War I for Kids.

Disclosures:  This book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. 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.

 Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. Join us at the Nonfiction Monday blog.

Posted in Middle Grade Nonfiction, Nonfiction, Nonfiction Monday Review | Tagged , | 2 Comments