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.

Squish #1: Super Amoeba

A few weeks ago I was in a local bookstore looking for middle grade novels. The salesperson suggested a graphic novel that had “science.” A fictional graphic novel that contains science? Intrigued, she lead me to  Squish #1: Super Amoeba by Jennifer L. Holm and Matt Holm, part of a new graphic novel series. What a “novel” idea for STEM Friday!

squish

The Holm siblings are the authors behind successful Babymouse series. In the book Babymouse: Mad Scientist, they introduce Squish the amoeba as part of a science fair project and then “bud” him off into his own series.

Matt Holm explains in this fun video:

Squish the amoeba encounters the same problems a middle school human would have, like dealing with a friend who mooches his lunch money. There’s even a bully who wants to copy Squish’s science test (Squish is good at science). In a twist, the bully is another amoeba that has a tendency to engulf and eat his friends. Squish wants to be like his comic book hero and save the day, but finds that doing the right thing isn’t always as easy as it seems in books.

Squish appears to be a quick read at first. The humorous elements in the book, like the expressive hat Matt Holm mentions in the video, means that the reader will want to return again and again. Each time there is a little bit more to discover and, dare I say, absorb? If they pay attention, the readers will learn scientific vocabulary and concepts. For some readers, this fun graphic novel series just might spark an interest in learning more about science.

For more details about the science behind the book, visit Growing with Science.

 

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Grade Level: 3 – 7
Series: Squish (Book 1)
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (May 10, 2011)

Usually I suggest a fiction to pair with nonfiction, but today I suggest Protozoans, Algae & Other Protists (Kingdom Classifications) by Steve Parker for children who want to find out more about the microorganisms introduced in Squish.

Age Range: 9 and up
Grade Level: 4 and up
Series: Kingdom Classifications
Publisher: Compass Point Books (July 1, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0756542243
ISBN-13: 978-0756542245

The rest of the series:

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.

 

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

Christmas Spirit Giveaway

With Thanksgiving so late this year, it might be difficult to get into the Christmas spirit. To help you get started, let’s have what I believe is our first ever Wrapped In Foil giveaway contest (see Rafflecopter form below). Today we’re featuring the middle grade romp Kat McGee and The School of Christmas Spirit (A Kat McGee Adventure) (Volume 1) by Rebecca Munsterer and illustrated by Nick Guarracino.

christmas-spiritThis is an incredibly sweet book. Kat McGee is an average girl stuck in the middle of what seems to be a family of super achievers. No one thinks she’s remarkable. That is, no one except her grandmother, who has her own unusual connection to none other than Mrs. Claus (as in, wife of Santa Claus). Where will that connection lead? The cover of the book might give you a few clues.

With a bit of foreshadowing, Kat suspects some shady dealings were involved when she is not chosen for the role of Mary in the Christmas pageant. That is all forgotten, however, when she goes on the adventure of the lifetime to the North Pole.

gifts

The book is filled with other “gifts.”

1. Candyfruit

What child doesn’t dream of waking up to elves delivering a sugary mixture of oranges and chocolate called “candyfruit” for breakfast? In just one of the many sweet aspects of the book, the yummy CandyFruit Recipe is given in the back matter (It was specially created by celebrity chefs Tom Colicchio and Umber Ahmad of Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery).

snow-globe

2. Snow Globe
Also in the back matter are the instructions to make a simple snow globe using a small jar. My son made one of these in first grade and he still enjoys it.

3. Character-building activities

These activities revolve around the four character-building tenets Kat learns at the North Pole:  self-worth, wisdom, wonder and whimsy.

4. Reading Guide
Wrapping things up in the back matter is an extensive chapter-by-chapter reading guide with blanks for filling in answers.

5. More fun holiday-related crafts
See In This Together Media for even more holiday craft ideas, such as stained glass cards and “Festive HolidayLights” gift paper.

6. The Kat McGee Christmas Pinterest Board

Everything from Christmas cookies to a paper-chain Christmas tree. You have to see this one!

Kat McGee and The School of Christmas Spirit is a treat that is best shared during the holidays. To possibly win a copy, enter by using the Rafflecopter form by December 10, 2013. (Please leave a comment if the form gives you any problems.)

 

Series: A Kat McGee Adventure
Paperback: 142 pages
Publisher: In This Together Media; 2 edition (November 5, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0989816648
ISBN-13: 978-0989816649

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosures: The book was provided 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.

In Search of Goliathus Hercules

Today we are taking part in a blog tour (see detail below).

In Search of Goliathus Hercules by Jennifer Angus is a middle grade novel that takes the reader in an exotic journey around the world on the hunt for a giant beetle and a young boy’s father.   goliathus-book-cover

This unique tale, set in 1890, captures the time of the late-Victorian naturalists when collecting natural objects was king. Henri, a boy who has been sent to live with his eccentric great aunt, makes the surprising discovery that he can talk to insects. When a circus comes to town – complete with a flea circus – he finds his calling and runs away with them. After traveling a bit, he and his new friends decide to go on a quest for an elusive giant beetle, Goliathus hercules, and at the same time search for Henri’s missing father. Will they succeed or will they be thwarted by a villainous mystery woman in black? What they discover will astonish you.

The story how this book came to be is just as fantastic as the book itself. The author, Jennifer Angus, is known for her graphic designs featuring actual, albeit dead, insects. She was approached by a children’s book publisher to do a picture book, but the project “metamorphosed” into a middle grade novel with one-of-a-kind illustrations based on her art exhibits. Helping with the exotic feel, she did most of her writing while traveling. Anastasia at Booktalking has the full scoop.

As a trained entomologist, I was interested to look at a book for older children that featured insects. What I found was a tale that stretches the imagination and leaves you thinking about the relationship of humans and insects. “Roald Dahl meets Franz Kafka” is how one reviewer at Publisher’s Weekly summarized it.

Are you intrigued? We are hosting a book giveaway for a signed copy of In Search of Goliathus Hercules by Jennifer Angus at our sister blog, Growing with Science.

Age Range: 8 and up
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company (March 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0807529907
ISBN-13: 978-0807529904

Ebooks are available from Open Road Media.

Physical copies are available at Albert Whitman & Company.

 

 GoliathusBlogTour_Banner

 Blog tours are a super way to find new book blogs and read multiple takes on the same book. Hop on over and see what everyone else is saying.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review purposes.