#Nonfiction Monday #Kidlit Always Looking Up by Laura Gehl

Movies, plays, and books about pioneering women in STEM are now receiving main stream attention. Take, for example, Katherine Goble, Mary Jackson, and Dorthy Vaghan who stole the show in the film,  Hidden Figures. Recently our local theater featured the play Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson based on the life of 19th-century astronomer Henrietta Leavitt. It is an exciting trend.

In the same vein, today we’re highlighting the new children’s book, Always Looking Up: Nancy Grace Roman, Astronomer  by Laura Gehl and illustrated by Louise Pigott and  Alex Oxton.

 

Known affectionately as the mother of the Hubble Telescope, Nancy Grace Roman was passionate about studying space from an early age. However, she had problems with her vision and and gender stereotypes got in the way of  her goal. She learned how to work hard and be persistent to overcome the obstacles, then used those skills to drive the Hubble telescope project to success.

Author Laura Gehl has the science background — with a PhD in Neuroscience — but she also totally understands young readers. The text is lively and includes the right amount of detail.  For example, when the Hubble Telescope began sending back data from space, expectations were high.

“But the first images were blurry. And hopes plummeted like a falling meteorite.”

She uses a space-related term to playfully invoke the emotions of the scientists during this crisis.

Louise Pigott and Alex Oxton express Nancy Grace’s passion for space with imaginative illustrations, particularly the deep blue and black panoramas of the night skies. The art also evokes the loneliness and isolation she must have felt at times.

The back matter is also well done. It includes an “Author’s Note” and an extensive “Timeline” of Nancy Grace Roman’s life from 1925 to her death in 2018 at 93 years old.

Always Looking Up is sure to inspire budding astronomers and historians alike. Investigate a copy today!

Activity Suggestions:

– Explore Hubble Telescope Images at NASA

This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows IC 4653, a galaxy just above 80 million light-years from Earth.

 

For even more about pioneering women, see our growing lists of children’s book biographies:

  1.  21+ Children’s Books About Women Scientists
  2.  Women Who Count (mathematicians)

at Science Books for Kids.

 

Age Range: 5 – 7 years
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company; None edition (October 1, 2019)
ISBN-10: 0807502960
ISBN-13: 978-0807502969

 

Disclosure: The book was provided by Blue Slip Media 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 no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

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

#Nonfiction Monday The Big Book of Birds

Last year as a Cybils judge I reviewed Yuval Zommer’s The Big Book of the Blue.  Frankly, it was one of my favorites of the 140+ nonfiction books I read.  I loved the unique, fun illustrations and the playfulness of it. Plus, the information presented was spot on.

Now Zommer has out a new title the series, The Big Book of Birds.

This book has many of the same features I liked about The Big Book of the Blue.  The big size and the complex, engaging illustrations are the same. There’s also a challenge to search for and find a object, this time an egg, throughout the illustrations.  Those sort of games can bring a young reader back to a book again and again.

The topic overviews, such as a spread about bird migration, mix well with zoomed-in discussions of specific types of birds, such as parrots or owls. Again the text is interesting and informative.

There’s only one thing that puts me off loving this one as wholeheartedly as Blue. Weirdly, I don’t like where he placed the birds’ eyes in some of the illustrations. He gives each bird two eyes in a stylized way that sometimes makes one them appear to be on the bird’s neck. Eyes on necks may not work for me, but it probably won’t be a problem for most readers.

Everything is big about this book. Even the back matter is oversized. It includes the answers to the search-and-find, a fun glossary, and a huge index.

The Big Book of Birds is the type of book that begs to be shared. Grab a copy, find a quiet corner, and spend time with a young reader delving into each and every page.  They will be glad you did.

Related:

Want to read more children’s books about birds? Check our growing list at Science Books for Kids.

Age Range: 6 – 8 years
Publisher: Thames & Hudson; 1 edition (June 4, 2019)
ISBN-10: 0500651515
ISBN-13: 978-0500651513

Disclosure: The book was provided by our local library. 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 no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

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

#Nonfiction Monday I’m Trying to Love Math Succeeds

It’s about fear, it’s about math, it’s incredibly funny, it’s I’m Trying to Love Math by Bethany Barton.

For those who feel that math must have been developed by aliens, it seems appropriate that a space alien comes to Earth to help young readers figure out how math might be useful.  It is soon apparent there’s math in cooking, in nature, in navigation, and even in music. Math shows up in a lot of things people love.

Bethany Barton combines pen and ink with digital software to create lighthearted illustrations. Some of the illustrations are even interactive, involving book shaking or holding an ice cream spoon (you have to get the book to figure that one out).

I’m Trying to Love Math is for young people who aren’t sure why they need to study math. The book will help them discover how useful math is for everyday life. Realizing why something is important is often the first step to learning.

Pick up and shake a copy today!

Looking for more math books for kids? Try our Pi Day list at Science Books for kids.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers (July 2, 2019)
ISBN-10: 0451480902
ISBN-13: 978-0451480903

Disclosure: The book was provided by our local library. 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 no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

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

#Nonfiction Monday Guitar Genius by Kim Tomsic is Brilliant!

Last week I attended our regional SCBWI conference and by pure chance sat at the same table as Kim Tomsic. When I heard about her new book Guitar Genius: How Les Paul Engineered the Solid-Body Electric Guitar and Rocked the World,  illustrated by Brett Helquist, I knew I had to read it. Wow, I’m glad I did.

Kim Tomsic is a master at landing young readers. She immediately draws them in by introducing Les Paul as a child. She makes him relatable by revealing he struggled at music lessons early on. Then she hooks the readers by showing Paul make a homemade radio. There’s no putting the book down at that point.

It helps that Les Paul is a fascinating figure who spots problems and works persistently to solve them. Plus, Tomsic’s upbeat tone captures his energy perfectly.

Brett Helquist’s oil paint on watercolor paper illustrations both reflect the time period and modern expectations. I particularly love that he shows music as brightly-colored shapes in motion. It makes sound tangible.

Guitar Genius is will appeal to those interested in music, those thrilled by inventing and building, and those who love to learn history by reading biographies. Get caught up in a copy today!

Activity Suggestions:

1. Explore the Guitar

Show a guitar and talk about the different parts. If possible compare an acoustic guitar versus and an electric one. Explain how they work.

Also see a brief video bio of Les Paul, plus him accompanying Mary Ford singing.

For elementary-aged children, visit Kim Tomsic’s website for a teacher’s guide to download that includes instructions for making a simple harmonica and a guitar!

For young children, print out coloring pages of different types of guitars.

2.  Encourage children to build a homemade radio.

There are many instructions online, including at Boys Life.

Age Range: 5 – 8 years
Publisher: Chronicle Books (April 9, 2019)
ISBN-10: 145215919X
ISBN-13: 978-1452159195

Disclosure: The book was provided by our local library. 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 no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

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