Dynamic Women Dancers

For a little change a pace, we’re going to be celebrating the arts this week at Wrapped in Foil.

Let’s start by taking a look at an important, enjoyable and uplifting book, Dynamic Women Dancers by Anne Dublin, part of The Women’s Hall of Fame Series. Women-dancers

The cover of this book really catches your eye, the bright pink toe shoes set the stage for what is to come. Inside you find the biographies of ten world-class dancers who have made a real difference in other people’s lives. Author Anne Dublin has chosen a nice diversity of women, from many different parts of the world and with many different styles of dance.

Each chapter covers one dancer, starting with ballerina Anna Pavlova, who was born in 1881. The chapters are arranged chronologically based on the dancer’s year of birth. Next we learn about Anna Sokolow (born in 1910), Carmen Amaya (born in 1913), and others, through Geeta Chandran, born in 1962. Many of the women faced severe challenges, often due to the times and circumstances they grew up in, making these stories of history as well as dance.

Because of Dublin’s own background in dance – she has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance from the University of Wisconsin – she can eloquently express the struggles and triumphs of each dancer in a way that makes us relate. She also knows the vocabulary of dance, and includes definitions of the “Forms of Dance,” as well as a glossary, in the back. Her lists of “Sources & Resources” for each dancer are quite impressive.

The text is illustrated with black and white photographs. Using black and white photographs helps ties together images from various eras and sources into a coherent whole. The text is also sprinkled with tantalizing sidebars that draw the reader in and reinforce learning.

This book is listed as young adult at Amazon, but for ages 9-13 in the promotional materials. I would say that any child interested in dance from age nine up couldn’t help but be inspired by this book.

Reading level: Young Adult (Amazon)
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Second Story Press (May 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1897187564
ISBN-13: 978-1897187562

Dynamic Women Dancers really made me to want to see these women dancing, moving. Through the wonder of YouTube, I was able to find videos of three of the dancers. I hope you enjoy them.

Anna Pavlova is still amazing to watch, even after all the years.

Carmen Amaya came to be synonymous with flamenco, a traditional dance from the south of Spain.

Geeta Chandran’s expressive gestures and facial expressions are mesmerizing.


Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Anastasia Suen’s Nonfiction Monday page. This week’s post is at Simply Science.

Review copy provided by publisher.

A “Short” Review: Planet Hunter

planet hunterTravis Jonker at 100 Scope Notes has given the Nonfiction Monday carnival regulars a challenge to produce a nontraditional book review today.

Planet Hunter: Geoff Marcy and the Search for Other Earths by Vicki Oransky Wittenstein is about a scientist who looks for planets around stars other than our sun. He has made many important finds using innovative techniques, as this video demonstrates.


Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Picture Book of the Day. This week’s post is at 100 Scope Notes.

The book was supplied by the author (who will now probably ask for it back 🙂 ).

(For a more traditional review of Planet Hunter, see the previous post. Hey, I had it done already.)

Planet Hunter: At the Frontier of Space Research

Have you ever wanted to visit the laboratory of a ground-breaking research scientist? Now you can, because Planet Hunter: Geoff Marcy and the Search for Other Earths by Vicki Oransky Wittenstein will allow you to feel like you are standing right next to Dr. Geoff Marcy in his quest to find extrasolar planets (planets that revolve around stars other than our sun).planet hunter

Vicki Wittenstein begins by taking us to the site of the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. The telescopes are on a mountain so high that it rises above the clouds. The temperatures are below freezing, even in the summer, and getting to the telescopes is treacherous because of the narrow icy roads and high altitude (The author had to have an oxygen supply to visit.) Who knew that astronomy could be dangerous?

Once we’ve met Dr. Marcy and his team, the author explains carefully and clearly how to go about looking for planets orbiting around far away stars. The planets themselves are not visible because they do not reflect enough light to be detected by a telescope. Dr. Marcy uses a spectrometer to look for evidence that a star is wobbling. Stars wobble when gravity from nearby planets is tugging on them. Gathering data to establish the presence of a single planet can require years and years of tedious work. Dr. Marcy and his team have been successful, however, and have discovered half the extrasolar planets now known.

Can you imagine what it must be like to find a planet revolving around a far away star? What are the planet’s characteristics? Is it able to support life? How many extrasolar planets are out there? These are the kinds of difficult and exciting questions Dr. Marcy pursues.

This book is filled with gorgeous full-color photographs and illustrations. The “To Learn More” section at the end contains plenty of additional sources of information, as well as an extensive and helpful glossary to explain all the terminology used.

Planet Hunter is sure to thrill children interested in science and particularly those enamored with space and astronomy. It covers such a unique and contemporary topic (the first planets outside our solar system were found in 1992). Although listed as middle grade, this book is also appropriate for high school and adults who want to catch up on this area quickly, because of the high level of detail given.

For another review of Planet Hunter and suggested activities, see Simply Science.

Growing With Science celebrates Planet Hunter with related hands-on activities for children.

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Boyds Mills Press (March 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1590785924
ISBN-13: 978-1590785928

Book was provided by author.

Jane Goodall and Chimps

As an aspiring children’s book author, I am now ready to throw in the towel. I was okay when the king of artist biographies, Mike Venezia, moved into biographies of musicians. I started to get a little uneasy when he began to tackle the presidents. Now I have found out Mr. Venezia has a new “Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Inventors and Scientists” series. He is just too much competition, I’m afraid. I’m calling it quits.

Okay, so that was tongue-in-cheek, which I’m sure Mike Venezia would understand because he is so fantastic at injecting humor into his works.Jane-Goodall

This weekend I found a copy of Jane Goodall:  Researcher Who Champions Chimps at the library. If you are familiar with Mike Venezia’s previous books, you will immediately recognize the winning formula here. Interspersed with pages of the typical biographical information and photographs are lighthearted stories of things Jane Goodall did as a child, illustrated with funny cartoons.

Most children find the less-serious approach very appealing, and these books are wonderful for reluctant readers. Adults shouldn’t be fooled though, this book does an excellent job of covering the essentials of Jane Goodall’s life. One can’t help being inspired by an eager young secretary who goes to Africa in search of adventure and ends up a famous ethologist and world authority on chimpanzees.

A perfect fit for any library, this book is sure to attract readers.

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Library Binding: 32 pages
Publisher: Children’s Press (March 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0531237311
ISBN-13: 978-0531237311

On the same day, I also found Termites on a Stick by Michele Coxon, which would make a fine companion to the Jane Goodall book.

Termites on a Stick

In this case, the illustrations caught my eye. The chimpanzees that Jane Goodall studied take center stage. The story follows a little chimp as he learns the important skill of using a stick as a tool to fish for termites. This is one of the first interesting behaviors that Jane Goodall discovered.

The book includes a page of chimpanzee facts and detailed illustrations of a chimps hands and feet, as well as the inside of a termite mound.

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Star Bright Books (May 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595721835
ISBN-13: 978-1595721839

If you are interested in learning more about Jane Goodall, try Meet A Scientist:  Jane Goodall at Growing With Science today. If you want to see more about how chimps and gorillas feed on ants, check Wild About Ants.


Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Picture Book of the Day. This week’s post is at In Need of Chocolate.