Space, Stars, and the Beginning of Time: What the Hubble Telescope Saw

Space, Stars, and the Beginning of Time:  What the Hubble Telescope Saw by Elaine Scott

Reading level: Middle Grade (Ages 9-12)

Summary: A history of the Hubble Telescope and overview of how the images it has captured have added to the field of astronomy.

Illustrations: Full page, color photographs from NASA and the Hubble Heritage Team, as well as a few artist’s depictions

Comments: Good summary for those interested in the Hubble Telescope and astronomy in general. Although written for middle grades, it is also useful for adults wishing to brush up on the topic.

Related activities:

Make a model of the Hubble Telescope based on the illustration on page 13 of the book or other images (for example, this simple model craft for preschoolers)

List of activity links from Growing With Science, including links to a kit to make your own telescope

Compatible fiction: A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle (as suggested by the author)

Publisher:  Clarion Books (January 24, 2011)

ISBN-10: 0547241895
ISBN-13: 978-0547241890

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Next title to be reviewed: Insect Detective by Steve Voake and illustrated by Charlotte Voake

Carrots Grow Underground

Did you know that May is Get Caught Reading month? Why not get caught reading some great science books and do some hands-on activities, too?

Carrots Grow Underground by Mari Schuh

Reading level: Beginning/Easy Reader (Ages 4-8)

Summary: Describes and illustrates the life cycle of carrots and other root vegetables using appropriate first-grade vocabulary. Contains Glossary, Read More, Internet Sites and Index.

Illustrations:  Color photographs

Comments:  The formatting is perfect for the age group. The illustrations are yummy, and are consistent with one another in composition. Makes you want to get out there and plant some seeds, or even better, eat some fresh vegetables.

Related activities:

Compatible fiction: The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss

Publisher: Capstone Press; Pebble Books (January 2, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1429661852
ISBN-13: 978-1429661850

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Next title to be reviewed: Space, Stars, and the Beginning of Time:  What the Hubble Telescope Saw by Elaine Scott

Be sure to look for more information about children’s books at today’s Book Talk Tuesday.

The Book of Potentially Catastrophic Science

The Book of Potentially Catastrophic Science:  50 Experiments for Daring Young Scientists by Sean Connolly recently won the 2011 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prizes for Excellence in Science Books in the hands on science category.

What sets this book apart from others in the hands on science category is that Connolly has given a coherent history and context to each of the activities. In 34 chapters he covers breakthroughs and advances from stone age tools to the Hadron Collider. Many involve the stories of the scientists who actually performed the original experiments or made the advancements. He has done in depth research, too. For example, instead of merely recounting the tale of Ben Franklin flying the kite in the electrical storm, Connolly also discusses why some doubt the story and challenges the reader to figure out more through their own reading.

As for layout, the book is 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches with thick soft paper pages, which means you will probably need to set something on it to keep it open to the activity you are working on. The pages do not lay flat easily, a minor inconvenience.

Although the reading level assigned at Amazon is young adult, the “experiments” in this books are actually activities more appropriate for the middle grade level. That said, a middle school student who is interested in science is going to adore this book. There is enough material here for hours of engaging fun.

Reading level: Young Adult (Amazon)
Hardcover: 306 pages
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company (May 5, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0761156879
ISBN-13: 978-0761156871

nonfictionmonday

Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. We invite you to join us. For more information and a schedule, stop by the new Nonfiction Monday blog to see who is hosting each week.

This week’s post is at Picture Book of the Day.

Silk and Venom

Silk & Venom: Searching for a Dangerous Spider by Kathryn Lasky and her husband, photographer Christopher G. Knight is a new biography of arachnologist, Greta Binford. For the spider squeamish and spider enthusiast both:  Yes, this book is filled with large, colorful photographs of spiders. In the back is a “Glossary of Spiders” that shows sixteen different kinds of spiders. This isn’t a general book about spiders, however, the story follows scientist Binford on her journey to the Caribbean to find a certain species of brown recluse spider.  She is looking into how spiders of the genus Loxosceles, the brown spiders, may have migrated and evolved.

You may recognize Kathryn Lasky as the author of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series. She has also written a number of nonfiction titles. On the book jacket, she admits that she has always been afraid of spiders, but when she heard an interview with Greta Binford on the radio, she was so impressed with the scientist’s passion for spiders, she immediately wanted to know more. Her husband, photographer and documentary filmmaker Christopher G. Knight, revealed that he had to learn new techniques to photograph creatures as small as spiders, but his work paid off.

Greta Binford is a professor of biology at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. After a general introduction to spiders in the first chapter, the book delves into Binford’s childhood interest in nature. The text unfolds in such a way that children will be able to relate to getting dirty and picking up earthworms, as well as her brother tricking her into eating cat food. Perhaps unexpectedly, Lasky also mentions Binford’s childhood struggles with her religious beliefs. She mentions her belief in God, but how she grappled to come to grips with the stories of the Bible.

The book then turns to Binford’s current research into the venom of the brown spiders. Venom is the poisonous fluid that spiders inject with their fangs to help subdue and digest their prey. In the case of the brown recluse and its relatives, the venom can cause open sores that are slow to heal in humans, and sometimes more severe reactions. One group of species in South America has quite different venom and Binford is interested in how that might have come about.

Silk & Venom is sure to interest budding middle grade scientists. It might also entice a spider-phobe or two to become interested in spiders, just like it did for Kathryn Lasky.

For related activities see:

Spider Webs

Baby spiders and spider books for the younger set

Reading level: Ages 4-8 (Amazon, this is probably better for 9-12)
Hardcover: 64 pages
Publisher: Candlewick (February 22, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0763642223
ISBN-13: 978-0763642228

This books was provided for review purposes.

nonfictionmonday

Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. We invite you to join us. For more information and a schedule, stop by the new Nonfiction Monday blog to see who is hosting each week. This week’s post is at The Miss Rumphius Effect.