#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 Dream Big and a Reading Challenge

Tomorrow is a big day.

First, all the shortlists for the 2018 Cybils awards will be announced. We’ll have more about that in our next post.

Plus, tomorrow is the beginning of a brand new year. Let’s celebrate with a picture book that has a great New Year’s message, Dream Big: A True Story of Courage and Determination by Dave McGillivray and Nancy Feehrer, and illustrated by Ron Himler.

When I was little, I was little.
Really little.
But my dreams? They were BIG.

So starts Dave McGillivray’s autobiographical picture book.

Dave really wanted to be an athlete, but his small size kept him out of many sports. But he didn’t let that stop him. On his twelfth birthday he started running. By the time he was 17, he decided to give the nearby Boston Marathon a try. The first year wasn’t the success he had hoped, but he has managed to run every Boston Marathon for the last 45 years. The best part is that not only is he a world-renowned athlete, but also he’s the race director.

Included in the back is a timeline of Dave’s first successful race, plus Dream Big activity suggestions (see more about that below).

Dave’s Dream Big attitude is infectious. Check out a copy and get inspired today!

Activity Suggestion:

To accompany the book, Dave McGillivray suggests running 26 miles, reading 26 books, and performing 26 acts of kindness all over over the span of 26 weeks.  There’s a guide to download at his website.

Reading 26 books in a year is a good challenge, too.

Other Reading Challenges:

Reading challenges are great ways to discover new passions, learn new skills, and try new things. Just make sure the goals are enjoyable and reasonable.

Brightly has monthly reading challenges that are a fun mix of activities and suggested books at the bottom. Check out this one for January. (I’m thinking about doing some of these.)

Feed Your Fiction has a monster list of reading challenges, including some kidlit ones (scroll down).

Please let us know about any others.

Age Range: 7 – 12 years
Publisher: Nomad Press (March 1, 2018)
ISBN-10: 9781619306189
ISBN-13: 978-1619306189
ASIN: 1619306182

 

Disclosure: The book was provided by the publisher 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.

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#Nonfiction Monday Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor

Let’s explore some of the fantastic nonfiction children’s books that have been nominated for 2018 Cybils awards.

For Nonfiction Monday we have the picture book biography Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles by Patricia Valdez and illustrated by Felicita Sala.

Fascinated by reptiles from an early age, Joan Procter found a mentor in Dr. George Boulenger who was the curator of reptiles and fish at the Natural History Museum. She became his assistant at a young age and took over his position when he retired. She mixed art and science, doing scientific research and creating exhibits at the Museum at the same time. Later, after designing a reptile house at the London Zoo, she formed a special bond with the most unlikely animal, a huge Komodo dragon.

Joan Procter was a person ahead of her time and she probably don’t get the recognition she deserved because of it. From the catchy title on in, Patricia Valdez has done her part to shine the light on this amazing woman whose passion for reptiles helped her forge new paths for women as scientists. Valdez has chosen anecdotes from Procter’s life, like taking a small crocodile to math class, that are sure to engage and thrill young readers.

Like a chameleon, Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor will fit many lessons. Pull out a copy not only for Women’s History Month, but also for a STEM lesson on reptiles or the lives of scientists. It is perfect for history buffs and budding scientists alike.

Activity Suggestions:

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (March 13, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0399557253
ISBN-13: 978-0399557255

Check out our growing list of biographies of women scientists at Science Books for Kids.

 

Disclosure: The book was provided by the publisher for Cybils 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.

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

#Nonfiction Monday: An Artist and An Architect

Let’s explore some of the fantastic nonfiction children’s books that have been nominated for 2018 Cybils awards.

So many wonderful biographies were nominated this year. Because we only have a limited time to talk about them, I’m going to pair books about two women who have produced public art that has changed lives.

In alphabetical order by the subject’s last name, first we have the picture book Ruth Asawa:  A Sculpting Life by Joan Schoettler and illustrated by Tracie Van Wagoner.

Ruth Asawa’s story could have been made into at least two books. She started out life as Aiko Asawa from Southern California. She was given the Americanized first name Ruth when she went to school. A short time later World War II started, and she and her family were taken to one of the Japanese internment camps. While inside, Ruth studied art and spent her free time creating. If the author had chosen, this could have been an entire story of its own.

But there was more to Ruth. Once she was released, she used her experiences to create astonishing looped-wire sculptures and later on, public fountains. She became a renowned sculptor.

You can see some of her amazing sculptures in this video.

The tone of both the text and the illustrations are appropriately more subdued than some of the other biographies on the nomination list (for example, last week’s post). The brightest illustrations are the first spread, when Ruth was Aiko on the farm where she grew up and the last spread showing the beautiful Garden of Remembrance Ruth designed to honor the Japanese-Americans who were interred during the war.

Black and white photographs of Asana and her work are included in the back matter.

Ruth Asawa:  A Sculpting Life will captivate readers interested in history and those who enjoy art. It is a perfect choice for women’s history month, too. Pick up a copy and be inspired today.

Activity Suggestion:

Fold an origami butterfly (Instructions — and links to more patterns– in this previous post)

Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Publisher: Pelican Publishing Company, Inc. (August 30, 2018)
ISBN-10: 9781455623976
ISBN-13: 978-1455623976
ASIN: 1455623970

Moving on in time, we have the middle grade title Maya Lin: Thinking With Her Hands by Susan Goldman Rubin.

Not everyone knows, but the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D. C. was designed by a young student of Chinese descent. The architect Maya Lin has gone on to shape many more breathtaking buildings and outdoor spaces.

Abundant color photographs reveal Lin’s story and her projects, like a gorgeous two-page spread of the Storm King Wavefield covered with snow (see). The images give the book a vibrant, modern feel. They also make you want to go visit all the places she’s created.

Of note: Susan Goldman Rubin shows Maya Lin’s talent didn’t arise from thin air.

“…her aunt had been an architect and architectural historian in Beijing. She had come to the United States to study architecture, but she was not admitted because she was a woman. However, within a year she wound up on the faculty.”

Do you know a budding architect or artist? Get Maya Lin: Thinking With Her Hands into their hands right now!

Activity Suggestion:

Check out an informational video about Maya Lin and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Khan Academy (especially appropriate since today is Veterans Day).

Publisher: Chronicle Books (November 7, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1452108374
ISBN-13: 978-1452108377

Disclosure: The books were provided by our local libraries. 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.

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