Into the Deep with William Beebe

The first thing you notice about the reviews of Into the Deep: The Life of Naturalist and Explorer William Beebe by David Sheldon is that they are all about William Beebe. David Sheldon has done such a great job of presenting his subject that details of the book are in the background. William Beebe is the star from page one.

into-the-deep

And what an exciting star he is. A naturalist, explorer and prolific writer, William Beebe accomplished a great deal in his lifetime. Although called Into the Deep in reference to Beebe’s record breaking descent into the ocean in the pioneering Bathysphere, the story actually covers Beebe’s entire life. Beebe explored nature around his home and made collections as a child. He even had an owl for a pet. Later he traveled around the world, first on collecting expeditions and later to study animals in their natural habitat. After his retirement, he founded a research station in Trinidad. He was a man of many hats, being a naturalist, pioneer in the field of ecology, explorer of ocean depths, and an ardent conservationist. To paraphrase David Sheldon, William Beebe did what many of us only dream about (after all, who gets to have an owl as a pet?)

As for the book, you have to admire people who are more than capable as authors and illustrators, too. David Sheldon has done a lovely job capturing both the exotic animals Beebe encounters and the look of wonder and joy on Beebe’s face. At the end is a “Diving Deeper into the Story” section with more details of Beebe’s life and quotes from his books. A glossary and list of resources are also included, making this book a very useful reference as well as an interesting biography.

I didn’t know much about William Beebe before reading Into the Deep. Now I can’t wait to find Beebe’s books listed in the “Resources” and read more about his adventures.

If you are interested in some ocean-inspired activities, try my Growing With Science blog.

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing; New edition (July 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1580893414
ISBN-13: 978-1580893411

nonfictionmonday

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 Playing by the Book.

Look to the Stars

Several children’s books have been released to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the flight of Apollo 11. Look to the Stars by Buzz Aldrin and Wendell Minor (Illustrator) is remarkable because it is much more than merely an account by the second human being to touch the surface of the moon. Dr. Aldrin shows us how this incredible accomplishment is part of a long history of discoveries and advancements, and how it may lead to many more new things in the future. In fact, he spends relatively little time on the Apollo 11 mission, given his giant part in it. When he does mention it, he humbly thanks all the nearly 400,000 others that worked to make the project possible. Here is a man who understands his place in history.

Look-to-the-stars

I admit I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up Look to the Stars. Even though it was a New York Times bestseller, it hasn’t gotten as much ‘buzz” (sorry) as some of the others on the same topic. Once I had read it, however, I was hooked. Yes, Buzz Aldrin is a “celebrity,” but he has still done a good job keeping the information relevant and exciting to children. The quotes on every page and the phases of the moon over the page numbers let us know that extra thought was put into the details of this book. The illustrations are perfect, such as a view of a future child space tourist looking back over the surface of the moon towards a vibrant blue earth in the distance. The personal touches, such as putting his wedding day on the fascinating time line in the back of the book, made me smile.

Although recommended for ages 4-8, I would say that this picture book would definitely be appealing to older children as well. Pick up a copy and go on your own personal journey into space.

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile; First Edition, First Printing edition (May 14, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0399247211
ISBN-13: 978-0399247217

nonfictionmonday

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 also happens to be at Picture Book of the Day.

Cybils 2009 Finalists Revealed

Time to check if your favorite children’s and Young Adult books of 2009 made the cut at the Cybils Website.

For those of you that I have contacted about reading these books, here are the nonfiction picture book finalists. I can’t say anything about them right now, but these would be what I would be sharing. Check the Cybils website link above for more information on each book.

Non-fiction Picture Books

Or if you are looking for books to share with your children, the other genre finalists are some fantastic ones.

Fiction Picture Books

Middle-Grade/YA Non-Fiction

Note: I added Cars on Mars because Amazon won’t make a carousel widget with less than 6 books. Cars on Mars is a good book that didn’t make it as a Cybils finalist.

Finally, Amazon also created a list of Best of 2009 Picture books, although they combined both fiction and non-fiction. Some of the ones on this list couldn’t be nominated for Cybils because of requirements about the date of publication. In any case, it is fun to compare the choices. Only The Lion and the Mouse and The Curious Garden made both lists.

Please read my financial disclosure page for information about my affiliation with Amazon.

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca is an extraordinary book. You can tell the minute you open it and see the front endpapers, which have exquisite, detailed illustrations of Apollo 11. There, laid out simply, is enough information about the flight to be a book in itself. You just have to stop and take it all in. But there’s more. moonshot1

The story itself begins with a well-grounded view of the moon from the earth. Simple, poetic words start you on your journey, a journey like no other. The first trip to the moon.

Following the astronauts as they get ready, you hear the clicks of their equipment as the pieces snap into place. Before long the earth is shaking, as the rocket takes off. The pace, the number of words and the energy all accelerate as the Eagle is about to land. Wow!

After reading all the rave reviews and seeing all the awards (Moonshot has been nominated for the Cybils award in the category of nonfiction picture book), I knew it was an obvious choice for my young nephew who is interested in the solar system and space right now. If you want to see more, take a peek at the trailers below.

For those that want to delve deeper into the flight after reading the book, such as why the astronauts have yellow feet when they are headed to board Apollo 11, take a look at author Brian Floca’s Moonshot Notes webpage. You will be amazed at the lengths he went to to achieve such accuracy and outstanding detail. This book is a superb example of an author fully understanding his topic and being able to finely distill the information to its essence. Magnifique.

Edit: For a fabulous review of the same book, with hands on activities visit Playing by the book.

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books (April 7, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 141695046X
ISBN-13: 978-1416950462
Product Dimensions: 11.8 x 10.6 x 0.6 inches

To explore more, there are some space-related activities to do with children at Growing With Science Blog this week.

To see for yourself what the fuss is about, take a look at the book trailers:

Trailer 1

Trailer 2

nonfictionmonday

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 Rasco From RIF.