Rocket Shoes: #Kidlit Picture Book with STEAM Potential and More

Today we’re featuring a fantastic new picture book, Rocket Shoes by Sharon Skinner and illustrated by Ward Jenkins.

 

José works hard to buy a pair of special rocket shoes. They are a blast to wear. His neighbor thinks they are too dangerous, however, and talks the mayor into banning them. When the same neighbor gets into trouble during a snow storm, will José break the rules and put on his shoes to save the day?

Author Sharon Skinner is serious about promoting children’s literature. In addition to being the awesome Regional Advisor for our local SCBWI AZ, she also teaches writers through the Writer in Residence programs at local libraries. When she’s not helping adult writers, she’s doing story times for kids. With a GPC, a BA in English, an MA in Creative Writing and a Poetic License, she knows her stuff.

That’s why it’s not surprising that this book has it all. It features diverse characters, the text is full of action verbs and catchy rhymes, it has just the right touch of humor, readers learn about conflict resolution in a lighthearted way (not at all pedantic), plus there’s plenty of potential to tie-in STEAM activities. What more could you ask for?

Rocket Shoes is such a fun book that it will fly off the bookshelf. Share a copy with a young reader today!

Suggested STEAM Activities:

At a recent library program, Sharon showed the kids how to make air-powered rockets using drinking straws.

Buggy and Buddy has instructions. It requires a disposable pipette bulb and a drinking straw, tape, scissors, and paper.

  • NASA has a an extensive list of rocket-related lessons sorted by age. See the K-5 list.
  • The Jet Propulsion Laboratory also has lesson suggestions, including a K-2 lesson on measurement called “Rockets by Size.”
  • Another version of a “Soda-Straw Rocket” that doesn’t require a pipette bulb

Age Range: 5 – 9 years
Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books (October 3, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1454921528
ISBN-13: 978-1454921523

Disclosures:  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 not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

#kidlit Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus Tackles Prickly Topics

Author Dusti Bowling is currently the Writer in Residence at Tempe Library. So, of course I had to read her most recent middle-grade novel, Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus. I’m so glad I did!


Thirteen-year-old Aven Green was born without arms, but her parents have always encouraged her to be independent and have a can-do attitude. It was no problem in her old school in Kansas where she had many good friends. When her family moves to Arizona, however, she has trouble being accepted. That is until she meets Connor, who has Tourette’s and can relate to being treated as an outsider. Together they investigate the strange events going on at Stagecoach Pass, the has-been theme park where Aven’s parents work.

Sprinkled throughout the text are blog posts Aven writes to keep in touch with her former friends. The posts are funny and poignant, plus reveal the main character’s innermost thoughts and feelings in a way that is organic and not contrived. For example, her list of the twenty worst things about not having arms in Chapter 30 is packed with self-effacing humor and honesty. It encapsulates her frustration at not being able to help her friend in the way she would like.

Aven Green is an amazing character. The way Dusti Bowling describes her life is so sensitive and at the same time so realistic. It’s no wonder that the awards and starred reviews are piling up, including a 2017 middle-grade fiction finalist in my favorite contest, Cybils.

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus successfully tackles some pretty prickly topics. It is a wonderful choice for lovers of middle grade fiction of all ages.

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books (September 5, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1454923458
ISBN-13: 978-1454923459

Looking for more children’s books set in Arizona? See our growing list at Reading Through the States.

#Kidlit Book Love: @Cybils Winners Announced

What a month for children’s books. The American Library Association Youth Media winners were just announced. Now it is time for the Cybils winners for 2017.

In October each year the Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards (Cybils) group gathers nominations for the best reads from the previous 12 months. The nominees are organized by age level/genre, and evaluated by judges who are dedicated book bloggers. Today the winners in each category were announced.

For Elementary Nonfiction, the winner is:

Hatching Chicks in Room 6 by Caroline Arnold

What can you say, except awww?

Age Range: 3 – 7 years
Publisher: Charlesbridge (January 10, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1580897355
ISBN-13: 978-1580897358

The winner for Middle Grade Nonfiction is:

Two Truths and a Lie: It’s Alive! by Ammi-Joan Paquette,‎ Laurie Ann Thompson and illustrated by‎ Lisa K. Weber

Out of three stories presented, two are true and one is a lie. Use critical thinking and research skills to figure out which is which. Fun!

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Publisher: Walden Pond Press (June 27, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062418793
ISBN-13: 978-0062418791

Time to go check out the winners in the rest of the categories!

 

 

 

STEM Friday: Physical Science for Kids @NomadPressVT

Four titles in the Picture Book Science series by Andi Diehn and illustrated by Shululu (Hui Li) coming out March 1, 2018:

Energy, Forces, Matter, and Waves will appeal to the young reader who loves to learn about words. Andi Diehn has a BA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing, so her approach is to make vocabulary shine. The titles start with a lively poem to introduce the topic. Next, the author shows how words can have one or more meanings in everyday usage. Finally, she exposes readers to the more specific definitions of the terminology as it is used in the physical sciences and delves into the concepts.

The creative and textured illustrations  by Shululu (the pen name of artist Hui Li) add just the right amount of fun to every page.

“Try This” sidebars with instructions for simple hands-on activities are included in each book to encourage children to explore the concepts further.

Specific details for each book:

Energy: Physical Science for Kids (Picture Book Science)

This book explains what energy is through numerous examples, such as chemical energy, heat energy, electrical energy, and light energy.

What deserves a gold star:  Encourages the reader to think about whether plants — which don’t move around — need energy, and if so, where do they get it if they can’t eat?

Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Publisher: Nomad Press (March 1, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1619306417
ISBN-13: 978-1619306417

Forces: Physical Science for Kids

Readers explore the concepts of gravity, friction, and magnetism.

What deserves a gold star:  The concept that forces can work against each other.

Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Publisher: Nomad Press (March 1, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1619306387
ISBN-13: 978-1619306387

Matter: Physical Science for Kids

  An opportunity missed:  On page 16, the discussion of states of matter suggests water disappears when it evaporates. A better explanation would be it changed state from liquid to a gas.

What deserves a gold star:  Air is made up of matter, even though we don’t see it.

Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Publisher: Nomad Press (March 1, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1619306441
ISBN-13: 978-1619306448

Waves: Physical Science for Kids (Picture Book Science) by Andi Diehn and illustrated by Shululu (Hui Li)

Relates the physical waves that we can see to light, microwave, and radio waves.

What deserves a gold star:  Comparing the motion of a wave to a crowd in a stadium doing “the wave.” That example is an excellent way to allow children to understand that the water in a wave isn’t moving sideways across the surface, but is simply traveling up and down in place.

Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Publisher: Nomad Press (March 1, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1619306352
ISBN-13: 978-1619306356

Overall, this series would be perfect for children who are struggling to understand scientific vocabulary or wanting a quick introduction to the physical sciences.

For hands-on science activities to accompany each of the books, see our sister blog, Growing with Science.

Disclosures: These books were provided for review purposes by the publisher. 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 not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.