Ferns, Mosses and Other Spore-Producing Plants

After reading Steve Parker’s book about fungi last week, we couldn’t wait to see what he had to say about Ferns, Mosses & Other Spore-Producing Plants (Kingdom Classification series).

We were not disappointed. Although often taking second chair to their showy flowering cousins, the spore-producing plants are front and center in this book.ferns-mosses Steve Parker shows the reader what each type is, the structures that are characteristic of its group, how it reproduces and more. Who knew that there are 10,000 species of humble mosses? Or that some ferns are as big as trees? Other spore-producing plants include the horsetails and liverworts.

Once again, the each page is packed with stunning full-color photographs. This time, however, the text on a few of the pages had a fragmented feel, as if the words had been shoved around to make room for the visuals.

Still, Parker manages to pack a great deal of information into his books. Did you know that many arctic animals rely on mosses and liverworts for food (as well as lichens)? This is because some liverworts can withstand very low temperatures. Tough plants!

Although listed for ages 9-12, this book would be interesting and useful for older children and young adults.

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Publisher: Compass Point Books (August 15, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0756542200
ISBN-13: 978-0756542207
Product Dimensions: 11 x 9.1 x 0.3 inches

Review copy was provided by Capstone books.

I was inspired to put up some science activities related to spore-producing plants at GrowingwithScience.


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 Tales from the Rushmore Kid.

Molds, Mushrooms and Other Fungi

I admit it, I think fungi are fascinating. Perhaps it is because they are so different from other types of organisms, such as plants and animals. There is an air of mystery about them. One day the ground seems to be bare, the next it is filled with a ring of mushrooms. Where did those incredible shapes come from?yellow-mushroom

In Molds, Mushrooms & Other Fungi, Steve Parker gives an overview of the different types of fungi and tells what isn’t considered to be a fungus. Did you know a slime mold is not a true fungus? He explains how diverse fungi such as molds, yeast and mushrooms feed, how they reproduce, and how they are useful. He also reveals many of their mysteries.

Part of the Kingdom Classification series, this is a timely book because it also contains the most up-to-date information about classification of living things. When scientists classify organisms, they group them together rather like you organize your clothes in a dresser. Socks go in one drawer and pants in another. People often assume that the organization is set in stone once it has been published. In actuality,  as scientists learn more about various living things, they may change the groups. This week shorts and pants go together, next week they may not.

You will likely run into older books that say fungi are plants, for example Plants That Never Bloom by Ruth Heller. In Molds, Mushrooms & Other Fungi, Steve Parker sets the record straight. Fungi are considered to be in a separate kingdom. On pages 44 and 45, the newest biological classification developed in the 1990’s is laid out. The largest groupings are called domains, including the bacteria, archaea and eukarya. Fungi are considered to be eukarya based on their cellular structure. The discussion of the relationships between domains, kingdoms and then the groups within the fungi kingdom are shown in a way that easy to grasp.

If you like a book with brilliant color photographs, then you are going to love this one. Starting with the eye-catching bright red toadstool on the front cover, every page is beautifully laid out and visually appealing. Each photo makes you stop and ponder, there will be no leafing through this one. The section on “Tasty Fungi” looks good enough to eat.

With a wealth of information about fungi, and well organized and current examination of classification, this book clearly deserves a place on the shelf.

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Library Binding: 48 pages
Published: August 15, 2009
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0756542235
ISBN-13: 978-0756542238
Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 9.2 x 0.3 inches

This book was from Capstone Press.

For hands-on activities to do with fungi, check the Fungus Among Us at Growing With Science blog.

To see how leafcutter ants grow fungus in underground gardens, check my newest blog.


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 Abby (the) Librarian.

Nic Bishop Butterflies And Moths

In most areas it is probably too cold for butterflies and moths to be active, but here in Arizona you can still see quite a few. You can spot monarchs on their long migrations to Mexico or California, as well as queens, painted ladies and fritillaries. What a perfect time to pick up Nic Bishop Butterflies and Moths.


The insects are the star in Nic Bishop’s book and when you open it, the photographs bring those insects right to your fingertips. Shot from unusual angles and incredibly close up, you can see adult butterflies, moths and caterpillars in detail that speaks volumes. This book would be a conversation piece even if it didn’t have a single word, but Bishop manages to create a lively and informative text as well.

In addition to nailing the text, Bishop gives proper emphasis to the immature stages, with 14 pages devoted to caterpillars and pupae. The double gatefold of a butterfly in flight is sure to induce some gasps of astonishment. Amateur photographers are going to immediately ask, “How did he do that?” In the real treasure of the book, Nic Bishop writes in the end how he captured some of the wonderful photographs. It is in this section his passion and incredible hard work reveals itself. For one shot, he jumped on a plane for a flight to Costa Rica to photograph one rare caterpillar!

Actually, knowing how much he put into the photograph of the caterpillar that mimics a snake I can not criticize at all, but I really wish he had included a small photo of what the caterpillar looks like normally. I bet children would have been even more amazed at the transformation from mild-mannered caterpillar to ferocious snake.

Nic Bishop has made a well-deserved name for himself as a photographer and author of children’s books. His previous books have won numerous honors, and this book is clearly of the highest caliber. It has been nominated for the Cybils award in the category of nonfiction picture book.

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction (March 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0439877571
ISBN-13: 978-0439877572

Nic Bishop Butterflies And Moths by Nic Bishop


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 bookstogether.

Nonfiction Monday: Fall Into Leaves


Nonfiction Monday Participants:  Go ahead and “leave”  your links in the comments today.

I admit it, I love fall. The colors, shapes and textures of the different tree leaves motivate me to do art projects. Here are two books to use as jumping off points for fall leaf art activities.


Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors (Smart About Art) is a fun place to find ideas for a leaf collage art project. Jane O’Connor has summed up Henri Matisse’s life and art in a short, sweet and kid-friendly manner.  She explains Henri Matisse started doing paper collage when an illness left him too weak to stand up. He had assistants who painted the paper for him. He cut the shapes and then his assistants arranged the cutouts according to his instructions. When he was happy with the arrangement, the pieces were glued down. Take a look at La Gerbe by Henri Matisse, a copy of which is included in the book. Couldn’t that be a gorgeous swirl of fall leaves?

Activity:  Gather leaves with interesting shapes and/or show pictures of leaves. As a shortcut, provide colorful construction paper, although it might be fun to have the children paint their own paper (envision Eric Carle). Then it is time to do some “Drawing With Scissors.” Cut out leaf shapes. If appropriate, you can tie in the concept of symmetry. Arrange the leaf shapes on a larger piece of paper and glue down, or decorate a wall or window. Or they can use their leaves for the activity below.

leaf-manLeaf Man by Lois Ehlert is inspiring because the author is such a wonderful artist herself. In this book, we see leaf shapes with added plant materials that form a funny leaf man. When the wind comes up, who knows where the leaf man is going to go.

Activity:  Use actual leaves or the leaf shapes cut out in the above activity to create a self-portrait or maybe even a leaf animal. Gather some acorns, nuts or seeds to add as features. If you use real leaves, it will probably work better to dry them first in a plant press.

We’ve got a great turnout for the Nonfiction Monday roundup this week. Let’s see what everyone is reading and recommending.

Amanda at A Patchwork of Books found it is wise to Never Smile at a Monkey.

At In Need of Chocolate, Sarah discovered What Makes A Magnet? is another fine title in the Let’s-Read-And-Find-Out Science series.

Let’s welcome back Abby at Abby (the) Librarian, who reviewed several nonfiction books.

Where did our Halloween traditions and stories come from?  Great Kid Books looks at two interesting books for children ages 6 – 10.

At Lori Calabrese Writes! Lori reviews S.D. Nelson’s “Quiet Hero: The Ira Hayes Story.”

Shirley at SimplyScience has reviewed The WEE Book of PEE in memory of her father.

Amy says  My Light by Molly Bang shines at Hope is the Word.

The Wild About Nature blog has a review of Shrinking Days, Frosty Nights. As an added bonus, they also have an interview with the author, Laura Purdie Salas.

Jill is in today with James L. Swanson’s Chasing Lincoln’s Killer. Check it out at The Well-Read Child.

Let’s welcome Doret at The Happy Nappy Bookseller, who reviewed a biography, The Other Mozart: The Life of the Famous Chevalier de Saint- George.

Picture Book of the Day is reading Mighty MotoXers , and giving some suggestions for X-Game lessons.

Robin reviewed Winter’s Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again at Thebooknosher.

Tricia checked in today with a review of Don Brown’s historical book Let It Begin Here!: April 19, 1775, The Day the American Revolution Began at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Bookends has found two cool books and an audio story to tie into the PBS National Parks series.

Over at the The Stenhouse Blog, Lynne Dorfman and Rose Cappelli review books that take kids to the Moon and beyond!

Freaky at 3T News and Reviews has a post about the Fantasy Chronicles from Lerner on mythical creatures, just in time for Halloween.

Dawn  reviewed Amazing Ben Franklin Inventions You Can Build Yourself, by Carmella Van Vleet, at Moms Inspire Learning.

Today Charlotte has How to Be a Genius: Your Brain and How to Train It at Charlotte’s Library.

Jenny writes about the verse biography I and I: Boy Marley at Biblio File. The book has been nominated for a Cybils award.

Wendie Old listed a few of her (many) favorite Nonfiction Halloween books at Wendie’s Wanderings.

Katie says  that today’s the anniversary of the completion of the Erie Canal! That’s what her post focuses on at Katie’s Literature Lounge.

Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Picture Book of the Day.


If you are looking for scientific activities with tree leaves, try my Growing With Science blog.