STEM Friday #Kidlit Numbers in Motion

 

 

Today’s picture book biography puts the M in STEM:  Numbers in Motion: Sophie Kowalevski, Queen of Mathematics by Laurie Wallmark and illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg.

 

Laurie Wallmark specializes in biographies of women in STEM and for this book she has chosen a lesser-known subject for much-deserved recognition.

Sophie Kowalevski grew up observing the pages of calculus problems her father had used to paper her bedroom walls. The desire to understand the intriguing symbols propelled her to study advanced math. Later she became a prominent mathematician — the first to earn a doctorate at an European university — and professor in a time when women weren’t even allowed to enter many college campuses. Sophie broke down barriers for women who came after her.

Public domain image from Wikipedia.

Why Sophie?

In a recent interview, author Laurie Wallmark mentioned that she looks for two criteria when considering a subject for a picture book biography. First, she looks at how much material is available for research. In this case Laurie found a rich source of information because Sophie Kowalevski wrote extensively, including about her own life in her own words. Laurie found so many facts that there are four full pages of back matter,  which spills over into the end papers.

Next Laurie looks for hooks that will make the subject’s life interesting to young readers. She realized that Sophie’s work using mathematics to describe the motion of spinning tops would be fun and understandable to non-mathematicians. She was right!

Illustrations

Sophie grew up in Russia. Yevgenia Nayberg was a perfect choice to illustrate her life because she studied art in Russia. She uses a light touch with Sophie’s life, then makes Sophie’s math vibrant. In one scene the tops look like they are going to spin right out of the book. Her approach makes sense because those were the things Sophie cared the most about.

Numbers in Motion will inspire budding mathematicians and historians alike. Readers will likely end up wanting to learn more about this remarkable woman. Investigate a copy today.

Related:

For a STEM activity to accompany the book, make or find tops and play with them.

This video shows how to make a simple top with a CD and a marker. Hacks:  try to find markers with a rounded tip and the better you balance it, the better it will spin. If your marker is narrow, fill the gap by rolling tape around it as evenly as possible. No clay? Hot melt glue will also work to hold the marker in place, although it is a more permanent solution.

You can also decorate it (another video). Or if you have the DIY gene, try more methods to make spinning tops.

Visit our growing list of children’s books about women who count at Science Books for Kids.

 

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Publisher: Creston Books (March 3, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1939547636
ISBN-13: 978-1939547637

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.Opens in a new window Note: this is a new link as of 1/2019.

Nonfiction Monday #Kidlit Secrets of the Loon by Laura Purdie Salas

 

Tomorrow is the book birthday for a beautiful new picture book, Secrets of the Loon by Laura Purdie Salas and Charles Dayton.

Loons are water birds that live in lakes in northern North America in the summer where they dive under the water to catch fish and other small swimming animals. They are known for their haunting calls that travel great distances over the water, and for their striking black and white plumage.

According to a recent interview with Chuck Dayton, Secrets of the Loon started with his amazing photographs of loons taken over years spent at a family retreat on a lake in Minnesota. He wasn’t, however, used to writing for children, so his editor brought fellow Minnesotan and prolific children’s author/poet Laura Purdie Salas on board to write the main text. The combination is a winning one.

The main story, which is written in rhyme, follows the life of a loon named Moon from hatching to taking off for her first migration flight.

Below white pines at water’s edge,
in guarded nest of mud and sedge,
squeezed inside an olive egg,
bill meets wing meets folded leg.

Dayton’s original text is included as four pages of back matter, revealing some amazing facts. For example, loons have heavy bodies, which makes it hard for them to lift off out of the water. Once in flight, however, they can fly faster than a cheetah can run. Wow!

Secrets of the Loon is a must-read for budding ornithologists, especially ones who live near lakes where loons swim. It is also a treat for the rest of us who wish we could visit a cold lake and listen to these fascinating birds. Dive into the book today!

Related:

Age Range: 3 – 7 years
Publisher: Minnesota Historical Society Press (April 28, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1681341581
ISBN-13: 978-1681341583

Interested in more children’s books about birds? Check our growing list at Science Books for Kids.

 

 

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher. 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.

STEM Friday #Kidlit Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids

Right in time for Women’s History Month we have the middle grade title Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids: Her Life and Ideas, with 21 Activities and Experiments (For Kids series) by Rowena Rae. What could be better than an in depth history combined with hands-on activities to reinforce learning?

Rachel Carson is an amazing woman who is often credited with starting the modern environmental movement. She was a trained marine biologist, conservationist and outstanding nature writer. Her final book, Silent Spring, revealed the dangers of overuse of pesticides to a wide audience.

As to be expected from a middle grade title, the book delves deeply into Rachel Carson’s life. For example, perhaps you may wonder how the author handles the fact that Rachel Carson had health problems and was dying of breast cancer while she wrote Silent Spring? Rowena Rae does not pull any punches. She explains that Rachel found lumps and had a mastectomy. My mouth dropped when I read on pages 88-89 what happened next.

Although centered on Rachel Carson’s love of nature and ecology, Rowena Rae also highlights Carson’s writing process and the power of the written word. For example, she reveals that that Carson worked hard on her early pieces to make sure they sounded good when read aloud.  Then she has the reader explore how to revise their own writing using audio. In fact, several of the activities for children in the book center on writing and honing writing skills.

Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids is another outstanding title in the Chicago Review Press For Kids series. It will appeal  to young nature lovers, history fanatics, and budding authors. Check out a copy today!

Related Suggestions:

Read one of Rachel Carson’s books, such as Under the Sea-Wind, The Sea Around Us, or The Sense of Wonder.

See even more activity suggestions to celebrate Rachel Carson at readwritethink.

Want to learn more? Visit our growing list of children’s books about women scientists at Science Books for Kids, including:

 

Age Range: 9 – 12 years
Publisher: Chicago Review Press (February 4, 2020)
ISBN-10: 0897339339
ISBN-13: 978-0897339339

Disclosure: This 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.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.Opens in a new window Note: this is a new link as of 1/2019.

STEM Friday #Kidlit Buzzing With Questions

Entomologist and teacher Charles Henry Turner passed away 97 years ago today on February 14, 1923, so it seems appropriate to highlight the picture book biography Buzzing with Questions: The Inquisitive Mind of Charles Henry Turner by Janice N. Harrington and illustrated by Theodore Taylor III.

Driven by a fascination with living things, Charles Henry Turner defied the odds and went to college. He kept asking questions and working hard. In 1907 he earned his PhD in Zoology from the University of Chicago and graduated magna cum laude. After graduating, Turner worked at several different teaching positions while continuing to research and publish. He made many lasting contributions to the field of insect behavior, as well as being known for helping others.

Author Janice Harrington does a great job of weaving repeating threads through the text, like the fact that Turner loved books, “never stopped asking questions” and that he was “indefatigable.” Those are wonderful take away messages.

Turner’s message about studying biology to help people see connections between all living things is particularly poignant.

“Biology taught us to think less about ourselves and more about others.”

As for STEM, this book is important because it reveals the inner working of how Turner set up experiments to answer questions that he had. For example, he trained honey bees to come to red platforms and when he offered blue, the bees ignored them. Thus, he established honey bees can see color. Children are often taught the result of experiments, but aren’t exposed to the experimental process as much.

Buzzing with Questions is an obvious choice for budding entomologists and to share for Black History Month, but its message of hope and persistence in the face of adversity will also resonate with a wide range of readers. Celebrate Turner’s love of books by sharing a copy today.

A NSTA/CBC Best STEM Book

 

Age Range: 7 – 10 years
Publisher: Calkins Creek (November 5, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1629795585
ISBN-13: 978-1629795584

 

Disclosure: This book was provided by our local library. 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.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.Opens in a new window Note: this is a new link as of 1/2019.