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 Wood, Wire, Wings by @kirstenwlarson

Just in time for Women’s History Month we have the picture book biography Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane by Kirsten W. Larson and illustrated by Tracy Subisak.

*****

Emma Lilian Todd loved to tinker. As a child she made a weather vane and took apart a clock. As an adult, she made model airplanes and tested their designs until she was ready to build a real one. Could she achieve her dreams and get a flying machine off the ground?

With text that soars, Kirsten W. Larson reveals the compelling story of a woman whose contributions might otherwise be forgotten. She draws young readers in and establishes the setting with a fascinating collection of inventions made around the time Lilian Todd was growing up. She then cements their interest with details of Lilian’s childhood love of tinkering. Finally, she uses Lilian Todd’s own words to describe what she was thinking during the significant events of her young life.

Tracy Subisak’s lovely illustrations lend just the right amount of airiness to match the theme of flight. At times it seems like young Lilian might fly right off the page. Learn more about Tracy Subisak and how she created the illustrations in a recent interview at Writing and Illustrating Blog.

Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents an Airplane will thrill young inventors as well as budding historians. It is also a perfect example of how picture book biographies should be done. Check out a copy today!

Related activities:

A book about a maker -tinkerer- inventor begs to be extended with activities.

1. Visit a museum that celebrates the early pioneers of flight.

Glenn Curtiss Museum

2. Make a paper airplane.

Encourage youngsters to make their own paper model airplanes and fly them.

Check our How to Make a Paper Airplane Pinterest board for suggestions.

paper-airplane-pinterest-board3. What better month than windy March to make and fly a kite?

 

 

Age Range: 7 – 10 years
Publisher: Calkins Creek (February 25, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1629799386
ISBN-13: 978-1629799384

Disclosure: The book was provided electronically 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.

Also read for the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2020

#Nonfiction Monday and #NFFEST: The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon

Today we have a nonfiction picture book biography that is out of this world, The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon: The True Story of Alan Bean by  Dean Robbins and illustrated by Sean Rubin.

Pete Conrad and Alan Bean were the third and fourth people to walk on the moon, but they aren’t the household names their predecessors Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong are. This picture book helps correct that omission and bring Alan Bean’s story to the next generation of readers.

Dean Robbins doesn’t present Alan Bean’s life in strict chronological order. Instead he captures the reader’s imagination with the tension of the spacecraft launching, then interrupts the flight and goes back in time to Alan’s childhood interest in model airplanes, and later in painting as a hobby.  The back story helps readers understand how Bean began painting again after he retired and why he considered himself to be an artist.

As to be expected, the illustrations are amazing. They combine the look of Alan Bean’s art with Sean Rubin’s skillful images. The highlight is a wordless two-page spread of the surface of the moon with the shadows of the two astronauts in the foreground and the blue, spherical Earth in the distance. Wow!

Check out the trailer to see what I mean:


Isn’t it cool that Dean Robbins knew and worked with Alan Bean, who helped to to create the book? That personal knowledge and access adds such depth.

The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon will thrill budding astronauts and artists alike. Be inspired by a copy today!

Related activities:

Check out the activity suggestions on Dean Robbins website (scroll to half way down the page).

 

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Orchard Books (May 28, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1338259539
ISBN-13: 978-1338259537

Disclosure: The 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.

For an assignment  at NF Fest

Also part of reading for the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2020

As well as Nonfiction Monday

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

#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.