The Klutz Guide to the Galaxy

Did you ever wish there was a science kit that you could hand to your children and they would stay quietly engaged for hours? The Klutz Guide to the Galaxy (Klutz Guides) by Pat Murphy and The Scientists of Klutz Labs might be just what you are looking for.

If you have seen Klutz Guides before, you know that they come with consumable, hands-on activities. In this case the projects include making a sundial, and putting together a telescope (with plastic lenses)! The absolutely best part from a harried parent’s point of view is that all the parts are included. No looking for a bamboo skewer at 10:00 p.m. or hearing, “Mom, where’s the glue?” All the parts that need to stick together come with their own adhesive. Plus the instructions are clear enough, and the assembly straightforward enough, that most 9-12 year-old children can do it themselves. How awesome is that?

The Guide is also jam packed with information about our solar system, and major stars and constellations. I was a bit disappointed to see that they had renamed some of the constellations. For example, Cassiopeia’s Chair is labeled as “W or M.” The names are much easier for children to remember, however.

In fact, everything about this book is completely kid friendly, including a way to find out how old you would be if you were on another planet, assuming one year is equal to one orbit of the sun. Sheets are included in the back in the form of a “Galactic Passport” for recording information from the various projects.

If you are working with a child who likes science and loves hands-on activities, then this is a wonderful book for summer fun!

Accompanying Nonfiction: This book would be great paired with 13 Planets: The Latest View of the Solar System by David A. Aguilar

The copy I reviewed was provided by Janelle at Brimful Curiosities (for winning a contest). See her review and great photographs of the projects from the book.

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Spiral-bound: 67 pages
Publisher: Klutz; Spi Pap/to edition (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9781591749202
ISBN-13: 978-1591749202

Click on button to return to main science book list.


Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. We invite you to join us. For more information and a schedule, stop by the new Nonfiction Monday blog to see who is hosting each week.

This week’s post is at Wendie’s Wanderings.

Hip-Pocket Papa is a Giant Among Frogs

Hip-Pocket Papa by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Alan Marks

Reading level:  Picture Book Ages 4-8

Summary:  The Australian hip pocket frog is like the kangaroo of the frog world, except the male carries the babies. This story follows the struggles of a tiny (the size of an adult thumbnail) male hip pocket frog as he carries his tadpoles in special pockets in his sides.  The tadpoles he carries develop into froglets using food from the original egg, a process that takes about a month.

Illustrations: Lush watercolors

Comments:  With a combination of Sandra Markle’s passion for animals and Alan Marks’ extraordinary watercolors, this story of an unusual frog is sure to capture a young reader’s interest. Sandra considers her work to be “faction,” fiction based on real life.

2011 Charlotte Zolotow Award Honor Book, as well as other awards.

Related activities:

  • Find an article of clothing with big pockets at the hips. Using marbles or small balls to represent tadpoles, see how many you can carry. Make a prediction, and then see how many actually fit. Or even better, find some plastic frogs to carry.
  • Make a poster of a typical frog’s life cycle (see From Tadpole to Frog, and here’s an example). Make another poster showing the hip-pocket frog’s life cycle.
  • Growing With Science has ideas for activities and more information at Summer Sounds: Frogs and Toads

Compatible fiction:  Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel

Publisher:  Charlesbridge  (February 2010)

ISBN-10: 1570917086
ISBN-13: 978-1570917080

Click on button to return to main science book list.

A Butterfly Is Patient: The Book Is Spectacular

At one point in the new book A Butterfly Is Patient by Dianna Hutts Aston and illustrated by Sylvia Long, the author writes, “A butterfly is spectacular!” As you read it you immediately want to echo, “This book is spectacular, too!”

The team of Aston and Long have already written and illustrated two award-winning books, An Egg is Quiet and A Seed is Sleepy. This new addition is even better, if that is possible. How do you top perfection? They found a way.

Start with the front endpapers, a collection of vibrant caterpillars with names like “Moonlight Jewel” and “Hieroglyphic Flat.” Skip to the back endpapers and you will find equally vibrant illustrations of the butterflies that come from those caterpillars. You can spend hours studying the endpapers alone.

Aston packs some hard science into the text, using words such as pollination, camouflage, predator, and migration. She has obviously done her research. It is so lyrically written, however, that learning is beautiful. Each and every page is a delight.

Looking for a gift book? As well as being a high quality, enjoyable, and informative picture book for children, the glorious art and design of A Butterfly Is Patient make it a potential coffee table art book for adults (albeit a thin one). Yes, it is that good. This book is a must for libraries, for children interested in science, and anyone interested in nature.

Don’t be as patient as a butterfly, go check out a copy for yourself today! I’d love to hear what you think of it.

See another review by Amanda at A Patchwork of Books

Related butterfly science activities at Growing with Science

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Publisher: Chronicle Books (May 18, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0811864790
ISBN-13: 978-0811864794

Click on button to return to main science book list.


Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. We invite you to join us. For more information and a schedule, stop by the new Nonfiction Monday blog to see who is hosting each week.

This week’s post is at Books Together.

This book was provided for review purposes.

Blueberries Grow on a Bush

Blueberries Grow on a Bush by Mari Schuh

Reading level: Beginning/Easy Reader (Ages 4-8)

Summary: Describes and illustrates the life cycle of blueberries and other berries using appropriate first-grade vocabulary. Introduces concepts of pollination and dormancy.

Illustrations:  Color photographs

Comments:  The formatting is perfect for the age group. The photographs are clearly labeled and laid out well. This is a great series of books for this age group.

Related activities:

  • Make a fruit salad with blueberries and/or blueberry muffins for a snack
  • Blend some blueberries in a blender to use as a pH indicator. The juice will turn red in presence of strong acids, like lemon juice or vinegar. Steve Spangler has more specific instructions.
  • Any leftover blueberry sauce can be used as paint. Draw a picture with crayon and use the blueberry “paint” as a wash, for a resist painting.
  • The Blueberry Council has information and activities for kids and teachers. Click on the images in the footer.

Compatible fiction: Blueberries for Sal by Robert McClosky

(Scholastic has a math lesson plan)

Publisher: Capstone Press; Pebble Books (January 2, 2011)

ISBN-10: 9781429661836
ISBN-13: 978-1429661836

Click on button to return to main science book list.