STEM #Kidlit for Toddlers: Baby Loves the Five Senses


Be on the look out next week for three new board books for the youngest readers in the Baby Loves Science series:

all by Ruth Spiro and illustrated by Irene Chan.

We’ve reviewed a couple of other books in this series in the past and were eager to see the newest versions.

What’s to like:

The series has a lot going for it. Each book features Chan’s delightful illustrations and Spiro’s bouncing, enthusiastic text. Babies hear STEM vocabulary words that might not come up in typical conversations. The concepts are simplified, but not to the point they are no longer accurate.

I recently led a STEM story time about senses for preschoolers and these Baby Loves The Five Senses books would have been a welcome addition.

On the other hand:

Since the series began, the Baby Loves books have become more and more technical in a few pages in the middle. For example, for the one about taste:

“When Baby chews the strawberries, some of the flavor molecules stick to the receptor cells.”

It goes on to discuss electrical signals in the brain.

For certain children this level of detail is welcome and is likely to generate even more questions.

For others, however, it might not be the right time to discuss more advanced concepts. I had that experience during the story time I mentioned above. I choose some books about insect senses to show how our senses are similar and different to other animals. This is a topic I think is fascinating, but the children just weren’t ready for it. They needed to understand what human senses were before they could compare to others.  If your young readers aren’t receptive to the concepts in this book, you can skip those pages. Perhaps  you can return to them later when they are older or have had more experience.

Overall. the Baby Loves The Five Senses books fill a unique niche of introducing science to the youngest readers.



Age Range: 2 – 3 years
Series: Baby Loves Science
Publisher: Charlesbridge; Illustrated edition (August 18, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1623541549
ISBN-13: 978-1623541545

Age Range: 2 – 3 years
Publisher: Charlesbridge; Illustrated edition (August 18, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1623541557
ISBN-13: 978-1623541552

Age Range: 2 – 3 years
Publisher: Charlesbridge; Illustrated edition (August 18, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1623541530
ISBN-13: 978-1623541538

These books were provided electronically for review purposes.

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

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!


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.


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.

#Kidlit Flash and Gleam: Light in Our World by Sue Fliess

Sue Fliess is one of our favorite authors and we have regularly featured her awesome picture books here at Wrapped in Foil. Her most recent,  Flash and Gleam: Light in Our World  illustrated by Khoa Le, is perfect for celebrating National Poetry Month and also as a jumping off point for STEM activities.

In what she describes as one long poem, young readers wake with the sunrise, then explore sources of light throughout the day and throughout the world. From candles to the stars, they discover where light is found and what it does.

Now we have a special treat. With permission from Millbrook Press, watch Sue Fliess read and discuss her book.


What more can we say? Check out a copy of Flash and Gleam: Light in Our World as soon as you can.

Related Information and Activities

1. Read all about how Flash and Gleam came to be.

2. Make a Light List

Light can be difficult to explain because although we can see it, we can’t touch it.  By making a list of all the places we see light or things that give off light, we can begin to discover what those all have in common and what the characteristics of light are. Use the examples Fliess lists in her book to get started, like rainbows, the sun, and fireflies. See if you can think of some that she missed.

3. Learn more about poetry for National Poetry Month (April), for example visit Kenn Nesbitt’s Poetry4Kids for lessons and activities. Then use your light list to create a list poem.

Learn more about list poems here (scroll to number 3).


Things that give off light:

Flashlights in a tent at night
Aurora australis – southern lights
Volcanoes erupting lava
Glowworms in a cave
Anglerfish deep under water
The sun, moon, and stars
Your smiling face

by Roberta Gibson

4. Check out some glowing light science activities at Growing with Science.

Did you find any sources of light not discussed in the book? What are they?


Age Range: 5 – 8 years
Grade Level: Kindergarten – 2
Library Binding: 32 pages
Publisher: Millbrook Press TM (March 3, 2020)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1541557700
ISBN-13: 978-1541557703

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

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.