#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.

Spring Shopping

Have you heard about the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest? To participate, find a gif for inspiration, write a kidlit story up to 150 words, and submit by tomorrow, April 9, 2020.

I was inspired to write a (sort of) mask poem after reading a post at Buffy Silverman’s blog. A mask poem is from the point of view of an animal (or plant).


Poppy Spring GIF by audreyobscura via GIPHY

Spring Shopping

On a warm spring day
New plants
Swing in the breeze
A waiting dance

A honey bee sees
Silky orange flower petals
A cup-shaped sign,
“I have food for you.”

The poppy feels
the feet of the bee
A friend carrying pollen dust
To swap for sweet nectar.

They exchange
A brief encounter.

The bee flies away
To share the bounty
With its sisters
To feed the baby bees.

The poppy quietly
begins to make its own little ones
In slender sword-shaped pods
Seeds for next spring.

#Nonfiction Monday The Story of Civil War Hero Robert Smalls


Great news for older readers:  author Janet Halfmann has developed her acclaimed 2008 picture book Seven Miles to Freedom: The Robert Smalls Story into a new chapter book in Lee & Low’s The Story of… series, The Story of Civil War Hero Robert Smalls, also illustrated by Duane Smith.

Born into slavery in South Carolina, young Robert Smalls worked his way up to the esteemed position as a wheelman on a wooden steamboat named the Planter that carried supplies for the Confederate army. With patience and ingenuity, he developed a plan to take his family on the boat and make a daring run for freedom. Would it work?

To help flesh out the book, Janet Halfmann delved deeply into the history of the Civil War to give background and context to the story. She added sidebars — like the one on slavery in the selection below –to extend the original story. She also  created a timeline, glossary, and recommended reading list.

Boat enthusiasts and budding engineers are going to love the sidebar about the steam-powered boat, the Planter. You can almost hear the hiss of the steam and the slap of the paddles hitting the water.

Janet Halfmann also includes a sidebar with the story of another daring escape to freedom, this time by a young woman who stowed away in wedding chest that was really no more than a large box. Readers will hold their breath waiting to see if she succeeds.

The daring escape in The Story of Civil War Hero Robert Smalls is what will likely initially attract readers, but it is the fascinating history that will keep them reading. This book is perfect for unit on the Civil War or for Black History Month. Delve into a copy today!

Related and Activity Suggestions:

1. Check out the Teacher’s Guide for Seven Miles to Freedom, which has many ideas that can be used with this book as well.

2. Consider a science/engineering project of building a paddle boat. We have some ideas about boat propulsion at Growing with Science to get you started.

3. See Writing and Illustrating blog for an interview with Janet Halfmann about the book.

Age Range: 8 – 11 years
Publisher: Lee & Low Books (February 25, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1643790161
ISBN-13: 978-1643790169

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

#kidlit On a Snow-Melting Day Inspires Both Science and Poetry @Steamteam2020


Have you seen Buffy Silverman’s delightful picture book, On a Snow-Melting Day: Seeking Signs of Spring, yet?

If not, you’re in luck. With permission from Millbrook Press, Buffy Silverman reads her book aloud and shares science activity suggestions.

What a perfect way to celebrate spring!

On a Snow-Melting Day: Seeking Signs of Spring

Related Activities

1. There is something about spring that inspires poetry. In fact, April is National Poetry Month.

national Poetry Month

Check the National Poetry Month website for the Dear Poet Activity and videos of poets reading their poems. Write your own ode to spring.

See more poetry activity suggestions and related books in our National Poetry Month category.

2. For a list of STEAM activity websites and suggestions, visit the STEAM Team 2020.

Age Range: 4 – 9 years
Publisher: Millbrook Press TM (February 4, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1541578139
ISBN-13: 978-1541578135