The Elephant Scientist by Caitlin O’Connell and Donna M. Jackson with photographs by the first author and her husband, Timothy Rodwell
Series: Scientists in the Field
Reading level: Middle grade, 9-12
Summary: Have you ever wondered what it would be like to study elephants in Africa? This book follows Dr. Caitlin O’Connell as she studies elephant social life and communication and at the same time works on ways to prevent elephants from ruining crops planted by local people. She discovers that elephants communicate to one another by detecting vibrations in the ground with their feet and trunks.
Illustrations: Photographs by Caitlin O’Connell and Timothy Rodwell
Comments: The Elephant Scientist is a wonderful new addition to the outstanding Scientists in the Field series. Because the scientist in the spotlight is one of the co-authors, this book has unprecedented access to how the science was done and what the scientist was thinking. The book not only reveals the process of science, but also gives state-of-the-art information about elephants, as well. How the elephants talk to one another is absolutely fascinating.
Simply Science a a review of a related book, Elephant Talk by Ann Downer. and a link where you can listen to elephants, as well as activities
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!
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.
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.
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.