Perfect Picture Book Friday: THE SHOCKING TRUTH ABOUT ENERGY

TITLE: THE SHOCKING TRUTH ABOUT ENERGY

AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR: Loreen Leedy

PUBLICATION INFO: Holiday House, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2220-3

SOURCE: Library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: grades 1 – 3 (publisher)

GENRE: picture book (fact-tion, a nonfiction, fiction blend)

OPENING and SYNOPSIS:

“Hi there! My name is Erg, and I’m pure energy! Everybody loves a powerhouse like me.”

Join Erg and his friends as they learn about energy, its different forms and how its made. Leedy’s comic-book style book includes hints on how to save energy and resources for learning more about energy.

THEMES/TOPICS: science, energy

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: Leedy is one of my favorites. She makes learning lots of fun with her comic-book style art. She has a knack for explaining complex concepts simply.

RESOURCES/ACTIVITIES:

Every Friday bloggers review “Perfect Picture Books.” Find a complete list of book reviews organized by topic, genre and blogger at author Susanna Leonard Hill’s site.

Perfect Picture Book Friday: DREAM SOMETHING BIG

TITLE: DREAM SOMETHING BIG

AUTHOR: Dianna Hutts Aston

ILLUSTRATOR: Susan L. Roth

PUBLICATION INFO: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3245-2

SOURCE: Library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: age 4 – 8 (Kirkus)

GENRE: picture book (nonfiction, I think)

OPENING and SYNOPSIS:

“One chip of tile. Uncle Sam held it in his hand, studying it, his imagination turning like a kaleidoscope. He put it in his pocket. ‘I’m gonna do something big,’ I heard him say.”

Dianna Hutts Aston tells the tale of how a reclusive Italian immigrant spent 34 years building the Watts Towers  — now a National Landmark — out of rebar, mesh, broken glass and tile. Then he gave a neighbor the deed to the property and walked away.

THEMES/TOPICS: history, folk art

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: Roth’s collages are the perfect accompaniment to this little-known story, evoking the towers’ mosaics. Aston’s story is a fascinating look at a little-known folk artist told simply for the youngest readers. It sends the message that anyone can be an artist.

RESOURCES/ACTIVITIES:

  • Aston’s book contains instructions for building your own Watts Towers out of pipe cleaners and other craft materials.
  • Learn more about the Watts Towers, including how to visit, here.
  • A 1957 video about the towers and Simon Rodia can be found here. A documentary called, “I Build the Tower” is also available.

Every Friday bloggers review “Perfect Picture Books.” Find a complete list of book reviews organized by topic, genre and blogger at author Susanna Leonard Hill’s site.

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Island: A Story of the Galapagos

TITLE: ISLAND: A STORY OF THE GALAPAGOS

AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR: Jason Chin

PUBLICATION INFO: Roaring Book Press’s Neal Porter Books, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59643-716-6

SOURCE: Library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: grades 2-4 (Booklist)

GENRE: picture book (nonfiction)

OPENING and SYNOPSIS:

“The sun is rising over a lonely group of islands more than six hundred miles away from the nearest continent.”

Jason Chin, author or REDWOODS and CORAL REEFS, chronicles the “life” of an island from birth six million years ago to old age, when it sinks beneath the sea. During its life, animals come to live on the island and change through natural selection. Chin’s back matter includes pieces about Charles Darwin and the Galapagos Islands.

THEMES/TOPICS: science, natural selection, geography

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: This was a bit of a departure from the Jason Chin books I’m familiar with. Normally, he offers a fictional storyline “told” through the illustrations, matched with encyclopedic text. Here, he maps an island’s development to a human life cycle. Illustrations depict the story told within the text.

RESOURCES/ACTIVITIES:

Every Friday bloggers review “Perfect Picture Books.” Find a complete list of book reviews organized by topic, genre and blogger at author Susanna Leonard Hill’s site.

Senses Science: What’s That Smell?

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“Ewwww. I smell broccoli!”

“Mmmmmmm, cookies.”

“Finley’s stinky!” (Actual quote.)

Smell is one of the five ways we learn about our world, along with sight, sound, taste and touch. For most animals, their sense of smell is their sharpest. It helps them hunt, find out where they are going and locate family members. Human noses are not quite as sensitive, but we can still detect more than 10,000 different smells!

For scientists, their five senses are important tools, whether they are studying animals in the field or creating new chemicals in a lab. Here’s a fun activity to help your budding scientist hone his or her sniffing skills.

What you need:

  • 3 or more small containers (Note: We used test tubes from Learning Resource’s Primary Science Set.)
  • Cotton balls (for liquids)
  • Smelly stuff: citrus peels, herbs, spices, coffee beans, vinegar etc. (Just make sure whatever you are setting out is safe to sniff. Avoid harsh chemicals.)
  • Handkerchief or blindfold

What you do:

  • Put a little bit of smelly stuff in each test tube.
  • Blindfold your child and hand him or her each test tube in turn. (Note: Sniffing coffee beans in between each test tube can help cleanse the nose’s “palate.”)
  • Ask questions: What does it smell like? What does the smell remind you of?
  • Challenge your child to guess what’s in the test tube.

A good extension would be to have children record their observations and guesses in a science journal. Younger children could draw pictures of their guesses instead of using words.

Do you want to learn more about your sense of smell? Check out these kid-friendly links:

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Kakapo Rescue

TITLE: KAKAPO RESCUE: SAVING THE WORLD’S STRANGEST PARROT (Scientists in the Field Series)

AUTHOR: Sy Montgomery

PHOTOGRAPHER: Nic Bishop

PUBLICATION INFO: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-618-49417-0

SOURCE: Personal library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: grades 5-8

GENRE: picture book (nonfiction)

OPENING and SYNOPSIS:

“It’s hours past midnight. You’d think any self-respecting parrot would be asleep. But not Lisa.”

Sy Montgomery follows conservationists to Codfish Island in New Zealand, a stone’s throw from Antarctica. The conservationists’ mission: to expand the population of the kakapo, the “rarest and heaviest parrot, the only flightless night-active parrot, and undoubtedly the strangest parrot in the world,” as Montgomery writes. By 1995, only 51 kakapo existed anywhere on earth.

THEMES/TOPICS: endangered species, science, conservation

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: I love the Scientist in the Field series. THE MIGHTY MARS ROVERS was another in the series. Through the books, students can actually learn what different scientist jobs are like on a daily basis.

RESOURCES/ACTIVITIES:

  • Kakapo Recovery has a wonderful Kids’ Page. Read ranger diaries. Hear the kakapo’s unique calls.
  • Teacher Sharon Stock has designed a number of classroom activities, which are available on the series Web site.

Every Friday bloggers review “Perfect Picture Books.” Find a complete list of book reviews organized by topic, genre and blogger at author Susanna Leonard Hill’s site.