PPBF: PLANTS CAN’T SIT STILL

TITLE: Plants Can’t Sit Still

AUTHOR: Rebecca E. Hirsch

ILLUSTRATOR: Mia Posada

PUBLICATION INFO: Millbrook Press, 2016

ISBN: 978-1467780315

SOURCE: review copy provided by publisher

INTENDED AUDIENCE: ages 5 and up

GENRE: nonfiction picture book

OPENING and SYNOPSIS:

“Plants don’t have feet or fins or wings, yet they can move in many ways. Look closely and you’ll discover that plants can’t sit still.”

From the publisher: “Do plants really move? Absolutely! You might be surprised by all ways plants can move. Plants might not pick up their roots and walk away, but they definitely don’t sit still! Discover the many ways plants (and their seeds) move. Whether it’s a sunflower, a Venus flytrap, or an exotic plant like an exploding cucumber, this fascinating picture book shows just how excitingly active plants really are.”

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: Hirsch turns conventional thinking on its head with this playful book. Plants may be rooted, but they can’t sit still, as Hirsch’s refrain tells us. She uses vivid verbs to explain the many ways plants grow, move, and spread, all the while reinforcing what plants need to grow: water, sunshine, and room. PLANTS CAN’T SIT STILL is both a great read-aloud and a wonderful addition to an elementary classroom unit about plants.

RESOURCES/ACTIVITIES:

  • See for yourself how plants reach and creep. Grow beans in a plastic bag. Find instructions here.
  • OutsideMom provides a lesson plan for learning how seeds move here.
  • Here’s a catchy tune about seed dispersal from Mr. R’s Songs for Teaching.

You’ll find way more cool books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s “Perfect Picture Books.” Every Friday folks review a host of new books. Join us!

PPBF: Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine

 

TITLE: Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine

AUTHOR: Laurie Wallmark

ILLUSTRATOR: April Chu

PUBLICATION INFO: Creston Books, 2015

ISBN: 978-1939547200

SOURCE: personal copy courtesy of Wallmark

INTENDED AUDIENCE: ages 5 and up (biography)

GENRE: nonfiction picture book

OPENING and SYNOPSIS:

“Ada was born into a world of poetry, but numbers, not words, captured her imagination.”

From the publisher: “Ada Lovelace, the daughter of the famous romantic poet, Lord Byron, develops her creativity through science and math. When she meets Charles Babbage, the inventor of the first mechanical computer, Ada understands the machine better than anyone else and writes the world’s first computer program in order to demonstrate its capabilities.”

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: STEM … women … need I say more? This book has been so well-reviewed, I’m a little late to the party. One thing that struck me was how Wallmark introduced the idea of one of Ada’s early inventions — a flying machine — and reintroduced the concept at the end to show Ada’s impact on the world: an early computer program called Ada, which allowed modern machines to fly. It creates a perfect circle and a satisfying read.

RESOURCES/ACTIVITIES:

You’ll find way more cool books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s “Perfect Picture Books.” Every Friday folks review a host of new books. Join us!

Summer Fun-Coding Class

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We’ve all become a little frustrated trying to program our Mindstorm robot because we don’t understand the basics of programming. So, one of my goals for this summer was to work through Code.org’s Code Studio, a series of free, online coding classes designed for kids and adults so we can learn the basics.

The basics???

Well, it’s been 2 hours today, and I can’t get the boys off the iPads. They are moving through the lessons so fast I lost track of their progress. It’s a good thing Code.org keeps track though, so they can pick it up again later.

Finley even sent me one of the video games he created. Here’s the game if you want to check it out. (Note: I have not figured out how to win this one. Finley tells me not to move left or the Stormtroopers will appear and kill me.)

PPBF: Blue On Blue

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TITLE: BLUE ON BLUE

AUTHOR: Dianne White

ILLUSTRATOR: Beth Krommes

PUBLICATION INFO: Beach Lane Books (2014)

ISBN:9781442412675

SOURCE: library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: grades K-3

GENRE: picture book

OPENING and SYNOPSIS:

“Cotton clouds.

Morning light.

Blue on blue.

White on white.”

From the publisher: “Discover the joys of a wild rainstorm in this poetic picture book, illustrated by a Caldecott Medalist.

Join a farming family as they experience the full range of a thrilling seaside thunderstorm—from the wild wind and the very first drops; to the pouring, pouring rain; to the wonderful messy mud after the sun returns!

With gentle, rhyming text and vivid artwork from a Caldecott Medal–winning illustrator, this sublime depiction of nature’s patterns turns a storm into a celebration.”

THEMES/TOPICS: weather

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: Dianne White’s rhythmic text builds and bursts just like the thunderstorm it depicts. Beth Krommes’s illustrations add an additional layer to the story, showing the reaction of a girl and farm animals to the storm. Young children will love the rhythm and rhyme. In the classroom, teachers can use the book to discuss weather patterns.

RESOURCES/ACTIVITIES:

You’ll find way more cool books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s “Perfect Picture Books.” Every Friday folks review a host of new books. Join us!

PPBF: Ben Franklin’s Big Splash

Sorry the blog’s been so quiet, ya’ll. Following the whirlwind of the holidays, I’m now on deadline for two books with my publisher, Rourke Educational Media, and working on a third for a reading program. I took a short break to bring you a book I’ve been wanting to share for a while…

TITLE:  Ben Franklin’s Big Splash

AUTHOR: Barb Rosenstock

ILLUSTRATOR: S. D. Schindler

PUBLICATION INFO: Calkins Creek, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-62091-446-5

SOURCE: personal library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: ages 8+

GENRE: historical fiction picture book

OPENING and SYNOPSIS:

“Before the world knew the famous Doctor Benjamin Franklin, his neighbors knew him as Ben, the sturdy, saucy, smelly son of a soap-maker — the boy who, on sweltering summer days, snuck away from stirring soap and snipping candlewicks in his father’s shop to head straight for the river…”

From the publisher:

“Ben Franklin loved to swim and, at the age of eleven, he was determined to swim like a fish—fins and all! This fascinating and lively account of young Ben’s earliest invention follows the budding scientist’s journey as he tests and retests his swim fins. That first big splash led Ben to even more innovations and inventions. Includes Franklin quotes, a timeline, bibliography, and source notes.”

THEMES/TOPICS: history, invention

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: I read this one with my six-year-old last night, and he could totally relate to Ben’s passion for swimming. Plus, Ben swims in the buff, which kids find hilarious. (Don’t worry, Schindler keeps Ben modest.) As a parent, I appreciated that Ben’s swim fins and sandals didn’t work out as planned, but he didn’t give up. And just when the six-year-old wanted to know about Ben’s other inventions, I turned the page to find back matter highlighting some of Ben’s contributions.

RESOURCES/ACTIVITIES:

  • What would you invent: What problems do you see around you? How could you solve them with a new invention? Draw a sketch or write a paragraph describing your ideas.
  • Ready to put your ideas to the test? NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab has a great video series on science fairs, which includes an overview of the engineering design process similar to Ben’s swim fin efforts.
  • PBS has eight lesson plans to accompany its series about Benjamin Franklin. Learn about inventions, newspapers, and more.

You’ll find way more cool books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s “Perfect Picture Books.” Every Friday folks review a host of new books. Join us!

PPBF: Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard

LookUpI had to wrestle this book away from my seven-year-old. He’s been hiding it in the “reading cave” under his bed and periodically pulling it out to tempt me, allowing me to read a snippet here and there. Last night, I crawled under the bed, retrieved the book, and read it from endpaper to informative endpaper.

TITLE: LOOK UP! BIRD-WATCHING IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD

AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR: Annette LeBlanc Cate

PUBLICATION INFO: Candlewick, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4561-8

SOURCE:  library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: ages 8 to 12 years

GENRE: nonfiction picture book

OPENING and SYNOPSIS:

“This is a book about one of my favorite hobbies: bird-watching (and bird drawing, too!).”

From the publisher:

“This conversational, humorous introduction to bird-watching encourages kids to get outdoors with a sketchbook and really look around. Quirky full-color illustrations portray dozens of birds chatting about their distinctive characteristics, including color, shape, plumage, and beak and foot types, while tongue-in-cheek cartoons feature banter between birds, characters, and the reader (“Here I am, the noble spruce grouse. In a spruce grove. Eatin’ some spruce. Yep.”). Interactive and enjoyable tips bring an age-old hobby to new life for the next generation of bird-watchers.

You don’t have to own binoculars and know a bunch of fancy Latin names to watch birds! No matter where you live, they’re in your neighborhood — just look up.”
 

THEMES/TOPICS: science, nature

WHY I LIKE LOVE! THIS BOOK: I’m a big bird fan. We have nesting hummingbirds and mourning doves along with California quail in our yard. Last year a killdeer hid her eggs among the rocks out front. Oh, and did I mention the ravens make themselves at home at our home too?

Whenever I see something cool, I like to share it with the boys. When we take walks to the park, they look for birds along our route. Taking time to slow down and observe birds in their natural habitat is such a gift in a busy world. And I can think of no better book than this one to encourage kids along the way.

Cate’s technique reminds me of the brilliant WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING HATCHLINGS. The text is 100% nonfiction, but each page features birds with speech bubbles filled with witty repartee. It’s very clever and entertaining.

RESOURCES/ACTIVITIES:

  • Look up! Watch some birds in your own backyard. Put down that cell phone, gaming device, iPad, etc. and watch the birds in your yard, out the window, or at the park. Just observe. Make some notes. Even sketch or snap some photos.
  • Find out more about the birds you see at Cornell University’s outstanding Ornithology site. They have fantastic bird guides. And, if you find a nest in your yard, learn how to track it using Cornell’s NestWatch.
  • Each February join the Great Backyard Bird Count. Or just visit the site and learn lots more about birds.

You’ll find way more cool books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s “Perfect Picture Books.” Every Friday folks review a host of new books. Join us!

PPBF: The Daring Miss Quimby

MissQuimby

TITLE: THE DARING MISS QUIMBY

AUTHOR: Suzanne George Whitaker

ILLUSTRATOR: Catherine Stock

PUBLICATION INFO: Holiday House, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8234-1996-8

SOURCE:  library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: ages 4 to 8

GENRE: nonfiction picture book, history

OPENING and SYNOPSIS:

“Harriet Quimby was the picture of a modern American woman of 1912.”

From the publisher:

“In 1912, airplanes looked like bicycles with wings and only men flew these new machines. When the spirited young woman, Harriet Quimby, decided to learn to fly, everyone said it would be too dangerous. But Harriet tried it anyway. Soon the whole country was just wild about this daring woman, dressed in her special purple satin flight suit, who flew through the skies to become the first woman in the United States to earn her pilot’s license and fly across the English Channel.”

THEMES/TOPICS: women’ history, aviation, biography

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: What’s not to love about Harriet Quimby? While most women of her day sported corsets and long dresses, she donned a shiny purple flight suit. She also drove fast cars, wrote for magazines, and enjoyed adventure after adventure in the days before women could even vote. Whitaker’s book conveys Harriet’s spirit and zest for life in an age-appropriate way. And Stock’s watercolor images are simply heavenly.

RESOURCES:

  • Whitaker includes an in-depth author’s note and women in aviation timeline. See an online timeline here.
  • Kids can learn about the science of flight at the National Air and Space Museum’s “How Things Fly” website.
  • NASA has a number of aeronautics educator resources on its website.
  • Why not build your own paper airplane? Try different designs and see which flies the best.

You’ll find way more cool books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s “Perfect Picture Books.” Every Friday folks review a host of new books. Join us!