It has been fantastic in recent years to see the growth in girls becoming more interested in science disciplines. I know I have loved running my Geek Girls groups and hosting events from Tech Girls and the like. And it is equally pleasing to see more and more schools including state primary schools having dedicated STEM specialist lessons. While we may not (many of us) have a whole heap of time in classroom programs to divert to spontaneous topics of interest, this is a book that will easily springboard into these areas.
I road-tested this one this week with a fairly rambunctious Year 2 class I was with (they were out of sorts after a couple of disruptive days and one not-so-effective relief teacher the day before me) but they were all, even to the ‘liveliest’ really engaged with this and it was a very effective read-aloud to settle them after a break. We didn’t have much time to spare in the program the teacher had provided but I stole some to have them ‘monster-fy’ one of their own toys and draw the result. FrankenToys (example) is a really fun activity I have run in library lunchtimes and both littles and bigs enjoy it and all you need is some old toys and some constructions material like hot glue guns.
Frankie is a truly dedicated young scientist, always researching, hypothesising and testing, with her much-loved partner, Bear, always on watch from the shelf. But Frankie really wishes that she and Bear could really talk to each other and that he could become more than just a silent partner. After much experimentation, she comes up with a formula that she’s sure will work – and it does! – only not quite in the way she anticipated. Suddenly, instead of cute, fuzzy Bear she has a great, green, angry monster Bear, intent on eating everything and wrecking a lot as he goes along. Time to come up with another potion – and fast!! It’s certainly a nice twist on friendship and also, arguably, being satisfied with our friends, just as they are. It is also an apt lesson in perseverance and resilience – two qualities high on every school’s values list.
With its rhythmic rhymes and the vibrant illustrations, this will be a definite hit from Prep upwards to around Year 3.
Why not make a point of sharing it with your STEM teacher/coordinator as well as your kiddos?
Highly recommended for 4 years upwards (and don’t forget to stock up on the glue guns, screwdrivers and pliers!)
From firsthand experience, I can assure you that having a sensitively written, beautifully crafted book to help a child deal with loss is a very valuable commodity. I used several when we lost The Kid’s mum but this one is a very welcome addition to that specific genre.
I am not at all scientfically minded so if you are like me and need a reminder of The Law of Conservation of Energy, by which this is inspired, you can check it out here. Accordingly, sharing this book will not only help your young readers come to terms with the concept of grief and loss but will enable some fascinating experiments into this scientific principle.
The animals are concerned for Ziggy, who is sadly looking up at the moon. Eventually the rabbit explains that his magician, Alby, The Amazing Albertino, has gone missing after (as Ziggy thought) working long and hard on a new trick. Finally, it is wise Owl who shows Ziggy how Alby has performed his greatest disappearing trick ever and how, despite his disappearance, Ziggy can still keep him close.
It is a beautifully and poignantly written and illustrated story of loss, sorrow and comfort and even your smallest of kiddos will grasp the intent of its magic.
Highly recommended for your little peeps from around Kinder upwards to around Year 3 or 4.
We absolutely know that kiddos love information books and, certainly in my experience, the quirkier the better really. This marvellous book is described as a ‘cabinet of curiosities’ and indeed it does appear to be exactly that in a written and illustrated form. For example: The Disgusting Food Museum (Sweden), Questionable Medical Devices (Minnesota, USA), Madame Tussaud’s, Banksy art, the Poo Machine (our very own MONA in Tasmania) all is grist for the mill in this panopoly. Of course, there are more pedestrian examples such as the Louvre or the Galileo Museum but it is bound to be the more bizarre by which children will be fascinated.
Museums and private collections, the serious, the playful, the wacky and the wonderful – over 50 exhibitions from around the world and drawn from various time periods. The objects span a wide range of topics which are more than relevant to curriculum including history, natural science, STEAM, medicine, inventions and cultures and the extensive teaching notes will be a huge asset to any teacher, whether clasroom, home or library.
I know that it will find an audience in any setting and with Christmas rapidly approaching, it would make a splendid gift for an inquisitive youngster in your circle. I intend to use it in my relief teaching days as dipping in and out will be perfect for those odd moments in a program to segue from one activity to another.
Highly recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards.
Idan Ben-Barak first came to my attention with Do Not Lick This Book, and, like so many others, I found it uproariously funny as well as a brilliant informational text for young readers. Certainly, the kiddos with whom I shared it voted it their favourite of that year.
What impresses me so immensely is that someone as technically knowledgeable and eminent in his chosen qualification/professional field can translate that into information so readily accessible to young children, who cannot help but learn through the medium of a picture book.
In this book, children are given an insight, in terms to which they can relate easily, to the beginnings of life on Earth, from a jumble of elements to one little bubble to highly evolved organisms. The text is accompanied by Philip Bunting’s -almost electric- vivid and quirky illustrations, with the repetition of circular shapes so perfectly echoing the concept of molecules.
This is an absolute joy, and I would love nothing better than to share it with some little humans and see where the ensuing discussions might take us.
Highly recommended for your readers from Prep upwards – and, of course, particularly appropriate in your science studies.
Dr Ward’s curiosity and innovation enabled the transport of many of the plants – both decorative and useful – to other shores and while, with hindsight, we have come to understand that some of those introduced to Australia have been a disaster for our native habitats, there is also no doubt that the production of fruit and other crops has been an important part of our agricultural landscape and economy.
Most intriguing of all is the concept of simple wondering and experimentation that lead to something now so commonplace that we accept its presence without question, and it is this, in my opinion, that your young readers will connect with the most. Reading this even to your upper primary children will provoke so many learning opportunities and I highly recommend it for your kiddos from around six years upwards.
This is exactly the type of information book that appealed to me, the nerd-child, and still does. Big, bold and beautiful, Peter Goes’ distinctive illustrative style takes the reader through the development of technology and science through history with each double spread featuring a specific time frame.
Exploring science including information tech and medicine, music and entertainment as well as everyday living this journey begins with prehistoric man and concludes in 2020 with insights into objects and concepts as diverse as early flutes, the evolution of farm equipment, discovery of DNA, the printing press, advances in architecture and so much more. It would be a marvellous springboard for classroom discussions or project based learning on such discoveries and inventions.
Children from around seven years upwards will pore over each double spread closely examining each aspect of the period described and they will absolutely LOVE the fact that its such a gigantic book!
I foresee this will be very highly sought after by both the children who love to walk out of the library carrying a book almost as big as themselves as well as those who are genuinely interested in STEM and related topics.
Highly recommended for kiddos from around Year 3 upwards.
As it happens the Kid is looking at the human body for the science component of her home schooling this term. Of course, as the diligent teacher-librarian/gran that I am, I have organised a lot of useful resources for her – none of which will be anywhere near as gross or fascinating as George’s new survival guide! In fact, the day it arrived, she picked it up and there were many gasps and groans as she flicked through it – a pretty fair indication that all your kiddos who delight in the gruesome and ghastly will love it :-).
Sections such as Red Spurty Stuff, Pooping it Out and Dead Stuff will likely be the first that readers dip into (for want of a better expression) and the gross-o-meter throughout will aid them in their reactions. Fact boxes, extracts from articles, images and diagrams galore all help put together a thoroughly disgusting journey through the body and it’s mysterious workings.
There is a particularly welcome section on body image which will empower young readers to view themselves positively and the book’s conclusion has a useful glossary plus some excellent further reading links.
It is definitely a book that will take some time to work through as the readers pore over each fact, article, diagram, table, illustration and more.
Any kiddos from around ten years upwards will enjoy this one and obviously, it will be featured on the Kid’s reading list for this term. I feel confident she will ferret out the most odious of facts to share with me.
George is one of those amazing authors who can skillfully turn his hand to adept and engaging writing across many genres. The fact that he is just a tiny bit crazy (eccentric?) is a bonus [thought you’d like that addition, George!]. He is also one of the most fun people I’ve ever met :-).
Don’t miss out on George’s mad scientist/not-a-real-doctor videos and check out his Q&A with Better Reading here.
Highly recommended for your readers from middle primary to middle secondary.
Another timely book – certainly for us – as we’ve been re-invigorating and re-planting our veggie patch after a long hot summer. Magical seeds are popping up in the propagator on our front verandah waiting until they are sturdy enough to be planted out in the bed.
But this book is not just about the wonder of seeds in the literal sense. It also speaks to our little people about figurative seeds – the seeds of anger which can quickly flare up into nasty weeds but also the seeds of kindness and those of smiles which we should all be sowing liberally. (Lord knows we could use a lot of that in some sectors of society at present!)
This is a beautiful book which moves from scientific explanation of seeds undergoing their transformations to a philosophical metaphors for human emotions and behaviour seamlessly. Definitely one worth adding to your classroom program on either basis as there will much rich discussion ensuing.
Most children love gardening and growing things – even the too-cool teen is still keen to garden (in fact she’s just helped spread two large bags of horse manure over the veggie patch!). The wonder of watching plants erupt from tiny capsules is one that never loses its joy.
Why not combine your reading and philosophy with some science-based work (gotta love cross-curricular topics!)?
Highly recommended for little people from ELC upwards.
ISBN: 9781536200959 Imprint: Candlewick Australian RRP: $24.99 New Zealand RRP: $27.99
I had the very great pleasure of meeting Frané at the 2019 Voices on the Coast Literature Festival (thank you again for the lovely sketch of Duffy!) and she is such a wonderful and warm, not to mention talented creator.
While arguably it is for her Australian themed books that (for most readers) she is best known, this one focuses on North America – the USA and Canada – and connects these by means of the Milky Way, the splendour of which is something which we can all appreciate.
Each vibrant double spread focuses on one location and includes special little facts, both scientific and cultural, that will fascinate readers making this a very beautiful factional offering. It concludes with another spread which gives some fabulous astronomical information about our galaxy.
I absolutely adore this book – Frané’s illustrations alone are always such a joy – and there is no doubt in my mind that young readers will feel likewise. The subject matter is one which is somewhat neglected in our collections for kiddos but is certainly one that deserves to be better known.
Beneath a blanket of stars, crowds cheer at Little League games, campers share fireside stories, bull-riders hold on tight, and sled dogs race through falling snow — all under the Milky Way. Vivid artwork, engaging verses, and facts about the United States and Canada will captivate readers of all ages in a joyful offering from Frané Lessac.
Highly recommended for readers from around 7 years upwards.
This is just a wonderful heart-warming book on many levels and has introduced me to not only a new author but new information.
Libby Malone is 12 years old and passionate about science so much so that she wants to be a scientist when she grows up. Her favourite scientist is the over-looked Cecilia Payne – first woman Astronomy Chair at Harvard and the first person to postulate the theories on what stars are made of – work which was discounted but then appropriated by men in the field.
Libby also has Turner Syndrome – a condition of birth that has affected her physical development in many ways – but about which she is pretty pragmatic although she does sometimes wish she had a friend other than the school library.
Her older sister Nonny, whom she adores, is now married and living away from the family but returns when her husband has to go away to work and she is pregnant and needs to have a safe haven. Libby worries over Nonny’s baby and the fact that Nonny and Thomas are struggling financially. Her mind races with ‘what ifs’ and so she inspired to take up a challenge that could change their lives and help them secure a home of their own. She determines to enter a new Women in STEM competition initiated by the Smithsonian and of course she has the perfect subject in her much revered Cecilia.
At the same time new girl Talia arrives at the school and like Libby she also stands out from the crowd mostly because she is Samoan. The pair forms a tentative but increasingly stronger friendship which sees them both encourage and support each other through crises and challenges, and ultimately rejoice together.
This has much of the same deep ‘feels’ as books such as Wonder and will appeal to upper primary/early secondary students in just the same way. Libby encounters and triumphs over the petty meanness of both the ubiquitous school bully boy and an even more odious adult, editor of her school history textbook. She and Talia both pursue their goals with determination and singular focus and both have the measure of success they both need to affirm their chosen paths. And of course, the arrival of baby Cecilia, though not without its dramas, is the magical icing on Libby’s cake.
The warmth and love of family and special friendship, self-pride and identity are all well teased out concepts in this novel and the reader feels immense connection with the characters.
I would recommend it highly for readers from around 10 years upwards and certainly if you have kiddos who have loved Wonder then this would be a natural to add to their ‘If you liked…’ list.