Science & Nature
Caroline Herschel had a very hard life early on. Born into a family of royal musicians in what is now Germany, two childhood illnesses left her face pockmarked and her body stunted. Her mother treated her very much as a servant while worrying that no man would ever want to marry her. In the 1700s, this was a real concern, for it was hard for women to make enough money to survive on their own. Caroline's life was pretty miserable as she was expected to do exhausting housework, including knitting stockings for everyone, over and over again.
Fortunately, Caroline’s older brother William wanted to help her. He had moved to England where he was working as a choral conductor and piano teacher. William had the idea that Caroline could learn to sing and be paid for it, and that is exactly what she did. But that is not where her story ends.
A boy and his mother are canoeing on a pond in the Adirondack Mountains. It is peaceful place, maybe even dull. Or, is it? The boy asks his mother, “What’s down there?”
So many things! His mother tells him about them, from the minnows, crayfish, and bullfrogs to beavers hunting “delectable roots” found in the mud and otters clawing for freshwater mussels.
And, over the pond? A great blue heron catches one of those minnows for his dinner. A moose munches a mouthful of waterlilies. As the sun sets, mother and son paddle back to shore and head for home. In the dark, life goes on at the pond. Raccoons come out to prowl, and catfish glide as they seek their suppers in the cool of the night.
Kate Messner’s Over and Under the Pond does several things very nicely. First, it tells a soothing story, perfect for bedtime. But it also introduces an ecosystem, making the science of living things and the secrets found below a pond’s surface very accessible, and it manages to do so without sounding like a textbook.
Birth to age five is a critical stage of development in a child’s life. Particularly in the first three years of life, babies’ brains develop at an astonishing rate. Reading and the positive experiences around reading promote babies’ development and can create a love of reading that will last a lifetime. Reading books on a wide range of topics introduces a variety of new words that children may not hear in everyday conversation, building their brain power.
Publishers have been responding to parents’ and caregivers’ desire to have board books that expand on the traditional approach by creating books for babies that introduce areas such as science and history or that take a new approach to learning ABCs, colors and shapes.
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Are you looking for books on animals and insects? Check out these fun non-fiction and easy readers below.
Animalogy: Animal Analogies by Marianne Collins Berkes
Uses analogies to teach the similarities and differences between animals, including their sounds, physical adaptations, behaviors, and classes. (catalog summary)
Animals: A Visual Encyclopedia by James Buckley
Animal Planet Animals: A Visual Encyclopedia profiles the seven major animal classes—mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, arthropods, and other invertebrates—and features more than 1,000 stunning color photographs of animals in action. (catalog summary)
In Carole Lexa Schaefer’s The Children’s Garden, there are so many things to see—and do! It’s the children who are watering, weeding, and scattering seeds. They are also the ones who enjoy the many vegetables and herbs. Brightly colored illustrations, by Pierr Morgan, are cheerful and relatable.
Young readers and listeners may be inspired to start their own gardens, whether on a windowsill, in the backyard, or by taking part in a community garden. Gardening teaches children how nature works and to value their own work in the world. Gardening also allows them to enjoy the literal fruit of their labors and is a great way to spend more time outdoors.
Alex Petroski is 11 years old—but at least 13 years old in responsibility years. He has a hero: astronomer Carl Sagan, a dog: golden retriever Carl Sagan, and a plan: launch a rocket carrying a Golden iPod full of his own commentary into outer space for aliens to listen to and enjoy. Jack Cheng's debut novel, See You In the Cosmos, is the transcript of these live recordings, as Alex packs up his rocket and Carl Sagan the Dog and heads to the Southwest High-Altitude Rocket Festival.
Rosie the Riveter is an icon, well-known for representing the scores of women who worked in munitions factories during World War II. Andrea Beaty gives a subtle nod to the original Rosie—and the powerful women she represents—in Rosie Revere, Engineer, her follow-up to Iggy Peck, Architect. Rosie Revere is a born engineer who loves creating intricate and unusual machines using parts she has salvaged from the trash. Her inventing has been a secret, though, ever since the day her Uncle Fred laughed at her snake repellant hat.
DK Publishing and the Smithsonian Institution worked together to create a fascinating book for kids (and adults) who are fascinated by the world around them. The Elements: A Visual Encyclopedia of the Periodic Table makes what could be a dull subject very shiny indeed.
Sure, you have your basic periodic table for quick reference. But every element gets its spotlight, with truly interesting facts and many intriguing photos. Take iridium. It’s a shiny black metal that’s 22 times as dense as water. That’s heavy. You can find it in meteorites, compasses, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and Badlands National Park in South Dakota.
Little Wolf can barely contain his excitement. "Tonight's the night," says Big Wolf. "Your first howling!" He can't wait to howl at the moon, just like his father Big Wolf! First, Big Wolf demonstrates proper howling form:
Big Wolf's howl is perfect! It drifts through the valley and graces the moon. Now it's Little Wolf's turn!
". . . aaaaaaaaaaaaooooooooooo . . . I'm hoooooowling, 'oooowling, 'oooooowling!"