Category Archives: stem

Our Environment: Everything You Need to Know

Written by: Jacques Pasquet

Illustrated by: Yves Dumont

Translated by: Shelley Tanaka

For ages: 9-12 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM, Environment, Nature, Sustainability, Activism, Pint-Sized Professor, Biology, Littering, Oceans, Marine Life, Weather, Climate Change. 


Our Environment is helpfully broken up into 5 sections, one for each of the essential elements (water, air, soil, energy, climate) with bolded vocabulary words and a glossary in the back.  The book walks a fine line between educating about the element itself, and explaining in detail the threats that are facing our planet.  As depressing as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is, we do need to learn about it so that the brilliant young minds today can hopefully create solutions for it.

The book really focuses on the impacts of humanity on the environment without being scary, which is important.  Scaring readers into the inability to act isn’t helpful, Our Environment gives scientific information first and foremost but doesn’t needlessly use scare tactics.  It ends with a look toward the future, and an empowering call to action that implores us to be stewards of the land and transform our outdoor spaces for the better.  One of my favorite lines from this section stresses to the reader that the importance isn’t the size of the gesture that’s most crucial, it’s the understanding of why it’s necessary and the actual choosing to do it.  Reinforcing critical thinking and putting the planet before the easiest or cheapest option is a lifestyle change, but something that needs to be learned young.  This book is a great step towards that, and a brighter more sustainable future.

This book was sent to us by Owlkids Books, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

pasquet-jacques-paris-2010Jacques Pasquet is a writer and storyteller. He lived among the Inuit people for more than a decade and shared their hopes and fears. Now that his busy career as a professor is behind him, he splits his time between writing and visiting schools. Jacques is the author of nearly twenty books for children in Québec and France. He lives in Montréal, Québec. For more information, visit . The website is all in French!

yves-dumont-7141Born in France, Yves Dumont graduated from the School of Graphic Research in Brussels in 1999, and then moved to Quebec in 2008 to pursue his art. He has illustrated more than forty books for children. He lives and works in Montreal.

Astro Girl

Written & Illustrated by: Ken Wilson-Max

For ages: 3-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM, Space, Astronauts, Family, Self-Confidence, POC-Centric Narratives. 


Astrid LOVES space, and everything about being an astronaut.  Her dad asks her some questions about aspects of space travel and she is filled with confidence about being up to the task.  The relationship that Astrid and her father have is adorable, it is filled with happiness and giggles.  Throughout the book we don’t see Astrid’s mother, but at the very end the pair gets into the car to go pick her up.

This is just an incredibly sweet and happy book.  It depicts a loving family, and Astrid has a confidence that is adorable to witness.  In the back is information all about women astronauts and a few facts about space.  This is a great book for young readers, especially space enthusiasts!

This book was sent to us by the Candlewick Press, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & Illustrator:

https-www-hayfestival-com-images-product-medium-13559-1_origKen Wilson-Max “was born and raised in Zimbabwe, where I trained to be a graphic designer, with a strong focus on critical thinking and creative direction. My approach to graphic design and communication problem-solving has not changed much, but along the way, I observed how similar people are, whether they are learning to read, or running large corporations. I am an information designer, a storyteller, if you like, who can make any type of information accessible to any type of audience.

I travelled to the UK to study design and ended up working in children’s publishing as a book designer.  After a decade designing books for children and young adults, I showed a set of ideas to publishers for a series of books about vehicles. So then I became a children’s author and illustrator as well.

I love working with children and teachers because I learn so much. This helps my work get better, as my specialty is bringing out the emotional connections between people. I have always believed that people are more similar than different and that is worth celebrating. I have also seen over the last few decades how much better it is for children of all backgrounds to see themselves in books.

Since 2017 I’ve been running an independent publishing company creating and producing naturally inclusive books for very young children called Alanna Max. “

Corrie was on Once Upon a Tech!

Happy Wednesday folx!  Today, I (Corrie) had the privilege of being on a really rad podcast called Once Upon a Tech!  If you’ve been following for awhile, you might recognize one of the hosts Ms. Fitz, from one of our Sound-Off Saturday’s last year.  The Morning Meeting series that I was a guest on are quick 15-minute episodes, and includes a list of resources at the end.  If you have some time, please check it out! We talked about the mission behind the website, our beautiful online community, and why it’s important to learn as much as we can.  I had so much fun, and they’re a lovely bunch of humans!

You can listen to the episode Corrie was on here!

A bit more about the podcast creators:

kimsarah-2copy-1_origSarah FitzHenry, aka Ms. Fitz, is a K-8 librarian and founder of Fitz Between the Shelves. She believes that libraries should be technology, research and innovation hubs designed by and for students. Find Sarah on Instagram at @fitzbetweentheshelves.

Kim Wilkens, aka Miss-Bit, is a K-8 computer science educator and founder of Tech-Girls. She is passionate about transforming technology users into creators, collaborators and activists. Find Kim on Twitter at @MissBitBytes.

You can find more episodes of the podcast itself here.

Gut Garden

Written & Illustrated by: Katie Brosnan

For ages: 6 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM, Microbiology, Human Body, Pint-Sized Professor. 


This is a really cool book that discusses all aspects of the human microbiome.  By going through all of the different types of microbes (like fungi, protists, bacteria, and so much more!) in the human body, the reader learns all about the different processes taking place inside everyday without our knowledge.

Gut Garden is cleverly drawn and designed so the microbes speak to each other and have personalities, making the book read like a comic book rather than a dense scientific textbook.  It’s really bright and detailed, going through the body to show the variety of life in different parts.  It’s packed with fun facts like the differences in human microbiomes that have pets at home and the humans that don’t!  The reader learns about antibiotics, fermentation, and a recipe to make your own sauerkraut.  Overall, I learned a whole bunch and really enjoyed seeing all of the adorable microbe drawings that represented all the wonderful goings on inside my own body!

This book was published by Cicada Books but it was generously sent to us by our friends at Publisher’s Spotlight.  All opinions are our own.

About the Author & Illustrator:

unnamed-6Katie Brosnan is an author and illustrator based in the UK. She has an MA from the Cambridge School of Art.

Trees Make Perfect Pets

Written by: Paul Czajak

Illustrated by: Cathy Gendron 

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM, Pint-Sized Professor, Environment, Sustainability, Nature, Girls Outdoors, Love, Pets, Biology. 


Trees Make Perfect Pets is a story about a girl named Abigail who wants a special pet for her birthday-a tree!  She’s given that matter a lot of thought, and in her opinion they are the perfect pet.  Abigail adopts a tree and names it Fido, and she takes him everywhere in a wagon.  Eventually, with her devotion and attention, Fido grows too large to stay inside the house!

This book is incredibly adorable.  Abigail absolutely loves Fido, and is undeterred when various people try to convince her that a tree isn’t a real pet.  I also love a good story that has a character that reveres trees as much as Abigail does.  Not only with the environmental aspect of respecting trees and wanting them to thrive, it’s a wonderful message to send to readers that are perhaps allergic (or have allergic family members) to animals.  Having a plant to nurture could be a good replacement, or for folks who live in small apartments where an animal wouldn’t have enough room.  At the back of the book is a list of websites where readers can go and find tree friends for themselves!  I relate a lot to Abigail and her love of trees, but unfortunately have never had a wagon to pull one around in.

This book was sent to us by Sourcebooks Kids, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

DSC_3384.JPGPaul Czajak is the author of this lovely book.  He has a fascinating and rambling biography (which you should definitely read) on his website, which you can find here



Website_About_DinoSomewhere in the last century, Cathy Gendron stumbled out of college with a BFA and a serious need to draw. Landing unexpectedly in the ad department of her local newspaper, she discovered editorial illustration, which perfectly connected her love of reading with a passion for art. A short stint as art director for the Detroit Free Press taught her that she really didn’t enjoy the management side of the business. She quit and has been making pictures ever since.

Working traditionally, Cathy applies thin glazes of oil color over a casein underpainting. Her images have appeared in numerous publications for the editorial, book and corporate markets, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Dallas Morning News, Newsweek, US News and World Reports, Utne Reader, Seventeen, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Kensington Publishing, IBM, Target and Saatchi & Saatchi.

In 2015, she designed and painted a 4,000-square-foot mural in Ann Arbor, “Enduring Roots”. That same year, she made her debut as a children’s illustrator with The Nutcracker Comes to America, written by Chris Barton. Her second illustrated book, Trees Make Perfect Pets by Paul Czajak, is slated for publication in the spring of 2020.

Cathy’s work has won awards from Communications Arts Magazine, Society of Illustrators Los Angeles, Print Magazine, Society of Publications Designers and the Detroit Creative Directors Council. She has exhibited her paintings in Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Lansing and after 30 years, she is still sending countless art students into the unknown from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit.

Professor Astro Cat’s Deep Sea Voyage

Written by: Dr. Dominic Walliman 

Illustrated by: Ben Newman

For ages: 7 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Nature, Natural World, Ocean, Sea Life, Pint-Sized Professor, STEM, Biology, Environmental Activism, Pollution, Self-Empowerment. 


This is the newest installment of the incredible Professor Astro Cat series!  Grab your nearest ocean enthusiast and settle in for 60+ pages of aquatic adventure.  So this book came out in the beginning of April and honestly I’m ashamed it’s taken me this long to finally sit down and write a review.  The book is incredible, I’m obsessed with the Professor Astro Cat layout (which you know if you’ve read any of my other reviews about the series) which reads part compendium and part comic book.  There are tons of small details to pore over while exploring maps of global oceans and sea phenomena.

Deep Sea Voyage covers a huge amount of information between its covers, taking the reader through kelp forests, scaling underwater mountains and exploring coral reefs.  The book covers factoids about animal wildlife as well, not just the ecosystems they live in.  Do you know why polar bears sniff the ice? How about what the biggest jellyfish is? Going through this book readers learn this and so much more, including how the oceans and seas were formed in the first place!  Importantly too, in the back, is information about how the oceans are in danger because of global warming and pollution.  Briefing the reader on oil spills and microplastics, we also learn what we can do to help offset some of these effects.  I love the way this series empowers young scientists to learn as much as they can and take their education into their own hands, one eye always on the environment and sustainability.  An amazing addition to this series, I truly can’t wait to see what STEM topic this dynamic duo tackles next!

This book was kindly sent to us by our friends at Flying Eye Books, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

dominicwalliman-2Dominic Walliman is a physicist, and award-winning science writer. He is co-creator of the Professor Astro Cat science books with illustrator Ben Newman.

Dominic received his PhD in quantum device physics from the University of Birmingham, and currently works at the quantum computing company D-Wave Systems Inc. As well as writing, he enjoys making films and animations to explain science and has produced a series of online videos communicating D-Wave’s groundbreaking quantum technology and his own videos about general science.

He has been writing science books since 2011, and he aims to give children super fun and clear explanations of science through the adventures of Professor Astro Cat. He grew up reading science books and remembers vividly the excitement of discovering the mind boggling explanations that science gives us about the Universe. If he can pass on this wonder and enjoyment to the next generation, he will consider it a job well done.

desk-shot-2Ben Newman has developed a distinct aesthetic over the years; a contemporary fusion of bold shapes, bright colours and playful characters which has been described as ‘bauhaus fuzzy felt.’ He has produced work for a large range of clients, including the Tate Modern, New York Times, BBC Radio 4, Google and The New Yorker. His practice extends outside of commercial work into worldwide exhibitions, paintings and three dimensional collaborations. Nowadays, he spends the majority of his time collaborating on the Professor Astro Cat children’s books with his longtime friend and scientist, Dr Dominic Walliman, which are published by Flying Eye Books and have been translated into 18 other languages.

Concurrent to working as a freelance illustrator, Newman lectures on illustration at various universities and conferences in the UK and Europe.

The Girl Who Named Pluto: The Story of Venetia Burney

Written by: Alice B. McGinty

Illustrated by: Elizabeth Haidle

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM, Space, Women in Science, Family, Historic Events, Historical Figures, Astronomy. 


Venetia is a young girl who lives in Britain with her mother and grandfather.  She is fascinated by space and the planets, memorizing facts about them and asking all sorts of questions.  Venetia is also interested in mythology, so when there is a newspaper article about a new planet being discovered, she beings to imagine what it might be called.  Venetia thinks is should be called Pluto, after Neptune’s brother.  Her grandfather agrees to write a note suggesting the name to an astronomer friend of his.  Venetia waits for a long while, until they get good news!  The observatory that found Planet X love the name Pluto and will name is such.

This is such a cute story!  We had no idea that a young space enthusiast named Pluto, and she’s in fact the only child to ever name a planet.  In the back of the story is an Author’s Note about Venetia, including a photo of her as a child.  This is a great book (because who doesn’t love space?) that tells a story of how STEM truly is for everyone, and young people can contribute valuably at any age.  A great idea knows no boundaries!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

aliceAlice B. McGinty is the author of this book!  Here is some information from her website: “First of all, I am a Writer. Ever since I was small, I’ve played with words and made up poems, jump rope rhymes, and stories. When I got older, I wrote those words down. Then, when I was in my 20s, I began to send what I wrote to publishers. After many years of rejections, I got my first acceptance – a short poem in a magazine. Later, that was followed with a story in Jack and Jill Magazine, and then books, both fiction and nonfiction. Now, I’ve written almost 50 books and after all these years, I still love to play with words.”

wb8vp8NqElizabeth Haidle is a freelance illustrator living in Portland Oregon. She was raised in the outskirts of the city and recently moved back after attending college in various cities, living in Seattle, Philadelphia, and Taos—earning an MA in Illustration along the way, at Savannah College of Art and Design. After working as a freelance artist and art educator for many years, she has turned her attention to books. In 2017, she illustrated her first graphic novel, I, Parrot, written by Deb Olin Unferth. She has three more books out in Spring of 2019: Before They Were Authors….Famous Writers as Kids, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, The Girl Who Named Pluto, written by Alice B. McGinty, Schwartz and Wade, and The Pipers in the Woods, adapted from a Philip K. Dick short story, Mascot Press.