Tag Archives: stem

The Vast Wonder of the World (Biologist Ernest Everett Just)

Written by: Mélina Mangal

Illustrated by: Luisa Uribe

For ages: 5 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM, Black Culture & Identity, Scientists, Historical Figure, Outdoors, Natural World, Trailblazers, Curiosity, Education, Racism. 

Summary: 

In 1911, Ernest was a scientist in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.  Woods Hole is on Cape Cod, and still a massive town for oceanic research today!  Ernest was gifted at caring for the creatures he took from the ocean, when others weren’t so careful, and Ernest was gifted at seeing the whole picture instead of just the tiny piece he was currently researching.  Ernest was especially gifted at studying how life begins from an egg, and became the entire world’s leading authority!

Ernest loved reading, but as a child had to relearn to read all over again after he contracted typhoid fever.  He observed everything around him, especially the natural world.  Ernest left the segregated South for boarding school, but when his mother died he didn’t know how to cope, so he just studied harder.  When he took a biology class in college, his entire world opened up and his lifelong fascination with cells began.  Ernest became a professor and taught his students to care for both the organisms they studied and their scientific instruments, to be kind and to observe as much as possible.  When he showed that the egg was just as important as the sperm in creating new life, he became world-famous and often worked in Europe where he was treated better.  He eventually moved with his family to France and became an independent researcher.

This book’s storyline is gorgeous, and the illustrations stunning. The story addresses both science and the systemic racism and oppression that Ernest faced because he was Black, despite being one of the most talented and intelligent biologists in the country.  In the back there is a lengthy Author’s note with a photo of Ernest, and timeline of his life, detailed information about his scientific work, and some quotes by Ernest himself.  This is a beautiful book and we are glad we found this to learn about someone new in the scientific world that worked for so many years nearby where we live!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

melina-mangalMélina Mangal loves being outdoors! From her website: “My earliest memories begin near the shores of Lake Superior, climbing trees, collecting rocks, and listening to birds. I love writing about nature and its place in young people’s lives.  Stories from faraway times and places have always captured my imagination as well.  I like to imagine what life was like as I walk along the river, or visit an historical site.  I work as an elementary school librarian, introducing students to great books, the exciting research process, and new technology.”

image-asset-4Luisa Uribe is an illustrator “living in Bogotá, Colombia. I love children’s books but venture into other fields from time to time. My favorite activities in no particular order are drawing, reading and chasing the cat around the house.”

What Stars Are Made Of [released 3/31]

Written by: Sarah Allen 

For ages: Middle Grades, 5th and up.

Language: English

Topics Covered: Growing Up, Own Voices, Turner Syndrome, Neurodiversity (NLD), STEM, Women in STEM, Friendship, Social-Emotional Growth & Development.

Summary: 

Hot damn, I’m glad this book exists.  This middle grade novel follows 12 year old Libby over the course of a school year.  Libby has difficulty making friends, and talks to famous women in science that she’s learned about inside her head.  When Libby’s sister Nonny moves back home because her husband Thomas is on a longterm job in another state and Nonny is pregnant, Libby is both excited and worried.  Libby has Turner syndrome, and because of this she has some complications like giving herself shots daily, and sterility.  She’s worried that the baby might need extra help too.

This book covers a wonderful amount of topics throughout the story, and I seriously could not put it down.  Libby navigates family dynamics, making friends with a new girl at school, and figuring out how to win a Smithsonian contest with a 25k grand prize (that could really help Thomas and Nonny). Libby has a good relationship with her teacher Ms. Trepky who encourages her to submit the essay and works with her on editing.

There is a particularly beautiful part of the book that really stuck with me after finishing it.  Libby and Ms. Trepky are in the classroom, discussing how the world is shaped by individuals, but the individual that changes the world is also shaped by an innumerable amount of people themselves.  Libby takes a moment of reflection and comprehends the magnitude of the fact that “the world was shaped by billions and billions of unknown hands…that meant [she] could sculpt and write on the DNA of the universe from [her] little corner of it, too, no matter [her] smallness or genetics or scars” (p137 of ARC).  This is a profound realization for a middle schooler, and a mindset that we have sought to emulate by creating ripples of change wherever we can.  For us, that means sharing stunning Own Voices texts such as this one.  This book comes out on March 31st and please do yourself a favor and devote a few hours to this splendid read, you will absolutely not regret it.

This book was generously sent to us by Macmillan, but all opinions are our own! Note: the quote we cited may differ slightly from the published edition, we will be checking for correctness once the edition is actually published.

About the Author:

Headshot-cred Sarah AllenSarah Allen got her MFA in creative writing from BYU and while Utah will always be her home, Sarah moved around a bit and currently lives in the Seattle area.

Pretty much every area of writing interests her, and regularly submits short stories, poetry, articles, and other fun things. Sarah is a Slytherin (with a Hufflepuff exterior), overenthusiastic about most things, and a shmoosher of dog faces. Her superpower is speaking fluent movie quotes.  Sarah is also a major lover of Pixar, leather jackets, and Colin Firth.

Atlas of Ocean Adventures

Written by: Emily Hawkins

Illustrated by: Lucy Letherland

For ages: 7 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM, Nature, Natural World, Scientific Thinking, Discovery. 

Summary: This book is part of a larger set of atlas’ by Quarto as part of their Wide Eyed Editions books, focusing on curiosity and learning.  This is the only book in the series that we’ve seen (we won this in a giveaway) but the other books look amazing too!  We love to feature nature and science books as part of our beliefs that everyone can be a scientist, despite there sometimes being a single example of what a scientist is.  The world is an amazing place that needs diverse explorers and scientists to help solve life’s mysteries and to protect our precious natural resources and wild animals.

This is a massive book jam packed full of oceanic knowledge and adventure inspiration!  The entire book is beautiful and organized, with a helpful contents page at the beginning and an index at the end.  The illustrations make us want to grab some flippers and hop on into the water, searching for otters and whale sharks to befriend!  The atlas also does a lovely job of explaining the wonders of the aquatic world, and where they are in the world.  Lots of information is on the pages, but it doesn’t overwhelm the illustrations which are the star of the show here.  This is a great coffee-table book, and a must-have for the burgeoning marine biologist on your life!

There is even a “Can You Find?” section in the back right before the index!  There are a bunch of animals to seek out through the entire book, making another activity for readers.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

711233d6Lucy Letherland is an illustrator based in London, UK. She graduated from Manchester School of Art in 2011 with a First Class BA (Hons) in Illustration with Animation. Lucy’s work is strongly led by humour and narrative, creating a playful graphic quality. She uses a mix of hand-drawn and digital techniques to produce lively illustrations filled with detail.
In 2014 Lucy’s first picture book for children, Atlas of Adventures, was published by Wide Eyed Editions. It went on to win the UK Educational Writer’s Award 2015, and was also shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, The English Association’s 4-11 Picture Book Awards, and the UKLA Book Award 2016.
Her second, Atlas of Animal Adventures, won the Children’s Travel Book of the Year in the Edward Stanford Awards 2016.
B1LWRxb3lVS._US230_Emily Hawkins is a children’s author who loves making complicated things easy to understand. She has written books about all sorts of things, from cars, trains and ships to dinosaurs, magic tricks and mathematics. She co-wrote the Atlas of Animal Adventures (illustrated by Lucy Letherland), which won the Children’s Travel Book of the Year Award in 2016. Emily has also written several titles in the internationally popular Ology series, which has sold over 16 million copies worldwide. She holds a first-class English degree from Nottingham University, and lives in Winchester, England, with her young family.

Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space

Written by: Dr. Dominic Walliman

Illustrated by: Ben Newman

For ages: 5 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM

Summary: This book is along the same lines as the other books in the series, scientific information given to us by our favorite feline scientist-Professor Astro Cat!  This time he’s back to share knowledge about gravity, the potential of aliens, and time!  We love this series so much, seriously go check it out!  Galaxies, planets, and space suits oh my!  Something unique about this series is they thrive on the excitement and wonderment of exploration, not pretending to have all of the answers about the universe.  There are illustrations about what might happen if plants grew gigantic on other planets, or humans started living on other planets.

The books are broken up into easy to read and understand subjects, reading much like a comic book.  The incredible illustrations will keep any aged reader entranced for hours!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

DominicWallimanDominic 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-shotBen 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.

Celestina the Astronaut Ballerina

Written by: Donald Jacobson

Illustrated by: Graham Evans

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM, Bullying, POC-Centric Narratives, Space, Growing Up, Independent Thought, Self-Esteem, Social-Emotional Learning. 

Summary: This rhyming story follows a young girl named Celestina, who dreams of being an astronaut despite everyone telling her to be a ballerina instead.  Celestina is teased by her classmates and told to focus on something more realistic than being an astronaut by adults and teachers.  Sadly, Celestina thinks that they may be right and begins to focus on dancing.  One day, she gets a new teacher who tells the class that they are the ones in charge of their dreams-no one else can tell them what they want to accomplish.  Her dream renewed, Celestina begins to focus on the hard work it will take to achieve her ultimate goal of going to space.

This book is super cute, and we really enjoyed it!  Having a character interested in science and space that isn’t a boy, but instead a young girl of color, is refreshing.  We really love that Celestina is a character that is developed enough to have multiple interests that she can embrace.  She does love dance, and is talented at it, but space is where her heart truly lies.  This book is also very believable in that when she is bullied, Celestina begins to doubt herself.  But she also never truly gives up on her dream, and with the encouragement of her teacher realizes that she can accomplish exactly what she wants to.

We were sent this book by the author for review, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

author-central-image-2018Here is a bit more info about author Donald Jacobson from his “about me” section of his website:

“I’m a husband, a father, a registered nurse, and a sometimes-writer living and working in Memphis, Tennessee.  My main sources of inspiration when writing — especially when writing kid’s books — are my two amazing daughters (Hazel and Holly) and my beautiful, smart, supportive, and loving wife (Stephanie). Without them, I wouldn’t have had the courage to strike out and put my ideas on paper. I’d also like to give an honorary mention to our mopey rescue dog, Yoda, who stands beside me as the only other source of male DNA in our crazy, but wonderful, little family.

My secondary source of inspiration — er, maybe not “inspiration”, but information — is my clinical background in nursing. I’ve been a nurse for over 10 years, with experience in emergency nursing, EMS, case management, nursing informatics, and a variety of other settings. I also have two Master’s degrees, which definitely made me get over my fear of rejection when writing. If you’re a writer, and you have trouble just putting something out there for judgment, I highly recommend going through a Master’s program. You’ll eventually stop worrying about that rejection, get over your failure (after failure, after failure, after failure) and just learn to create content.”

 

We had some difficulty finding out information about illustrator Graham Evans, there are several artists with the same name and we don’t think he has a personal website featuring his illustrations.  If you know, let us know!

Rosie Revere, Engineer

Written by: Andrea Beaty 

Illustrated by: David Roberts

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM, Feminism, Family, Imagination, Creativity, Self-Esteem. 

Summary: Rosie is a shy child, but she loves to build things at night when she’s alone in her room.  She wasn’t so shy until she made her uncle a special hat to keep the pythons off his head (he’s a zookeeper) and he laughs at her.  Confused, she thinks she shouldn’t share her inventions with anyone which is why she only builds alone in her room.

Until her great-great-aunt Rose shows up.  Rose used to build airplanes, but has never flown.  Rosie decides to help her achieve her dream…but will she get laughed at?  It turns out yes, but Rose explains to her that it doesn’t mean she should quit or hide away.  Sometimes helicopters made out of cheese are just funny!  And just because something ultimately fails, it works for a minute.  And that is a stepping stone to success!

This book is super cute, and we love seeing young girls interested in STEM!  This book impresses upon readers the importance of sticking to a project even if it fails a few times.  This whole series is great, and we’re especially excited to read Sophia Valdez, Future Prez!

Reflection Questions:

  • Why do you think Rosie was embarrassed when her uncle laughed at her?
  • Have you ever invented anything?
  • What do you think is the most important thing that Rosie’s aunt Rose told her?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Andrea Beaty photoAndrea Beaty was raised in southern Illinois in a town so small she knew everybody and their pets. And they all knew her. Andrea was one of six kids and we spent our summer days traipsing through the fields and forests hunting for adventure.  Always, it was fun and often, they laughed so hard they blew Orange Crush or Grape Nehi Soda out their noses. She still avoids Grape Nehi … just in case.

Andrea was a big reader as a kid and LOVED Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon Mysteries.  Then she moved on to Agatha Christie books and then the classics.  Don’t tell anyone, but her secret ambition is to star in a Broadway musical and Andrea is often tempted to break into song and dance at very odd moments. Mostly in the frozen food section of her grocery store!  They have very good lighting.

Andrea attended Southern Illinois University and studied Biology and Computer Science. After that, she worked for a computer software company. Andrea helped people with their computer problems (“Did you try turning it off and on again?”) and some technical writing. Andrea didn’t know at the time, but tech writing was great training for writing for kids because it taught her to be a fierce self-editor.

Now, she lives in Chicago with her family. Andrea visits lots of schools each year to share her love of reading and her writing journey with kids and educators.

davidroberts_websiteWhen David Roberts was at school, he claims he wasn’t very good at anything so the teacher would give me projects to produce big pictures for the school hall. He remembers doing one of Death rowing in a boat on the river Thames with a dead dog floating past!

David has always been drawing ever since he was a very small child and then when he left school at 16, he went to Art College. There, David did a foundation course trying out all different types of art practice. The thing David thought he wanted to do the most was costume and fashion design so he did a degree in fashion design.

David ended up being a children’s book illustrator and it was always his dream to do this! Although David tried to pursue a career as a fashion illustrator first. When he met Christine of Artist Partners she pointed out to him that he was drawing characters and perhaps he should focus more on publishing and in particular children’s books.

Bird Count

Written by: Susan Edwards Richmond

Illustrated by: Stephanie Fizer Coleman

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Nature, STEM, Birds, Girls Outdoors, POC-Centric Narratives, Environmental Activism, Culture & Traditions, Friendship, Community Involvement.

Summary: We love this book for so many reasons!  The plot follows a real-life bird counting event that takes place all over the USA on Christmas Day.  Citizen Scientists count birds in their local area and report back what they’re found to team leads.  This helps get an accurate representation of bird populations in different areas.  The story follows Ava and her mother as they travel around their community with a friend named Big Al.

It’s really great to see the representation of girls outdoors, specifically a family of color!  Especially in the States, where we are inundated with Christmas (consumerism, religion, decor) it’s refreshing to have a book that briefly mentions the day that the Bird Count takes place, but there is no emphasis on the holiday itself.  There are plenty of people who don’t celebrate it, and having this option to be outdoors and help scientists count birds is a really fun alternative.  On each page as well, Ava keeps track of the birds she counts.  This helps introduce math and keeping a tally of objects counted to readers.  Throughout the book there are tips and descriptions of the birds, helping the reader become more familiar as well.  In the back there is a list of the birds featured in the book and an author’s note with more information about the Audubon Society’s annual bird count so you can be a Citizen Scientist too! Overall, we really enjoyed the book and are excited to be able to participate in our own Bird Count on day.

This book was sent to us by Peachtree as part of the Best Books of 2019 project.  All opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

WP_000308Susan Edwards Richmond is the author of the children’s picture book, Bird Count (Peachtree) about a child who becomes a Citizen Scientist for a day in her town’s Christmas Bird Count.  A passionate birder and naturalist, Susan teaches preschool on a farm and wildlife sanctuary in eastern Massachusetts.  She earned her M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of California, Davis, and is an award-winning poet with five collections of nature-based poetry for adults, including Before We Were Birds (Adastra Press) and Birding in Winter (Finishing Line Press). She is happiest exploring natural habitats with her husband and two daughters, and learns the native birds wherever she travels. Check out her website for a great Q&A!

bunny+7Stephanie Fizer Coleman is the illustrator for Bird Count.  Here is a blurb from her website to learn a little bit more about her!

“I’m an illustrator, designer and generally curious girl living in lovely but misunderstood West Virgina. I was lucky to grow up in a rural area, with a babbling brook and lush forest just a few feet from my back door; I find that the love of nature I developed as a child still influences my work today.

After seriously studying ballet and getting my BA in History, I found my true passion in illustrating and have been working as a freelance illustrator since 2008.

I work in Photoshop and Procreate and have developed a style of working that blends both digital and traditional elements.  I enjoy playing around with patterns, textures and brilliant colors in my work.  Animals are my favorite subjects to illustrate and I’m thrilled to be illustrating the kinds of books I would have loved when I was a little library-goer.

My client list includes Caterpillar Books, Hallmark, American Greetings, Clarion Books, HarperCollins, Charlesbridge, Peachtree, Highlights, Mudpuppy, Sellers Publishing, Millbrook Press, Design House Greetings, and Walker Books.

When I’m not tucked away in my studio working on a book, you’ll find me tending my vegetable garden, experimenting with new vegan recipes in the kitchen, or curled up with a book and a hot cup of tea.”