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If you gaze up at the night sky this weekend you might see some "shooting stars" from the annual Lyrid Meteor Shower.

Going out to look for meteor showers at night can excite an interest in space and astronomy.

It will likely raise questions, too. For example, have you ever considered that some of the stars you see while stargazing at night may have planets circling them? The new picture book Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet by Curtis Manley and illustrated by Jessica Lanan introduces young readers to idea that planets exist outside our solar system while at the same time exploring the things that make the Earth special.

Although "Goldilocks" in the title might give you the idea that this is a work of fiction, it is actually well-researched, detailed nonfiction. Readers learn about exoplanets, telescopes, the magnetic field, and much more.

What really makes the book work is that readers are guided on their path to discovery by a young girl who is shown in most of the illustrations (see the cover). As she moves on her journey from a park through a visit to a planetarium and back home to look at the night sky, the illustrator creates a story line that children relate to and understand. This is picture book nonfiction at it finest.

Just Right is guaranteed to thrill budding astronomers. It is also perfect for units on planets or space. Look up a copy today!

Age Range: 5 - 9 years
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (January 29, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1250155339
ISBN-13: 978-1250155337

Check out our growing list of children's books about planets and the solar system at Science Books for Kids.

Disclosure: This book was provided by our local library. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

Today we have the lovely picture book, Seashells: More Than a Home by team who brought us the fabulous Feathers:  Not Just for Flying (previous review),  Melissa Stewart and Sarah S. Brannen.

 

This title really stands out because it does so much more than describe or identify shells a child might find on the beach. Instead, it breathes life into the creatures that inhabit different seashells by showing how all the various sizes, shapes, and colors help the members of the Phylum Mollusca -- or mollusks -- survive.

How good is it? My friend who is a retired school librarian and I discovered this book on the library shelf at almost the same time. Deciding to see who got to read it first nearly involved arm wrestling...

Other pluses:

Author Melissa Stewart uses the popular dual-layered text. Younger readers can find out the basics about seashells in the large-sized text at the top of the page, whereas older readers can explore more details with the denser, smaller text further down the page.

Sarah S. Brannen's watercolor illustrations incorporate both the mysterious beauty of the seashells and the delight of children when they discover one.

Seashells:  More Than a Home is a wonderful resource for studies on ocean or beach habitats. It would also make a great gift for nature lovers, especially before a trip to the beach. Discover a copy today!

Suggested activities:

  • See the free, downloadable  7-page Teacher's Guide at Charlesbridge (Click the "downloadables" tab at middle of the page).
  • What happens when you put seashells in vinegar? What does this tell you about what they are made of? (See instructions at Scholastic, for example).
  • Sue at Archimedes Notebook has some great activity suggestions, including an art project and a scavenger hunt. She also has a review of the book.

Age Range: 6 - 9 years
Publisher: Charlesbridge (April 2, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1580898106
ISBN-13: 978-1580898102

Disclosure: This book was provided by our local library. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books. Note: this is a new link as of 10/2018.

The Great Backyard Bird Count 2019 starts next weekend. It is a family-friendly citizen science event, and a longtime favorite of ours. Birders -- novice and experienced alike -- identify and count birds, then report their findings using eBird (instructions are on the website). This gives ornithologists a "snapshot" of where birds are around the world.

To get inspired, you might want to pick up one of bird lover and author Sneed B. Collard III's wonderful books about birds (Follow links to my reviews)

Plus, visit his, Father-Son Birding blog.

To keep interest high, after the event keep a look out for Sneed B. Collard III's new book Birds of Every Color with his son, Braden Collard. It is coming out in March, just in time for spring migration birding.

 

Right up front, this isn't a concept book about colors. Instead, it delves deeply into the whys and hows of the fascinating array of bird feather hues.

For example, one page explains how birds get certain pigments from the food they eat and another explains about melanins, brown and black pigments that birds and other animals manufacture internally. Ever hear of psittacofulvins? You'll find out about those, too.

 

Public domain photograph of a male cardinal from Publicdomainpictures

Look closely and you will see bird colors may be different from place to place, season to season, and even between individual birds. Did you know that the extensiveness of the black bib of house sparrows. and the black and white patches on the heads of chickadees reflect their status in the flock?

The backmatter contains a two-page spread with twelve photographs of different bird species and challenges the reader to figure out how many different colors each has. Also included is a glossary of "Colorful Words," plus "About the Author." On the next page we learn "About the Photographs," which were taken by either Sneed or his son, Braden. Cool!

Birds of Every Color will enthrall budding ornithologists and nature lovers in general. Look for a copy next month or pre-order it now.

Related:

Age Range: 5 - 10 years
Publisher: Bucking Horse Books (March 1, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1732875308
ISBN-13: 978-1732875302

 

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books. Note: this is a new link as of 1/2019.