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Today we have not one, not two, but three fantastic children's books about bird migration nominated for the 2018 Cybils awards.

For the youngest reader we have Warbler Wave by April Pulley Sayre with contributions by Jeff Sayre.


Photographer and award-winning author April Pulley Sayre and her husband Jeff Sayre have been observing warblers during their annual spring migration for years. Now they share their experiences with this gorgeous book for children.

Warblers are tiny and elusive birds, but the Sayres have captured many wonderful photographs to fill the pages of the book. As she explains on her website, they chose photographs of birds in action to give children the experience of viewing live warblers in nature, rather than choosing those that are simply posed well.

With her succinct and elegant rhyming text, April Pulley Sayre explains where warblers go, what they eat, some of their behaviors, and that warblers migrate at night.

Four full pages of back matter explain why warblers migrate, how scientists track them, and how we can help the birds, among other things.

Warbler Wave is simply wonderful. It is likely to inspire children to take up birdwatching as a hobby or maybe even as a career!

Related:
  • See how to identify yellow warblers at All About Birds
  • April Pulley Sayre has more about the back story and detailed descriptions of each of the birds featured in the book at her website.

Age Range: 3 - 8 years
Publisher: Beach Lane Books (February 13, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1481448293
ISBN-13: 978-1481448291

Belle's Journey: An Osprey Takes Flight by Rob Bierregaard and illustrated by Kate Garchinsky follows an osprey on her migration from Massachusetts to Brazil. It is a longer book (112 pages) for older elementary-aged kids.


Ospreys are large birds that catch fish for food. They usually are seen around lakes or streams. They are known to migrate south in the fall and back north in the spring, but many of the details of their flights are still unknown.

Dr. Rob Bierregaard ( Dr. B. as he calls himself in the book) studies osprey migrations. One August he captured an osprey he named Belle on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. He fitted her with a radio transmitter. After he released her, the transmitter sent her location data to a computer so he could study where she went. That fall, Belle flew all the way to the rain forests of Brazil.

In the forward Dr. B. explains that "this is a mostly true story." Belle really made the flight to Brazil and he knew her location at different times, but he used creative nonfiction techniques to fill in details about her experiences and the dangers she faced. For example, while Belle fished for food in Brazil he suggests that she barely missed being captured by a caiman. Afterwards:

At the far end of the lake, she followed a narrow river winding back and forth beneath her like a piece of ribbon candy. Here she finally had better luck and plucked a piranha out of the dark water.

His descriptions of her daily activities are lush and detailed. Readers learn a lot about all the places Belle visits.

Kate Garchinsky's lovely textured illustrations also help bring Belle's story to life. They add excitement and draw the reader in.

Belle's Journey is likely to appeal to youngsters who enjoy reading fiction as well as to those who want to find out more about ospreys and bird migration.

Related:

Visit Dr. Bierregaard's website for more information and maps of osprey migrations.

Age Range: 7 - 10 years
Publisher: Charlesbridge (May 15, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1580897924
ISBN-13: 978-1580897921

Our third and final book is the middle grade title Snowy Owl Invasion!: Tracking an Unusual Migration by Sandra Markle.

In 2013, large numbers of white owls started showing up in lower Canada and along the east coast of the United States where they weren't normally seen. Why were snowy owls migrating to new places?

Sandra Markle used her research skills to track down experts and find the answers. What she discovered was that the snowy owls were experiencing an irruption, which means they migrating beyond their usual range, because their populations had swelled the previous summer. She also found out why, which I won't reveal here. Like Belle in the story above, some of the scientists used GPS transmitters to follow the birds.

The book is filled with amazing photographs of beautiful snowy owls. You can see some in this video.

Snowy Owl Invasion documents a fascinating scientific mystery. Readers of all ages who are interested in nature, science, and/or birds will enjoy this book.

Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Publisher: Millbrook Pr (January 1, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1512431060
ISBN-13: 978-1512431063

Want to read more? Check out or growing list of children's books about bird migrations at Science Books for Kids.

Disclosure: These books were provided by my local libraries. 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.

Let's celebrate STEM Friday with another great picture book nominated for a Cybils award:  A Frog's Life by Irene Kelly and illustrated by Margherita Borin.

When you pick up the book, the first things that catch your eye are the brightly colored frogs on the cover. Margherita Borin's watercolor, pen and pencil illustrations leap off the page. They are both marvelously accurate and cleverly put together in ways that will make young readers smile. For example, the critters that frogs eat (flies, beetles, etc.) are grouped into a frog shape, as through they are inside an invisible frog. Fun!

The text takes readers on a journey into the world of frogs. They will learn what frogs are, where frogs live (their habitats), compare the biggest to the smallest, and find out about their life cycles.

Did you know that frogs molt their skins? When they are done, they eat the shed skin. You can see a frog eating it's skin in this video. (It is slimier than I expected.)

The best part of the book is all the different kinds of frogs identified in the illustrations. Look for the Vietnamese mossy frog, the giant monkey frog, and the Madagascar tomato frog. Yes, those are real names!

A Frog's Life will delight young readers interested in nature, animals, and particularly in frogs. Hop on over to your local library or book store, and pick up a copy today!

Related Activity Suggestions:

  1. Learn about frog anatomy and life cycles with science activities at our previous post.
  2. Check the Frog Watch Citizen Science project website for lists of frogs and toads by state, most of which include recordings of their songs. You can also find out how to become a Frog Watch volunteer.
  3. A puzzle:  A number of years ago we visited the California Academy of Sciences. In a large exhibit that featured live birds, butterflies, and leafcutter ants, we spotted the strawberry frogs in the plant below.

Do you notice anything about them? Let us know in the comments.

Want more information? Visit our growing list of children's books about frogs and toads at Science Books for Kids.

Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Publisher: Holiday House (May 8, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0823426017
ISBN-13: 978-0823426010

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.

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You may have noticed a few more posts about children's STEM books lately. That is because I'm a judge for the nonfiction category of the 2018 Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards or Cybils. Over the next few months I'll be sharing some of the fantastic children's books which have been nominated for the award.

Let's start with the new picture book Cute as an Axolotl: Discovering the World's Most Adorable Animals (The World of Weird Animals) by Jess Keating and with illustrations by David DeGrand.

The premise of this book is simple. Find 17 incredibly cute animals from around the world. Include close up stock photographs to show readers what the animals look like and talk about their characteristics. Present details such as where the animals are found, what they eat, and what eats them in a colorful sidebar that will please kids writing reports. It's an easy formula.

Although the axolotl on the cover might not meet everyone's definition of cute, most the author's included will make you say, "Aww!"

For example, check out the Japanese dwarf flying squirrel in this video. (You might want to turn down the sound before playing).

Yes, that is beyond adorable.

So, where's the science? In the back is a discussion of the features that make an animal look cute to us and why it might benefit the animal. For example, why is this flying squirrel so cute? Not only does it have big eyes, but it also has a ring of black fur around them to make the eyes look even larger. Large eyes is one trait that humans find appealing.

Cute as an Axolotl is sure to melt the heart of the most reluctant of reluctant readers. Add in the science potential and this book ticks all the boxes for great nonfiction.

Age Range: 5 - 8 years
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (August 28, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1524764477
ISBN-13: 978-1524764470

 

Disclosure:  The book was provided by my 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.

One of the animals featured is a bee fly. Do you think it is cute? Why might the authors have chosen it?