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Looking for children's books? Have you gone to check out the Cybils website yet? The Cybils are awards created by bloggers who specialize in children's and young adult books. People have nominated their favorite books published this year by genre. It is a great way to find new things to read.

I went through the list of nominated nonfiction picture books and picked out some science and nature books that you might find interesting and/or useful. (And by the way, I am a round II judge for this category.)

Nic Bishop Butterflies and Moths by Nic Bishop

Nic Bishop is an award-winning photographer and author, and this book is sure to win him more honors. His photographs of butterflies, moths and their caterpillars are fascinating. Not only does he get close up, but from an unusual angle or catching the subject in action. The photos can stand alone, but he adds a lyrical and informative text as well. If your children are interested in insects, be sure to take a look at this one.

For a more extensive review, see my children's book blog, Wrapped in Foil.

For kids interested in space, we have books released just in time for the 40th anniversary of the moon landing.

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca

Check out the trailers:

One Giant Leap by Robert Burleigh and Mike Wimmer (Illustrator)

Another version of the lunar landing, also well done.

This trailer is longer because it is a TV news interview with the illustrator Mike Wimmer. In the beginning they show some illustrations from the book. If your child is interested in art, the interview shows his studio and Mike painting.

Cars on Mars: Roving the Red Planet by Alexandra Siy

This one was actually nominated for the middle grade nonfiction category instead of the picture books because the text is more extensive and in depth than the usual picture book, but I thought you might want to take a look. Children's book reviewers have been raving about it since its release. It is about the two Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.

You Are the First Kid on Mars by Patrick O'Brien

This book really stretches the definition of nonfiction, because it details an imaginary trip to Mars. The scientific details and photorealistic illustrations are what make it credible.

Oceans/Aquatic life

Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned To Swim Again
by Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff, and Craig Hatkoff

I already wrote about some of the activities surrounding the release of this book in a previous post.
Winter’s Tail is the heartrending story of a young dolphin named Winter who lost her tail after becoming entangled in a crab trap line. After she healed, she was fitted with a prosthetic tail.

Bubble Homes and Fish Farts by Fiona Bayrock and Carolyn Conahan (Illustrator)

Parents might be put off by the word "fart" this title, but don't be. It is a gem of a nonfiction book based on the scientific theme of how animals create and use bubbles. With soft watercolor illustrations and plenty of cutting-edge information, even the scientifically savvy will find something new here. For example, the "farts" are not flatulence, but Fast Repetitive Ticks (FaRTs) made by herring at night as a form of communication.

Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea by Steve Jenkins

Steve Jenkins is an incredibly popular author of children's nonfiction. Add some out-of-this world papercut illustrations and you have one unbeatable book.

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast blog has a more extensive review with spreads from the book.

And now, check out this really cool widget from Amazon. (I've provided information about my affiliation with Amazon in the the disclosure page - see button in the header of the blog).

This week the hollyhocks will catch your eye here in Arizona. Tall, with large, striking red, pink, or white flowers, the hollyhocks are a favorite.


Certain insects and arachnids also seem to prefer hollyhocks.

Shiny metallic-green flies were resting on the leaves this morning.

long-legged fly

Aren’t they pretty?

long-legged fly

Any ideas what they were doing?

Called long-legged flies, the small green flies are predators waiting to catch other insects for food.


Tiny, pale green leafhoppers like this one are a meal for long-legged flies.

Another fly I found isn’t quite so welcome.

leafminer fly

leafminer fly

This tiny yellow and black fly is an adult leafminer. The fly will lay its eggs in the hollyhock leaves. The larvae will feed between the upper and lower surface of the leaf causing a winding light-colored tunnel. Fortunately the damage is relatively cosmetic (looks only).

leafminer damage

Other creatures already hard at work on the bottom leaves of some of the plants are spider mites.

spider mites

spider mites

The spider mites make fine webs like spider webs, hence the name. In our hollyhocks, the mites quickly build up, causing the leaves to turn yellow and die.

Hopefully, some predators will show up that eat spider mites. Here’s a sign that at least one predatory insect is about to make an appearance. Do you know what the stalk is?


I'll give you a hint:  it is on the underside of the leaf (I flipped it over).


If you are looking for some books that aren’t the usual fare, why not try some science/nature themed poetry? Here are a few that deserve to be a part of every home library.

If Not for the Cat by Jack Prelutsky and Ted Rand (Illustrator)

A friend of mine recently showed me this book, written all in haiku. Although that might sound about as exciting as bread molding, this is an incredible book. The vocabulary is stimulating, and the illustrations are superb. I would say this book would be acceptable as a read aloud for younger children and definitely would be a book your children would return to again and again. Although the cat is the title, most of the poems involve creatures from nature.

insectlopedia by Douglas Florian

My son’s first grade teacher gave a copy of this book to my son and he still cherishes it. I love the fact it is accurate and insightful, as well as creatively fun. And yes, the title is supposed to be in lower case.

mammalabilia by Douglas Florian

Douglas Florian actually has a whole series of poetry books, so if your child isn’t interested in insects, try some of the others.

in the swim by Douglas Florian

The review of this book says: “Even the most educated marine biologist could learn something from this whimsical, beautifully illustrated collection of 21 poems about sea life.”

Math Talk: Mathematical Ideas in Poems for Two Voices by Theoni Pappas

Although not a science book, per se, if you like poems for two voices, this is another fun one.

Poetry Matters: Writing a Poem from the Inside Out by Ralph Fletcher

This book is a great resource for older children (and even adults) who are interested in writing poetry. If every school used this book to teach poetry, I am positive that poetry would be everyone’s favorite subject.

Finally, if you want to learn more about nature/science poetry, try The Miss Rumphius Effect website.

Hope you enjoy some poetry today!