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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.

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Here at Growing With Science we love both creepy crawlies and science poems, so imagine our excitement when we discovered the new middle grade book, Leaf Litter Critters by Leslie Bulion and illustrated by Robert Meganck.

Each two-page spread in the book features a vocabulary-rich science poem about the leaf litter ecosystem, as well as a "Science Note," which is a paragraph or two of background information to support the poem.

For example, here's one of the poems (most are much longer):

Rove Beetle

Velcro-tongued predator
snags maggots, mites, snails, and slugs
soil pest control
requires a flexible
appetite and abdomen

The accompanying "Science Note" explains how rove beetles fit into the "brown food web," and also how their abdomens differ from those of most beetles.

The digital illustrations add a fun element. They range from somewhat realistic to full-blown cartoon.

Leaf Litter Critters is a serious text that might just entice some readers who prefer fiction to explore a less-than-glamorous ecosystem. It's also perfect for those who enjoy their poetry on the sci-ency side.

Don't forget our giveaway for the picture book What Do They Do With All That Poo? ends tomorrow! The giveaway is now closed.

Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (March 1, 2018)
ISBN-10: 156145950X
ISBN-13: 978-1561459506

Related Activity Suggestions:

See our previous compost science projects for kids post.

Want more information? Visit our growing list of children's books about composting and decomposition 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.

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For STEM Friday let's take a look at a beautiful new picture book, On Gull Beach by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Bob Marstall.

In this book, youngsters learn about seagulls and other inhabitants of a Massachusetts beach.

The story follows a young boy as he explores the seashore. Along the way, he spots a sea star. Before he can reach it, however, a seagull picks it up and flies away. Find out what he discovers as he chases the gull along the beach.

Jane Yolen's simple, but expertly-crafted rhyming text and Bob Marstall's exceptional illustrations make a delightful combination. Plus, you can't go wrong with the people of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology backing it.

The back matter includes more detailed information about gulls, other shorebirds, sea stars, and different types of crabs. Included are small color photographs of the different animals, plus QR Codes that will take you to sound files. There is also a sidebar about "How You Can Help Our Beaches and Wildlife."

Young birdwatchers will love On Gull Beach. It would also be a great choice for a trip to the beach, either in real life or in the reader's imagination. Enjoy a copy today!

Age Range: 4 - 11 years
Publisher: Cornell Lab Publishing Group (March 27, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1943645183
ISBN-13: 978-1943645183

Related Seagull Science Activities

1. Identifying Birds

Encourage children to learn how to identify birds. When children can tell different birds apart, they pay more attention to the birds they see.

Identifying birds requires learning to recognize body shapes, learning the names of body parts, plus honing observation skills. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has some tips and resources to get started.

 

The type of seagulls featured in the book are herring gulls. As you can see from the illustrations, herring gulls have robust white bodies, light gray on their wings, pink legs and feet, yellow eyes, and they have a red spot towards the tip of their yellow lower beak.  The All About Birds website has more details and photographs of herring gulls.

 

Is this a herring gull? Check the characteristics listed above. Does it match?

Nope. There are more than 20 species of gulls in North America.  This is an immature Heermann's gull (Larus heermanni).

2. Questions and Answers: Seagulls

Q: How are the feet of seagulls different from those of the song birds in your community?

A: The seagulls have webbed feet for swimming.

Q: What sounds do seagulls make?

Seagulls make a number of different sounds depending on circumstances. They have alarm calls, courtship calls, sounds to defend territories, and sounds when they feed their chicks. All About Birds has some seagull sound recordings.

Q: Why do seagulls have dots on their beaks?

A: Seagull chicks peck the dot on the beak as a signal they want to be fed.

Q:  Are seagulls only found at the beach?

A:  No. Seagulls are also found inland, around rivers and lakes, and even in agricultural fields. They are common around landfills.

Q:  Do seagulls really eat sea stars like in the book?

A:  Seagulls eat many different creatures at the beach, including sea stars, crabs, and fish. Those found at the landfill are feeding on trash.

Here are some clever gulls eating snails.

No matter how you crack it, seagulls are interesting animals.

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Earlier titles in the On Bird Hill and Beyond series:
On Bird Hill (2016) by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Bob Marstall

On Duck Pond (2017) by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Bob Marstall

See our growing list of children's books for young birdwatchers at Science Books for Kids.

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher's representatives for review purposes. 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.