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Recently, Donna Strickland won the Nobel Prize in Physics. It turned out she was only the third woman to win the prize in 117 years. Who was the first? It was Marie Curie, who also later won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. That is an incredible achievement.

Let's celebrate women scientists in the fields of physics and chemistry with the picture book biography Marie Curie by Demi.

Marie Curie was a pioneer as well as an amazing scientist. As discussed above, in addition to being the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, she also was the first person to win a second Nobel prize. She discovered not only one, but two elements, plus coined the term "radioactive." Although we don't hear as much about her, Marie Curie's daughter Irène Joliot-Curie was also a scientist and won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935, the year after her brilliant mother died of leukemia.

Demi is both an illustrator and an author. Her multimedia and watercolor illustrations have a glowing quality that is so appropriate for the biography of the scientist who is known for having purified radium, an element which glows. The gold lettering of the title on the cover adds to the luminescent effect. Note:  One scene includes a stylized depiction of Curie’s husband’s death (he was run over by a horse and carriage in the street.) It might be disturbing to some sensitive younger readers.

The no-nonsense text reveals many details of Curie’s life. The vocabulary level and subject matter pushes this to the older range of picture book readers (7-8 years.) The back matter includes a timeline and glossary.

Marie Curie is a wonderful resource for young people who enjoy reading about history and science. Share a copy today and see a child's face light up.

Be sure to pair the book with some fun hands-on science.

Suggestions for Related Activities:

This title was nominated for a 2018 Cybils award in the Elementary and Middle Grade Nonfiction category.

Age Range: 4 - 8 years (see review)
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (February 20, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1627793895
ISBN-13: 978-1627793896

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.

A few weeks ago, the wolfberry was in bloom and covered with insect visitors.

Today the Texas sage is blanketed with flowers.

We had a lot of rain this month, and Texas sage plants bloom in response to humidity and rain.

The insects respond, too.

The thumb-sized carpenter bees caught my eye, but they were too fast for a close up.

Does this look like a honey bee?

Surprise! It is a syrphid fly. It was more cooperative and sat still for its photograph.

Here's another smaller syrphid fly (sometimes called a flower fly.) It also posed.

The honey bees looked strange. Instead of the usual golden brown, most were covered with white pollen.

Would you believe the thorax of this sweat bee is bright green?

It looks like it is covered with snow.

All these insects are pollinators, which means they carry pollen from plant to plant and help many types of plants produce viable seeds. Some recent reports have shown that pollinators may need extra assistance in order to survive and thrive. Check out a recent article which suggests being messy in the garden is a good way to provide places for pollinators to shelter over winter.

Messy? That's easy to do!

2

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.