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There's good news, good news, and even better news today!

First Good News:

Last year was a big year for me because I had a children's picture book manuscript accepted by Millbrook Press, a division of Lerner™Publishing Group. All sorts of things have to come together before the book is published, so it will 2020 or beyond before it is actually a physical book. But in the meanwhile...

Second Good News:

I am so grateful to you, my readers and friends, for your support of this blog and feedback over the years that helped me reach this point. To share my gratitude, I have a treat. This week I'm giving away two wonderful picture books from Millbrook Press, Love, Agnes: Postcards from an Octopus by Irene Latham and illustrated by Thea Baker AND Plants Can't Sit Still by Rebecca E. Hirsch and illustrated by Mia Posada (reviewed at our sister blog, Wrapped in Foil).

Don't they look amazing? Before you jump down to the Rafflecopter form below to enter the giveaway, however, there's still more.

 Even Better News:

Now, the best news of all. Irene Latham, the author of the lovely and imaginative picture book Love, Agnes has stopped by to help us celebrate and to tell us all about it. Welcome Irene!

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On the surface, LOVE, AGNES: POSTCARDS FROM AN OCTOPUS, my first narrative picture book, looks like it's about the life cycle of a giant Pacific octopus. It does, in fact, offer reader lots of factual information, like how these clever creatures are boneless shapeshifters with three hearts. How they have host of amazing defense mechanisms, and how their lives come to an end shortly after mating (for the male), or once the eggs are hatched (for the female).

The book is also a complete fantasy – one that's firmly rooted in my psyche. Consider the things Agnes and I have in common:

Agnes sends – and receives – postcards. So do I! Each year during National Poetry Month, I send out hundreds of “Live Your Poem” artsy postcards... because I want to. (Want to receive a postcard from me? Sign up here: http://goo.gl/forms/JmNeFvo7j4)

Agnes loves being a mother. Me, too! I have three sons I nurtured from before they were born through all the crazy-busy years, and have since watched float away on a current. I couldn't be prouder or more in love with my guys!

Agnes believe the best way to handle death is to live a good life. YES. When I was writing this book, my father was in the final stages of colon cancer. He remarked to me that it was a strange situation, and frustrating, because some visitors would talk to him like he was already dead. So I researched what the dying need to hear/say, and somewhere – I wish I could remember where! - I found this gem: the dying need to hear/say 4 things: thank you, I love you, forgive me, I forgive you.

Fortunately I was able to say those things to my father, and hear him say those things to me. And I was able to give those words to an octopus named Agnes, too.

Ultimately, Agnes is grateful for her life and forgiving of her predators and competitors. She even gives her primary prey (crabs) a break at the end. Agnes is me, and she's my father, and she leaves this world the way I hope to – with joy and wonder and gratitude.

Side-note: Agnes is also funny. She's a cheeky octopus. And guess what: I'm a little bit cheeky, too – even though you may not know it from my previous books. It takes me a while to warm up, but when I do – well, there's a reason my husband calls me “the fun girl in the house.” (Yes, I am also the ONLY girl in the house!) No matter. I am certain Agnes – and my father – would agree.

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I'm getting tears, Irene. Thank you so much for sharing your moving story with us.

If you'd like to try to win a copy of Irene's book plus Plants Can't Sit Still, leave an entry in the Rafflecopter form below before January 15, 2019. If you have any difficulties entering, please let me know in the comments below. The giveaway has now ended. Congratulations to the winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Our post today is inspired by a new middle grade children's book, Zoology for Kids: Understanding and Working with Animals, with 21 Activities (For Kids series) by Josh Hestermann and Bethanie Hestermann with a foreword by The Kratt Brothers. The book is so awesome I want to share it by giving away a copy.  See below for details on how you can enter to win a paperback copy of this book.

 

Josh Hestermann is a zoologist/zookeeper and his wife, Bethanie Hestermann, is a writer. Together they explain what zoology is (the study of animals) and what an animal is, and then give a lively introduction to the science of zoology. The second part describes common career options for people who want to work with animals. Sprinkled throughout are hands-on activities for middle-grade-aged children, such as baking a model of an animal cell, playing a dolphin echolocation game, eating a bat fruit salad, and planning an animal's exhibit for a zoo. See our sister blog, Wrapped in Foil, for a full review.

Related Activity:  Making Animal Books

Gather:

  • Photographs of animals (from old magazines, the Internet, take photographs at your local zoo, or see these public domain line drawings)
  • Spiral notebook or binder with 3-hole paper (or an artist's sketch book)
  • Crayons, markers and colored pencils
  • Glue stick or tape

Version 1. Animal Alphabet Book for the Youngest Set

Create a page for each letter of the alphabet. Try to find an animal or animals whose name starts with each letter. Don't forget that fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and invertebrates are also animals.

Glue or tape the pictures on the page. Draw the letters and add the animal's name.

For older children, have them add information about the animals, such as what they eat and where they live, maps, etc. Encourage them to draw pictures as well as write the text.

Examples:

anteater-page-1zebra page

Looking for an animal with a name that starts with X? Suggestions:

  • Ground squirrels in the genus Xerus
  • X-ray tetra fish
  • Swordfish in the genus Xiphias
  • Xantus's hummingbird

zoo-visayan-warty-pig

Did you take a picture at the zoo and now can't remember what kind of animal it is?

Hint:  Try an Internet image search to see if you can find matches. Just be careful to look for reputable sources.

Another hint:  If you go on a trip to the zoo to take photographs, take a few photographs of the signs as well. This will help you remember which animal is which and also gives you more information to talk about when you get home.

zoo-sign

Turns out this one can be used for the letter V!

Version 2: Animal Phyla (For older children)

For older children, consider exploring the phyla that make up the Kingdom Animalia by making a scrapbook or presentation. See our previous post for details (because it got too long to be included here).

Related:

Extensive interview with a Zoo Docent here at Growing With Science

Zoology for Kids website

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GIVEAWAY

Would you like to try to win a copy of Zoology for Kids? Simply sign into Rafflecopter (U.S. mailing addresses only, please). It will ask you to leave a comment on this blog post and/or like our FaceBook page by March 14, 2015 at 12:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. A single winner will be selected at random by Rafflecopter and I will notify the winner via e-mail.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

__________________________________________

Age Range: 9 and up
Grade Level: 4 and up
Publisher: Chicago Review Press (March 1, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1613749619
ISBN-13: 978-1613749616

Disclosures: The book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click through the linked titles or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.

 

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

 

 

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We have a lot of news today:

The good news this week is that the weather in many areas has begun to warm up. With the arrival of spring,  you may be thinking of gardening with children. The better news is Quarry Books has published Gardening Lab for Kids: 52 Fun Experiments to Learn, Grow, Harvest, Make, Play, and Enjoy Your Garden (Hands-On Family) by Renata Fossen Brown this month and it is just the book to have on hand to add enjoyment and depth to a child's gardening experience. The best news is that you have a chance to win a copy through our giveaway contest (see below)!

Before going any further, it is important to note that although the term "experiments" in the subtitle might suggest scientific trials or investigations, for this book "experiment" is actually used more in the sense of "to try something new."  Gardening Lab for Kids is a lovely collection of hands-on activities for children to do for every week of the year, from designing a garden and making seed tape, to planting a garden in a shoe, growing a pizza garden, and constructing a wind chime. In addition, children will certainly learn some science as they explore parts of plants, investigate soils, try out composting, and learn about watering.

Renata Fossen Brown is Vice President of Education at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, and her experience and resources show in the quality of the book. Each "Lab" is accompanied by color photographs of children doing the activity, a list of materials, step-by-step procedures written for children, and suggestions for extensions ("Dig Deeper!") Each activity is designed so that it could stand alone or be used as a series. Many of the activities can be done with limited space and use readily-available materials.

Gardening is a wonderful hobby for children because, as Brown writes, it gets them active and outdoors. It has many benefits, such as it helps children connect with their food, learn about nature, and explore their creativity. Gardening is an especially good project for kinesthetic learners, who always reap extra rewards from hands-on activities. Brown also alludes to studies that have shown that getting outdoors helps children develop focus.

With all the benefits, are you ready to "try something new" and do some gardening?  Gardening Lab for Kids has the ideas and instructions to get started today!

leaf-borderGiveaway Contest

Edit:
Would you like to try to win a copy of Gardening Lab for Kids? Simply leave a comment on this blog post with a valid e-mail address (U.S. mailing addresses only, please) by May 5, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. A single winner will be selected at random from the comments and notified via e-mail. The giveaway contest is now closed.

leaf-border

Age Range: 5 - 12 years
Grade Level: Kindergarten - 6
Series: Hands-On Family
Paperback: 136 pages
Publisher: Quarry Books (April 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1592539041
ISBN-13: 978-1592539048

For more ideas, visit our Gardening/Science Activities for Kids Pinterest board and our recent posts for Children's Garden Week.

 

Disclosures: This book was provided for review by the publisher. Also, I am an affiliate for Amazon, and if you click through the linked titles or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.

If you are interested in children's nonfiction, you might want to visit the Nonfiction Monday blog and see what other new books bloggers have found.

nonfictionmonday