Author: Roberta (Page 2 of 560)

#Nonfiction Monday #kidlit: Swoop and Soar

After decades of declining numbers, ospreys are on the rise again. Discover more about how people are helping ospreys recover with the new picture book,  Swoop and Soar: How Science Rescued Two Osprey Orphans and Found Them A New Family In The Wild by Deborah Lee Rose and Jane Veltkamp.

In the first part of the book, we hold our breaths following the perilous journey of two newly-hatched osprey chicks. One night a storm destroys  Swoop and Soar’s nest and the chicks fall to the ground. Nearby, another osprey family has lost their offspring, but still come back to their nest. With a little help from Jane, will the new family adopt the homeless chicks?

What comes after is not so much back matter as a second fascinating book about ospreys and how biologist Jane Veltkamp works hard to rescue them.

The illustrations are glorious full color photographs. The text matches the illustrations perfectly. Some of the photographs will make you ask, “How did they get that?”

With Swoop and Soar, get hooked by the nail-biting story of the chicks, then stick around for some amazing information about ospreys. Highly recommended!

Related activities:

Visit Deborah Lee Rose’s author website for a free educational guide.

Birds of Prey Northwest has additional information about Swoop and Soar and other raptors.

Activity: Check the status of ospreys where you live.

Growing up in western New York state, we  rarely saw ospreys even though we had ponds and lakes everywhere.  Now, a few decades later,  it is common to find the huge osprey nests atop utility poles. It is wonderful that the birds are on the rebound.

Check with your local Audubon Society or bird watching organization to find out whether ospreys are found in your area. Take a trip to look for them.

See our previous post about eagles and ospreys for information on how to identify both birds.

Looking for more children’s books about birds? Check our growing list at Science Books for Kids.

Reading age ‏ : ‎ 5 – 13 years
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Persnickety Press (September 5, 2022)
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1943978565
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1943978564

Disclosure: An e-ARC of this book was provided by the publisher 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.


Love children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.

Bug of the Week: White-lined Sphinx Caterpillar

Why did the caterpillar cross the road?

Last week we went for a drive and in one area the white-lined sphinx caterpillars were crawling across the road. They weren’t in large numbers, but noticeable. Why were they doing that?

Adult white-lined sphinx

The caterpillars could have run out of food plants and were looking for another snack, but the more likely explanation was that they were in the “wandering phase.” When caterpillars have finished eating and growing, they may wander around looking for an ideal place to dig into the soil and pupate. Sometimes they wander onto roads, but they really do want to see what’s on the other side.

Have you seen any white-lined sphinx caterpillars or moths lately?

#STEM Friday #Kidlit Funky Fungi Grows on You


I just can’t contain my excitement about this awesome book:  Funky Fungi: 30 Activities for Exploring Molds, Mushrooms, Lichens, and More by Alisha Gabriel and Sue Heavenrich .

Why am I excited?

First of all, Funky Fungi is by one of my favorite publishers, Chicago Review Press.  They are leading experts at hands-on STEM books for kids.

Secondly, fungi are fascinating organisms, but are too often ignored. For a long time they got shoved into a drawer with plants and forgotten. It is great to see publishers and educators finally taking an interest in all the cool stuff they have to offer.

I’m also excited because the contents are fabulous. In addition to 30 hands-on activities you can do with inexpensive materials, topics range from what the different kinds of fungi to all their uses. I learned so much. Did you know people are making shoes and handbags from a leather-like product made of fungal mycelium?

My favorite part of the book is the series of sidebars called “From the Fungus Files.” Each features a fungus that has interesting (amazing!) attributes, like the charcoal-loving elf cup with spores that germinate after a fire and the lobster fungus that grows on other fungi!

Finally, Sue Heavenrich is one of my favorite authors and friends.

Let’s see what she has to say about the book .

An Interview With Co-Author Sue Heavenrich:

How did you get the inspiration for a book about fungi?

The book actually grew from a nature ramble at a Highlights Foundation workshop in Honesdale, PA where Alisha and I met. We spotted a mushroom growing and found out we had a shared an interest in fungi.  About ten years later, we started the book. See more about what we did at my blog, Archimedes Notebook.

Attending a workshop at Highlights Foundation is definitely on my bucket list, but back to Funky Fungi. Do you have a favorite section?

The section on insect zombies. Because: insects (of course!). I had seen zombified flies before, without really understanding what they were. Then, while working on an article for our county-wide weekly [paper], I met mycologist Kathie Hodge. She was working out the taxonomy for a newly discovered fungus that was infecting millipedes. We went on a fungus walk, and she showed me insects infected with fungi… and I asked her about the strange flies I had seen. Dead flies clinging to window screens, surrounded by a circle of white powder – zombies. Dead flies clinging to the tip-top of an onion stalk – probably zombies. I had a lot of fun learning more about entomopathogenic fungi [fungi that attack insects] and this summer am hoping that Entomophaga maimaiga will infect the millions of Spongy Moth (formerly Gypsy moth) larvae infesting our trees.

After writing the book, do you have a favorite fungus?

A favorite fungus? That’s like asking if I have a favorite insect … or book! Too hard to choose, but I will say that I like unusual fungi, like the orange staghorns that look like octopuses emerging from the soil, and the coral fungi, and earthballs that look more like leathery turtle eggs than a mushroom! And the dainty turkey tails I find on downed tree limbs – oh! and lichens! I really like lichens. You’ll find some of my faves over on my author Facebook page where I post funky fungi photos on Friday afternoons.

See a much more in depth interview with Sue at GROG blog.


Although the suggested reading age for Funky Fungi is 7-9, it is appropriate for middle grade and on up to adult. Educators will love it. Pull it out for lessons on classification, decomposition, or to accompany a hike in the woods. If you are interested in nature, you need to check out this book!

It seems redundant to have activities to accompany a book with 30 hands-on activities, but here’s a few more things to explore:

A previous post about fungi with activity suggestions as well as the posts in the fungi category.

Be sure to check our growing list of children’s books about fungi at Science Books for Kids

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Chicago Review Press (June 21, 2022)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 128 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1641605774
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1641605779
Reading age ‏ : ‎ 7 – 9 years


Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher. 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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