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For STEM Friday we have the combined natural history comic and leveled reader for kids, We Dig Worms by Kevin McCloskey.

Kids of all ages are attracted to cartoons. The art helps tell the story and the humor makes it fun to read.

However, that doesn't mean cartoon illustrations shouldn't be taken seriously. This book has an underpinning of solid scientific facts. For example McCloskey shows the anatomy and life cycle of earthworms,

emphasizes the importance of earthworms in their natural habitat -- as food for other animals, for their role in the decomposition of plant waste, and as aerators of the soil --

and includes discussions of earthworm behavior.

Earthworms are great!

On repeat readings, you will likely notice other details that make We Dig Worms a special experience. At the beginning of the book (end papers), a worm is coming out of its burrow. At the end, the worm goes back into its burrow. Also, the illustrations are done on paper grocery bags to emphasize the theme of recycling. There is a lot to observe and talk about.

As if that weren't enough, in the back matter are tips and suggestions for parents and teachers on how to read comics with kids, with emphasis on going "for the shared pleasure." Wonderful!

We Dig Worms is a resource that young readers will want to return to again and again. Pick up and enjoy a copy today!

Suggested activities to accompany the book

Looking for a project on earthworms? You might want to consider vermiculture (worm composting). Providing a safe habitat for worms, feeding them, and being able to observe them closely can lead to valuable learning. All it requires is a container, bedding (like shredded newspapers and paper bags), vegetable food scraps, and worms (available at bait shops and from worm farms).

See:

Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Publisher: TOON Books (April 14, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1935179802
ISBN-13: 978-1935179801

Disclosure: This book and the copyrighted illustrations were provided by the author. 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.

The Great Backyard Bird Count 2019 starts next weekend. It is a family-friendly citizen science event, and a longtime favorite of ours. Birders -- novice and experienced alike -- identify and count birds, then report their findings using eBird (instructions are on the website). This gives ornithologists a "snapshot" of where birds are around the world.

To get inspired, you might want to pick up one of bird lover and author Sneed B. Collard III's wonderful books about birds (Follow links to my reviews)

Plus, visit his, Father-Son Birding blog.

To keep interest high, after the event keep a look out for Sneed B. Collard III's new book Birds of Every Color with his son, Braden Collard. It is coming out in March, just in time for spring migration birding.

 

Right up front, this isn't a concept book about colors. Instead, it delves deeply into the whys and hows of the fascinating array of bird feather hues.

For example, one page explains how birds get certain pigments from the food they eat and another explains about melanins, brown and black pigments that birds and other animals manufacture internally. Ever hear of psittacofulvins? You'll find out about those, too.

 

Public domain photograph of a male cardinal from Publicdomainpictures

Look closely and you will see bird colors may be different from place to place, season to season, and even between individual birds. Did you know that the extensiveness of the black bib of house sparrows. and the black and white patches on the heads of chickadees reflect their status in the flock?

The backmatter contains a two-page spread with twelve photographs of different bird species and challenges the reader to figure out how many different colors each has. Also included is a glossary of "Colorful Words," plus "About the Author." On the next page we learn "About the Photographs," which were taken by either Sneed or his son, Braden. Cool!

Birds of Every Color will enthrall budding ornithologists and nature lovers in general. Look for a copy next month or pre-order it now.

Related:

Age Range: 5 - 10 years
Publisher: Bucking Horse Books (March 1, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1732875308
ISBN-13: 978-1732875302

 

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. Note: this is a new link as of 1/2019.

Today is a special day. Not only is it the first Day of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count and the last day of our week celebrating children's books about birds for the Year of the Bird, but we have a real treat:  a visit by author Anna Levine with her new picture book about bird migration and some bird-themed activities!

All Eyes on Alexandra by Anna Levine and illustrated by Chiara Pasqualotto

In All Eyes on Alexandra, young Alexandra Crane is terrible at following her family in their flying Vee. She can’t help it that the world is so full of interesting distracting sights! When it's time for the Cranes to migrate to Israel's Hula Valley for the winter, Alexandra is excited but her family is worried. Will Alexandra stay with the group, and what happens if a dangerous situation should arise? Might Alexandra—and the rest of the flock—discover that a bad follower can sometimes make a great leader?

Be sure to visit our sister blog Wrapped in Foil for a more in-depth review and links to upcoming stops on the blog tour.

Bird Migration

All Eyes on Alexandra is a fictional account of a real event, the twice annual migration of millions over birds to and from all the neighboring continents.

The following video shows footage from a proposed documentary about the migration, set to music. What a sight!

Imagine trying to count birds there. What a challenge it would be! On the other hand, it would be easy to fill your Big Year lists with new species.

About Anna

Anna Levine is an award-winning children’s book author. Like Alexandra Crane, the character in her latest picture book, she loves to explore new worlds. Born in Canada, Anna has lived in the US and Europe.  She now lives in Israel, where she writes and teaches.

You don’t have to wing it!  Three bird-themed activities by Anna Levine.

Honk! Bellow! Whoop! Take part in the action.

When Alexandra Crane and her flock arrive at the resting and refueling spot in the Hula Valley they meet storks, falcons, wagtails and pelican and other bird families that honk, bellow and whoop. Now you can join the commotion, just by stepping out into your own backyard.

1. Take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count on February 16-19th. You don’t have to be an expert to join. Step outside for as long as 15 minutes or less and count as many birds as you can.

2. Awaken your senses. Experience birds through sound. Have your child listen and try to note the sounds of different birds. Record the bird song and then see if you can identify which birds they are. The Cornell Lab has a wonderful site (All About Birds Academy) where you can learn about birds and their different calls.

3. Bird beak experiment. Why do some birds have beaks that are long and sharp while others are shaped like a straw? You should have most of these tools around the house for this experiment, scissors, tweezers, chopsticks, a straw, and pliers. Gather the following foods, juice, string cheese, gummy snakes, rice, and pistachios. The idea is to try and match up the best tool for eating the different foods.

You might find that:

  • A hummingbird’s straw-like beak is perfect for drinking juice (or nectar from a flower).
  • The eagle’s scissor-like beak can rip up string cheese like an eagle tears meat.
  • A robin’s beak is perfect for digging out worms from the ground, as precise as picking up gummi worms with chopsticks.
  • A woodpecker’s beak is as sharp as a chisel and used also like a crowbar to pick out insects from dead trees, just like tweezers picking up a grain of rice.
  • And for opening seeds, a cardinal’s beak, just like pliers, is great for cracking open pistachios or seeds.

What about the beak of a curved-bill thrasher?

You can see even more fun ideas from Anna Levine to celebrate birds at Read. Write. Sparkle. Coffee. blog.

Thank you to Anna Levine for stopping by and sharing the wonderful book and activities.

You can find Anna Levine online at --

 

Age Range: 3 - 8 years
Publisher: Kar-Ben Pub (August 1, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1512444391
ISBN-13: 978-1512444391

Don't forget our growing list of books about bird migration at Science Books for Kids.

Disclosure: This book was provided electronically for review. 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.

 

Thank you for visiting us this week. That concludes our celebration of The Year of the Bird.