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Today we are participating in a blog tour for the fabulous new picture book biography The Leaf Detective: How Margaret Lowman Uncovered Secrets in the Rainforest by Heather Lang and illustrated by Jana Christy. I'm so excited about this book, I'm offering a giveaway via Rafflecopter below.

If you are familiar at all with rainforest biology, you know that the forests are structured into layers.

The Leaf Detective book is as multilayered as a rainforest.

The trunk of the book is the biography of Margaret Lowman, an incredibly brave and determined biologist who developed new methods for studying the tops of trees, the canopy and emergent layers. Using ropes and a harness of her own design, she climbed up into the great unknown.

We had already been to the moon and back and nobody had been to the top of a tree.

The branches of the story are Meg Lowman's findings. For example, she discovered that most of the herbivores in the rainforest she studied were nocturnal, eating leaves at night and hiding during the day. To learn more, she climbed up into the trees at night.

The roots of the story comes after Meg realized that for all people didn't know about trees, they were still destroying them at an alarming rate. She started to come up with innovative ways for people to use intact forests as a source of income and thus making it economically viable to save them.

Let's not forget the leaves. Sprinkled throughout are leaf-shaped sidebars filled with interesting facts and additional details. So cool!

The illustrations are as green and lush and complex as a rainforest, too. The reader could get lost and spend hours in them. My favorite shows Meg sitting in her office, but the wall has disappeared and has become part of the natural world outside. It emphasizes that we aren't separate from the natural world, but we are part of it.

The bottom line? The Leaf Detective is perfect for young readers who are budding scientists, adventurers, conservationists, interested in women's history, the list goes on and on. Pretty much everyone will find something to explore in it. Pick up a copy and see how it resonates with you.

Activity Suggestions to Accompany the Book:

1. Investigate Leaf Age

One way Meg Lowman studied trees was to investigate leaf ages.

In areas where trees lose all their leaves in the fall, leaf age isn't a big question. However, some trees may be evergreen, or in warm climates may keep their leaves year around.

If you’d like to find out how long the leaves live on trees or shrubs in your neighborhood, choose some freshly emerged leaves and mark them with an acrylic marker. The young leaves are a lighter, brighter green color and are often softer in texture.

If you don't have a marker, you could also mark the leaves with tags or ties, anything that won’t wear or fall off or interfere with normal leaf development and photosynthesis. Record how many leaves you tag, when you tag them, and roughly where they are in the tree.

Check your leaves periodically. You might want to mark more leaves each time if you see new, fresh ones. This is a long-term project, so be patient.

We marked some of the new leaves on our lemon tree, which is evergreen here, a few years ago. Our marked leaves remained on the tree through one entire year. The tree dropped a lot of leaves a couple of times, but our marked ones held on. Unfortunately, our marked leaves were lost before the experiment was finished when someone -- who didn't know about our experiment -- trimmed the tree.

Let us know what kind of tree or shrub you choose and how long the leaves last.

2. Be a Fallen Leaf Detective

If you live in an area where the leaves come off in the fall, you can do a lot of leaf investigations. For example, you can figure out which leaves came from which trees.

Gather a good tree identification guide that shows both leaf shape and bark patterns. Identify the leaf by its shape, then find the tree by its bark pattern, color, and general shape.

Start with some trees you know well to practice then move on to unknowns. Remember that leaves blow around. Look for nuts/seeds to match with the trees that produced them, as well. Treat it like a game.

During a quiet moment, take a good look at the trees. Once the trees have lost their leaves, other aspects of their structure are revealed, such as the texture of the bark, the shape of the branches, even the leaf scars on the twigs. Compare different trees. Close your eyes and feel the bark. Listen. Smell the wood. Do trees smell differently? Talk about your findings.

Related:

 

Reading age : 7 - 10 years
Publisher : Calkins Creek; Illustrated edition (February 9, 2021)
ISBN-10 : 1684371775
ISBN-13 : 978-1684371778

Disclosure: This book was provided electronically 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.

See more about the book in this trailer.

Check out the other stops on the blog tour for interviews with the author, activity suggestions, and giveaways ending soon at Mrs. Knott's Book Nook and Unleashing Readers!

The Giveaway

Please let me know if you have any difficulty entering.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We're also participating in:

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

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Although even though they may have lost their leaves where you live, now is a great time to learn about trees. You can get started with the exciting new middle grade title Can You Hear the Trees Talking?: Discovering the Hidden Life of the Forest by Peter Wohlleben.

Peter Wohlleben is the well-known author of the bestselling popular science book for adults, The Hidden Life of Trees.  Now he's applied his eye-opening approach to understanding trees in this book for young readers. He asks kid-friendly questions, such as "How do trees drink?" and answers them using current scientific knowledge and appropriate vocabulary. Even if you already know a lot about trees, be prepared to say, "Wow!"

Let's look at one example. Wohlleben asks, "What do tree children learn at school?" Wait, trees go to school? What is that about? Turns out that in mature forests young saplings spend a lot of time being nourished and shaped by their mother tree and other mature trees nearby. Isn't that a cool idea?

Each question is answered on a two-page spread with gorgeous color photographs. Many of the spreads have activity suggestions, labelled "Try This!" I counted 18 hands-on activities. There are also many sidebars with extra cool facts and some quick quizzes to reinforce learning. You could spend months going through this book.

Can You Hear the Trees Talking? is a must-have resource that is likely to awe and inspire readers, young and old. Seriously!

Suggested Activity:

Go outside and look at some trees. Examine them closely. Smell them. Feel them. Listen to them. Just experiencing a tree is sure to generate questions and inspire creativity.

More Tree Science Activity Suggestions (From This Blog):

    1. Tree Transpiration
    2. How far does the water have to travel from roots to top of the tree?

Want to find more great books like this one? Visit our giant, redwood-sized list of tree books for kids.

Age Range: 8 - 10 years
Publisher: Greystone Kids; Reprint edition (October 1, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1771644346
ISBN-13: 978-1771644341

Disclosure: This book was provided 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. Note: this is a new link as of 10/2018.

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For our regular STEM Friday feature we recommend two books about trees for children, just in time for Arbor Day, next Friday April 24, 2015. (Read the rest of the reviews and see a video book trailer at Wrapped in Foil blog.) Then we'll finish out Butterfly Gardening With Children Week with a discussion of trees for butterfly gardens.

The first book, Branching Out: How Trees Are Part of Our World by Joan Marie Galat and illustrated by Wendy Ding (2014), describes a particular species of tree, how it used by humans, and what animals depend on that kind of tree in a series of four-page spreads. The 11 species of trees highlighted range from red maples and downy birches to pau brasil and cork oaks.

The second book, Celebritrees: Historic and Famous Trees of the World by Margi Preus and illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon (2011), consists of a series of two-page spreads telling the stories of 14 famous, tall and exceptionally-old trees from around the world, the back matter gives more information about the trees and a number of suggestions about what the reader can do to help and encourage trees.

Appropriate for butterfly gardening week:  In the section about oak trees in the back matter of this book, we find out that a single large oak tree can support up to 34 species of butterflies!

That fact reminds us that although growing pretty flowers helps the adult butterflies, to have a truly productive butterfly garden you need to supply food for caterpillars as well.

Many beautiful species of butterflies require trees as larval hosts.

Examples:

1. Hackberry trees (Celtis species) are larval food for

  • Tawny emperor butterflies
  • Hackberry emperor butterflies
  • Mourning cloak butterflies
  • Question Mark butterflies
  • Snout butterfly

mystery-butterfly-2-identicationThe snout butterfly

Hackberry_Emperor,_Megan_McCarty46Hackberry emperor butterfly (Public domain photograph by Megan McCarty)

(Seed of the Week post about Canyon Hackberry)

2. Live oaks are larval food for California sister butterfly larvae.

California-sister-butterflyCalifornia sister butterfly, Ramsey Canyon, Arizona

Some duskywings and hairstreaks also use oaks for food.

3. Black cherry (Prunus serotina) trees are larval food for:

  • Red-spotted purple
  • Eastern tiger swallowtail
  • Coral hairstreak

4. Citrus trees (orange, lemon grapefruit) attract numerous giant swallowtails. Their larvae are called orange dog caterpillars.

caterpillar-orange-dogAn orange dog caterpillar on a grapefruit leaf

In addition to larval food, trees provide shelter for butterflies (and a multitude of other animals), provide safe places for the caterpillars to pupate, and some flowering trees supply nectar for many more adult butterflies.

In his book, Bringing Nature Home, entomologist  Doug Tallamy gives a list of how many species of butterflies and moths are supported by 21 kinds of trees. The numbers are astonishing! He says oak trees (genus Quercus) provide food for some 534 different species of butterflies and moths. Given that those butterflies are important pollinators and parts of the food web, that is an enormous contribution.

Activity:

If you are going to plant a tree for Arbor Day or any other event, consider choosing a local species that will host butterflies. You will get yet another benefit from a tree. Please leave a comment if you have any questions about how to choose a suitable butterfly host tree for your area.

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Wrap-ups:

 This is the final post for Butterfly Gardening with Children Week. Hope you enjoyed it. If you missed the previous posts from the week, check our links page for topics we covered.

butterfly-gardening-with-children

Interested in reading more great books about trees for Arbor Day? Try our giant, redwood-sized list of children's books about trees at Science Books for Kids.

tree-books-button

 

Disclosures: The books above were from my local library. 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.