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It is well established that at a certain age children become fascinated with all things gross and repulsive. The new book for older elementary and middle grades, ICK!: Delightfully Disgusting Animal Dinners, Dwellings, and Defenses by Melissa Stewart, uses that interest to entice kids to learn about an amazing variety of animals.

Not for the squeamish or easily offended reader, Ick! explores animals that eat, defend themselves, or live inside revolting things like poop, slimy mucus, spit, and vomit.

Melissa Stewart is a renowned children's science writer and she has done an outstanding job in finding weird and wonderful examples. Some might be familiar, like dung beetles that raise their offspring in balls of manure, but others are exotic, like the bone-eating snot flower worm. What a name!

What is even better is that she sneaks in a lot of biology concepts and vocabulary. Do you know what a cecotrope is? You'll learn that in the very first section. At the same time, you will find that what at first glance seems really repulsive is actually part of an animal's way of surviving and isn't as disgusting as you might imagine.

The book is illustrated with eye catching photographs -- as we've come to expect from National Geographic -- that bring the text to life.

For example, can you see the bubble around the fish in the middle? It is actually a floating wrapping of slippery slime. The fish spends the night within the mucus blob to protect itself. Tissue anyone?

ICK! will grab the attention of young readers interested in STEM -- particularly budding biologists -- who will likely memorize sections to impress and gross out their friends. The visually attractive layout and yuck factor will also appeal to many reluctant readers. Hold onto your stomach and explore a copy today!

Related:

To expand on the book, find your own icky critter and research its habits.

In honor of National Moth Week (July 18-26, 2020), we chose a small group of unusual moths that fit right in with the other animals in the book.

Sloth moths get their name from the fact they spend their lives riding on South American sloths. Being a hitchhiker doesn't seem all that gross until you find out that the moths are waiting for the sloth to climb down from the trees to go to the bathroom, something it does only about once a week. When the sloth poops, the female moths hop off and lay their eggs in the excrement. The larvae (caterpillars) feed on the poop, and after completing their life cycles, fly around to find another sloth to sit on.

PBS NOVA has an animated video that shows the sloth moth life in detail.

Aren't moths amazing?


And so is Ick!

Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Publisher: National Geographic Children's Books (June 23, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1426337469
ISBN-13: 978-1426337468

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.


Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.

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Need a math book to help keep skills sharp for the summer? Look no further than Cool Math: 50 Fantastic Facts for Kids of All Ages by Tracie Young and Katie Hewett.

Organized as a series of two-page spreads, this small book packs in a king-sized number of tips, games, cool facts, and tricks that will interest even the most math adverse. Examples range from tips for quick multiplication to how to make a magic square. Tucked in are practical refreshers, like how to calculate area and volume.

Although designed for middle school, the title is correct; it could be fun for adults as well. You could read it cover to cover, but Cool Math is so easy to browse. Glance through the table of contents or thumb through the book. Either way, something will catch your attention and before long you'll grab a pencil to figure out how it works. Plus, the practical tips will make you want to return to it again and again.

Cool Math is a fun, painless way to hone those math skills.  Explore a copy today!

Related:

1. Try Sudoku puzzles.

Sudoku is an extremely popular game and it is easy to find instructions and free puzzles online. The puzzles can teach number and pattern recognition in preschoolers, as well as logic, spatial awareness, and problem solving to older children.

Here's one example of an instructional video:

 

2. Look for other posts and activities in our math category.

3. Check out our growing list of math books for children at Science Books for Kids.

 

Age Range: 12 - 16 years
Publisher: Pavilion Children's (March 3, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1843654482
ISBN-13: 978-1843654483

 

Disclosure: 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.

 


Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.

Recently, we featured a story time about the solar system for preschoolers. Today our activities are inspired by the upper-elementary/middle grade book Dr. Maggie’s Grand Tour
 of the Solar System by Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock 
and illustrated by Chelen Écija. Check out our sister blog, Wrapped in Foil, for a review/details.

Suggested Activity to Accompany the Book: Stargazing

When is the last time you have gone outside at night and looked up at the stars? With less pollution haze, stargazing can be a fun activity right now. Be sure to follow local safety guidelines.

Some things you can point out to youngsters:

  1. The Moon - The Moon is currently waxing, which means you will gradually see more as it heads to the full moon on May 7, 2020. It will be the last "supermoon" of the year and is called the flower moon.
  2. Planets - Venus has been bright lately as the sun sets in the west. You should also be able to spot Mars, Saturn and Jupiter.
  3. Constellations - Different constellations will be prominent depending on how clear your viewing is. Pollux and Castor show up in the west near nightfall. See various websites linked below for details.
  4. Comets- There are three comets in the skies this month; Atlas, Swan, and T2PANSTARRS. They probably won't be bright enough to see without a telescope, but keep an eye on news reports just in case.
  5. Meteor showers- Last week the Lyrid meteor shower was in the news, but the lesser known Eta Aquarid meteor shower should be at its peak right before dawn Tuesday. Unfortunately, the moonlight will probably interfere with viewing all but the brightest meteors. Other large showers include the Perseids in mid-August and the Geminids in December.
  6. Human-made items - Most of us can recognize an airplane flying at night because of the blinking lights. What you might not have seen, however, are the Starlink satellites. These look like points of light that travel quickly in a definite path across the sky ( a photo). Once you spot one, you are likely to see them again and again. According to reports, they should be less visible as they tilt over time and later launches will have built in shades that are supposed to reduce visibility. See them while you can.

For more see our Astronomy category, starting with Three Hands-On Astronomy Activities.

Websites for adults to learn more:

Ages: 8+
ISBN:  978-1-68464-034-8

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher for review purposes.

See our growing list of children's books about the solar system at Science Books for Kids.