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Today we have a new picture book biography, Fearless World Traveler: Adventures of Marianne North, Botanical Artist by Laurie Lawlor and illustrated by Becca Stadtlander.

You may not have heard of Marianne North, but she was a fascinating woman. She grew up privileged and sheltered in England. Her father was a member of Parliament who owned multiple homes. On the other hand, her parents said she had no need for an education and insisted she get ready for marriage. Instead, Marianne taught herself to paint and immersed herself in nature whenever she got the chance. After her father passed away, Marianne began to travel the world. She made up for lost time by accurately painting every plant she could find. In the remaining years of her life, she produced more than 848 paintings, most of which she donated to Kew Gardens (see photograph of some of the display below).

Why is North's work considered to be scientific? It is because she advanced the field of botanical illustration. Her technique of painting specimens in their natural environment rather than isolated on a light background was groundbreaking. The fact, she documented so many rare plants with such accurate detail that several of them are named in her honor.

As for the book, Becca Stadtlander's lush illustrations are a fitting tribute to Marianne North's art. Readers will want to get lost in them. And Marianne North's story is captivating. Readers will want to visit it again and again.

Fearless World Traveler will appeal to a variety of young readers, including those interested in history, travel, plants, art, and science. Pick up a copy and join the adventure!

Suggested STEAM Activities:

1. Make a botanical illustration.

For inspiration, first visit the Kew's Virtual Gallery to see scans of Marianne North's paintings, organized by place and by plant type.

Gather some plants. Consider houseplants or vegetables, too. Note:  avoid sampling plants you can't readily identify because some plants can be poisonous. Also, make sure you have permission to gather plants. Collecting plants can be forbidden in certain public spaces, such as parks.

Examine the plants from a scientific standpoint. What kind of plant is it? Does it have any unique features? Identify the parts of the plants (previous post) and other details (inside plants post).

There are many instructions for drawing and painting plants for different grades or ages online. The video below has a nice introduction to botanical illustration and explains how to use plaster cloth to make a botanical impression.


The lesson is available for download as a PDF at the Blick website.

 

2. Incorporate scientific illustrations in a nature journal.

If you are interested in nature journals, speed over to the Exploring Marianne North website. Toward the bottom of the page they are currently offering a PDF booklet put together by volunteers. It chronicles some of North's travels, a wonderful mix of history and art. The illustrations are amazing!!! Caveat:  the text is in old-fashioned cursive, so may be difficult for young children to read.

LitLinks blog also has some great ideas about how to introduce children to the art of keeping a nature journal.

3. Make a leaf collection

There are many, many ways to make a leaf collection.

Plants and art are a perfect mix.

 

Reading age : 6 - 9 years
Publisher : Holiday House (May 11, 2021)
ISBN-10 : 0823439593
ISBN-13 : 978-0823439591

Public domain image of the Marianne North Gallery at Kew Gardens from Wikimedia.

 

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.

 

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

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If you've been a reader of our blog for any length of time, you know we love the children's books from Chicago Review Press because they have loads of activity suggestions to extend learning.  Let's take a look at the newest title in their Young Naturalist series, Mammal Mania: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring the World of Mammals by Lisa J. Amstutz.

Although mammals are familiar animals, we might not always study them in a structured, scientific way. Lisa Amstutz's text covers everything young readers will want to know:

  • What a mammal is
  • Some unique anatomical features
  • What they eat and what food webs they are part of
  • Where mammals live
  • How they communicate
  • What we can do to protect mammals

Are any mammals venomous? How long can vampire bats go without food? How many species of mammals have gone extinct in the last 50 years? You will find the answers to these questions and many more.

Each chapter features three activity suggestions. For example, in chapter ten about "How You Can Help," readers can build a squirrel feeder or learn about their state mammal.

The back matter includes a glossary, a list of the mammal orders, online resources, and a bibliography. Also included is a "Teacher's Guide" with two pages of additional ideas for research topics and activities.

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week. Mammal Mania would be a great gift for educators who need well-organized information and age-appropriate activity ideas for science lessons. It would also thrill budding zoologists and be a wonderful addition to any library.

Related:

It may seem redundant to offer activity suggestions for a book filled with them, but to celebrate the book:

Reading age : 7 - 9 years
Publisher : Chicago Review Press (April 20, 2021)
ISBN-10 : 1641604360
ISBN-13 : 978-1641604369

 

Disclosure: Reviewed a digital uncorrected ARC 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.

Let's take a photographic hike through the woods to celebrate Arbor day.

What kind of trees might we see? (For more information, the links go to previous posts at Growing with Science).

We might see pine trees. Pine trees are conifers. They have needle-like leaves and cones.

Spruce trees also have needle-like leaves and cones.

Hemlocks have tiny cones.

Is this a conifer?

Turns out that although it has broad leaves, this gingko is a gymnosperm so it is a member of the conifer group!

The other major group is the broadleaf trees or angiosperms.

They have flat leaves like this silver maple. Angiosprems have flowers.

The seeds come in different shapes. These are red maple keys.

Acorns are the seeds of oak trees.

Hickory nuts are seeds from a shagbark hickory.

Here in Arizona we have some lovely trees with yellow flowers and green bark called palo verdes.

Palo verde seeds form in pods.

We could go on and on, but our feet are getting tired. If you want to learn more about trees: