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Right in time for National Poetry Month (April), we have Spi-ku: A Clutter of Short Verse on Eight Legs by Leslie Bulion and illustrated by Robert Meganck.

Author Leslie Bulion has a subtly playful approach to spiders.

All spiders are arachnids
But some arachnids
mite not be spiders.

If you like that kind of word play, you are in for a real treat.

Illustrator Robert Meganck also has a subtle sense of humor. For example, in the front endpapers he shows a fly near a spider web. The back endpapers shows the same spider with a small webbed up package. He leaves it up to the reader to figure out what happened to the fly.

Intermingled between poems of different forms -- in spite of the title, not all are haiku -- is detailed information about spiders, from what they eat to how they build webs.

If the text isn't enough, there's extensive back matter as well:

  • Glossary
  • A Few Notes on Poetic Form
  • Spider Identification (scientific names of the spiders in the book)
  • A "Spider Hunt" activity suggestion
  • For Further Study (Books and websites)
  • A cool info-graphic of the relative sizes of all the spiders
  • Identification of the spiders on the cover.

Readers are likely to find something new every time they read the book.

Spi-ku is perfect for budding arachnologists and poets alike. Investigate a copy today!

Related Activity Suggestions:

  1. Visit Leslie Bulion's website to download an awesome teachers guide and folding spider booklet activity.
  2. Read and discuss "Allowables" by Nikki Giovanni (MSU Poetry websitefor example).
  3. Reading Rockets has whole page about National Poetry Month, including interviews with poets and activity suggestions.
  4. Write a spider poem.
  5. See our beginners guide to identifying spiders (previous post)
  6. Check out more children's books about spiders at Science Books for Kids.

Reading age : 8 - 12 years
Publisher : Peachtree Publishing Company; Illustrated edition (March 1, 2021)
ISBN-10 : 1682631923
ISBN-13 : 978-1682631928

Disclosure: This book is my personal copy. 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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Right in time to celebrate Women's History Month we have two brand new picture book biographies of women pioneers in STEM. For Nonfiction Monday, let's start with The Stuff Between the Stars: How Vera Rubin Discovered Most of the Universe by Sandra Nickel and illustrated by Aimée Sicuro. We liked this one so much, we're offering a giveaway in the Rafflecopter window below.

About the Book:

Vera Rubin was an astronomer who discovered some cool and important "stuff".

From a young age, she was captivated by stargazing.

As she got older, she began to investigate swirling clusters of stars, gases, and dust known as galaxies.

Public domain image of a galaxy from Wikimedia.

She studied where galaxies were found in space and how they moved relative to each other. When she saw the stars within galaxies move at different speeds than she thought they should, she demonstrated there was something in between the stars that we can't see or detect, something pulling the stars. That "something" had been previously named dark matter and there is a lot of it!

Discussion:

In addition to revealing groundbreaking science, author Sandra Nickel also celebrates Vera Rubin's passion for her work and how she kept going in spite of numerous obstacles, including others not understanding her work.

It is not easy to explain big concepts like galaxies and dark matter for young readers. Sandra Nickel has nailed it.

Aimée Sicuro's illustrations are out of this world. They vacillate between concrete and abstract, contrasting how grounded Vera was even when her thoughts were in the galaxies. You can see what I mean in the page spread below.

If you are a regular reader, you know how we love back matter and this book does not disappoint. It includes an Author's Note, which puts Vera's discoveries in context, a Timeline of Vera Rubin's Life, Notes about quotes used, and a Selected Bibliography for young scholars who want to delve more deeply.

The Stuff Between the Stars is sure to thrill budding astronomers. It would be perfect to accompany a trip to a planetarium, as well as for Women's History Month discussions. Gaze into a copy today!

Activity Suggestions:

    1. NASA Space place as a fun Galaxy Pinwheel to print out and make, as well as more information about what a galaxy is and more about dark matter.
    2. Galaxy jar craft:  Sandra Nickel describes the movement of stars in a galaxy as "like glitter caught in an invisible halo." Check the internet for instructions for a galaxy jar craft that involves swirling glitter in a paint-filled bottle or jar. One example at Crafty Morning.
    3. Find more biographies of Women in STEM at Science Books for Kids.

    About the Creators:

    Sandra Nickel says that story ideas are everywhere; you just have to reach out and grab them.  She holds an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her first book, Nacho’s Nachos: The Story Behind the World’s Favorite Snack, was a Golden Kite Award finalist. Sandra lives in Chexbres, Switzerland, where she blogs about children’s book writers and illustrators at whatwason.com. To learn more, visit Sandra's website.

    Twitter:  @senickel
    Facebook: @sandranickelbooks
    Instagram: @sandranickelbooks

    Aimée Sicuro is an illustrator, picture book maker, and surface pattern designer who received a BFA in Illustration from Columbus College of Art and Design. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and young sons. Visit her website to learn more.

    Twitter: @aimeesicuro
    Instagram: @aimeesicuro

    Book Trailer

    Reading age : 6 - 9 years
    Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers (March 2, 2021)
    ISBN-10 : 1419736264
    ISBN-13: 9781419736261

    A giveaway!
    One lucky winner will receive a copy of The Stuff Between the Stars courtesy of Abrams Books for Young Readers (U.S. addresses).

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Disclosure: This book was provided by Blue Slip Media 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.

Look what arrived in a box on the front porch yesterday:

 

Physical copies of my debut picture book, How to Build an Insect!

What's it about?

Calling all curious young scientists, artists and makers! Come into the workshop and find out How to Build an Insect. While you are inside, discover different insect body parts —from head to cerci — and how they go together. At the same time, explore how human body structures compare to those of insects through playful illustrations. The workshop in the book has so much to offer, once you come through the doors, you might not want to leave. Once you do, however, crank up your creativity and build your own insect model!

 

Educators know that hands-on STEAM activities reinforce learning and help youngsters develop fine motor skills. Those abilities will allow adults to perform tasks ranging from a fishermen tying flies to surgeons suturing a patient. Plus, by reading the book young readers will learn to observe, compare, and develop the vocabulary needed to classify and appreciate insects. Full STEAM ahead!

It has been a long journey to publication. I hope children enjoy reading it for years to come.

How to Build an Insect will be available to the public April 6, 2021. You can pre-order copies at the publisher Lerner Books, at our local indie bookstore, Changing Hands, or most other places books are sold.

If you'd like to take a peek at the amazing illustrations, visit Anne Lambelet’s website.

Please let me know if you have any questions or would like more information. Thanks!