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This has been a big week for new picture books, but now let's turn our attention to a incredible middle grade title that was released this week, Planet Ocean: Why We All Need a Healthy Ocean by Patricia Newman and photographs by Annie Crawley.

Planet Ocean gives a global perspective to our ocean. Patricia Newman explains that rather than five oceans, there is actually only one ocean and it covers 70 percent of our planet. It produces the water we need to drink and the oxygen we need to breathe. We all depend on it.

After introducing the importance of the ocean, the book then delves deeply into three specific and very different regions -- the Coral Triangle, the Salish Sea, and the Arctic -- before ending with the stories of young people who have profound connections with the ocean and who are advocates for saving it.

Annie Crawley is an underwater photographer and dive instructor, and her photographs in this book is breathtaking. If nothing else, the side-by-side spread of vibrant, living coral versus a bleached coral reef will make you pause. If you are interested in photography, Annie has a page of pro tips for visual storytelling in the back matter. Plus, throughout the book you will find scan codes that will allow you to use a QR reader on your phone or tablet to view additional visual content by Annie. Talk about making a book come to life!

You can see Annie's amazing work and find out more about the book in this video:

Planet Ocean is a wonderful choice for celebrating Earth Day on April 22 and World Ocean Day June 8. It will appeal to budding oceanographers, marine biologists, conservationists, and up-and-coming underwater photographers. Get involved and pick up a copy today!

Related Activity Suggestions:

Reading age : 9 - 14 years
Publisher : Millbrook Press ™ (March 2, 2021)
ISBN-10 : 1541581210
ISBN-13 : 978-1541581210

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

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Today's featured title, 13 Ways to Eat a Fly by Sue Heavenrich and illustrated by David Clark, just came out last week and already there's quite a buzz about it. Let's find out why.

This fabulous picture book puts both the S (science) and the M (math) in STEAM. And a bunch of silly A (art), too.

The story starts with a cloud of thirteen different kinds of flies.

Big flies,
small flies,
fat flies,
thinner,
Yum! These flies are someone's dinner.

As they travel through the book, the flies meet one untimely end after another as the reader learns about all the living things that rely on flies for their survival.

13 Ways to Eat a Fly has tidbits for everyone. The youngest readers will enjoy counting down the numbers. Slightly older readers will enjoy the gross and silly aspects, such as the absolutely hilarious chart of the edible parts of a fly along with a graphic listing the nutritional facts. Budding entomologists will soak up all the science, including the common and family names of each of the flies, interesting details about the predators, and an introduction to food chains. Educators will enjoy two pages of suggested books and websites in the back matter, so helpful for digging deeper.

Not sure you really want to read about icky flies? Don't worry, by the time you're done, you will be rooting for them!

Ever wondered how an author gets an idea for a book? You're in luck. This week I talked with author Sue Heavenrich by phone. Be a fly on the wall for our conversation!

You’ve written a book about insects for children. Were you interested in critters when you were young?

When I was a kid, I kept a notebook of organisms - sort of like a "life 
list" birders keep, but with animals and plants that I got to know. I
 loved to make lists: all of the kinds of squirrels found at the Grand
 Canyon; the different kinds of trees at the Girl Scout camp; what the
 black widow spider living in my window ate for breakfast (don't tell my
 mom - she still does not know about that spider!) So I am thinking it's 
not a surprise that I would begin to write a book about flies by making
 a list of flies seen in and around my garden.

That is so cool. Keeping a notebook and making lists are great tools for learning. Where did it take you?

I got my master's degree in biology working on insect behavior studies with Michael Breed at U of CO, Boulder. Two of the papers I published (My name was Susan K. Smith at the time):

  1.  In Animal Behaviour
  2.  In Physiological Entomology

It is fascinating that you studied cockroaches (I’ll have to tell you my cockroach stories some time.) Right now, I’d love to hear more about the garden you mentioned.

I have a vegetable garden. It is not so much about growing food, but it is a place to observe and learn about other living things. Definitely about the woodchucks, chipmunks, and beetles!

A few years ago I got involved with the  Great Sunflower Project, a citizen science study facilitated by Gretchen (LeBuhn). We grew sunflowers and counted the bees and other pollinators that visited. As a result, I got into gardening for bugs.

I grow plants with the aim to attract native insects and my yard has dandelions, violets, buttercups, etc. I enjoy looking closely at the insects that visit. I am especially fond of bumble bees, which are the teddy bears of the bee world.

Once I found an insect that looked like a hornet, but something was not quite right. It had two wings and the antennae looked wrong for a wasp. Turns out it was a fly that mimicked a hornet. That made me start thinking about the diversity of flies, and you guessed it, eventually led to the book.

We are thankful for that fly!
Besides in the garden, where else can we find you?

I blog about science and STEAM books at Archimedes Notebook
(archimedesnotebook.blogspot.com) and folks can visit me at my website www.sueheavenrich.com

Thank you so much for your insights and sharing your interest in flies. Maybe some day we will all have gardens for flies.

Activity Suggestion:

Start a fly or insect notebook like Sue did. This can be a paper notebook or if you are older and have a phone, you can use apps like iNaturalist.

Keep records of the flies you see. Make a list of common and scientific names. Find out more about each type of fly in books or websites like the ones listed in the book.

If you like to draw, add illustrations to your notebooks. Drawing requires close and accurate observations. It is a useful skill. You can strive for scientific accuracy and have fun like David Clark did.

If you have a camera, you might want to take photographs. I keep photographic records of the flies I see around my yard in this blog.

Think flies are bland and boring and only eat garbage? Check these out!

Bottle Flies - Family Calliphoridae (prev. post)

Fun fact:  Bottle flies pollinate specialized carrion flowers like Stapelia (previous post).

Long-legged flies (Dolichopodidae)

Fun fact:  The adult flies are beneficial in the garden because they are predators of other small insects like aphids and leafhoppers, as well as spider mites (previous post).

Crane flies (Tipulidae)

Fun fact:  Although they may superficially look like giant mosquitoes, crane flies in a completely different family. They are fragile insects, not harmful in any way (previous post).

Bee Flies (Bombyliidae)

Fun fact:  Like bees, bee flies are pollinators. They use their long mouthparts to suck up nectar from flowers (previous post).

Hover or Flower Flies (Syrphidae)

Fun fact:  Adult flower flies pollinate flowers and the larvae eat aphids. Win-win!

Featured in the book:  Mediterranean fruit fly (Tephritidae)

(Photograph by Alvesgaspar at Wikimedia)

Mediterranean fruit flies are potentially invasive pests. Some states, particularly California, have extensive monitoring programs. If even a single fly is found, they spring into action to prevent it from taking hold.

Fruit flies (Drosphilidae)

Can you tell this regular fruit fly from the Mediterranean one above? Hint:  Flies in the family Tephritidae are also sometimes called "picture-winged" flies. Let us know the differences you see in the comments.

This family of fruit flies are not in the book, but are important. The study of fruit flies has led to incredible scientific advancements in the fields of genetics and embryology.

Fun fact:  Fruit fly larvae consume fruit that is rotting or fermenting. They eat the fungi/yeasts in decaying fruit as an important source of protein ( Nature article, previous post, previous post with life cycle).

So, do you think flies are cool now?

Reading age : 4 - 8 years
Publisher : Charlesbridge (February 16, 2021)
ISBN-10 : 1580898904
ISBN-13 : 978-1580898904

Disclosure: 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.

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

For STEM Friday, we're highlighting the new board book Brilliant Baby Does Math* by Laura Gehl and illustrated by Jean Claude, part of a series at little bee books.

Using a compelling rhyme, Laura Gehl introduces young children to math concepts and vocabulary found in everyday activities.

Math is comparing what's hotter or colder, longer or shorter...younger or older

Jean Claude's brightly-colored illustrations are not only cute, but also contain much to explore. For example, ask young readers to point out the shapes they find in each scene. Some of the shapes are subtle, such as hidden in the pattern of a rug. Others are called out in the text.

Last year, I taught a STEM story time for preschoolers. I wish I had this book for the math section. The bouncy rhythm is engaging and it would have generated a lot of discussion.

Overall, Brilliant Baby Does Math isn't about how to do math, but instead is an age-appropriate introduction to what math does. Investigate a copy today!

*****

Preschooler Math Activity Suggestions:

For preschoolers, math concepts can be introduced informally during playtime. For example, add a set of durable measuring spoons and cups to your sand toy collections.

Or gather toys, such as balls, small cars, or other items to sort (unlike the photograph below, make sure they aren't all equal in number.)

Ask the child to sort the items by whatever criteria is age appropriate. For example, you might mix cars and balls, and say, "Which is a car?" Or ask, "Which cars are red?"

Once the items are sorted, expand by asking,  "Which pile has 'less' items and which has 'more'?"

If the numbers similar, say one pile has six items and the other has seven items, the child might struggle figuring it out. To help, show them how to pair items so they can see the difference visually. For example, using black @ symbols and green @ symbols:

@@@@@@
@@@@@@@

"Which line is longer?"

Don't worry if they don't catch on right away. Move onto another activity and return another day.

Over time, continue to find ways to talk about and explore the math concepts introduced in Brilliant Baby Does Math. Let me know if you'd like more suggestions.

Related:

(*Amazon Affiliate Link)

Reading age : 2 - 5 years
Publisher : little bee books (February 2, 2021)
ISBN-10 : 1499811195
ISBN-13 : 978-1499811193

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.

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