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The Princess in Black and the Case of the Coronavirus
Authors: Shannon Hale & Dean Hale
Illustrator: LeUyen Pham

Summary: The creators of the New York Times-bestselling series The Princess in Black – Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and LeUyen Pham – have created an incredibly child-friendly coronavirus public service announcement, called The Princess in Black and the Case of the Coronavirus.

From Shannon Hale: LeUyen, Dean and I are all parents self-isolating at home with our children. The anxiety and distancing is hard enough on our older kids, but we know that younger kids might be having an even harder time. We hoped that it’d help if a familiar book friend like the Princess in Black talked them through it. Even the Princess in Black is staying home! Even Princess Sneezewort had to cancel playdates! LeUyen had the idea of creating a short comic to download and share widely so caregivers could have an extra tool for talking to kids. Our goal is both to help kids understand what’s going on and to help them feel less alone.

Available for all at: https://www.princessinblack.com/download/pib-coronavirus.pdf

Thoughts: This pandemic is a time that is very confusing for kids, and I am so excited that this story exists for my son and other kids!

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**Thank you to Candlewick Press for sharing this story with us!**

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“A Man of My Word: How Wondrous Words and Wordplay Make Children’s Books Shine”

With the world turned topsy-turvy, the healing and comforting power of humor will help see us through. I hope that this guest post will provide a small measure of mirth and merriment, true tonic for these times.

As a lad, I developed a fascination with words—the bigger, the better. I began to collect them—and my collection, though not tangible like my shoeboxes full of baseball cards or my plastic dinosaur figurines—was just as highly prized. By the way, there is even a big word for big words. The word is “sesquipedalian,” and it literally means “one and a half feet long.” These are big words, after all.

My first big word was “antidisestablishmentarianism.” I took a special satisfaction in being able to spell this one at so tender an age. I could even define it. It meant “the movement against the people against the church.” While I never had occasion to use this gem in a sentence, I can recall spelling it aloud for my aunts and uncles. I would swell with pride as I nailed all twenty-eight letters. Everyone thought I was a genius. A boy wonder! But I knew better.

My next big find was one that most of you probably know: “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”—even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious. If you say it loud enough, you’ll always sound precocious. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. It is, of course, from Mary Poppins and it means “absolutely fantastic.” I loved saying this word. When I hit a three-sewer home run at stickball, it was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Yes, I loved saying this word . . . until I found out that it was made up for the show. It didn’t really exist. So that’s why I couldn’t find it in any dictionaries, try as I might! Why did the songwriters have to make up a word? Wasn’t this cheating? I mean, couldn’t they have written a song about, say, antidisestablishmentarianism? I can hear it: “Antidisestablishmentarianism—even though the sound of it renews our humanism.” Hmm.

My next marvel was the improbable “humuhumunukunukuapua’a,” a name that is bigger than the critter itself. It’s a very colorful triggerfish, found along the coral reefs of Hawaii. Now, because the Hawaiian alphabet has only twelve letters, the words sometimes get a mite repetitive. But this one was truly absurd. I encountered it while watching an episode of my favorite boyhood show—The Little Rascals. Our Gang competes in a radio audition against several performers, including a crooner singing “I Want to Go Back to My Little Grass Shack,” complete with pint-size hula girls. The song featured the lyric “where the humuhumunukunukuapua’a go swimming by.” Imagine my breathless excitement when I actually found this word in an unabridged dictionary, though it took several attempts to locate it.

Then I made the acquaintance of a forty-five-letter monster, “pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis,” a lung disease caused by the inhalation of very fine silica particles. Now that’s a mouthful—I mean, a lungful. Can you imagine a doctor diagnosing it? The patient would surely die of terror before the doctor completed the diagnosis.

My next beaut was “floccinaucinihilipilification,” which means “estimating something as worthless.” It was the longest word in the Oxford English Dictionary until “pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis” eclipsed it in the second edition. The first recorded use of this word was in 1741 in the sentence “I loved him for nothing so much as his floccinaucinihilipilification of money.” Indeed! And this corker of a word made it into the Congressional Record in 1999, when Senator Jesse Helms proclaimed his floccinaucinihilipilification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.

My love affair with words deepened dramatically when I stumbled upon a complete, ten-volume set of the Oxford Universal English Dictionary on Historical Principles in the incinerator room of my grandmother’s apartment building in Brooklyn. Someone had discarded this precious trove. Imagine that! My Old World grandmother couldn’t quite understand why I refused to give her one measly volume, sharing the bounty. After all, I had ten! It was divided into A–Bro, Bro–Dec, Dec–Fit . . . and, of course, it was inseparable—and so was I, with it. How I treasured my dictionary! I took to reading it nightly, and I proudly, perhaps insufferably, flaunted the new additions to my vocabulary.

So it was only natural that I would pour my lifelong love of words and wordplay into my children’s books. I’ve made a point of introducing unfamiliar, though kid-friendly, words to young readers while also giving them a spoonful of wordplay. My brand-new children’s book, The True Story of Zippy Chippy: The Little Horse That Couldn’t, a heart-tugging, inspiring picture-book biography of a fabled racehorse, lovingly illustrated by Dave Szalay, enjoys a rich and rewarding vocabulary, with a large dollop of wordplay. Among the marvelous words you’ll find are “wafting,” “hapless,” “rambunctious,” “shenanigans,” “emblazoned,” “nuzzled,” “ballyhooed,” “heyday,” “vanquishing,” “zaniest,” and more, colorful words not often found in a picture book. These are words that are fun to say and they enrich the story of the beloved horse who ran 100 races and lost every one. And delicious, understated wordplay abounds. “Zippy bridled at the change,” “his losses continued to mount,” “to add a little horsepower,” “a running joke” are but a few examples.

Here are a few pages:

The inimitable Dr. Seuss coined scores of fantastic words, from “bar-ba-loots” to “zummers.” He, of course, gave us the term “grinch” and is credited with the first use of the word “nerd,” a creature from If I Ran the Zoo. His antic use of language makes his books so unforgettable. They resonate with parent and child alike, generation after generation. And they unleash readers.

I’m a great exponent of stretching youngsters’ vocabularies. They can puzzle out unfamiliar words within the story’s context. And if they’re flummoxed, they can always turn to a dictionary for assistance. My hope is that they will make these words their own as they develop a deep appreciation for language’s playful possibilities. The more words we know, the better we can communicate, the sharper our thinking will be, and the more equipped we’ll be for life’s challenges.

I regularly hear from educators and librarians about how my books never tarry on the shelves and how they show students how much fun a book can be. A great deal of this has to do with their exuberant use of language. Also, I’ve been blessed to have such talented illustrators with complementary senses of humor.

My “number two” picture book, Poopendous!, one of my five picture books in verse, has a portmanteau-word title that’s immensely fun to say. It’s a book that revels in humor and wordplay and is filled with joyful facts. I love asking students at my school appearances if the word “poopendous” can be found in the dictionary. And if not, how could I possibly use it for my title. Their responses never fail to delight me. The introductory couplet sets the stage for the inspired wackiness to come:

I’m Professor Pip Poopdeck. Welcome aboard!
We’re exploring a substance that most have ignored.
An icky-poo subject folks don’t care to visit.
Quite putrid and shocking and horrid . . . or is it?

Here are a few images from this fun book:

In Peter Panda Melts Down!, my first storybook, we meet a tantrum-tossing cub whose mama is struggling to avoid the mother of all meltdowns herself. I experimented with the use of a refrain, and surprise variations along the way. The refrain has an interactive element that pulls youngsters into the story. And it has some delightful, fanciful words as well. Here are a couple images:

Belches, Burps, and Farts—Oh My!, whose title pays homage to a hilarious song from The Wizard of Oz, has more than its share of verbal merriment, as well as a panoply of incredible facts, all in a verse format. What sound do overly gassy cows make when they explode? Why, “cow-boom!” of course. And I was thrilled to work the word “nincompoops” into a couplet. One of my choicest nuggets can be found in this verse:

Can you belch your ABCs?
Demonstrate your ex-burp-tise!

A very recent picture book, What’s Afoot! Your Complete, Offbeat Guide to Feet, published by a spanking-new startup publisher, boasts a punny title and a footload of humor. And like Belches, it features a two-page fact spread filled with amazing information. It begins with this amusing, pun-packed passage:

Dip your toes in.
Let’s explore
the world of feet.
Yes, FEET galore!
Your knowledge soon will be complete
when you . . .
get in step with all these feet!

Here is a sampling:

What I like to refer to as my first “mature” work, The Butt Book, which was modeled after Dr. Seuss’s The Foot Book, The Eye Book, and The Tooth Book, is a tongue-in-cheeks tribute to the posterior. It also has challenging words like “juts,” “zeal,” and the Shakespearean “perchance,” all, though, easily understood in context. Since we don’t have that many j and z words, I’m happy to introduce one of each, little words yet big ones. I recall tussling with my editor over including some possibly unfamiliar words. I dug in my heels and she eventually softened. While The Butt Book is teeming with humor, I’m most proud of the stirring finale, which culminates in this fun farewell flurry:

So respect your butt and listen, folks.
It must not be the butt of jokes.
Bottoms up! Hip, hip, hooray!
Our useful butts are here to stay.
Don’t undercut your butt, my friend.
Your butt will thank you in  . . . The End.

Here a few select spreads:

Thank you, Unleashing Readers, for the opportunity to share a word or two about me and my books! It’s been quite supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Illustrated by Dave Szalay
Published February 25th, 2020 by NorthSouth Books

About the Book: A true story about the famed racehorse who lost every race but won everyone’s heart.

The bell rings and they’re off! Zippy the racehorse—descended from legends—is destined for glory, but when the other horses bolt from the gate . . . Zippy stands still. When people try to pet him . . . he bites their hats and escapes from his stall. What’s an owner to do? Keep on trying! After all, Zippy has become part of Felix’s family—and a close friend of his little daughter. And after 100 straight losses, Zippy shows everyone that—win, lose, or draw—it takes guts to compete and that you can lose and lose and still be a winner. 


About the Author: Artie Bennett is an executive copy editor by day and a writer by night. He is the author of an inspiring picture-book biography of a hapless, though beloved, horse: The True Story of Zippy Chippy: The Little Horse That Couldn’t. He is also the author of a quintet of hilarious rhyming picture books: The Butt Book, his first “mature” work and winner of the Reuben Award; Poopendous!, his “number two” picture book; Peter Panda Melts Down!, an adorable departure from derrières and doo; the explosively funny Belches, Burps, and Farts—Oh My!; and his latest, What’s Afoot! Your Complete, Offbeat Guide to Feet, which is guaranteed to knock your socks off. And if that’s not enough, he’s the author of two riotous joke and riddle books: The Universe’s Greatest Dinosaur Jokes and Pre-Hysteric Puns and The Universe’s Greatest School Jokes and Rip-Roaring Riddles.

He and his wife, Leah, live deep in the bowels of Brooklyn, New York, where he spends his time moving his car to satisfy the rigorous demands of alternate-side-of-the-street parking and shaking his fist at his neighbors. The Show Me Librarian says: “Bennett’s use of rhyme is excellent; his stanzas flow and exude joviality in a manner that few writers since Dr. Seuss have truly mastered. Simply put, these books are a joy.” The Huffington Post says: “It appears there is no topic Mr. Bennett can’t make funny and educational.” Visit ArtieBennett.com . . . before someone else does!

Thank you, Artie, for sharing all of this fun word play!

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In My Heart
Author: Mackenzie Porter
Illustrator: Jenny Løvlie
Published March 10, 2020 by Little Simon

Goodreads Summary: A working mother reassures her child that even when they’re apart, they’re always in each other’s hearts. This lovely board book is perfect for moms to share with their little ones.

Though we’re not together
we’re never truly apart,
because you’re always on my mind
and you’re always in my heart.

This is what a mother tells her child as she leaves for work each day. This lovely board book perfectly captures the sentiment that many women feel about being a working mom. The lyrical text takes us through a mother’s day away, showing us that although she’s working hard, her child is always on her mind and always in her heart.

Ricki’s Review: This book really hit me in the gut. I couldn’t read it without crying. I have a lot of mom guilt related to my status as a working mom. I genuinely believe that it is best for my kids, yet I struggle with the emotions that come with this decision. This book was as much for my kids as it was for me. There are many books that address concepts like going to school or learning to meet new people, but this is the first book that I’ve read that addresses the concept of working moms (particularly at this age level). I will cherish this book and read it to my children again and again.

Kellee’s Review: As a working mom, mom guilt is real. It is hard when I cannot come and be a reader in Trent’s class every time or be part of all celebrations in his classroom, but I also love working; however, there are very few books that reinforce the normality of this situation. As Simon & Schuster shares, 70% of moms are working moms, so there are so many of us that need this book to read to our children to explain that work is part of our life but that they get the opportunity to be in an awesome school situation while we are doing a job we love and need. And no matter what we love them! The author and illustrator do a great job of showing that balance. Thank you to them both for bringing this book to life!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Ricki is purchasing an extra copy of this book for her kids’ daycare/preschool. It is a great book for early childhood educators to use. Children might draw pictures of the emotions that they experience before, during, and after reading this book.

Discussion Questions: How do you feel when your parent goes to work? Why? What might you do to cope with these feelings?

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Read This If You Loved: The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn; Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney; Stella Luna by Janell Cannon

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Rosie: Stronger Than Steel
Author and Illustrator: Lindsay Ward
Expected Publication: April 1st, 2020 by Two Lions

Summary: A brave tractor farms for freedom in a story inspired by women who acted with courage and strength in American factories and on British farms during World War II.

This is our Rosie,
stronger than steel.
She’ll plow all the land
with a turn of her wheel.

Built by women in the United States and sent to England to dig and plow alongside female farmers during World War II, Rosie the tractor does whatever is needed to support the war effort. She works day and night to help grow crops for the troops…even when she has to hide in the fields. This is because she knows, like the women who built her and the women who farm with her, that they all must do their part.

Inspired by the group of American women collectively known as “Rosie the Riveter” and the British Women’s Land Army, this is a story about taking action and coming together for the greater good.

About the Author: Lindsay Ward is the creator of the Dexter T. Rexter series as well as This Book Is Gray, Brobarians, Rosco vs. the Baby, and The Importance of Being 3. Her book Please Bring Balloons was also made into a play. Lindsay lives with her family  in Peninsula, Ohio, where she often sees tractors from the 1930s and 1940s. Learn more about her online at www.lindsaymward.com. Twitter: @lindsaymward

Praise: 

★“More than the sum of its parts, this is a wildly successful and well-researched shaping of the picture-book form to true historical sheroes.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

★“This ‘little tractor that could’ sort of tale pays tribute to the iconic Rosie the Riveter persona from the US and the British Land Girls of the Women’s Land Army during WWII. Fans of Loren Long’s Otis, Virginia Lee Burton’s Katy, and like sturdy, dependable workhorses will welcome Rosie into the fold, but the historical perspective adds an unusual dimension to her story.” —Booklist (starred review)

“Vocabulary is rich, and the younger set will appreciate the intermittent rhymes. The style of Ward’s colored pencil and cut-paper illustrations reflect the period of the tale. ” —School Library Journal

Review: During World War II, our students’ lessons usually focus on the war itself and the horrific events because of the war, but there was so much more going on to ensure that our countries continued to run while all of our armed forces were at war. We don’t often enough hear about how women were essential to this effort, and Rosie shows us another side to this. Rosie represents not only the tractors made by women who helped keep our plants and crops healthy and edible, but she represents all women that stepped up to do jobs that before then they had been told they were not good enough for. This story, beautifully crafted and illustrated by Lindsay Ward, is a call for strength whenever faced with unprecedented times.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Rosie is a great addition to history lessons about World War II and the home front efforts of women. Her story is also a great read aloud–maybe during Women’s History Month, or whenever!

Discussion Questions: 

  • Did you know anything about what happened on the home front before reading Rosie?
  • How does Rosie the tractor represent the women’s work on the home front?
  • How does Rosie impact the war effort?
  • What does the Rose on her body represent?
  • What is the theme of Rosie?
  • Why do you think the author wrote the book from Rosie’s point of view in first person?

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Read This If You Love: Historical fiction picture books, Learning about history

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**Thank you to Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review and giveaway!**

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“Learning STEM Through Stories”

Germs. Colds. The importance of hand washing. What better way to convey these concepts to kids than through picture books? After all, anything too small for our bare eyes seems unreal, especially to kids. Picture books that educate kids about germs, and how they can protect themselves from getting colds and other illnesses, are important. Kids rarely encounter information, though, about bacteria that benefit humans and other living beings.

The first time I heard about some unusual beneficial bacteria—such as those that make deserts more fertile—was while teaching biotech courses at a community college. I was then also bringing to life an idea from my own student days, when I relied on bacteria as a research tool in a molecular biology lab. With their interesting features, such as taking up other species’ DNA and producing foreign proteins, bacteria seemed the ideal subjects of jokes for science students and scientists. To make them cartoon-worthy, I also planned to give the aspiring bacteria much-needed words and goofy faces.

But after including a few cartoons in a short-lived biotech newsletter at the community college, I wanted to move beyond bacteria in-jokes. I couldn’t help thinking that kids, too, might love to read and learn about the diverse beneficial bacteria that do many amazing things, such as produce food, decrease pollution, and make snow.

Teaching Science with Picture Books

Teachers are nowadays finding little time to teach science in schools. Recent statistics aren’t encouraging— according to the Report of the 2018 National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education (NSME+),  only 17% of K-3 grades receive science instruction on all or most days of the school year. In self-contained classrooms (where one teacher teaches reading, mathematics, science, and social sciences to one class of students), K-3 grades spend an average of 18 minutes per day on science. In a world where STEM permeates our lives more than ever, and promises many career options, such meager student involvement in sciences is concerning.

Time constraints greatly limit teachers’ approaches to science instruction. Engaging hands-on activities, such as experiments, require considerable time to prepare and perform. Yet even finding the time for hands-on activities may be insufficient for comprehensive science instruction. Some science topics are difficult, if not impossible, to teach through classroom experiments or demonstrations—including ecology—the study of plants and animals (and other organisms) in natural environments. Most beneficial bacteria are also unsuitable for hands-on study. Though some classrooms may have the resources to grow common (and harmless) microbes on a Petri dish, many beneficial bacteria require special growth conditions that scientist have yet to discover.

Despite the obstacles, some teachers are delivering complex science topics to kids. By introducing science-themed picture books to classrooms, and developing activities around picture book readings, teachers are simultaneously satisfying science and reading requirements for their K-3 grade students. Unsurprisingly, many of these picture books are nonfiction.

Yet fiction picture books with scientific themes are also finding their way into classrooms. Students have different learning styles and interests, and some prefer fiction. Taking this into consideration, educators Melissa Stewart and Nancy Chesley have identified fiction and nonfiction picture books with related themes. They’ve then designed engaging science lessons around selected fiction/nonfiction book pairs, as described in their “Perfect Pairs” books. Not only do their classroom-friendly lessons cover a wide range of scientific topics—they appeal to many students, as well.

Hybrid Picture Books: STEM Fiction

The line between fiction and nonfiction isn’t always solid, at least in children’s books. When nonfiction seeps into science-themed fiction books, such books may be described as “hybrids.”

In some hybrid books, anthropomorphized characters “explain themselves” through scientific facts. In “I, Fly: The Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are,” by Bridget Heos and Jennifer Plecas, the main character is a charismatic and undervalued fly. Page after page, the fly glorifies members of its species to a classroom of kids—who were preparing to study the more beautiful butterflies instead. Readers learn intriguing (and gross) facts about flies from the funny fly character, as it brushes the “lazy” butterflies aside.

Other hybrid books introduce scientific concepts through captivating stories, with few, if any, scientific facts quoted in the story itself. In “Scampers Thinks Like a Scientist,” by Mike Allegra and Elizabeth Zechel, the scientific method—a basic and rather dry concept—is explained through the creative problem-solving efforts of mouse Scampers. After a strange owl suddenly appears and deters Scampers and her fellow mice from feasting in their favorite garden, Scampers determines to find the (scientific) truth about the unwelcome, and possibly dangerous, newcomer.

While the value of using nonfiction picture books in science instruction is hardly questionable, scrutiny surrounds science-themed fiction and hybrid picture books. Can students truly learn from such books? How will they figure what’s fiction, and what’s not? And finally, how to label emerging science-themed hybrid books, which combine fiction with nonfiction? Categorizing these books and ensuring they’re easily found on library shelves is a challenge for librarians, too.

These questions were pondered last year in a lively Twitter discussion, when educator and writer Melissa Stewart suggested a name for science-themed hybrid literature: STEM fiction. As a trained scientist, I’ve also asked similar questions while writing my book, “Esie Explores Beneficial Bacteria.”  Yet teachers who include fiction or hybrid books in science lessons believe in the benefits of this literature, providing that students also read nonfiction books, and participate in classroom discussions to distinguish fact from fiction. How can authors of STEM fiction books facilitate learning in classrooms, as they strive to create stories that both entertain and educate?

Emphasizing the Facts in STEM Fiction

The title of my STEM fiction picture book, Esie Explores Beneficial Bacteria, is clear about the book’s topic—beneficial bacteria—which exist all around us, and enable life on our planet. The story and illustrations, though, are fiction—exploress Esie is a bacterium. After suffering insults from frightened humans, she embarks on a journey to learn more about herself. Along the way, Esie meets chatty bacteria who help answer her key question—Is she a beneficial bacterium, or a dangerous germ?

To create an engaging story, I’ve taken major liberties in depicting beneficial bacteria. The anthropomorphized bacterial characters are exaggerated in size and life span. Yet there are some truths in my interpretation of bacteria. Bacteria do “talk” with each other, but use chemicals instead of words. Bacteria do “see” their surroundings, but rely on senses other than eyes.

STEM fiction authors, such as Heos and Allegra, often complement their stories with scientific facts and activities in the back matter of their books. Some authors also include facts on other book pages, though keeping the facts separate from the story, as in “A Germ’s Journey,” by Thom Rooke, MD, and Tony Trimmer. To distinguish fact from fiction, and provide educational value—without diminishing enjoyment of the story—I, too, have included several features in Esie Explores Beneficial Bacteria:

  1. Front matter. Before immersing themselves in the story, readers can learn what’s fact, and what’s fiction. Addressed here are the most exaggerated elements of the story—bacterial communication, senses, size, and lifespan. Reading this section, though, is not required for comprehension of the story.
  2. Back matter. In addition to a glossary of scientific terms and an activity page, my back matter contains a “Cast of Characters,” which relates fictional characters to real-life bacterial species.
  3. One scientific fact per footer. The bottom portion of almost every page features a scientific fact, contained within a distinct purple band. Though each fact relates to bacterial characters shown on the same page, reading of facts is optional.
  4. Moderate use of scientific terminology in the story. To avoid overwhelming kids with too many new words, I’ve balanced the use of some “big” words, such as “beneficial,” with omission of other scientific terms. For example, I opted for “dangerous” instead of “pathogenic,” when referring to bacteria that cause disease.
  5. Clarification of scientific terminology in the story. Though defined in the glossary, some scientific terms are also explained in the story to avoid interruptions in reading.
  6. Limits on anthropomorphization. Bacterial characters sport no clothes nor any other human artifacts. On the book cover, main character Esie uses a water droplet for magnification, instead of a miniature magnifying glass.
  7. Simple artistic representation of the environment. Bacterial characters were deliberately over-sized with respect to their environment. This helps kids identify objects that bacteria encounter in nature, such as leaves, petals, and sand—as opposed to an unrecognizable microscopic view. Yet in an effort to limit size discrepancies, I kept the scenes simple—they contain few objects, and hardly any signs of human life.

By no means should STEM fiction books compete with nonfiction books in K-3 education. Like people, different books play different roles. With thoughtful design, though, STEM fiction books can do much more than merely entertain—they can draw in young readers to explore unfamiliar worlds, and serve as a valuable introduction to various scientific concepts and topics.

About the Book: Esie leaves her twin Es behind to explore a world teeming with beneficial bacteria. Could she be one of them? Or is Esie just a nasty germ, as some people say? On her rugged journey through air, water, and a cow’s guts, Esie meets new friends who help her find the answers she seeks.

“Kids that love science-themed books filled with fascinating facts will surely get a kick out of this one.” -The Children’s Book Review

About the Author: S. Kitanovic, PhD, became fascinated by microbes as a biology student, and later explored how bacteria “sniff out” their food in a lab at the University of Utah. She enjoys merging science, drawing, and storytelling in picture books to bring the fun of science to young audiences.

What do you think? Do you use or plan to use STEM fiction books to teach science?

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I Like Animals…What Jobs Are There?
Author: Steve Martin
Illustrator: Roberto Blefari
Published March 1st, 2020 by Kane Miller Books

Summary: What do you want to do when you grow up? Children who love animals can find out all about potential future careers, from veterinarian to zookeeper to pet portrait artist, as they’re taken through a “day in the life” of 25 different animal workers.

Praise: 

Review: This book was written for so many kids out there! If any of you are librarians or teachers, you know how popular nonfiction animal books are. There are so few kids out there that don’t love animals! My son is one of those kids that adores animals and already says that he wants to be a zoologist and work with turtles, so when I saw this book, I knew I had to get it for him. What I love about the book (and the series I hope it is!) is that it gives options that kids may not know they have. Trent’s first thought for working with animals is working at a zoo, but there is so much more than that which he can choose from.

Each job’s section is really well done! It is written in first person from the point of view of the professional and includes fun yet truthful information, including the best and worst parts. Then, in the back, there is a flow map that helps kids see which job might be their perfect match, and there’s even back matter with more jobs. What a way to open up a kid’s imagination for the future!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: My first thought was that this book could be an awesome mentor text for creating a similar type pamphlet. Students could pick something like sports, technology, children, etc. and make a pamphlet about what jobs are out there. This would be a great research project.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Before reading: What jobs do you know of that include working with animals?; After reading: Add to the list.
  • Which job do you think would work the best with your personality and work ethic?
  • Any jobs that you are interested in that weren’t in the book?
  • Why do you think the author chose to write each section in 1st person?
  • Why do you think the author wrote this book?
  • Compare/contrast two of the jobs in the book.

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Read This If You Love: Aninimals

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**Thank you to Lynn at Kane Miller for providing a copy for review!**

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Eat the Cake
Author: M. H. Clark
Illustrator: Jana Glatt
Published February 1, 2020 by Compendium

Summary:It’s your day to be wild and fearless and free. It’s your day for becoming the next thing you’ll be. Though today is your party, it doesn’t stop here–it should keep right on going and last you all year.

Roll out the streamers, blow up the balloons, and celebrate all the great things that are coming your way! With its colorful cast of characters, delightfully detailed illustrations, and playful rhymes, this festive book will ignite good feelings for birthdays and any occasion where cake is appropriate. (And cake is always appropriate!) A fun and joyfilled gift for anyone ages 5 to 105. Features a hardcover with embossing.

Review: We all need to celebrate ourselves! This book gives readers the perfect excuse to do so! This is a very motivational text that reminds readers all of the reasons that they should be proud and happy to be themselves. Readers will come away from this book wanting to try new things and go to new places. This book would make a WONDERFUL gift to readers of all ages. Folks tend to buy the Oh, the Places You’ll Go book, but Eat the Cake offers something new and fresh (and something that another relative might not buy!). 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: If I was still teaching K-12 and had the means to do so, I would buy this book for every single one of my students at graduation. It would make a wonderful read aloud for the last day. I don’t think I could read this to my exiting students without crying! I will be purchasing this treasure for my graduate assistants. 🙂

Book Spreads! Book Spreads!:

Read This If You Loved: Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss, Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast by Josh Funk, Inspirational Books

Recommended For:

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**Thank you to Compendium for providing a copy for review!!**

And we conclude with a PARTY!:

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