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Astronaut, Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact
Author: Jennifer Swanson
Foreword by Fabien Cousteau and Kathryn D. Sullivan
Published January 9th, 2018 by National Geographic Society

Summary: Journey from the deepest trenches in the oceans to the farthest humans have ventured into space and learn what it takes to explore the extremes. You might just be surprised by how similar the domains of ASTRONAUTS and AQUANAUTS really are.

Space and the ocean. If you don’t think they go together, think again! Both deep-sea and space explorers have to worry about pressure, temperature, climate, and most importantly, how to survive in a remote and hostile environment. Join us on an amazing journey as we go up in space with astronauts and dive deep down in the ocean with aquanauts to explore the far-off places of our planet and the solar system.

With a strong tie into STEM topics–such as making connections, making comparisons, and recognizing patterns across content areas–readers will discover the amazing science and incredible innovations that allow humans (and sometimes only machines) to survive in these harsh environments.

Review: First, I want to share this image because it is one of my favorites ever, and I want a poster of it for Trent’s room!

I love the idea of this book! First, from a personal point of view: my son loves animals and space, so this is a perfect book for him. We didn’t read word for word together, but we spent hours over the last couple of weeks flipping through the book, looking at different spreads, reading parts of the book, and answering any questions that Trent had. Also, from a educator point of view: this text is so full of information told in such an interesting way with fun facts, activities, and so much fascinating information! Swanson did a beautiful job making connections between the two professions and scientists and giving equal looks into both. And since the book is for middle grade students, it is essential for it to be written in a way that will be intriguing to readers, and this book is definitely that!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Throughout the book there are questions that can lead to inquiry (see below) and many topics that are introduced that could be further researched. Additionally, there are a few activities throughout such as one on submersibles, docking the ISS, and design your own space suit. The book is also set up for comparing and contrasting looking at exploration in both space and the sea and how they differ and overlap.

Discussion Questions: The text is FILLED with books that can lead to phenomenal discussions or inquiry projects such as

  • How does studying the topography of the ocean floor help us understand the space?
  • Why is it important for astronauts to train underwater?
  • What does it feel like during blastoff?
  • What is it like to live in space/under water for a long time?
  • Why and how do we explore?
  • How can studying the ocean help astronauts better understand conditions in space?
  • What can space teach us about the ocean?

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Read This If You Love: Space travel, Science, Marine biology

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**Thank you to the author for providing a copy for review!**

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Gods and Heroes
Author: Korwin Briggs
Published August 21, 2018 by Workman

GoodReads Summary: Meet the Original Superheroes.

Before there was Batman, Wonder Woman, or Black Panther…there was Indra, Hindu king of gods, who battled a fearsome snake to save the world from drought. Athena, the powerful Greek goddess of wisdom who could decide the fate of battles before they even began. Okuninushi, the Japanese hero who defeated eighty brothers to become king and then traded it all for a chance at immortality.

Featuring more than 70 characters from 23 cultures around the world, this A-to-Z encyclopedia of mythology is a who’s who of powerful gods and goddesses, warriors and kings, enchanted creatures and earthshaking giants whose stories have been passed down since the beginning of time—and are now given fresh life for a new generation of young readers.

Plus, You’ll Learn All About:
Dragons: The Hydra, St. George’s Dragon, and the Australian Rainbow Snake
Giants: Grendel, Balor of the Evuil Eye, Polyphemus, and the Purusha with the thousand heads
Monsters: Manticore, Sphinx, Minotaur, Thunderbird, and Echidne, mother of the Nemean lion that nearly killed Heracles
Underworlds: Travel to Hades, Valhalla, and the Elysian Fields

Review: I always enjoy Workman books. The offer nonfiction information in a way that is fun and engaging. My four-year-old loved this book (even though most of it was a bit over his head). I’d recommend this book for the targeted audience (grades 3-7), but I think younger and older kids would really enjoy it (I know I did!). There are a diverse set of gods and heroes within this story, and they don’t originate from one culture, which I liked a lot. My son seemed to love the Greek/Roman gods the most, so those are the ones that we’ve read so far. We read about a different god/hero each night, and we’ve been going strong for about two weeks. We look forward to reading these stories each night. It makes for a fantastic bedtime routine.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might ask each student to pick a different god or hero and present it to the class. I’d encourage students to choose a god/hero that interests them, and I think this onus would help students get excited about their presentations!

Discussion Questions: Which heroine/hero did you enjoy the most? Why?; Did you notice any similarities across cultural heroes? Differences? Which hero would you want to learn more about?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Mythology, Gods, Heroes, History

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**Thank you to Diana at Workman for providing a copy for review!**

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Eavesdropping on Elephants: How Listening Helps Conservation
Author: Patricia Newman
Published August 1st, 2018 by Millbrook Press

Summary: Deep in the Central African Republic, forest elephants trumpet and rumble along with the forest’s symphony. And scientists are listening.

Scientist Katy Payne started Cornell University’s Elephant Listening Project to learn more about how forest elephants communicate and what they’re saying. But the project soon grew to be about so much more.

Poaching, logging, mining, and increasing human populations threaten the survival of forest elephants. Katy and other members of the Elephant Listening Project’s team knew they needed to do something to protect these majestic animals. By eavesdropping on elephants, the Elephant Listening Project is doing its part to save Africa’s forest elephants and preserve the music in the forest.

About the Author: Patricia Newman has a passion for uncovering fascinating aspects about our world and crafting books that lead children on an adventure of discovery. She gravitates toward stories about animals and conservation science and enjoys sharing her excitement with readers. Books include Sibert Honor title Sea Otter Heroes: The Predators That Saved an Ecosystem; Junior Library Guild Selection Eavesdropping on Elephants; Bank Street College Best Book Zoo Scientists to the Rescue; Booklist Editor’s Choice Ebola: Fears and Facts; and Green Earth Book Award winner Plastic, Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. She frequently speaks at schools, libraries, and conferences about writing and conservation. Visit her at www.patriciamnewman.com.

Praise: 

“…this book does an excellent job of transporting readers and providing a clear, multifaceted picture of African forest elephants…The more you listen to wildlife, the more your mind opens up to new ideas about why the world is a place worth saving… VERDICT: A great pick for middle school nonfiction collections.” —School Library Journal

“Fascinating for earnest conservationists.” —Kirkus Reviews

Review: I am never disappointed when I read a Patricia Newman book. Each of her books are filled with fascinating information told in a way that will make any reader feel the passion that Newman obviously feels about her topics.

Her newest, Eavesdropping on Elephants, takes it to a whole new level! Not only does the book still include informational and narrative nonfiction, sidebars, glossaries, and classroom connections all well-researched and interesting, but it also includes QR codes (or links if you do not have a QR reader) to actually see and/or hear the elephants that are being discussed in the book. This really makes the book come to life in a way that I haven’t seen before.

Like all of her books, by the end I wanted to talk to people about what I read, wanted to go make a difference, and wanted to keep learning. If this isn’t a testament to how good her nonfiction is then I don’t know what is.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: “Consider an Authors for Earth Day visit in conjunction with Eavesdropping on Elephants. Students research a list of five conservation nominees selected by Patricia Newman and then vote for their favorite. Newman writes a check to the winning organization. The mission? To empower young readers to shape the world around them!”  –https://www.patriciamnewman.com/books/eavesdropping-on-elephants/ 

Research, reading, and writing activities for the classroom in conjunction with Eavesdropping on Elephants can be found on Patricia Newman’s Elephants Pinterest Board!

I, personally, am going to use Newman’s texts in my passion project research unit this year. I’m going to use her texts to show mentor texts of a nonfiction picture book and students are going to make their own nonfiction book or video. I also hope to have my lunch book club read Newman’s books as one of their month choices.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How do the videos/recordings help with the understanding of the book?
  • What is a keystone species? And how are the forest elephants a keystone species of their habitat?
  • What is the difference between ultrasound and infrasound? What does this have to do with elephants?
  • What figurative journey did Katy take to finally make it to Africa to study elephants in the wild?
  • What did the scientists learn by listening to the elephants?
  • Why are elephants’ ears the shape that they are?
  • How is what Katy did with elephant sounds similar to a dictionary?
  • How are humans a threat to forest elephants?
  • What did Teagan Yardley do when she learned about these threats?

Book Trailer: 

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Nonfiction about animals, Nonfiction titles by Patricia Newman

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**Thank you to Lerner Publishing and Patricia for providing a copy for review!**

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As I receive and read picture books, I put aside books that I hope to get to write a post about; however, my pile has gotten so big because of all of the amazing books coming out, that I cannot give them each their own post. So every once in a while I do a picture book round up, and today I am happy to share some of my recent favorite nonfiction reads (Friday I will share fiction titles). Please know that putting these in a round-up does not lower their value! They are all ones that I recommend and loved!

Cute as an Axolotl: Discovering the World’s Most Adorable Animals
Author: Jess Keating
Illustrator: David DeGrand
Published August 28th, 2018 by Alfred A. Knopf for Young Readers

Summary: “Cats of Instagram” meets National Geographic in this hilarious picture book about nature’s cutest weirdos from the author of Pink Is for Blobfish!

The Internet pretty much runs on cute animal photos, but “cute” is so much more than clickbait kittens and insta-pups. Cute is for feathery-gilled axolotls (pronounced: ax-uh-LOT-ulz), shy pygmy hippos, poisonous blue dragons, and armored pangolins. All of these animals are cute, but they’ve also adapted remarkable ways to survive in their unique environments.

With her signature blend of humor and zoological know-how, Pink Is for Blobfish author Jess Keating shows how cute animals can be more than just a pretty face in this latest installment of the World of Weird Animals.

My Thoughts: I love how Jess Keating finds a topic like bright colors or cuteness then shares some of the weirdest and most wonderful creatures, but she doesn’t stop at just that, she includes tons of information about the animals accompanied by a beautiful photograph and fun facts and illustrations. Keating is quickly becoming one of my favorite animal nonfiction picture book authors.

Dinosaurs: A Shine-A-Light Book
Author: Sara Hurst
Illustrator: Lucy Cripps
Published 2018 by Kane Miller Books

Summary: Explore a world that existed millions of years before people lived on the Earth, when extraordinary animals roamed the land. From the fierce Tyrannosaurus rex to the birdlike Compsognathus, the hidden wonders of the dinosaur world are revealed.

My Thoughts: Shine-a-Light books take a topic that is already interesting and adds an interactive aspect to the book. Every book from this series has been a book that Trent loves, and this one is no exception. Each page shares information about different dinosaurs and some of the animals that lives with dinosaurs. I really liked that the authors didn’t dumb down the book, including scientific names and information. All with things hidden behind the page that can only seen when you shine a light.

A Bunch of Punctuation
Poems Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Illustrator: Serge Bloch
Published August 7th, 2018 by Wordsong

Summary: Selected by noted anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins, this collection of all-new poems is written from the points of view of personality-filled punctuation marks, and is a memorable introduction to grammar for children ages 7-12.

In this land of punctuation, the exclamation mark is a superhero who tells a story chock-full of bops and bams, the comma lets you pause to enjoy the weather, and the period is where you must come to a full stop–or else the Grammar Police will get you. With humor and imagination, A Bunch of Punctuation makes it easy to remember the jobs of the various punctuation marks. Award-winning poet and anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins has compiled a unique collection of poems featuring brand-new works by well-known poets, accompanied by inventive artwork by illustrator Serge Bloch.

My Thoughts: Lee Bennett Hopkins poetry anthologies always exceed my expectations which is impressive since the bar is higher and higher each time I read one. And this one is about punctuation, and it is still so well done! I, personally, am so excited to use these poems when I do my grammar & punctuation unit with my journalism class–it’ll add a little bit of humor and poetry to the unit.

P is for Pterodactyl*
*The Word Alphabet Book Ever**

**All the letters that misbehave and make words nearly impossible to pronounce
Authors: Raj Haldar & Chris Carpenter
Illustrator: Maria Beddia
Publication Date: November 6th, 2018 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Summary: From wacky words to peculiar pronunciations, get kids excited about language with this unconventional alphabet book from Raj Haldar (aka Lushlife).

Turning the traditional idea of an alphabet book on its head, P is for Pterodactyl is perfect for anyone who has ever been stumped by silent letters or confused by absurd homophones. This whimsical, unique book takes silent letter entries like “K is for Knight” a step further with “The noble knight’s knife nicked the knave’s knee.” Lively illustrations provide context clues, and alliterative words help readers navigate text like “a bright white gnat is gnawing on my gnocchi” with ease. Everyone from early learners to grown-up grammarians will love this wacky book where “A is for Aisle” but “Y is definitely not for Why.”

My Thoughts: This book probably cracked me up more than it should have! I immediately started reading it out loud to my family because it is just so good! I always talk about what a complicated language English is, and I remind my students learning English of the same thing, and this book literally illustrates this. With words like knot, ewe, you, and mnemonic, this is an alphabet book that is different than others out there.

Turning Pages: My Life Story
Author: Sonia Sotomayor
Illustrator: Lulu Delacre
Publication Date: September 4th, 2018 by Philomel

Summary: Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor tells her own story for young readers for the very first time!

As the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor has inspired young people around the world to reach for their dreams. But what inspired her? For young Sonia, the answer was books! They were her mirrors, her maps, her friends, and her teachers. They helped her to connect with her family in New York and in Puerto Rico, to deal with her diabetes diagnosis, to cope with her father’s death, to uncover the secrets of the world, and to dream of a future for herself in which anything was possible.

In Turning Pages, Justice Sotomayor shares that love of books with a new generation of readers, and inspires them to read and puzzle and dream for themselves. Accompanied by Lulu Delacre’s vibrant art, this story of the Justice’s life shows readers that the world is full of promise and possibility–all they need to do is turn the page.

My Thoughts: Reading about Sonia Sotomayor is always so inspiring, but reading her story told to me with her voice just brought tears to my eyes. Reading about how books and education lead to her position as a Supreme Court Justice shows the power in words. And she writes beautifully! The language she uses is beautiful as well: “The library was my harbor, and books were little boats that helped me escape sadness at home.” & “Books were teachers, helping me sort out right from wrong.” LOVE!

The Girl with a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague
Author: Julia Finley Mosca
Illustrator: Daniel Rieley
Publication Date: September 4th, 2018 by Innovation Press

Summary: Meet Raye Montague–the hidden mastermind who made waves in the U.S. Navy!

After touring a German submarine in the early 1940s, young Raye set her sights on becoming an engineer. Little did she know sexism and racial inequality would challenge that dream every step of the way, even keeping her greatest career accomplishment a secret for decades. Through it all, the gifted mathematician persisted–finally gaining her well-deserved title in history: a pioneer who changed the course of ship design forever.

The Girl With a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague is the third book in a riveting educational series about the inspiring lives of amazing scientists. In addition to the illustrated rhyming tale, you’ll find a complete biography, fun facts, a colorful timeline of events, and even a note from Montague herself!

My Thoughts: Wow! Raye Montague’s story is fascinating! In a time here in America where segregation and racism ruled, Raye wouldn’t let anyone else’s ignorance stop her from reaching the heights that she knew she was going to reach her entire life. Each barrier she faced, she found a way around it. What a wonderful story of perseverance! The narrative itself is told in a rhyming verse that takes us through her life, but the real depth of her story can be found in the back matter.

Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions
Author: Christ Barton
Illustrator: Don Tate
Published May 3rd, 2016 by Charlesbridge Publishing

Summary: A cool idea with a big splash.

You know the Super Soaker. It’s one of top twenty toys of all time. And it was invented entirely by accident. Trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, impressive inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the iconic toy.

A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity began early in Lonnie Johnson’s life. Growing up in a house full of brothers and sisters, persistence and a passion for problem solving became the cornerstone for a career as an engineer and his work with NASA. But it is his invention of the Super Soaker water gun that has made his most memorable splash with kids and adults.

My Thoughts: I have wanted to read this one since it came out, so I am so glad to finally get around to it. I was already a huge fan of Barton’s and Tate’s, so I had high expectations, and Whoosh! met all of them: interesting, humorous, beautifully illustrated, and informative. Lonnie Johnson is another brilliant mind that I am so happy there is a book about, and his story shows the genius and hardships behind any type of invention.

Red Alert! Endangered Animals Around the World
Author: Catherine Barr
Illustrator: Anne Wilson
Published July 3rd, 2018 by Charlesbridge Publishing

Summary: An interactive look at endangered animals imploring readers to discover fifteen species facing extinction.

Inspired and endorsed by the “Red List” database of animals in peril maintained by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) this brightly illustrated book introduces species from six different habitats on six continents. Blending approachable text, secondary facts and lush art, Red Alert! offers full portraits of animals such as the Chinese giant salamander, the snow leopard, the blue whale, and the giant panda, and provides young activists additional resources for how they can help save these beautiful creatures.

My Thoughts: Red Alert is different than any other book like this that I’ve read. It is a choose your own adventure-like nonfiction book about endangered animals in different habitats around the world. Each animal has a full spread with a nonfiction narrative about them, facts, and why the animal is in danger. The book then ends with ways to save the creatures. The beautiful illustrations bring the animals to life while the interesting information shows the critical situations these animals are facing.

Picturing America: Thomas Cole and the Birth of American Art
Author and Illustrator: Hudson Talbott
Publication Date: September 4th, 2018 by Nancy Paulsen Books

Summary: This look at artist Thomas Cole’s life takes readers from his humble beginnings to his development of a new painting style that became America’s first formal art movement: the Hudson River school of painting.

Thomas Cole was always looking for something new to draw. Born in England during the Industrial Revolution, he was fascinated by tales of the American countryside, and was ecstatic to move there in 1818. The life of an artist was difficult at first, however Thomas kept his dream alive by drawing constantly and seeking out other artists. But everything changed for him when he was given a ticket for a boat trip up the Hudson River to see the wilderness of the Catskill Mountains. The haunting beauty of the landscape sparked his imagination and would inspire him for the rest of his life. The majestic paintings that followed struck a chord with the public and drew other artists to follow in his footsteps, in the first art movement born in America. His landscape paintings also started a conversation on how to protect the country’s wild beauty.

Hudson Talbott takes readers on a unique journey as he depicts the immigrant artist falling in love with–and fighting to preserve–his new country.

My Thoughts: I am a sucker for biographies of artists. The Hudson River artists may not have painted in my favorite style, but no one can argue with their beauty and Cole’s paintings were the start of the first truly American Art style. Talbott’s story of Cole did a beautiful job focusing on how he found his passion, the hardships he faced to be successful, and his passions other than art. Cole loved the environment and saw even then that we were going to lose it if we didn’t take care of it. I also truly loved the inclusion of some of his paintings. Often, in picture book biographies, the actual paintings aren’t shown, so I found that really helpful.

Pipsqueaks, Slowpokes, and Stinkers: Celebrating Animal Underdogs
Author: Melissa Stewart
Illustrator: Stephanie Laberis
Publication Date: September 1st, 2018 by Peachtree Publishers

Summary: Puny? Poky? Clumsy? Shy? A lighthearted look at the surprising traits that help some animals survive.
Written with a lively, playful voice, Pipsqueaks, Slowpokes, and Stinkers introduces young readers to a variety of “animal underdogs” and explains how characteristics that might seem like weaknesses are critical for finding food and staying safe in an eat-or-be-eaten world.

Award-winning author Melissa Stewart offers readers a humorous and informative nonfiction picture book with a gentle message of understanding and celebrating differences. Stephanie Laberis’s bright, bold–and scientifically accurate–illustrations add to the fun.

My Thoughts: This book is just as good as you would think a book about underdog animals by Melissa Stewart would be. It is so interesting and is a great way to show how nature does some odd things but always for a reason, and the connection to anti-bullying because weaknesses aren’t always a negative if you understand them, and this is a perfect inclusion that adds such a beautiful theme. (And don’t miss the dedication!)

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Picture Book Science: Physical Science for Kids
Author: Andi Diehn
Illustrator: Shululu
Published March 1st, 2018 by Nomad Press

Series Summary: By combining children’s natural curiosity with prompts for keen observations and quick experiments, Physical Science for Kids provides a fun introduction for kids to the physical science that rules our world! Great for beginner readers or as a read aloud for younger children. Children are introduced to physical science through detailed illustrations paired with a nonfiction narrative that uses fun language to convey familiar examples of real-world connections.

  • Encourages the development of important skills, including observing, connecting, problem solving, and model testing.
  • Explores vocabulary, encouraging readers to make language arts connections and conclusions.
  • Visually stimulating, detailed illustrations make this an excellent choice as a read aloud for younger children.

Waves Summary: You can find waves just about everywhere you look! Take a tour of the world of waves in this fun, illustrated introduction to the concept of waves and energy and their presence in our world. This installment in Picture Book Science encourages readers to observe lots of different kinds of waves, including those found in water, wheat, a baseball stadium, and even invisible waves!

Forces Summary: Our world operates the way it does because of forces. Gravity, magnetism, pulling and pushing, and friction are some of the many forces that affect the way we move on Earth. They even affect the Earth itself-without gravity, the world would eventually fly apart! In Forces: Physical Science for Kids, readers  observe different types of forces, including gravity, magnetism, pulling, pushing, and friction.

Energy Summary: When you feel like running, leaping, and singing, people might say you have a lot of energy. And you’re not the only one! Energy is the stuff that makes everything live and move. People, animals, plants-we all need energy to live! In Energy: Physical Science for Kids, readers discover different forms of energy, including heat, light, and chemical energy, that keep the world working and moving.

Matter Summary: Everything you can touch and hold is made up of matter-including you, your dog, and this book! Matter is stuff that you can weigh and that takes up space, which means pretty much everything in the world is made of matter! In Matter: Physical Science for Kids, readers  discover the basic building block of most of the material they come in contact with every day, including themselves-matter!

About the Creators: 

Andi Diehn is a writer, editor, and book critic with a BA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College. She has published dozens of articles, stories, and essays and spent many hours volunteering in her son’s classrooms. She lives in Enfield, New Hampshire, with her family.

Website: andidiehn.com
Facebook: facebook.com/andi.diehn
Twitter: twitter.com/lostinthree
Instagram: instagram.com/andiwritesbooks

Shululu (Hui Li) has always been driven by curiosity. She received a PhD in computational chemistry from the University of Chicago. Her research has been published in the world’s most influential science journals, including Science and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. She is devoted to bringing joy and science to young readers through fun illustrations! She lives with her husband in New York, NY.

Website: shulululee.com
Twitter: twitter.com/shululustudio
Instagram: instagram.com/shulululee

Review: Young children have so many questions about the world and how everything works. Curiousity runs wild in their brains, but more than anything they just want to learn and absorb. This series is a must get for parents, classrooms, and libraries because it addresses many of the questions that kids have.

Each book begins with a poem that introduces the topic then is followed by lyrical text going through scientific information about the topic of the book. Mixed in with the text are “TRY THIS” sidebars with fun experiments for kids to take the text into the real world.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Each of the books has a classroom guide!! The guides have Essential Questions for Before, During, and After Reading; Key Vocabulary; and Common Core Connections:

Classroom Guide for Waves

Classroom Guide for Forces

Classroom Guide for Energy

Classroom Guide for Matter

Discussion Questions: Example questions from the classroom guides:

  • How do we know something exists if we cannot see it?
  • What would the world be like if there was no energy?
  • How are forces created?
  • How are magnets and gravity related to each other?
  • How is energy related to waves?
  • How do science activities help you learn about energy?
  • The word “matter” can mean lots of different things. Can you think of other words that are the same but have different meanings?
  • How might we weigh things that are too large to hold in our hands or put on a scale?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Sharing science with children

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**Thank you to Nomad Press for providing copies for review!**

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Hazardous Tales: Raid of No Return
Author and Illustrator: Nathan Hale
Published November 7th, 2017 by Abrams Books

Summary: A top secret mission needs volunteers.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the United States joined World War II. And soon after that, young pilots were recruited fro a very secret – and very dangerous – raid on Japan. No one in the armed forced had done anything like this raid before, and none of the volunteers expected to escape with their lives. But this was a war unlike any other before, which called for creative thinking as well as bravery.

Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales are graphic novels that tell the thrilling, shocking, gruesome, and TRUE stories of American history. Read them all – if you dare!

About the Author: Nathan Hale is the #1 New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales. He also wrote and illustrated the graphic novel One Trick Pony. Hale lives in Provo, Utah. Learn more at hazardoustales.com.

Praise: “Harrowing and no detail is left out . . . Hale’s tendency to incorporate character commentary, infographics, and fun facts will draw readers. Give this title to readers interested in action-packed graphic novels.” — School Library Journal

Review: The Hazardous Tales series is the series I use when kids say that nonfiction is boring AND when teachers say that graphic novels aren’t complex because this series, and this book, is complex, interesting, well crafted, funny, and just everything you’d want from any book, much less a nonfiction graphic novel.

And I am so happy to have a World War II Tale because so many students ask for it, and this is a new story for me, so I know it’ll be new for my students as well. Also, I think this specific mission will lead to many discussions because the idea of volunteering for a deadly mission is something that so many of my students struggle to understand because it isn’t something that they need to even consider, so to look at these men’s decision-making and willingness to fight for their country.

Other Hazardous Tales reviewed in the past here on Unleashing Readers: Alamo All-Stars and The Underground Abductor.

Hazardous Tales tip: I recommend starting with the first book, One Dead Spy, then you can read any of the others in any order.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I’ve written in the past how I would incorporate this series as well as written a teaching guide for the first six books, but I wanted to allow another voice to share the brilliance of Hazardous Tales, so today my colleague, Kaleigh Gill who teaches 8th grade U.S. history, who started reading the series this summer and has read almost the whole series! I wanted to let her share why she loves the series and how she pictures it being part of her classroom:

Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales opens up a world of American stories that are often overlooked. With multiple books focusing on big topics, like the Revolution, Civil War, Alamo and Westward Expansion, Hale is able to give students (and teachers!) an engaging and realistic depiction of the experiences of American heroes and villains. With his humorous and relatable characters, he is able to connect with young readers on an unprecedented level in regards to nonfiction novels.

One of my favorite attributes of Hale’s series is the way he inserts side stories filled with background information and informative detail on corresponding events and individuals. He has the ability to make these often dull stories, come alive with his animated and entertaining illustrations. His stories are sure to captivate readers of all ages and interests.

Every history teacher in the United States should read this series! Even if you feel you wouldn’t have enough time to teach the entire book, it would be a great visual to provide students when discussing certain topics or figures. Some excerpts in this series would only take about 5-10 minutes to read aloud and discuss with your students, but would definitely leave a lasting impact! This series has even inspired me to design lessons based around historical texts for young readers and has also ignited my love of history again. Leaving these books to simply sit in my classroom library, would be a huge waste for my curriculum and more importantly, my students. Not only will it give insight into little known stories of America’s major events to enhance instruction, but it will intrigue students to dive deeper into historical texts that they would typically overlook.

Teaching Guide for Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #1-#6:

Discussion Questions: 

  • Why did these soldiers volunteer for a mission they knew nothing about and that they knew was very dangerous?
  • Why do you think the part of World War II in the South Pacific isn’t spoken about as much as the European front?
  • How did the planes have to be changed up to be successful for the mission? Why?
  • Trying reading the book the way it was written then switch it up and read one plane’s story at a time–which way did you enjoy better?
  • How did this mission change the course of the war against Japan?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: History, Graphic Novels, Other Hazardous Tales books

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Our Solar System
Author: Arthur John L’Hommedieu
Published January 16, 2018 by Child’s Play Books

Goodreads Summary: Packed with information, this book opens before us like a tunnel through space, enabling us to make a fascinating tour of the planets in our solar system. Revised and updated edition of this three-dimensional information book children to study interesting data about each of the planets. Larger trim size and additional spread.

Review: I took this book for review because I have a thing for accordion-like books. I wasn’t disappointed. The book is packed with great information about space. After my son goes to sleep, it is one of his favorites to read. He can really get into the book (quite literally) and put his face in between the planets. It’s hard to describe the book, but the cutouts allow readers to see all of the pages collapsed. It can be opened accordion-style, and it can stand up in a cube-style. Lovers of space will really appreciate this book and all of its information.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book made me want to make my own accordion book. It would be neat for teachers to share this book and invite groups of students to create an accordion book on a shared topic of interest. For example, my son would have a blast making a book about predatory plants. He is currently fascinated with Venus flytraps. 🙂

Discussion Questions: After reading about _____, what did you learn?; What do you still want to learn about space? How did the book format add to your understanding?

We Flagged: “This is the sun. Our journey begins here…

The sun is a gaseous mass of hydrogen and helium” (n.p).

Read This If You Loved: Any nonfiction book about space, for background knowledge when reading science fiction that takes place in space (e.g. Dr. E’s Super Stellar Solar System; Space Encyclopedia)

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Veronica Crisler at Myrick Marketing & Media for providing a copy for review**

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