Currently viewing the category: "Informational Nonfiction"

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 Twitter: @lindsaymward


★“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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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.


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.

Flagged Passages: 

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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“Crazy Contraptions: Build Rube Goldberg Machines that Swoop, Spin, Stack, and Swivel

Collect your catapults, toy cars, pulleys, ramps, marbles, balls, and dominoes. You’ll probably also want string, tape, hot glue, cardboard, TP rolls, and miscellaneous recycling. Now, what should you do with this odd assortment of materials? Build Rube Goldberg machines, of course!

Rube Goldberg machines are crazy contraptions that perform very simple tasks through an exceedingly complicated and usually humorous chain reaction. The man behind the machines was Rube Goldberg. He was an engineer turned cartoonist in the mid-1900s. He is famous for his cartoons that featured the crazy contraptions he invented (check out the image gallery at His “inventions” include a self-operating napkin, a painless tooth extractor, and even an elaborate method to keep the baby covered at night. People loved Goldberg’s cartoons and couldn’t wait to see what he would come up with next. Yet even though people loved his inventions and Goldberg was an engineer, he never built a single one of his contraptions.

Instead, the idea to build crazy contraptions was initiated by college students in 1949. Since that time, building contraptions has become wildly popular. Rube Goldberg, Inc. even holds an annual Rube Goldberg Machine Contest which challenges students to create their own crazy contraptions that perform a designated task ( Creating contraptions is also a great hands-on project in the classroom to teach basic physics concepts (energy, force, motion, and work) and to introduce the six simple machines to kids. And it’s FUN!

CRAZY CONTRAPTIONS: Build Rube Goldberg Machines that Swoop, Spin, Stack, and Swivel teaches all of these concepts. It also encourages contraption makers to use the engineering design process – brainstorming, planning, building, testing, evaluating, and redesigning (if necessary). The book starts out with easy challenges using one simple machine. As the book progresses, though, readers are challenged to build increasingly complex contraptions using more and more simple machines. Warning! This book does not include step-by-step instructions to build each contraption. Instead, it presents these challenges in a way that allows readers to use their own creativity and materials they may have on hand. So, go collect that odd assortment of material and start building!


Introduce students to Rube Goldberg contraptions by watching this music video by OK Go: or visiting the Rube Goldberg image gallery.

The challenge here is to have students create a crazy contraption that uses all six simple machines to bang on a drum using engineering design process:

Identify: The challenge, as stated above, is to build a crazy contraption that uses all six simple machines to bang on a drum.

Brainstorm: What materials will students use for each of the six simple machines in the contraption? Here are a few ideas…

Inclined plane – books, toy car tracks, piece of cardboard, piece of paper

Levers – dominoes, catapults, rulers, popsicle sticks, pencils

Wheels and axles – toy cars or trains, a homemade car, screwdriver

Pulleys – a pulley, empty thread or wire spools, pushpins

Wedges – make your own, popsicle sticks, string

Screws – jars and lids, marble runs, funnels, tubing

Don’t forget the drum and whatever will bang on it to make the noise!

Consider how all those parts might work together to create the contraption.

Draw a plan: Break out the graph paper, pencils, and rulers. When I wrote the book, this is what my design looked like:

Build: Put it all together! Hint – do the dominoes last!

Test: After building, adding, tweaking, taping, and creating, start the chain reaction.

Evaluate: More often than not, the first few tests of crazy contraptions fail. But that’s okay! The question to ask is, “Why?” This question and its answer help young engineers create contraptions that DO work.

Redesign: Using what your students know about why the contraption did or did not work, they may want to redesign it. Or, they may want to make it louder. Or add other noisemakers.

Crazy Contraptions: Build Rube Goldberg Machines That Swoop, Spin, Spack, and Swivel with Engineering Activities for Kids
Author: Laura Perdew
Illustrator: Micah Rauch
Published October 8th, 2019 by Nomad Press

About the Book:An exciting book about the chain reaction world of Rube Goldberg for middle schoolers, including 25 engineering design projects that get middle schoolers applying the laws of physics to their own inventions as they learn the scientific principles behind the actions and reactions they create.

Why use a simple hand motion to wipe your mouth when you can build a machine to do it for you? Toppling dominoes, rolling marbles, racing balloon cars, springing catapults, and whizzing zip-lines are all elements used to build Rube Goldberg machines in Crazy Contraptions: Build Machines that Swoop, Spin, Stack, and Swivel with Engineering Activities for Kids. The book introduces kids ages 9-12 (and beyond!) to the wacky machines designed by Goldberg, which were based on complicated chain reactions used to accomplish very simple, sometimes ridiculous, tasks.

-Through contraptions, the book discusses the basics of physics, including force, motion, and work. Each chapter introduces one of the six simple machines and how they can be used in Rube Goldberg contraptions–inclined planes, levers, wheels and axles, wedges, screws, and pulleys.

– Kids are challenged to design, build, and evaluate dozens of increasingly complex contraptions that do things like unscrew a lid, turn the page of a book, and pop a balloon.

– Projects use materials already in most homes–reimagining and repurposing everyday items, as well as mining the recycling!

– Contraption hints, essential questions, short sidebars, and links to online primary resources help readers learn the basics of force, work, motion, and simple machines, while exploring their creativity as they design and build their own crazy contraptions.

About the Build It Engineering set and Nomad Press

Crazy Contraptionsis part of a set of two Build It Engineering books that explore the engineering technology behind our daily lives. The other titles in this series isBots! Robotic Engineering with Makerspace Activities for Kids.

Nomad Press books in the Build It series integrate content with participation. Combining content with inquiry-based projects stimulates learning and makes it active and alive. Nomad’s unique approach simultaneously grounds kids in factual knowledge while allowing them the space to be curious, creative, and critical thinkers.

About the Author:Laura Perdew is an author, writing consultant, and former middle school teacher. She has written more than 15 books for the education market on a wide range of subjects, including the animal rights movement, the history of the toilet, eating local, and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. She is a long-time member of the Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators. Laura lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Thank you so much for this guest post–love the STREAM focus!

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