December 15, 2010

Welcome to Nonfiction Monday. Add your links in the comments below and I’ll update them throughout the day.

The Little Brainwaves Investigate…ANIMALS

Illustrated by Lisa Swerling and Ralph Lazar

DK Publishing, 2010

ISBN # 9780756662806

Ages 5-10


“What is an animal? All living things fall into two main groups. They are either an animal or a plant. They all grow, feed, and have young. But animals can do something plants can’t do—they move) or at least most of them can)? Join the little Brainwaves to find out more.”

This is a book I wish I’d written. From the beginning, it captures the spirit and joy of learning about animals and reveals the fascinating side of this area of life science.

This series, for younger audiences, follows the Brainwaves series for older kids using the little characters called the Little Brainwaves, a set of helpful guides to direct the reader throughout the book.

The book begins with an introduction to animals, distinguishing vertebrates from invertebrates. It also introduces scientific nomenclature in a simple way. It’s divided into clear sections, with small segments of information explained in an easily understandable way. Spreads following further distinguish the animals and their activities, including details about the different groups. It covers life cycles, parents, habits, habitats, and invertebrates. The concluding spread gives interesting facts and a little history about animals and grouping. A detailed glossary and index make up the back matter.

Bright, inviting photos are mixed with the Little Brainwaves guys in an attractive layout. The designer did a wonderful job on this book. It’s appealing and bright, friendly and fascinating. It would make a great story time book or would be a good book to book talk. It’s a great reference and an even better bargain at a reasonable price for a resource kids will return to again and again.


Choose an animal from the book. Look up its scientific name. Then create that animal’s life cycle in an interesting way, showing the stages it undergoes as it is born, develops, and becomes an adult. Include a timeline in the project. This might be a power point, a chart, or a diorama. Maybe you can create another way to show information about your animal.

For more animal information, see National Geographic’s pages.

The Animal Diversity Web has examples of animal life cycles.

Enchanted Learning has good life cycle examples.

This site has a variety of information.

Growing With Science has lots of great life cycle ideas.

National Science Standard: life cycle of animals; organisms and their environment

 Book provided by publisher.


Welcome to Nonfiction Monday. We have some great books and posts about literature for kids today and every Monday. Take a look at them all!

Wild About Nature blog has a review of Jean Marzollo’s new book, Pierre the Penguin: A True Story. They will also be giving a copy away to one lucky reader!

Abby the Librarian has  a review of OLD ABE, WAR HERO by Patrick Young.

Bookends  Booklist Blog has BONES by Steve Jenkins.

 NC Teacher Stuff has a review of SHATTERING EARTHQUAKES by Louise and Richard Spilsbury.
Bookends  reviews Steve Jenkins’ fascinating  BONES.

Stacey has Ubiquitous at her blog.

The Cath in the Hat has She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story, a picture book biography about the first woman inducted into the Hall of fame. It’s by Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Don Tate.

Bookish Blather continues  reading the YALSA nonfiction award shortlist titles with The Dark Game by Paul Janeczko.

Roberta at Wrapped in Foil offers a book nominated for a Cybils in the nonfiction MG/YA category.  Journey into the Deep is by Rebecca L. Johnson.

Pink Me has a review of Code Quest: Heiroglyphs by Sean Callery and  illustrated by Jurgen Ziewe.

Jone at Check It Out reviews three dinosaur books from the Cybils NFPB nominees–and dinosaurs are always a hit with kids.


May 12, 2010

A Place For Frogs

By Melissa Stewart

Illustrated by Higgins Bond

Peachtree, 2010

ISBN #978-1-56145-521-8

Grades 2-5

Nonfiction picture book

“Frogs make our world a better place. But sometimes people do things that make it hard for them to live and grown. If we work together to help these special creatures, there will always be a place for frogs.”

This book is the third in a series of A Place For books from Peachtree Publishers. Short, narrative text describes the general topic along the top of the spread and inset sidebars cite a specific example to support the text. Another inset picture illustrates the frog in the example. The book describes the interactions of humans, other animals, and frogs and the resulting, harmful effects on the frogs and their habitat. Suggestions for making changes follow the frog descriptions.

Specific ways children can make a difference in keeping the natural environment safe for frogs is included in the back, along with frog facts, a bibliography, and websites for more information. The realistically rendered artwork by Bond depicts in beautiful detail the environment and the different frogs in their natural habitat colors. Kids should have fun poring over the frogs in this book while teachers and librarians can coordinate it with a lesson on life cycles, the environment, and habitats.

Activity 1

Draw and illustrate the life cycle of a frog.

Activity 2

Create a food chain that includes the frog, tadpole, or frog eggs. Use the information from the book (spread with Other Animals Need Frogs) or look up more information about what frogs eat and expand the food chain to a food web.

Activity 3

Research toads. Look for information about their habitats and environmental problems they may have. Write your own frog page in the style of this book.

Here’s good information with more details.

Life cycle information about frogs

Label the life cycle

Higher level frog food chain activity—reminds me of the project Wild activity Oh Deer!

 Older students may want to read The Frog Scientist by Pamela Turner. See my blog post on The Frog Scientist.

National Science Standards: life cycle, organisms in environment

Book provided by publisher to Librarian’s Choices Committee



April 21, 2010

Dinosaurs Eye to Eye

By John Woodward

Digital Sculptor Peter Minister

DK Publishing, 2010

ISBN #978-0-7566-5760-4


Grades 3-7

“The age of dinosaurs began some 230 million years ago, near the beginning of the Mesozoic era. Dinosaurs went on to dominate life on Earth for 165 millions years—a vast span of time that permitted the evolution of a dazzling variety of species.”

This oversized, information-packed book holds a fascinating look at dinosaurs, their evolution and demise, and their relationship among other vertebrate animals. Set within the timeline of the Mesozoic era, the book fills in the story of the appearance of dinosaurs and sets the stage of the Earth on which they lived. Large images of the reptiles with explanatory captions, photographs, and graphics fill each spread and the information is appealing and up to date. From Postosuchus—a massive jawed predator that likely preyed on dinosaurs to the mighty T. rex, dinosaurs roam the pages. A two page glossary and index complete the back matter. The book has an excellent table of contents broken into the three Mesozoic eras.

This book is sure to appeal, particularly to the large group of dinosaur-loving children. The dense text and small size of the captions may interest better readers, but the illustrations and fast facts can intrigue any level of reader.

Activity 1 (older readers)

After reading the book, find five different examples of adaptations that different dinosaurs developed. Write and explain how these adaptations enabled the dinosaur to be better suited to live and compete in its environment.

More about dinosaur adaptations

More about adaptations

Activity 2 (younger readers)

Look up characteristics of reptiles and characteristics of birds. Choose a specific dinosaur and explain how it fit into one of those groups.

Characteristics of reptiles

Characteristics of birds

National Science Standard: diversity and adaptations

Book donated by publisher

The Frog Scientist

October 7, 2009


The Frog Scientist

Scientists in the Field Series

By Pamela Turner

Photos by Andy Comins

Houghton Mifflin, 2009

ISBN  #978-0618717163


Ages 9-12

64 pages

*The Frog Scientist is nominated for a Cybil award in middle grade/ YA nonfiction.

 “Tyrone didn’t worry about chemicals in the water when he was younger. He just liked to wade in it. ‘My neighborhood was near a swamp full of frogs, snapping turtles, and snakes,’ recalls Tyrone. ‘My interest in them started when I was four or five. I tell kids, if there is something you like doing, stick with it!’”

     Starting with a lively, early morning frog-catching session with his students and own son and ending with questions about the impact pollution has on humans, this book traces the work and research Harvard graduate Tyrone Hayes has done with frogs and environmental pollution.     

     Studying the effect of pesticides on frogs, atrazine in particular, he has documented the fragility and changes in the frog population resulting from pollution in our environment. His research following the scientific method is clearly shown in the text and photos and allows the scientific process to come to life.

     Beautiful photographs of the frogs, his students, and his experiments follow the text and add fascinating documentation to the book’s information. A glossary, page of featured toads and frogs, a website list of further information, and an index make up the back matter. This is a book that unfolds its information and provides fascinating detail about field biology and practical applications. The book is exceptional.

Activity 1

For the younger students, look at the pictures from the book and discuss the differences they see among all the frogs and toads. An explanation of the difference between frogs and toads can be found on p.53.

Activity 2

Using the photograph on p.23, discuss the life cycle of the frog and the meaning of amphibian on p.13. Use the life cycle to illustrate why amphibian is a good choice of names for this group of animals.

Activity 3

For older students, design a hypothetical experiment following the scientific method that might involve frogs. Since most districts have a no harm policy for live animals, don’t actually carry out the experiment. Plan and make predictions to familiarize the students with the designing of the experimental process.

The Frog Scientist was nominated for a Cybils award.

Learn more about frogs here.

See this summary about the significance of frogs in the environment.

This site has great links for elementary age students.

Read more about Tyrone Hayes.

National Science Standard: organisms and their environment


Book provided by publisher after author contacted me.


May 20, 2009



By Nic Bishop

Scholastic, 2008

ISBN# 0-439-87755-5


Froggy facts fill the pages of this beautifully photographed frog book. Nic Bishop gets up close and personal with a wide variety of frogs, even training one frog with crickets on tweezers to stay nearby until he could photograph it. Large, close-in photographs show the colors, sizes, and habits of the chosen frogs. From travel to rainforests to a nearby pond, Bishop catches frogs being themselves. The text begins with a topic sentence in large font and provides details in the body in a different size. Captions add more information that related to the text. A centerfold shows a frog jumping from start to finish in a timed sequence shot. From the definition of amphibian to the frog life cycle, this book covers frogs in a way that will appeal to readers and photograph viewers of all ages.

Frogs are found on every continent except Antarctica. They live in ponds, rivers, forests, and fields. Some even live in sand dunes.

 Activity 1

Label the life cycle of a frog.

Activity 2

Research the frog’s life cycle. Create a timeline and show the stages of a frog as it hatches from an egg to a fully grown frog.

 For an interactive frog life cycle activity, see this Harcourt School activity.

This Scholastic page has activities at many levels for froggy learning.

National Science Standards: characteristics of organisms, life cycle of organisms, and organisms and environments

 Another book about frogs:

 All About Frogs by Jim Arnosky


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