Eggs, Legs, WINGS

August 8, 2012

Visit Nonfiction Monday at The Nonfiction Detectives

Eggs, Legs, WINGS

A Butterfly Life Cycle

By Shannon Knudsen

Illustrated by Simon Smith

Capstone Press, First Graphics, 2011

ISBN #9781429653671

Nonfiction, graphic format

Grades 1-3

“Butterflies look like flower petals floating in the breeze.”

Eggs, Legs, Wings is a special book. I’ve always had trouble focusing on graphic novels. I’m a fast reader, and I’ve found this format hard to read. This book is one that I not only could read easily, but was one that I really enjoyed.

Using a graphic format,  Eggs, Legs, Wings explains the life cycle of a butterfly, but it’s much more than that. The book traces the life cycle, but each chapter also includes information that extends each stage of the cycle. Insect characteristics and up-close graphics show clearly what the text is stating. Detailed drawings show the caterpillar emerging from the egg and follows it as it eats and grows. Predators and food sources add to the information about the life cycle.

The book continues with molts, chrysalis spinning, and the emerging butterfly. It continues with the adult butterfly’s wing drying, facing predators, and an explanation of warning coloration before the butterfly moves off to find food and then mate. The life cycle comes full circle with the graphic illustration of the four basic steps.

The art is excellent and detailed, accurately showing the butterfly in its development. This is a lovely book for young readers and one I’d loved to have had when I taught second grade. This is a terrific book and one that should appeal to a variety of readers.


Look up an insect that undergoes incomplete metamorphosis. Draw its life cycle and compare it to the life cycle of the monarch butterly.

Learn about incomplete and complete metamorphosis here.

Use their list to choose an insect that undergoes incomplete metamorphosis.

KidZone has great pictures and more monarch butterfly information.

Color a realistic butterfly or a chrysalis here.

National Science Standard: growth and development of organisms

Book provided by Capstone Press


June 20, 2012


By Sean Callery

Kingfisher, 2012

Discover Earth’s Ecosystems Series

ISBN #9780753468104

Grades 2-5


“Mountains are cold, high, and rocky, so plants and animals must be tough to survive. Birds may fly elsewhere, but most other animals stay near shelter and food.”

Mountain explores the life cycles of different animals in three sets of mountain ranges. The animal information explores their life and needs and the page turns transition into what eats them on the food chain. The Rocky Mountains, the Himalayas, and the Andes serve as a backdrop for the different habitats and habits of these mountain dwelling animals. A variety of animals allows the reader to see a different sort of food chain than often presented and the text traces the chain up to the top predator. One plant, the Alpine butterwort, is included in the narrative.

The text is accessible and broken into text boxes with the life cycle presented in the center of the spread in four sections. Photos and insets give the text support and allow the reader to experience the book features that come with nonfiction. The final spreads show silhouetted food webs derived from the food chains presented in the reading.

Back matter includes the food webs, a glossary, websites, and an index. This is a terrific way to include both life cycles and food chains in one book. It would make a good introduction to either of these science concepts and lends itself to further exploration.


Choose another ecosystem and look up the animals and plants in it. Use them to create your own food web. Draw or cut out the animals and paste them on a large sheet of paper. Draw in the arrows to show the energy flow.

This website has really good food chain information. Arrow down to the bottom to see examples of food chains in other ecosystems. This page has an interactive food web diagram that you can print when you finish.

Enchanted Learning has some good information, too.

National Science Standards:  interdependent relationships in ecosystems; cycles of matter and energy transfer in ecosystems; growth and development of organisms

Book provided by Kingfisher

Animal Homes

April 11, 2012

Nonfiction Monday is at The Nonfiction Detectives today.

Animal Homes

By Angela Wilkes

Kingfisher, 2012

Discover Science Series

ISBN #9780753467756



“Animals need home for all of the same reasons that people do. Homes provide shelter and keep animals warm in the winter. They are a safe place to rest and raise babies.”

Animal Homes introduces the variety of homes and locations where vertebrate and invertebrate animals live. An introductory paragraph sets the facts included about the specific home; short text passages give detailed information about animals living in that sort of home. Large, clear photographs support the text information that will appeal to the readers of this age range. Each spread discusses a specific kind of home following the introduction.

After defining homes, the book covers homes along the water and in it, nests of all kinds, underground homes and hibernation, colonies and cells such as honeycombs, and snow homes. The animals inhabiting each location are described by explaining how and why they live there.

This book addresses many areas of science. Life cycles, habitats, adaptations, and animal habitats are included within the information. Something else I noticed is the attention to aspects of the Common Core. Topics address the nonfiction reading and information. Rings point out details in photos to illustrate specific information. Back matter suggests specific activities to do that relate to the reading and extending the knowledge. It also has parent and teacher notes that include extension activities across the curriculum, as well as table of contents, glossary, a short quiz, and a find out more section.

The beauty of this book and its series is that it covers so many parts of life science. This book in a library will not only enhance the collection but it will provide a wide range of science for one reading. Kingfisher books are excellent choices for their quality and well-chosen information.


Set up a field notebook for recording observations to use throughout the year. Inlcude qualitative observations and quantitative observations. Qualitative observations include information observed using the senses. Quantitative observations are those that include recording facts numerically. Choose one of the activities on pages 50-51 and do it. Record the findings in your field notebook.

National Science Standards: growth and development; adaptation

Book provided by publisher

The Life of Rice

November 30, 2011

The Life of Rice

From Seedling to Supper

By Richard Sobol

Photographed by Richard Sobol

Traveling Photographer Series

Candlewick Press, 2010

ISBN #978-0-7636-3252

Ages 5-8; could be read with older children

40 pgs

“When I saw a woman ahead in a bright yellow silk shirt frozen in a soft blanket of green rice plants, I couldn’t bear it anymore. I asked permission to stop for just one minute, and the Thai police commander, Colonel Dewa, reluctantly agreed. ‘Make it quick,’ he said as I grabbed my camera. ‘I am only letting you do this because for Thai people, rice is what keeps us alive. It is as important to us as the air that we breathe.’”

Author Richard Sobol was in Thailandfor another reason the first time, but he went back to learn more about rice and photograph this grain so valuable to so many people in the world. The Life of Rice documents the life cycle of rice from the author’s invitation from the king ofThailandto attend the Thai National Celebration of Rice to the harvesting of the rice from the fields.

Large photographs on each spread document the progress of the growing rice alongside the Thai people growing it. The work in the fields is explained and the photos show the progress at each step. Detailed captions add to the information of the text.

The book is rich with facts about rice and the Thai culture as well. It would lend itself to a social studies lesson or a science lesson. Seasons, monsoons, life cycle, and cultures follow naturally from reading this book. I first read it as a Cybils NF picture book first round judge last year and liked it, but it didn’t make the finals. I think it’s quite suited to an older reader, too.  It’s a fascinating look in detail of an interesting plant and makes a fascinating read.

Activity 1 (for younger ages)

Use a graphic organizer or circle to trace the life cycle of a rice seed. Label and illustrate each step. Cook rice and share it with the learners.

Learn about the rice life cycle here.

This chart shows the rice growth at stages.

Activity 2

Look up the different varieties of rice. Create a comparison chart to show their characteristics. Find a recipe that incorporates each kind to add to the chart.

This site tells about rice and cooking the varieties.

Read more about the kinds of rice at this site.

Activity 3

Research the nutrients in rice. Write an explanation of what they are and how the body uses them.

This site includes information about the different kinds of rice.

National Science Standard: growth and development of organisms

Book provided by publisher for 2010 Cybils committee.

Three For One! Germs, Diseases, and Gross Little Creatures

October 12, 2011

Scroll down for NF Monday.

I’m happy to be hosting Nonfiction Monday. Welcome, everyone. Please post your link in the comment section and I’ll update them throughout the day.

Micro Mania

A Really Close-Up Look at Bacteria, Bedbugs, and the Zillions of Other Gross Little Creatures that Live In, On, and All Around You!

By Jordan D. Brown

Imagine Publishing, 2009; reprint, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1936140473

Ages 9-12


Which leads to:

Plagues, Pox, and Pestilence

By Richard Platt

Illustrated by John Kelly

Kingfisher, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0753466872

Ages 9-12


And then we go on to my take on the topic:

Infections, Infestations, and Diseases

By Shirley Duke

Rourke, 2011

Ages 9-12



Take a closer look at all three books.


“Try not to panic, but there are billions of tiny creatures crawling all over your skin. They are wriggling on your legs, your arms, your nec, your scalp… EVERYWHERE!”

Micro Mania covers the world of bacteria, pests such as fleas and ticks, food pests like ants, roaches, beetles, and moths, along with kitchen bacteria and where they all live and reproduce. Then the information moves to the bedroom and bathroom, with dust mites, bed bugs, and algae. Plankton, krill, and thermophiles round out the mix of these mini creatures that live with us. The book reveals the amazing characteristics of these organisms and presents the information in a medium gross way that should appeal to this age.


Look up information about the life cycle of a flea. Then read about the Bubonic Plague. Write a paragraph explaining what part fleas played in the plague’s transmission.

Read about the flea life cycle here.

Here’s some basic bubonic plague information.


“Do you dare step inside the Pox Lab? In here, we study the history of the world’s most horrible diseases.”

Plagues, Pox, and Pestilence takes the reader deep into the story of diseases in this fascinating book. It includes the story of great epidemics, the people who made history in germs and disease prevention, and how science has provided the technology to fight these invaders today. The final chapter talks about the future of poxes and plagues.

The type adds to the fun of reading this book. It contains a thorough glossary of poxy words and an index. Bright, cartoonish characters add to the action and narration. This is another books kids should love.


Develop a timeline of scientific discoveries using the information from the book.

Here’s a comprehensive example, but it would need to be narrowed to the examples used in the book.



“Where’s the Kleenex?”

“I don’t feel well.”

How many times has a teacher moved back or a mom has hurried to get the thermometer? Or you’ve checked for nits, worried over vaccines, or stayed up most of the night with a sick child? This book is a starting point for kids interested in what makes you sick or those who are curious about the world and themselves.

The first three chapters address the meaning of the title, covering health and illness, infestations, and then diseases. The next chapter continues with how they are spread, prevention and treatment, and eliminated and emerging diseases. The book addresses current topics like bed bugs, HIV, and the H1N1 flu virus. It has a table of contents, glossary, index, and suggested websites to visit.

Health is important to everyone, and eager young scientists and kids alike should enjoy the fascinating facts in the book. Each book in the series has straightforward science and facts presented in an interesting way to readers. I’m writing three new books for Rourke in the coming year. I can’t wait to blog on them, too!

Activity 1

Research how to wash hands properly. Create a poster to display the correct techniques and practice singing happy birthday two times to show children how long they should spend scrubbing them.

The CDC has a child-friendly set of directions.

The Mayo clinic has additional information about dos and don’ts for hand washing.

Activity 2 (for older kids)

Look at the comparisons of hands that have been washed or cleaned in various ways. Draw a conclusion about the most sanitary means of cleaning hands and write a paragraph about how to properly wash hands to remove bacteria.

You can find good information and pictures here.

Here you’ll find more interesting bacteria and hands information.

National Science Standards: biodiversity and humans; growth and development of organisms

Books provided by the individual publishers.

Nonfiction Monday

Take a look at the great entries for today!

GatheringBooks has Reflections on BOY: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl.

Shelf-employed has The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water.

Ana’s Nonfiction Blog has Don’t Let the Barber Pull Your Teeth. She says t’s a fun read about medieval medicine, with lovely illustrations.

Jennifer at Jean Little Library has Everything Sharks for her “Read Scary” month.

Wild About Nature interviews nonfiction writer Phyllis Perry.

Amanda at A Patchwork of Books has Just a Second by Steve Jenkins.

Roberta at Growing With Science reviews Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and its Legacy, a  Cybils nominee and National Book Award finalist.

Jeff at  NC Teacher Stuff has a review of Voices of World War II: Stories from the Front.

Abby the Librarian has a review of Bootleg by Karen Blumenthal.

Tammy at Apples With Many Seeds has Brave Deeds by Ann Alma.

All About the Books with Janet Squires has Helen Keller: Her Life in Pictures  by George Sullivan.

Jone at Check it Out has Swirl by Swirl by Joyce Sidman.

Heidi at Geo Librarian highlights three great books for introducing global studies or just for fun.

Anastasia at Picture Book of the Day has Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Sa, Native American Author, Musician, and Activist by Gina Capaldi (Adapter, Illustrator) and Q. L. Pearce (Adapter).

Lynn at Bookends reviews a fun book called A Monster Cookbook by Sarah Schuette that is perfect for Halloween feasts. Take a look–Halloween will be here soon!

 Diane at Practically Paradise  examine ZOMBIES  with a new series from Capstone Press.

Brenda at proseandkahn has Big Wig: a Little History of Hair by Kathleen Krull.


September 28, 2011

Nonfiction Monday is a 100 Scope Notes today.

Polar Lands

By Sean Callery

Kingfisher, 2011

Life Cycle Series

ISBN # 978-0-7534-6691-9

Ages 7 to 10

Nonfiction PB

“The Arctic and Antarctic regions are known as the polar lands. These are the toughest habitats in the world: dark all winter long, with freezing temperatures and storms. Against the odds, plants and animals live there.”

If you’re looking for a book about biomes/habitats and life cycles, Polar Lands (and other books in this series) is the perfect one for elementary-aged learners. Sean Callery takes a region and introduces it, then takes the reader along the food chain page by page. This book includes Arctic and Antarctic animals ranging from krill (which I especially liked, having never seen this organism’s life cycle in a book) to seals to the Arctic wolf. The first page of the spread introduces the organism and traces its life cycle in four steps. A sidebar adds the animal’s adaptation in three picture bulleted details and one more fact at the bottom, which leads the reader to the page turn and next animal in the food chain.

Bright photographs illustrate the text and a circular graphic presents the life cycle, interspersed with more photos. The spread out text and chunks of information make the book inviting and readable. Back matter includes a large silhouette diagram of the entire food chain, a glossary, websites, and an index.

This is one of the most clever ways of writing about and illustrating a food chain that I’ve seen in a book. It’s clear and concise, making both the concept and life cycle easy to follow. I’ve read another book in the series, Grassland, and it’s just as good.  This is a terrific book for libraries and schools, and is great for reading and holding the interest of kids, especially animal lovers.

Activity 1

Take one of the animals from the book and create a graphic to show the food chain in which it is involved. Illustrate the steps along the way or print and cut out pictures for the animals.

National Geographic has good animal information and pictures.

Activity 2

Look up more information about the Arctic and Antarctic. Make a diorama or mural to illustrate its features and the life there. Label each animal.

National Geographic has lots of excellent information on ecosystems and biomes.

Activity 3

Choose an animal. Read more about the animal and create a list of ways it is adapted, or suited, to fit into its environment.

National Science Standards: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems; Growth and Development of Organisms; Growth and Development of Organisms

Book provided by Kingfisher.


Planting the WILD Garden

April 20, 2011

Planting the Wild Garden

By Kathryn O. Galbraith

Illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin

Peachtree Publishers, 2011

ISBN #978-1-56145-563-8

Ages 4-8

Nonfiction picture book

Welcome to Week 2 of Peachtree’s Blog Tour. This week I’m featuring a book I loved and hope you enjoy it, too. Check out all the other blogs on the  tour this week here.

“The farmer and her boy plant their garden. They drop seeds—tiny, fat, round, and oval—into the earth. From these seeds, pumpkins and peas, carrots and cabbages will grow.

In the wild meadow garden, many sees are planted too, but not by farmers’ hands.”

From the seed-filled endpapers to the bibliography, this lovely book takes the reader outdoors to nature and all the fascinating ways seeds grow new plant life. Beginning in the garden, a woman and child place seeds in the earth. At the same time, seeds are being distributed in nature by animals, people, and even plants themselves, that will grow into new plants, providing food and distributing more seeds in the way only nature can do. 

The text flows up and down, almost as if on the wind on one spread and popping from a seed pod on the next. The pencil and watercolor art spreads across the pages and the soft colors convey a peaceful sense of busy activity. Minnows, rabbits, raccoons, foxes, and people join the parade of seed distributors in a realistic, yet adorable, rendering.

This book would be a wonderful introduction to a nature unit, a seeds unit, life cycles, or spring book. It opens up the world of nature and the cycles that occur and the marvels of science unfold in its pages. Galbraith’s text is equally matched by Halperin’s art. Peachtree produces beautiful picture books and this is an outstanding one.

Activity 1

Look up the life cycle of a particular seed. This image shows an acorn in its life cycle. Use folded paper to illustrate four stages of the acorn as it grows.

Activity 2

Plant a bean seed in a paper cup and set up a germination of several seeds in a plastic bag with a wet paper towel so the children can see how the seed sprouts. Have them record the progress by keeping a written or drawing log and record the date.

Write about their activity or do one together.

Activity 3

Look up more information about how seeds are dispersed in nature. This site has animated examples.

Here is more about what seeds need to grow.

National science standard: organisms in the environment; life cycles of organisms

Book courtesy of Blue Slip Media

Carrots Grow Underground

February 9, 2011

Carrots Grow Underground

By Mari Schuh

Pebble Books/Capstone, 2011

How Fruits and Vegetables Grow series

ISBN #9781429652803

Pre-K – 2nd grade


“Green stems and leaves sprout from the soil. Underground, vegetables grow larger and larger every day.”
A big box of books arrived from Capstone today and this one with carrots in dirt on the front caught my eye right away. The trim size feels good in your hand and early readers should delight in reading about things that grow underground. I always am amazed at the way authors manage to convey information and ideas with a vocabulary just right for early readers. But simple words don’t mean a lack of information!

Carrots Grow Underground follows the life cycle of growing root vegetables and the process they go through while developing. I like that the author included parsnips, too. From seeds to harvest, the book follows root vegetables and up close photos illustrate the text. This fun-sized book has a glossary, Read More section, websites, and an index. This is an excellent way to introduce young readers to nonfiction and the joy of science.


Get a package of carrot seeds. Put a few in a plastic bag with wet paper towels and watch them germinate. You might want to add beans and radishes for young kids, since carrots take a longer time to get going. Then plant some of the carrot seeds in a pot and plant some in the flowerbed or garden. Count the days it takes for them to sprout. Track their growth and pull up one at intervals to see the root hairs form as the carrot grows. Use a real carrot to study until yours grow up! Cut one open and examine the insides.

Here’s how to plant your carrots.

More carrot information

Here’s more carrot growing information.

Make dinner with carrots!

Other books in the series:

Apples Grow on a Tree, Blueberries Grow on a Bush, Lettuce Grows on the Ground, Tomatoes Grow on a Vine

 National Science Standard: life cycle of organisms

 Book provided by publisher.

Beco’s Big Year

January 26, 2011

Beco’s Big Year

A Baby Elephant Turns One

By Linda Stanek

Forward by Jack Hanna

Columbus Zoological Park Association, 2010

Grades K-4


“For almost two years, the people at the Columbus Zoo watch and wait. An Asian elephant named Phoebe gets bigger and bigger and bigger. Animal doctors, called, vets, have great news. Phoebe is going to have a baby! Before, she weighed 6,800 pounds. As her baby grows, Phoebe gains more than a thousand pounds. Now, she is up to almost 8,000 pounds.”

What’s not to like about the adorable baby elephant on the cover of this book? It traces the pregnancy of Phoebe, an elephant at the Columbus Zoo, through the birth of her calf Beco and the baby’s first year of life. This is an up-close and accessible look at this baby called Beco.

The text narrates the event while providing additional information about elephants and their life in the zoo. It includes information about elephants in general, babies and their early days, name choosing, how the baby learns, and training procedures that allow vets to examine and care for these pachyderms.

Sidebars throughout the book add more facts that will interest independent readers or older children, but the main text is easily accessible. Loads of photos follow Beco’s development and provide an appealing insight into the life of Beco, her son, and elephants.

The book is fascinating and should appeal as a fact gathering book, a great story time nonfiction book, or just a fun read or picture study. I liked the book so much, and it’s so well written and designed, I wanted in as a finalist in the NFPB Cybils. It’s one every library should have because every youngster will enjoy it.

Activity 1

Make an outline of Asia and Africa. Use the outlines to create a comparison of Asian and African elephants.

National Geographic has good elephant information.

Activity 2

Make a timeline of Beco’s first year.  Chose 5-7 events in Beco’s life, or more! Highlight events and developments by Beco of his first year of life.

See Beco’s 2nd birthday celebration.

Wrapped in Foil has a blog post about Beco.

Here’s another review of Beco’s Big Year at NC Teacher Stuff.

Book provided by Columbus Zoological Park Association for Cybils NFPB consideration.

National Science Standard: life cycle of organisms


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.


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