The Shocking Truth About ENERGY

October 6, 2010

The Shocking Truth About Energy

By Loreen Leedy

Holiday House, 2010

ISBN #978-0-8234-2220-3

Grades K-3


“Hi, there! My name is Erg, and I’m pure ENERGY! Everybody loves a powerhouse like me. In fact, people want more and more ENERGY every day. That’s because I make everything happen. The funny thing is, I’m everywhere! The hard part is…”


This book is an excellent introduction to energy, the forms it takes, and how we use it. The cartoon like Erg narrates the simple, comprehensive book in an easy to understand text and sidebars and caption bubbles add further information. Following each energy form, including light, muscle, fossil fuels, electricity (and global warming), nuclear, solar, wind, water, geothermal, and plants, a side by side comparison chart shows advantages and disadvantages. The book concludes with a short discussion of ways to save energy and why. Back matter include web links, more detail, saving energy tips, and fossil fuel information.

The publisher says the book is for younger audiences, but I loved it and can see it read by older kids, too. It is succinct and complete, and a wonderful resource. I’d love to see it in every library in this energy-conscious age.


I won’t reinvent the wheel when these teachers have suggested such excellent activities.

Try one of them!

Teacher activity suggestions from Holiday House with great resources.

Coloring page from Leedy’s website.

More from Leedy’s site.

Here’s where she mentions SimplyScience!

Websites listed on the Holiday House site:

Here’s an excellent companion book by Anastasia Suen that follows electricity from its source to our homes and includes another activity. I reviewed it earlier. Check out the activity I suggested. It would be a great follow-up to this book:


Author: Anastasia Suen   Illustrator: Paul Carrick
Ages: 6  – 9


National Science Standard: light, heat, electricity, and magnetism

Book provided by publisher for Librarian’s Choices Book review committee.

We Have a Winner! Nonfiction Picture Book Category

February 15, 2010

The first time I saw Chris Barton’s book was at the Texas Librarian’s Association annual conference in 2009. I had spoken and done a signing for my book, No Bows! I was signing at Pat Anderson’s booth, Overlooked Books, when Chris strolled up in a Day-Glo bright tee shirt proclaiming, “Ask me why I’m wearing this shirt.” 

Chris’ book wasn’t out to the public yet. He carried a copy around and was showing people. I took a look and at first glance knew I liked the book and wanted to blog about it. We chatted a few minutes and I told him I’d like to discuss it on my blog.  I love Charlesbridge nonfiction and have blogged about many of their other books in the past.

Now his fascinating tale of two brothers inventing a new color after mutiple setbacks in their lives is again front and center as the Cybil’s NF picture book winner. With original research and clear, concise narrative, this book is something special.

Congratulations to Chris Barton.

Visit Chris’ blog to see more.

Cynthia Leitich Smith’s blog, Cynsations, has lots more information about Chris and his book.

This post is a bit early and will take the place of this Wednesday’s post this week.

The Day-Glo Brothers

August 5, 2009


The Day-Glo Brothers

The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors

By Chris Barton

Illustrated by Tony Persiani

Charlesbridge, 2009

ISBN #978-1-57091-673-1

NF picture book; ages 8-12

*Nominated for a Cybil

Even if they’d wanted to, the ancient Egyptians couldn’t have painted their pyramids a green that glowed in the desert sun. Back in 2600 BCE, there was no such color.

Later in the book:

By accident, Joe and Bob had invented a totally new color. To their amazement it glowed in both daylight and ultraviolet light. The called this new color Fire Orange, and Joe used their newfound know-how to create other colors–glowing reads, yellows, greens, and more. Meanwhile, Bob looked for ways these “Day-Glo” colors could be used. World War II provided lots of them.

It’s hard to imagine a world without the Day-Glo colors in shocking greens, blazing oranges, and screaming yellows. But before World War II, those colors didn’t exist. This fascinating picture book, chock full of well-explained information, traces the invention of Day-Glo paint and the two men who developed it following an inopportune accident in the ketchup factory by one brother and an interest in magic by the other.

Explanations about light, fluorescence, and refraction fit nicely into the narrative of the brothers’ lives as Barton details the steps of their progress. The quality writing in this glowing nonfiction makes the story readable and the interesting stages along the way keep the pace brisk.

Bright endpapers reflect the Day-Glo colors and welcome the reader to something special inside. The illustrations begin in black and white and color is gradually added to the stylistic art until the Day-Glo colors appear in screaming brilliance in the final spreads. Additional information follows the story, along with an author’s note and how he heard of the Switzer brothers.

The Charlesbridge Publishers site has a fun interactive link and explanation of fluorescence and Day-Glo along with links to the source information.

Activity 1

Research fluorescence and daylight fluorescence. Find out how ultraviolet makes colors glow.

This site gives an explanation about the visible light spectrum.

Here’s another site for understanding visible light. 

Activity 2

Find out about what makes up white light and how this light makes a rainbow. Here’s an explanation of how rainbows form.

Make your own rainbow.

Learn more about Chris Barton.  He blogs, too!  Buy the book!

National Science Standards: properties of objects and materials; light, heat, electricity, and magnetism.

See an in-depth review at Fuse 8 Production

Abby (the) Librarian also has a review.


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