Nonfiction Book Blast at 2011 ALA

April 4, 2011

I’m featuring my book, YOU CAN’T WEAR THESE GENES, at 2011 ALA in New Orleans this June 26 at 8:00 A.M. on a panel of terrific, prolific, nonfiction authors. Each author on the panel is introducing her 2011 book, along with an activity and handout. We invite everyone at ALA to attend our panel presentation–it’s going to be a blast! Here’s the information.

Welcome to our Nonfiction Book Blast blog right here! We’ll be speaking at ALA 2011 this summer. We invite you to join us!

Nonfiction Book Blast: Booktalks and Activities for Your Library

Start school with new booktalks and activities from ten nonfiction authors: April Pulley Sayre (Rah, Rah, Radishes), Kelly Milner Halls (In Search of Sasquatch), Deborah Heiligman (Charles and Emma), Loree Griffin Burns (The Hive Detectives), Carla Killough McClafferty (The Many Faces of George Washington), Christine Taylor-Butler (Magnets), Shirley Duke (You Can’t Wear These Genes), Darcy Pattison (Prairie Storms), Carla Mooney (Explorers of the New World) and Anastasia Suen (Read and Write Sports). (Handouts)

Visit Nonfiction Monday at L.L. Owens for a comprehensive list of good books.

You Can’t Wear These Genes

You Can’t Wear These Genes

by Shirley Duke

Rourke, 2011

Let’s Explore Science Series

ISBN #978-1-61590-563-8

Grades 4-7


      “You have your mother’s green eyes.”

     “Your chin comes from your father.”

     “You must get your musical ability from your parents.”

     People have always noticed traits, or characteristics, that are similar between parents and their kids. Some of these traits, such as eye color and a dimpled chin, can be easily seen. Other traits, like blood type and personality, cannot be seen.

     Parents pass down traits to their offspring, or young. The offspring have these inherited traits for the rest of their lives. Genetics is the branch of science that studies how traits are passed along.

My first science book as the author! It’s been a dream of mine to write a science book and now I have. This one, and the other one I wrote, are in the Let’s Explore Science series by Rourke. This is the book I’m featuring on the Nonfiction Book Blast panel at 2011 ALA in New Orleans.

This introduction to genetics covers the basics of what it takes to pass along hereditary material and how it is manifested in offspring of humans, touching on animals and plants. Complicated terms and processes are explained on a reading level accessible by elementary readers. Labeled graphics and large photos help clarify the text and make the book appealing and bright.

Beginning with the basic building block, the cell, after defining genes and DNA, the chapters continue with boy or girl, combining traits, problems with genes, and the future of genetics. Short sidebars scattered throughout the text give additional information and break up the text into readable chunks. The book contains a strong glossary, index, and website information, plus a picture and bio of the author—that’s me!

This complicated subject is made easier to understand in You Can’t Wear These Genes and explores the very beginnings of genetics while making it accessible to young readers (something I had a great deal of experience doing as a teacher). The wealth of knowledge being discovered in this complex field is arriving weekly and this book is an excellent way for young scientists to begin to understand how the cycle of life and growth occur.


Create your own DNA sequence. Use this activity to put together base pairs. As each pair is joined, write down the sequence for 20 pairs and then read the information below the model. Then look up what components create the “rungs” of the DNA ladder. Draw a simple diagram and label the parts.

Here’s a good place to start for more information.

Here’s more excellent information about genetics.

National Science Standard: reproduction and heredity

Book is author’s own copy


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.

Nonfiction Monday Round-Up and My End of Year Books

December 21, 2009


When I took December off, I forgot about my time for Nonfiction Monday. So I’m back! Welcome to SimplyScience. Put your information and link in the comments and I’ll update them throughout the day.   

From Abby (the) Librarian, The Story of Snow by Mark Cassino with Jon Nelson.

Robin at The Book Nosher has a new National Geographic book: live, laugh, celebrate.

Roberta at Wrapped in Foil has Dragonflies of North America by Kathy Biggs

In Need of Chocolate has Paleo Sharks

Wild About Nature reviews About Penguins: A Guide for Children

Three Turtles and Their Pet Librarian reviews Zero is the Leaves on the Tree by Betsy Franco

Amanda at A Patchwork of Books has reviewed lots of picture book biographies 

Wendie’s Wanderings looked outside her window and decided that 20 inches of snow was the order of the day and so is offering Snowflake Bentley

Lost Between the Pages has Emily Post’s Table Manners for Kids

Check It Out has Redwoods by Jason Chin

Bookends Blog has a fabulous pair of poetry/animal camouflage books: Where in the Wild and Where Else in the Wild


Frosty Treeless Land

By Laura Purdie Salas

Illustrated by Jeff Yesh

Picture Window Books, 2009

This fact filled book explained tundras in detail with excellent, reader-friendly text and supplied additional, fun information in sidebar Fun Facts. One in the series of Amazing Science—Ecosystems, it’s fun to read. Carefully labeled illustrations highlight the digital art. Tundra facts appear in the back matter. It includes a glossary, index, and further reading section.


Create a food chain for the tundra.

National Science Standard: organisms and environments

Book sent by publisher

Box Jellyfish

Killer Tentacles

By Natalie Lunis

Bearport Publishing, 2010

The deadly difference between box jellyfish and regular jellyfish are detailed in this book. The book begins with a girl being stung and explains the treatment, then goes on to discuss these tropical invertebrates. One in the series Afraid of the Water, this book contains fascinating photos and one of the stings is sure to be remembered. It includes a glossary, index, and further reading section.


Create a chart comparing the differences in box jellyfish and regular jellyfish. Don’t forget to include habitat, eyes, swimming, tentacle placement, and lots of other differences.

National Science standard: organims and environment

Book donated by publisher

Let’s Look at Snails

By Laura Hamilton Waxman

Lerner Publications, 2010

Lightning Bolt Books

Bold, bright photos mix with big text to describe snails and how they live. Labels point out specific facts and the book has additional fun facts and a snail diagram in the back matter. It includes a glossary, index, and further reading section.


Look up snails to find out all of the places snails live. Make a chart to show these habitats.

 National Science standard: organisms and their environment, life cycle

Book donated by publisher

Out of This World

The Amazing Search for an Alien Earth

By Jacob Berkowitz

Kids Can Press, 2009

This text dense book about the hunt to find an alien Earth that supports life as we know it begins as fiction, but is filled with facts. Sidebars provide additional information. It will appeal to the budding astronomer who can distinguish fact from fiction. Some of the ideas provide food for thought and this could be a fun book for the right reader.


Find out more about exoplanets.

National Science standard: objects in the sky

Book donated by publisher

Many thanks to the publishers who contributed their books. The blog has been a pleasure and I’ll be able to include my two new science books in the blog in the coming year!

The Cybils

October 5, 2009


I am honored to have been selected as a judge for the nonfiction picture book category for the Cybil awards in the company of  these fabulous bloggers. You can nominate your favorite here through October 15. Scroll down and select the appropriate category. Jone MacCulloch has done a great job of organizing our category.

Panel Organizer: Jone MacCulloch, Check It Out

Panelists (Round I Judges):

Bill and Karen, Literate Lives
Kara Dean, Not Just For Kids
Amanda Goldfuss, ACPL Mock Sibert
Jone Rush MacCulloch (see panel organizer)
Debbie Nance, Readerbuzz
Franki Sibberson, A Year of Reading
Carol Wilcox, Carol’s Corner

Round II Judges:

J.L. Bell, Oz and Ends
Shirley Smith Duke, SimplyScience
Roberta Gibson, Wrapped in Foil
Emily Mitchell, Emily Reads
Carol Hampton Rasco, Rasco from RIF

Visit nonfiction Monday at Moms Inspire Learning and look for Redwoods by Jason Chin, among many other great books.

Nonfiction Monday

August 31, 2009


Nonfiction Monday

Welcome to Nonfiction Monday. Leave your information and link in the comment section and I’ll post the entries as they arrive throughout the day.

1. Shirley at SimplyScience has Faces of the Moon.

2.  Loree Griffin Burns at A Life in Books has Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop’s SAVING THE GHOST OF THE MOUNTAIN.

3. In Need of Chocolate  has Boy Were We Wrong About the Dinosaurs.

4.  A Fuse #8 Production has Neo Leo: The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo da Vinci by Gene Barretta.

5. Andrea at Just One More Book  has a chat about Let Freedom Sing by Vanessa Newton.

6. 100 Scope Notes has a review of Show Off by Sarah Hines Stephens & Bethany Mann.

7. Bookends A Book List Blog has The Great and Only Barnum: The Tremendous Stupendous Life of P.T. Barnum by Candace Fleming.

8. Wild About Nature has Heidi Bee Roemer reviewing Big, Bigger, Biggest by Nancy Coffelt.

9. Jennifer at JeanLittleLibraryhas Moving Day by Pamela Hickman.

10. Charlotte at Charlotte’s Library has two non-fiction books about fantasy creatures.

11. The second reading list for the ACPL Mock Sibert discussion is now available.

12. Lori Calabrese Writes! reviews Ask Me Anything by Richard Walker.

13. Robin at The Book Nosher has You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?

14. INK: Interesting Nonfiction for Kids has recent posts by authors Melissa Stewart, Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, Sue Macy, Anna M. Lewis, April Pulley Sayre, and Susan Kuklin.

15. Amanda at A Patchwork of Books has a review of Faith.

16. Maples and Fiddleheads has a review of Flags of the World.

17. Roberta at Wrapped In Foil reviews a book about baby spiders.

18. Anastasia at Picture Book of the Day has Wildfire.

19. Abby (the) Librarian has several nonfiction titles from Bearport.

Nonfiction Monday Round-up

January 26, 2009

Nonfiction MondayWelcome to the Nonfiction Monday Round-up!

Here’s what the kidlitosphere is reading this week…

Add your post to the round-up by writing your info in the comments. Please write the title of your book or topic (in parentheses) and paste in the link for it. I’ll post the links on this page as the day goes on. Thanks for bearing with me–I had a school visit this morning and just caught up!

1. JustOneMoreBook! (Cookies: Bite Size Life Lessons)

2. Fuse #8 (How to Scratch a Wombat by Jackie French)

3. JeanLittleLibrary (Mysterious Universe by Ellen Jackson)

4. Abby the Librarian (All About Sleep)

5. Lori Calabrese Writes! (Lincoln Through the Lens)

6. BookMoot  (Extreme animals: the toughest creatures on Earth by Nicola Davies)

7. Check It Out (Flip, Float, Fly)

8. Sweetness and Light (The Four Seasons of Mary Azarian)

9. Book Scoops (honeybees)

10. A Patchwork of Books (Bodies from the Ice)

11. Jennie at Biblio File (The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down and The Glass Castle)

12. Wendie’s Wanderings (Sibert Medal winner — We Are the Ship)

13. Miss Rumphius Effect (Bees, Snails & Peacock Tails)

Nonfiction Monday Round-up

January 19, 2009

Nonfiction MondayWelcome to the Nonfiction Monday Round-up!

Here’s what the kidlitosphere is reading this week…

Add your post to the round-up by writing your info in the comments. Please write the title of your book or topic (in parentheses) and paste in the link for it. I’ll post the links on this page as the day goes on. Thanks!

1. 100 Scope Notes (Duke Ellington: His Life in Jazz with 21 Activities)

2. On the Scale, a Weighty Tale (a rhyming book about mass and weight)

3. Lori Calabrese Writes! (Howard Thurman’s Great Hope)

4. Trouble Talk by Trudy Ludwig

5. Abby (the) Librarian  (Swords: An Artist’s Devotion by Ben Boos)

6. Nonfiction Nuggets (Living Large – 3 books on size)

7. Charlotte’s Library (The Search for Antarctic Dinosaurs)


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