Tag Archives: stem

Math and science are SOOOO much fun

9781452107141_lifetime_norm_1What’s not to love in a book with appendices titled:  the animals (yes!), I love math (yippee!), and what is an average (woo hoo!)??  This book is a dream for young animal nerds.  I got stuck on the page about female red kangaroos birthing 50 joeys in a lifetime while flipping through it on break.  I had to go show my co-worker, who then noticed the page on seahorses.  We love seahorses!  And the male seahorse will carry and birth 1,000 baby seahorses!  Zounds.  (Did you see how I left out that last exclamation point?  I’m trying to be more subdued in my enthusiasm these days. Ha.)

The art is perfect for this kind of book.  You find yourself wondering if Christopher Silas Neal really drew 1,000 seahorses — probably, but I’m not sure I’m up for actually counting them.  I will leave that wonderful job to a few nerdy 8 year olds I know.  And then, THEN, you get to the bonus section where you learn how Lola Schaefer figured out the averages for these animals and how she loves math, and–THIS IS VERY EXCITING—there are even a few math problems for the reader to try.  Oh my goodness!!!

Three exclamation points later, here I am.  A fun book for kids with super art, interesting facts to learn and share, and groovy math brain work?  It makes me want to do a little research on my own and come up with my own animal math problems.  So much to do.  Work, wover and under pondork, work.  Think, think, think.  Play, play, play.  Fun, fun, fun.

(A note: this is not a new book, just new to me!  For a new book also illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal, see Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner & CSN.  The Over and Under books are all wonderful looks at what happens above and below us in nature — in the dirt, in the snow, and also in the water)

Lifetime: the amazing numbers in animal lives by Lola M. Schaefer and Christopher Silas Neal


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Two for the adventurous

Cinderstella is every nerdy girl’s dream.  Oh sure, she’s got to deal with the stepsisters and the clothes and everybody freaking out about the ball, but really, WHO CARES?  It’s a ball. It’s not rocket science, people, and rocket science is much more interesting.  Use your fairy godmother to do something cool like becoming an astronaut, for Pete’s sake.  And you might just bring your stepsisters and a few others along.

The Friend Ship is full of animals on a quest, animals who don’t realize they have already found what they’re looking for.  Hedgehog misunderstands “friendship” to be a literal “friend ship,” so Hedgehog heads out to sea in a ship that fills up quickly with other animals looking for the same thing.  They are having an awfully good time, these deer and bears and farm animals, and so will you.  Finding friends can be tough and confusing, much like an ocean voyage, but taking that risk and getting out there will bring unexpected and delightful rewards, right?

What’s great about both of these book is the way they deal with the journey that life is, the way you pick things up (map-reading, maybe an elephant) and keep moving and changing towards a future you might not even fully realize.  How wonderful to be able to think about the possibilities and dream of what might be?!

Cinderstella by Brenda S. Miles, Susan D. Sweet, and Valeria Docampo

The Friend Ship by Kat Yeh and Chuck Groenink

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For the pranksters in your life

nothing-but-troubleMaggie lives to hack, to create perfect pranks, to mix it up in Odawahaka, her all-too-normal and boring hometown.   When a new girl arrives who seems to fit right into her big ideas, things get a little crazy – evil Principal Shute starts carrying a bat, ping pong balls fly through the air, and  a mouse ROARs.  There are ups and downs. Maggie’s home life is complicated, as is Lena’s.  Not everything works out at first.  But this light and quick read strikes at the heart of every kid who’s tired of everyday expectations and longs for something big and silly and possibly involving motors and duct tape.


I can’t think of other similar books with only girl pranksters, but there are a bunch of good ones with boys and boy/girl teams:


The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett – I especially love this series

Ungifted by Gordon Korman

The Last Boy at St. Edith’s by Lee Gjertsen Malone

To Catch a Cheat and more by Varian Johnson

Pickle by Kimberly Baker

Nothing But Trouble by Jacqueline Davies

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