Category Archives: Science

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – Early Summer Sensations!

IMWAYR

It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week.  Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers

It’s amazing to me how many wonderful new books keep appearing!   I can’t seem to keep up with all the amazing picture books being released and my collection keeps growing!  Here are some of the new treasures I have fallen for in the last few weeks:

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What Do You Do With an Idea? – Kobi Yamada

Every once in a while I discover a book that floods my heart with emotion and my mind with deep thoughts.  Here is such a book.  This is a book that celebrates ideas – no matter how small and how insignificant they may seem.  A little boy has an idea.  At first he doubts it, worries about it, almost rejects it – but the idea follows him around and slowly begins to grow and take shape.   I love how the idea is an actual “thing” that you can see.   The illustrations are wonderful; I loved how when the story begins, only the idea is in color – everything else in black and white.  As the idea grows, so does the color on the page.  So much to love about this book.  A great book to discuss the power of never giving up on an idea.  I would definitely use it for helping students understand how a book can change our thinking.  (TRANSFORM)

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Norman, Speak! – Caroline Adderson

This is a delightful story of a family who adopts a dog from an animal shelter.  They love this dog so much but discover that he is “not very smart”.  He does not respond very well to his new home and has a hard time learning to do what other dogs do.  While at a park one day, they discover why – this dog speaks Chinese!  They watch in amazement as he responds to the Chinese commands from another dog owner at the park.   Now it is the family who doesn’t feel very smart and decide to take Chinese lessons so they can communicate with their beloved dog.  A wonderful story to  promote questioning about animal adoption and animal communication.   My only issue was the length of the story – almost too long for a single sitting – but certainly worth reading over a few days.

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Whimsy’s Heavy Things – Julie Kraulis

This beautiful and thought-provoking books deals with depression as a simple metaphor:  “heavy things” that can weigh you down.   Whimsy carries around her “heavy things” until she discovers that by breaking them into smaller pieces, they become easier to manage.  I love the soft illustrations and the gentle tone of the story.  I can see this being an excellent book for discussion and using to infer (What do you think “heavy things” are?)  and connect (What are some heavy things that weigh you down?)

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Same, Same but Different – Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

Comparison writing is one of six nonfiction text structures I focused on in my new book Nonfiction Writing Power.  Since using anchor books (mentor texts) is an important part of writing instruction, I am always on the look-out for new books that model the different writing structures.  While this book would be classed as fiction, not only does it work well as a model for comparative writing, it is an excellent book for teaching diversity and multiculturalism.    The book features two boys:  Elliott who lives in America and Kailash who lives in India.  They begin their friendship as pen pals and through their letters, learn about the many similarities and differences between their two lives.  A great book for making connections to culture, family and lifestyle.  Colorful, cheerful illustrations.

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Whale Shines – An Artistic Tale – Fiona Robinson

Beautifully illustrated story of Whale trying to find something he can contribute to the upcoming undersea art show.  All his sea creature friends have artistic talents, but whale feels like he has nothing to offer.  I loved the illustrations and the great message of perseverance and creativity. Also a great link to science – learning about different sea creatures as well as whale’s discovery of bioluminescent phytoplankton that he uses to create his art.  I also love how each sea creature uses their own natural characteristic to develop their artistic talent.    

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The Numberlys – William Joyce

Once upon a time there were no numbers – only the alphabet. And so begins the latest visually stunning book by master creator William Joyce.  The text is simple but the illustrations add a layer of sophistication to this story of the world before numbers were created. The book starts out with only numbers in the world and the world is gray, lifeless and dull. Then The Numberlys decide that change is necessary and they create Letters !   And then the world comes to life and the pages have color!  The value of both numbers and letters is reminiscent of 1, 2, 3 Versus A, B, C by Michael Boldt, but Joyce manages to add a sophisticated flair to the concept.  This would be a great book to illustrate the value of numbers and letters in learning.

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 The Winning Goal – Sally Rippin        The Birthday Mix-Up – Sally Rippin

It’s often hard to find books for emergent readers that are both age and language appropriate.  Sally Rippin‘s series are excellent for children who are transitioning into very easy chapter books.  There is a series of books featuring Jack and another featuring Billy Brown (who is a girl). But the fun part is that Jack is a character in the Billy books and Billy is a character in the Jack books.  Very simple vocabulary and stories children will find many connections to.

 

Thanks for stopping by!  I’d love to know which book has caught your eye!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Art, Connect, Infer, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, Multicultural, New Books, Picture Book, Reading Power, Science, Transform, Writing Anchors

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday – Holy Science, Batman!

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I’m excited to be joining Alyson Beecher from Kid Lit Frenzy in this year’s Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2014  I’m hoping to discover many new nonfiction books that I can share with my students at school and with other teachers at workshops.  Link up here to join in!

This week, I thought I would feature some new Nonfiction Series that have just been released or soon to be.  Many of these I am excited about bringing into our library as they are not only appealing for students but great for teachers as they can be used to support many different content areas.

Batman Science Series  – Tammy Enz

This new series by Capstone Press explores the facts behind some of Batman’s high tech gadgets.  What could be better than combining the famous super hero with science facts?  I can just imagine how popular these books will be, particularly with boys.  I really liked the way the book compared Batman technology with real-life facts and photos.  My only slight concern is that for the younger Batman fans, the information, language and content is rather sophisticated.  Despite my slight reservation, I will be purchasing the series for our library!

 

            

 

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Seasons Series – Lizanne Flat

While these look like books about the seasons – they are, in fact, more focused on math concepts than science.  (I should have paid more attention to the titles!)  But once I understood what the books were trying to do, I LOVED the idea!   They are interactive and with very colorful pictures and introduce the concepts of patterning, sorting, estimating, probability.  A WONDERFUL link to Math!

                   

                 

Adapted to Survive Series –  Angela Royston  (Captsone Press)

Another new great series by Captstone Press focuses on different animals’ common skill – flying, climbing, digging – and how they have adapted to survive in its own particular environment.   The photographs are wonderful and I love that the reading level is low enough for children to read independently.  For teachers looking for engaging high interest-low vocabulary books, I would highly recommend these books!

        

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Benjamin Blog and his Inquisitive Dog – Anita Ganeri  (Capstone Press)

WOW!  Another amazing brand new series by Capstone Press.  This one is a definite WINNER!  Not only is it filled with amazing photographs and interesting information – but it is written as a travel blog!  How great is that for all you bloggers out there?   Benjamin Blog and his inquisitive dog Barko Polo (ha!)  travel the globe blogging about the world’s most exciting habitats including  rivers, deserts, rainforests, coasts, coral reefs, and mountains.  There is also a series in the works for Benjamin and his dog to explore different countries.   I’m excited at the thought of using these books anchors for many different research and writing projects!

         

  

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 Infographics  – Chris Oxlade (Capstone)

For those of you, like me, who are unfamiliar with this term – “infographics” are creative graphic visual representation of information.  In this series, the author creates a variety of engaging infographics that teach readers all about  animals, environment, weather and population.   I love the simplicity of using creative visuals to share information and numerical facts about different topics and think that these would be wonderful books for children who may have difficulty accessing information from written texts.

           

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Well… there you have it!  And if you hadn’t noticed – most of these new series are published by Capstone Press – one of the best publishers of nonfiction books for kids!  Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Math, New Books, NFPB Challenge 2014, Nonfiction, Science, Seasons, Social Studies

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

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I’m excited to be joining Alyson Beecher from Kid Lit Frenzy in this year’s Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2014  I’m hoping to discover many new nonfiction books that I can share with my students at school and with other teachers at workshops.  Link up here to join in!

What If You Had Animal Teeth? (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)        What If You Had Animal Hair?

What if You Had Animal Teeth (or Hair) – Sandra Markle

These nonfiction books are a combination of hilarious illustrations and images of humans with animal features and interesting facts and information.  I like that there is just enough information to make it interesting but not so much that it becomes overwhelming.   They make GREAT read-alouds and have kids laughing and wanting more.  I know a book is popular with kids when after I read it and put it up on display – EVERYONE wants to take it to their desks to read again!

Bright Ideas: The Science of Light      Hot Stuff: The Science of Heat and Cold   Push and Pull: The Science of Forces

The Big Bang Science Experiments Series – Jay Hawkins

My school is in the midst of preparing for our annual school Science Fair.  Students are always coming to the library looking for books about Science experiments.   This is a great series to have on hand – the simple and effective experiments are clearly explained and the photographs of young kids conducting the experiments make them very engaging.

Peter Kent's City Across Time

City Across Time – Peter Kent

I love books that you can sit and pour over and find new things to look at every time.  Peter Kent’s book follows a city from the Stone Age through to the 21st century.  Each double page spread shows a detailed cross section illustration of a  different time period.  The illustrations are amazing – and I can see kids spending hours looking through the pages, noticing the details and, at the same time, learning about different periods in history.  It’s a must have for a library or classroom.  A great book to choose one or two pages to project and invite students infer and compare different time periods.

The Noisy Paint Box:  The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art  – Barb Rosenstock

So much to love about this picture book biography about the life of one of the very first painters of abstract art – Vasily Kandinsky.  The illustrations by Mary Grandpre (love her!) are extraordinary.  I was fascinated by the story of this remarkable artist – who “heard” colors and who, as a child, struggled to paint because his paintbox was “too noisy”.  He grew, eventually, to embrace the sound of color and painted his bold ground-breaking words of art from his “noisy paint box”.   I loved the celebration of someone who clearly marched to his own drum and celebrated his unique talent in his own way.   An amazing story and I really appreciated the extensive information included at the back.

                                                                                  

Nest – Jorey Hurley

Nest tells the life cycle of a Robin through the seasons – beginning and ending in a nest.  It is a debut picture book from this author and I am MOST impressed!  It is so simple – just one word on each page – and there is a quiet tenderness to this book.  A perfect book for introducing primary students to life cycles and changing seasons.  Gorgeous.  I will be looking out for more from this author!

The Scraps Book: Notes From a Colorful Life – Lois Ehlert

I am SOOOOO excited about this book!  If you love Lois Ehlert – this is a MUST have!  In this amazing autobiography, Lois Ehlert shares her life story, through words, scraps of paper, photographs and painted pictures.  This is a behind the scenes look into her innovative and creative books.  This book is a celebration of creativity and I was SO inspired after I read it.  I KNOW I will be reading it to my class and using it as an anchor book for Art and writing.  AMAZING!

What nonfiction books have you been reading?

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Filed under Art, New Books, NFPB Challenge 2014, Science

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2014

I’m excited to be joining Alyson Beecher from Kid Lit Frenzy in this year’s Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2014  I’m hoping to discover many new nonfiction books that I can share with my students at school and with other teachers at workshops.  Link up here to join in!

Here are the nonfiction books I’ve been reading this week:

New Year’s Day – Celebrations in My World     Crabtree Publishing   

 

This was the perfect “back to school” book to start the New Year with my students.  It is a great book to share – filled with colorful photographs and interesting information about the history, customs and celebrations of New Year’s Day around the world.  There was also a page about New Year’s resolutions – which was a great way to launch our writing about our own resolutions!

I is For Imagination – An Invention Alphabet – by Marcia Schoberg

This term I am working with a grade 7 class on a project linking writing with their Social Studies unit on ancient inventions from Mesopotamia.  I used this anchor book today to launch the unit and get the children thinking about inventions.   We spent nearly 40 minutes reading this book and discussing inventions!   For every letter of the alphabet, I had the students predict the invention in the book:

“A” – is for…?  Students responses:  “airplane”, “antibiotics”, “apps” (ha!), “apple pie”  (The actual invention in the book is “aluminum”)

Once the invention had been revealed, we discussed the importance of the invention and how it made an impact on our lives.  By the time we got to “Z” – the kids were hooked and so excited about their project.  I learned SO much and HIGHLY recommend this as an anchor book to launch an invention unit!

Big Bang Science Experiments – Jay Hawkins (Windmill Books

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During the second term at my school, the intermediate classes spend a great deal of time preparing for the school Science Fair.  For the younger students who are participating for the first time, it can be a challenge coming up with just the right experiment or project.  Our great Teacher Librarian discovered this series and they have proved to be VERY helpful resources,   The books include clear photograph visuals, instructions and examples of many different experiments to try.

First Facts Biography Series (Capstone)

                                       

I’m a huge fan of Biographies for kids – and while I tend to be drawn towards the more narrative versions like On a Beam of Light and The Tree Lady, I also think it’s helpful to have examples of more factual biographies at a lower reading level.  This series  of 6 books (missing here are Jeff Kinney and Barbara Park)  was released in August – and I love that they include authors of books that many students will be familiar with.  The text is very accessible with full colored photographs and many text features.  A great collection for your library!

Noisy Frog Sing Along – John Himmelman

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Noisy Frog is an simple but interesting look at the different songs frogs make!  Some peep, some trill, some growl, some creek, and some go WAAH, WAAH, WAAH!  (Who knew?)  This book has bold and beautiful pictures and great facts at the back provide information about the “singers”!  Big frog love for this book!

The Unpopular Pea (& Carrot) by Elle Valentine

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I was immediately drawn to this book because of the cover, but debated whether I should list it as a nonfiction read.  It is a cute story of a pea and carrot who feel unloved compared to the donuts and candy everyone seems to love.  It has a fun rhyming text and very cute illustrations, however, the important message of this book focuses on nutrition.  It shows the differences between junk food and vegetables and would be a great anchor book to help teach children how to make healthy choices.  It’s also just darn cute!

What nonfiction picture books have you been reading this week?

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Filed under Lesson Ideas, New Books, NFPB Challenge 2014, Nonfiction, Science

Summer Reading – Day 31! It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

IMWAYR

It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week.  Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.

It’s always a bit dangerous for me when I find myself surrounded by new picture books because I want to buy them all!  This past week, Surrey Kidsbooks came to one of my workshops and “set up shop” in the school gym!  As always, Maggie had new books set aside to show me and I’m excited to share them now.

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On the top of Maggie’s “A MUST for teachers” list this fall, and now on the top of mine, is Clark the Shark by Bruce Hale.  This book is themed around self regulation, a topic of growing interest in education thanks to the insightful work of Canadian educator  Stuart Shanker and others. In this book, we meet Clark – a shark with a very BIG personality.  Clark LOVES everything but sometimes his boisterous enthusiasm gets in the way of his friendships.  His teacher, Mrs. Inkydink, helps him to devise a strategy of making up simple rhymes to calm down and “stay cool”.   An excellent book to share with children – entertaining as well as an important message.

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The Very Inappropriate Word by Jim Tobin is a celebration of words.  I loved this book for so many reasons – it’s funny, has great illustrations and a wonderful subtle message about using appropriate language.  The best part for me is the fact that it’s also written for those, like me, who love words.  The boy in this book loves words – big words, interesting words, hard words.  Things go a little sideways for him when he learns a word that is inappropriate and tries using it.   I love words and I love this book!

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What Are You Doing? by Elisa Amado is a celebration of reading.  On his way to school, a young boy notices many different people reading.  “What are you doing?”  he asks, to which each responds with another reason for reading.  One person is reading instructions to fix their bike, another is reading a story, while another is reading a guidebook.  Later in the day, he borrows his own book from school to read.  The simple text is a reminder to all of us about the pleasures and purposes for reading.

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The Man with the Violin by Canadian writer Kathy Stinson is based on the true story of renowned American violinist Joshua Bell who gave a free concert one day in a Washington, D.C. subway station.  Thousands of commuters rushed by but only seven stopped to listen.  Dylan, the fictional character in the story, is one of the seven who did stop, although his mother did not want him to.  He is mesmerized by the beautiful sound of the music and the song plays in his head all day.  The illustrations are beautiful and the writing floats and dances like music.  This book is a celebration of music and a great reminder to take the time to appreciate beauty that surrounds us.  An interesting account of the real event is provided at the back.  This was such an interesting story and one that I can see would be the starting point for some excellent class discussions.  I can’t wait to share this with my students.  LOVE it!  81IKKWK3r0L._AA1500_[1]

Miss Maple’s Seeds by Eliza Wheeler is another beautifully illustrated book that celebrates the cycle of seeds and seasons.  Miss Maple collects and cares for lost seeds, carefully searching for a place for them to grow when the time is right for them to find their roots.  I felt like I was walking through a garden when I read this book. A perfect book to launch a science unit on plants or seeds.

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In this witty book Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds, a group of misunderstood carnivores, tired of being made fun of by their plant-eating enemies, form a support group in their attempt to become more politically correct.  Their first plan is to think of converting to plant-eating but that plan does not go well because Wolf can’t find a berry bush without a bunny in it!  (hilarious!)  This book is meant to be read out loud – it is so funny.  Small children may not understand the humor but the bold, punch-line, slap-stick delivery would certainly be appreciated by older students.

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David Shannon latest book  Bugs in My Hair!   is a humorous look at head lice.  Let’s face it – most teachers have had the unwelcome experience of a lice outbreak in their classrooms.  This book deals with this situation in an informative and light-hearted way that would make children feel less embarrassed about this unpleasant experience.  A great book to have on hand – just in case you get a case!

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A Mountain of Friends by Kirsten Schoene is a heartwarming story of a penguin who has a dream to fly.  His friends work together to help him achieve this seemingly impossible goal.  The illustrations are beautiful and children will love how the book needs to be turned from landscape to portrait to view the “mountain” of friends.  A great book to teach children about working together to help others.

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The Road to Afghanistan by Linda Granfield is a moving book honoring those committed Canadian soldiers who fought in this war and experienced things none of us really can understand.  This is a reflective book about the successes and challenges of war and gives us a glimpse of Afghan people, culture and land to help us connect.  It is definitely a book I will add to my Remembrance Day collection, particularly given the Canadian focus.

Well, it’s been a great week of new books!  I’d love to hear about what you’ve been reading!

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Filed under Friendship, It's Monday, What Are You Reading?, New Books, Picture Book, Science, Social Responsibility

Summer Reading – Day 30! Nonfiction Picture Books!

Well… due to my busy week starting back to school and unpacking boxes of books into our new library, I have missed  Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday by several days.  But I have read a lot of nonfiction in the past few weeks that I would like to share anyways!

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My friend, Carrie Gelson  (There’s A Book for That) posted a wonderful collection in her 10 for 10 post a few weeks ago that focused around the theme of connections across the generations.  I came across this book Grand by  Marla Stewart Konrad in one of my book tubs the other day and thought about how it would be a great book to add to Carrie’s list!  It’s one of several books published by World Vision and celebrates grandparents around the world.  The amazing photographs and simple text  remind me of Barbara Kerley’s books and introduce younger children to themes that show how much we share in common, no matter where we live in the world.  Great for making connections!  The other books in this collection includes Play, Mom and Me and Getting There. 

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Another focus this week, linked to my exploration of different text structures, has led me to a new interest in “Guidebooks” or “Handbooks”.  I think this is a wonderful way of incorporating Social Studies content while teaching different forms of writing.  These “How to” guide books, published by Crabtree, are written in second person and definitely read as “instructions”  but with an almost humorous undertone.  In the Treasure Hunter’s Handbook, readers will learn everything they need to become a pirate – from a pirate wardrobe  to winning a pirate battle,  rules to follow on a pirate ship and how to avoid walking the plank!  The books are filled with great text features and simple text for beginning readers. Similar books include A Roman Soldier’s Handbook,  Knight Survival Guide, Go Greek and Coastal Treasure Hunter.  Intermediate or middle school teachers could use these books as inspiration for having their students create handbooks for any study on ancient civilizations.

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Meghan McCarthy’s Astronaut Handbook is another great example of writing that follows a procedural structure.  Written in second person, this simple book takes the reader through a rigorous training program in astronaut school.  Everything from deciding what kind of astronaut you want to taking a ride on the “Vomit Comit”  where you will learn how to float are included. The illustrations are great and I appreciated the “Fascinating Space Facts” that are included in the back. This book would be a great compliment to a Science unit on Space.  I’m already thinking of ideas for my students to create a “Pioneer Handbook” to end our study of early settlers.  Pages might include: how to dress like a pioneer, tips on building a log house, pioneer food and wagon-ride tips.

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When I was in elementary school, I remember doing a research project on houses around the world.  I remember making a poster for my presentation and researching and drawing examples of different houses.  Ever since then, I’ve been fascinated by the subject.  So when I came across If You Lived Here: Houses Around the World by Giles LaRoche in the library, I was immediately drawn to it.  I only wish I had had this book when I was  doing my project!   It is not only interesting, but the layered paper illustrations, reminiscent of Barbara Reid and Steve Jenkins are amazing.  From a village in South Africa to the mountains of Spain, this book will show children not only the different structures of homes, but the reasons behind why they were constructed that way.  I learned a lot of fascinating information about homes around the world and can’t wait to share this book with my students!

And finally, here is a book dedicated to those of us who leave our pumpkins out on their porches a few too many days after Halloween!   Rotten Pumpkin: A Rotten Tale in 15 Voices by David H. Schwartz is part story-part fact exploration in the stages of decomposition of a pumpkin left outside to rot.  Watch as a jack-o-lantern transforms from a happy holiday porch decoration into a slimy, moldy flattened puddle in 32 pages!  (Makes me wonder why we don’t carve our pumpkins on October 1st and then let them rot for a month.  They’d certainly be a lot more creepy by Halloween!)  A warning that this book is pretty disgusting – and the close-up photographs of the moldy decomposing pumpkin flesh do not leave anything to the imagination!  High on the scale for “gross factor”, I can hear the “Ewwwwww!!!!!!!’s” already!  A great link to science.

So what nonfiction books have you been reading lately?

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Filed under Connect, New Books, Nonfiction, Picture Book, Science, Social Studies