STEM Tuesday

Middle Grade Birthday Book List!

Well, today is my birthday . . . so to celebrate, I thought I’d make a list of some great middle grade books about birthdays. Enjoy!

 

Moon Shadow by Erin Downing

Thirteen-year-old Lucia Frank discovers that she can become the girl she’s always wanted to be with the help of a little “moon magic” in this charming novel about the value of friendship, family, and finding yourself.

Lucia Frank has never had time for her mom’s “new age” nonsense. She doesn’t believe in any of that stuff. All she wants is to figure out how to get her best friend, Will, back and cope with her parents looming divorce. But then something strange happens on the night of her thirteenth birthday.

When the eclipsed moon slips into the shadow of the earth, Lucia’s Shadow slips out. Now hidden in a moonstone, the Shadow waits for Lucia to sleep so it can come out to play.

Lucia’s Shadow seems unlike her in almost every way: daring, outspoken, and unwilling to let anyone push her around. But it actually isn’t the anti-Lucia…in fact, her Shadow is very much like the person Lucia wishes she could be. At first, Lucia is eager to undo whatever magic happened on her birthday so life can get back to normal. But when she realizes her Shadow is doing and saying things she has only dreamed about, she wonders if maybe things aren’t all bad.

With a little help from her Shadow, she’s turning into the kind of girl she’s always wanted to be.

 

The Squatchicorns by Ellen Potter and illustrated by Felicita Sala

When a tribe of Sasquatches flee from a mysterious curse, they take refuge in Hugo’s home, Widdershins Cavern. These new Sasquatches look a bit . . . odd. For example, they all have unicorn horns on their heads! Always open to meeting new creatures, Hugo befriends one of these strange squidges, Nobb. Nobb offers to escort Hugo though the North Woods so that Hugo can attend Boone’s birthday party. Having never been inside a Human house, Hugo finds the experience confusing and somewhat disastrous. Just when it looks like Hugo may have ruined Boone’s birthday, they set out on a mission to solve the troubling curse in Nobb’s cavern.

 

Dork Diaries 13: Tales from a Not-So-Happy Birthday by Rachel Renée Russe

Nikki and her BFF’s Chloe and Zoey have been planning a birthday party of epic proportions! There’s just one problem—Nikki’s mom says no way to the budget they need to make it happen. Nikki’s ready to call the whole thing off, but some surprising twists might take that decision out of her hands, and help comes from the person Nikki would least expect. One way or another, this will be a birthday that Nikki will never forget!Anna has been best friends with Sadie for as long as she can remember. So Anna is utterly perplexed when, on Anna’s birthday, Sadie unceremoniously stakes claim to Anna’s new pony necklace, then suddenly stops speaking to Anna altogether. Did Anna do something wrong? With a little help from her wiener dog, Banana, as well as some sage advice from her family, Anna makes some important discoveries about what it means to stand up for herself, and how to be a true friend.

 

 

 

Anna, Banana, and the Friendship Split by Anica Mrose Rissi, illustrated by Meg Park

Anna has been best friends with Sadie for as long as she can remember. So Anna is utterly perplexed when, on Anna’s birthday, Sadie unceremoniously stakes claim to Anna’s new pony necklace, then suddenly stops speaking to Anna altogether. Did Anna do something wrong? With a little help from her wiener dog, Banana, as well as some sage advice from her family, Anna makes some important discoveries about what it means to stand up for herself, and how to be a true friend.

 

 

 

Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible by Ursula Vernon

Harriet Hamsterbone is not your typical princess. She may be quite stunning in the rodent realm (you’ll have to trust her on this one), but she is not so great at trailing around the palace looking ethereal or sighing a lot. She finds the royal life rather . . . dull. One day, though, Harriet’s parents tell her of the curse that a rat placed on her at birth, dooming her to prick her finger on a hamster wheel when she’s twelve and fall into a deep sleep. For Harriet, this is most wonderful news: It means she’s invincible until she’s twelve! After all, no good curse goes to waste. And so begins a grand life of adventure with her trusty riding quail, Mumfrey…until her twelfth birthday arrives and the curse manifests in a most unexpected way.

 

 

 

 

Waste Of Space by Stuart Gibbs

Tensions are running high when multi-billionaire Lars Sjoburg is poisoned and everyone is looking to Dash Gibson to solve the case.

Moon Base Alpha was supposed to be an exciting place to live, but Dashiell Gibson didn’t expect for it to be this exciting. He’s already had to solve a murder and locate a missing moon base commander. Now, he just wants to have a calm, quiet thirteenth birthday. But, of course, trillionaire (and total pain) Lars Sjoburg ruins it—by being poisoned.

Now there’s another potential killer loose on Moon Base Alpha, and Dash is forced to identify the most likely suspects. Suddenly Dash finds himself with a target on his back. Whoever poisoned Lars will stop at nothing to keep his—or her—identity a secret.

 

Katie’s Lucky Birthday by Fran Manushkin, illustrated by Tammy Lyon

Katie is happy to be the person of the day when she celebrates her birthday at school. But when she realizes that her friend Pedro’s birthday is in August, she wants to find a way to share her birthday with him. Come celebrate with the lucky birthday girl, Katie Woo!

 

 

 

 

 

Patrick Griffin’s First Birthday on Ith by Ned Rust

Breathtaking suspense and surprising twists come together in Patrick Griffin’s First Birthday on Ith, the second book of the page-turning Patrick Griffin and the Three Worlds trilogy by Ned Rust.

After learning Earth is about to be destroyed, 12-year-old Patrick Griffin is on a mission. Under the protection of a powerful griffin, Patrick and his friend Oma travel through abandoned cities on the planet Ith, hiding from the enemy while they work out a plan to overthrow the alternate world’s sinister government.

Back on Earth, the gigantic jackalope Mr. BunBun and nine adorable numbats race to warn humans about impending doom. But time is running out. The evil Rex Abraham is back on Ith and will stop at nothing to continue his domination of the Three Worlds.

 

 

STEM Tuesday– CSI – Forensic Science and Anthropology- Writing Tips & Resources

Trace Evidence of an Author: Point of View, Purpose, and Voice

In many ways, Locard’s Exchange Principle is the bedrock of modern forensic science. According to Locard, when two things come into contact with each other, like a suspect and a crime scene, they transfer materials. This explains why a suspect leaves behind trace evidence like fingerprints, hair, and fibers from their clothes while picking up tell-tale mud on their boots.

When we write, a similar exchange takes place. As authors, we leave fingerprints all over our work, especially in the purpose we choose, the point of view we take, and the voice we pick. Don’t believe me? Grab your tweezers and magnifying glass and let’s analyze the evidence.

Author’s purpose and point of view

The first, and perhaps, obvious way writers leave traces of themselves is through their purpose and point of view. Two authors writing about the same subject may have different purposes. The first may want to persuade you, while the other wants to inform. Even if two authors have the same purpose, their approach to the subject (in other words, their point of view) is as unique as their DNA. This includes what facts they choose to include or leave out and the conclusions they draw from the evidence.

Let’s take a closer look: This month’s book list features two books about the discovery of the Kennewick Man, a 9,000-year-old skeleton found on the banks of the Columbia River in Washington: MYSTERIOUS BONES by Katherine Kirkpatrick (illustrated by Emma Stevenson) and THEIR SKELETONS SPEAK by Sally M. Walker and Douglas W. Owsley. As an exercise, read the jacket flap copy and study the table of contents for each book. What does each tell you about the author’s purpose and point of view? Do the authors cover exactly the same topics or do you see a difference? Do you think their purpose and points of view are the same? If not, how do you think they will differ? Does one point of view more closely match your own?  

 

Voice

Authors also leave traces of themselves in terms of the voice they choose for a piece of writing. Is the voice humorous? Poetic? Energetic? Formal? Informal? The voice should help the author achieve their purpose and communicate their point of view. Try this activity: Compare a paragraph from MORE ONE-HOUR MYSTERIES (Mary Ann Carr) with Carla Mooney’s FORENSICS: UNCOVER THE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY OF CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION. How would you label the voice of each? What elements of the writing led you to that choice? Hint: Look at things like word choice, punctuation, length of sentences. More informal or humorous voice might rely on shorter sentences, more exclamation points, and more informal language. 

Your Author Fingerprints

Now, look at a piece of your own nonfiction writing. What’s your purpose and point of view? How would you describe your voice? Why? Is your voice a good match for your purpose and point of view? If not, pick another voice and revise your work.

And don’t forget, Locard’s Exchange Principle is a two-way street. Even if a piece of writing doesn’t work out the first time, every time we write we pick up new skills. That means all our writing leaves its imprint on us, helping us develop and grow as writers.

 

Kirsten W. Larson used to work with rocket scientists at NASA. Now she writes books for curious kids. She’s the author of WOOD, WIRE, WINGS: EMMA LILIAN TODD INVENTS AN AIRPLANE, illustrated by Tracy Subisak (Calkins Creek, February 2020), CECILIA PAYNE: MAKING OF A STAR (SCIENTIST), illustrated by Katherine Roy (Chronicle, Fall 2021), along with 25 other nonfiction books for kids. Find her at kirsten-w-larson.com or on Twitter/Instagram @KirstenWLarson.


THE O.O.L.F. FILES

This month, the Out Of Left Field (O.O.L.F.) Files provides links to learn more about forensic science, voice choice, and much more.

  • Learn more about Locard’s Exchange Principle at Science Struck.
  • The Crime Museum is another fun place to explore Locard’s Exchange Principle and related topics.
  • Need some help deciphering voice? Melissa Stewart has one of the best videos around about The Voice Choice in writing. 
  • Looking for some online brain teasers and mysteries for your students? Check out Squigly’s Playhouse.
  • One-Stop English has a fun “murder in the classroom” mystery activity for students.

Winners of the STEM Tuesday CoSTEM Contest!!

STEM Tuesday CoSTEM Costume Contest

 

We are thrilled to announce the winners of the 2nd annual STEM Tuesday CoSTEM Contest!!

 

First Place: 

  Peyton — he dressed up like Albert Einstein for Brad Meltzer’s   

 

Second Place:

 

  Beth– she dressed up like a woman in science for Rachel Ignotofsky’s    

 

Third Place:

  Evan– he dressed up like a crash-test dummy for Jennifer Swanson’s       

 

CONGRATULATIONS to the winners and to everyone who participated.

Your costumes were AMAZING! We love to see evidence of STEM + literacy

 

What the winners will receive:

1st Place —  Receives 5 autographed STEM Books + $25 Barnes & Noble Gift card

2nd Place — Receives 3 autographed STEM Books + $15 Barnes & Noble Gift card

3rd Place—   Receives 2 autographed STEM Books +$10 Barnes & Noble Gift card

Also, a huge thanks to the authors who donated books :

 

  by Carla Mooney            by Janet Slingerland

   by Laurie Wallmark      by Christy Mihaly and Sue Heavenrich

   by Susan M. Latta              by Kirsten W. Larson

  by Dianne White by Julia Garstecki

 

 

by Jennifer Swanson

 

 

The entire STEM Tuesday Team thanks you for participating and invites you to keep reading our posts throughout the year.

GO STEM!!

 

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Jennifer Swanson is the creator and administrator of STEM Tuesday. She dreams of one day running away to the Museum of Science and Industry- then maybe she could look at all the exhibits and try out all the gadgets without competing for them with her kids. An author of thirty-five nonfiction science books for kids, Jennifer’s motto is  Science Rocks! You can find her at www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com