STEM Tuesday

STEM Tuesday — Pets! — Book List



Pretty soon we will be entering the “dog days” of summer, so why not let our STEM Tuesday blog reflect our love of dogs and other pets this month?

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Dog Science Unleashed and Cat Science Unleashed by Jodi Wheeler-Toppen

These two titles offer readers fun science-based activities and experiments to do with their pets based on how the animals think, move, drink, and more.



Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Mercy: The Incredible Story of Henry Bergh by Nancy Furstinger, illustrated by Vincent Desjardin

This biography about the founder of the ASPCA demonstrates how one person can make a difference in the world. His work led to the acceptance of the protection of animals.


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Support Independent Bookstores - Visit How to Speak Cat and How to Speak Dog by Aline Newman and Gary Weitzman, DVM

Why do cats purr? Why do dogs wag their tails? These two titles will help readers understand what their cats or dogs are trying to communicate with their body language and behavior.


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Dog Days of History: The Incredible Story of Our Best Friends by Sarah Albee

Delve into the history of our lives with our beloved canines with this book filled with interesting tidbits of historical pet facts.



Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgEverything Dogs: All the Canine Facts, Photos, and Fun You Can Get Your Paws On!  by Becky Bains

Examine everything about dogs in this great resource book. Readers will explore breeds, history, and more to discover what makes dogs our “best friends.”


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Sniffer Dogs: How Dogs (and Their Noses) Save the World by Nancy Castaldo

Why and how do dogs use their noses to help us in so many ways? Delve into the science and the extraordinary tales of these super sniffing canines.



Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Puppy Training for Kids: Teaching Children the Responsibilities and Joys of Puppy Care, Training, and Companionship by Colleen Pelar and Amber Johnson

This is a great book for families with a new puppy. Get training tips, advice, and more in this title for young dog owners.


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Poop Detectives: Sniffer Dogs in the Field by Ginger Wadsworth

Discover dogs helping scientists in the field in this well-researched book about conservation canines.



Support Independent Bookstores - Visit National Geographic Kids 125 True Stories of Amazing Pets: Inspiring Tales of Animal Friendship and Four-legged Heroes, Plus Crazy Animal Antics by Nat Geo

A perfect book of heart-warming and hilarious stories for the animal-loving reader who may or may not have their own pet. These stories will inspire and entertain.


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Inside of a Dog, Young Readers Edition: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Alexandra Horowitz, illustrated by Sean Vidal Edgerton  

This young readers edition of the popular adult nonfiction book gives children a glimpse into understanding a dog’s behavior. A great book for budding animal cognition scientists and dog trainers.


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Finding Gobi: Young Reader’s Edition: The True Story of One Little Dog’s Big Journey by Dion Leonard and Aaron Rosenberg

An inspiring and heartfelt look at one dog’s rescue. This edition brings this fantastic story of friendship to younger readers, who will appreciate the challenges of an 80-mile race and the struggle to give Gobi a real home.


STEM Tuesday book lists prepared by

Nancy Castaldo has written books about our planet for over 20 years including, THE STORY OF SEEDS: From Mendel’s Garden to Your Plate, and How There’s More of Less To Eat Around The World, which earned the Green Earth Book Award, Junior Library Guild Selection, and other honors. Nancy’s research has taken her all over the world from the Galapagos to Russia.  She strives to inform, inspire, and empower her readers. Nancy also serves as the Regional Advisor of the Eastern NY SCBWI region. Her 2018 multi-starred title is BACK FROM THE BRINK: Saving Animals from Extinction. Visit her at  

And she is the proud mom of a rescued Bichon named Boo Radley. 

Patricia Newman writes middle-grade nonfiction that empowers young readers to act on behalf of the environment and their communities. A Sibert Honoree for Sea Otter Heroes, Newman has also received an NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book Award for Eavesdropping on Elephants, and a Green Earth Book Award for Plastic, Ahoy! Her books have also received starred reviews, been honored as Junior Library Guild Selections, and included on Bank Street College’s Best Books lists. During author visits, she demonstrates how young readers can use writing to be the voice of change. Visit her at




STEM Tuesday– Tiny Worlds (Microscopic/Nanotech)- Interview with Author Nicola Davies

Welcome to STEM Tuesday: Author Interview & Book Giveaway, a repeating feature for the fourth Tuesday of every month. Go Science-Tech-Engineering-Math!

Today we’re interviewing Nicola Davies about her book TINY CREATURES: The World of Microbes. School Library Journal calls it a “look at these minuscule organisms and the effect they can have on everything from our bodies to the soil to the clouds in the sky.”

Mary Kay Carson: How did you come to write Tiny Creatures?

Nicola: There are so many things in children’s lives that are related to microbes from always being told to ‘cover your mouth when you sneeze,’ ‘wash your hands before dinner,’ and having to be vaccinated, to favourite foods like cheese and yoghourt. Microbes are everywhere, an incredibly important part of all our lives, so it made sense that even the smallest children should know about them. Also, I loved the idea of invisible, magical worlds when I was little and in microbes we have one all around us, all the time!

MKC: You dug up lots of fascinating facts about microbes during your research! What especially surprised you?

Nicola: As a biology student long ago I was fascinated by the forms of microscopic plants, such as diatoms and unicellular animals like euglena and amoeba. Since then the technology of micro photography has advanced and there are even more beautiful photographs of these astounding mini life forms; looking at those was a real delight.

Nicola Davies is an award-winning author and a zoologist whose seemingly boundless enthusiasm for studying animals of all kinds has led her around the world. Fortunately for young readers, she is just as excited about sharing her interests through picture books. When not swimming with whales, sharks, or sea lions, traveling game reserves in Kenya, or off on other scientific expeditions, Nicola Davies gives writing workshops for students, writes books, and once she made a chair. She lives in Wales.

But I think the most amazing statistic I learned was the contribution to the oxygen in the air we breathe made by marine diatoms. One in every five breaths that you take is essentially provided by these beautiful, microscopic little plants. It was yet another example of how all life on earth is connected in a complex network, a network which supports us all and which we damage at our peril.

MKC: Do you have a STEM background?

Nicola: My life’s passion is zoology, although admittedly usually I am concerned with multicellular organisms. I did a Natural Sciences degree at Cambridge and did post grad study on bats and whales.

MKC: How would you describe the approach you took on this book? 

Nicola: Simple and accessible. I knew it wasn’t necessary or possible to put the whole of microbiology into a picture book, but I wanted to provide readers — both children AND their parents — with a seedbed of knowledge that would let them understand some of the basic things they may encounter in everyday life. I also wanted to inspire a sense of wonder and also of humbleness- we think our sense tell us everything we need to know but there is so much that we don’t see. It’s important to remember that real knowledge and understanding come first from admitting that you don’t know everything! My job as STEM picture book author is to make sure that at the end of the book, my readers understand a little and want to understand a lot more. My books aim to be a gateway into a world of lifelong learning and dialogue with the world.


Win a FREE copy of Tiny Creatures!

Enter the giveaway by leaving a comment below. The randomly-chosen winner will be contacted via email and asked to provide a mailing address (within the U.S. only) to receive the book.

Good luck!

Your host is Mary Kay Carson, author of The Tornado Scientist, Alexander Graham Bell for Kids, Mission to Pluto, Weird Animals, and other nonfiction books for kids. @marykaycarson

STEM Tuesday– Tiny Worlds (Microscopic/Nanotech)- Writing Tips & Resources



Figuring on Figurative language


“What is it?” A small hand lifts a treasure toward my face. It is brown and round and was found along our rocky trail.

“What does it look like?” I ask as I lower his hand back down to my student’s eye level.

“No, I mean, what is it called?” His earnest eyes plead with me to identify it.

“I suppose it has a name, but I’d rather take a closer look.”

He looks at me like I’m being difficult, which I guess I kind of am. I often sidestep the step of labeling the treasures my students find as we explore outdoors. Instead, I pull out two jeweler’s loupes and hand him one. Holding the magnifier to my eye, I squat and lean over his hand. “Wow! It looks like the surface of the moon!” I lean back to give him a turn. “What does it remind you of?”

Five minutes later, my young friend has a list of 15 analogies (a farmer’s field, skin with pimples, crumpled paper bag, a lonely egg, …) and is drafting a poem based on this natural artifact.

No longer stubbornly stuck on “What is it?” his brain was free to observe and associate, think and create, synthesize and evaluate analogies. Deep thinking, all thanks to looking closely and a few careful probes.

Changing Scale

That trick of changing scale and asking questions works wonders for both scientific and writing work. Something about diving into microscopic worlds allows our mind to operate at a different cognitive level. We are no longer harnessed to the prescribed method of investigation, the expected question, the quantitative answer.

Take a look at some of this month’s highlighted books and you’ll see how “looking little” results in impressive investigations and fantastic language. Stephen Kamer’s Hidden Worlds: Looking Through a Scientist’s Microscope provides a great example. You’ll see stalks of mold described as “a bouquet of exotic flower,” saltwater diatoms which will remind you of a kitchen sponge, a butterfly mouth that looks like a spring.

When I am trying to strengthen figurative language in my writing, I look little and practice by looking at the world through my jeweler’s loupes. It’s not microscopic, but it does the trick. I learned this technique from The Private Eye Project, a program that provides professional development for educators on thinking by analogy. Once I started seeing analogies in the micro world, I couldn’t stop seeing them in the macro world. Train your brain (and your students’) and whole new worlds will be opened to you.


Try it Yourself

Let’s practice together with this image.

What does it look like?


Hair released from a braid


Rain drops sliding down windshield – stormy nights

Earthworm trails

The color of mountains, dried cactus, shredded wheat cereal

Chocolate milk

Now you add on to the list.

Keep going! There are no wrong answers here.

Notice how some of my items reminded me of additional, tangential items? That’s great. That means the mind is reaching further.

Be sure to write all of your items down. There are NO WRONG ANSWERS!


Let’s do another:

What does it look like?

Teeth – dentist

Cogs on a machine

Tiny fingers

Bristly like my doormat

Hands – hands coming together in huddle for sports team, the cheer from friends and family

Rows in a farmer’s field

Color of straw

Paint brush tips

Toothpicks – corn on the cob, summers at the lake, Grandpa

Add on to the list. Keep going! There are no wrong answers here.



Now, do this one on your own:

What does it look like?

Keep going! There are no wrong answers here.

Take it Further

  • Get a magnifier. Any magnifier will work but I prefer Private Eye’s loupes because they fit to my eye, blocking out all other distractions.
  • Select an object from nature. The more mysterious the object, the better, but it can be something simple like a leaf.
  • Ask yourself what it looks like. Write at least 10 things. For additional prompts, compare it to objects in the kitchen, your bedroom, sports equipment. Concentrate on the texture, the color, or one section of the object.

Wondering why I avoid identifying these nature treasures? When I label items that closes one door of possibilities to your mind. For developing figurative language, we want our minds as wide open as possible.


Heather L. Montgomery loves to look little. Thinking by analogy helped her write books such as Bugs Don’t Hug: Six-Legged Parents and Their Kids (Charlesbridge), Little Monsters of the Ocean: Metamorphosis Under the Waves (Millbrook Press), Something Rotten: A Fresh Look at Roadkill (Bloomsbury). For more about Heather, her work and her educational programs, visit




This month, the Out Of Left Field (O.O.L.F.) Files provide links to amazing images to spark even more analogies. Dive in and enjoy!


Extraordinary Microworld of Dennis Kunkel

Science as Art

Nikon’s Small World Photomicrography Contest Winners (From 1944 – present)

Scanning Electron Microscope Photography of David Scharf