Posts Tagged book clubs

STEM Tuesday– Digging Up History/Archeology — Book List


This month we dig into the science of archaeology. By getting down and dirty, these scientists discover long forgotten civilizations, locate sunken ships, and solve puzzles. These books introduce readers to archaeologists and their findings and highlight how improvements in technology help make these discoveries possible.

Digging into Archaeology


Archaeological Discoveries of Ancient America by Frank Joseph
One way to understand the history of America is through examination of artifacts archaeologists uncover. This book examines the use of DNA and carbon dating to explain out of place artifacts (Viking ruins), debunk frauds, confirm lost cities, and explore the truth of our past.


Archaeology: Excavating our Past edited by Heather Moore Niver
An in-depth examination of the field of archaeology. Discusses the types, training, techniques, history, and recent discoveries. It includes sidebars of important archaeologists and their finds.



Mummies Exposed! by Kerrie Logan Hollihan
New technologies, such as such as X-ray imaging, carbon-dating, and DNS analysis, help scientists uncover fresh facts about the dead. This book explores desert mummies, ice mummies (the oldest cold case ever!), bog bodies, a princess, and mummy medical mysteries.



Two books by Lois Miner Huey who works as a historical archaeologist for the State of New York:

Forgotten Bones: Uncovering a Slave Cemetery
In 2005, the installation of a new sewer in New York became an archaeological treasure trove with discovery of a hundred-year-old skull. Follow the scientists who piece together the colonial history of a forgotten cemetery and slavery in the north.


Children of the Past: Archaeology and the Lives of Kids
Children of the twenty-first century have a lot in common with kids from long ago. Their clothes looked different and they ate different foods, but children living thousands of years ago did household chores, played with friends, and created art.

And for arrrr-chaeologists of the deep:

The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked and Found by Martin W. Sandler
Ahoy, mateys! If ye be looking for a combination of pirate adventure and marine archaeology, this be it. The Whydah is the only pirate ship found and excavated. [Sept 19 is Talk Like a Pirate day; link:]



Modern Technology Meets the Past


The impact of technology in history and archaeology by Alex Woolf
From metal detectors to computers, technology has transformed archaeology. This book examines satellite surveys, LIDAR, SONAR, and dating techniques beyond radiocarbon that help scientists analyze artifacts and human remains.



Digging deep : how science unearths puzzles from the past by Laura Scandiffio
Examine discoveries about life in the Stone Age, lost cities, Franklin’s expedition to find the Northwest Passage, the grave of King Richard III, and ancient art. It’s cool how the stuff archaeologists discover affects the way we view history.


Archaeologists at work


Robert Ballard: Explorer and Undersea Archaeologist (Makers of Modern Science) by Lisa Yount
Ballard combined his passion for archaeology and the submersible, Alvin, to discover the RMS Titanic, Bismark, Isis (Roman Ship), and others. His work, and his mapping of the ocean floor, changed science.


Archaeology: Cool Women who Dig by Anita Yasuda
Explore archaeology through the work of three women working in the field. From historical archaeology to marine archaeology you’ll learn more about women pioneers in field research, various methods of investigation, and possible career options.



The Hero Schliemann: The Dreamer Who Dug for Troy by Laura Amy Schlitz
Quick, engrossing look at the “archaeologist” who inadvertently discovered Troy. Full of mistakes to avoid and “fake news.”



STEM Tuesday book list prepared by:

Sue Heavenrich writes about science for children and their families, from space to backyard ecology. Bees, flies, squirrel behavior—things she observes in her neighborhood and around her home—inspire her writing. A long line of ants marching across the kitchen counter generated one of her first articles for kids. When not writing, you can find her committing acts of science from counting native pollinators to monitoring water quality of the local watershed. Her most recent book is Diet for a Changing Climate (2018).


Maria is a children’s author, blogger, and poet passionate about making nature and reading fun for children. She was a round 2 judge for the 2018 & 2017 Cybils Awards. And a judge for the #50PreciousWords competition since its inception. Two of her poems are published in The Best Of Today’s Little Ditty 2016 and 2014-2015 anthologies. She is the parent of two amazing adults and lives in the Pacific Northwest with two Pixie Bob cats. When not writing, critiquing, or reading, she bird watches, travels the world, bakes, and hikes. Visit her at

STEM Tuesday — Pets — Interview with Author Jodi Wheeler-Toppen

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 Jodi Wheeler-Toppen about her just-released book CAT SCIENCE UNLEASHED: Fun Activities to Do with Your Feline Friends. School Library Journal says: “This book will be a delight to children who love cats and want to learn more about them using hands-on experiments.”

Mary Kay Carson: Tell us a bit about Cat Science Unleashed.

Jodi Wheeler-Toppen: Cat Science Unleashed is a book of science-based activities to do with your cat. The activities are fun–make your cat a toy that also tests her sniff-skills, find out how well your cat knows her territory, test her hearing and her night-vision, for example. They’ll show you cool things about your cat’s anatomy, physiology, psychology, etc. A lot of the activities also help you learn about the peculiarities of your special kitty–there’s a personality test, for example, where you can see how your cat compares to thousands of cats from around the world.

MKC: Developing cat-based activities must have been challenging!

Jodi: I wrote this book as a pairing to go with Dog Science Unleashed, which I also wrote. And I can tell you, the cat book was more of a challenge! For the dog book, my friends would drop their dogs at my house for the day and I would try activities with them (because I wanted to see how they worked with a variety of pups). But cats are so attached to their territories–it would terrify most cats to be dropped off at a strange house with a stranger. So I had to go to them and coax them out from under the bed or on top of the refrigerator or whatnot and try to engage them in my activities. It often worked best if I got the cat’s favorite person to try the activities while I watched.

Jodi Wheeler-Toppen is a former high school science teacher, with a Ph.D. in science education. She’s passionate about presenting science as exciting, suspenseful, and understandable. The author of more than a dozen science books for children and teachers, she also has a series on teaching strategies and activities from the National Science Teachers Association Press. Visit her at

I got in trouble with one of my friends. I tested her three kittens for their paw preference by placing butter in a jar and watching how they got it out. She says that now, every morning when she makes toast, one-two-three little faces pop up over the countertop demanding butter! Sometimes an experiment would go great with one cat and then I’d never get it to work again. There was this fun one where I cut out detailed silhouettes of an angry cat and a peaceful cat and taped them to the wall. One pair of kitties gave great responses, arching their backs at the angry cat and rubbing against the peaceful one. But then I could never get another cat to respond, so I didn’t put it in the book.

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

Jodi: I tried to work backwards from the science to the activities. So I looked for science ideas that were super cool or seemed important if you were going to understand your kitty. Then I thought, what is the craziest way we could look at this? What could you do with your cat that would be really fun or funny or would make Princess Fluffy super happy? I want it to be fun, for kids and their cats. I also want people to come away amazed at their purrfect pets!

MKC: Why do you choose to write STEM books?

Jodi: I was a high school science teacher and I am still very involved in STEM education through writing and staff development. Life circumstances made it difficult for me to stay in the classroom, so writing is a way I can still teach. Plus, it’s so much fun to take a topic and think about what’s really cool, what would people really get a kick out of about this, and focus there. So much more fun than having to always stick to the education standards!


Win a FREE copy of Cat Science Unleashed!

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

Beyond the Dog Day’s of Summer

I just going to say it. I’m a cat person. Their aloof disdain for my humanness and the general consensus that they are just using me for food and a few scratches behind the ears just makes me love them all the more. They are not needy in the least, at a time in my life when I often feel my nurturing resources are close to depleted.

Despite my cat person-ness, I am a complete and total sucker for dog books. A Dog’s Purpose tied me up in knots and I read The Art of Racing in the Rain in one sitting. With the dog days of summer behind us, why not a cool dog reading list for your middle grade reader? These are some of my favorites. They range from heart pounding to heart breaking to laugh out loud funny.

Take your pick and happy tails, friends.



Hero, by Jennifer Li Shotz

Hero, a retired search-and-rescue dog, is not prepared for a stray puppy to come into his life. But when he and twelve-year-old Ben find Scout injured and afraid, the new addition leads them down an unexpected and dangerous path.

When Scout goes missing, it’s up to Hero to use his search-and-rescue skills to find Scout and bring him home.

Get ready for a canine adventure full of danger, loyalty, and the unbreakable bond between a boy and his best friend.

(and don’t miss the other titles in this ongoing series!)


Rules of the Ruff, by Heidi Lang

Twelve-year-old Jessie is in for a long summer at her aunt and uncle’s house. Her cousin Ann has a snotty new best friend, which leaves Jessie all alone. But Jessie is industrious, and—not content with being ignored all summer—she convinces Wes, a grouchy neighborhood dog walker, to take her on as his apprentice.

Sure, dog walking turns out to be harder than she expected, but she has Wes’s dog-walking code, the Rules of the Ruff, to guide her, and soon she’s wrangling her very own pack. But when a charismatic rival dog walker moves to town, she quickly snatches up most of Wes’s business—and Jessie decides she isn’t going to take this defeat with her tail between her legs.


Ruff vs. Fluff, by Spencer Quinn

From the outside, Queenie the cat and Arthur the dog appear to have a lot in common. Both pets live in the charming Blackberry Hill inn. They both love their humans, twins Harmony and Bro. They both have a fondness for sausage.

But that doesn’t change the fact that they are mortal enemies.

Goofy, big-hearted Arthur loves everyone he’s ever met . . . except the snobby, scheming cat who’s devoted her life to ruining his.

Queenie is a bit choosier. And who can blame her? When you’re brilliant AND exquisitely beautiful, you can’t be expected to rub tails with commoners. Especially not slobbery dogs.

But when the twins’ beloved cousin is framed for murder, Queenie and Arthur must work together to clear his name . . . something Queenie finds even more distasteful than inexpensive caviar. Can two enemies put aside their differences long enough to solve the mystery?


Wish, by Barbara O’Conner

Eleven-year-old Charlie Reese has been making the same secret wish every day since fourth grade. She even has a list of all the ways there are to make the wish, such as cutting off the pointed end of a slice of pie and wishing on it as she takes the last bite.

But when she is sent to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to live with family she barely knows, it seems unlikely that her wish will ever come true. That is, until she meets Wishbone, a skinny stray dog who captures her heart, and Howard, a neighbor boy who proves surprising in lots of ways. Suddenly Charlie is in serious danger of discovering that what she thought she wanted may not be what she needs at all.

From award-winning author Barbara O’Connor comes a middle-grade novel about a girl who, with the help of a true-blue friend, a big-hearted aunt and uncle, and the dog of her dreams, unexpectedly learns the true meaning of family in the least likely of places.


Good Dog, by Dan Gemeinhart

Brodie was a good dog. And good dogs go to heaven.

Except Brodie can’t move on. Not just yet. As wonderful as his glimpse of the afterlife is, he can’t forget the boy he left behind. The boy he loved, and who loved him in return.

The boy who’s still in danger.

So Brodie breaks the rules of heaven. He returns to Earth as a spirit. With the help of two other lost souls — lovable pitbull Tuck and surly housecat Patsy — he is determined to find his boy and to save him.

Even if it costs him paradise. Even if he loses his eternal soul.

Because it’s what a good dog would do.


Rain Reign, by Ann M. Martin

Rose Howard is obsessed with homonyms. She’s thrilled that her own name is a homonym, and she purposely gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein), which, according to Rose’s rules of homonyms, is very special. Not everyone understands Rose’s obsessions, her rules, and the other things that make her different―not her teachers, not other kids, and not her single father.

When a storm hits their rural town, rivers overflow, the roads are flooded, and Rain goes missing. Rose’s father shouldn’t have let Rain out. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search.