Posts Tagged book lists

STEM Tuesday–A Partridge in a Pear Tree and other Birds this Holiday Season– Book List


Happy December! We’ve decided to have fun with the holiday song featuring a partridge in a pear tree and highlight some of our favorite middle-grade STEM titles about birds. Take a “gander” at these books for the budding ornithologists in your classroom.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgKakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot by Sy Montgomery, photographs by Nic Bishop

The last remaining Kakapo parrots live on a remote island off the coast of New Zealand. Explore recovery efforts in this Scientists in the Field title by noted author Sy Montgomery.


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Beauty and the Beak: How Science, Technology, and a 3D-Printed Beak Rescued a Bald Eagle by Deborah Lee Rose and Jane Veltkamp

Discover the uplifting story of how one bald eagle was treated with a 3D-printed prosthetic beak after a devastating shooting.


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgMoonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95  and  The Race to Save The Lord God Bird both Phillip Hoose

These two titles from a National Book Award-winning author tell the stories of two fascinating birds. Moonbird is a banded bird, who has flown the equivalent mileage of flying to the moon and halfway back. In The Race to Save The Lord God Bird Hoose recounts the dramatic story of the ivory-billed woodpecker.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Snowy Owl Invasion!: Tracking on Unusual Migration by Sandra Markle

If you found Moonbird fascinating, this title will also keep you turning the page. Markle’s book describes the unusual sightings of snowy owls during 2013 and the reasons they were found outside of their native Arctic home.


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Crow Smarts: Inside the Brain of the World’s Brightest Bird by Pamela Turner, photographs by Andy Comins, with art by Guido de Filipppo

If you think that the term “bird brain” is an insult, think again. Turner investigates the intelligence of crows in this Scientist in the Field title. Readers will never look at a crow in the same way again.


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit I Love Birds: 52 Ways to Wonder, Wander, and Explore Birds with Kids by Jennifer Ward , illustrations by Alexander Vidal

Ward offers some great activities for young birders in this early middle grade.



Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Owling: Enter the World of the Mysterious Birds of Night by Mark Wilson

While we’re sleeping the night is alive with creatures, including owls. Wilson brings the night alive in this book about these nighttime predators.



Like Phillip Hoose, Sneed B. Collard III is an author who returns to the subject of birds again and again. Check out these three titles:

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Fire Birds: Valuing Natural Wildfires and Burned Forests

Natural forest fires impact many human and animal species, including birds. Sneed reveals the complex relationships between fire and thriving plant and animal communities.



Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Warblers and Woodpeckkers: A Father-Son Big Year of Birding

Discover Collard’s birding expeditions with his 13-year old son. A wonderful book about a passion for birding and a parent-child bonding experience.



Support Independent Bookstores - Visit Woodpeckers: Drilling Holes and Bagging Bugs

It’s always a treat to watch a woodpecker pound a tree with its beak to reach a tasty meal, but how do they do it without getting brain damage or harming their beak? Collard delves into the world of woodpeckers in this book.


STEM Tuesday book lists prepared by

Nancy Castaldo has written books about our planet for over 20 years including, THE STORY OF SEEDS, 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 

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– CSI – Forensic Science and Anthropology- Interview with Author Chana Stiefel

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 Chana Stiefel, author of FINGERPRINTS: Dead People DO Tell Tales.

Mary Kay Carson: How’d you come to write this book?

Chana Stiefel: Enslow Publishers was doing a series on True Forensic Crime Stories and the editor contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in writing a book about fingerprints. I was instantly intrigued–mainly because I was a fan of the TV show CSI, I’d never written about forensic science before, and was excited to take out my magnifying glass and dig into the research. That’s one of the best parts of being a science writer: You often get to research and write about topics you know very little about–until you feel like a mini expert.

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MKC: Did your exhaustive research lead to some interesting finds?

Chana: Oh my goodness, yes! Fingerprints are so fascinating. Did you know that…

  • No two people on the planet (not even identical twins) share the same fingerprints. This has made fingerprints a great tool for solving crimes since the early 1900s.
  • Fingerprints develop as a baby grows in its mother’s womb—by the 19th week of development! The variety of patterns of fingerprints is determined both by genes and the movements of the fetus’s fingers inside its mother. Tiny movements affect the growth of dividing skin cells on each finger.
  • Fingerprints may have evolved to increase friction (for instance, helping early humans grip tools).
  • As we grow and age, our fingerprints stay the same! That’s why a fingerprint might help solve a crime years after it’s committed.

I could go on and on! Ever since writing this book, I have never looked at fingerprints the same way. So think before you spray Windex on that mirror or countertop! 🙂

Chana Stiefel is the author of more than 25 books for kids about exploding volcanoes, stinky castles, and other fun stuff. Recent non-fiction titles include ANIMAL ZOMBIES…& OTHER REAL-LIFE MONSTERS (National Geographic Kids, 2018), which was selected as a Top Ten YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant YA Readers in 2019. Chana’s next picture book, LET LIBERTY RISE (Scholastic, 2021), illustrated by Chuck Groenink, is the true story of how children helped build the Statue of Liberty. Chana loves visiting schools and libraries and sharing her passion for reading and writing with children. To learn more, please visit and follow @chanastiefel on FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram.

MKC: Do you choose to specifically write STEM books?

Chana: I’ve always been passionate about science and nature and I love to share my interests with kids. After college, I earned a Master’s in Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting at NYU School of Journalism. (That’s where I met the awesome Mary Kay Carson and many other talented science writers.) While there, I got an internship down the block at Scholastic’s SuperScience Blue, an elementary science magazine (also a Mary Kay hangout) and later became an editor of Scholastic’s Science World, a biweekly science magazine for middle schoolers. Since then, I’ve written several STEM books on tsunamis, earthquakes and other natural disasters, as well as books on wild weather and cool scientists. Last year, my book Animal Zombies and Other Bloodsucking Beasts, Creepy Creatures, and Real-Life Monsters was published by National Geographic Kids.

MKC: Who did you write this book for?

Chana: This book is geared toward middle school and up. I hope to spark kids’ interest in forensics by making the science as interesting and relevant as possible. For example, many schools are using fingerprinting to have students securely sign in. Theme parks have also used fingerprinting to ensure that season passes are only used by the purchaser. I also wanted to include plenty of information so that readers could debate the merits of fingerprint science. It’s not foolproof. Many innocent people have been wrongly convicted based on fingerprint evidence. Also, some people feel that creating a national fingerprint database invades privacy. (ie, Who has access to your fingerprints? At what point does a process that increases security invade privacy? Are you willing to give up some privacy in order to stay safe?) Finally, I included various jobs related to fingerprint science that might intrigue readers, including crime scene technicians, fingerprint examiners, and so on. In general, my goal is to open kids’ eyes to the wonders of the natural world and help them see how science plays a role in our daily lives. Sometimes the coolest facts are on the tips of your fingers!

Win a FREE copy of FINGERPRINTS: Dead People DO Tell Tales!

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– 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?  



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 or on Twitter/Instagram @KirstenWLarson.


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.