Posts Tagged book lists

STEM Tuesday –Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and More! — Writing Crafts & Resources

 

Getting into Character

Planes, trains, automobiles, and more – this month’s look at transportation books might seem a bit impersonal, characterless, emotionless. When I looked closer, though, I found all kinds of characters. Let’s spend a few minutes examining how authors infuse character in these books about more technical topics.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgBiography is an obvious approach, one taken in Elon Musk: And the Quest for a Fantastic Future. Following one individual’s life, author Ashley Vance shows us the development of his passion, the technical challenges he conquered, as well as the human challenges he dealt with. The results are an in-depth look at the skills needed to develop advanced transportation systems such as spaceships and electric cars.Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

When tackling a topic such as the Titanic, which incorporate so much human tragedy, utilizing character is a natural fit. In Titanic: Voices from the Disaster, author Deborah Hopkinson interweaves individual’s stories to convey the magnitude of this event.

But even in a book with a much more technical focus, such as Who Built That? Bridges by Didier Cornille, space is given to including character. A single paragraph at the beginning of each chapter presents a brief expository bio before the chapter dives into the history and a step-by-step look at how each specific bridge was constructed.Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgUse of character isn’t limited to actual human characters. Take a look at Save the Crash-test Dummies by Jennifer Swanson and you’ll see how inanimate dummy characters play a role in conveying the mechanical and historical content.

Why did each of these authors use character? I’m thinking deeper than the obvious answer: to draw the reader in. I’m comparing and contrasting how they presented these characters. The placement in the sequence of the text, the words used to describe the characters, the impact of character development, or lack of it. In analyzing this, I’m considering how I’ll use character in future writing to present topics that appeal to a wide variety of readers.

 

Try It Yourself:

  • Compare the first two pages of the first chapter of two books. Titanic and Elon Musk work well. Highlight every word or passage that characterizes the humans. Which techniques do these authors use? How similar or different are they? Consider why.
  • Now focus on a single book, Save the Crash-test Dummies, is ideal for this exercise. Scan the book for places where the nonhuman characters are characterized. Where is that in the sequence of the book? Can you find examples of characterization in places other than the main text?
  • Think about characterization in expository versus narrative text. Look for examples of each in this collection of books. Find an example of expository characterization (as in Who Built That? Bridges) and rewrite that is narrative. Yes you probably have to make it up; that’s okay for an exercise. Find an example of narrative characterization and rewrite that as expository. Which was harder? Why? How would making that change to the text impact the larger piece of writing?


Heather L. Montgomery writes books for kids are wild about animals; she’s learned to bring characterization into her works. Her recent Something Rotten: A Fresh Look at Roadkill follows an inquisitive narrator who visits scientists who use roadkill bodies to make discoveries. Her Little Monsters of the Ocean: Metamorphosis under the Waves characterizes juvenile marine creatures to tell the story of how they each grow up.


THE O.O.L.F. FILES

Podcasts are great forgetting your regular dose of science. Here are some great ones for kids and adults:

  • Science Friday: In-depth looks at current science research. These stories dive deep into questions that are at the forefront of our minds. Their website has episodes sorted by topic (health, math, energy) as well as further reading and resources for each episode.
  • Brains On! Science Podcasts for Kids: From American Public Media, this podcast is perfect for kids and curious adults. Each week it focuses on a different fascinating question such as: How do elevators work? What is dyslexia? How do ants and spiders walk on walls?
  • WOW in the World: in this high-energy podcasts produced by NPR, the hosts take you on an imaginative trip, a journey into the wonders of the world. Inside brains, deep into the ocean, or far out in space. Perfect for the whole family.
  • Tumble Science Podcast for Kids: Hosted by a science reporter and an educator who are also parents, this podcast asks questions, shares mysteries, and interviews real scientists. Episodes include: The Secret Senses of Plants, Earth Rangers, and What Would Happen if There Was No Moon?

Great New Releases for October

Our new releases for this month features the latest from The Mixed Up Files contributor Jennifer Swanson, a biography of a president, a sequel, several middle-grade debuts, a Junior Library Guild selection and starred reviews for a number of these great new books for young readers. Buy or pre-order now using the links below each title. Snuggle in with one of these new releases. Happy reading!

Save the Crash-test Dummies, written by Jennifer Swanson, illustrated by Temika Grooms Peachtree Publishing Company, October 1

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Jennifer Swanson, author of more than thirty-five nonfiction books for young readers, once again educates and entertains in her latest.

This entertaining book navigates readers through the history of car production and offers a front‐seat view of the science and engineering that makes the world’s most important vehicle safe for us to drive.
Cars take us to work. To school. To soccer practice. To the grocery store and home again. Can you imagine a world without them? It’s not easy! One of the reasons we can use cars so much in our everyday lives is because they are safe to drive. But that hasn’t always been the case. If it weren’t for the experiments conducted over decades that involved all kinds of crash test volunteers―dead, alive, animal, or automated―cars as we know them might not be around. And then how would you get to school?
Filled with fun four‐wheeled nuggets of history and explanations of how cars actually work, this nonfiction book from former science educator and award-winning author Jennifer Swanson will appeal to lovers of all things that go and readers who are interested in getting in under the hood and seeing how things work.

“Attractively designed and engagingly written―sure to appeal to readers with a taste for the scientific and technical.” ―Kirkus Reviews”

Lexi Magill and the Teleportation Tournament, written by Kim Long, Running Kids Press, October 1

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For fans of The Amazing RaceLexi Magill and the Teleportation Tournament is the perfect adventure for middle grade readers who like scavenger hunts and puzzle-solving.

Twelve-year-old physics whiz Lexi Magill won’t let anything stop her from winning Wisconsin’s Teleportation Tournament–the annual competition where teams teleport around the world to solve science-based puzzles. She needs the prize money if she wants to re-enroll in the science academy her parents can no longer afford. Added bonus: she’ll be able to reconnect with her best friend Haley.

But Lexi’s two teammates put a wrench in her plans. When one misreads a clue that lands the team in a castle in Germany, and the other loses her teleportation medallion in Poland, Lexi wonders what she’s gotten herself into. Struggling to keep her team under control as the race rages on, Lexi not only has to figure out how to get back on course (literally), but she must decide how far she’s willing to go to win, and who her real friends are. With riddles to solve and messages to decode, this interactive read won’t disappoint!

Lily’s Story, written by W. Bruce Cameron, Tom Doherty Associates, October 8
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Lily’s Story is a new standalone story in the bestselling A Dog’s Purpose Puppy Tales middle grade series by New York Times bestselling author W. Bruce Cameron!

A rescue dog to the rescue!

Lily is the smallest puppy in her litter and the only girl. Her brothers are bigger and stronger and like to push her around. When Lily meets a girl named Maggie Rose at the animal shelter, Lily discovers things are not so bad. Lily’s size means that she can help other animals who are in trouble. It’s Lily to the rescue!

The Last Dragon, The Revenge of Magic #2, written by James Riley, Aladdin, October 8
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Fort Fitzgerald is determined to uncover the truth, but a new student at school and the secrets he has to keep complicate matters in this second novel in a thrilling new series from the author of the New York Times bestselling Story Thieves!

Fort Fitzgerald can’t stop having nightmares about the day his father was taken from him in an attack on Washington, DC. In these dreams, an Old One, an evil beyond comprehension, demands the location of the last dragon. But other than some dragon skeletons dug up with the books of magic on Discovery Day, Fort has never seen a dragon before. Could there still be one left alive?

And weirdly, Fort’s not the only one at the Oppenheimer School having these nightmares. His new roommate, Gabriel, seems to know more than he’s letting on about this dragon as well. And why does everyone at the school seem to do whatever Gabriel says? What’s his secret?

Fort’s going to need the help of his friends Cyrus, Jia, and Rachel, if he’s going to have any chance of keeping the Old Ones from returning to Earth. Unless, the Old Ones offer something Fort could never turn down…

Franklin D. Roosevelt, written by Teri Kanefield, Abrams, October 8
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The fifth book in the Making of America series, Franklin D. Roosevelt examines the life of America’s 32nd president: his birth into one of America’s elite families, his domineering mother, his marriage to Eleanor Roosevelt, his struggle with polio, and his political career. A Democrat, Roosevelt (1882–1945) won a record four presidential elections and is the longest-serving US president.

During his time in office, he led the country through the Great Depression and World War II. He helped to redefine the role of the US government with the New Deal. Scholars often rate him as one of the three greatest US presidents along with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. The book includes selections from FDR’s writings, endnotes, a bibliography, and an index.

The Story That Cannot Be Told, written by J. Kasper Kramer, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, October 8

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A powerful middle grade debut that weaves together folklore and history to tell the story of a girl finding her voice and the strength to use it during the final months of the Communist regime in Romania in 1989.

Ileana has always collected stories. Some are about the past, before the leader of her country tore down her home to make room for his golden palace; back when families had enough food, and the hot water worked on more than just Saturday nights. Others are folktales like the one she was named for, which her father used to tell her at bedtime. But some stories can get you in trouble, like the dangerous one criticizing Romania’s Communist government that Uncle Andrei published—right before he went missing.

Fearing for her safety, Ileana’s parents send her to live with the grandparents she’s never met, far from the prying eyes and ears of the secret police and their spies, who could be any of the neighbors. But danger is never far away. Now, to save her family and the village she’s come to love, Ileana will have to tell the most important story of her life.

Hazel’s Theory of Evolution, written by Lisa Jenn Bigelow, HarperCollins Publishers, October 8
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The Thing About Jellyfish meets Raymie Nightingale in this tender middle grade novel from Lisa Jenn Bigelow, acclaimed author of Drum Roll, Please.

Hazel knows a lot about the world. That’s because when she’s not hanging with her best friend, taking care of her dog, or helping care for the goats on her family’s farm, she loves reading through dusty encyclopedias.

But even Hazel doesn’t have answers for the questions awaiting her as she enters eighth grade. What if no one at her new school gets her, and she doesn’t make any friends? What’s going to happen to one of her moms, who’s pregnant again after having two miscarriages? Why does everything have to change when life was already perfectly fine?

As Hazel struggles to cope, she’ll come to realize that sometimes you have to look within yourself—instead of the pages of a book—to find the answer to life’s most important questions.

Lost Horizon, written by Michael Ford, HarperCollins Publishers, October 8

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This gripping sequel to Forgotten City is a twist-filled survival adventure that’s Mad Max for tweens.

Everything Kobi once believed was a lie. Not only are there other survivors of the Waste that devastated the world thirteen years ago, but beyond the wasteland of Old Seattle lies a gleaming new city where thousands are desperate for a cure.

To put an end to the Waste—and bring justice to those responsible–Kobi and his new friends will have to return to the heart of Old Seattle, where the outbreak began. It’s a dangerous journey. But Kobi knows what lies ahead. And he’s ready to fight.

Nail-biting suspense and nonstop thrills make this action-packed adventure perfect for young readers who love survival adventures like Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet or dystopian series like Jeanne DuPrau’s City of Ember.

Blood Mountain, written by James Preller, Feiwel & Friends, October 8
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Told in alternating points-of-view, James Preller’s powerful middle-grade survival story will have readers on the edge of their seats.

Carter and his older sister Grace thought the hike with their dad and their dog would be uneventful. If anything, they figured it was Dad’s way of getting them off their screens for a while.

But the hike on Blood Mountain turns ominous, as the siblings are separated from their father, and soon, battling the elements. They are lost.

They are being hunted, but who will reach them first? The young ranger leading the search? Or the mysterious mountain man who has gone off the grid?

The Space We’re In, written by Katya Balen, Holiday House, October 8

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Ten-year-old Frank has trouble navigating his relationship with his younger brother Max who is autistic.

Frank loves soccer, codes, riding his bike, and playing with his friends. His brother Max is five. Max only eats foods that are beige or white, hates baths, and if he has to wear a t-shirt that isn’t gray with yellow stripes he melts down down down.

Frank longs for the brother he was promised by his parents before Max was born—someone who was supposed to be his biggest fan, so he could be the best brother in the world. Instead, Frank has trouble navigating Max’s behavior and their relationship. But when tragedy strikes, Frank finds a way to try and repair their fractured family and in doing so learns to love Max for who he is.

In her debut novel, Katya Balen uses her knowledge of autism and experience working with autistic people to create an intriguing and intense yet always respectful family story.

For readers of Counting by 7s and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.

A Junior Library Guild Selection!

Fighting for the Forest, written by P. O’Connell Pearson, Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, October 8

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In an inspiring middle grade nonfiction work, P. O’Connell Pearson tells the story of the Civilian Conservation Corps—one of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal projects that helped save a generation of Americans.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in March 1933, the United States was on the brink of economic collapse and environmental disaster. Thirty-four days later, the first of over three million impoverished young men were building parks and reclaiming the nation’s forests and farmlands. The Civilian Conservation Corps—FDR’s favorite program and “miracle of inter-agency cooperation”—resulted in the building and/or improvement of hundreds of state and national parks, the restoration of nearly 120 million acre of land, and the planting of some three billion trees—more than half of all the trees ever planted in the United States.

Fighting for the Forest tells the story of the Civilian Conservation Corp through a close look at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia (the CCC’s first project) and through the personal stories and work of young men around the nation who came of age and changed their country for the better working in Roosevelt’s Tree Army.

STEM Tuesday –Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and More! — Book List

 

 

Let’s get moving this month with a selection of STEM titles that delve into locomotion — planes, trains, automobiles and other modes of transportation that require science to create.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Save the Crash-test Dummies by Jen Swanson, illustrated by Tamika Grooms
Explore how autos are made even safer by using crash-test dummies for design. An entertaining look at the history of car production, as well as the science and engineering behind these machines we can’t seem to live without.

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Who Built That? series by Didier Cornille – Books include Bridges: An Introduction to Bridges and Their Designs; Skyscrapers: An Introduction to Skyscrapers and Their Architects; and Modern Houses: An Introduction to Modern Houses and Their Architects

As important autos are to us, we couldn’t go far without bridge, tall city skyscrapers, and our own homes. A behind-the-scenes peek into how these marvels of engineering were constructed and who designed them.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Wild Buildings and Bridges: Architecture Inspired by Nature by Etta Kaner, illustrated by Carol Wiens

Another title to explore that focuses on building and bridge construction. Architects look to nature to solve structural design problems, for instance mimicking the long roots of grasses to keep buildings standing in an earthquake.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Terrific Transportation Inventions by Laura Hamilton Wasman

The sometimes wild and wacky stories of how the inventions we take for granted came to be. Did you know early cars had three wheels, not four? How did we figure out how to launch humans into space? Read this title to find out these answers to these questions and more!

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Bio-Inspired Transportation and Communication by Robin Koontz

We’re developing a theme of inventors and engineers looking to nature for inspiration. Find out how the flying squirrel inspired skydiving technology and how the octopus inspired water travel.

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Biofuels by Patricia Newman

Follow a student who interviews experts about alternate sources of energy to power our cars, airplanes, and other machines that run on gasoline. This title covers the history of biofuels, how they are used today, and what we can expect in the future.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Titanic: Voices From The Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson

Moving about the world also has its share of disasters. Perhaps one of the most famous is the sinking of the Titanic. Hopkinson brings this terrible moment of history alive in this book.

 

 

Green Transport: Exploring Eco-Friendly Travel for a Better Tomorrow by Rani Iyer  

More on eco-friendly alternatives as transportation industries strive to create green options. This comprehensive title explores traditional energy sources and their impacts, alternative fuels, and mass transit issues as cities move toward more sustainable solutions.

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Elon Musk and the Quest for a Fantastic Future (Young Readers’ Edition) by Ashlee Vance

Discover a true visionary revolutionizing three industries at once — space, automotive, and energy — in this fascinating biography edited for young readers.

 

 

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org Milestones of Flight: From Hot Air Balloons to Space Ship One by Tim Grove

Grove gives readers a look into transportation history and science in this book. Illustrated with photographs, documents, and diagrams from the Smithsonian’s collection.

 


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 www.nancycastaldo.com. 

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 www.patriciamnewman.com.