Book Review: The Hidden Life of Trees


“Walkers who visit one of the ancient deciduous preserves in the forest I manage always report that their heart feels lighter and they feel right at home,” writes Peter Wohlleben about his favorite place. And this sense of peace is why people are drawn to the woods.

Once you read Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees, you’ll never look at a forest in the same way. At least that’s what 14-year-old Will discovered. When not reading, Will enjoys being outside, running, and science.

Wohlleben, a forest ranger in Germany, spent his career studying trees. He then found a way to communicate that research in a way that every reader could relate to–within the metaphor of a family. Will stopped by the blog to share his insights about the book.

Q: What message is the author trying to share through this book?
A: Trees have a complex social system in which they provide each other nutrients, warn each other of danger, and share knowledge with each other.

Q: What’s one interesting thing you learning?
A: Trees have distinct personalities that affect how they grow. While some prefer to use more energy in order to grow faster, others save energy in case of danger, such as insects.

Q: Did anything surprise you about the research?
A: In commercial forests, trees are not as healthy and do not share the bonds that natural forests do. This is detrimental to the trees as well as the wood produced by them.

Q: Who should read this book?
A: Anyone who needs Oxygen to live should read this book because it helps us better understand trees and what we can do to help forests grow.

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This book is applicable to STEM because it focuses on Peter Wohlleben’s observations and studies as a forester in Europe. His findings lead him to several interesting conclusions that might change how people view the woods.

Learn more about Peter Wohlleben in this New York Times article or listen to this National Public Radio feature.

Book Review – Poop Detectives: Working Dogs in the Field

You’ve probably heard of rescue dogs, therapy dogs and service dogs, but there’s a new working dog in town! The book Poop Detectives: Working Dogs in the Field introduces readers to dogs who use their super-smelling abilities to help field scientists detect which animals are in the area.

The book was written by Ginger Wadsworth and published by Charlesbridge.  This 80-page book is full of interesting facts and cool photos.

We’re fortunate that Lynnea, age 7, stopped by the blog to share her thoughts on the book. When not reading, she enjoys drawing and playing with her own dog, Audrey. Both are pictured above. Here’s what she had to say about Poop Detectives.

Q: What is this book about?
A: Dogs finding different kinds of poop from different animals. The poop told the scientists the location of the animal because they could tell what the animal had eaten.

Q: What was the best part about this book?
A: The dogs and humans worked together.

Q: What part of this book made you smile?
A: The dogs in the book.

Q: What part of the book surprised you most?
A: The dogs didn’t eat the poop!

Q: What part of the book worried or concerned you?
A: When the Center for Conservation Biology searched for bear poop because there could have been a bear.

Q: What did you learn from reading this book?
A: You can find the location of an animal just by its poop.

Q: List three words that best describe this book.
A: Cool, poopy, cute (because of the dogs)

Q: What was your favorite line or phrase from the book?
A: “Detection dogs are all heart!”

Q: Who else should read this book AND why?
A: My dog, Audrey, because she likes to eat poop!

Check out Kid Lit Reviews feature of the book, complete with three internal spreads.

 

 

 

 

 



 

Book Review: What Do Wheels Do All Day?

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With simple text and cut-paper illustrations, younger readers will love What Do Wheels Do All Day? by April Jones Prince and Giles LaRoche. To answer the question posed by the title—wheels do STEM jobs! Students learn all the important things wheels do through energetic verb choices and pictures.

We’re so glad that 4-year-old Kenlee stopped by the blog to talk with us. When not reading, Kenlee likes to ride her pony. While her favorite mode of transportation might not have wheels, check our her great insights about this book.

Kenlee 2Q:  What is this book about?
A: It is about all the different kinds of wheels, colorful wheels, and what wheels do.

Q:  What was the best part about this book?
A: I liked looking at all the pictures of the different wheels.

Q:  What part of this book made you smile?
A: The wheels that twirls.

Q:  What part of the book surprised you the most?
A: That there were planes in this book.

Q:  What part of the book worried or concerned you?
A: The big carnival ride with people upside-down.

Q:  What did you learn from reading this book?
A: I learned that there are more wheels than what I thought.

what do wheels do all dayQ:  List three words that best describe this book.
A: Surprised, worried, and happy

Q:  What was your favorite line or phrase from the book?
A: “wheels that play”

Q:  Who else should read this book and why?
A: My teacher, Ms. Johnson, should read this book, because she would like it.

Watch the story, as featured on Between the Lions.

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Additional Resources:

From the author’s website:
Download this wheels-related preschool lesson plan developed
by the Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corporation and featuring
What Do Wheels Do All Day?.

Curious about the paper-relief technique illustrator Giles LaRoche uses in his books? Check out his website.

For K-6 teachers who are interested in learning more about wheels, the Hub lending-library has kits for AWIM’s Motorized Toy Cars. Inquire about checkout at scstemhub@drake.edu.

Not a Box Book Review

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not a boxNot a Box is an educational philosophy as much as it is a picture book, and it’s the perfect way to promote imaginative play and creative thinking. From the youngest reader to a corporate team-building activity, this book encourages everyone to step outside (inside, on top of, under, around) the box!

Written and illustrated by Antoinette Portis, this book has a built-in activity that could be completely student-driven, as long as the educator or parent supplies the boxes. Google for more classroom ideas, like this one from Teach Preschool.

We were so happy when Lily, age 4, stopped by to share her thoughts on the book. When not reading, Lily enjoys playing, so she’s the perfect reviewer for this story.

Q:  What is this book about?
A: It is about a bunny who makes a box into a bunch of stuff.  He makes it into a boat, a rocket, and a car.

Q:  What is the best part of the book?not a box book 2
A: I liked the bunny.

Q:  What part of this book made you smile?
A: When the bunny went to the moon.

Q:  What part of the book surprised you the most?
A: That he could make so many things out of a box.

Q: What did you learn from reading this book?
A: That I can make a bunch of stuff out of a box, too.

Q: List three words that describe this book.
A: Funny, creative, happy

box2Q: What was your favorite line or phrase from the book?
A: “It’s not a box!”

Q:  Who else should read this book AND why?
A: Mya, my older cousin, should read this book, because she likes to play with me.

Looking for a quick overview? Check out this Youtube video: Not a Box Read Aloud

Also, checkout Portis’ Not a Stick and more of her books.

 

Whose Nest is This?

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kateWith chillier weather hitting Iowa, it’s the perfect time to think about cuddling up for fall. But what about the animals outside? How do they stay safe and warm? Nests!

We are fortunate that Kate stopped by to recommend the perfect nest book to us: Whose Nest is This?, written by Heidi Bee Roemer and illustrated by Connie McLennan. When not reading and playing outside, Kate enjoys life as a first grader. She’s also active in 4-H.

Here’s a little insight to why she recommended this book.

What is this book about?
All about nests – including turtles, Baltimore Oriole, Owl, Mouse and more!

What was the best  part about this book?
Seeing all of the different kinds of next [in the artwork].whose nest

What part of the book made you smile?

How alligators do their nest.  

What did you learn from reading this book?
A lot!

Three words that best describe this book:
Nature, Nests, Animals

What was your favorite line or phrase from the book?
I liked that the ends of each line rhyme.

Who else should read the book and why?
Everyone.


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Did you notice that green shirt on Kate? It’s from 4-H!

With an emphasis on STEM learning, 4-H is one of Iowa’s premier after-school STEM education forces. Some of their projects include Scale-Up programming and hosting First Lego League Robotics teams and tournaments.

For more information, please visit the 4-H website.

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The Thing About Jellyfish

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Emma

This week’s book to review, The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin, is a best-seller that’s won critical acclaim and starred-reviews. What makes this middle grade novel so special? It’s a great mix of STEM, with jellyfish facts and other useful science facts, but it also tells a great story and may even help a reader deal with grief.

 

Emma stopped by the blog to talk about it. She’s 8-years-old and enjoys gymnastics, reading and hanging out with friends. When she gets older, she hopes to be a wild-animal vet, specializing in sloths. To the left, she’s dressed for career day. Here’s what she had to say about this story.

 

Q: What is this book about?

A: This book is about a girl named Suzy. Her friend, Franny, died while swimming. Suzy is sad and wants to figure out what really happened.

 

Q: What was the best part about this book? 
A: The best part of the book was when Sarah, a new friend, asked if Suzy wanted to come over.

 

Q: What part of this book made you smile? 
A: When she tried to fly to Australia and she used her dad’s credit card to buy plane tickets. As I read this, I thought oh no, this is not going to work. Also, I smiled when Justin kept on trying to be her friend and communicate with her. He could tell that she really needed a friend, and he needed a friend, too.jellyfish

 

Q: What part of the book surprised you most?

A: That she used her dad’s credit card to buy a ticket to Australia. She got so close but didn’t make it. I was also surprised by all that research and planning she did, but it did not go the way she expected in the end.

 

Q: What part of the book worried or concerned you?

A: When she was sneaking around and her parents didn’t know about her trip to Australia. She stopped talking to everyone. Also, when she stole money from her whole family.

 

Q: What did you learn from reading this book?

A: I learned a LOT of facts about Jellyfish.

 

Q: List three words that best describe this book.

A: Tense, Grief, Relief.

 

Q: What was your favorite line or phrase from the book?

A: “Maybe instead of feeling like a mote of dust, we can remember that all the creatures on this earth are made from stardust. And we are the only ones who get to know it. That’s the thing about jellyfish: They’ll never understand that. All they can do is drift along unaware.” (I liked knowing how the book got its name.)

 

Q: Who else should read this book AND why?

A: Everyone! Especially the people who are dealing with the loss of a friend or family member.

 

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(NOTE: The book features Irukandji jellyfish facts. Take a look at them, compared to the tip of a matchstick.)

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Do you know young scientists who love learning about animals? If so, please check out the following kits from the Hub’s inventory:

* PSS’s Animal Classification
* PSS’s Insectigations
* EiE’s Water, Water Everywhere
* EiE’s Invasive Species

Email us at scstemhub@drake.edu!

Leaf Man Inspires Outdoor Exploration

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Kyle Leaf Man

If you’re looking for the ideal book to kick-off an outdoor adventure, 8-year-old Kyle has a suggestion for you! It’s Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert.

Take a poetic journey with Lean Man as he travels wherever the wind may lead. Lois Ehlert engages her classic illustration style by using leaves and die-cuts to create the pictures. This is the great addition to any fall reading list.

Thanks to 8-year-old Kyle, who recommended this book! Kyle loves 4-H, being outside and reading. He took a moment to tell us why it’s so great.

What is this book about?
Leaf Man blew away – where did he go and what did he see?

What was the best part about this book?
The pictures/drawings (illustrations)

What part of the book made you smile?
Leaves made into a Butterfly

What part of the book worried or concerned you?Leaf Man Cover Art (2)
When Leaf Man went missing (blew away)

What did you learn from reading this book?
How leaves are different shapes, sizes, and colors – and can be used to make other things in nature.

Three words that best describe this book:
Creativity, Leaves, Ability

What was your favorite line or phrase from the book?
My family made up our own Leaf Man song to go with the book.  Also have fun going on hikes to gather different kinds of leaves and twigs to make our own Leaf Man/Leaf Creatures.

Who else should read the book and why?
Anybody – it’s cool!

leafman 5leaf man 4leafman 7leaf man 3leaf man 2leaf man 1

Challenge: Make your own Leaf Man or leaf creature and send us a picture of it. We’ll feature your creation on the Hub’s Facebook and Instagram #leafSTEM. (Above images from the internet.) Send anytime between now and October 15.

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The Hub has several nature-themed curriculum kits, including: Carolina’s Plant Growth and Development, AWIM’s Inspired by Nature, EiE’s Animal Sounds, Pint-Size Science’s Insectigations, and more. Contact us at scstemhub@drake.edu for check out or additional information!

Book Review: The Most Magnificent Thing

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thumbnail_KerriganAshely Spires’ picture book, The Most Magnificent Thing (Kids Can Press), has won a dozen awards. It’s about a little girl who decides she’s going to make something wonderful. But making something isn’t always as easy as it looks. This book is a great example of what can happen with a little perseverance and creativity.

Meet our reviewer: 4-year-old Kerrigan, at the left. She likes to read, draw and play with play dough. See what she thought about this story.

AND if, after you read the book, you you want to make your own magnificent things, visit area STEM festivals this fall. Click HERE for a complete calendar.
September 17 — WiSE STEM Fest
October 14 — Kidzmania STEM Fest
October 22 — Appanoose County/Centerville STEM Festival
October 24 — DMACC-Ankeny STEM Festival

Most Mag Thing 2Q: What is this book about?
A: The girl was building a thing with her dog.  She had to work slowly and use her brain.

Q: What was the best part about this book?
A: When the dog and girl had fun on the scooter.

Q: What part of this book made you smile?
A: When she made a scooter.

Q: What part of the book worried or concerned you?
A: When the girl hit her finger.

Q: What did you learn from reading this book?
A: I learned to think and work gently and slowly.

Q: List three words that best describe this book.
A: Good, exciting, and funny.

Q: What was your favorite line or phrase from the book?
A: “If only the thing would just work!”  (Kerrigan liked this illustration the best, too.)

Q: Who else should read this book AND why?
A: Everyone. Because they could learn to fix things gently.

Check out this Kids Can Press, the book’s publisher, book trailer.

 

BOOK REVIEW: Rosie Revere, Engineer

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lilly grace 2The book Rosie Revere, Engineer has been on the New York Times Best Seller List for 70 weeks straight and won countless awards. What makes it even better is that it’s part of Iowa STEM’s Scale-Up from the Science Center of Iowa’sMaking STEM Connections. The book, written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated David Roberts, is available in the Making STEM Connections cart of materials.

We are fortunate to have 5-year-old Lilly Grace stop by the blog. She enjoys watching races and dancing. Here’s what she had to say about this book.

Q:  What is this book about?
A: Rosie Revere, a little girl, likes to take some trash for treasures.  She likes to build gadgets and gizmos.  She gets sad when her uncle laughs at her.  Then her Great Aunt Rose comes and helps her.

Q: What was the best part about this book? rosie 4
A: When her aunt came to help her.

Q: What part of this book made you smile?
A: I smiled when her aunt told her “good job.”

Q: What part of the book surprised you the most?
A: I was surprised that her aunt wasn’t mad.

Q: What part of the book worried or concerned you?
A: When her uncle laughed.  That made me worried for Rosie.

Q: What did you learn from reading this book?
A: I learned to keep trying.  We keep trying in dance, too.

Q: List three words that best describe this book.
A: Happy, funny, and good

Q: What was your favorite line or phrase from the book?
A: “Before it crashed, Rosie…before that…it flew!”

Q: Who else should read this book and why?
A: All of my friends and family should read this book, because it says to keep trying.

Keep trying–that’s just good advice for all of us!

We_Can_Do_It!new rosie

Rosie the Riveter, an image meant to inspire women into serving the country during WWII, is the basis for this new Rosie, inspiring girls to think about the possibilities offered to them today.

REVIEW: The Rocket Age Takes Off

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The book The Rocket Age Takes Off is part of the AWIM Straw Rocket Challenge kit. The book was written by Steven Krensky and illustrated by Michele Shortley. If you’re interested in reading it, you can check it out through the SC STEM Hub.

Leo for blogLeo, age 6 and a half, enjoys riding his bike in his free time. Last week, he took a moment to review it. Here’s what he had to say.

Q: What is this book about?
A: This book tells a story about Dr. Goddard.  He makes the first rocket.

Q: What was the best part about this book? 
A: Looking at the picture of Nell [Dr. Goddard’s name for his rocket] launching.

Q: What part of this book made you smile?
A: Nell launching.

Q: What part of the book surprised you most? 
A: That Nell actually launched.  I was surprised because I didn’t think that it would work that early because it was the first rocket ever.

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Q: What did you learn from reading this book?
A: The first rocket launch was March 16th 1926.

Q: List three words that best describe this book.
A: Rocket, chemicals, and flight.

Q: What was your favorite line or phrase from the book?
A: “It looked almost magical as it rose, without any appreciably greater noise or flame, as if it said, “I’ve been here long enough; I think I’ll be going someplace else if you don’t mind.”

Q: Who else should read this book AND why?
A: I recommend it for kids who are interested in vehicles and planes.

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