Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Rivers of Sunlight: how the Sun moves water around the Earth by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm

Rivers of Sunlight: how the Sun moves water around the Earth
by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm
Blue Sky Press, Scholastic. 2017
ISBN: 9780545805414
All ages
This review copy was obtained from a publisher at ALAMidwinter in Atlanta, 2017.

The Sun's role in moving water - The Water Cycle - and why it is imperative to protect it is the subject of Rivers of Sunlight.

"What would happen if I did NOT move water? There would be no rain, no LIFE on your blue planet if I did not move water?"

This is the fifth title in the Sunlight Series by artist Molly Bang and MIT professor Penny Chisholm. What draws me in to this series is the art which mirror exactly what is being explained in the text. Bang's illustrations are so beautiful. Luscious. The paintings are a combination of blues, greens, and browns, resembling a folk art style.

The book asks readers: "Do you ever wonder? Where did your water come from? Where is it going? What keeps it moving?

Throughout, the Sun explains how the world is delicately balanced. Here we learn, with each turn of the page, how the ebb and flow of water replenishes our planet. 

Did you know that in the ocean, "Salty water is heavier than fresh water. Cold water is heavier than warm water. Cold water holds more oxygen than warm water. So the cold, salty, heavy oxygen-rich arctic waters PLUNGE and become a colossal waterfall inside the sea."   

As with every book in this series, Bang and Chisholm always brings back the message of conservation. Water can be everywhere, but if it is full of toxins and pathogens, who can use it? "As the saying goes, "We are all downstream."

Six pages of backmatter offers more details on the role water plays in maintaining life on Earth. I especially appreciate the idea that with each glass I drink, the water has been through sea and sky, lakes and streams, through plants and worms, insects and elephants - giving them life too.

In this time of great uncertainty:
"REMEMBER: You share Earth's water with everything alive, and your life depends on the whole web of life." Without water, H²0, that is free from pollution, there would be no life on Earth.

A perfect complement for any science class, from primary up to adults. The series emphasizes how everything in Earth is interconnected. 

Written by Louise

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Grand Canyon by Jason Chin

Grand Canyon

Written and Illustrated by Jason Chin
A Neal Porter Book/Roaring Brook Press. 2017
PreK and up 
To write this review, I used an ARC (Advanced Readers’ Copy) that I received at ALAMidwinter2017

Grand Canyon, 277 miles long and one mile deep, is home to a large diversity of plants and animals. Chin states, Grand Canyon is mind-boggling old, has a rich cultural history, a fascinating ecology, and its geologic significance is second to none.”  Even a life-time of study, the canyon is too big for any one person to know and see it all. In this dazzling informational picture book, Jason Chin offers readers a very detailed history of this natural wonder.

Starting at the Inner Gorge, at the bottom of the canyon, a father and daughter hike upward through the different elevations until they reach the top of the canyon.

Similar to his other beautifully illustrated books - a blend of factual text with fantasy-like images - here the large, detailed drawings depict a section along specific trails where Chin hiked on a visit. To help readers see what the narrative is explaining, Chin surrounds his text with exquisite drawings with borders that display rock layers to what inhabits each ecological community. In some spots, as the daughter makes her way up through the canyon layers, readers are taken to see what that exact spot might have looked like millions of years ago. For example, Grand Canyon Supergroup Trilobite fossils found on the Bright Angel Shale, which formed more than 200 million years ago, once lay beneath the sea. As the pair reach the top at the South Rim the pages open up to allow us to see a panoramic view of the South Rim. The view is breathtaking.

Ample backmatter gives more details on the history of Grand Canyon. Chin does acknowledge that parts of Grand Canyon National Park does lie within the borders of the Hualapai, Havasupai, and Navajo Indian Reservations and that the Canyon remains a place of cultural and spiritual importance to many the Hopi, Navajo, Zuni, Paiute, Apache, Hualapai, and Havasupai. 

Although the processes that carve canyons are understood, nobody knows exactly how Grand Canyon was carved. In fact, nobody even knows how old Grand Canyon is!  There is recent evidence that other rivers started carving the canyon before the modern Colorado River. Also a bibliography of books, websites, and papers and books for further reading.

Fascinating and beautifully executed. 

Thank you, Neal Porter, for so many wonderful artists.

For a glimpse at some of the illustrations, go here.


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Kids Get Coding by Heather Lyons and Elizabeth Tweedale

Kids Get Coding: Coding, Bugs, and Fixes
ISBN: 9781512413595

Kids Get Coding: Learn to Program
ISBN: 9781512413601
Kids Get Coding: A World of Programming
ISBN: 9781512413625
all written by Heather Lyons and Elizabeth Tweedale
Illustrated by Alex Westgate
All ages with an interest to learn about coding.
I checked out these books from my local public library.

Sometimes it is hard being a librarian, because there are so many amazing things us, but we don’t always have the time to learn about all of them. I have been interested in coding ever since the Systems Manager at the library where I work began offering opportunities where kids can learn coding using robots. The kids seemed to understand it all, but I was a bit overwhelmed at where to start. 

Enter these three books in the Kids Get Coding series published by Lerner. The authors, Heather Lyons and Elizabeth Tweedale, founders of blue[shift], a coding school in West London, England, have written a kid-friendly set of books with easy-to-follow directions on learning how to code. Each book combines simple, direct text with a visually appealing layout. To assist with hints and tips is Data Duck, the series computer mastermind. To help readers understand each step of the programming process there are activities that build on each step with an answer key in the back and links to the authors' website for more opportunities to practice. 

Kids Get Coding:Coding, Bugs, and Fixes covers algorithms, loops, bugs, and fixes. The graphics resemble Scratch programming, giving the book an important visual element for learning. One of Data Duck’s questions asks, What happens if you get the steps wrong when writing an algorithm?

Kids Get Coding: Learn to Program talks about the different programming languages (HTML. Python. Java. Scratch.) young coders can use to write computer programs. Data Duck explains, A computer programmer needs to write the program in the best language for the job it needs to do. For example, Python is better at organizing information and HTML is better at displaying it on a web page. In addition, one needs the right syntax to write code in loops (a program that repeats) and learn how to debug your program.

Kids Get Coding: a World of Programming helps readers discover what is digital content and how it is made, stored, and used. Inputs and Outputs, using special programs to store digital content, how to name files and save them, Bits and Bytes, file extensions,  to storing information.  

Kids Get Coding: Online Safety for Coders reminds kids of their digital footprint. It is important to know what happens to the information we post and leave behind. The authors briefly explain how search engines work and ways to protect your identity.

Though the series has some minor flaws, such as no pronunciation guide, and a few of the links within BlueShiftCoding take you to another page within the site, overall these are very helpful by offering a very basic understanding of coding. Use in conjunction with hands-on activities in a classroom or in helping a librarian prepare for teaching a Scratch coding class at the public library.

Louise "Hello, World!"