Monday, May 29, 2017

The Hidden Life of a Toad by Doug Wechsler

The Hidden Life of a Toad
Text & photographs by Doug Wechsler
Charlesbridge. 2017
Perfect resource for all ages.
I borrowed a copy of this book from my local public library to write this review.

Note: Louise is writing all the reviews while Cathy is on Sabbatical. She will return February, 2018.

The life cycle of toads is the subject of this attractive informational book. Perfect to share with all ages. 

Trained as a biologist, Wechsler states in his author’s note, “I have observed toads most of my life. But I really got to know them well when I decided to tell the story of their life cycle.” He made a small aquarium to observe close up how this handsome amphibian goes from egg to tadpole to toad.

The book’s design is very appealing. Beginning with Day 1 and ending 3 years later, Day 1099 when it mates for the first time, each double page spread includes a short explanation of what we are seeing close up in beautiful, well-captioned color photographs

It is pretty amazing to see that In just nine days the tiny black ball - the embryo -  grows into a tadpole, complete with eyes for seeing, a tail for swimming, mouth for munching on rotting leaves, and gills, feathery gills, for breathing. The close-up shot of the tadpoles mouth is pretty cool. By Day 55, the toadlet is ready to find a home of its own, on dry land. “A good home for a toad has plenty of bugs and worms, rocks to hide under, leaves for shade, and loose soil that’s easy to dig.” 

Back matter includes: glossary, an explanation of the difference between a frog and a toad, toad facts (A toad sheds its skin, but it doesn’t leave it behind like a snake. It swallows the skin as it sheds), how to save toads, and an author’s note. Books and websites to learn more is also included. 

The Hidden Life of a Toad would work well as a class read aloud. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Eyes & Spies: How You’re Tracked and Why You Should Know
Text by Tanya Lloyd Kyi; Art by Belle Wuthrich
Annick Press. 2017
ISBN: 9781554519118
Grades 7 – 12
To review this book, I borrowed a copy from my local public library.

Note: Louise is writing all the reviews while Cathy is on sabbatical. She will return February, 2018.

Security and privacy, where do we draw the line as we become more and more dependent on our digital devices? In Eyes & Spies, Canadian author, Kyi, looks at how companies, organizations, governments, and individuals collects and uses our personal information and data for a myriad of reasons, not always in our favor.. Topics explored: facial recognition technology, security cameras, data mining, cyberbullying, and tracking in schools. 

A chilling informational book that asks three questions:
1.      Who’s watching, and why?
2.      Where is the line between public and private?
3.      How can you keep your secrets to yourself?

The book has six chapters chock full of examples of how new technologies can be helpful, but also when used in certain ways can be an invasion of our privacy. From webcams, GPS, social media, to businesses tracking our movements using features on smartphones, this book balances the positive uses of new digital technology with the creepy side as well.

The Global Positioning System, or GPS, was developed by the American military in the 1970’s to help them calculate exact coordinates. They were carrying missiles on moving ships and needed to be sure they could aim precisely at targets.” In 2000, people and companies were given access to GPS, a real-life saver to many who find reading a map challenging. Kyi asks readers to weight in on whether they think it is crossing a line when parents use GPS tracking devises to keep tabs on their child’s whereabouts. 

Text boxes offer additional fact and real-life scenarios. The Creepy Line sections throughout the book asks readers to consider, if they ruled the world, where they might set up boundaries. 

The overall design is attractive. Colorful graphics and text boxes break up the text. Back matter includes further reading, sources, and index. 

I did question one comment regarding RFID tags. It's true that many retailers use RFID tags to track their products from factory to store, but Kyi states, “Libraries use (RFID) tags to track their books.” The public library where I work uses RFID tags in all materials we check out. They are used not to track where are book are at any given time. The tags work with our security system. If someone walks out the door with materials that have not been demagnetized our alarm system goes into action. Light flash! Alarms ring! Simply, RFID tags are used to stop individuals from stealing our materials. 

This is an interesting, relevant title; a good jumping off point for discussions. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Out of the Box: 25 Cardboard Engineering Projects for Makers by Jemma Westing

Out of the Box: 25 Cardboard Engineering Projects for Makers
by Jemma Westing
DK. 2017
ISBN: 9781465458964
All ages
I borrowed a copy of this book from my local public library to write the review

Note: Louise is writing all the reviews during 2017 while Cathy is on sabbatical. She returns February, 2018.

Do you like to make crafts at home or with kids at the library? If so, don't miss out on Out of the Box. One of the coolest craft books I've seen in awhile.

I saw this book while at ALA Midwinter in Atlanta. The DK booth had these cute little owls on display. I spent quite a bit of time thumbing through the ARC of the book, getting excited at all the ideas. I couldn’t wait until it was available to purchase for my library.

The book includes twenty actives: costumes, castles, gifts, games, puppets, and pirate ships. The list of supplies needed are standard stuff, most likely you have them around the house or library. Like tape, glue, scissors, thread, pencil, acrylic paints, brushes, and pencils. Each activity has easy to follow, step by step color photos that are captioned with the directions. There is also an explanation of the difficulty level (easy, medium, hard). 

To look inside the book, go here

Templates for tracing are in the back of the book.

The ideas here are really cool and could be incorporated into any maker activity, especially during the summer. 

Here are a few of the activities I liked::

A bean bag toss made from cardboard boxes called, “Feed the Monsters”;
Cardville City is a city made from small boxes and cardboard tubes. 

This book will definitely inspire creative play in children of all ages. Be sure to have copies on hand during the summer. 

Watch this to see how to make a robot costume.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Motor Girls: How Women Took the Wheel and Drove Boldly Into the Twentieth Century Sue Macy

Motor Girls: How Women Took the Wheel and Drove Boldly Into the Twentieth Century
Sue Macy
National Geographic. 2017
ISBN: 9781426326974
Grades 5 and up
To review this book, I used a copy that was sent by the publishers.

Note: Louise is writing all the reviews in 2017 while Cathy is on sabbatical. She returns February, 2018. 

Prolific nonfiction writer, Sue Macy, gives us an intriguing story of how the rise of the automobile helped liberate women from their restive lives and allowed them to change their place in society. Despite hurdles, men thinking they were too delicate to handle the weight of a car to banning them from races (were they worried a woman might best them?), women never gave up. Suffragettes drove cars to rally support for the right to vote; Mary Dexter, in 1918, was an ambulance driver in France during World War One. 

The writing is engaging. Clear, well-captioned photos, most in black & white, offer a visual of women embracing this new technology. Side bars throughout each chapter offer more details on topics discussed in the text. Between each chapter (five in all), is added information on how automobiles changed so many things in our society. Proper car etiquette, how driving fashion changed for the motorist to the increase in novels describing adventures people had in their motor cars. 

The book begins with a forward by professional stock car racing driver, Danica Patrick. She encourages readers to never let being a woman limit your options. “My dad always told me: “Don’t be the best girl, be the best driver.” As of 2016, Patrick has been racing automobiles for 15 years. 

Macy includes many interesting facts in the appendix: Ten silent films that feature women and their cars; U.S. passenger car production, 1900-1920; an estimate of registered automobiles in the U.S., 1900-1920. A list of resources (books, websites and museums), source notes and an index makes this a solid informational book. 

As she did in her book, Wheels of Change: How Women Rode The Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way), Macy offers readers a fresh look at the history and how the automobile changed our lives forever…especially women.
Pair this with two new titles about women taking the lead: Alice Paul and the Fight for Women's Rights by Deborah Kops and Martina & Chrissie by Phil Bildner  

Monday, May 1, 2017

Lesser Spotted Animals: the Coolest Creatures You’ve Never Heard Of by Martin Brown

Lesser Spotted Animals: the Coolest Creatures You’ve Never Heard Of
by Martin Brown
David Fickling Books, an Imprint of Scholastic, Inc. 2017
ISBN: 9781338089349
Grades 2 and up (Younger if read aloud)

Note: Louise is writing all the reviews while Cathy is on Sabbatical until February, 2018.

Have you ever heard of a Gaur (“Gow-A”)? How about a Long-Tailed Dunnart? Possibly a Dagger-Toothed Flower Bat? No? These animals and nineteen more are the subject of Brown’s factual, with a twist of humor, informational narrative. 

In the introduction Brown states, “Fed up with the same old animals? Had enough of hippo bored with bears? Tired of tigers? Try Lesser Spotted Animals, a book about the wonderfully wow wildlife we never get to see.” 

Take the Crabeater Seal, the world’s not rarest seal. They live in the Antarctic and eat krill. Their specially developed teeth are not made for biting, but filtering. When they take a bit at a swarm of krill, the water strains out and all that’s left “is a mouthful of lunch.” So why have we never heard of this animal that is more numerous than brown bears, zebras, and bottle-nosed dolphins? Because. “The poor creature is a dull, pale browny-gray color. It can’t jump and it doesn’t chose its prey in thrilling, TV-friendly fashion. It doesn’t even eat crabs!”  

Each two-page spread includes facts about what makes the animal unique. Where it lives, what it eats, and why did Brown decide to include it. Sadly, most of the animals are threatened or endangered. 

Illustrated by the author, Brown’s colorful, representational drawings paired with his zany, witty jokes make this a perfect book for reluctant readers who love facts. Go here to see  some of the pages from this book. 

Back matter only include a glossary. 

A fun book to share with those who love the unusual.

You may recognize Brown's name. He is the illustrator of the wildly popular Horrible Histories series.