Posted in Book Reviews

Two New Butterfly Books to Celebrate Spring

THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books / $19.99 / April 2, 2019)
Step inside the butterfly house, where wonderful, winged insects await. Spot the sleepy oranges mud-puddling, the monarchs migrating, or the green swallowtail beating its shimmering wings. With information on many butterfly and moth families, this gift package is the perfect introduction to the world’s most beautiful insects.
The author
Alice Pattullo is an illustrator based in East London. She produces limited edition screen prints for exhibition and sale in various galleries and shops across the UK. Alongside this Alice works on commissioned illustrations for a variety of clients including Betty’s and Taylor’s of Harrogate, Bon Appetit, Esquire, Cecil Sharp House, Country Living, Crabtree and Evelyn, Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft, Design for Today, Faber, Nandos, National Trust, Sainsburys, The V&A Museum, and The Village Voice.
KATY FLINT is a children’s book author and editor, based in London. She is the author of the best-selling sound book The Story Orchestra: The Nutcracker, and has worked on many other non-fiction titles – from human bodies to dinosaurs. She likes playing the violin and dog-spotting.
https://www.quartoknows.com/books/9781786039750/The-Butterfly-House.html
AND

HOW TO BE A BUTTERFLY (words & pictures / $17.95 / April 16, 2019)
A joyous, imaginative, yet informative non-fiction picture book about what it takes to be a butterfly – body parts, behavior and life cycle – with the underlying message that diversity is a wonderful thing. With labelled butterflies throughout, there is plenty for young nature lovers to spot and explore time and again.
Catell Ronca was born in Basel, Switzerland and lives and works in Lucerne. Catell graduated from the Royal College of Art in London and works for a variety of international clients in publishing, editorial and advertising. Her work is regularly recognised in Illustration Annuals. Her plant illustrations are expressive, bold, lively, and saturated in colour.
Laura Knowles has a background in children’s publishing and is the author of We Travel So Far, Once Upon a Jungle, The Coral Kingdom and It Starts with a Seed, winner of the 2017 Margaret Mallett Award for Children’s Non-fiction and shortlisted for the UKLA Book Award 2018. Her love of natural history, words and art have drawn her to work on books about animals and nature. https://www.quartoknows.com/books/9781786038845/How-to-Be-a-Butterfly.html

MY THOUGHTS: I am a big fan of both of these titles. In the Butterfly House’, we have the perfect reference guide for younger readers. Most children have a fascination with butterflies. There’s an almost magical simplicity to watching them silently fly. The school-age years are the perfect opportunity to nurture that fascination. By providing them with an educational yet appealing guidebook to what they’re seeing, they’ll be encouraged to continue learning about these amazing insects.
Those of us who often misidentify some moths and butterflies will also learn a great deal from the massive amount of information provided. Our author has done a fabulous job compiling over 100 species of them!
‘How to Be a Butterfly’ provides both a non-fiction, science viewpoint and a moral message of the beauty of diversity. After all, butterflies’ beauty lies in their diversity. Our author delivers 20,000 ways to be a butterfly. Now THAT’S diversity! But, the educational component is important too as readers are taught the anatomy, behavior, etc. of our winged friends.
Together, these books are an amazing find that need to be a part of any homeschool/classroom library. I was blown away by the amount of priceless information provided. Add to it the beautiful illustrations and you know these books will rarely remain on a shelf. I give them both 5 stars.
I RECEIVED THESE TITLES IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. ALL OPINIONS ARE MINE. PIC/SYNOPSIS BELONG SOLELY TO THE AUTHORS/PUBLISHER.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Homeschooling

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Wilderness: Earth’s Amazing Habitats by Mia Cassany

SYNOPSIS:
This captivating book brings the natural world into sharp focus. Beautifully colored and intricately detailed illustrations depict places as exotic and wide-ranging as Senegal’s Niokolo-Koba National Park, Russia’s Sikhote-Alin mountain range, the Sinharaja Forest Reserve in Sri Lanka, Daintree National Park in Australia, the Mexican desert, and China’s bamboo forests. The animals that live in these remote places, cleverly hidden in the trees, plants, and flowers, create a marvelous challenge for young readers to find and identify. Each spread contains more than twenty different species including birds, snakes, frogs, iguanas, leopards, tigers, gorillas, pandas, and wolves. The back of the book is filled with additional information about the animals and their habitats. Young readers will find much to discover, explore, and learn in this absorbing celebration of our planet and the amazing creatures we share it with.

MY THOUGHTS: This is an absolute must-have for homeschool classrooms. Each page contains intricate detail of animals, habitats, and geography. It is one of those nonfiction books which can be used for multiple classes: geography, science, and Language Arts. It could also be utilized for an incredible book report.
I was amazed at the level of information that our author packed into each paragraph. In fact, I felt ready for Jeopardy after I finished it!

Marcus Navarro has done an exquisite job with the pictures, allowing the specific animals to ‘come to life’ from the pages. I enjoyed the little smiles on some of their faces. While showcasing nature’s beauty, the illustrations don’t distract from the point of the book. They enhance it.

I appreciate that the author took time to explain larger, more complex terms. She also was careful to explain how & why the endangered species came to be endangered while not scaring younger readers. She makes the point without being graphic. All in all, it’s a brilliantly done book. I give it 5 stars with a high recommendation.
Illustrated by Marcos Navarro (ISBN: 978-3791373720; April 2019; Ages 6-9; Hardcover $19.95; 48 pages)

MIA CASSANY is the author of numerous books for children including Atlas of Imaginary Places and Great Ports of the World (both by Prestel). She is the co-founder of Mosquito Books. She lives in Barcelona, Spain.

MARCUS NAVARRO is an illustrator living in Spain. This is his first book.

I RECEIVED THE TITLE IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. ALL OPINIONS ARE MINE. PIC & SYNOPSIS BELONG SOLELY TO THE AUTHOR/PUBLISHER.

Posted in Book Reviews

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: THE BOOK OF INGENIOUSLY DARING CHEMISTRY: 24 Experiments for Young Scientists : Sean Connolly

National STEM day is November 8th

SYNOPSIS: THE BOOK OF INGENIOUSLY DARING CHEMISTRY: 24 Experiments for Young Scientists (Workman Publishing; On-sale: October 30, 2018; Ages 9 and up; $14.95) turns questions like “Why does helium make balloons float?” and “How does fluoride protect teeth?” into learning opportunities. It’s a journey through the periodic table of elements with the master of daring STEM books, Sean Connolly. Ingeniously marrying science and fun, it is a perfect introduction to chemistry for curious kids as well as those who might prefer a more engaging approach to science. It’s like having a miniature science lab between two covers!
THE BOOK OF INGENIOUSLY DARING CHEMISTRY puts knowledge into action using household ingredients to conduct 24 awesome, hands-on experiments, including:
Sodium: Make “hot ice” by crystallizing vinegar and baking soda into sodium acetate.
Neon: See how this gas emits light by powering a light bulb with static electricity.
Iron: Submerge steel wool in vinegar to see how this metal oxidizes.
Phosphorus: Play cat detective by using ultraviolet light to locate bad cat smells!

MY THOUGHTS: One of the best ways to review a book such as this is to try one of the experiments. My 15 year-old son & I did just that! We re-created Experiment #19 which involved vinegar & eggs. Not only did he learn about acid’s effect on the eggshell, but, the experiment coincided with what he’s learning in his Biology class.

What I loved about the experiment was, well, everything! It gave clear, concise directions that were difficult to screw up (Hooray!). The ‘ingredients’ were inexpensive and, actually, on-hand. But, it went way beyond a typical experiment. After the directions, it told us exactly what we were seeing, what was happening, and why. We won’t tell the textbook company, but, we learned more from this book than we did from the textbook! Plus, it was way more fun!

I was stunned by the wealth of information this book packs in. Gone are the bland, business-as-usual experiments. This brings modern takes on chemistry that entertain while they teach. We will be utilizing this book OFTEN throughout the rest of his academic career. I just wish it had been published sooner. It’s a full 5 star rating from us!

Recommended for ages 9+

*Pic & Synopsis belong solely to the author/publisher.
**I received a copy of the aforementioned title in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.

Posted in Book Reviews, Homeschooling

#Sponsored Book Spotlight:Build Your Own Chain Reaction Machines: Paul Long


SYNOPSIS: Be inspired by the amazing artwork of renowned cartoonist, engineer, and inventor Rube Goldberg, whose wacky, imagined machines accomplished tasks by taking the most complicated route possible. In this entertaining and instructive book, mechanical engineer and educator Paul Long gives instructions for making devices using ordinary objects in ingenious ways. Create machines that flip a switch, squeeze toothpaste, dispense candy, and more.
On sale October 16. Watch an example here.

MY THOUGHTS: As our school year begins, homeschoolers are challenged to find engaging, educational and fun ways to teach STEM. Thankfully, books like this provide ample opportunities to incorporate it. Among the many ‘pros’ that this book brings are its 12 projects. That’s 12 days of STEM teaching. Our author, Paul Long, knows his machines as he is an engineer & educator. Having a background such as this provides a unique insight homeschoolers may not have had before.

A huge plus, in my opinion, is that these machines use everyday objects in their construction. Students can begin to see STEM/STEAM in the world around them. Along with the project itself, additional, topical information is provided making it easy to combine classes like Science & Art. We also have the fact that the book itself is unique. It is the only how-to book currently available on the topic.

Brick-and-mortar students will also identify with and be able to accomplish building these machines. With Science fairs and projects soon to come, it will add an additional learning component to their coursework. Books such as these are timeless and a sound investment to your home library. It is marketed to ages 10 & up, but younger students can benefit from their older counterparts’ involvement. I highly recommend it!

*Pic & Synopsis belong solely to the author/publisher.

**I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.

Posted in Book Reviews, Homeschooling

Book Spotlight: The Electric Pickle: Joey Green

If your kid’s eyes glaze over when you mean the Periodic Table of Elements, I’ve got the perfect book for you! No longer will parents have to agonize over Science Projects that have been forgotten until the night before they’re due. In fact, science will be FUN again.
Let me introduce you to ‘The Electric Pickle’!
“The Electric Pickle: 50 Experiments from the Periodic Table, from Aluminum to Zinc
By Joey Green
(Chicago Review Press; October 1, 2017)

It’s a strange and fascinating DIY guide for the chemistry-curious, featuring an activity for every single element of the periodic table. Activities include:
–          For Lithium: “Horrible Hot Dog”
Insert a lithium battery into an uncooked hot dog and watch it sizzle and bubble
–          For Boron: “Green Tornado Fire”
Use boric acid and antifreeze to create a green glowing flame
–          For Oxygen: “Freaky Soap Soufflé”
Microwave a regular bar of soap to turn it into a large, lava-like cloud formation
–          For Sodium: “Electric Pickle”
Conduct electricity through a pickle to watch it glow bright yellow
Projects range from relatively quick with very few simple ingredients to more exciting and complex experiments that lead to booming or glowing results.

MY THOUGHTS: Trust me: Good, quality STEM books are few and far between. It just seems that its same-old same-old. ‘The Electric Pickle’ is entirely original and quite honestly, fun. Today’s students need to think outside the box. If you’re a homeschooler, you know exactly what I mean. Not everyone has a lab in their basement and sometimes those experiments become monotonous or don’t turn out properly at all.

This book gives you 50 different experiments that are easy, basic, and most of all, unique! Entering a Science Fair this year can be a thrilling experience instead of a poster board full of mediocrity. If you have multiple students needing multiple projects, 50 experiments can go a long, long way. As a parent, I’m all in for anything that makes a child’s eyes light up. Just hearing the words ‘The Electric Pickle’ grabs ahold of their ever-waning attention span and doesn’t let go. As soon as my 9th grader saw the cover, he sat down and immediately began looking through. It was a few minutes later that he began asking if we had some of the components on-hand.

I have to give Joey Greene and his out-of-the-box thinking a full 5 stars! If you don’t have a copy, GET A COPY! You won’t be sorry.

*Pic & synopsis belong solely to the author & publisher.

**I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.

Posted in Homeschool Lessons, Homeschooling, Product Reviews

S.T.E.M. in Action With Stomp Rocket

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S.T.E.M. or Science, Technology, Engineering & Math, is an integral part of most curriculums. If your family homeschools & you’re looking for an interactive way to teach S.T.E.M., consider ‘Stomp Rocket’.

What I like most about the rocket is that it’s kid-powered. They step on the ‘launchpad’ causing the rocket to fly. I’ll say they go a bit further than I thought they would! In fact, Buster ended up fetching the rockets for us. Needless to say, this is a good activity to tire out the younger ones (& parents). While I highly recommend using them outside, if you have a sizeable playroom or basement, you can probably use them there too. Unless you have a ceiling fan or low hanging lights.

Launching the rocket demonstrates trajectory, force & gravity. Science in a book is great; science in action is better. There’s a reason scientists like Bill Nye are popular. Plus, it can turn into a full-blown phys ed class. All that running, especially if your dog won’t fetch like Buster did, is great cardio.

Being that each rocket comes equipped with an LED light, students can utilize it outside when their day is done. LED lights are environmentally friendly. I learned via Stomp Rocket that LED lights are more efficient than either fluorescent or incandescent bulbs. For older students, the LED lights can become a lesson on light and the launchpad can be a lesson on air-power. Believe me, I have an 8th grader who had a blast shooting the rockets. I did too. It was definitely a fun way to talk science.

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Assembly was super easy. Actually, our 13-year-old put it together without the directions. My only concern for little ones & animals is the bolt that attaches the hose to the stand. If you don’t think your kiddos are old enough, save a hassle & put it together yourself. The bolt could scrape their hands if you aren’t careful.
img_0270The rockets themselves will cause no harm. They’re soft like a Nerf dart and even when they’re descending, they won’t cause any pain. I can say this because we both got caught on the receiving end of the rocket. Do be careful if your dog is a chewer. If we hadn’t got them immediately back from Buster, he’d have eaten them for sure!
The lights really add something special. Maybe it’s the kid in all of us who just likes things that light up. Regardless, it looks really cool in the evening when they fly through the air. With the Ultra LED Stomp Rocket Kit, there are 4 rockets included so if you do it fast enough you can have a light show of sorts!
img_0284 I’m not sure about the life of the Launchpad. It seems to lose some strength if stomping becomes overzealous. We definitely put a dent in ours & we really weren’t abusing it. I’d recommend not letting the kids get too rough with it or you may need a new one.
You can purchase Stomp Rocket at your local Dick’s Sporting Goods Store or visit http://www.stomprocket.com to see the wonderful awards Stomp Rocket has earned and find out full product line info.
*Pics belong to Stomp Rockets & DMO3, respectively. We received the aforementioned product in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.