Archive for Science

Earth Heroes: Champions of Wild Animals

Written by Bruce and Carol L. Malnor
Illustrated by Anisa Claire Hoveman

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Aimed at the fifth grade reading level and up and a “Mom’s Choice Awards Honoring Excellence”, Earth Heroes: Champions of Wild Animals celebrates the lives of eight Earth Heroes who dedicated their efforts and energy to studying and protecting their favorite animals, and in so doing, made a lasting and significant impact on the world. Bison, birds, chimps, seals, wolves, and elephants all owe their survival to the people profiled in Earth Heroes: Champions of Wild Animals.

What I enjoyed most was that I felt like I was not only getting good, solid facts presented in a clear format, but I also got a personal look into their lives and how they came to protect their animal. It became more engaging for me and I just could not put the book down and had to read from start to finish. » Read more

Potatoes on Rooftops: Farming in the City

Written by Hadley Dyer

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Mention farming and people usually think of vast fields in the country lined with rows of crops. But what about people who live in crowded cities or want to create gardens in their own backyards or even inside their own houses? Potatoes on Rooftops: Farming in the City is an appealing look at the many innovative ways people are managing to grow food in untraditional ways.

Hadley Dyer was inspired to write the book after starting her own backyard garden. This book begins with some facts: By 2030, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities, yet estimates say that in 30 years we’ll need 60 percent more food to feed everyone. Where will that food come from? How will food get to the people who live in cities? That’s what this book is all about.

Dyer takes us on an incredible journey through history, science, and economics. She explores gardens of the past, such as the “victory gardens” people started to provide food for themselves during wartime. She also explores community gardens, rooftop gardens, and futuristic greenhouses as ways urban populations can have access to freshly grown food. From there, Dyers explains how to plant, tend, and harvest your own garden. The book also includes information on composting, food safety, and keeping your garden safe from pests. Along the way, Dyer also discusses concepts such as alternative energy and the value of locally produced food as she takes a look at food production and land use all over the world.

Potatoes on Rooftops succeeds on many levels. Its lively writing style and colorful photographs will grab readers from the very first page. Dyer makes it easy to explain complex topics and allows readers to see how they impact their own lives. Most of all, Dyer helps young readers see how they can make a change and introduce locally grown food to their homes, no matter where they live. This is an incredibly empowering message!

I highly recommend this book for 5th-grade readers, as well as older students. For the younger age range, it could be a valuable classroom resource that could apply to units on science, social studies, history, and health. The design and writing style of the book make it appealing to these younger readers even though the Lexile level of the book is higher. Older readers can read the book independently and use it to create their own science projects or research reports. The book includes valuable resources, such as a glossary, a list of further reading, and websites to consult. Teachers and readers alike are sure to appreciate the lively text, fascinating subject matter, and can-do attitude of this valuable book that could open a whole new world for students in any classroom.

  • Potatoes on RooftopsTitle: Potatoes on Rooftops: Farming in the City
  • Written by: Hadley Dyer
  • Publisher: Annick Press, 2012
  • Paperback: 84 pages
  • ISBN 978-1-55451-424-3
  • Genre: Science
  • Lexile: 1200L

Earth Heroes: Champions of the Wilderness

Written by Bruce and Carol L. Malnor
Illustrated by Anisa Claire Hoveman

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Aimed at the fifth grade reading level and up, Earth Heroes: Champions of the Wilderness celebrates the lives of the most famous naturalists from their youth to the years where they made a lasting and significant impact on the world. The profiles detailed in Earth Heroes: Champions of the Wilderness have been carefully researched and are sure to inspire the youth of today to model the heroes of yesterday in how they approach, handle, and respect the environment. My favorite section of the book is titled, “Become a Hero!” and it offers a list of things readers can do to learn more about their environment, as well as games and websites that point wannabe naturalists to walk in the shoes of their favorite heroes.

The eight heroes young readers will learn about include: Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, Aldo Leopold, Richard, St. Barbe Baker, Mardy Murie, David Suzuki, and Wangari Maathai. To complement the text, there are vivid black and white photos and dramatic illustrations, along with a list of fast facts and a timeline of events related to each hero profiled that readers can easily digest and comprehend and that teachers and librarians can readily use to demonstrate in the classroom. Earth Heroes: Champions of the Wilderness is a must have for the reading lists of fifth grade teachers and elementary to middle school librarians.

Other titles in the Earth Heroes series include: Earth Heroes: Champions of Wild Animals. For more information about the Earth Heroes series, please go to:

To expand learning beyond the printed book, feel free to download complementary educational resources at:

  • Title: Earth Heroes: Champions of the Wilderness
  • Author: Bruce and Carol L. Malnor
  • Illustrator: Anisa Claire Hoveman
  • Publisher: Dawn Publications
  • Reviewer: Annemarie O’Brien
  • Paperback: 143 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-58469-116-7
  • Genre: biography, science
  • Lexile Score: 960

Earth Heroes: Champions of the Ocean

Written by Fran Hodgkins
Illustrated by Chris Arbo

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“Sometimes we forget to be curious” says author, Fran Hodgkins, in her introduction.

In this book, she traces the lives of eight pioneers of ocean research who did not let the routine of everyday life take them away from their quest for knowledge about the vast ocean and its denizens. Each of the “oceanauts” mentioned in the book started their research to satisfy the curiosity burning within.

Earth Heroes: Champions of the Ocean features all eight researchers in order by their birthdate, which enables the readers to “begin at the beginning”. Ocean study was not a very advanced field. More scientists studied the earth than paid attention to the vast blue waters surrounding. Even William Beebe, the first researcher mentioned, began with terrestrial studies, and later developed a fascination for the ocean.

Fifth grade readers will learn how new fields of study develop. Even as a geologist needs to go down the mine to study rocks, so an ocean researcher would benefit by immersing himself in the environment he wants to study. But there were not many tools available to the early researcher to actually enter the water. We can trace the progress of diving devices and vessels from the clunky diving helmet of Beebe’s time to the Jim Suit that Sylvia Earle donned to dive to a depth of 1250 feet, carrying her environment with her.

It is written for ease of comprehension and the author brings out how each scientist, despite having their own interest and focus, built on the discoveries of the predecessor. We “journey through their lives”, learn about the people, their discoveries, and the ocean they are so passionately devoted to. If even a few readers become stewards of the oceans and its inhabitants the book would have succeeded in its purpose.

Additional Resources:
About the Author:
About the Illustrator:
Nasa Oceanography:
Careers in Oceanography:

  • Earth Heroes Champions of the OceanTitle: Earth Heroes: Champions of the Ocean
  • Author: Fran Hodgkins
  • Illustrator: Chris Arbo
  • Publisher: Dawn Publications
  • Reviewer: Anjali Amit
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-58469-119-8
  • Genre: Non-Fiction/Science
  • Lexile Score: 1060
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