Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blue Floats Away explains the water cycle and global warming

Blue Floats Away, by Travis Jonker/Illustrated by Grant Snider, (March 2021, Abrams Books for Young Readers), $17.99, ISBN: 9781419744235

Ages 4-8

Blue is a little iceberg who floats along with his parents in the North Pole until one day, when he cracks and floats away, surprising the three of them! He’s carried along by the water, noticing new and beautiful things and meeting new friends, when he transforms again, and again! Blue’s gentle little adventure explains the water cycle to young learners in a way that will interest and delight them, as Blue transforms from an iceberg, to a cloud, to a snowflake, as he experiences new and exciting things on his journey. Back matter includes more information about the water cycle and a note about climate change and its affect on polar ice. Blue Floats Away is so  much more than a cute STEM story to read to your Kiddos, though: it’s about growing up, having new experiences, and always having an eye toward home. Blue and his parents have subtly illustrated, gentle faces that I had to read a second time to really discover; Blue’s expressions change throughout his story; at first content, then frightened, unsure, even excited, as his story moves along. Mixed media illustrations remind me of Lois Ehlert in the best of ways. Deep blues dominate the story, with bright colors popping out to keep interest. Spare text makes this a great readaloud choice that you can follow with a torn paper collage craft, inviting kids to create their own Blue story. KidZone has water cycle activity pages for coloring that you can have handy for a storytime or grab and go craft, as does Clever Learner.

Blue Floats Away has starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

A search for the Biggest Puddle in the World and a lesson on the water cycle!

The Biggest Puddle in the World, by Mark Lee/Illustrated by Nathalie Dion, (March 2019, Groundwood Books), $18.95, ISBN: 9781554989799

Ages 4-7

Siblings Sarah and Charlie go to stay with their grandparents for six days; at first, it rains, allowing the two to explore the old house, but they’re itching to get outside and wander. Finally, the weather lets up, and they head out, with their grandfather, on a nature walk. Big T, their grandfather, promises to show them the biggest puddle in the world, and encourages Sarah to keep a puddle map; all the while, explaining the water cycle: the rain comes down and collects in the puddles; the water in the air become the clouds in the sky. The clouds are made up of water from ponds and rivers and the biggest puddle in the world, which, the kids discover, is the ocean!

This is a great way to lead in to a discussion and/or lesson about the water cycle. The story and illustrations are all about the joy of being a kid: they enjoy spending time with grandparents; jump in puddles; explore nature, and find ways to keep themselves occupied when stuck inside on rainy days. Big T gives them a simple, illustrative way to understand the water cycle and how puddles collect, form bigger puddles, and eventually, become part of the clouds, which bring the rain. He encourages learning, and invites the kids to use hands-on learning by exploring and mapping their day.

The real and digital watercolor artwork is soft, with earth tones and faded colors, allowing nature to calmly take its place as the focal point of the story. Grasses gently move in an imagined breeze; the ocean stretches across a spread as Big T watches his grandchildren and their dog play, boots left on the sand.

A nice bridge between fiction and nonfiction, and a good addition to science storytime.

Posted in Non-Fiction, Tween Reads

How to Make a Planet makes astronomy accessible – and awesome – to middle graders

how to make a planetHow to Make a Planet, by Scott Forbes/Illustrated by Jean Camden. Kids Can Press (2012), $17.95, ISBN: 9781894786881

Recommended for ages 8-12

How to Make a Planet takes the best part of an astronomy textbook and makes it accessible to middle grade students. Written as a how-to-guide to making your own planet, Scott Forbes breaks down the entire process of Earth’s formation, from the Big Bang through to the arrival of… well, us. Mr. Forbes writes about quarks and neutrons, the periodic table of elements and continental drift, all in a way that neither speaks down to his audience nor bores them. Accompanied by Jean Camden’s fun illustrations, including kids working on their planetary masterpiece and bike riding across the solar system, with giant insects, dinosaurs and more, there is always something exciting to read and see. A running “Time Check” box contains information bullets describing what’s happening at different intervals in the Earth’s creation. There is an Amazing Facts page, glossary and index.

This book is a great resource for teachers and librarians to have available in classroom, school, and public libraries. It’s a great way increase science literacy and interest younger readers in the sciences.




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