Books by Nancy Woodman

DIRT by Steve Tomecek
by Steve Tomecek, illustrated by Nancy Woodman
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

Lots of neat facts and easy-to-read explanations about dirt (or soil, as the scientists prefer) can be found in this Jump Into Science title for young readers. For example, "Just one square foot of good forest soil can be home to as many as 300,000 different living things." And "Around the world, soil scientists have discovered more than 100,000 different types of soil!" While the text is compelling throughout, the illustrations, with an elaborately costumed, energetic mole and a host of other creatures diving in and out of the soil, can be distracting. Sand (2000), another title illustrated by Woodman, used photographs and art to dramatic effect; this one uses pen and watercolor drawings exclusively. It's hard to make painted dirt look like the real thing. But for the intended audience, those likely to be playing in the topic themselves, there's plenty to think about and they're sure to look more closely (for earthworms, roots, and even dead leaves) as they consider that "dirt made your dinner." Instructions for making and exploring a soil ecosystem in a bottle complete the picture. (Nonfiction. 4-8)Read full book review >
SEA-FARI DEEP by Nancy Woodman
Released: April 1, 1999

The Jason Project is familiar to many Internet surfers, who have watched and even interacted with scientists off the coast of Baja California, in Mexico, as they dive to the ocean floor to explore deep sea vents, and the creatures which form near them, including the astounding bacteria that use chemical energy to make sugar. Dusty, in a breathless, first-person narration (" ‘Wow!' I gasped, ‘Awesome!' "), explores the bottom of the sea with the crew of the Jason Project. Students use cameras aboard the deep-diving mini-submarine, Turtle, and even operate an undersea robot, Jason. The adventure is splendid, with detailed diagrams and fascinating information; the narration is often banal: " ‘It sounds like an ecosystem that's really different from the one we live in,' I thought out loud." In fact, the framing of questions and facts in dialogue (" ‘VÇronique, we learned in school that water turns into a gas when it boils at 212¯F (100¯C). Why is the 572¯F water coming out of the smoker still liquid?' I asked") is overly tricky and renders the text difficult to follow. The layout combines text, pastels, watercolors, full-color photographs, and a border; if such a busy, cluttered format occasionally obscures the text for younger readers, it may attract MTV-age readers accustomed to the frantic pace of web pages. (maps, glossary) (Picture book. 10-14) Read full book review >