An accessible and entertaining introduction to a basic science tool.

FIELD NOTEBOOKS

HOW SCIENTISTS RECORD AND WRITE ABOUT OBSERVATIONS

Packed with examples, this children’s book explains how scientists record observations in field journals.

Children in science class who are asked to write down observations in a notebook or journal may wonder how this actually works for professional scientists. This introduction to the subject demystifies the process, beginning by defining the central concepts. Field, for example, means scientists “are not sitting in an office or a laboratory. Instead, they are in a field, a meadow, a cave, or wherever they need to be to make their observations in nature.” Pattison explains the kind of information recorded, such as lists, daily events, narratives, maps, descriptions, and measurements, along with images clarified through captions, labels, or keys providing important facts. The book then turns to 13 scientists from fields including entomology, botany, ornithology, geology, and taxidermy. Each entry includes a photographic portrait and a short biography listing notable accomplishments and experiences and a description of methods, illustrated with relevant images, such as facsimiles of field notes and examples of many kinds of observations. Because the volume focuses on scientists born in the 19th or early 20th centuries, many of the entries are handwritten or drawn, showing that students don’t need fancy equipment to perform fieldwork. In her latest science-focused book for children, the author provides clear, understandable, but not oversimplified explanations in an attractively presented format. The notebook entries make for compelling study, such as entomologist Margaret S. Collins’ observations of a territorial showdown between termite colonies: “She drew a map showing the opening positions, and then new maps as the battle continued,” recording developments over the 40-minute conflict. A final section, “Start Your Own Field Book,” supplies useful tips. But it’s unfortunate that only three female scientists are included—not for lack of historical examples.

An accessible and entertaining introduction to a basic science tool.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62-944191-7

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Mims House

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

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A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts.

YOUR PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE

From a Caldecott and Sibert honoree, an invitation to take a mind-expanding journey from the surface of our planet to the furthest reaches of the observable cosmos.

Though Chin’s assumption that we are even capable of understanding the scope of the universe is quixotic at best, he does effectively lead viewers on a journey that captures a sense of its scale. Following the model of Kees Boeke’s classic Cosmic View: The Universe in Forty Jumps (1957), he starts with four 8-year-old sky watchers of average height (and different racial presentations). They peer into a telescope and then are comically startled by the sudden arrival of an ostrich that is twice as tall…and then a giraffe that is over twice as tall as that…and going onward and upward, with ellipses at each page turn connecting the stages, past our atmosphere and solar system to the cosmic web of galactic superclusters. As he goes, precisely drawn earthly figures and features in the expansive illustrations give way to ever smaller celestial bodies and finally to glimmering swirls of distant lights against gulfs of deep black before ultimately returning to his starting place. A closing recap adds smaller images and additional details. Accompanying the spare narrative, valuable side notes supply specific lengths or distances and define their units of measure, accurately explain astronomical phenomena, and close with the provocative observation that “the observable universe is centered on us, but we are not in the center of the entire universe.”

A stimulating outing to the furthest reaches of our knowledge, certain to inspire deep thoughts. (afterword, websites, further reading) (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4623-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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Though usually cast as the trickster, Coyote is more victim than victimizer, making this a nice complement to other Coyote...

COYOTE TALES

Two republished tales by a Greco-Cherokee author feature both folkloric and modern elements as well as new illustrations.

One of the two has never been offered south of the (Canadian) border. In “Coyote Sings to the Moon,” the doo-wop hymn sung nightly by Old Woman and all the animals except tone-deaf Coyote isn’t enough to keep Moon from hiding out at the bottom of the lake—until she is finally driven forth by Coyote’s awful wailing. She has been trying to return to the lake ever since, but that piercing howl keeps her in the sky. In “Coyote’s New Suit” he is schooled in trickery by Raven, who convinces him to steal the pelts of all the other animals while they’re bathing, sends the bare animals to take clothes from the humans’ clothesline, and then sets the stage for a ruckus by suggesting that Coyote could make space in his overcrowded closet by having a yard sale. No violence ensues, but from then to now humans and animals have not spoken to one another. In Eggenschwiler’s monochrome scenes Coyote and the rest stand on hind legs and (when stripped bare) sport human limbs. Old Woman might be Native American; the only other completely human figure is a pale-skinned girl.

Though usually cast as the trickster, Coyote is more victim than victimizer, making this a nice complement to other Coyote tales. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55498-833-4

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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