Monday, August 22, 2016

Vampires and Cells

Vampires and Cells is an impressive entry in the Monster Science series. Vampires are a logical choice to teach children about types of cells and cell structure.

These are friendly vampires, not likely to frighten children. The book covers a remarkable amount of material. It begins slowly with a definition of cells and a history of their discovery. From there it moves on to describing how cells work together and what I found to be a rather detailed discussion of types of cells and diagrams and descriptions of plant and animals cells. This was all done with vampire humor and illustrations helping to illustrate the vocabulary and science concepts being taught.

The vocabulary and concepts covered here are the most advanced of all the books I've reviewed in the series so far. While it might be a good chance to introduce the concepts to elementary students, I'm not sure how much they will process and remember. However, this would be a great resource for Middle School students as the information is fairly detailed and there is an emphasis on accurate science terms and descriptions.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Thud! Wile E. Coyote Experiments with Forces and Motions

I'm always looking for a balance between age appropriate accessible science books and accurate content. Thud!: Wile E. Coyote Experiments with Forces and Motion (Wile E. Coyote, Physical Science Genius)is a great example of an author that is able to achieve that balance.

The author uses the conflict between Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner to explain Newton's Laws of Motion. The author begins by identifying and defining Newton's Laws of motions. He does that in a way accessible to elementary readers without losing the accuracy of the science concepts. The humor will encourage reluctant readers to stick with a topic that can sometimes be dry.

This is the kind of book that will encourage elementary readers to explore Newton's Laws and it is also a great way to help older reader's to also engage with the information. While amusing the information is accurate and the illustrations will help readers of all ages to understand the concepts being taught.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Medusa Tells All

Medusa Tells All: Beauty Missing, Hair Hissingis another book in the Other Side of the Myth Series.

I was pleased with Rebecca Davis' addition to this series. She makes a strong case for Medusa by blaming Athena for giving into her jealousy and cursing Medusa after Poseidon showed her attention. Other than bragging about her beauty, Medusa carefully avoids including any details of her story that might hint at her own guilt in the conflict between her and Athena.

As with the rest of the books in this series, the author includes a summary of the myth at the beginning of the story for those not familiar with the story. I continue to find this series to be an intriguing way to introduce children to mythology and to point of view.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Positive and Negative Numbers, Oh My!

Positive & Negative Numbers, Oh My! (Got Math!) provides a balance of traditional number line approaches to teaching positive and negative numbers and some creative real world applications. The book also looks at less than and great than, and has a brief review of coordinate graphing with positive and negative numbers.

The book emphasizes math vocabulary for numbers, which I always am looking for in math picture books. When kids learn the words in more friendly environments, they tend to remember them and they lose the fear of math words. This book defines the words in a clear manner and provides number lines to help illustrate the concepts and vocabulary being defined. In between the math vocabulary and definitions, real world examples are used to reinforce the ideas being presented.

Concepts in this book include natural numbers, whole numbers, rational numbers, integers (positive and negative), absolute value, inequality symbols, and four quadrant graphing. The words are defined and then built on to explain additional concepts in the book.

Overall I was impressed by the amount of information covered in this book and the efforts to make it accessible. I was frustrated in one instance in the discussion of the opposite absolute value. Up until this point they very clearly clarified not just what to do, but why you do something in math. This has always been a problem for me in math. If I didn't understand something I could make up my own rules thinking I'd remembered correctly. This was the only explanation I found in the book where they just said, add a negative sign and you're good without any explanation of why it works. If they weren't going to explain, I'd rather have had them left it out because everything else is explained pretty well for the reader to follow along not just on how, but the why.