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National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Science by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

Source: Media Masters Publicity

Hardcover, 128 pgs.

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National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Science by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld is so well organized with fact boxes, interactive questions, and tips for parents to use with their kids who are interested in doing more with science. The full-color photographs are gorgeous, and my daughter didn’t want to stop reading this one. It definitely opens kids’ eyes to the world around them, the simple ways in which science can be done, and explains how they too can become scientists.

From what our senses tell us about the world around us to how we can find answers to our questions, this book provides a great foundation for kids. My daughter has already kept a science journal for class in 2nd and 3rd grade when they were studying clouds and the growth of seeds, but this book also goes more into depth about hypotheses and theories and the difference between them. I loved the “Branches of Science” tree included in the book, though the branches of engineering, ecology, and physical science seemed a bit short to me; I’m sure there are more branches coming off of those. There is so much more that this book could cover in each chapter, but as a “first” book of science for kids, it does a wonderful job.

We loved how easy to read this was for my daughter. She read it to us on more than one occasion when she got excited about something she learned. I hope that this is just the first in the series and that there are more of these books about the other branches of science that are not covered in this volume. National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Science by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld is a great addition to any library and will be fun for both parents and kids with plenty of activities to share.

RATING: Cinquain

5,000 Awesome Facts (About Everything!)

Source: Media Masters Publicity

Hardcover, 224 pgs.

I am an Amazon Affiliate

5,000 Awesome Facts (About Everything!) from National Geographic Kids packs a lot of information into its little more than 200 pages, and many of these pages have full color photographs. The layout of the pages differs, but they are each packed with some fun and unusual facts from the 15 facts about mysteries throughout history to facts about animals (like penguins and dolphins) and facts about women, transportation, robots, paranormal activity, space junk, the Olympics, swimming, and Antarctica, among others.

We did notice that certain lists of facts are super long and don’t fit well into a fun and engaging bubble or other format, which means they were simply listed with one large photo or two medium photos. For instance, the two pages of sharks were just a list with one photo of a Great White Shark, and the text was a bit small. While my daughter loves watching shark week, this page of facts was not engaging to her. Neither were the two pages about skeletons and muscles, which was similarly arranged.

However, this book is chock full of information that kids can explore at their leisure and share with their parents. We love using these books to quiz each other and share what we found interesting. It’s fun to see our daughter say, “I knew that.” And then she’ll share a fact that she found interesting by first asking, “Mom, did you know…” I love these kids of books for this reason alone. My daughter also loved learning about inventions and some other things that she wouldn’t think to ask about. This book provides her with new thinks to explore on her own and with help.

5,000 Awesome Facts (About Everything!) from National Geographic Kids is a great gift for kids who are curious about the world around us — including the man-made parts of our world. My daughter loves nature, so those parts of the book were most interesting, but we did have some conversations about space junk and other things she had no idea about. We’ll likely turn to this book again and again, especially when we can get back to doing road trips.

RATING: Quatrain

Weird But True: Halloween 300 Spooky Facts to Scare You Silly by Julie Beer

Source: Media Masters Publicity
Paperback, 208 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Weird But True: Halloween 300 Spooky Facts to Scare You Silly by Julie Beer contains all things Halloween, the quirky, the factual, the fun, and the ghoulish. I wanted to review this one on Oct. 13 because it is a mirror for Oct. 31 and because 13 is considered an unlucky number.

My daughter loved the fun facts in this book and was awed by the spectacular displays throughout that people made with carved, lighted pumpkins. These displays are massive and inventive. I was riveted by the unusual: did you know that Halloween was once associated with love and romance? Or that in Scotland, people peeled apples in one long strip and tossed the peel over their shoulder to see what the first letter of their future love would be? Or that people in England used to take the front doors off their neighbors’ homes and hide them? And one I never would have known without reading this book is that the filling of Kit Kats is made from ground up Kit Kats.

Some of the fun facts I knew in here, especially the ones about Macbeth and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but there wasn’t much about my favorite Halloween reads, but then again, perhaps my personal readings of Edgar Allan Poe are not traditions elsewhere.

There are even some goodies in here that I hope to try with my daughter on Halloween in lieu of Trick or Treating — some mummy wrapping, apple bobbing, and carving challenges. Weird But True: Halloween 300 Spooky Facts to Scare You Silly by Julie Beer is a delightful look at the holiday and all the craziness that it inspires. Definitely a great gift to offer kids when candy and door-to-door stops is ill-advised.

RATING: Quatrain

Mailbox Monday #599

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what we received:

Cloud Hopper by Beth Kephart, which I purchased from Main Point Books.

When a girl in a homemade hot air balloon falls out of the sky in rural Gilbertine, there are questions: Who is this girl, where exactly did she come from, why won’t she talk, and what has she risked to live in a country that does not seem to want her?

And what can Sophie, Wyatt, and K―three misfit best friends with complex and harrowing stories of their own―do to help the girl who can’t trust those who want to help her? What should they do? As seen through the eyes of 14-year-old Sophie, who lives with her terminally ill grandmother, Cloud Hopper by National Book Award finalist Beth Kephart is a poignant, high-flying adventure set among the old planes, Vietnam vets, and majestic hot air balloons of a run-down municipal airport. It’s about the rules we’ll break and the dangers we’ll face to do the most-right thing we can imagine, even when we’re feeling long past brave.

Weird But True Halloween: 300 Spooky Facts to Scare You Silly by Julie Beer and Michelle Harris for review from Media Masters Publicity.

The wildly popular Weird But True! line is all dressed up for Halloween with 300 all-new spooky facts about candy, costumes, pumpkin carving, and more! Calling all boys and ghouls: You’re in for a treat of freaky facts, stats, tidbits, and trivia about one of the most popular holidays! Did you know that there is an underwater pumpkin carving contest? Or that the U.S. Defense Department has a zombie apocalypse plan? Maybe you’d be amazed to discover that there are more Halloween emojis than there are U.S. states? It’s all weird–and it’s all true–in this latest and greatest edition, packed with hilarious and terrifying tidbits on Halloween!

What did you receive?

National Geographic Kids: Beginner’s United States Atlas and United States Atlas

Source: Media Masters Publicity
Paperbacks, 128 pgs and 176 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

National Geographic Kids has a new 2020 edition of both the Beginner’s United States Atlas (3rd edition) and the United States Atlas (6th edition). The Beginner’s atlas includes the basics about what a map is, the land, the people, and the national capital, as well as individual maps and facts about each states. The atlas divides the country into 5 regions designated by different colors, and the back of the book contains a glossary, postal codes, and metric conversion chart. We love the full color topographical maps in this volume and the large text that makes the information easy to read.

My daughter and I will spend a great deal of time learning about maps and what features on the map signify, as well as the importance of the scale and compass. The full color photos in the atlas are gorgeous and vivid. They include natural features and animals, historical elements, and the state birds and flowers, among other things. The beginner’s atlas is a great place to start with elementary school students to help them learn about the different states in our country. We’ve already checked out our home state of Maryland.

The United States Atlas is a smaller paperback atlas that also includes full color photos and is chock full of information. This atlas includes information about the physical aspects of our country, including its climate and natural hazards, and information about our population, energy, the national capital, and people on the move. Again the atlas is broken up into 6 regions (one of which includes the U.S. Territories) that are color coded. There are facts and figures, postal abbreviations, map abbreviations, place names in an index, and more. This one has more in-depth information than the beginner’s atlas.

We love that both of these provide text and facts, but that they also provide photos that bring each state to life. National Geographic Kids’s new 2020 edition of both the Beginner’s United States Atlas and the United States Atlas will be a great addition to homeschooling and virtual schooling this year. With the topsy-turvy COVID-19 pandemic still underway, this will give us a needed break from Zoom classes and allow her to explore the country — at least in a book.

RATING: Cinquain

Mailbox Monday #592

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

It’s my birthday today and I’m thinking about which books I might buy this week in celebration. Any recommendations are greatly appreciated.

Here’s what we received:

Fetch! A How to Speak Dog Training Guide by Dr. Gary Weitzman and Aubre Andrus; Read the review.

Whether teaching a puppy the basics–such as “sit,” “stand,” and “stay”– correcting behavioral problems, or training your pooch to perform more advanced tricks, this comprehensive guide will take you through all the steps to have your canine answering your call in no time. With the help of veterinarian Dr. Gary Weitzman, kids will bond with their pups through structured lessons that showcase easy-to-follow instructions and commands. Additional content introduces readers to Hollywood hounds, dogs on the job, and famous canines through history. This “paws-on” guide is perfect for families who are bringing home their very first puppy, or seasoned dog owners who want to teach their longtime four-legged family member a few new tricks.

Pounce! a How to Speak Cat Training Guide by Dr. Gary Weitzman and Tracey West; Read the review.

Whether you want to train your kitty to walk on a leash or are trying to teach your cat to scratch a scratching post instead of the couch, this comprehensive guide will take you through all the steps you need to know to get started. With the help of veterinarian Dr. Gary Weitzman, kids will learn basic training, corrective training, and tricks they can do with their cats. Fun special features introduce readers to famous trained cats, felines in ancient Egypt, and so much more. This easy-to-use guide is perfect for families who are bringing home a kitten for the first time or just want to teach their longtime feline family member some new tricks.

What did you receive?

Pounce! a How to Speak Cat Training Guide

Source: Media Masters Publicity
Paperback, 176 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Pounce! a How to Speak Cat Training Guide by Dr. Gary Weitzman and Tracey West is a comprehensive look at cat behavior, full magazine-quality images, and so much more. Kids ages 8 and up can learn not only how to gauge when a cat is anxious or angry, but they can also learn about what it means when cats purr. There’s even a quiz about cats that kids can do to learn not only about their diets but also whether cats do have nine lives. Cats can be trained, which is true if you think about how they have to be trained to use a litter box — why wouldn’t you be able to train them to do other things?

We don’t own a cat, but my daughter’s best buddy in the neighborhood has several and she loves playing with them (when we’re not in a pandemic). I think this book would help her friend learn more about cat behavior and how to recognize when the cats have had enough. Beyond training cats to use the litter box and putting on a color, kids and parents can learn to train their cats to come when called, go into a carrier for the vet visit, and using a cat door, as well has how to play with a ball. We learned that much like dogs, cats can be trained to sit, stay, and beg, as well as shake paws.

There are even tips to help with destructive behavior and so much more. Pounce! a How to Speak Cat Training Guide by Dr. Gary Weitzman and Tracey West demonstrates that many animals can be taught tricks. Cats are likely candidates, and kids can be kept safer by learning how to read cat behavior.

RATING: Quatrain

Fetch! A How to Speak Dog Training Guide

Source: Media Masters Publicity
Paperback, 176 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Fetch! A How to Speak Dog Training Guide by Dr. Gary Weitzman and Aubre Andrus is another fact-filled guide from National Geographic Kids for kids ages 8 and up. The book provides practical guidance on how to train a dog to sit, stay, and so much more. Our dog already knows some tricks, so our daughter wants to work with her on the harder activities and I’m hoping to train her how to catch a Frisbee. Our live-in dog, who belongs to my parents, has zero tricks. My first trick will be to teach him how to hush. He barks way too much for my liking. Wish me luck, since he’s a notoriously stubborn dog.

There are activities like ringing a bell, jumping through a hoop, and so much more. Maybe we’ll train these dogs for the circus? Not likely, but it will be a good idea for her to try and train her own dog and learn how to be responsible for her pets. The book has some vivid color images of different dogs, which was another fun topic of conversation. She’ll know more about different dog breeds than I did as a kid.

Inside, kids can learn not only how to train their own dogs, but learn from other dog owners who’ve tried to train their own pooches. There are other fun activities for kids to where they can make their own dog toys or learn what type of dog they are. My daughter was happy to learn that she’s at least part Siberian Husky like her own dog. There are even vet tips and information on how to read your dog’s body language. The back of the book also offers resources for further information.

Fetch! A How to Speak Dog Training Guide by Dr. Gary Weitzman and Aubre Andrus provides a lot of activities for kids to learn how to interact with their dog and teach them good behaviors, but it also can become an interactive activity for dogs to enjoy — especially since many of the tricks require rewards in treats.

RATING: Quatrain

Turn It Up! A Pitch Perfect History of Music That Rocked the World

Source: Publisher
Hardcover, 192 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

From National Geographic Kids, Turn It Up! A Pitch Perfect History of Music That Rocked the World, is a collection of fun music facts in a condensed format with colorful photographs and more. I enjoyed the parts about sound waves, and rhythm (which I don’t have) and harmony versus melody as a way of introducing music fundamentals to kids. My daughter was amazed that the earliest instrument was 40,000 years ago and was a flute made of bone. She was a bit creeped out by that knowledge, but she did find the other early instruments inside the book interesting. She already knows a little bit about the types of notes, thanks to Yunique Music School.

The most fascinating parts of this book for me were there tidbits about the actual musicians, like how Niccolo Paganini had sold his soul to the Devil in order to play so well every time he appeared before an audience while on the road. I enjoyed learning about Antonin Dvorak, one of my favorite composers, and the influence of America and Native Americans in his work — which makes absolute sense when you listen to his New World Symphony. I also learned something I didn’t know about one of my mom’s favorites, Glenn Miller, who apparently vanished while fighting in WWII. Cab Calloway is a figure I vaguely recall seeing as child and probably on Sesame Street, but I just loved his energy as a kid, and I had no idea that he used cartoon characters as part of his shows.

From National Geographic Kids, Turn It Up! A Pitch Perfect History of Music That Rocked the World, is chock full of information about musical composers, instruments, and the evolution of music, but it also has so much about recent musicians toward the end. It seems like it is heavy on new artists, which is probably because of the younger audience, but it is good to see how these younger artists are being remembered now, rather than years and years into the future.

RATING: Quatrain

We Love Babies! by Jill Esbaum

Source: Media Masters Publicity
Hardcover, 40 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

We Love Babies! by Jill Esbaum is an adorable photography spread that will melt your heart with cute little baby animals. Esbaum uses rhyme to pinpoint the different aspects of these babies from webbed toes to wings. There are babies big and small, furry and feathery, and all full-fledged cute.

The book is for kids just learning words and different shapes, but my daughter loves cute baby animals (don’t we all). We would argue that this is a photography book for all ages. The images are crisp and detailed, and some are down right fun to look at. Esbaum’s witty rhymes make the book even more enjoyable for younger children — it’s almost song-like.

We Love Babies! by Jill Esbaum is a great way to introduce young children to the natural world, different species of animals (which are all labeled in the final pages), and words like big and small. These images will make you smile, which is another reason just to have this book around.

RATING: Cinquain

Mailbox Monday #563

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what I received:

Turn It Up!: A Pitch Perfect History of Music that Rocked the World for review from Media Masters Publicity and National Geographic Kids.

The high notes and biggest moments in music history are covered in this fun compendium. You’ll learn about the world’s most famous musicians through the eras, from Bach to the Beatles to Beyonce — and beyond. Many major music genres are playfully explained, from tribal, classical, jazz, folk, rock … all the way to today’s modern forms, such as k-pop, hip-hop, and rap. Instruments and sounds are explored, along with places and events in history that inspired the evolution of music. Kids will also get a sense of music theory, instrumentation, and the artistry of distinctive musical styles. Song recommendations help readers open their ears to what they’ve learned. Add to that amazing images, a rockin’ glossary of musical terms, and a timeline that plots each genre on its path from ancient history to today, and this book is bound to top the charts!

We Love Babies by Jill Esbaum for review from Media Masters Publicity and National Geographic Kids.

This hilarious picture book with rollicking, rhyming text reads like a crowd-pleasing call, pumping up readers’ excitement for the cutest baby animals ever. Illustrated with lively National Geographic photography, We Love Babies! presents furred, feathered, and finned baby animals of all shapes and sizes. Whimsical cartoon cheerleaders add to the fun, popping up throughout the book to lead fans in the irresistible refrain: “We love babies, yes we do, we love babies, how about you?”

Wickham’s Folly by Philippa J. Rosen, a Kindle freebie.

George Wickham had no intention of joining the army. However, after a night drinking gin with his friend Tom, he awakes the next morning an enlisted soldier.

He is posted to a small town in Hertfordshire and meets a variety of people. He makes friends with a couple who have five daughters and plans to marry one of the older daughters in order to inherit her father’s wealth. At the same time, he intends to become better acquainted with the youngest daughter, Lydia. For good measure he tries to a young clergyman of his money by fraudulent means.

His plans are thwarted however, and he flees to London. Thanks to the intervention of a gentleman from Derbyshire he is forced to marry Lydia and takes a commission in the north of England.

He is content to be a soldier as long as Napoleon is still exiled in Elba. When Napoleon escapes though his regiment sail for Europe at once.

At the Battle of Waterloo, Wickham somehow becomes a hero. But is there more to his heroic actions than meets the eye? The young clergyman travels to give spiritual assistance to the English soldiers, and it is there that he discovers Wickham’s secret…

Georgiana Darcy’s Secret Letters by Francine Howarth and Pat Jackson, a Kindle freebie.

The shy reclusive sister of Fitzwilliam Darcy loves the wide open spaces of the Derbyshire Dales, where her favoured pastime steals her away from her dour existence at Pemberley. Whilst the memory of George Wickham lingers as a reminder of a past mistake, Georgiana rebels and embraces the writing of clandestine letters. But can she really trust a battle hardened officer to rein back when burgeoned desire wells in the heat of the moment, and dare she risk her reputation for the love of Lt James Dolby, Viscount Welton?

Jeopardy in January by Camilla Chafer, a Kindle freebie.

Sara Cutler loves her job as head librarian of the public library, an integral part of the historic heart of the picturesque mountain town, Calendar. The combination of old books, quirky clientele, and endless reading is nothing less than perfection for Sara. So when she discovers a body in the rare books section that threatens to destroy her quiet existence, along with the imminent demise of the library, Sara vows to find the killer.

She never expects to receive any help from Jason Rees, the handsome, big city developer whose only objective is to get rid of the library. Sara assumes he is counting on the murder to serve as the final death knell his firm needs to demolish the library. However, that doesn’t prevent him from falling head over heels for the very woman with whom he’s clashing.

When news arrives that the dead woman was nothing that she appeared to be, the whole town is instantly enthralled by the concept of having an actual jewel thief in their midst. Even more puzzling is: where did she hide her stolen treasure?

All Sara must do to save the library is simply solve the murder, find the hidden jewels, and convince herself not to succumb to the one man she would rather see run out town. It doesn’t take long before she realizes that amateur sleuthing isn’t as easy in real life as it is in the stories she loves to read.

What did you receive?

Code This!: Puzzles, Games, Challenges, and Computer Coding Concepts for the Problem Solver in You by Jennifer Szymanski

Source: Media Masters Publicity
Paperback, 160 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Code This!: Puzzles, Games, Challenges, and Computer Coding Concepts for the Problem Solver in You by Jennifer Szymanski provides introductory information about computer science and coding, equating it to “the arts,” which can help kids see how they can use science to create. I liked this perspective in the introduction. I started out by reading the introduction myself and explaining it to my daughter in brief so she could follow along with the activities.

The text is a bit dense for my 8-year-old, but the activities are engaging enough for her education level. Some of these entry-level activities may be too elementary for older kids. To introduce kids to coding, the book explains logical thinking and why coding is necessary. It can help robots find things and decipher codes, and so much more. It was a good idea to share this with our daughter, but some of this may be more advanced than we expected.  It’s definitely a keeper.

Code This!: Puzzles, Games, Challenges, and Computer Coding Concepts for the Problem Solver in You by Jennifer Szymanski offers a lot of computer science inside concepts and activities for kids to try with their parents. On her own, our daughter would probably not have gotten very far because she’s not the right age for it. I think this would be better for older children. We still enjoyed our time with the book.

RATING: Quatrain