Excavate! Dinosaurs by Jon Tennant

Excavate! Dinosaurs by Jon Tennant (Storey Publishing, October 2014) is a crafty book in which the facts of the first half supplement the dinosaur bones cut outs of the second half.Kids read about 12 different kinds of dinosaurs and then must put them together. The catch, however, is that the dinosaur bones are not labeled, so like a paleontologist, the young reader must figure out how it all fits together by trial, error, and a bit of understanding about the animals in the first place.

I really liked this book. In the first half, it provides a lot of fun facts, but it is not too long for the text-weary child. I love how it gives background for archaeology in general by talking about layers of the earth and dinosaur eras. With the hands on puzzles, it is sure to be a hit with a dinosaur fan.

In fact, I decided to get this for my son for the holidays. I can’t wait to see what my son thinks of it on Christmas morning!

Note: I received a digital copy of this book for review consideration. I decided to then buy it for my son!

If by David J. Smith

The world is so big, I can understand my son not understanding some concepts. I tried to explain the amount of snow that recently covered Buffalo, New York, and he just shook his head. How can he possibly understand the distance to the moon? The extent of the universe?

If by David J. Smith and illustrated by Steve Adams (Kids Can Press, August 2014) is a nonfiction picture book that tries to give kids perspective. By comparing huge concepts to concepts that a child understands, the author makes the things that we cannot quite comprehend a little bit more real. Continue Reading

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires


The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires (Kids Can Press, April 2014) is a STEM book. (For those not in the “know,” as I was not until recently, STEM is educational slang for something relating to Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mechanics.) A creative girl heads out to make the “magnificent thing,” but cannot seem to get it right for quite a while. Trial and error, experimentation. She keeps going. It is not easy, and finally she succeeds!

I loved how the author-illustrator included multiple pictures per page. You can see the girl’s growing frustration as she works, creates, and starts anew. I also enjoyed how we could see her creations throughout the story, but we could never quite see what she was making until the very end. Her facial expressions can show the reader (and young STEM workers) that creation takes lots of work, lots of mistakes, and lots of concentration. She had a great idea, but it took quite a while to get to her finished “magnificient thing.”

I see lots of educational value in this book for schools, but I also believe it is a strong, fun story with clever illustrations. Non-readers can still enjoy it by reviewing the pictures. This will be a winner with kids, for sure!

Note: I received a digital copy for review consideration.

Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka

Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka (Abrams, August 2014) is a bizarre and amusing story about a boy scientist named Frank Einstein who, with his best friend sidekick and two intelligent robots, is determined to win his science fair project. Of course with a grandfather named Al Einstein (no, not that one but still…), Frank’s project is destined to be the best of them all! Or will it? His arch nemesis is determined to stop him. Continue Reading