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Scientific America Young Readers Book Awards
2001
The Best Paper Airplanes You'll Ever Fly
Click to search this book in our catalog   Klutz Guides
2001
Mud Matters: Stories from a Mud Lover
Click to search this book in our catalog   Jennifer Owings Dewey
School Library Journal : Gr 3-5--A unique book on the author's personal experiences with mud. Dewey offers good information on quicksand, primordial ooze, adobes, etc., and describes finding a fossilized bone of a Camalops, a sort of prehistoric, humpless camel. Full-color photographs and black-and-white drawings appear throughout. However, the writing gets so bogged down in dialogue that most youngsters will have a difficult time wading through it to get to the facts. Another problem is accessibility. Students researching the Zuni and their Mudheads, the nest-building techniques of wasps, or the Rio Grande will probably not think to look in this book. An appended list of plants and animals named after mud could prove handy, but the glossary, which includes words such as muddle and muddlehead, seems to be of marginal relevance. Students seeking material on the subject should look to Peter Goodwin's Landslides, Slumps, & Creep (Watts, 1997). Mud Matters will find little use in libraries.

Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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2001
Painters of the Caves
Click to search this book in our catalog   Patricia Lauber
 
2001
Making Things: The Handbook of Creative Discovery
 Ann Wiseman
School Library Journal : Gr 4-8--A compilation of the "best selections" from Making Things and Making Things 2, published in the 1970s, this book has many inspirational quotes, philosophical tidbits, and a wealth of creative ideas. "Save Things for Making Things" is a valuable list that opens the presentation. Not only are there things to save, but also reasons for doing so. Several excellent articles, "Connecting Things with Ideas," "Questions," and "Solutions," are appended. The body of the book has many activities to stimulate creativity and will be a valuable resource for adults, but is not a source children should be given for independent use. The projects are mainly for beginners, often children, but the author minimizes precautions and requests for adult help. Pages are very busy with directions that jump from the gutter edge to the margin, numerous diagrams, and personal asides. Those who are looking for some craft ideas and have time to read everything carefully first, and make a sample so that they are familiar with steps that need guidance, may want to consider this book. Nancy Blakey's Lotions, Potions, and Slime (Tricycle, 1996) will better serve adults who have any apprehensions about their own craft abilities or about crafting with children as active participants.

Marilyn Fairbanks, East Junior High School, Brockton, MA Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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2001
Invisible Enemies: Stories of Infectious Disease
 Jeanette Farrell
School Library Journal : Gr 6 Up-Seven infectious diseases (smallpox, leprosy, plague, tuberculosis, malaria, cholera, and AIDS) are covered in this excellent book. For each one, the author highlights the causes of the affliction, the history of its treatment or lack thereof, popular notions and fears that have often led to additional suffering beyond the trauma caused by the illness, and the story of how breakthroughs came about (or what still needs to be done). Filled with fascinating facts, the text is written in a crisp and lucid style that makes the most complex matters understandable. Although this could easily be a dry subject, the author does such a wonderful job of presenting it that some chapters are as exciting as any work of fiction. The black-and-white photos and reproductions illuminate details about historical perceptions of the diseases. A riveting account.-Todd Morning, Schaumburg Township Public Library, IL

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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2001
Silent Thunder: In the Presence of Elephants
 Katy Payne
Library Journal : In this mixture of personal saga, social commentary, and scientific research, Payne researches elephants' use of infrasound (sound below human hearing) to communicate over long distances. She describes the research she undertook in Kenya and in Zimbabwe, a country that condones elephant culling. Dreadfully, most of the elephants she studied there were destroyed in a 1991 cull. She found this extremely distressful, withdrawing from her own research for a time. Upon returning to Zimbabwe, she faced more sorrow; three of her research associates had been killed in a plane crash. Most of the events of the book happened prior to 1992; perhaps just now Payne is able to write of them. Peppered with commentary, criticism, and catharsis, her book is neither pure natural history nor pure autobiography. Still, it offers interesting background reading for elephant followers. Acceptable for larger public libraries and large natural history collections.

Nancy J. Moeckel, Miami Univ. Lib., Oxford, Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly : "I was hearing faint sounds that might have been overtones of stronger sounds that the elephants, but not I, could hear." In a chronicle that effectively blends memoir with the drama of scientific discovery, Payne (Elephants Calling), an acoustic biologist at Cornell, describes her role in the discovery of infrasonic communication between elephants. As she does so, she recounts her 13 years' study of African elephants--observing their social and family structures and behaviors, including the digging of wells. A scientist's respect for the elephants, "my gray friends," and for the native scouts informs her work. Payne writes, "You appreciate the value of silence when you watch elephants at night.... Every animal in the herd listens when the herd is listening. To use silence so well: if I could choose for people one attribute of elephants, I'd choose this." Payne can be passionate, especially regarding the issues of poaching and the harvesting of ivory, and she is convinced that any decision about ivory harvesting must take into account both the experience of elephants themselves as well as the historic relations between indigenous peoples and wild animals. Payne believes that "[i]n such a world animals reveal things to each other, and even occasionally to people like me: their attention to us is commensurate with ours to them." This book will make a wonderful addition to the library of any animal lover or of anyone fascinated by intra- and interspecies communication. Maps and drawing by Laura Payne.

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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2001
First Woman and the Strawberry: A Cherokee Legend
Click to search this book in our catalog   Gloria Dominic
2001
Optical Tricks
Click to search this book in our catalog   Walter Wick
Publishers Weekly : Wick (photographer of the I Spy books) reaches into his bag of photography tricks and pulls out surprises galore: his baker's dozen of fascinating illusions will stump readers of every age. Nothing is quite what it seems--images that appear indented in clay suddenly pop out in relief when the page is turned upside-down; a handful of fish multiplies into an endless school through the clever use of mirrors; the middle of three columns in a structure seems to disappear somewhere between base and ceiling. Crisply photographed and composed in largely primary colors, the images pack a nifty one-two punch. Best yet, Wick generously reveals the tricks of his trade at the end, explaining the difference between true and false perceptions and showing how, for example, he created the illusion titled "In Suspense" by placing halves of objects on a mirror to make them appear as wholes, floating in space. Part M.C. Escher, part "Magic Eye," but wholly original in their presentation, these irresistible puzzles are nothing short of visual catnip. Ages 7-up.

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : Gr 4-8-Communication between eye and mind is disoriented with a series of colorful photos of meticulously chosen or carefully constructed objects painstakingly arranged and ingeniously photographed from extremely precise angles. Challenges are presented both in those often-frustrating photos and in the simply written text, with the "illusions" revealed on subsequent pages by having readers change their viewpoint, or in consultation with a series of "solutions" and explanations at the back of the book. In a conclusion, youngsters are reassured that not everyone can "see" every illusion, and that this work is meant as "...an entertaining introduction to the mysteries of visual perception..." and not an "intelligence test." Highly sophisticated despite its appearance of colorful ingenuousness, this new endeavor from the creator of A Drop of Water (Scholastic, 1997) will prove engagingly demanding to those who can "see" 3-D op art in a trice, and annoyingly exacting to those who cannot. Stimulating, if frustrating, and certainly not in the usual stripe of books on optical illusions.-Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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2001
Children Just Like Me: Celebrations
Click to search this book in our catalog   Anabel Kindersley
School Library Journal : Gr 2-6--A rich, multicultural look at holidays around the world. The celebrations are arranged by season and include: Christmas in Germany, Halloween in Canada, Hanukkah in the U.S., Diwali in India, Hina Matsuri in Japan, and Egemenlik Bayrami in Turkey. Each holiday is shown on a two-page spread with a large photograph of a featured child or children and many smaller captioned photographs of the festivities and the culture. A preface by Harry Belafonte in his role as Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF opens the book. It is a superb addition to country/cultural teaching units, and also makes a wonderful lead-in to writing, art, and creative-drama activities used to teach holidays. An enjoyable visual experience.

Stephani Hutchinson, Pioneer Elementary School, Sunnyside, WA Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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2001
Tibaldo and the Hole in the Calendar
 Abner Shimony
School Library Journal : YA--In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII, following the advice of astronomer Christopher Clavius, decided to drop 10 days from the calendar that was currently in use throughout the world. Hence, Thursday, October 4, 1582 (Julian), would be followed by Friday, October 15, 1582 (Gregorian). Shimony charmingly describes these events through the eyes of Tibaldo Bondi, a student at the prestigious St. Joseph-in-the-Corner school in Bologna. Since he is about to lose his 12th birthday in the reorganization of the calendar, the determined and astute young man sets about finding a solution to his dilemma. Weaving fictitious characters and events into actual occurrences, the author vividly brings 16th-century Italy to life. Readers learn about the tribulations of school children during this era (try multiplying 488 by 877 in Roman numerals) as well as the scientific understandings of Clavius and Copernicus. The book is illustrated with drawings that reflect the art of the period. The tale is followed by two readable astronomy lectures, one about the seasons and the other about the appearance of stars from various locations on Earth, which will have particular appeal to readers whose scientific curiosity has been piqued by Tibaldo's story.

Carol DeAngelo, Garcia Consulting Inc., EPA Headquarters, Washington, Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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2001
Hidden under the Ground: The World beneath Your Feet
 Peter Kent
Publishers Weekly : Kent (A Slice Through a City) poses a fascinating question--just what, exactly, lies underground beneath our feet?--and gives a playful, if somewhat slapdash, answer in this picture book for older readers. He begins with a brief introduction that discusses why humans throughout the ages have tunneled under the earth and a page of one-paragraph descriptions of "Subterranean Celebrities" (both historical and mythological). What follows are 11 double-page spreads that present details about underground environments that have existed for centuries (animal and human homes, tombs, mines and dungeons--even legendary "Afterlife Underworlds"), as well as more modern subways, city service systems and nuclear bomb bunkers. Many of the spreads' brief stage-setting introductions include overly broad generalizations and the occasional awkward phrase, and history buffs may wish for dates in several of the factoids (e.g., on the same page, King Wenceslaus's life span is given [903-935], but the completion date of the Mount Cenis railroad tunnel is not). But curious readers are likely to forgive these flaws in their eagerness to pore over Kent's humorously detailed, small-scale subterranean scenes. He invites readers' scrutiny with each spread's picture search ("Rabbits breed like... rabbits. How many rabbits can you find in this picture?") and offers answers at the book's close. Captions and sidebars provide factual tidbits both informative and amusing. Ages 8-12.

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : Gr 3-5-This easily read and highly pictorial work on a variety of underground landscapes suffers from a flaw common to many foreign imports when it comes to animal life. Similar-looking species may have widely divergent lifestyles when an ocean intervenes. The segment on the "Animal Underworld" depicts a colony of European rabbits (Oryctolagus) living in a communal burrow, or warren, and Eurasian badgers (Meles) in a clannish tunnel system called a sett. American badgers (Taxidea) are loners except during the mating season, and most American rabbits (Sylvilagus) live their entire lives above ground. Aside from that problematical display, Kent's cartoon drawings are appealing and informative and contain Waldoesque elements of searching for rats in a dungeon and enumerating the kings, queens, and knights in a Medieval European vision of hell. Sidebars present extra information on such topics as "Grave Facts" and "Safety in Shelters" (where there is a caption error). While certainly fun to peruse and aimed at a much younger audience than Christie McFall's straightforward America Underground (Cobblehill, 1992; o.p.) and David Macaulay's more tightly focused, top-notch Underground (Houghton, 1976), the variances in the section on subterranean animal life and such overly simplified statements as cave creatures are "...blind because there is no light, so they don't need eyes..." should give one pause.-Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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2001
Slime, Mold and Fungi
 Elaine Pascoe
School Library Journal : Gr 3-6-Two introductions distinguished by excellent, full-color photos and succinct texts. Both books briefly describe their respective topics and include a chapter on the ways people are affected by them. The bulk of the texts discusses how to collect and house the creatures and offers step-by-step instructions for conducting experiments and related activities. About a dozen species are depicted in each title. Appendixes offer the names and addresses of biological supply companies and short lists for further reading. The texts are clearly written and well organized, and the photographs are outstanding in their clarity and composition. One or two sharp images, many of which are close-ups, appear on almost every page. With its excellent visuals and simple experiments, Ants will be a useful supplement to other material about the topic. While the Silversteins' Fungi (21st Century, 1995) provides basic facts about fungi and their various methods of reproduction, it does not give as much detail on slime molds as Pascoe's book; also, it offers only a few close-up color photographs, and they are not of the same caliber as Kuhn's photos.-Karey Wehner, San Francisco Public Library

Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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2001
A String of Beads
Click to search this book in our catalog   Margarette S. Reid
School Library Journal : K-Gr 4--Exemplary nonfiction in picture-book format. Interest in beads has been enjoying a revival for several years, so a good book on this level is long overdue. A young girl explains that she and her grandmother collect beads and make jewelry. Readers unobtrusively learn all of the basics about beads--who, what, where, when, and why--and are also exposed to cultural history, natural history, and even some math. The narrator speaks with a true child's voice, fresh and colloquial ("Grandma laughs at my shape names. Beads that she calls disks, I call Frisbees....She says a bead that is long and round is a cylinder. I call it macaroni.") Her simplicity conveys a sense of wonder at some of the remarkable things she discovers. Wolff's artwork has never been better. The cliche "a visual feast" truly applies to many of these pages, where beads of all types are shown, their variety a delight in itself. The book's design and layout are varied and playful yet cohesive, and the frequent use of black backgrounds complements the strong lines, adding an original and somewhat exotic look. Enjoyable in itself--and a superb starting point for any number of creative activities.

Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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2001
Calculus Made Easy
Click to search this book in our catalog   Silvanus P. Thompson
2001
Isaac Newton and the Scientific Revolution
Click to search this book in our catalog   Gale Christianson
School Library Journal : Gr 8 Up--This is not just a great biography--it's one of the best-written science books around for young people. Christianson has sifted through the historical documents and accounts of Newton to paint a convincing and intelligent picture of the complex and at times irascible genius. Even more remarkable, the biographical portrait he presents is a compelling story. It begins with a beheading--that of Charles I--and ends with the poetic image of visitors to Newton's gravesite pausing "in silent tribute to the sacred permanence of the dead." The author demonstrates a remarkable sense of Newton and his times. For example, while many other biographers struggle to explain his experiments in alchemy, Christianson puts them in context of the great scientist trying to unravel the mysteries of the atomic world with the best tools available to him. The narrative also shows how Newton changed as he grew older: from a young, intense, reclusive academic to a living legend justifiably vain about his reputation. Reproductions of documents, Newton's sketches, and paintings of well-known figures illustrate this fine book.

Alan Newman, American Chemical Society, Washington, DC Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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2001
Earthquake Games: Earthquakes and Volcanoes
 Matthys Levy
School Library Journal : Gr 5-8--For readers searching for a science experiment or a project dealing with earthquakes or volcanoes, this book will be a solid source of ideas. Classroom teachers should find it a gold mine of facts and feats to make understanding the dynamics of these geological phenomena (and their effects on man-made structures) easier and more enjoyable. The use of the term game seems loosely applied (e.g., "Build a Seismometer Game" gives directions for constructing a seismometer) and seems to be more for appeal than accuracy. Safety instructions involving heat and flame are not always placed before the how-to's. Many of the accompanying diagrams are not on the same page as the instructions/information, which can lead to page-flipping confusion. For those who simply must create a volcanic eruption, there are several variations, which can be quite messy and/or slightly dangerous without adult supervision. A good deal of geology is imparted in the text. There is a chronology of important earthquakes and eruptions, and their global effects noted. While this title has its drawbacks, it is a rich source of experiments on a popular topic.

Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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