Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kakapo Rescue

The Kakapo (kar-ka-poe), the reader finds out in the latest volume of Houghton Mifflin's Scientists in the Field series, is an extremely unusual bird that not only faces constant threats from predators because it is a flightless parrot, but also that its enormous population losses are either directly or indirectly attributable to man. This beautiful bird faced dangers from predators and mankind alike because of its nature: it is very friendly, and a sad fact is that it was once so plentiful that it was a food source for polynesian settlers. Other settlers brought not only predators that thought these [flightless!] birds were a delicious, enticing food -- their feathers smell like honey -- but animals whose hooves destroyed the soil where their food grew. There are now less than 100 of the birds left. So what can be done?
Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop waited years for permission to travel to Codfish Island, the remote location where the remaining kakapo have been moved and are watched over by New Zealand's National Kakapo Recovery Team. Readers will see not only the extreme measures these dedicated scientists take to ensure that they are not passing any germs or foreign substances to the birds or chicks as well as a sense of the rewards they get from their work. This is a book that made me cry several times, and one that would be useful to encourage support for conservation. As with all of the other books in the series, there are suggestions for further reading and an index.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Poop Happened: A History of the World from the Bottom Up

On the surface, Sarah Albee's Poop Happened is an entertaining and informative history of the development of indoor plumbing. It is chock-full of more than enough illustrations and sidebars to keep the most reluctant reader going (and not realizing how much they are learning.) A lot of us get information about early Britain (London) from books, more of us are presented with stories from movies, whether on film or television. According to the author, none of these would have (or could possibly) give an accurate picture what it actually would have looked -- or smelled like, at a time when there wasn't anywhere to relieve oneself except indoors, (such as the royal court of Versailles, with 20,000 people living there, and 275 closestools - p76.) Readers will learn about the effects this sewage had on disease, how people dealt with their bodily functions at different times (how did knights 'go' while wearing armour, or french ladies in those very wide dresses...) and Albee's source notes, index and timeline are a welcome addition. This book will provide as much cultural information as historical, all wrapped up in a fun topic that will make it an easy sell to div 2 and 3 students who think they don't like history.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Edge Books. Prepare to Survive.

I recently finished the 6 books in the Prepare to Survive series, a group of books that will appeal to upper-elementary and middle grade readers. It will be useful for teachers who have either reluctant or ESL students: the titles have information that is practical, informative and has tales of survivors applying their knowledge to make it out of extremely dangerous and life-threatening situations. Potential Survivor competitors will learn how to make fire, build shelters, avoid (or catch!) animals or fish and find water.
More importantly, all of the books include information on the kind of items to be included in a survival kit. Given that more people have died of tornadoes in the United States than anywhere else on the planet, this is valuable information to have. Being prepared for a natural disaster, be it a tornado, a flood, or an earthquake, is as important as knowing what to do when a disaster happens. These slim, fast reads will capture a reader's attention.
- Doeden, Matt. How to Survive a Flood. Mankato, Minn.: Capstone Press, c2009. 32 p. ISBN 9781429622776 M
- Martin, Michael. How to Survive a Tornado. Mankato, Minn.: Capstone Press, c2009. 32 p. ISBN 9781429622783 M
- Montgomery, Heather. How to Survive an Earthquake. Mankato, Minn.: Capstone Press, 2009. 32p. ISBN 9781429622790 M
- O’Shei, Tim. How to Survive Being Lost at Sea Mankato, Minn.: Capstone Press, c2009. 32 p. ISBN 9781429622806
- O'Shei, Tim. How to Survive in the Wilderness. Mankato, Minn.: Capstone Press, 2009. 32 p. ISBN 9781429622813
- O'Shei, Tim. How to Survive on a Deserted Island. Mankato, Minn.: Capstone Press, 2009. 32 p. ISBN 9781429622820 M

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bro-Jitsu: the Martial Art of Sibling Smackdown

Daniel H. Wilson, Ph.D., has contributed some interesting books to the canon of Young Adult literature, starting with 2005's How to Survive a Robot Uprising to the 2007 technological update How to Build a Robot Army: tips on defending planet earth against alien invaders, ninjas and zombies. These are both in his subject area of expertise.
His new book will appeal to a much broader audience. Bro-Jibsu: the Martial Art of Sibling Smackdown aims to school siblings in how to survive the angst, troubles and fights (both physical and mental) that they will undergo during adolescence (heck, or as toddlers) and until the t[w]een years are a distant memory and those fights have forged bonds of iron between those people you -face it- aren't going to be rid of for the rest of your life.
Bearing that in mind, enjoy these moves (Bite! Kick! learn how to use those "throw" pillows! -- That's what they're for! --Add to your vocabulary! Have you given your brother a wet willy lately?) and learn how to avoid trouble and/or throw suspicion onto your sibling and how best to deal with your parents if you do get caught.
This book has been nominated for the 2011 Quick Picks.