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Nonfiction Monday: Citizen Scientists by Loree Griffin Burns

Thank you for visiting the Nonfiction Monday roundup. Scroll down for links to other Nonfiction Monday posts. If you would like to add yours, let me know in the comments (don’t forget the url).

Citizen Scientists
By Loree Griffin Burns
Photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz

Henry Holt

ISBN: 9780805090628
Grades 3-6
In Stores

*Best New Book*

Find it at:
Schuler Books | Your Library

Science isn’t for me. Too much to understand. Too complicated. That’s for grown-ups.

Not so fast. Citizen Scientists by Loree Griffin Burns (The Hive Detectives, Tracking Trash) makes science accessible to kids like few books have done. A nonfiction book that not only informs, but might lead to some kids taking action. What’s not to love about that?

The best description of this book is right there on the cover.

“Be a part of scientific discovery from your own backyard”

Science isn’t just for grown-ups in lab coats – everyday citizens can get in the action. Each of the four chapters focuses on a different creature – butterflies in fall, birds in winter, frogs in spring, and ladybugs in summer. Chapters follow a consistent format:

  • A first-person account of a citizen scientist in the field
  • The back story about the reasearch surrounding that particular creature
  • A focus on the groups (Monarch Watch, Christmas Bird Count, etc.) and individuals who conduct this research
  • Tips for doing it yourself, and a quiz to test skills

It’s an effective way to show research from a variety of perspectives. Kids will get the whole picture, learning about the animals and how they are recorded and tracked. Readers will likely be interested in taking part themselves.

The rear of the book is a backmatter-palooza, with additional resources including books, field guides, and websites for more information. A bibliography and glossary round things out nicely.

Photographs and design can make or break a book like this, and Ellen Harasimowicz (photographer) and April Ward (designer) have delivered a beautiful book. Crisp images await the reader at every turn of the page, not just focusing on the critter in question, but also the people who are conducting the research. The overall design is bright and cheerful, with colors and imagery that pair well with the text. Captions are presented in a hand-written font adding to the “citizen scientist” feel.

A well-conceived piece of nonfiction that fills a unique roll. Not just a book, but a call to action.

Review copy from publisher

Visit these Nonfiction Monday posts:

  1. yellowbrickreads writes about Fighting Words, a children’s writing centre in Dublin, Ireland
  2. Ms. Yingling reviews Foods of the World: The Philippines and Cultures of the World: The Philippines
  3. Gathering Books reviews When the Circus Came to Town
  4. NC Teacher Stuff reviews The Whole Truth series
  5. The Nonfiction Detectives also review Citizen Scientists 
  6. A Teaching Life reviews biographies on Louisa May Alcott and Harriet Tubman
  7. Charlotte’s Library reviews Geology of the Eastern Coast, by Cynthia Light Brown and Kathleen Brown 
  8. Laura Salas reviews A Black Hole Is Not a Hole 
  9. Perogies and Gyoza reviews Meltdown!
  10. SimplyScience also reviews Meltdown! by Fred Bortz 
  11. Jean Little Library reviews Stewart Ross’s Into the Unknown
  12. Jeanne Walker Harvey reviews Balloons Over Broadway
  13. Shelf-employed reviews The Great Molasses Flood: Boston, 1919 
  14. rovingfiddlehead reviews The Kids Guide to Duct Tape Projects
  15. Kid Lit Celebrates Women’s History Month reviews Marty Rhodes Figley’s new book, Emily and Carlo, with a guest post by the author herself 
  16. Lynn and Cindy at Bookends review Cool Animal Names by Dawn Cusick
  17. Abby (the) Librarian reviews A Black Hole is NOT a Hole by Carolyn DeCristofano
  18. The Happy Nappy Bookseller reviews We’ve Got A Job: 1963 Birmingham Children’s Marchs by Cynthia Levinson
  19. Apples with Many Seeds reviews Into the Unknown
  20. Wild About Nature blog has an interview with the author of Three Little Beaver’s, Jean Halprein Diehl
  21. Archimedes Notebook is featuring Wisdom, the Midway Albatross and an interview with illustrator Kitty Harvill
  22. Geo Librarian reviews We Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson
  23. Pink Me reviews a gaggle of biographies for children
  24. Alex Recommends reviews UFOs from the Unexplained Series
  25. Books 4 Learning reviews Nightmare Plagues
  26. Booktalking reviews Here Come the Girl Scouts!
  27. The Swimmer Writer reviews Black Hawk’s War by Georgene Poulakidas
About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. Myra from GatheringBooks says

    Hi Travis, thanks for hosting today. Here is our contribution over at GatheringBooks: http://gatheringbooks.wordpress.com/2012/03/05/meet-pirate-ursula-and-her-bloodthirsty-crew-and-a-few-stories-in-between/
    Fats, another member of the GatheringBooks team, reviews Laurence Yep’s middlegrade/YA novel based on real events.
    Will check out the book you mentioned as well.

  2. Thanks for hosting! I have two books about the Philippines over at http://msyinglingreads.blogspot.com/2012/03/nonfiction-monday-philippines.html

    along with philosophical question about replacing outdated books on countries.

  3. Thank you for hosting today! At NC Teacher Stuff, I have posted a review of The Hole Truth!:


  4. Hi Travis,

    Thanks for hosting Nonfiction Monday! Great minds think alike. We also have a review of Citizen Scientists on The Nonfiction Detectives blog today.

  5. Hi Travis, Thanks for hosting today. Over at my blog I have reviews of two biographies – Louisa May Alcott and Harriet Tubman.

  6. Thanks for hosting! I reviewed Geology of the Eastern Coast, by Cynthia Light Brown and Kathleen Brown. Here’s my link–http://charlotteslibrary.blogspot.com/2012/03/geology-of-eastern-coast-by-cynthia.html

  7. I love Loree’s writing. I can’t wait to read this one! I’m in with A Black Hole Is Not a Hole at http://laurasalas.wordpress.com/2012/03/05/black-hole/

    Thanks for hosting!

  8. Thanks for hosting! I reviewed Meltdown about the Fukushima disaster.

  9. Thanks for hosting, Travis. At SimplyScience today I have Meltdown! by Fred Bortz.

  10. Ooo I just ordered Citizen Scientist – can’t wait to read it! I have Stewart Ross’s Into the Unknown, http://jeanlittlelibrary.blogspot.com/2012/03/nonfiction-monday-into-unknown-how.html

  11. Thanks for hosting today. Citizen Scientists looks interesting! True Tales & A Cherry On Top features BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY – The True Tale of the Puppeteer of the Macy’s Parade at http://www.jeannewalkerharvey.blogspot.com/2012/03/balloons-over-broadway.html


  12. Good morning, Travis. Shelf-employed is featuring The Great Molasses Flood: Boston, 1919 today. Thanks for hosting. http://www.shelf-employed.blogspot.com/2012/03/great-molasses-flood-review.html

  13. Thanks for hosting. I have The Kids Guide to Duct Tape Projects, http://rovingfiddlehead.com/kidlit/?p=1878

  14. Additionally, KidLit Celebrates Women’s History Month, is featuring Marty Rhodes Figley’s new book, Emily and Carlo, with a guest post by the author herself.
    http://www.kidlitwhm.blogspot.com/2012/03/emily-and-carlo-by-marty-rhodes-figley.html Thanks.

  15. Cindy and I are reviewing Cool Animal Names by Dawn Cusick at Bookends today. There are so many classroom uses for this great book and it’s just plain fun too. Thanks for hosting.

  16. Travis! Thanks for hosting today!

    I’ve got a review of A Black Hole is NOT a Hole by Carolyn DeCristofano:


    I love Loree Griffin Burns and I will definitely be checking this one out!

  17. Hello, I am in with We’ve Got A Job:1963 Birmingham Children’s Marchs by Cynthia Levinson. Thanks for opening your space up to NF Monday.


  18. Thanks for looking after today’s event.
    I’m looking at Into the Unknown at Apples with Many Seeds.

  19. Thanks for hosting this week!
    Wild About Nature blog has an interview with Three Little Beaver’s author, Jean Halprein Diehl.


  20. Thanks for sharing Loree’s new book with us. Today over at Archimedes Notebook I’m featuring “Wisdom, the Midway Albatross” and an interview with illustrator Kitty Harvill.

  21. Thanks for hosting. For Nonfiction Monday, I reviewed We Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson.


  22. Travis! I’m in! I have a portmanteau post about biographies, from PreK to YA, Frida to Amelia, Hildegard to Jimi.

  23. And there’s a link, too… not feeling too smart today:


  24. Please add my review of UFO’s from the Unexplained Series.


  25. Thanks for hosting. Please link my post on Nightmare Plagues.


  26. Thanks for hosting today! I’m in with Here Come the Girl Scouts! The Amazing All-True Story of Juliette ‘Daisy’ Gordon Low and Her Great Adventure by Shana Corey (Author) and Hadley Hooper (Illustrator) and Cleopatra Rules!: The Amazing Life of the Original Teen Queen by Vicky Alvear Shecter. http://wp.me/pa8jB-1nr

  27. Thanks for hosting! My selection is Black Hawk’s War by Georgene Poulakidas. Teachers, please visit my blog:
    http://the swimmerwriter.blogspot.com for more information and links you can use.


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