Nonfiction Monday: Citizen Scientists by Loree Griffin Burns
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By Loree Griffin Burns
Photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz
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:
- yellowbrickreads writes about Fighting Words, a children’s writing centre in Dublin, Ireland
- Ms. Yingling reviews Foods of the World: The Philippines and Cultures of the World: The Philippines
- Gathering Books reviews When the Circus Came to Town
- NC Teacher Stuff reviews The Whole Truth series
- The Nonfiction Detectives also review Citizen Scientists
- A Teaching Life reviews biographies on Louisa May Alcott and Harriet Tubman
- Charlotte’s Library reviews Geology of the Eastern Coast, by Cynthia Light Brown and Kathleen Brown
- Laura Salas reviews A Black Hole Is Not a Hole
- Perogies and Gyoza reviews Meltdown!
- SimplyScience also reviews Meltdown! by Fred Bortz
- Jean Little Library reviews Stewart Ross’s Into the Unknown
- Jeanne Walker Harvey reviews Balloons Over Broadway
- Shelf-employed reviews The Great Molasses Flood: Boston, 1919
- rovingfiddlehead reviews The Kids Guide to Duct Tape Projects
- 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
- Lynn and Cindy at Bookends review Cool Animal Names by Dawn Cusick
- Abby (the) Librarian reviews A Black Hole is NOT a Hole by Carolyn DeCristofano
- The Happy Nappy Bookseller reviews We’ve Got A Job: 1963 Birmingham Children’s Marchs by Cynthia Levinson
- Apples with Many Seeds reviews Into the Unknown
- Wild About Nature blog has an interview with the author of Three Little Beaver’s, Jean Halprein Diehl
- Archimedes Notebook is featuring Wisdom, the Midway Albatross and an interview with illustrator Kitty Harvill
- Geo Librarian reviews We Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson
- Pink Me reviews a gaggle of biographies for children
- Alex Recommends reviews UFOs from the Unexplained Series
- Books 4 Learning reviews Nightmare Plagues
- Booktalking reviews Here Come the Girl Scouts!
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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