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The Science of Spring


Help children welcome the new season with this list of highly recommended spring-related books. Topics include the life cycle of plants and animals, seeds and seed dispersal and eggs. Each book is filled with full-color photographs or beautiful illustrations, making them perfect for capturing the interest of children of all ages.  
 

Anderson, Sheila. Spring. (Illus.; from the Lightning Bolt Books - Seasons Series.) Lerner, 2010. 32pp. $25.26. 2009016409. ISBN 9780761345848. Glossary; Index; C.I.P. 

Spring, another entry in the Lightning Bolt Books: Seasons series, explores those attributes we most often associate with spring. The book has a lot of kid appeal with its pictures and descriptions of mud puddles, rain, and flying kites. Changes in nature are subtly woven in with everyday experiences to provide a full overview of the season. The descriptions and explanations are scientifically accurate, and a diversity of ethnicity and climates is shown in the colorful pictures. 

Aston, Dianna Hutts. A Seed Is Sleepy. (Illus. by Sylvia Long.) Chronicle, 2007. 48pp. $16.95. 2006013302. ISBN 0-8118-5520-1. C.I.P. 

This book is a richly illustrated and botanically accurate introduction to seeds and the beginnings of plant growth. Geared toward young children, the book does an excellent job of presenting the myriad plant types from around the world, without being overwhelming to young readers or listeners. Bright, colorful illustrations fill the pages, accurately depicting the many and varied types of seeds in existence.  

Aston, Diana Hutts. An Egg Is Quiet. (Illus. by Sylvia Long.) Chronicle, 2006. 32pp. $16.95. 2005012090. ISBN 0811844285. 

The title of this book is the first sentence of what passes for a story line, which ends with "an egg is noisy!" accompanied by a drawing of hatchlings of the "quiet" egg illustrated on the first page. In between, some characteristics of eggs are noted, and adaptations, such as being speckled or "pointy," are briefly explained. The hand‑lettered text is richly garnished by over 100 ink and watercolor illustrations of eggs (and many of the adults that produce them) of a rather eclectic array of species, all identified by common names. 

Baines, Becky. What's in that Egg? A Book about Life Cycles. (Illus.; A Zig-Zag Book.) National Geographic, 2009. 32pp. $ 16.95. 2008047895. ISBN 978-1-4263-0408-8. C.I.P. 

The National Geographic Society’s kids’ book What’s in That Egg? by Becky Baines, is an opportunity for parents and teachers to share science and nature with young children. This is a read-aloud picture book. Its vocabulary is too high level for young children to read on their own. Instead, the book might be most effective if parents or teachers and children talked about the topics while they are reading the book together. 

Benbow, Ann and Colin Mably. Sprouting Seed Science Projects. (Illus. by Tom LaBaff.; from the Real Life Science Experiments Series.) Enslow, 2009. 48pp. $23.93. 2008001731. ISBN 9780766031470. Glossary; Index; C.I.P. 

Benbow and Mably’s book Sprouting Seed Science Projects is a well‑drawn how‑to book, both on seed germination itself and on the setup of some simple scientific experiments. Particularly appealing are Tom Labaff’s charming drawings of seed dispersal mechanisms (burrs on a sheep, squirrels burying nuts), but illustrations throughout the book somehow manage to give seeds a personality and charm of their own. The children in the illustrations look like they’re having fun with the experiments, and they look like children you’d want to meet. The text does a good job introducing scientific terms related to seed germination. 

Ganeri, Anita. From Bean to Bean Plant. (Illus.; from the How Living Things Grow Series.) Heinemann, 2006. 32pp. $17.75. 2005026925. ISBN 1-4034-7861-9. Glossary; Index; C.I.P. 

From Seed to Apple.  2005026926. ISBN 1-4034-7862-7.
From Seed to Sunflower. 2005026921. ISBN 1-4034-7857-0. 

The formats of these three well-illustrated and informative books are similar. First the reader is introduced to the title plant, and then a description of the fruit containing seeds is introduced, followed by a discussion of seed germination, growth and development of the vegetative body and flower formation, pollination, seed and fruit formation, and fruit and seed dispersal. All three texts conclude with succinct summaries of the plant’s life cycle, and labeled illustrations of the plant bodies and reproductive structures help the reader identify the component parts of the featured plants, should they have access to them. Individually, each book introduces unique features of the title plants.  

Glaser, Linda. Dazzling Dragonflies: A Life Cycle Story. (Illus. by Mia Posada.) Millbrook, 2008. 32pp. 2007021886. ISBN 978-0-8225-6753-0. C.I.P. 

Dazzling Dragonflies: A Life Cycle Story, written by Linda Glaser and illustrated by Mia Posada, is a good book for young readers. It provides quite a bit of basic information using few words while going through the entire life cycle of a dragonfly. It also provides information on topics such as what dragonflies eat as nymphs and adults, how these voracious predators hunt, and what other creatures they are eaten by. The drawings are colorful and attractive. At the end of the book are questions that a child might ask, with answers that an adult could read and explain provided below.  

Goodwin, Sam. From Little Acorns:  A First Look at the Life Cycle of a Tree. (Illus. by Simone Abel; from the First Look: Science Series.) Picture Window Books, 2004. 32pp. $16.95. 2004007311. ISBN 1-4048-0658-X. Glossary; Index; C.I.P. 

Sam Godwin’s book From Little Acorns is an excellent and entertaining resource for prekindergarten through first-grade students (especially emergent readers). Teachers can use this picture book to introduce concepts on change, cycles, growth, or seasons. The main character, an inquisitive young squirrel, keeps the story moving from acorn to tree. The mommy squirrel and the forest community do a fine job answering questions and adding information about the oak tree’s life cycle.  

Hickman, Pamela.  New Duck: My First Look at the Life Cycle of a Bird. (Illus.; by Heather Collins.) Kids Can Press, 1999. 16pp. $6.95. C98-932225-4. ISBN 1-55074-613-8. C.I.P.

This small book, copiously illustrated with charming watercolors, describes the life cycle of a mallard by using the nursery rhyme "This is the house that Jack built." The left side of each double page is a foldout. The right-hand page carries a general picture of the duck's habitat--a park lake--and the activities going on there involving mallards and their young in one way or another. The foldout (itself intriguing for young children) carries a running text on its outer surface that increases a line at a time with each page and tells the life story of a mallard--making use of a good repetitive device that small children love. 

Hickman, Pamela. New Frog: My First Look at the Life Cycle of an Amphibian. (Illus.; by Heather Collins.) Kids Can Press, 1999. 16pp. $6.95. C98-932263-7. ISBN 1-55074-615-4. C.I.P. 

This volume in the My First Look at . . . series follows the frog's life cycle, using the nursery rhyme "This is the house that Jack built." The left side of each double page is a foldout, and the right-hand page carries a general picture of the pond environment--a close-up of pond life, the larger creatures found there, and, sometimes, the child in the story engaged in some activity. The intriguing foldout carries a running text on its outer surface, increasing at a line per page, which tells the frog's life story--a good use of the repetition that small children enjoy. When the foldout is opened, it reveals further illustrations of pond creatures, facts about frogs, and a more detailed account of the frog's life cycle.

Macken, Joann Early. Flip, Float, Fly: Seeds on the Move. (Illus. by Pam Paparone.) Holiday House, 2008. 30pp. $16.95. 2006037278. ISBN 978-0-8234-2043-8. Glossary; C.I.P. 

Young children will enjoy reading this lavishly illustrated book with lots of colors and objects. Prereaders will enjoy having the book read to them. The author does not stray from the mission of providing numerous examples of seed dispersal and seed movement. There appear to be no factual errors. The book could be used in introducing concepts of seed germination, growth, and movement in basic science classes. The author discusses the movement of seeds around the world, but does not make a distinction between cultivated seeds and invasive species. 

Pfeffer, Wendy. A New Beginning: Celebrating the Spring Equinox. (Illus.; by Lindsay Bleck.) Dutton, 2008. 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-525-47874-4.

A New Beginning offers a refreshing breath of new life. Using colorful pictures and an entertaining narrative, it introduces us to spring and its customs in the Northern Hemisphere. But don’t be fooled by the vibrancy of this book: It is packed with facts about spring rituals from the earliest times to the present day.  

Salas, Laura Purdie. From Seed to Maple Tree: Following the Life Cycle. (Illus. by Jeff Yesh; from the Amazing Science: Life Cycles Series.) Picture Book Studio, 2008. 24pp. $18.95. 2008006438. ISBN 978-1-4048-4931-0. Glossary; Index; C.I.P. 

Many books for children try to cover too many topics or include too much information in a single volume. Pleasantly, this book does neither! What the book does do is present a simple, straightforward description of a single chain of events centered around the life of a tree from seed to adult. With good pictures and easy-to-understand words, the author and illustrator have accomplished their goal.  

Singer, Marilyn. Eggs. (Illus. by Emma Stevenson.) Holiday House, 2008. 32pp. $16.95. 2002017117. ISBN 973-0-8234-1727-8. Glossary; Index; C.I.P. 

This book immediately draws the reader in with its eye-catching, illustrated cover—and the contents do not disappoint. Full of excellent illustrations and wonderful facts, the book is packed with information on as many types of eggs that can be fit into 30 pages. A variety of egg-layers—birds, reptiles, insects, amphibians, fish, and even the platypus—are all discussed. The biology of eggs from fertilization to hatching is covered amidst some interesting oddities of nesting animals. 

Winckler, Suzanne. Planting the Seed: A Guide to Gardening. (Illus.) Lerner, 2002. 64pp. $25.26. 2001002018. ISBN 0-8225-0081-7. Glossary; Index; C.I.P. 

Planting the Seed: A Guide to Gardening provides very basic information about how to plant a garden. It is extremely thorough, and I believe that someone who has never done any planting will be successful if he or she follows the advice given in this book. The text covers most of the relevant details and methodically explains exactly how to plant a garden.