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 Summer Reading 2013: Books for All Ages 

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From Temple Grandin to Sylvia Earle to Albert Einstein, our Summer Reading List for 2013 emphasizes real-life scientists living lives filled with everyday experiences, as well as compelling and dramatic contributions to science. Featured also are animal heroes, such as Yasha the orphaned Moon Bear Cub and B95, also known as Moonbird. We’ve included diverse genres and scientific fields; there should be something for everyone!

Our list is divided into three broad levels: Picture Books for Younger Readers; Books for Middle Grades and Junior High; and Books for Senior High and above. We recognize, however, that school-aged children do not always fit neatly into these reading categories. Some young readers will need a challenge; others may need to be coaxed with shorter text or ample illustrations. Engagement is key, and all of these books are sure to engage!

We have selected some of the more recently reviewed books. You should be able to find them in your library or for purchase online. (Clicking on the book titles will take you to our online Amazon store.) In addition to this list you can also find more great books in our 2012 Best Books issue, available for free online. The AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize pages of our site also list the current and past winners and finalists.  

Picture Books for Younger Readers

Bang, Molly and Penny Chisholm. Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas. New York, NY: Blue Sky Press, 2012. 48pp.

From tiny aquatic plants to the biggest whale or fish, Bang and Chisholm present a moving, living picture of the miraculous balance sustaining each life cycle and food chain deep within the oceans. The lyrical text provides a clear explanation of the role of the sun in photosynthesis on land and seas.  

Berne, Jennifer. On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein. (Illus. by Vladimir Radunsky.) San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2013. 56pp.

By capturing Einstein's ideas and thought processes at a very high (but comprehensible) level, this beautifully illustrated book is a perfect introduction to Einstein for young readers. Indeed, it is a book the whole family can enjoy. The art, in pen and ink and rapid‑brush watercolor, is top notch – emotionally nuanced and stimulating

Cerullo, Mary M. City Fish, Country Fish. (Photographs by Jeffrey L. Rotman.) Gardiner, ME: Tilbury House, 2012. 30pp.

This beautifully engineered book describes how fish live in their natural habitats, be it in the "city" coral reefs or the cold "country" waters. Ocean photographer Jeff Rotman contributes stunning photographs that enhance the enjoyment of Mary Cerullo’s delightful text.

Cerullo, Mary M. and Clyde F. E. Roper. Giant Squid: Searching for a Sea Monster. Minneapolis: Capstone, 2012. 48pp.

With stunning images and accessible text this book recounts a scientific quest to find the giant squids. Besides the lovely images and exciting topic, the strength of this book is the personalization of the scientist and the idea that science is a continuous and gradual process of information gathering that often takes many years, or even a lifetime.

Gibbons, Gail. Ladybugs. NY: Holiday House, 2012. 32pp.

This is an amazingly informative text on one of the most popular of all insects, the ladybug. It contains detailed facts and accurate representations of this amazing beetle. The attention to detail in the descriptions of habitat, the stages of development, diet, and the importance of ladybugs to the ecosystem, sheds new light on this popular subject.

Heos, Bridget. What to Expect When You're Expecting Hatchlings: A Guide for Crocodilian Parents (And Curious Kids). (Illus. by Stephane Jorisch.) Minneapolis, MN: Millbrook Press, 2012. 32pp.

The life cycle of members of the crocodilian family is cleverly and humorously described in this delightful book. Habitats are described, best sites for nests are noted and the developmental cycle within the egg is skillfully outlined. Colorful and whimsical illustrations add greatly to the book.

Johnson, Rebecca L.  Zombie Makers: True Stories of Nature’s Undead. Minneapolis, MN: Millbrook Press, 2013. 48pp.

Science is indeed amazing, gruesome, intriguing, and interesting as Rebecca Johnson demonstrates in this book. The language used is easily understood and engaging, allowing the reader to get lost in a story that is actually not a story, but a testament to the truly unique and strange in our environment.

Judge, Lita. Bird Talk: What Birds Are Saying and Why. NY: Roaring Brook Press, 2012. 48pp.

Common birds such as goldfinches and blue jays hold their place next to charismatic species like sage grouse and birds of paradise. Mating calls, greeting ceremonies, communicating with chicks, and avoiding predators are illustrated with appealing examples. The simple, accurate language, which clearly explains the intent of birds' vocalizations, will engross three year olds to adults.

Kalman, Bobbie. Baby Animals in Water Habitats. NY: Crabtree 2012. 24pp.

This charming book will engage young readers with its realistic photographs and wide variety of facts. It contains information on multiple baby animals in an array of water habitats. It also briefly touches on the life cycle of a frog, the process of photosynthesis, as well as the food chain.

Kelsey, Elin. You Are Stardust. (Illus. by Soyeon Kim.) Toronto, ON: Owl Kids, 2012. 32pp.

This book takes readers on an evolutionary journey starting with the idea that the atoms composing our bodies came from a star that exploded long ago. The book continues to parallel human development with examples in the animal kingdom. This book will grow with the child; as they learn more about evolution, both the text and the illustrations will take on a different meaning.

Kvatum, Lia. Saving Yasha: The Incredible True Story of an Adoptive Moon Bear. (Photographs by Liya Pokrovskaya.) Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 2012. 32pp.

In this lovely little book we encounter two scientists who bring the frightened little orphan cub to safe surroundings where he is allowed to live and grow in the company of two other orphaned young bears of the same species. As the story unfolds, we learn in the most direct and simple (yet enthralling way) about the steps taken to raise the little bear cub and return him back to the wild.

Lawlor, Laurie. Rachel Carson and Her Book that Changed the World. Baltimore: Holiday House, 2012. 32pp.

Lawlor tells the life story of Rachel Carson, a biologist and environmentalist, who wrote Silent Spring, a book pointing out the dangerous effects of chemicals on the living world. This book is also a biography of Silent Spring, conveying the importance of the work and the impact that Carson’s message had on the world.

Markle, Sandra. The Long, Long Journey: The Godwit's Amazing Migration. (Illus. by Mia Posada.) Minneapolis, MN: Millbrook Press, 2013. 32pp

This book tells a remarkable story about a shorebird, the Bar‑Tailed Godwit, and its yearly migration from Alaska to New Zealand. Outstanding full‑page color illustrations capture the life of this hardy bird from spring birth in Alaska to its arrival in New Zealand the following fall. Overall, the story is simple and heart‑warming, and the illustrations are appropriate for very young readers.

Markle, Sandra. Waiting for Ice. (Illus. by Alan Marks.) Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge, 2012. 32pp.

This book is a children’s storybook about a young female polar bear cub on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean. The story is engaging from the start, and the masterful illustrations really bring it to life. The story weaves into it elements of the polar bear life cycle, climate norms in that part of the world, and the impact of global warming on the polar bear population.

Nivola, Claire A. Life in the Ocean: the Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux: 2012. 32pp.

The book is the inspiring story of Sylvia Earle, world-renowned oceanographer and environmentalist. Author/illustrator Nivola conveys Earle’s passion for the ocean environment in words and images that will capture a young reader’s attention and heart.

Rake, Jody Sullivan. Why Rabbits Eat Poop and Other Gross Facts about Pets. Minneapolis: Capstone, 2012. 24pp.

This book explains common behaviors that children are likely to observe in their own pets or those of their friends and family. Each animal is highlighted on two pages, one containing interesting (and gross!) facts about that animal and the other showing a clear photograph, often of the fact described in the text.

Riehecky, Janet. Slime, Poop, and Other Wacky Animal Defenses. Minneapolis: Capstone, 2012. 32pp.

This book demonstrates that sometimes the best defense is a good offense. The use of poop, both as a dousing agent and as repellent smell, or of vomit as a poison, are just two examples that will capture the attention of any reader and convince them to keep turning the page. Descriptions of each offensive tactic are accompanied by an image of the attacking animal, making the reader feel like they are on the front lines.

Sobol, Richard. The Story of Silk: From Worm Spit to Woven Scarves. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press, 2012. 38pp.

In narrative form, Sobol relates the production and handcrafting of silk in rural Thailand, from the hatching of the moth eggs, through the rearing and processing of the silkworm cocoons, to the production of silk fabric on manually operated looms. Like the best young people's books, it should also be of interest to adults.

Stewart, Melissa.  A Place for Bats. (Illus. by Higgins Bond.) Atlanta: Peachtree, 2012. 34pp.

A dozen different bats are presented in this charming, fact-filled book that introduces young readers to the ways human action or inaction can affect bat populations and opens kids' minds to a wide range of environmental issues. Text and illustrations work effectively to capture interest and sustain it.

Thomas, Peggy.  For the Birds: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson. (Illus. by Laura Jacques.) Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press, 2011. 40pp.

This picture book biography of naturalist, artist, writer, and activist Roger Tory Peterson (1908‑1996) focuses on his lifelong love of birds from his childhood explorations in the wood near his home in Jamestown, New York to his worldwide advocacy for wildlife as an adult. Jacques’s realistic, boldly colored paintings and sketches on the pages of text are the perfect complement to Peterson’s life story.

 Books for Middle Grades and Junior High

Burns, Loree Griffin. Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery From Your Own Backyard. (Photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz.) NY: Henry Holt, 2012. 80pp.

With informative and engaging text and high-quality photographs, Citizen Scientists introduces children (and adults) to 4 projects in which participation of ordinary people is part of important research. This is a science book that will definitely lure in young readers and will leave them anxious to participate and be informed about these creatures that, for the most part, live right in their backyards.

Cusick, Dawn. Animal Snacks. Waynesville, NC: EarlyLight Books, 2012. 96pp.

Intriguing snapshots of what animals eat convey as broad and sophisticated an understanding of adaptations for feeding as you can expect in 90 pages. This is not just a regurgitation of what we've all seen before; there is just enough depth without sacrificing clarity, and just enough new vocabulary without being diverted by jargon.

Dyer, Hadley. Potatoes on Rooftops: Farming in the City. Willowdale, ON: Annick Press, 2012. 84pp.

This author has a clear message to act now to feed all people with fresh, nutritious food. She explains how to help save the environment and reduce energy consumption by growing and buying locally as well as knowing where food comes from and how best to conserve soil, water, air, and seed variety. Bright, beautiful photographs enhance the text.

Eamer, Claire. The World in Your Lunch Box: The Wacky History and Weird Science of Everyday Foods. Willowdale, ON: Annick Press, 2012. 122pp

This is a delightful and colorful book about common foods and their global origins. The book covers a sweeping range of foods, from medieval pottage with peas and beans to Chinese noodles to Egyptian white bread or flatbread and everything in between!

Hearst, Michael. Unusual Creatures: A Mostly Accurate Account of Some of Earth's Strangest Animals. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2012. 108pp.

Hearst brings his own personality to this entertaining book, making it fun to read. His informal style will engage readers of many ages and interests. Every page is a collection of snippets of fun facts presented in a variety of media -- from drawings to poems.

Heos, Bridget. Stronger Than Steel: Spider Silk DNA and the Quest for Better Bulletproof Vests, Sutures, and Parachute Rope. Boston: Houghton Mifflin: 2013. 80pp.

While the book covers some very difficult concepts, the author’s clear explanations make this book very accessible. Additionally, there are some amusing and very interesting sections that help children understand that even a scientist producing transgenic, spider silk producing goats are just regular people doing very special work that has the potential to help millions of people.

Hoose, Phillip. Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95. NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2012. 148pp.

This book tells the remarkable story of B95 or Moonbird, a member of the Red Knot rufa family. Hoose's book is part love story, part travelogue, part biology text book, and part US Navy Seal training manual. He describes a tiny bird with huge determination and stamina, driven by instincts ancient and mysterious. In the process he introduces the reader to various biologists, scientists, and characters whose lives are intertwined with those of their tiny quarry, themselves driven by curiosity and an innate wonder at nature and its gifts.

Hunter, Nick. Steve Jobs.  Westport, CT: Heinemann 2012. 48pp.

This brief biography puts its emphasis on Steve Jobs’ contribution as an innovator and an entrepreneur. It is logically organized, well-illustrated, and clearly written. This inspirational book charts the ups and downs that lead Jobs to be successful. It is the type of book destined to inspire another young entrepreneur to make his or her mark on history.

Latta, Sara L. Bones: Dead People Do Tell Tales. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow, 2012. 104pp.

The author of this book has degrees in Microbiology and Immunology, as well as an MFA in Creative Writing, and is eminently qualified to author this volume. She discusses how forensic anthropologists solve both modern and ancient crimes.

Lourie, Peter. The Polar Bear Scientists. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2012. 80pp.

Impressively, Peter Lourie describes the "real life" daily world of polar bear biologists. He describes not just the glamour of handling anesthetized polar bears, but also the details of preparing for fieldwork and entering data after a long day in the field. Lourie portrays scientists as real people and accurately depicts wildlife biology as a career.

Montgomery, Sy. Temple Grandin : How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2012. 148 pages.

Although she was diagnosed with autism, and her doctor recommended hospitalization, Temple Grandin’s mom believed in her and sent her to school. Today, Dr. Grandin is a scientist and professor of animal science and her world-changing career revolutionized the livestock industry. This compelling biography complete with Temple's personal photos takes us inside her extraordinary mind and opens the door to a broader understanding of autism.

Murphy, Jim and Alison Blank. Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-ending Search for a Cure. NY: Clarion, 2012. 160pp

This "tuberculosis biography" presents an account of the diagnosis, treatment, and "cure" of the disease over time, and the social history of an illness that could strike anywhere but was most prevalent among the poor are woven together in an engrossing, carefully researched narrative. 

Norton, O. Richard and Dorothy Sigler Norton. What's So Mysterious About Meteorites? Missoula, MT: Mountain Press, 2012. 92pp.

The authors‑‑who clearly love their topic‑‑do a fine job of making many advanced concepts and practices accessible and even exciting! Topics covered address the phenomena of meteorite falls, the origins of meteorites, their compositions, and‑‑nicely, from a hands‑on perspective‑‑how to go out and find meteorites. The photographs are lovely and enticing, and there are several interesting appendices, focusing on impact craters, significant iron meteorite finds, and what to do if (when!) you find a meteorite.

Newquist, HP. The Book of Blood: From Legends and Leeches to Vampires and Veins, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2012.

Newquist takes young readers on an engaging tour of the world of blood, from ancient history to modern science—with an occasional trip to the very strange side of the most important tissue in our bodies. Whether the tales of vampires, medieval medical practices, and Mayan sacrificial rites captivate or terrify, this comprehensive investigation into blood's past and present will surely enthrall.

Pasternak, Carol. How to Raise Monarch Butterflies: A Step-by-Step Guide for Kids. NY Firefly Books 2012. 48pp.

Pasternak aims to teach children the responsibility of rearing animals, emphasizing keeping food fresh and the container clean. She also wants to inspire children with a love of the natural world, urging them to look carefully, take photos, and act to save the world for butterflies and other species.

Rooney, Anne. Infectious Diseases. Mankato, MN: Black Rabbit Books, 2012. 46pp.

This book is easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable. In the beginning chapters, Anne Rooney introduces the topic of infectious diseases and explores the impact of these diseases on the history of mankind. Brief personal histories and highly effective photographs illustrate topics discussed in the text. The topics of prevention and cure of infectious diseases are discussed.

Rubino, Michael. Bang!: How We Came to Be. Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2011. 69pp.

This is a beautifully illustrated, retelling of our evolutionary journey from the Big Bang to the present time. The journey is presented as “Our Story” which creates an easy, descriptive telling of our own evolutionary history across time. Complicated technical jargon is replaced by simple descriptions., making them simple to understand.

Rusch, Elizabeth. The Mighty Mars Rovers: The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2012. 80pp.

Rusch makes these marvelous machines seemingly come alive, as seen through the eyes of the human members of the team that defined, designed, built, and explored Mars with them. With accessible writing, evocative photographs, and direct quotes from those on the front lines, Rusch provides her readers with a very readable account of the underpinnings of the twin missions and technological implementations

Simon, Seymour. Seymour Simon's Extreme Earth Records. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2012. 60pp.

Simon provides information about places on Earth where extreme conditions exist. The information is excellent and very informative. With information on extreme weather, waterfalls, volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, deserts, deep sea exploration and more, there is something for everyone. Quality information about the adaptations of plants and animals in the extreme locations are provided along with scientific expeditions to the extreme parts of the planet.

Walker, Sally M. and Douglas W. Owsley. Their Skeletons Speak: Kennewick Man and the Paleoamerican World. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda, 2012. 136pp.

This exciting, well‑illustrated book by an award‑winning children's literature author (Walker) and a forensic anthropologist and Smithsonian physical anthropologist (Owsley), provides an excellent up‑to‑date history of one of the most significant and controversial Paleoamerican remains ever discovered, Kennewick Man. The authors clearly document how the scientists arrived at their conclusions in this splendid, accurate account of science in action, which also includes a discussion of the cultural importance of the find and the controversy that still surrounds it.

Books for Senior High and Young Adults

Barrow, John D. Mathletics: A Scientist Explains 100 Amazing Things About the World of Sports(Illus.) NY: Norton, 2012. 298pp

This work consists of 100 essentially independent essays primarily using applied mechanics to model some aspects athletic performances in a variety of sports in order to identify the salient issues needing to be addressed to improve the opportunity for success. The author's writing style is engaging and historical data and interesting asides are interspersed throughout the work which includes some statistical modeling.

Birk, Aaron. The Pollinator's Corridor: A Graphic Novel. Philadelphia, PA: Black Willow Productions, 2011. 107pp.

Birk has created a remarkable graphic novel about urban ecology and restoration. Its teen protagonists, a trio of teens, embark on a project to do ecological restoration in the polluted and poor neighborhoods of the Bronx. Their plan is to link the green spaces of the Bronx with corridors so that bees and other pollinators can move freely through the city. The book is ambitious, linking knowledge of science with ecological restoration and social issues such as poverty, urban planning, race, and justice.

Boothe, Joan N. The Storied Ice: Exploration, Discovery, and Adventure in Antarctica's Peninsula Region. Berkeley, CA: Regent Press, 2011. 372pp.

The Storied Ice is a history of the explorations of the Antarctic region. It relates the stories of the explorers who dared some of the most dangerous seas on earth in search of a southern continent from the time of wooden sailing ships to more recent times. The text is accompanied by numerous useful illustrations and maps.

Braun, David. (Ed.) Tales of the Weird: Unbelievable True Stories. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 2012. 543pp.

This 500+ page paperback is packed with interesting and amazing facts. The information comes from articles published in the first ten years of National Geographic News. Each story is a concise, 3‑4 page account, emphasizing the amazing, weird or unbelievable details, and is accompanied by a graphic and several eye‑catching headlines. The writing style and use of headlines makes the stories dramatic and entertaining while providing adequate scientific explanation.

Dufty, David F. How to Build an Android: The True Story of Philip K. Dick's Robotic Resurrection . NY: Henry Holt, 2012. 288pp.

In this fascinating book, Duffy documents the building of a fully functional android replica of the head of Philip K. Dick, science‑fiction writer and author of  Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?  Duffy was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Memphis at the time the android was being developed and worked closely with the team of scientists who created it.

Chaline, Eric. Fifty Machines that Changed the Course of History. NY: Firefly Books, 2012. 224pp.

Eric Chaline, a professional journalist and writer who specializes in history, philosophy, and religion, has produced an admirable, concise, well‑organized, and accurate exploration of 50 machines that have proven pivotal in human civilization from 1760 to the present.

Fortey, Richard. Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms: The Story of the Animals and Plants That Time Has Left Behind. NY: Knopf, 2011. 332pp.

Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms evokes in readers the feeling that they are accompanying the author in his worldwide search for organisms that continue to survive over evolutionary time Vivid descriptions are provided for each trip and this allows greater understanding of the location and how the organism has survived. The book also helps us to be aware of our own impact on the survival of other species

Grice, Gordon. The Book of Deadly Animals. NY: Penguin Group, 2010. 384pp.

Grice is both informative and entertaining as he first explains what each species is and exactly how it is dangerous, followed by numerous stories, mostly derived from media accounts of actual encounters that people have had with these creatures. Underneath the sensationalist stories, however, lies a foundation of good scientific information about the behaviors of these animals and why they present a real danger to humans who cross their paths.

Hart‑Davis, Adam. The Book of Time: The Secrets of Time, How it Works and How We Measure It. NY: Firefly Books, 2011. 256pp.

The Book of Time is a series of two‑ to four‑page essays, which can be read independently of one another, spanning all aspects of the concept of time from philosophy to physics. An abundance of colorful illustrations support the text, aiding in the understanding of some of the more complex topics and providing clear and accurate discussions of why humans needed to understand the progression of the seasons, why accurate clocks were critical to navigation on the world's oceans, and why the development of railroads required the standardization of time along the route.

Kean, Sam. The Violinist's Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code. Boston: Little, Brown, 2012. 404pp.

Sam Kean’s approach to discussing genetics is a refreshing departure from much of the more detailed explanations. Kean’s wry humor, selection of historical illustrations, and his ability to clarify scientific explanations about DNA and genetic research should prove attractive to YA readers. By putting a very human face on what genetics can tell us about ourselves, he encourages readers to think about how the science behind DNA and genetics can explain the past as well as illuminate the future.

Kirby, David. Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity. NY: St. Martin's, 2012. 470pp.

This book, an account of the character, behavior, and welfare of killer whales, is also a book about marine biologists as scientists, whale advocates, and trainers at marine mammal theme parks, such as, Sea World in Florida, Sea Life Park in Honolulu, and Ocean Park in Hong Kong. While the book is not a traditional scientific book, and more a story about trainers and Orcas, considerable insight into the nature and lives of these animals is provided, including trainer‑Orca relationships as well as Orca attacks leading to the injury and death of trainers.

Levi, Mark. Why Cats Land on Their Feet: And 76 Other Physical Paradoxes and Puzzles. Princeton, NJ: Princeton, 2012. 190pp.

This volume includes complete analyses of 76 physical paradoxes and puzzles that can provide the curious with explanations in an informal, educational, and entertaining way. In many cases the seemingly paradoxical phenomenon can be understood without mathematics; however, for the serious students the mathematics is often included (usually in the appendix). Many concepts will become clearer as you read this book, including how gyroscopes work, whether we can feel the earth's rotation inside an airplane, and the working of the classical rotating container of water.

Marcus, Gary. Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning. (Illus.)NY: Penguin Group, 2012. 274pp.

At nearly 40 years old, cognitive psychology professor Gary Marcus set out to challenge long‑held beliefs about critical learning periods and inborn musical ability by dedicating his sabbatical year to mastering the guitar. Marcus chronicles his experiences overcoming arrhythmia, working with a private teacher, rehearsing with a band of 11‑year olds in a summer music camp, and eventually writing and performing his own music. This engaging book is likely to appeal not only to those seeking encouragement in similar musical pursuits, but to anyone interested in the cultural and biological underpinnings of music and music appreciation.

Moore, Charles with Cassandra Phillips. Plastic Ocean: How a Sea Captain's Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Oceans. Wayne, NJ: Avery Publishing Group, 2011. 358pp.

Plastic Ocean is an account of an accidental discovery of plastic litter, 200 miles in diameter, floating on the surface of the mid North Pacific Ocean. While predominantly factual, it also is personal and inspirational at times, giving a sense of an individual journey and discovery, complete with self‑reflection and assessment of the anthropological impact on yet another natural resource.

Natterson‑Horowitz, Barbara and Kathryn Bowers. Zoobiquity: What Animals Can Teach Us About Health and the Science of Healing. NY: Knopf, 2012. 310pp.

The premise of this exceedingly well-written book is that humans and animals share a wide range of diseases including cancers, cardiovascular conditions, sexual dysfunction and obesity. The authors created the term "zoobiquity” to join the cultures of human and animal medicine. They hold that human medicine has much to learn from veterinary medicine and in most cases the opposite holds true, as well. Each of the chapters in this wonderful book contains fascinating stories, such as dinosaurs with brain cancer, dogs with melanoma and koalas suffering from venereal disease, that bring home the core message of the book.

Perez, Larry. Snake in the Grass: An Everglades Invasion Sarasota, FL: Pineapple Press, Inc.  2012. 222pp.

The Florida Everglades is facing an invasion of aliens that might be worthy of a science fiction or horror movie. Larry Perez reviews the history of the Burmese python invasion in a style that is accessible to older middle school and high school students. His approach to discussing the challenges biologists in the park face in figuring out the extent of the invasion and potential threats is clear and provides a sense of the challenges conservation biologists face while undertaking scientific investigations.

Provine, Robert R. Curious Behavior: Yawning, Laughing, Hiccupping, and Beyond. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2012. 271pp.

With humor and simple language, Provine takes the reader on an engaging adventure of the most human of sounds and actions: laughter, yawning, hiccupping, sneezing, and other bodily functions. Making the mundane sound interesting, he takes the reader on a journey with accuracy and clarity, and provides further understanding of the more curious aspects of our behaviors.

Terrill, Ceiridwen. Part Wild: One Woman's Journey with a Creature Caught Between the Worlds of Wolves and Dogs. NY: Scribner, 2011. 276pp.

Part Wild recounts one woman's journey to adopt a wolfdog. For five years she researched how wild dogs originally were domesticated, traveling from Texas to Siberia seeking to understand if a wolfdog could ever successfully adjust to domesticated life. This book reads like a novel; the personal story will keep you turning the pages and guessing the outcome while Terrill's extensive research will provides the necessary scientific information to make an informed personal judgment on wild animal ownership.

Williams, Terrie M. The Odyssey of KP2: An Orphan Seal, a Marine Biologist, and the Fight to Save a Species.  NY: Penguin Press. 2012. 304pp.

Terri Williams’ interesting, well-told story of a single Hawaiian monk seal pup illustrates how scientific research increases knowledge while helping draw attention to the fate of a declining species. Her story is a good mix of “hands on” science and how human and animal culture play roles in the natural cycle of life. She also poses for readers the question of the value and appropriateness of government intervention in helping preserve species for scientific research.

Yoder, Eric, and Natalie Yoder. 65 More Short Mysteries You Solve With Science. Washington, DC: Science, Naturally!, 2013. 180pp.

This book presents “ mysteries” that only take a minute or two to read, probe, and solve. Each mystery is presented in a story context that relates to real life phenomena that have the potential to pique the curiosity and interest of the readers and challenge them to employ their critical thinking skills. This compilation of minute mysteries can serve as a springboard for further investigations and a fun way to discuss how science can explain daily events.