Happy National Wildlife Week!
Today’s the start of an annual event sponsored by the National Wildlife Fund, celebrating everything from grasshoppers to humpback whales. You can check out their website for lesson plans and fun facts (I’m quite partial to the mallards page. Did you know that females do all the quacking and male ducks are silent unless fighting another male?), and we’ll be blogging about relevant books later this week. In the meantime…
The March/April issue of The Horn Book Magazine has a great article on the Scientists in the Field series. These stories of real-life scientists at work—stalking elephants, exploring bat caves, sitting in a pit with 18,000 snakes—are the cream of the crop in outdoor adventure meets fun science book.
Anyone interested in weird extinct lifeforms should read about the walking cacti, aka hallucigenia (real name, honest). I don’t know of any children’s books on hallucigenia, but I can’t say enough about Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway. The anachronistic art alone should grab your attention:
It’s essentially a road-movie in book form: two friends (authors Kirk Johnson, a paleontologist and Ray Troll, an artist) get in a truck and visit the best fossil sites of the American West. They meet quirky amateur fossil connoisseurs and muse about (long-extinct) killer pigs. There’s some nice geology lessons folded into the mix, but more importantly, Johnson is a natural storyteller (I’ve met him a couple of times and he has a real knack for teaching with anecdotes).
As much as I love the idea of National Wildlife Week, I always find it rather speciest. It’s easy to celebrate charismatic polar bears and cuddly koalas, but no one’s ever made a diatom-themed calendar (now that we have Giant Microbes, maybe I’m wrong). This is why I’m a fan of The Artful Amoeba, an irreverent blog on underappreciated life. Read this and you’ll never see moss or microbes in the same way again.
And finally: how appropriate that SLJ’s Battle of the Kids’ Books also begins today? Let the best book win, survival of the fittest style.