Rosalind Looked Closer: An Unsung Hero of Molecular Science (Lisa Gerin)

Hello, friends! March kicks off Women’s History Month, and we are celebrating with today’s book, Rosalind Looked Closer: An Unsung Hero of Molecular Science, written by Lisa Gerin and illustrated by Chiara Fedele.

Growing up in 1920’s London, Rosalind Franklin was told that girls can’t be scientists, most frequently by her father. Yet her mother encouraged her, and Rosalind’s curiosity could not be contained. All through her younger years, then high school and college, Rosalind continued to study chemistry and crystallography, and produced research that led to safer gas masks. While working in the then cutting-edge field of X-ray diffraction, Rosalind took Photo 51, the first proof of the double-helix model of DNA. However, her lab partner showed the photo to two other researchers without Rosalind’s permission, and the three men wrote a paper taking credit for Rosalind’s discovery. Rosalind was crushed, yet she kept working tirelessly to better understand DNA and RNA, leading to advances in vaccines against diseases. After all, Rosalind wasn’t a scientist for the acclaim; she wanted to help the world.

Fantastic. I’ll be honest, any book that exposes the absolute crime of how Franklin’s contributions to science were stolen and/or forgotten is likely to get a good review from me. Yet beyond this, Gerin and Fedele tell a reverent and poignant story about a brilliant mind who cared most about how scientific discovery could change the world. The artwork is highly atmospheric, using color and light to establish mood and reinforce themes (the scene of Wilkins, Watson, and Crick discussing Franklin’s Photo 51 in what appears to be an academic club or pub, where Rosalind would not have been welcome, is brilliant). The length and subject matter are best for older elementary readers, but JJ and I both enjoyed our read. An important book about a too-long forgotten hero of the scientific world, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Kitchen Science: 30 Awesome STEM Experiments to Try At Home (Laura Minter & Tia Williams)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Kitchen Science: 30 Awesome STEM Experiments to Try at Home by Laura Minter and Tia Williams, a fascinating collection of DIY science experiments that center around food.

Did you know you can make a volcano with a lemon? Or crush a soda can with ice water? Ever wonder what oobleck is? Or how yeast makes bread rise? Young scientists can learn all this and more in this kitchen- and food-themed book of experiments, which give kids and their caregivers the tools to conduct educational, and often edible, experiments right at their kitchen counters.

Awesome! We were big fans of Minter and Williams’ previous DIY experiment book, Science School, and this follow-up takes everything that made that book great and adds some delicious food-based fun. By exploring the science of cooking, young readers get a double dose of learning; for instance, not only how to make their own rock candy, but also how the sugar molecules form around a seed crystal to create the rock candy. Coupled with clear-cut and easy-to-follow instructions, color photos showing each step of every experiment, and a healthy amount of safety warnings, and this makes for a great way to get kids involved in both the kitchen and the classroom. JJ and I loved the experiments on offer, especially those that resulted in tasty homemade snacks. Overall, this is a wonderful title for both the culinary- and science-inclined kiddo, and we highly recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Big Stuff: Planes, Rockets, Spacecraft! (Joan Holub)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Big Stuff: Planes, Rockets, Spacecraft!, written by Joan Holub and illustrated by The Little Friends of Printmaking, a neat board book introduction to various aeronautical and astronautical vehicles.

Aspiring high-fliers and young fans of big machines are introduced to twenty different types of aircraft and spacecraft through adorable anthropomorphized illustrations and tons of fascinating information. Diagrams and fun facts explore the science and history behind machines like rockets, hot-air balloons, and jet planes. Young readers can learn about the past behind this “big stuff,” and where the sciences of flight and space exploration are headed in the future.

Extremely informative and accessible. This board book presents a wonderful midway point between simple identification and more in-depth scientific principles by keeping the STEM and historical information easy-to-digest. Most of the facts are presented in first-person from the air- and spacecrafts themselves, giving it a personal and approachable tone without dumbing any of the science down. Some characterizations of military vehicles do feel a little disingenuous of their purpose (“We work hard protecting your family and this nation,” a pack of fighter jets proclaim), but for the most part, the dialogue and information covered centers more around function and design than practical use. The artwork is both cute and cool, and will appeal to young vehicle-lovers immensely. The length is best for when little bookworms have time to sit down and pour over the info; you could read it as a storytime book, but you would need to skip most of the more detailed sections to do so. JJ did enjoy this though, and we would recommend it; Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Ask a Pilot: A Pilot Answers Kids’ Questions About Air Travel (Justin Kelley)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Ask a Pilot: A Pilot Answers Kids’ Questions About Air Travel, written by Justin Kelley and illustrated by David Miles, a compact and informational guidebook of the questions that little ones love to ask about planes and flying.

There are plenty of mysteries that little bookworms – and, let’s face it, big bookworms – often have about air travel. For instance, where do the bags go? Why is it so bumpy? Is “airplane mode” on our devices really that important? And how do those big, heavy planes get off the ground in the first place? Pilot and dad Justin Kelley is here with answers to all these questions and more, and to help inquisitive young aviators learn the ins and outs of flying by airplane.

Fun and informative! Written in an interview/guidebook style, each question about being a pilot, airline travel, and aeronautics is answered in one to three pages of conversational text accompanied by stylized yet edifying illustrations. Kelley covers most of the FAQs that little bookworms are likely to have about air travel, and plenty that adults might wonder about as well! Scientific and/or industry-specific terms (such as “crabbing” or “TCAS”) are bolded and explained in approachable terms, leaving readers of all ages with a better understanding of how planes, flight crew, and airports operate. In addition, the lightweight design makes this ideal for a plane trip read (and/or distraction) for young and inquisitive travelers. The length and content makes this one better for older elementary and middle-grade readers, but JJ enjoyed some of the sillier questions and the colorful art. Overall, this is a great one to look into pre-travel, or for any little one obsessed with planes. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Only One (Deborah Hopkinson & Chuck Groenink)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Only One by Deborah Hopkinson and Chuck Groenink, a scientific adventure through the universe and our one-of-a-kind place in it.

The blue-beanied and yellow-rainslickered child narrator greets the reader with the enigmatic phrase, “One. Only one. The story starts with one.” Convincing their sibling to turn off the television and join them and their friends on a forrest expedition (with a surprise destination), the child explains the makeup of the universe, from the Big Bang to the galaxies, stars, and down to our own solar system. Regaling fascinated friends with information on Earth’s atmosphere, continents, environments, fauna, and flora, the group eventually make their way to a tree-planting event, so that they can take part in protecting the Earth – their own planet, and the only one we’ve got.

Wonderful! Hopkinson’s incredibly informative text and Groenink’s charming illustrations work in perfect concert to tell a story of big things, and the impacts small actions can have on them. Hopkinson skillfully takes rather large scientific concepts like astrophysics, ecology, and biodiversity and manages to give readers a crash course in how they relate to both a larger universe and to human beings as individuals, both educating the reader on the subjects themselves and tying them into global responsibility. Groenink’s artwork, which does the heavy lifting narrative-wise, flawlessly tells a sweet story of a single child convincing others to appreciate and engage with nature, subtly reminding us that “only one” person can make a big difference as well. The illustrations also feature a nice diversity of skintones, hair types, and ages, as well as religious representation through head coverings. The length is perfect for an elementary storytime, and JJ really enjoyed this one. A great way to explore an important message, and empower young conservationists. We loved it; Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)