Saturday, March 10, 2012

Giant List of Science and Nature Books for Children

To celebrate the publication of my new book, The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea, coming soon from Kids Can Press, I decided to compile this list of top notch resources for science and nature from Canadian publishers.  All titles were published in 2011. I got a lot of help with this list from the incredible Meghan Howe of the Canadian Children's Book Centre. Thanks, Meghan!

Books on this list cover the gamut from board books, picture books, chapter books and YA fiction, as well as interesting and provocative nonfiction. All the titles are readily available from booksellers in the U.S. and Canada.

50 Poisonous Questions: A Book with Bite, by Tanya Lloyd Kyi (Annick Press) Kid-friendly question and answer format make for an entertaining look at toxic substances in nature, medicine and industry.


Africans Thought of It: Amazing Innovations by Bathseba Opini (Annick Press) From aloe vera to the xylophone, great inventions that hail from Africa.

Alligator, Bear, Crab: A Baby's ABC by Lesley Wynne Pechter (Orca) Board book introduces the shapes and sounds of the alphabet alongside colourful, original paintings of critters and animals.

Amazing Animals: The Remarkable Things That Creatures Do, by Margriet Ruurs (Tundra) A compendium of astounding facts.

Ankylosaur Attack, by Daniel Loxton (Kids Can Press) Movie-quality images and a suspenseful story will enthrall young fans of dinosaur life. By Lane Anderson Science Writing for Children Award Winner.

Arctic Land, by Vladyana Krykorka; Arctic Sea by Vladyana Krykorka; Arctic Sky by Vladyana Krykorka (Annick Press) Each of these three board books focuses on a particular aspect of Arctic wildlife and pairs delicate watercolour paintings with simple language. Suited to toddlers and pre-schoolers.

Ben the Inventor by Robin Stevenson (Orca) Historical fiction.

Biomimicry: Inventions Inspired by Nature by Dora Lee (Kids Can Press) A fascinating homage to Mother Nature's genius, anchored by solid science and a strong environmental message.

Busy Beaver, The by Nicholas Oldland (Kids Can Press) Picture book.

Caillou: Every Drop Counts! by Sarah Margaret Johanson (Chouette) Caillou learns about water conservation at daycare. Picture book.

Caillou: The Magic of Compost by Sarah Margaret Johanson (Chouette) Grandma shows Caillou a great magic trick - turning scraps of leftovers, grass clippings and apple cores into plant food. Picture book.

Can Hens Give Milk? By Joan Betty Stuchner (Orca) A wacky tale teaches the difference between birds and mammals.

Canada's Trees by Elizabeth McLeod (Scholastic Canada) Explore all of Canada's famous native trees and learn how they affect us and the environment, and how we in turn affect them.

Case Files: 40 Murders and Mysteries Solved by Science, by Larry Verstraete (Scholastic Canada) Learn how investigators use different fields of science to solve ancient and recent mysteries, catch murderers, and even help prove innocence.

Charlie and Kiwi: An Evolutionary Adventure by Eileen Campbell (Simon &Schuster Canada) How can such an unlucky bird survive in the wild? Produced in conjunction with a project and traveling exhibit developed by the New York Hall of Science.

Dear Baobab by Cheryl Foggo (Second Story Press) Maiko has moved to North American from Africa to live with his aunt and uncle. Homesick, he misses the giant Baobab tree in this old village, and forms a bond with the little spruce tree out front of his new home.

Dinosaur Discovery: Everything You Need to Be a Paleontologist by Chris McGowan (Simon &Schuster Canada) What do dinosaurs look like from the inside out? Take a journey with renowned paleontologist Chris McGowan as he examines species from Allosaurus to T. Rex!

E is for Environment: by James Corlett (Simon &Schuster Canada) An interactive family book featuring 26 original stories for parents to read to their child to help them learn how to appreciate our planet.

Farmed Out by Glenda Goerzen (Orca) Young adult fiction.

Good Night, World by Willa Perlman, (Simon &Schuster Canada) Takes children on a magical round-the-world journey to big good night to the world's natural wonders, from plants and animals, to mountains, oceans and wide desert plains.

Honeybee Man, The by Lela Nargi (Random House Canada) A story about bees, beekeeping and honey.

If the World Were a Village: A Book About the World's People by David J. Smith (Kids Can Press) This bestseller is newly revised with updated statistics, completely new material on food security, energy and health.

In the Bag! Margaret Knight Wraps It Up by Monica Kulling (Tundra) Mattie devoted her life to inventing, and is best known for the clever practical, paper bag.

Justine McKeen, Queen of Green by Simon Brouwer (Orca) Justine and her friends are all about being green and helping the planet, on fun-filled environmental project at a time.

Look at That Building! A First Book of Structures by Scot Ritchie, Kids Can Press An engaging introduction to buildings deftly mixes non-fiction and fiction elements.

Loon by Susan R. Vande Griek (Groundwood) This beautifully illustrated chapter book follows the life cycle of two loon chicks.

Luz Sees the Light by Claudia Davila (Kids Can Press) A smart and provocative novel about sustainable living, by brilliant illustrator Claudia Davila. Who illustrated many of my own books, btw.

Maple Leaf in Space: Canada's Astronauts by John Melady (Dundurn) Canadians who have ventured off our planet.

Mathemagic! Number Tricks by Lynda Colgan (Kids Can Press) Learn mathematical secrets of the ancients and much more.

Migrant, by Maxine Trottier (Groundwood) Each spring Anna leaves her home in Mexico and travels north with her family where they will work on farms harvesting fruit and vegetables. Sometimes she feels like a bird, flying north in the spring and south in the fall.

Motion, Magnets and More: The Big Book of Primary Physical Science, by Adrienne Mason (Kids Can Perss) A one-step sourcebook to answer kids' tricky questions about the physical sciences. By longtime editor of science magazines YES and Know.

My Achy Body by Liza Fromer (Tundra) What is happening to us when we feel pain, and how does out body repair itself when we are hurt?

My Messy Body by Liza Fromer (Tundra) Why are vomit, puss and snot sometimes good for us? And yes, pee and poo are also featured.

My Noisy Body by Liza Fromer (Tundra) Deals with the digestive system and the many noises it creates, from burps to stomach growls to farts. Why do we hiccup? Sneeze? Snore?

My Stretchy Body by Liza Fromer (Tundra) Learn about growth spurts, growing pains, growing hair, fingernails, and much more.

Nowhere Else on Earth: Standing Tall for the Great Bear Rainforest by Caitlyn Vernon (Orca) A hands-on guide to the magic and majesty of British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest.

Picture a Tree, by Barbara Reid (Scholastic Canada) The best picture book of the year! Use your imagination, and you will see how trees help us open our minds to new things and look at the world differently.

Snowy Science: 25 Cool Experiments by Shar Levine (Scholastic Canada) Simple experiments to brighten up a cold winter day! Learn how to make ice cream, create an indoor avalanche, and more! Illustrated brilliantly by respected cartoonist Patricia Storms.

Source of Light, The by David Richards (Thistledown Press) Two teenage boys uncover nefarrious schemes set against a backdrop of the synchrotron, the world's most powerful microscope. A novel dedicated to the pure fun of dazzling light science and the adventure of private investigation.

Space Tourism by Peter McMahon (Kids Can Press) A book about commercial space travel that will fuel the imagination, by top science writer.

STAR Academy: Dark Secrets by Edward Kay (Doubleday Canada) A charming, funny middle-grade novel that combines action, adventure, science, and a big dose of satire.

Totally Human: Why We Look and Act the Way We Do, by Cynthia Pratt Nicolson (Kids Can Press) A fascinating introduction to the scientific fields of evolutionary biology and psychology.

Uumajut, Volume Two: Learn About Arctic Wildlife! By Simon Awa(Inhabit Media) Picking up where "Uumajut: Learn About Arctic Wildlife!" left off, this volume will introduce the youngest readers to the diets and habitats of more arctic species including the Siksik, Ermine, Wolf, Muskox, Eider Duck, Ringed Seal, Harp Seal, and Walrus.

Walk on the Tundra, A by Rebecca Hainnu, (Inhabit Media) Inuujaq soon learns that the tundra's colourful flowers, mosses, shrubs, and lichens are much more important to the Inuit than she originally believed. Includes a field guide with photographs and scientific information about a wide array of plants found throughout the Arctic ecosystem.

Watch Me Grow! A Down-to-Earth Look at Growing Food in the City by Deborah Hodge, Kids Can Press The companion to "Up We Grow" is another informative and inspiring book about small-scale, local farming. This time the focus is on raising food in cities.

Water Hazard by Helene Boudreau (Nimbus) The second in the Red Dune Adventure series, is an exciting and action-packed chapter book for young readers with an environmental theme.

What is the Theory of Plate Tectonics? by Craig Saunders (Crabtree). How the earth’s plates shift on molten magma to reconfigure the globe’s surface.

You Asked? Over 300 Great Questions and Astounding Answers, Editors of Owl and ChickaDEE Magazine (Owlkids) Giant collection of over 300 of the best questions submitted by years of OWL readers.

You Just Can't Help It! Your Guide to the Wild and Wacky World of Human Behavior by Jeff Szpirglas (Owlkids) Part Desmond Morris's "The Naked Ape," part "MAD Magazine," and 100% Jeff Szpirglas, provides a cultural, historical, and socio-biological perspective on human behaviour, synthesizing several branches of science - from anthropology to zoology - along the way.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Alligator Why?

I recently came across a blogpost, which I can no longer find, about children's books that were inspired by other children's books.

I didn't write a whole book inspired by another, but I did once write a poem - a riposte to Dennis Lee's Alligator Pie.

Here it is, for your amusement:

Alligator Why?


A Riposte to Dennis Lee

By Helaine Becker

World Premiere:

ALOUD: Harbourfront International Children’s Festival

June 25, 2005







I cannot for the life of me

Think why you crave so desperately

Those rude, repulsive, yucky tarts

Made from mushed up reptile parts



Give me apple crumble, give me ham on rye,

But keep to yourself that Alligator Pie!



As if you hadn’t had enough

You still want more - some stewed up stuff

Boiled crocodilian grin

Reduced to flapping teeth and skin



Give me chicken paprikash, give me ratatouille

But keep to yourself your swampy-phooey-stewy!



Soup, you say, let’s have some soup

For crocks of croc, I will not stoop!

Potage d’Everglade is one

Dish from which I’ll always run



Give me bouillabaise or mushroom barley soup

But keep to yourself your gross-out gator goop!

Because: Science!

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