August 15, 2019

Seashells: More than a Home by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 4:54 pm by suebe2

More than a Home
by Melissa Stewart
illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen

There are jars of seashells on the dresser in our family room.  One is full of shells from Myrtle Beach.  Another from Pensacola.  Sea shells have always fascinated me so I Stewart’s book was a must read.

Stewart explains that there are so many different looking shells because they do so many different jobs.  The nautilus can rise and dive like a submarine. The spirals on a turritella act like an anchor, holding the animal fast to the sea floor.  The chiton even has flexible plates so that the animal can roll up in a protective ball.

I think my favorite was when I learned something new about a shell I have seen.  Abalone shells have a row of holes. It is through these ports that the waste escapes.  I had always wondered why those holes were there.

Brannen’s watercolor illustrations bring these creatures to life.  In the back matter, she confesses that shells are tricky to draw but she’s done a top notch job.  She brings the varied colors and textures of these shells to life.  My favorite illustrations may be the inset drawings that help explain certain features.  These illustrated sidebars look like a spiral field notebook.

Don’t be afraid to pick this book up even if your child has read numerous books about sea animals. As much as I love scientific programming and reading, I still learned a lot. The endpapers, the pages inside the front and back cover, include maps that show young readers where in the world these various animals live.

This book is a must read for any young ocean enthusiast or animal lover.  Share it with your classroom for a jumping off point when discussing ecological diversity and ecosystems. For more information on this topic, flip to the back of the book where the author and illustrator both share books they used in their research.  There are also additional titles listed for young readers.

Science lovers and sea shell lovers alike will want to read this book.


January 22, 2015

Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 12:13 am by suebe2

Not Just for Flying
by Melissa Stewart
illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen

If you are looking for books for young scientists, be sure to check out Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart.  We all know that birds use their feathers to fly.  Some of us realize that they use them for show and for insulation as well.

But did you know that birds also use their feathers as sunscreen, musical instruments, carrying cases, and shovels?  Neither did I.

Each spread (two facing pages) includes a fact about a type of feather (cusions like a pillow), a bird that has this type of feather (Wood duck), details about this bird and type of feather and several illustrations.  Some of the birds, such as the blue jay and peacock, are fairly well known.  Others, including the club-winged manakin and anhinga, aren’t familiar to most people.

Following the main body of the text, Stewart included a section on how scientists classify feathers.  Stewart is very forthright in admitting that scientists themselves have not come to an agreement on how to do this and that the system she presents is only one of several.

Brannen’s watercolor illustrations are almost photographic in their accuracy when it comes to depicting the look of individual feathers.  That said, the images in this text are not photographic in appearance.

Pick this book up for bird lovers and young scientists and be prepared to spend some time observing individual birds and how they use their feathers.



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