Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - celebrating women and science - 10.07.2020

Wednesdays I join Alyson Beecher from kidlitfrenzy and other
#kidlit bloggers to share wonderful nonfiction picture books.
The intention of today's blog post is to give professionals that work in the
education field new nonfiction reading material and ideas to use 
with students to promote a love of reading nonfiction materials.

Today's post is celebrating women and science!

Ocean Speaks by Jess Keating
Ocean Speaks: How Marie Tharp Revealed the Ocean's Biggest Secret
written by Jess Keating
illustrated by Katie Hickey
I always love reading Jess Keating's nonfiction because she has a way of pulling you into the story.  In this book, we're first introduced to Marie Tharp as a young girl and see what a curious girl she is, one who loves exploring and asking questions.  But then we see her grow up and see that she is no longer able to be the same curious girl because in the fields of math and science, men dominate and women are seen as inferior.  But that determination she showed in childhood stayed with her because she stays the course and continues to work in her field, even if it's in an office instead of outside in nature.  And then we see her triumph - as that inside work she is doing discovers something new, something unknown.  While it takes time to prove, Marie shows that women really can do have a place in the math and science fields!
The illustrations and colors that illustrator Katie Hickey uses for this book are gorgeous.  You can't help but feel a little under the sea while reading the book.
Jess Keating's Shark Lady remains a popular book in my classroom library, I bet this one will be too!

Born Curious: 20 Girls Who Grew Up to Be Awesome Scientists
Born Curious: 20 Girls Who grew Up to Be Awesome Scientists
written by Martha Freeman
illustrated by Katy Wu
This collection of essays about women scientists introduced me to many new people who made some amazing discoveries.  There were a few women who I had heard of before, including the subject of the first biography I covered, Marie Tharp.  Each essay usually starts when the scientist was young and what her early interests were.  Then it goes on to say how she continued to study and what she is best known for.  I liked how at the end of each essay there is a box that gives you some quick facts, including a "fascinating fact".
At the end of the book it gives you some ideas if you're interested in becoming a scientist.  The ideas are practical and will probably get the reader thinking about what they can do!

Marjory Saves the Everglades by Sandra Neil Wallace
Marjory Saves the Everglades: The Story of Marjory Stoneman Douglas
written by Sandra Neil Wallace
illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon
In the midwest, Florida is a popular destination spot and many families visit the state.  My daughter's orthopedic doctor is in West Palm Beach and we've spent a lot of time in South Florida!  If you asked me about the name Marjory Stoneman Douglas, instead of knowing about her accomplishments, I would be able to tell you about the high school that has her name.  The one that became unintentionally known for the horrific shooting that occurred there in 2018.  Before I read this book, I knew about the Florida Everglades, but I could not tell you much about them.  Thanks to this book, I now know we have Marjory to thank for the preservation of this important - and important to the environment - National Park.  Readers will enjoy learning more about the wildlife that is part of this unique area of the United States.  Described as a "river of grass", the interesting features that make up the Everglades are explained so readers truly understand the significance of this ecosystem, especially to Southern Florida.  
Environmentalist turned activist, Douglas will inspire readers to stand up for their beliefs and fight for the world around them.
I appreciated the numerous resources in the backmatter.  Wallace is known for her extensive backmatter material, which is vitally important in nonfiction reading. 
The illustrations by Rebecca Gibbon are beautiful.  When I think of Florida, I think of the lush greens that surround you.  Florida is also known for some brilliant sunsets and Gibbon expertly captures the shades of pink that are known to brighten the evening skies.

Don't miss the curriculum guide for this book found on Sandra Neil Wallace's website:

She Persisted in Sports by Chelsea Clinton
She Persisted in Sports: American Olympians Who Changed the Game
written by Chelsea Clinton
illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
Celebrating a book about the physical sciences - Clinton's next book in her She Persisted series is about women and then boundaries they've broken in athletics.  It's not enough that women can play the game, they have to prove their athleticism to get any of the recognition that their male counterparts receive.  Like her other books, Clinton introduces her readers to women from the past and celebrates the accomplishments of women today.  I like that she includes a wide variety of sports, and not just ones that are more typical of female athletes.
I have two criticisms of this book.  One, the lack of paralympic athletes shown.  Clinton only includes one.  She might have chosen some of the other athletes because they overcame a physical challenge, but those particular athletes succeeded on an able bodied platform which celebrates ableism.  My second criticism is Clinton does not include any backmatter.  With these short vignettes, additional sources would be valuable for readers who want to learn more.  Not including backmatter is always a lost opportunity in nonfiction texts.

As always, happy nonfiction reading!


  1. Lots of great books to look forward to, Michele!!

  2. Thanks for including MARJORY SAVES THE EVERGLADES in this great blog post celebrating women in science, Michele. And I'm looking forward to reading these new releases.