Friday, April 20, 2018

The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes (Julia Finley Mosca)


Illustrator: Daniel Rieley

Target Ages:  5 and up

Genre:  Picture Book Biography

Publisher Summary: 
Meet Dr. Patricia Bath—the scientist who never lost sight of her dreams!  As a girl coming of age during the Civil Rights Movement, Patricia Bath made it her mission to become a doctor.  When obstacles like racism, poverty, and sexism threated this goal, she persevered—brightening the world with a game-changing treatment for blindness. 

First Lines:
If you like to think BIG,
But some say you’re too small,
or they say you’re too young
or too slow or too tall…

Pay no mind to their doubts,
and just follow the path
of one AWESOME inventor,
PATRICIA E. BATH!

Memorable Moment:
So, if helping the world
seems too hard, you are wrong.

If some say you can’t do it,
don’t listen.  Be STRONG.

Like Patricia, stay FOCUSED.
Push FORWARD. Shine BRIGHT.

And you’ll find all your DREAMS
will be well within SIGHT.

Evaluation:
I thoroughly enjoyed this book!  There is so much about Dr. Bath’s life that is inspirational.  She had to overcome difficulties to get an education and dealt with racism and sexism early in her career. The narrative is more focused on what she did to overcome those negative people and social constraints than the actual incidents themselves, which is empowering.    

There are several pages devoted to her childhood that give an nice picture of the influences in her from her parents to her brothers to her first science kit.  Her parents instill some vital lessons that parent and teacher readers will want to highlight, explore, and expand on. 


Another admirable character trait is her never-ending quest to learn and to advance in her field.  Her post-school educational pursuits are what led to eye treatment advancements that have helped millions around the world. 

The story keeps a steady pace, focusing on the highlights of her career.  The information is the right balance of being informative without being overwhelming.  However, the author provides plenty of additional information for teachers and parents to share with students, including Fun Facts and Tidbits from the Author’s Chat with Patricia, Timeline of Dr. Bath’s life, and About Dr. Patricia Bath section.


YouTube has a short, animated video about Dr. Bath in her own words.

Here is a Reading Guide for the book.  

Activities and Extension Ideas for Lesson Plans:
  • Science: Learn about the parts of the eye—pupil, cornea, lens, and so forth—what the parts do, and how to keep eyes healthy.  To spark of love of science, order a science kit for the family or plan some science experiments in class. 
  • Senses:  Read this biography while studying the 5 senses.  Some fun five senses activity ideas are HERE
  • Time Line:  The book includes a timeline of Dr. Bath’s life.  Use this organizer in a history unit or to outline the life of another famous scientist.  Another possible way to apply it is to have student create a timeline for their future.  What do they hope to accomplish and by what age?  This ties in nicely with math as well since they have to calculate the year they will be the target age for each accomplishments. 
  • Geography:  Identify the places on the map that Dr. Bath lived or traveled to for her work, such as California, New York, and Paris.
  • Community Helpers:  Connect this book with a unit on community helpers for younger children.  Older students can learn more about the process of becoming a doctor and their important contribution to the community.
  • Letter Writing:  Write a letter to Dr. Bath.  Tell her about what you enjoyed most about her story or what inspired you from her life story. 
  • Writing—Personal:  Dr. Bath accomplished many “firsts.”  Students can write about what they want to be the first to do or to discover.  Younger students can fill in a simple sentence like:  “I want to be the first to ______.” Older students can write more, depending on age and ability.
  • Writing—Argument:  Pick one of the lessons her parents taught her (“We’re equal—all genders, all shades.”  “Nothing’s off limits—no job, dream, or role.”  “Education is the key to success.”).  Use it as a prompt for students to write an argument, such as arguing why the quote is true or how it was the lesson that impacted her life most (based on the evidence in the story). 
  • Poetry:  The story is written in poetic form.  Possible connections can be anywhere from identifying rhyming words to students writing their own poetic lines.  Poems can be about Dr. Bath or about their own goals for the future.  Assign a specific poetic form or allow them to write in free verse.
Historical Connections:
Civil Rights Movement


For more great picture book recommendations, visit the Perfect Picture Book Friday Round Up.


Thursday, April 19, 2018

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy (Tony Medina)



Author: Tony Medina

Illustrator:  Various

Target Ages:  6-11

Genre:   Poetry Collection

Publisher Summary: 
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy by Tony Medina offers a fresh perspective of young men of color by depicting thirteen views of everyday life: young boys dressed in their Sunday best, running to catch a bus, and growing up to be teachers, and much more. Each of Tony Medina’s tanka is matched with a different artist—including recent Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Award recipients—to create a dynamic, electrifying engagement of poetry and art that’s sure to excite readers of all ages.

Sample Poems:
“Anacostia Angel”
Fly bow tie like wings
Brown eyes of a brown angel
His kool-aid smile sings
Mama’s little butterfly
Daddy’s dimple grin so wide

“Lazy Hazy Daze”
Summertime on stoop
Forehead sweat like ice cream tears
Hiding from the sun
Wishing for the rain to come
Cool us like johnny pump spray

“Brothers Gonna Work It Out”
We righteous Black men
Patrol the soul of this ‘hood
Raise young bloods proper
To be the kings that they are
Crowned glory of our future

Evaluation:
The memorable introductory poem Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy sets the tone by reflecting on the multifaceted nature of Black boys, from their love of basketball and book to their wonder and possibility.  There are so many beautiful lines like “Black boys are made of flesh—not clay” and “Black boys have minds that thrive with ideas like bees around a hive.”  The poem ends with “We celebrate their preciousness and creativity/We cherish their lives.” 

This celebration of Black boys’ existence reveals their dreams and concerns.  Beginning in early childhood and ending in adulthood, the poems and illustrations are snapshots of life.  The poems reflect the multi-faceted nature of Black boys of all ages—their beauty, their power, and their worth.

From the soft, realistic painting of Floyd Cooper to the bright collages of Ekua Holmes to the expressionism work of Shawn K. Alexander, the collection also celebrates diversity among African American artists. Each artist brings Medina’s poetry to life in a creative and fascinating way. 

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy is an empowering book that builds a love for poetry while it teaches young Black boys and men to appreciate their uniqueness.




Monday, April 16, 2018

5 Fabulous Biographies of Women in STEM Fields

Each one of these women have a story that will inspire young women and men. They overcame obstacles--physical and social--to find success and fulfillment in STEM fields.  They made important contributions in their fields of study. 


Claire A. Nivola, author and illustrator

Publisher Summary:
Sylvia Earle was a biologist and botanist long before she even knew what those words meant.  As a child, she spend hours observing plant and animal life on her family’s farm, but it was when she moved to Florida and Sylvia discovered the Gulf of Mexico that she lost her heart to the ocean.  These early investigations inspired her along the path to becoming a prominent and compelling advocate for the ocean. 

Sylvia dives deep and reveals the wonders of an underwater world of whales, angelfish, coral reefs, and tiny creatures that glow in the darkest depth of the sea.  Whether she’s designing submersibles for exploration, living underwater for two weeks, or taking deep-water walks, Sylvia Earle has dedicated her life to learning more about, and urgently calling on all of us to protect, what she call “the blue heart of the planet.” 


Why It’s Fabulous:
Earle’s story is a celebration of curiosity, patience, and observation.  These are skills she practiced in her earliest years in her notebooks and sample collections.  She also sought information in the library to feed her unquenchable desire to know more. After earning a degree in science, she joined an expedition in the Indian Ocean (as the only woman).  Her STEM degree took her to many exciting places from a deep-sea laboratory off the U.S. Virgin Islands to a deep-seas station fifty feet underwater. She walked on the ocean floor, traveled 13,000 feet below the surface in a Japanese submersible, and swam with the whales.  As a world-renowned oceanographer and environmentalist, she taught people to care about and to protect the ocean.


Jeanette Winter, author and illustrator

Publisher Summary:
Zaha Hadid grew up in Baghdad, Iraq, and dreamed of designing her own cities. After studying architecture in London, she opened her own studio and started designing buildings. But as a Muslim woman, Hadid faced many obstacles. Determined to succeed, she worked hard for many years, and achieved her goals—and now you can see the buildings Hadid has designed all over the world.


Why It’s Fabulous:
Hadid was inspired by her homeland of Iraq—ancient cities, rivers, dunes, and marshes.  As a young girl, she dreamed of designing her own city.  During her time in college, her imagination was the driving force behind her work and study of architecture.  After graduation, she rented a room in a old school building.  Along with some fellow visionaries, they drew and planned endlessly.  Her designs were not like anyone else’s. The buildings swooshed and zoomed and flowed and flew.  She believed the world is not a rectangle.  Despite many rejections, Hadid “made a conscious decision not to stop.”  Using nature as her inspiration, she created tall buildings like the marsh grass, a stadium that looks like a shell, and an opera house like a pebble in the sand. Eventually every room in the old school building was filled with people designing and planning her buildings.  Her belief in the impossible and her dedication allowed for her unique visions to come to life. Even after her death, her architect firm “[kept] their lights on” and “her flame blazing bright.”


Jeanette Winter

Publisher Summary: 
At five years old, Jane was already a watcher.  Little Jane Goodall loved to watch all the animals in her world—the earthworms and insects, the birds and cats.  She loved to read about Dr. Dolittle, who could talk to animals. 

When she grew up, Jane followed her dream and traveled to Africa to study chimpanzees.  She watched them, she listened to them, and, in time, she became their friend. 


Why It’s Fabulous:
Goodall worked to earn the money to go to Africa.  Then, she bravely traveled across the ocean in hopes of finding an opportunity to study animals in their natural habitat.  She finally received a post to study chimps.  Out in the middle of the jungle, she heard their calls.  However, they stayed hidden.  Even after suffering from malaria—she was determined to wait it out.  Finally, after many months, they revealed themselves.  At first she acted uninterested and watched quietly.  Eventually, they trusted her.  She spent every day with them—observing and taking notes.  She revealed many things we did not previously know about chimps specifically and animals in general. Later when men began to kill and to kidnap them, she fought to save them.  She spoke for the chimps and against deforestation.


Emily Arnold McCully, author and illustrator

Publisher Summary:
With her sketchbook labeled My Inventions and her father's toolbox, Mattie could make almost anything – toys, sleds, and a foot warmer. When she was just twelve years old, Mattie designed a metal guard to prevent shuttles from shooting off textile looms and injuring workers. As an adult, Mattie invented the machine that makes the square-bottom paper bags we still use today. However, in court, a man claimed the invention was his, stating that she "could not possibly understand the mechanical complexities." Marvelous Mattie proved him wrong, and over the course of her life earned the title of "the Lady Edison."

Why It’s Fabulous:
Mattie began inventing small things as a child by sketching, problem solving, and building.  She used her factory experience during the industrial revolution to make the lives of workers safer.  Through perseverance and hard work over a two-year period, she invented a complex machine from sketch, to prototype, to final product. She problem solved when things did not work out.  For instance, there was a problem in the initial testing of her first prototype.  Mattie worked to figure it out and to fix it.  She fought against sexist views, but she did not give up even when a man stole her idea.  Instead, she took him to court and won her case.  Rather than sell her invention, she opened up her own business.  Mattie spent her life inventing new machines and trailblazing for women in STEM fields.


Cheryl Harness, author
Carlo Molinari, illustrator

Publisher Summary:
Mary Edwards Walker was always an outspoken woman.  She was one of America’s first woman doctors, and she fought for women’s rights and gave speeches around the country.  But she could also make a statement just by walking down the street—wearing pants in a time when women always wore dresses!

When the Civil War struck, she set out to serve her country and treat wounded soldiers—not as a nurse, but as a doctor.  She faced extreme danger behind enemy lines and for her bravery she received the Medal of Honor, the highest a war veteran can receive.  She remains the first and only woman to ever hold this honor. 

A hero far ahead of her time, Dr. Walker encountered prejudice and ridicule as well as glory.  And she always insisted on living—and dressing—on her own terms. 

Why It’s Fabulous:
Dr. Walker volunteered when the Civil War began, doing anything she could from writing letters for wounded soldiers to raising money to help with medical care.  She wanted to do more.  She wanted to use her medical knowledge and skills.  Patriotic and determined, she followed the troops and helped in the makeshift battlefield hospitals.  Though her perseverance, she was finally appointed “to serve as an assistant surgeon in the U.S. Army, a first for the military and a first for women.”  While moving back and forth between enemy lines helping the wounded, she was taken as a prisoner of war for several months until being released in an officer exchange.  People laughed at her for her clothes, even after the war.  However, she stayed “true to her ideals.”  She wore her suit and her Medal of Honor with pride.  She wanted women to live and to think freely “unbound by a corset or her society’s expectations.”

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Man Who Loved Libraries (Andrew Larsen)



Author:  Andrew Larsen

Illustrator:  Katty Maurey

Target Ages:  5 and up

Genre:  Picture Book Biography

Publisher Summary: 
When you open the door to a library, a world of opportunity awaits.

No one believed this more than Andrew Carnegie.

Andrew Carnegie came to America as a poor, young immigrant.  He worked hard and made the most of his opportunities.  Eventually, he created a steel empire that helped shape modern America.  This made Carnegies a very rich man.  But he never forgot the important role a library played in his success.  Carnegie used his wealth to build public libraries around the world in hopes they’d help others achieve their dreams.

First Lines:
Andrew Carnegie was born in a tiny stone cottage in a small Scottish village.  A large wooden loom took up most of the ground floor.  Andrew and his family lived, ate, and slept upstairs in the attic. 

Evaluation:
Before reading this book, I was familiar with Andrew Carnegie, but I forgot most of what I learned in history class.  This book, though, gave me a deep appreciate for his many contributions to the world—especially in the creation of libraries.  

With is engaging storytelling, author Andrew Larsen focuses on three main parts of Carnegie’s life. 

First, readers are introduced to his childhood.  His parents struggled to make ends meet.  Eventually, they came to America for a chance at a better life.  Andrew worked hard in school and in his factory work.  Despite his humble beginnings and limited educational opportunities, his work ethic and innovative thinking helped him succeed.  His early life demonstrates that success is possible no matter what early opportunities a person is given. 

Next, he did not waste his earnings on materialistic and wasteful items.  Instead, he invested his money.  Small investments led to bigger ones until he made millions.  He reinvested that money into businesses, like steel.   Carnegie ended up with so much money that he did not know what to do with it all.  His early adult life illustrates the importance of saving and investing. 

Finally, he believed his riches were for sharing.  This conviction prompted him to build over 3,500 libraries worldwide.  All of his libraries provided books free of charge to community members.  Carnegie wanted all people to have the opportunity to learn and to better themselves.  He knew literacy was the way to do so.   His legacy is the importance of giving back to the community. 

Each part of his story is illuminated further with Katty Maurey’s illustrations.  She uses a neutral pallet with splashes of dusty blue, deep red, and muted yellow.  The colors further give his life a humble but dignified tone. 

The Man Who Loved Libraries:  The Story of Andrew Carnegie is an inspiring biography of a man who proved the sky is the limit—no matter what your background or privilege. 


Activities and Extension Ideas for Lesson Plans:
  • Writing:  Encourage students to think about how they would use their money to give back to the community if they became rich.  Younger students can fill out a simple sentence:   “If I were rich, I would use my money to ________.” Older ones can write a paragraph. 
  • Math:  Either individually or in small groups, have students pick a stock.  There are many they will be familiar with like Disney, Apple, and Facebook.  The class or family can pretend to buy a set number of shares, such as 10 or 100.  Chart the stock’s progress for a month or more.  How much money did each stock earn?  Give a reward to the winning team or to the top 3 students.   
  • History:  Learn about other important contributions Carnegie made like Carnegie Hall and the Golden Gate Bridge.  Connect this story to a study of the Industrial Revolution. 
  • Compare and Contrast:  Possible areas to compare and contrast—school then vs. now, teen life then vs. now, and educational opportunities then vs. now.
  • Geography:  Identify on a map the places listed where Carnegie opened libraries. 
  • Character:  Identify and discuss habits that helped him become successful—reading, work ethic, innovative ideas, saving and investing, and so forth.
  • Reading Comprehension:  Use this Reading Guide for The Man Who Loved Libraries for question ideas.
For more great picture book recommendations, visit the Perfect Picture Book Friday Round Up.



The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes (Julia Finley Mosca)

Title:   The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes:  The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath Author : Julia Finley Mosca Illustrator : Daniel Rieley ...