Friday, February 27, 2015

Website Review: Frontiers for Young Minds

FRONTIERS FOR YOUNG MINDS is an open-access, non-profit scientific journal aimed at youth ages 8-15.
What makes this journal unique is that young people sit along side experts on the editorial board. As such, youth work directly with leading scientists to shape the cutting edge articles. Each article includes brief bios of both the authors and the reviewer(s).
The high-quality, scientific articles include age-appropriate text, figures and references. These papers would provide great models for librarians partnering with language arts and science teachers on STEM research activities.
Articles are published in four areas including Neuroscience, Earth and its Resources, Astronomy and Space Science, and Health. Both core concept articles focusing on the fundamentals of the field as well as articles exploring new discoveries are published. Website users can select articles from one of the four sections or do a key word search.
The People section of the website provides contact information where you can get your students involved in hosting an article review.
The open access articles are freely available. Articles can be downloaded in the PDF format for easy sharing and printing. They can also be shared through popular social networks.
Frontiers for Young Minds also maintains a blog at Scientific American. This blog is an excellent way to introduce youth to the value of blogs and social media in the sciences. Go to…/.
To learn more about this exciting scientific journal for youth, go to

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Review: Walk on the Wild Side

WALK ON THE WILD SIDE by Nicholas Oldland is the latest addition to the charming LIFE IN THE WILD picture book series.
This ingenious, contemporary fable reminds readers about the importance of friendship, slowing down, and appreciating life. Woven throughout the story are witty remarks, funny observations, and zingers that will keep children giggling. While the story is simple and easy to follow, it contains a strong message about the importance of viewing life as a journey. The nature and hiking theme will make readers of all ages want to get outside and enjoy a good hike.
Oldland’s appealing illustrations contain memorable characters that are likely to appeal to both children and adults. Of particular interest is how the author skillfully incorporates factual information about each animals such as what they eat for a snack. In addition, the bold, attractive font is perfect for the picture book format.
Children will enjoy reading the book multiple times observing details like the activities of the tiny bird accompanying the threesome. The book has endless possibilities for library storytelling activities.
In addition to WALK ON THE WIDE SIDE, librarians will want to purchase the other books in this outstanding series including Up the Creek, Making the Moose Out of Life, and Big Bear Hugs.
Available March 1, 2015 and published by Kids Can Press Books, a NetGalley ARC was used for the review.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

App Review: Universal Zoom

UNIVERSAL ZOOM: ALL ABOUT SIZES AND DISTANCES is a fascinating app published by Gamify It. From tiny, subatomic particles to stars and galaxies, this easy-to-use tool allows students to compare two objects to get a sense for the scale of the universe.
Designed for ages 9-11, students can choose from 150 objects presented in scale. The dynamic layout provides users with a sense for the relative size of common objects. Students will enjoy guessing and discovering how many times one object fits inside another. A limited audio element introduces each object encouraging users to read more about each object.
Measurements are available in both standard and meter systems making this an excellent tool for mathematics activities that involve using both units of length. This tool is also effective for a practical exploration of simple and scientific notation. The scale range is 1 yoctometer (1x10-24m) to 93 billion light years (8.8x10=26m)!
This engaging app encourages students to explore the idea of size and scale in a meaningful way. The high-quality images and rich content make this an app that is both appealing and useful for many STEM classroom applications.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Book Review: Jasper John Dooley: You're in Trouble

JASPER JOHN DOOLEY is a humorous early chapter book series by Caroline Adderson. The first four books in this series are now available.
Designed for children ages 7 to 10, Jasper John Dooley is introduced in STAR OF THE WEEK. In LEFT BEHIND, Jasper experiences sadness and confusion when his grandmother leaves for a week-long cruise. The third episode titled NOT IN LOVE deals with early elementary relationships between girls and boys.
In the fourth episode, YOU’RE IN TROUBLE, readers experience Jasper’s naughty side. From enjoying a forbidden high-energy drink to bending the soccer rules, Jasper explores the idea of “bad” and learns lessons about making good choices.
Young, independent readers will enjoy the numerous illustrations, realistic characters, and short chapters. The age-appropriate stories focus on common childhood problems and ways to deal with feelings. Many children will relate to this only-child with supportive parents.
Librarians will find that boys are the primary audience for this series. The large type and short chapters will provide a sense of accomplishment for reluctant readers.
Published by Kids Can Press. A publisher ARC was used for this review.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Website Review: NEA's Read Across America

“Grab your hat & read with the cat!” Start planning for NEA’s READ ACROSS AMERICA Day celebrated on March 2, 2015.
Each year the National Education Association sponsors America’s largest reading event. Held in conjunction with Dr. Seuss’ birthday, the event encourages a wide range of reading activities.
NEA’s Read Across America website links to lots of useful resources. Go to
Reading Rockets provides many activity ideas including writing resources, an author study toolkit, classroom activities, and other useful materials. Go to
We Need Diverse Books is a new partner for the event focusing on ways to involve youth in reading books that embrace diversity including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethic, cultural, and religious minorities. Go to
The Plan a Reading Event page contains promotional materials, media tips, face sheets, artwork and downloadables like certificates and posters associated with the event. Go to
Did you know you can get free books for your library and classrooms? Go to
The Read Across in the News page contains press and media coverage related to the event. Go to
Social media plays a big part in the Read Across America activities.
LIKE the Facebook page at
Follow the Pinterest page at
Have fun!
“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read with a child.”

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Book Review: The Queen's Shadow

THE QUEEN’S SHADOW: A STORY ABOUT HOW ANIMALS SEE by Cybele Young is a beautifully illustrated informational picture book. When the Queen’s shadow is stolen, each creature contributes a piece of evidence that helps to solve the crime.
Designed for ages 7 through 11, the ingenious story masterfully incorporates factual information about animal sight while telling an engaging story.
Young weaves together distinctive collages of digital, pen-and-ink illustrations. Of particular note are the close-ups demonstrating how animals such as the pigeon sees.
Younger children may have difficulty distinguishing the factual information about vision from the imaginary aspects related to losing a shadow. As such, this is a book that would work better in a small group learning environment than as a book for independent reading.
At the end of the book, factual information is provided about how vision works along with descriptions of the animals in the book. The backmatter also includes a useful glossary.
This informational picture book provides endless possibilities for library-classroom partnerships. Involve children in writing their own stories about how animals see. Or, ask them to research other animals senses and write detective stories about those.
Available March 1, 2015 and published by Kids Can Press, a NetGalley ARC was used for the review.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

App Review: Magnetry: Express Yourself

MAGNETRY: EXPRESS YOURSELF by Gebo Kanois an app that encourages creativity, playing with words, and writing poetry. This powerful and easy-to-use tool has endless possibilities across the curriculum.
Students begin by starting a “new collection” and a “new book” containing 16 pages. After choosing a page, users are able to select from eight different categories. Words are randomly generated to get the page started. When a word is clicked, users see usage options and have the opportunity to select a variation of the word. Students can reorganize these words, add words, or delete words. In addition, stickers, backgrounds, and paint tools can be used to enhance to expression. Projects can be saved, shared on social media, and printed.
The Help section provides tools to add, remove, or rename a collection, as well as start or save a new page. The app also allows users to move, customize, delete, and add words, backgrounds, and stickers.
Although many “magnet poetry” apps exist, this one is exceptional. Magnetron’s versatility and user-friendly features make it an excellent resource for library tablets and iPads.
A publisher provided copy was used for the review.