Friday, May 18, 2018

Website Review: Species in Pieces

SPECIES IN PIECES is an interactive exhibition featuring thirty of the world’s most interesting, but endangered species.
This database allows users to browse through the animals or select a specific creature to examine. Rather than showing photographs, the project uses CSS polygons to visualize each animal. For each creature, users can read basic facts, explore statistics, watch a video, and explore a conservation website.
Librarians will find this exhibition to be an engaging way to start an investigation of endangered animals. Ask students to explore the exhibit, then select one of the animals to examine in-depth. Help learners use subscription databases, books, and other resources to gather the latest information about their creature.
The CSS polygons found on this website will fascinate students and teachers alike. Use this website to jumpstart a coding activity where students create their own animal images.
To explore the website, go to

Book Review: Izzy Gizmo

IZZY GIZMO by Pip Jones tells the story of a young inventor who befriends an injured crow.
This colorful, lyrical picture book follows Izzy Gizmo who loves inventing things. Although she sometimes gets frustrated when her creations break down, she’s determined to help a crow with a broken wing. Of particular note are the attractice illustrations by Sara Ogilvie that are likely to appeal to children.
Librarians will find an audience among children who enjoy books about creativity and ingenuity. Weave the book into STEAM activities connected with invention and perseverance.
Published on March 1, 2018 by Peachtree. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Tech Review: BumperDucks

BUMPERDUCKS is a middle school game designed to teach physical science.
This educational game from Smithsonian Education teaches students what happens when two objects collide and how mass impacts the acceleration of an object. Participants must help a duck avoid obstacles to reach tasty treats across a pond. Users can either play the game or explore the sandbox. In sandbox mode, users can manipulate the objects to experiment with how they work or build puzzles.
Librarians will find this to be a fun way to engage science students through game playing. Work with teachers to develop meaningful physical science activities within the sandbox feature. Include the game as part of a physical science display along with makerspace activities and nonfiction science books.
The game is available online or through the App Store or Google Play.
To visit the website or download the app, go to

Monday, May 14, 2018

Website Review: America on the Move

AMERICA ON THE MOVE is a program from the National Museum of American History.
This fascinating website contains exhibitions, collections, themes, games, and learning resources connected with the history of transportation. The exhibition section features a timeline exploring how changes in transportation impacted America. The collection area provides access to more than a thousand artifacts and photographs. In the theme area, students can explore resources by topics such as communities and technology.
The website features three interactive games including a matching game, a driving through time game, and a movie director game. Each game examines a different aspect of transportation history.
Librarians will find this website to be a fun way to explore the history of transportation. The learning resources section provides exhibit and classroom guides, a reading list, and web links.
To visit the website, go to

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Book Review: The Constellations

The CONSTELLATIONS by Claudia Gray is a thought-provoking science fiction adventure series exploring the relationship between a soldier and a robot.
In the first book DEFY THE STARS (2017), readers are introduced to teen soldier Noemi who stumbles upon a sophisticated robot named Abel. Although enemies, they work together to save Noemi’s planet of Genesis.
In the second book DEFY THE WORLDS (2018), a deadly plague threatens Genesis. Noemi and Abel once again must work together to save the universe. A cliffhanger at the end of this book establishes intriguing questions for the next book in this series.
Librarians will find an audience for this series among young adults who enjoy the combination of science fiction and adventure with a hint of romance. Exploring topics such as immortality and tolerance, the series is deeper than the standard YA options.
Published by Hachette. ARCs courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Website Review: Draw a Stickman

DRAW A STICKMAN is a website that encourages users to contribute drawings to a dynamic story.
Users begin by choosing an episode. The player then draws pictures that become part of an animated story. The stories can be downloaded and shared. A gallery is available for ideas. An app version is also available.
Librarians will find this to be a fun way for students to apply their skills at drawing and creative writing. It’s also a effective way to practice mousing and track pad drawing skills.
To visit the website, go to

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Website Review: Fancy Nancy

FANCY NANCY is a website featuring the popular children’s book character.
Sponsored by HarperCollins Children’s Books, the website features information about the books, author, and illustrator along with activities. The party tips and activities section contains endless ideas for hosting library events. The reading tips articles focus on ways to build vocabulary and make reading fun. Dozens of printable activities are available for download. Five online games and three mobile apps are currently available.
Librarians will find lots of ideas for library events and promotions featuring Fancy Nancy. Build a display containing books, printouts, apps, and online games.
To visit the website, go to

Tech Review: Twine

TWINE is an open source tool for writing and sharing interactive stories.
This easy-to-use tool allows users to create simple, non-linear stories. Users can either download the software or use the online version. Computer science students can extend the experience by applying simple programming skills. The stories are published to HTML so they are easy to share.
A Q&A area, live chat, cookbook of examples, and wiki reference documentation provide assistance for users.
Librarians will find that this tool allows students to the create choose-your-own-adventure stories, interactive fiction, and games across the curriculum. English teachers will find this to be a motivating tool for creative writing activities, while computer science teachers will discover many uses related to applying coding skills.
To visit the website, go to

Monday, May 07, 2018

Website Review: C-SPAN

C-SPAN is a public service providing audio and video access to proceedings related to public policy.
Providing over a quarter million hours of content, this free service includes regular series along with the proceedings of Congress, the Executive Branch, and the US Supreme Court. Series include American History TV, Book TV, and more. Viewers can check their regular schedule of events or search by key word. Users can also narrow their search by videos, clips, people, organizations, mentions, and bills.
Librarians will find this video library to be an excellent resource across the curriculum. Use videos to jumpstart questioning related to public policy and social issues. For classroom resources, go to C-SPAN Classroom for bell ringers, lesson plans, and more.
To visit the website, go to
To vist C-SPAN classroom, go to

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Book Review: Leaf Litter Critters

LEAF LITTER CRITTERS by Leslie Bulion contains nineteen poems exploring science topics related to decomposers and forest ecology.
Each two-page spread features a short poem, a science note, and a colorful illustration. The book concludes with a glossary, poetry notes, science investigations, a size comparison, and an infographic.
Librarians will find the combination of science and poetry useful for STEAM activities. The colored pages and attractive illustrations will draw student interest. Don’t let this fun book get lost in the poetry section. Work with teachers to integrate it into an elementary, cross curriculum activity.
Published by Peachtree Publishers on March 1, 2018. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Website Review: Cassandra Clare

CASSANDRA CLARE’s website and blog contains lots of ideas for young authors.
The website includes writing advice, resources, answers to common questions, and book information. In addition to the website, the author connects with readers through social media including her blog, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Librarians will find that Cassandra Clare’s social media feeds are an excellent way to introduce teens to how authors use social media to connect with their readers. She uses each feed in a different way. For instance, her Pinterest boards focus on clothes, decorating, and book research ideas. She shares writing ideas on her blog.
To visit the website, go to

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Website Review: E-Butterfly

E-BUTTERFLY is an international, citizen science project focusing on biodiversity, conservation, and education.
The website includes background information about the project and a place to submit observations. The data section provides species maps, summary tables, flight time charts, lists for comparison, observation lists, and species profiles. A Help area contains answers to frequently asked questions.
Librarians will find this project to be an effective way to get youth involved with a real-world science project. Combine the website with books and other resources as part of a STEM learning learning center. Create a butterfly garden in an outdoor space at your school to attract butterflies for the project.
To visit the website, go to