Weekly Science News, May 8

Five science news stories to enlighten your weekend. Have a fabulous Friday!

April News & Books

Yes, I know by the time you see this, it will be May! I am hard at work on a whole stack of new projects. I am so excited about these books and looking forward to being able to share more about them in a few months.

News

  • A Map into the World, by Kao Kalia Yang won the Minnesota Book Award. The publisher, Carolrhoda Books, is an imprint of Lerner Publishing, the publisher of several of my titles. I am so excited for everyone involved in creating this beautiful book. You can watch a video of the author reading her book here. I hope you will enjoy it and share it with your family and friends.
  • One of the scientists I worked with on Into the Deep had a paper release this month. It describes newly-observed feeding behavior of blue whales. Click here and scroll to the end for a fantastic video of this behavior (read the article too!).

Books

Despite libraries across the country being closed, we managed to explore some fun titles this month. You may have seen some of these reviews on my social media, but just in case you missed any, I’ve reposted them below.

Adult Nonfiction Read-Along

  • Nature Obscura, by Kelly Brenner (Mountaineers Books, 2020)

The simplest review I can give—this book is a gift. In the midst of a world crisis that at its worst is stripping folks of life, health, livelihood, and home, and at best is challenging our ability to maintain our most basic self-care routines, this book reminds us that wonder is to be found everywhere. It reminds us that even confined to our smallest range, we are part of nature, not separate from it. And it provides a lens to see the magic of the everyday nature that surrounds us.

On a personal level, Nature Obscura has brought me back to my roots. My career as a nonfiction writer began with a backyard wildlife blog around 11 years ago. As I got busier, I had less time to enjoy the life forms closest to me. Reading Kelly’s beautiful, eminently readable text has inspired me to drag out my microscope, create tiny, indoor moss gardens, and place my binoculars conveniently close to the back door.

Nature Obscura is what we all need right now—a chance to find joy in a frightening time—a chance to reclaim our rightful place as a denizen of our wild communities, rather than an outside observer—a chance to belong.

Tuesday Book Breaks (Kids’ Nonfiction)

  • Into the Deep: An Exploration of Our Oceans, by Annika Siems and Wolfgang Dreyer (Prestel Verlag, 2019). I smiled when I picked up this book from the new book shelf at my local library a few weeks back. As an author, you’d like to believe that every aspect of your work is one-of-a-kind, but I don’t mind sharing titles with the book. There is no other word to describe it other than “stunning.” Siems artwork is breathtaking. The text, although complex for younger kids, can be understood in context. I would argue that this is as much a picture book for adults as for children—it really is amazing. It would be great to curl up with this book as a family; there is something in here for everyone.
  • Growing Wild, by Constance Perenyi (Beyond Words Publishing, Inc. 1991), is a lovely picture book introduction to gardening for wildlife. It’s gentle text and cut-paper illustrations celebrate how backyard habitats make a positive difference. It may just inspire you and your family to welcome a few dandelions into your space and to plant a few extra flowers for the birds and bees.
  • The One Small Square series from Donald M. Silver and Patricia J. Wynne looks at habitats close-up. This particular title, One Small Square: Backyard, is a timely look at the nature closest to us. The text discusses adaptations and life cycles of common backyard creatures. There are activities and experiments that mostly use everyday household supplies. It’s a mini ecology course packed in to one slim volume. Published in 1993, it appears to still be available new, but you can also snag a copy from your favorite used book dealer.

Follow me on social media (links on top left) for book recommendations and science news throughout the month. I wish you all peace and safety as we embark on May’s adventures.