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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Life Sciences

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

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Celebrate Earth Day with these (mainly nonfiction) picture books. Ties to the Life Sciences curriculum include: Characteristics of Living Things (Grade 1), Growth and Change in Animals (Grade 2), Habitats (Grade 4) and Biodiversity (Grade 6).

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Wanted! Criminals of the Animal Kingdom, written by Heather Tekavec, illustrated by Susan Batori, is a clever way of presenting information. Each “wanted” animal is showcased alongside a rap sheet of aliases, distinguishing features, life span and sightings (location), and most fun—witnesses and previous arrests. There’s lazy Big Bad Mama (aka the common cuckoo), who sneaks her egg into a neighbouring nest, forcing another mother to do all the hatching. When Big Bad Mama’s baby is born, she pushes out the other eggs and moves into the newly vacated dwelling. The witnesses? Hundreds of angry mother birds. Older students could adapt the rap sheet format in order to record their own research findings. Kindergarten-Grade 3.

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Book Cover Different Same

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Seeking Certainty in Uncertain Worlds

**Win a copy of Night Watch, one of the great books of fiction we've got up for giveaway this week! Don't miss  your chance to get a free copy of this book!**

Somewhere along the way I got the impression that the fundamental property of a novella isn’t its brevity, or that it’s stuck somewhere between a story and a novel, but that it’s this: a novella wrestles with the worst day of a protagonist’s life. I like the German tradition in novellen that the story comes to a surprising but logical end, which for me as a writer means I need to convince the reader there is no other possible outcome than the ending we arrive at together.

You’ll read a lot of different definitions of novellas, mainly about word length (10,000 to 50,000 words by some accounts, shorter or longer by others), but for me, the novella, like a poem, loves a turn, tastes its words as it delivers them, and lasts in the mind long after the book is closed.

This selection of Canadian works is short on novellas but each one is novella-ish in its love of language, its unforgettable characters, or its inarguable nature—some of these read like ur-texts, like they’ve always existed and we were lucky enough to find them washed up intact onshore.

One aspect or another of each of these books echoes a …

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Wild Books About the Natural World

By August, your children may be more engaged with the natural world than ever after six weeks of digging in the mud, jumping off big rocks, plucking baby tomatoes from the vine in the garden, and climbing trees. So it's never been a better time for this fantastic list of awesome middle-grade nonfiction from Rachel Poliquin, whose new book is Moles

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With her Supersonic Snout Fingers and Blood of the Gods, Rosalie the Mole is the star of the second instalment in my Superpower Field Guide Series. Yes, Rosalie is a squinty-eyed mole, but don’t underestimate this unlikely hero. One part silly, two parts science, and jam-packed with full-colour illustrations by Nicholas John Frith, Moles will introduce middle-grade readers to their new favourite subterranean superhero. 

I love clever nonfiction that entertains kids while it teaches. And I love that the genre is undergoing a quiet but explosive revolution—particularly in the realm of nature books. Smart and funny authors and superb illustrators are transforming unexpected subjects like supernovas, head lice, and bacteria into serious fun. Here’s a list of highly entertaining and visually stunning nonfiction books sure to make middle-grade readers love the natural world around them.    

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Elephants, Bears and Birds: Animals in Canadian Literature

Book Cover Hunting Piero

The latest by Wendy MacIntyre, whose books for young people include the acclaimed Apart, is Hunting Piero, a novel that moves between the 15th-century and the present day to blend issues of art and animal rights activism.  

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The young activists and the Renaissance painter in my novel believe animals contribute immeasurably to our lives, aesthetically, emotionally and spiritually, and they are dedicated to protecting them from harm.

It was a pleasure to revisit the following Canadian novels that make the lives and fates of animals and birds, and human/animal relations, central to their storylines. 

Last of the Curlews, by Fred Bodsworth

This moving elegy to a bird nearly extinct after centuries of callous human slaughter follows the journey of a lone curlew in search of a mate and a fellow member of his species. Bodsworth takes us inside the curlew’s experience as he braves North Atlantic gales and hunters on his 9,000-mile migratory flight from the Arctic to Patagonia. Verbatim excerpts from scientific reports document how hunters killed hundreds o …

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Start Reading Arthur: The Dog Who Crossed a Jungle to Find a Home

We are delighted to present an excerpt from the new book, Arthur: The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home. The book, by adventure racer Mikael Lindnord, is the stunning true story of an unshakeable bond between a man and a dog. Arthur is already a bestseller in the UK and Sweden and Greystone Books has just published it in Canada. The excerpt is from Chapter 7, “Whatever it Takes,” and is set in South America, when Mikael must make a choice that will change his life forever.

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‘You can’t bring the dog.’

Even though it was dark, I could see that the race organizer was looking me hard in the eye as he said it. Though I’d known deep down for the last hour that he was going to say this, still as I looked back at him my mind was in turmoil.

Part of me wanted to scream: ‘He’s not ‘‘the dog’’, he’s Arthur. He needs me, I’m his only hope.’ Another part of me, looking around at the concerned expressions on everyone’s faces, knew that it was crazy, insane, mad, to be thinking about a stray dog when there was so much at stake for
us.

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Part of me wanted to scream: ‘He’s not ‘‘the dog’’, he’s Arthur. He needs me, I’m his only hope.’

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We were headed for at least fourteen hours of kayaking, often through difficult waters. Simo …

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Look Up! Amazing Books About Animals and Habitats

It can be easy, in our increasingly online hours, to lose sight of the majesty of our natural world and its animals and habitats. The following books, accompanied by hints of what lies within their covers, are testament to what we are missing—and as any kid would tell you, it's astonishing.

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Did You Know?

  • A Northern Pocket Gopher can dig an amazing half a metre of tunnel through compacted clay soil in just 15 minutes.
  • North American Beavers, along with humans, are the only mammals whose impact on their environment is so massive that it can be clearly seen with the naked eye from outer space.
  • There really are Narwhals – the single-tusked mammals that likely inspired the unicorn legend – living in the waters surrounding Greenland.

The Natural History of Canadian Mammals, by Donna Naughton, is the most comprehensive and authoritative book on Canadian mammals ever published. Winner of four international book awards (shortlisted for two others), this book received rave reviews from the National Post, Canadian Geographic, and Canada’s History, among others.

From the National Post: "Enjoy this book for the intellectual marvel that it is ... A Natural History of Canadian Mammals tells this country’s story in lively ways that are unexpectedly wonderful …

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Books About Amazing Pets

tagged: cats, animals, pets

There are two camps of people: pet-lovers and pet-haters. And among pet-lovers, we all know that cats are the superior species.

[Back again. Some tidying up to do after numerous dog-lover tackles. You know who you are.]

For the pet-lovers among us, even you dog people, this post is for you. It's filled with books about the incredible bonds we can have with animals, and about the myriad ways dogs, horses, and on admittedly rare occasions, cats, can heal us and make us better people.

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The Dog and I, by Roy MacGregor: From Canada’s beloved award-winning journalist and bestselling author comes a collection of essays, new and previously published, on man’s best friend. In the course of 20 years of column writing about everything from politics to hockey and everything in between, Roy MacGregor has learned firsthand that the columns with the greatest reader impact have been those about the family dog. Roy has collected these columns and written many more on everything from puppy love to the sorrow of losing a pet, as experienced by Roy and the dogs he’s known and loved.

 

ridinghome

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