Monday, November 4, 2013

Nonfiction Monday and …

Today’s Nonfiction Monday event is being hosted here.  Please stop by the other blogs listed below that feature reviews about nonfiction children’s literature.

 Bloggers, please  leave a message in the comments.  I'll add each posting as the day progresses. Thank you for participating in today's event.

Nature + Numbers = 1 Fascinating Book

 It would be easy to see Lifetime: the amazing numbers in animals lives by Lola M. Schafer as another science/nature/animal book.

But it’s even better to think of it as a science/math book that uses facts about particular characteristics (behaviours or features) of animals and how many times something will occur for that animal within an average lifespan.

Here are a few of my favourites:

*Mountain caribou will grow a new set of antlers 10 times over the course of its life.

*A male seahorse will be responsible for producing 1,000 baby seahorses over its lifetime.

*And, over the lifetime of a giant swallowtail butterfly, it will sip the nectar of about 900 flowers.

Each animal is featured on a 2-page spread that also shows the 10 sets of antlers, 1,000 baby seahorses and 900 flowers.  (I didn't count these last ones and I'm OK with trusting the illustrator on these points.)

The mathematical aspect of the book is marked in a few ways.  The book starts with the number one.  “In one lifetime this spider will spin 1 papery egg sac.”  It moves onto the 10 sets of antlers grown by caribou.  Next, we learn that alpacas grow 10 different fleeces over their lifetimes.  And, on it goes with each animal featured with a progressively larger number of occurrences, characteristics or behaviours over its lifetime.

Background information about each animal and the basic equation the author used to work out her statistics is provided here.  This is where I learned that mountain caribou travel as far south as Washington, Idaho and Montana from British Columbia, Canada.  I did not know that, and thought they stuck to northern latitudes.  Also, on average, a caribou lives 8 to 12 years and is 2 years old when it grows its first set of antlers.  Thus, 12 years for lifespan – 2 years for maturity = 10 years for antler production.  10 years for antler shedding x 1 set per year = 10 sets altogether.

The statistics for the seahorse are more involved but tell you that over the average lifespan of a seahorse in the wild, 1 ½ years, they birth a lot of babies every few months to average the 1,000 baby seahorses mentioned above.

The author includes an easy to understand explanation of what an average is and how she came up with her numbers for each animal.

The author’s fascination with numbers is apparent and applying them to the lives of the animals she wanted to learn more about is explained well. She takes us through the thrill of discovering that an American lobster will sheds its exoskeleton on average 80 times with most of this shedding occurring in the first year of its life.  She presents a couple of ‘word problems’ for kids to work through themselves to figure out how many times an armadillo will roll into a ball and how many scorplings will a Florida bark scorpion produce over their lifespan.

A terrific book with lots of interesting facts gathered and presented in a cross-disciplinary way that will work in elementary classrooms.

So, here's today's line for Nonfiction Monday:

Three Cybil nominations are featured here todayWhen the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill, Flying Solo: How Ruth Elder Soared into America’s Heart by Julie Cummins , and Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the World by Elizabeth Rusch.

Jean Little Library
A historical book entitled, The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin is a tough story to read about but well worth reading for middle grades.

Stacking Books
Revisit fairy tales with fresh eyes with Grumbles from the Forest poems by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Dotlich.

Perogies & Gyoza
Check out another book from the Scientists in the Field series, Dolphins of Shark Bay by Pamela Turner. 

Sally's Bookshelf
Another dolphin book is featured here, Eight Dolphins of Katrina: A True Tale of Survival by Janet Wyman Coleman

Army Special Forces: Elite Operations by Patricia Newman is today's featured book.

Prose and Kahn
For the Good of Mankind: the Shameful History of Human Medical Experimentation by Vicki Oransky Wittenstein is being recommended for high school or advanced readers in middle school for this intense sounding look at doctors and scientists using humans as test subjects.

True Tales & a Cherry On Top
The Tree Lady: the True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever by H. Joseph Hopking looks like an fascinating biography. 

Gathering Books 
 Check out a 1800s classic, The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast by William Plomer, illustrated by Alan Aldridge with nature notes by Richard Fitter.


Alice@Supratentorial said...

Lifetime sounds great! It’s on my list to read.

I have three picture book biographies that are Cybils nominees to share: one on DJ Kool Herc, one on Ruth Elder and one on Nikola Tesla.

Thanks for hosting!

Jennifer said...

Looks like I'm first! I have a review of a title that's coming in January - but I couldn't wait any longer to talk about this book. Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin

Resh said...

I have been meaning to pick this one up for quite some time now! Thanks for the reminder!
At StackingBooks we read a fun and fabulous collection of short poems "Grumbles in the Forest"
These poems are voices of some of our favorite fairy tale characters. Hear their point of view in this collection.

Perogyo said...

Thanks for hosting today!

How can you not love a sciency book that features caribou?

My contribution today is a really great nonfiction book for older children, by longtime Nonfiction Monday contributor, Pamela Turner, called The Dolphins of Shark Bay.

Sue Heavenrich said...

This looks like a cool book - Definitely going on my "to read" list.
My NF Monday book is "Eight Dolphins of Katrina: A True Tale of Survival"
by Janet Wyman Coleman; review posted at Sally's Bookshelf

Anastasia Suen said...

Thanks for hosting today, Tammy! At Booktalking I'm sharing Army Special Forces: Elite Operations (Military Special Ops)by Patricia Newman for Veteran's Day next week.

proseandkahn said...

Thanks for hosting. Here's my link.

brenda at proseandkahn

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Hi again Tammy, I thought I better post a comment again because I'm not sure my other one got through to you.

Thanks for hosting today! At True Tales & A Cherry On Top, I featured THE TREE LADY - The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed A City Forever


GatheringBooks said...

Hi there Tammy, thanks for hosting this week. I am sorry for being quite late to the party. Lifetime looks wonderful. We need more nonfiction books that have a mathematical theme. :)

I have a children's classic offering today with Alan Aldridge's retelling of The Butterfly Ball and Grasshopper's Feast complete with nature notes.

Here is the link to my contribution:

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