Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Seeing Things - (having nothing to do with cheap drugs, expired pharmaceuticals or booze!)

A student came to me the other day hoping to find a book I’d recommended a while back that showed microscopic organisms up close and personal.  Her class was working around the idea of ‘seeing things’ and ‘observation’.

Unfortunately, Nano nature (570.282 JON 2008) was signed out.  As was the The bizarre and incredible world of plants (580 STB 2009) (see blog posting January 19, 2010, Looking for Wow).

What we did find was Sneeze!  (612.2 SIS 2007) which also includes electron micrographs of irritants causing sneezes.

When we got a little more into her topic about ‘seeing things’ I also ended up showing her X-ray: see through the world around you (778.3 VEX 2008).  This stunning book gives us a whole new perspective about everyday ordinary things from the inside out:  flowers, clothes, the human body, objects such as lamps and light bulbs, mp3 players, a guitar, a baseball mitt, to a full-sized apartment building. An endless number of mundane things shown in unique and interesting ways.

It wasn’t until she had scooted happily back to her class that I thought of a couple of other items that also could have worked.

Stepping away from the super tiny and super close-up perspective, I thought about how seeing things from above would change one’s outlook.  Astronauts often comment on the impact of seeing the earth from space and how it changes them.

So, check out Spacecam: Photographing the final frontier from Apollo to Hubble (778.35 HoS 2005) to get really high and above it all.

Or The Past from above: Aerial photographs of archaeological sites (930.1GeP 2005) and Through the eyes of the gods: an aerial vision of Africa (960 HAT 2005) to realize the vastness of some landscapes and the long lasting impact of human civilization.

One last recommendation and something completely different from the above titles is Heartbeat by Sharon Creech (823 C8616H FIC).  This short, narrative verse novel is about the changing and variable nature of family life and friendship.  A beautiful story.  But a minor storyline is about a homework assignment Annie has been given by her art teacher, to observe and draw a picture of an apple over a period of a few months every single day.  A seemingly boring and tedious commission turns out to have surprising relevance to Annie’s story as she slowly sees subtle changes to the apple day-by-day.

All of my recommendations, besides being pleasurable, could also tie into a number of units where observing, inducing and deducing and reflecting are involved, such as science, art and language arts.

Other suggestions?


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