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The New Edition of Kingdoms of Life Connected is here! October 30 2016, 0 Comments



The second edition of my book, Kingdoms of Life Connected: A Teacher’s Guide to the Tree of Life, is available now. I wrote the first edition in 2008, and it was already time for an update this year. New information keeps coming in all fields of science. This leads to gradually evolving ideas, but change has been exceptionally rapid in the field of systematics, the study of the diversity of life.

The flood of DNA information continues, and we must bear that in mind in our presentations. It would be better to state that the story you tell is based on the evidence scientists have gathered for now. In the future, there could be adjustments. This doesn’t mean that all the information about the Tree of Life will change. Instead there will be small alterations. The potential for change certainly doesn’t excuse the presentation of obsolete classifications as anything other than history.  

One of the hardest tasks for my book revision was finding up-to-date children’s books about the diversity of life. I had to leave many older, but valuable, books on the resource lists. At least it is easier to find out-of-print books now than it was a decade ago. I also found that publishers have reprinted some valuable older books. They include Peter Loewer’s Pond Water Zoo: An Introduction to Microscopic Life. Jean Jenkins illustrated this book in black and white, and it has attractive, clear drawings of many protists, bacteria, and microscopic animals, along with text that upper elementary children can read. You will have to warn your children that the classification scheme presented, the Five Kingdoms, is obsolete, but the information about the groups of organisms is still quite good.

A forty-year-old book by Alvin and Virginia Silverstein, Metamorphosis: Nature’s Magical Transformations, has been reprinted by Dover Books. It has a chapter on sea squirts that shows the tadpole-like larval stage and tells about the life cycle of these chordates. I haven’t found another children’s book that tells this story. The black and white illustrations show how old the book is, but there didn’t seem to be a good alternative.

I know the pain of having to purchase a new edition of a reference book. My favorite biology textbook cost nearly $200, and I see the new edition, just published this month, is priced at $244. Yikes, that’s hard on the budget. If you own the first edition of Kingdoms of Life Connected, you will be able to purchase the ebook version – the pdf file – of the book at a reduced price. Please email info (at) bigpicturescience (dot) biz for information about how to do this.


Science is for reading aloud, too February 26 2016, 0 Comments

World Read Aloud Day, February 24th, slid by me while I wasn’t looking, but I hope you celebrate reading aloud every day. I learned about the “official” holiday from Science Books and Films (SB&F) February issue, which included this book list.

10 STEM Books for Reading Aloud

A Chicken Followed Me Home, by Robin Page. Simon & Schuster, 2015.

You Nest Here With Me, by Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple. (Illus. by Melissa Sweet.) Boyds Mills Press, 2015.

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes, by Nicola Davies. (Illus by Emily Sutton.) Candlewick Press, 2014.

Raindrops Roll, by April Pulley Sayre. Beach Lane Books, 2015.

Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold, by Joyce Sidman. (Illus. by Rick Allen.) HMH Books for Young Readers, 2014.

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia, by Miranda Paul. (Illus. by Elizabeth Zunon.) Millbrook, 2015.

Tree of Wonder, by Kate Messner. (Illus. by Simona Mulazzani.) Chronicle Books, 2015.

High Tide for Horseshoe Crabs, by Lisa Kahn Schnell. (Illus. by Alan Marks.) Charlesbridge, 2015.

Waiting for Ice, by Sandra Markle (Illus. by Alan Marks.) Charlesbridge, 2012.

Feathers: Not Just for Flying, by Melissa Stewart. (Illus. by Sandra S. Brannan.) Charlesbridge, 2014.

I reviewed Tiny Creatures in a post for September 2014. Feathers: Not Just for Flying is a favorite of mine, both for the beautiful artwork and the science content.

If you subscribe to SB&F, you will receive the full content, which includes special features like this month’s list of books about technology and innovation for Black History Month. There is also a Read-Around-A-Theme feature on bats, and the usual great reviews of books for kindergarten through adult general readers.

If you can’t subscribe now, you can still get several valuable resources on the SB&F website (http://www.sbfonline.com/Pages/welcomesplash.aspx). This month there is a list of children’s books to celebrate spring, biographies of women in science, and science poetry for kids.