Power Up! A Visual Exploration of Energy


Cover image – Courtesy of Annick Press

Power Up! A Visual Exploration of Energy

•    Targeted Audience: Upper Elementary, Middle School (Ages 9-12)
•    Genre: Non-Fiction, Science
•    Author: Shaker Paleja
•    Illustrator: Glenda Tse
•    Publisher: Annick Press
•    Publication Date: April 7, 2015
•    Binding: Paperback
•    Dimensions: 8″ x 10″
•    Printing: Full Color
•    Length:56 Pages
•    Retail: $12.95
•    ISBN: 978-1554517275

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“You can use up things like wind and water, because they’re naturally replenished or renewable. Different technologies can convert these natural types of energy into forms we can use.”

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© Copyright – Image courtesy of Annick Press

Energy – Past, Present & Future

We rely upon energy day in and out, but how often do we think about where that energy comes from or how it even works? Through colorful diagrams, charts and other illustrations, fascinating facts and figures, Power Up! teaches middle readers the basics of energy – its past, present and future. Learn about the history of energy, renewable (solar, wind, hydro, biomass, geothermal) and non-renewable (oil, coal, natural gas) sources of energy as well as new energy sources. Facts about the climate effects from energy sources are discussed as are ways we can all be more energy efficient ourselves.

“Greenhouse gases trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere, making the planet hotter. As emissions increase, this causes changes to our climate – the pattern of weather over time.”

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© Copyright – Image courtesy of Annick Press

Easy to Understand, Fascinating to Learn

Author Shaker Paleja has taken a complicated subject and has broken it down into manageable, understandable segments. By showing through illustrations, what the well-written text is explaining, middle readers can truly grasp these complex concepts. And some of these facts are astounding – like how much oil the US consumes and the fact that we as a nation produce the highest CO2 emissions per person in the world. By understanding the basic types of energy and how these sources affect our planet, children can become a part of the solution rather than ignore a problem they simply don’t understand.

“Coal produces 40% of the world’s electricity- and almost 40% of global CO2 emissions! That’s why many countries are trying to replace electricity from coal with cleaner alternatives.”

Why You Should Buy This Book

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 7.57.21 PMYou’ll be hard pressed to find another book as good as Power Up! on this subject for middle readers. It encourages readers to start thinking about how important the complex subject of energy truly is and starts them questioning what they thought they knew about it – or if they even knew anything at all on the subject. We’ve got to educate our children on global issues so they become aware and concerned and are driven to take action. Children today are our scientists of tomorrow. I learned a great deal from this book myself, and just the Light Bulb Comparison Study alone has me taking inventory of the bulbs we use in our house.

© Copyright – Image courtesy of Annick Press

About the Author

1426707792Shaker Paleja is an actor and writer who has performed in theaters across North America, and appeared on numerous film & TV shows. Some credits include: Gracepoint; Sanctuary; Arrow; Stargate SG-1; Battlestar Galactica; Smallville; The Day the Earth Stood Still; Elegy. The opening chapter of his novel, An Extraordinary Destiny, was published last year in the Dalhousie Review. The novel is mostly set in Bombay, India, where he was born, before moving to Canada at a young age. Shaker also authored an infographic non-fiction title, Native Americans: A Visual Exploration (2014) for Annick Press. The book was selected by The White Ravens catalog in Germany as one of four notable Canadian children’s books. He lives in Vancouver with his wife and five-year-old daughter with whom he enjoys reading books.

 About the Illustrator

d6ee355007357.54ed19a7c8f6eGlenda Tse holds a BA in Illustration from Sheridan College. Glenda says, ” My diverse portfolio of creative work combines my strong passion for illustration and design, with the use of both traditional and digital media. I seek inspiration from animals, nature, daily experiences, and the psychology of the human mind. Though I specialize in illustration, my focus has developed further to include hand-lettering and typography, as used in many of my recent works.” Glenda lives in Toronto with her husky, Myla.

Smile & Succeed for Teens: A crash Course in Face-to-Face Communication Book & Bookmark Giveaway!

DSC_0001I’m giving away one copy of this AUTOGRAPHED book plus bookmark to one lucky winner.

Simply Like us on Facebook and leave a valid comment on this post. The winner will be selected at random on Wednesday, March 11 at 5:00 pm!


Cover image courtesy of Solid Press

Smile and Succeed for Teens: Must-Know People Skills for Today’s Wired World

•        Targeted Audience: Middle School & High School (Ages 10 and Up)
•        Genre: Nonfiction
•        Author: Kirt Manecke
•        Publisher: Solid Press
•        Publication Date: June 6, 2014
•        Binding: Paperback
•        Dimensions: 5.5″ x 8.5″
•        Printing: Black & White
•        Length: 144 Pages
•        Retail: $9.95
•        ISBN: 978-0985076214

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“One of the most valuable lessons you can learn from this book is PAY ATTENTION to people.

Make good eye contact.
Focus on words they are saying.
Ask questions to clarify when necessary.
Engage in conversation.
Let people finish talking before you respond.”

A Crash Course for Teens in People Skills in a High Tech World

imagesSmile and Succeed for Teens gives adolescents and teens the basic personal and professional skills they need to succeed today and tomorrow, in whatever it is they strive to do. Author Kirt Manecke decided to create this book after writing Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service for adults. In this world of texts, emails and Instagrams, kids need a course in face-to-face social skills now more than ever.

In the seven chapters of the book, learn essential people skills, get tips on getting and keeping a job, learn how to treat others with respect, discover the secrets to successful selling, keep customers happy and make your life extraordinary. Woven within the text of the chapters are useful lists and inspirational quotes too.

What This Book Teaches

Smile and Succeed for Teens can be considered as a How to Win Friends and Influence People guide for teenagers. The practical information set forth in the book is essential for success in life, and these are all lessons not taught in schools – but should be. Manacke’s writing is simple, straight forward and is super easy to read, though it is not preachy or condescending in any way. Cartoon style drawings add to the learning experience and keep the topic light. The book teaches teens that their demeanor, manners and work ethic are what provide them with opportunities to succeed. The strategies for selling their skills as well as selling products are invaluable here, and the book teaches them how to go the extra mile. These are tools that lay the foundation for a future that is bright, no matter what field your child delves into down the road.

Why You Should Buy This Book

Kids who implement the tips in Smile and Succeed for Teens will stand above all the rest. The book provides them with Social-skills-for-teenscommon sense tactics outlining a blueprint of success that will follow them into adulthood. Teens who practice these winning strategies will form positive, professional habits that will set them apart from many of their peers. It’s a competitive world, and those who want to have fulfilling careers, be respected for their work and foster long lasting relationships can use all the help they can get. The tips here can be utilized, not only for jobs and careers, but also for getting into college and securing scholarships. I commend Kirt Manecke for writing a book for teens like this, on a topic that is generally written for adults. If our schools don’t teach these skills, then it’s imperative we provide our kids with other means to learn them. Smile and Succeed for Teens motivates the reader while it teaches these life skills.

About the Author

© Carl R. Sams IIKirt Manecke is a an award-winning author and sales, marketing, fundraising, and business development specialist with over 30 years of experience surprising and delighting customers. Smile and Succeed for Teens is based on Kirt’s award-winning book Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service, (winner of 8 awards) promoting and teaching the simple premise that good service is good business.  In addition to his work, Kirt is a strong proponent of buying local to create thriving downtowns and supports the 3/50 Project. He is also passionate about land conservation and also supports local farmer’s markets along with dog and cat animal rescue groups. (1% of the proceeds from Kirt’s books are donated to animal welfare.) He is also a volunteer judge at DECA conferences to help high school and college students become our next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs. Kirt lives in Milford, Michigan.

Further Learning

  1. Download the Teacher’s Guide.
  2. Read articles that help teens succeed.
  3. Read FREE Tips for Teens.
  4. Watch the Book Trailer.

Birdology: A Beautiful Way for Budding Ornithologists to Connect With Nature


Birdology: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring the World of Birds

•        Targeted Audience: Upper Elementary & Middle School (Ages 7-12)
•        Genre: Nonfiction Science Middle Reader
•        Author: Monica Russo
•        Photographer: Kevin Byron
•        Publisher: Chicago Review Press
•        Publication Date: January 1, 2015
•        Binding: Paperback
•        Dimensions: 11″ x 8.5″
•        Printing: Full Color
•        Length: 128 Pages
•        Retail: $15.95
•        ISBN: 978-1613749494


© Copyright – Image from Birdology with permission from Chicago Review Press

Like all other Chicago Review Press titles, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Birdology. My husband, daughter and I are all enthusiastic birdwatchers, since we live in Miami and are avid hikers and campers and often explore the Florida Everglades. We Floridians are treated to some of the most spectacular birds that are endemic to the tropics in the southern part of the state and others that migrate here to keep warm during the winter months. I’ve shared a few of my own photos of birds at he end of this post.

DSC_0008Get Outside and Explore

Birdology introduces middle readers to art of birdwatching, giving them a well-rounded lesson in the science of birds and encouraging them to go outdoors and explore. This is not a field guide per se, rather it is a book that fosters independent study of all things bird related. Essentially, author Monica Russo gives readers the tools they need to observe birds in their natural habitats and understand what it is they are seeing. Birdology enlightens and inspires middle readers to become amateur ornithologists and expand their love of birds and respect for the environment.

© Copyright – Image from Birdology with permission from Chicago Review Press

Everything You Need to Get Started Observing and Studying Birds


© Copyright – Image from Birdology with permission from Chicago Review Press

The book is divided into eight chapters covering everything from the anatomy of birds and their markings, to their locations, habitats, diets and migrations. Russo’s text is carefully written for the age of the audience, making it easy to comprehend. I’m impressed with the way she takes care to explain the science of birds without bogging the reader down and without boring them either. She gives explicit directions about what to look for when observing, and uses examples of different species to demonstrate the specifics of what she is talking about. She uncovers many fascinating facts that keep readers engaged and eager to learn more.

30 Activities and Observations and Many Outstanding Photographs

DSC_0006There are 30 activities and observations included, and honestly, every single one of them appeal to me. They each fall under one of three headings: 1) Try This 2) Look For or 3) Listen For. For example, Try This: Start a Bird Journal, Listen For: a Peakcock’s Scream and Look For: How Birds Drink and Bathe. Other activities include Starting a Bird Sketchbook, Observing the Way Birds Walk and Hop, Making an Orange Feeder for Orioles, Looking for V-Shaped Flocks and more.

Kevin Byron’s photographs offer some close ups with incredible detail, adding depth and interest to the learning experience. It must have taken a great deal of time, patience and photographic skills to get the job done. It’s almost as if the birds knew they were being photographed and posed for him!  Monica Russo adds even more to the mix with her drawings of birds and activity instructions.

What This Book Teaches


© Copyright – Image from Birdology with permission from Chicago Review Press

Where do I begin? Birdology is an incredible teaching tool for so may reasons. It encourages middle readers to think like scientists – to sit quietly and observe, to notice differences and similarities among species, to use their eyes and ears as tools and to take notes about what they observe. It teaches readers that they must get outside to explore the natural world around them, to experience wildlife in person, using just their natural senses as tools. It inspires them to do what they can to protect the natural habitats of birds and learn about what they need to survive and thrive. There’s a terrific Glossary in the back of the book, a List of Resources, including wildlife organizations and a Teacher’s Guide too.

Why You Should Buy This Book

Birdology reminds us all that nature is right outside our doors, just waiting to be explored. In order to get children interested in science, they must spend time discovering the earth’s natural wonders. There are so many fascinating lessons about birds to be learned, and Monica Russo guides readers through that learning process in such a way that they can lead themselves to a better understanding of the birds common to their own cities and states. The book is fascinating to read, the photographs are wonderful to look at and Birdology does a delightful job of turning middle readers into young ornithologists and protectors of planet earth.

About the Author and Photographer


Monica Russo is the author and illustrator of several children’s nature books, including Amazing Insects, Chilly Creatures, Tree Almanac, and Watching Nature. She wrote the “Nature Notes” column for southern Maine’s Sun Chronicle for many years. She is an experienced birdwatcher and a founding member of the Maine Entomological Society.

Kevin Byron is a photographer who specializes in nature, wildlife, and ship images and whose work has appeared in many books, magazines, and newspapers including Watching Nature, BirdScope Magazine, the New York Times, and the Kennebunk Post. Both Monica and  Kevin live in Kennebunk, Maine.

Further Learning

  1. Utilize the Teacher’s Guide in the back of the book.
  2. Learn more about birds with National Geographic.
  3. Get an Audubon Field Guide to North American Birds.
  4. Check out many more titles in the Chicago Review Press Young Naturalist Series.

Some Photographs of Birds I’ve taken:

DSC_0261© Copyright by Debbie Glade – Image of a Burrowing Owl taken in a field near a high school in my South Florida neighborhood


© Copyright by Debbie Glade – Image of an Egret in flight taken along Loop Road in the Florida Everglades


© Copyright by Debbie Glade – Close up image of a cormorant taken on the Anhinga Trail near the Flamingo Entrance to National Everglades Park


© Copyright by Debbie Glade – Image of a Purple Gallinule at Shark Valley in the Florida Everglades

If you love this book, you should also check out:


Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue: Comic Book Giveaway

I’m giving away this adorable comic book! Simply leave a comment on this post. I’ll email the winner and announce it on my Facebook Page on Monday, March 2, 2015 at 5 pm. The winner must email me his or her mailing address within 24 hours or a new winner will be selected.


Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue

•        Targeted Audience: Upper Elementary, Middle School (Ages 7-12)
•        Genre: Comic Book for Middle Readers
•        Author/Illustrator: Paige Braddock
•        Publisher: Andrews McMeel
•        Publication Date: February 3, 2015
•        Binding: Paperback
•        Dimensions: 6″ x 9″
•        Printing: Full Color
•        Length: 128 Pages
•        Retail: $9.99
•        ISBN: 978-1449457112

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A Toad, Some Unlikely Friends and a Pond in Trouble

5fc8617bce1283976b42dfcd6d9f470dMeet Cecil, a green toad with a yellow belly and orange spots. He lives in a pond behind Sonny’s Trailer Villa. Among his friends are Sprout the frog, Jeremy the worm, Rayray the lizard and Jeff the hamster. The buddies love to have fun together – like competing in the Pond Splash Championship. One day Cecil discovers a construction team heading straight for the pond. Oh no! What will these animals do without their habitat?  So the team puts their heads together to try to figure out how to put a stop to the construction, and hilarious antics ensue. What can these little critters do to stop a construction crew? Hint: It involves a hawk, a fly some rocks and a whole lot of luck!

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Fantastic Illustrations and a Most Entertaining (and Educational) Read

There’s something about the vibrant, saturated colors in Stinky Cecil that stand out among other comics. The characters are cute and lovable and each one is unique. There’s a lot of action and silliness and giggles. I laughed out loud a few times myself while reading it. What I love about this comic is that it has a really good message. The animals are desperately trying to preserve their habitat and prevent it from being destroyed by development. They use teamwork and are so determined, they don’t give up until they get what they want! This teaches readers about cooperation, motivation and environmental awareness.

“He doesn’t know anything about the inner workings of a combustion engine.”

“I don’t know anything about the inner workings of cheese puffs either but I chew those.”

Why Your Kids Will Love This Book9cd343a1f8405922b990ac49ff590027

It’s really simple. If it’s fun, kids will want to read more. (Hey, adults want to read fun things too!) Why not be thoroughly entertained while reading clever words and admiring beautiful  pictures? Before you start to criticize comic books, read one yourself. There’s a lot of wit involved. You’ll appreciate author Paige Braddock’s clever writing and how she introduces some terrific new vocab words to readers. With this story line, kids learn about animals, the environment, cooperation, problem solving and more. Plus in the back of the book are some facts about toads and earthworms accompanied by some pretty funny illustrations.  Stinky Cecil is an ideal segway to reading nonfiction books about animal habitats.

About the Author

Paige_Braddock_Wikipedia_profile_picPaige Braddock is the Creative Director at Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates.  Braddock had the opportunity to train under Schulz, her childhood hero, prior to his retirement. She has illustrated several “Peanuts” children’s books, the Snoopy U.S. postage stamp issued in 2001, and the Newsweek cover featuring Snoopy following Schulz’s death in 2000.

Further Learning

  1. Find a book about ponds to learn about new plants, animals and the pond ecosystem.
  2. Learn more about preserving our natural habitats.
  3. Encourage your children to create their own comics!

Leave a comment on this post to enter the giveaway.

10 Rivers That Shaped the World – in All Their Power and Glory


10 Rivers That Shaped the World

•        Targeted Audience: Upper Elementary & Middle School (Ages 9-12)
•        Genre: Nonfiction Science Middle Reader
•        Author: Marilee Peters
•        Illustrator: Kim Rosen
•        Publisher: Annick Press
•        Publication Date: March 17, 2015
•        Binding: Paperback
•        Dimensions: 7″ x 9.5″
•        Printing: Full Color
•        Length: 135 Pages
•        Retail: $14.95
•        ISBN:978-1554517381

“Hindus believe bathing in the Ganges River can purify you and remove your sins.”

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© Copyright – Inside spread courtesy of Annick Press

“Johanson and Gray could hardly believe their luck as they realized they’d stumbled upon the skeleton of an ancient hominid…When the bones were excavated and studied, they proved to be from a 3.2 million-year-old species of ancient ape that had never been seen before…the little skeleton quickly became famous under another name: Lucy.”

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© Copyright – Inside spread courtesy of Annick Press

 So Much More to Rivers Than You’ll Ever Know

We teach our children that rivers are sources of water to drink and a means for transportation, but but there’s so much more to their significance that author Marilee Peters felt compelled to write a children’s book about them – and you’ll be glad she did. I was eager to review 10 Rivers That Shaped the World because as a Geology PhD student, my daughter is studying rivers and their sediment, and she often shares fascinating information with me as she learns it.

“The Nile floods were so dependable, and so essential, that the ancient Egyptians named their seasons after the changes in the river’s flow.”

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© Copyright – Inside spread courtesy of Annick Press

10 Rivers That Shaped the World takes readers on an historical journey down ten of the world’s most renowned rivers. Each sections begins with a map and the ancient history of the river as well as fossils that have been found there, revealing the earliest human life. We learn how rivers flood and dry out, about the cultures of people who live along them, the life that lives beneath them and the plants and trees that grow along them. There have been civilizations that have risen and fallen along rivers and deadly disputes that have been caused by them. For these rivers are what attracts life and leave clues to the long history of man.

 Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 9.02.53 PM© Copyright – Inside spread courtesy of Annick Press

What This Book Teaches

There is so much fascinating information in the book, that my review simply cannot do it justice. Think of it as a riveting course in history, geography, biology and geology. Here are some of the lessons readers will learn as they are engaged in the book:

  • How the “lucky accident” of the Nile’s unique flooding patterns allowed the culture of Ancient Egypt to flourish in one of the   hottest, driest places on earth
  • How medieval robber barons seized—then lost—control of the Rhine
  • Why the Amazon helped scientists discover how species evolve
  • How Livingstone’s ill-fated exploration of the Zambezi changed Africa forever
  • Why you can trace just about every hit song back to the Mississippi River
  • How the massive Three Gorges Dam displaced over one million Chinese in the Yangtze River Valley
  • Why people in India have gathered to bathe in the Ganges for thousands of years
  • The crucial roles of the Awash, the Thames, and the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in human history
  • How the rubber tree in the Amazon was discovered and how the Amazon changed the direction in which it flows

“2.6 million cubic yards of water flow into the sea from the Amazon every second. So much fresh water enters the ocean at the mouth of the river, you can drink the water 93 miles from shore.”

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© Copyright – Inside spread courtesy of Annick Press

“Eels are among the oddest inhabitants of the Thames. They arrive in the river as tiny larvae, after journeying over 3,700 miles from an area of the Atlantic known as the Sargasso Sea. The eels stay in the Thames for 20 years before making the long trip back home to spawn.”

Why You Must Read This Book

10 Rivers That Shaped the World reads much like a story, which is a brilliant way to teach middle readers and keep them engaged in nonfiction. Peters’ writing is beautifully descriptive and flows well. The chapters are broken down into sections, making the book easy for children to read, as the information captivates them rather than bogs them down. The historic photographs and eye-catching aqua based illustrations by Kim Rosen add visual interest to the text too.  The book is a clever way to introduce children to world history and many different branches of science that may pique their interest in further study. We must educate our children about the earth so they can take their part to protect it and all its natural resources that are essential to life.

I love books that engage parents as much as they do children, and 10 Rivers That Shaped the World is a book you’ll want to read from start to finish too.

Buy 10 Rivers That Shaped the World here


 About the Author

MarileePetersMarilee Peters grew up in Ottawa, Ontario as an avid reader. In order to continue her favorite activity she studied English Literature, eventually earning a Master’s Degree with a specialization in Victorian novels (because they’re the longest). Along the way, she realized that writing, although harder than reading, was just as satisfying and you could even get paid for it. Since then, she’s helped write and edit guidebooks to Parliament Hill, program guides for theater festivals, newsletters about environmental policy, technology, and national parks, blogs about parenting and child development, and articles about everything from why kids don’t walk to school by themselves anymore, to money management. In addition to 10 Rivers, Marilee penned Patient Zero: Solving the Mysteries of Deadly Epidemics. She lives with her family in Vancouver.


About the Illustrator

KimRosenKim Rosen grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and could usually be found in her room quietly drawing pictures. After high school, she moved to New York City to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology to study Advertising Design. After several years of working as a designer, Kim realized that she was meant to be an illustrator and attended the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she received an MFA in Illustration. The focus of Kim’s illustrations is on the subtle gestures and simple expressions of people in everyday situations. Kim’s color choices are inspired by the life around her. She lives with her partner in Northampton, Massachusetts, in their 115-year-old house.

Further Learning

  1. Locate all ten rivers in the book on a world map.
  2. Get out and visit a river near you to study the way it flows and the wildlife that surrounds it.
  3. Read more about rivers on National Geographic.
  4. Find a River Exhibit at a museum near you.
  5. Choose a culture of people from the book and study them further.