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

FB twitter

“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.”

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 8.58.23 PM

© 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.”

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 8.58.20 PM

© 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.

Spic-and-Span: Lillian Gilbreth’s Wonder Kitchen


Cover Image courtesy of Tundra Books

Spic-and-Span: Lillian Gilbreth’s Wonder KItchen

•        Targeted Audience: Lower Elementary (Ages 5-8)
•        Genre: Non-Fiction Picture Book
•        Author: Monica Kulling
•        Illustrator: David Parkins
•        Publisher: Tundra Books
•        Publication Date: August 5, 2014
•        Binding: Hard Cover
•        Dimensions: 8″ x 10″
•        Printing: Full Color
•        Length: 32 Pages
•        Retail: $17.99
•        ISBN: 978-1770493803

FB twitter

I first learned about industrial engineer, Lillian Gilbreth when I read Women of Steel and Stone (Chicago Review Press) by Anna M. Lewis. Now I am happy to share with you Spic-and-Span, a title about the life and great accomplishments of Lillian Gilbreth written for a younger audience.


© Copyright Image courtesy of Tundra Books

A Most Enterprising and Inspiring Woman

DSC_0005Lillian Moller Gilbreth was born in 1878 into a privileged family, but she preferred living a simpler life. She went to college (at a time when few women did), married Frank Gilbreth and together they had eleven children! They became efficiency experts both in and out of their Montclair, NJ home and performed a study of factory workers using a movie camera to film the workers’ actions to determine ways to improve productivity. After Frank died suddenly from a heart attack, Lillian was left with eleven children and needed a job so desperately. But most companies would not hire professional women back in those days. Eventually Lillian got a job working for Macy’s department store improving the operations of its cash room. Later the Brooklyn Borough Gas Company hired her to improve kitchen operations. She invented the electric mixer, a garbage can that opened with a foot pedal, the compartments on the refrigerator door and a desk to make the homemaker’s job easier.

© Copyright Image courtesy of Tundra Books

What This Book Teaches

imagesSpic-and-Span is an incredibly inspirational story that demonstrates the power of ingenuity and motivation. Lillian Moller Gilbreth was a widow with eleven children, during a time when women were rarely afforded opportunities in professional jobs. Yet she prevailed as an industrial engineer, a psychologist, an author, a professor and an inventor.  There were two movies made about her including Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes. She was the first woman elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and the first female psychologist to have a U.S. postage stamp issued in her honor. Young readers will come away from this book feeling motivated and seeing the extraordinary achievements that one single person can accomplish despite numerous obstacles and odds.


© Copyright Image courtesy of Tundra Books

Why You Should Buy This Book

I am so thrilled there are biographies like this in picture book form for younger readers. It’s never too early to share real life stories about outstanding people with children. Author Monica Kulling has an amazing ability to write for elementary age students in engaging and fascinating ways without talking down to them.  She gets their brains spinning, appeals to their curiosity and helps them see the potential inside of themselves. The superb watercolor illustrations by artist and cartoonist, David Parkins are beautifully expressive and tell the story with great emotion. You’ll love his remarkable attention to detail. Buy the child in your life a copy of Spic-and-Span, and both of you will be enlightened and inspired by the story and this outstanding book.

About the Author


Monica Kulling is a poet who has published over forty books for children, including picture books, adaptations of classic novels, and biographies. Known for introducing biography to children who are just learning to read, she has written about Harriet Tubman, Henry Ford, Houdini, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Amelia Earhart, among others. Her award-winning Great Idea Series features biographies of inventors and their captivating inventions. She is also the author of the hilarious Merci Mister Dash! and Mister Dash and the Cupcake Calamity.

About the Illustrator

David Parkins is an award-winning illustrator of more than fifty books for David_Parkins1children. After studying wildlife illustration in Wales and general illustration at the Lincoln College of Art, he became a freelance illustrator whose work has appeared in The Guardian, the Toronto Star, Bloomberg Business Week, Nature, The Economist, and in the British children’s comic The Beano. He does a regular editorial cartoon for the Globe and Mail and is the critically acclaimed illustrator of two other books in Monica Kulling’s Great Idea Series: In the Bag! Margaret Knight Wraps It Up, shortlisted for the 2013 Governor General’s Literary Award in Children’s Illustration, and Going Up! Elisha Otis’s Trip to the Top.

Further Learning

  1. Read my interview with author Monica Kulling.
  2. Learn more about Lillian Moller Gilbreth.
  3. Watch the movies about the Gilbreths, Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes.
  4. Ask your child about ideas they may have to streamline or make a task more efficient.

Be sure to also read these titles by Monica Kulling:





Changing the Way Kids Think About Modern Conveniences: The Industrial Revolution for Kids

Industrial Revolution_lg

The Industrial Revolution for Kids: The People and Technology That Changed the World

•    Targeted Audience: Upper Elementary, Middle School, High School (Ages 9 and Up)
•    Genre: Non-Fiction History
•    Author: Cheryl Mullenbach
•    Publisher: Chicago Review Press (For Kids Series)
•    Publication Date: August 1, 2014
•    Binding: Paperback
•    Dimensions: 11″ x  8.5″
•    Printing: Black & White
•    Length: 144 Pages
•    Retail: $16.95
•    ISBN: 978-1613746905

One of America’s Most Innovative Eras in History

Curliss-engineThe Industrial Revolution was an incredibly innovative and revolutionary time in our history that forever changed the way we live. Author Cheryl Mullenbach gets readers hooked on the subject from page one with human interest stories about every day people who lived and worked during the Industrial Revolution, starting with Lucy Larcom, an 11-year-old factory worker. There are accounts of the horrific conditions of the factories Americans worked in, the dismal pay and the social activists who protested their working conditions . She also weaves in important, intriguing historical facts about the revolution and highlights the famous Americans who were innovators, accumulating great wealth during this time in our nation’s history. The use of old photographs that are scattered throughout the book are impressive.

Image of the Curtiss Steam Engine in the Public Domain

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 9.09.54 PM

© Copyright – Image of 11-year-old factory worker, Lucy Larcom

21 Activities

One of the many benefits of the Chicago Review Press for Kids Series titles is that they all  offer readers activities that are fun and educational. The activities in The Industrial Revolution for Kids are just as innovative as the stories in the book. Among the highlights, readers can Test Machine Travel, Crack a Code, Make an Assembly Line Sandwich, Model an Elevator, Tell a Story With Photographs and Design a Product for the World’s Fair.

What This Book Teaches

MandK_Industrial_Revolution_1900Readers will quickly understand why Child Labor Laws were put into place, because during the Industrial Revolution it was common for an entire family to work in a factory, quite often in filthy conditions, with unreasonably long hours and unfair pay. There’s even a side story about a boy who encountered dozens of rats while in a building. Learning about the innovations that occurred during the 100 years of The Industrial Revolution is mind boggling. The products and technologies that came to be during that time laid the groundwork for the countless products and  technologies we rely upon today – the cotton gin, the sewing machine, the plow, electricity, the building of skyscrapers, subways, airplanes, cars and much more. The Industrial Revolution for Kids inspires kids to think about innovation and even more importantly, the fair treatment of workers.

Image of Workmen Leaving Platt’s Works, Oldham 20th August 1900 in the Public Domain

© Copyright – Inside Image

Why You Should Buy This Book

I found the offset boxes featuring events and people relating to America’s Industrial Revolution to be more fascinating perhaps than any Childlabourcoalother title in the series I’ve read. Details about the Industrial Revolution are not something we as Americans come across on a daily basis. I’d be fascinated to learn about the author’s research process and the sources she used to put this comprehensive book together. The Industrial Revolution for Kids is not only a great read, but it offers us a reality about the foundation of our nation’s workforce history and reminds us what had to take place yesterday in order to enjoy the modern conveniences that make our everyday lives so much easier today. The list of Resources in the back of the book will help readers find additional information on this comprehensive subject.

Image of child coalmine laborers from the early 1900s by photographer Lewis Hine in the Public Domain

A Well-Rounded Education With This Outstanding Series from Chicago Review Press

If you were to purchase every title in The Chicago Review Press For Kids Series for your child to read, rest assured he or she would be more well-read and better educated than all of his or her peers. The subjects of these outstanding non-fiction tittles span every subject from science to history, from art to music, geography to literature. The fact-filled pages are fascinating to read, and the (often historical) images round out the learning experience. The authors of these titles never talk down to readers; nor do they sugarcoat the truth. The books are so well-written and informative, that the more of them you read, the more interesting and informed of a person you become.

Being a reviewer, I have had the opportunity to read numerous titles in this series, and have yet to find any that are not outstanding. I’ve taken a liking to subjects I never had an interest in before, such as war and physics. This series has broadened my knowledge of many subjects, and I only wish these titles were available when I was growing up.

Buy a Copy of The Industrial Revolution for Kids

About the Author

301653Cheryl Mullenbach is the author of history books for young adults and middle school age readers. She writes about the usual people, places, and events that parents and educators expect to see in the history books. In addition, she uncovers the unusual stories that inspire young people–and adults–to scratch beneath the surface of historical facts to discover the rich stories that make history real. She is the author of Double Victory: How African American Women Broke Race and Gender Barriers to Help Win World War II as well as this title, The Industrial Revolution for Kids.

Further Learning

  1. Check out this Teacher’s Guide to the Industrial Revolution from The Library of Congress.
  2. Visit the Henry Ford Organization Website
  3. Visit the National Museum of Industrial History.
  4. Ask children to interview family members who may have information or photographs of ancestors who worked in factories or were otherwise a part of the Industrial Revolution.

Science Has Never Been So Entertaining

Hooray for books for young readers that cover S.T.E.M. subjects!


Space: The Whole Whizz-Bang Story

•    Targeted Audience: Lower & Upper Elementary (Ages 7-9)
•    Genre: Non-Fiction Science
•    Author: Glenn Murphy
•    Illustrator: Mike Phillips
•    Publisher: Pan MacMillan Children’s Books
•    Publication Date: (Reprint Edition) May, 1, 2014
•    Binding: Paperback
•    Dimensions: 5″ x  7.5″
•    Printing:  Black & White
•    Length: 188 Pages
•    Retail: $7.99
•    ISBN: 978-1447226239

Everything You Didn’t Even Know You Needed to Know About the Universe

Space: The Whole Whizz-Bang Story takes readers on a humorous journey through the universe, around the stars and planets. Questions are posed and answered with fascinating facts and witty banter. There are doodles and some old photographs to make reading all that much more entertaining.

Why did people think the sun went around the earth? Were they stupid or something?

 Newton nailed it, and now we use his ideas because he’s never been topped?

If you used enough sunscreen could you sunbathe on Venus?

Readers learn about famous scientists and discoveries and basically take a trip around the solar system. There are a few quizzes and activities and by the end of the book, children know the basics of space and so much more.

Why You’ll Love This Book

Author Glenn Murphy writes as though he is having a conversation with the reader and turns what would normally be big daunting information about the universe, stars and the solar system and skillfully turns it into a light and funny read. He poses questions and answers them, adding comments that sound like they come from the reader, and he uses humor throughout his explanations. Teaching space to second through fourth graders is no easy task but Murphy keeps the reader’s attention from start to finish. For me, as an adult, reading Space was a refresher course plus I learned a bunch of facts I never knew before. Frankly I feel quite a bit smarter than I did yesterday.

Further Learning

  1. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
  2. Attend Space Camp.
  3. Watch the Imax Space Collection.


Poo! What is That Smell? Everything You Ever Needed to Know About the Five Senses

•    Targeted Audience: Lower & Upper Elementary (Ages 7-9)
•    Genre: Non-Fiction Science
•    Author: Glenn Murphy
•    Illustrator: Lorna Murphy
•    Publisher: Pan MacMillan Children’s Books
•    Publication Date: (Unabridged Edition) May, 1, 2014
•    Binding: Paperback
•    Dimensions: 5″ x  7.5″
•    Printing:  Black & White
•    Length: 176 Pages
•    Retail: $8.99
•    ISBN: 978-0330538527

Now That Really Stinks

What kid can resist a book entitled Poo! What is That Smell? I’m not embarrassed to admit after seeing that title I couldn’t wait to read this book myself (and find out why my dog’s farts are so deadly). In addition to be enlightened about how and why we smell, readers learn all about the other senses.

How do we see?

What’s hearing and why do we have it?

How do we taste things?

How do we touch and feel things?

Each of the five chapters of the books is dedicated to one of the five senses of humans and other animals, and there’s surprising detail here. We learn how sharks smell blood under water, whether or not flies have eyeballs and the really big questions – do pigs eat their own poo? (Aren’t you dying to know the answer to that?) In the back of the book is information about Big Sense – the animals with the most, biggest longest, etc and a word or two about animals with special senses above and beyond the basic five.

Why You’ll Love This Book

The amount of information young readers learn within the pages of Poo! What is That Smell? is quite impressive. This is not just an explanation of the five senses, but rather an in-depth, humorous look at all the ways animals thrive and survive using their senses. Questions even the most curious readers may not think to pose themselves are asked and answered, and the information is so fascinating, kids will not only look forward to reading the entire book, but will likely want to explore the subject of the five senses further. After learning that snakes don’t have ears but can hear, who wouldn’t want to know how that is possible?

Further Learning

  1. Watch the BBC Human Senses Movie Series.
  2. Find more educational videos about the five senses.
  3. Read How Does the Ear Hear? And Other Questions About the Five Senses.

Buy Space: The Whole Whizz-Bang Story Here

Buy Poo! What is That Smell?  Here



Glenn Murphy received his masters in science communication from London’s Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine. He wrote his first popular science book, Why Is Snot Green?, while managing the Explainer team at the Science Museum in London. In 2007 he moved to the United States. He now lives and works in Raleigh, North Carolina, with his wife, Heather, and two unusually large and ill-tempered cats.

Check out heaps of other science books for kids by Glenn Murphy here.

The Most Amazing Scientific Discoveries of all Time

Image 8

Eureka! The Most Amazing Discoveries of All Time

Cover image courtesy of Thames & Hudson

•    Targeted Audience: Upper Elementary, Middle & High School (Ages 9 & up)
•    Genre: Non-Fiction Science
•    Author: Dr. Mike Goldsmith
•    Publisher: Thames & Hudson
•    Publication Date: May 20, 2014
•    Binding: Hard Cover
•    Dimensions: 7.75″ x 10.25″
•    Printing: Full Color
•    Length: 96 Pages
•    Retail: $18.95
•    ISBN: 978-0500650257


During World War II, penicillin became extremely valuable. When it was feared that Britain might be invaded, researchers even smeared penicillin on the insides of their coats so that at least some of the medicine would be saved.

Photo credit: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Maryland

A Well-Organized and Laid-Out Book

Eureka  is the most well-organized science book for kids I can ever remember reading. The Table of Contents is clear and easy to read. The book starts out with a chronological list of dates of discoveries and the scientists who are responsible for them. There are five main sections: 1) Medicine; 2) The Human Body; 3) Matter & Energy; 4) Planet Earth and 5) The Universe. Each chapter within those sections offers a big bold heading and a “Who, Where, When and Method” of discovery. There are wonderful old photos and drawings to accompany the fascinating facts about every scientist and his or her discoveries, plus timelines for each scientist.


According to Copernicus, the Sun was at the center of the solar system and the planets, such as Earth, traveled around it. Only the Moon went around the Earth.

Photo credit: British Library, London

Prepare to Be Amazed!

Revolutionary scientific discoveries are presented to readers in such a fascinating way, it was impossible for me to put this book down. We learn how scientists were led to their discoveries and the many challenges (and mistakes) they faced along the way. Questions are posed and answered and we get glimpses into the greatest minds in the history of science.

Gertrude Elion from NY was rejected from 15 graduate schools, because she was a woman, but that didn’t stop her from developing numerous drugs that saved lives. One of these medicines was an anti-rejection drug for organ transplants (1950s).  Naturalist Carl Linnaeus was the first to create scientific names to make it easier for scientists to categorize information.

59_EurekaThis is the goldsmith beetle, an insect discovered by Linnaeus. He gave it the scientific name Cetonia aurata. Cetonia is the genus, or group, of beetles that it belongs to. The word aurata means ‘golden’ and describes the species.

Photo credit: Udo Schmidt

Darwin’s Discoveries

On Charles Darwin’s voyage around the Galapogos Islands, he realized that finches on different islands had different beaks. He suspected these changes occurred for animals to adapt to different food sources on different islands. Following his travels he studied and documented the history of finches and proved his theory of evolution.


Here are four of Darwin’s finches – the large ground finch, the medium ground finch, the small tree finch and the green warbler finch. Each has a differently shaped beak, which has evolved to take advantage of the food nearby.

Photo credit: from John Gould, The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, 1845

What This Book Teaches (Or Why You Should Run Out and Buy It)

With its easy-to-read format and fabulous images and illustrations, kids are introduced to the glorious history of scientific discovery. The book is so well-written and inspiring, that it should easily keep the attention of students who never even knew they may be interested in science.

What I love most about Eureka is that it teaches us how new discoveries are really the result of taking previous findings and developing them further. Author Mike Goldsmith demonstrates how science solves problems, and that there is always room for more discoveries. He takes a subject that can seem daunting to kids and makes it attainable, opening the door to the possibilities that perhaps one day they too may solve problems using science that change the world. Readers also learn that failure is an inevitable part of the process on the road to success. The key is in dedication and persistence.

66_EurekaRichard Owen recognized that the fragment of bone he’d been sent must have come from a large bird. He was later sent collections of bird bones and managed to reconstruct the whole skeleton of the extinct Moa bird!

Photo credit: Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Buy Eureka! The Most Amazing Discoveries of All Time Here

About the Author

69ca60c4e6400a22d17ae5.L._V166562326_SX200_Dr. Mike Goldsmith is a research scientist and science writer. He has written over fifty science books for children and has twice been shortlisted for the Junior Aventis Science Prize.

Further Learning

  1. Learn more about scientific names.
  2. Choose one of the scientists in the book and learn more about his or her discoveries.
  3. Learn more about science careers.