Quick Facts — Measure of America: American Human Development Project

Like trivia?  Check out:

Quick Facts — Measure of America: American Human Development Project.

Includes some really depressing ones such as:

A white baby born today in the nation’s capital can expect to live 83.1 years. An African American baby born in the same city has a life expectancy of 71 years, a dozen years less and about the same as that of the average American baby in the early 1970s.

About one-quarter of the country’s high schools educate more than 85% of the country’s Latino children. The schools that most Latino children attend are disproportionately large in size, low in resources, located in central cities, and largely confined to just seven states: California, Texas, Florida, New York, Arizona, Illinois, and New Jersey.

In no U.S. states do African Americans, Latinos, or Native Americans earn more than Asian Americans or whites.

For every $1 of net worth whites have, Latinos have 12 cents, and African Americans have 10 cents.


Racism is real and it is UGLY.


Pierre the Penguin

QL696.S473 M365 2010 Q is science, QL is zoology, QL 671-699 is birds, QL 696 is Birds- systematic divisions by order and family A-Z , and QL696.S473 is Spheniscidae (Penguins).  M365 2010 is the cutter which allows books to be alphabetized by author and year within this subject.  Pierre the Penguin won the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award (2010) and the California Reading Association’s Eureka! Gold Award (2010).

Author: Jean Marzollo
Illustrator: Laura Regan
1585364851 ISBN-13: 978-1585364855
City and Publisher: Ann Arbor, MI: Sleeping Bear Press
Copyright Date: 2010
Author’s Website:

Reader’s Annotation: Pierre the penguin is in a real pickle as he begins losing feathers.  He can’t enjoy a good swim and the other penguins have started teasing him.  Can Pam the aquatic biologist think of a way to help him?

Plot Summary: This is the true story of Pierre the Penguin, who lives at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.  Pierre is stressed out, and begins losing his feathers.  He can’t swim, can’t keep his weight up, and is being teased by the other penguins.  So he gets more stressed and loses more feathers!  Pam, the aquatic biologist who takes care of the penguins, must find a way to help Pierre get better.

Critical Evaluation: Pierre the penguin is told in rhyme.  The story is sweet, but not saccharin.  Marzollo uses words very well, crafting a clear yet complex story.  Pierre also sneaks some wonderful lessons about disability and assistive technology; Pierr’e’s feather loss impairs one or more life activities and causes him to be the target of penguin prejudice and bullying.  His wetsuit allows him to once again participate in important penguin activities such as swimming.

Illustrations: Regan’s illustrations  of Pierre and the other penguins strike a great balance between realism and emotional expression.  Pierre’s feelings are accessible, but he remains an animal rather than a human.  The colors are somewhat muted, and the lines are soft.  However, they are not sentimental, dreamy, or in any way cloying.

Reading Level/Interest: All Ages
Curriculum Ties: Penguins, Adaptation, Disability, Scientists and the Scientific method
Booktalking Ideas:
Show the Academy of Science’s Penguin Cam.  Ask if any one knows where penguins live.  Wear a wetsuit to class.

About the Author: Jean Marzollo is the author of the I SPY series (also written in rhyme) and over 130 books for children.  She  was born in Connecticut and holds a graduate degree from  the Harvard School of Education.  She is married to a sculptor and they have two sons.  More at http://www.jeanmarzollo.com/bio.html

The Wildlife Detectives: How Forensic Scientists Fight Crimes Against Nature

HV 7959 .J33 2000.  H is Social Sciences, HV is Social pathology, social and public welfare, and HV 7959 is Social pathology. Social and public welfare. CriminologyCriminal justice administrationPolice. Detectives. ConstabularyAdministration and organizationNational police. Constabulary. Gendarmes–Organization–Game and forest police.  J33 2000 is a code which helps the library organize alphabetically by author within this subject.  This code (known as a cutter) may vary slightly in different libraries.  The Wildlife Detectives is a National Science Teachers Association Children’s Book Council Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children (2001).

Series Title: Scientists in Action
Author: Donna M. Jackson
ISBN-10: 0395869765 ISBN-13: 978-0395869765
City and Publisher: Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Copyright Date: 2000
Author’s Website: http://www.donnamjackson.net/

Reader’s Annotation: Who steps in when endangered animals are killed?  Who works to solve mysteries on behalf of the animal kingdom?  The Wildlife Detectives!

Plot Summary: The Wildlife Detectives begins with an overview of the history of the forensic science used by people who fight crimes against wildlife.  It also introduces, in a “Wild File” sidebar, the  basics of what it means to be a threatened or endangered species.  The book than follows the mystery of the murder of Charger, one of Yellowstone National  Park’s most famous bull elks. Descriptions of how scientists and law enforcement agents work to solve the crime are punctuated by information about poaching, wildlife protection laws, and other aspects of wildlife protection.

Critical Evaluation: The Wildlife Detectives provides a very comprehensive view of how animals are protected – by laws, by science, and by all kinds of people.It describes how many factors interact towards one goal, using simple but engaging language.  This book is a little less engaging than some of the others I’ve read in this series, perhaps because the topic is a little dour and so much information is packed in the pages.  However, it is still a very well written and informative book.

Illustrations: The Wildlife Detectives is illustrated with full color photos.  Some photos are fascinating, but some do feel a little dated.  The images could be better placed in order to fully express the emotional content; some of the images have the potential to be very powerful, but are muted by the book design.

Reading Level/Interest: 8 & up
Curriculum Ties:
Animals, environmental studies, laws, taxonomy, DNA
Booktalking Ideas: Ask kids what their favorite animal is and then segue into a discussion about Endangered and threatened species.

Challenge Issues: Some parents may have issues with the Endangered Species act, or may feel this book is anti-hunting.  While The Wildlife Detectives does have a pro-conservation message, ultimately it is a book about science and the law.

About the Author: Although her original intention was to become a child psychologist, the wonderful feeling of writing a well-received article lured Jackson away to pursue a degree in journalism.  She has written approximately ten books for children, in mostly science or animal related non-fiction.  More at: http://www.donnamjackson.net/biography.html

The Bug Scientists

image of the book's cover, which has a picture of a scientist with two cockroaches on his faceQL 467.2 .J33 2002.  Q is science, QL is zoology.  QL 461-599.82 is insects, QL 467.2 is juvenile works. .J33 2002 allows juvenile works on insects to be grouped alphabetically by author within this class (this is known as the cutter, and it is a code for the author’s last name and year of publication).  The Bug Scientists was a Junior Library Guild selection, and a National Science Teachers Association Outstanding Science Trade Book for Kids (2003).

Series Title: Scientists  in the Field
Author: Donna M. Jackson
ISBN-10: 0618108688 ISBN-13: 978-0618108688
City and Publisher: Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Copyright Date: 2002
Author’s Website: http://www.donnamjackson.net

Reader’s Annotation: Meet a college professors, a forensic entomologist, a 5th grade Monarch tracker, a Hollywood bug director and an ant guy.  Learn about some of the crazy things bugs can do, and discover how they help humans by keeping us from being knee deep in roadkill.

Plot Summary: The Bug Scientists profiles five different scientists who each use their expertise in a different bug focused occupation.  Along the way the book details some fascinating facts about how bugs help humans, and illuminates some of the exciting adaptations that make bugs unique.  Professor Tom Turpin uses exciting and off-beat methods (including cricket spitting contests) to teach his college students the basics about bugs.  5th grader Jade Then works with her school’s citizen science project, tracking butterflies to help provide valuable data about migration.  Valerie Cervenka fights crime by using her knowledge of bug life cycles to judge the time of death of bodies.  Steven Kutcher wrangles bugs for TV and movies, translating his understanding of their natural behavior into great insect acting.  Ted Schultz studies ants of all kinds, but in particular the South and Central American Attini ant, which farms its own food.

Critical Evaluation: The Bug Scientists is a very informative and engaging book.  It provides information about both scientists and bugs.  The book doesn’t just talk about what scientists do, it also introduces how scientists think.  The bug facts are a good mix between the sensational and the normalizing.  The Bug Scientists is an excellent introduction to entomology, and bibliographical resources at the end provide a jump off point to further study.

Illustrations: The Bug Scientists is illustrated with full color photos and a few diagrams.  The photos are gorgeous and clearly illustrate (and add to) points in the text.  The book does end up feeling a little like a coffee table book for children however.

Reading Level/Interest: 8 & up
Curriculum Ties: Entomology, life cycles, scientists/careers, the natural world, bio-diversity
Booktalking Ideas: Bring in some bugs!

Challenge Issues: The forensic scientist section is a little gruesome.  It does contain a warning that it “may be hazardous to your lunch.”

About the Author: Although her original intention was to become a child psychologist, the wonderful feeling of writing a well-received article lured Jackson away to pursue a degree in journalism.  She has written approximately ten books for children, in mostly science or animal related non-fiction.  More at: http://www.donnamjackson.net/biography.html