April Book Reviews, Part 1

Scientists in the Field Series

Great Non-Fiction Books for Older Readers

From Miss Amanda at Main

I remember distinctly when I became fascinated by rare and endangered animals – in third grade, we learned about the rainforest and all its wonders, including the unique and amazing animals that lived in those far-off and seemingly magical forests. What I realized as I got older was that my interest in rare animals and rainforests, along with other far off habitats, has never waned. But it took stumbling on the Scientists in the Field series, specifically the book Kakapo Rescue by Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop, to revitalize what had always been a passion of mine (something I spent hours in the library reading up on as a child and pre-teen).

The Scientists in the Field series has a wholly different approach to giving older elementary and middle school – aged kids a look into the world of science and animal study. These books are extreme zoology presented in exhilarating detail and breathtaking photography that take readers all over the world. From the stunning cloud forests of New Guinea (Quest for the Tree Kangaroo), to the windy shores of Codfish Island (Kakapo Rescue), and on more familiar ground in the puddles, streams, and rivers of California (The Frog Scientist), this nonfiction series is an inspiring look at the scientists who love their work and are passionately dedicated to the preservation of animals and their habitats. Not all of the titles focus on animal scientists, however; some titles like The Hive Detectives track honeybee scientists and their efforts to study and understand the colony collapse disorder, while others like The Mysterious Universe follow astronomers who study supernovas, black holes, and dark energy.

The Scientists in the Field series currently has 27 titles to its name and more are being written. The newest book is Project Seahorse (2010) by Pamela S. Turner and Scott Tuason, who track the researchers at the head of Project Seahorse based in the Philippines. These researchers are dedicated to preserving the local seahorse population and the local fishing culture.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about this series is that it is continuously excellent, despite being composed by different authors and photographers. The quality of the work never degrades and by covering such a variety of topics and constantly challenging readers to open their minds and explore the world, this series puts itself above most other nonfiction for older children as both engaging and intriguing on a number of levels.

For a complete list of titles in this series, visit this website.

For an activity kit that goes along with Kakapo Rescue, please go here.

View this video featuring Lisa Dabek, the scientist Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop followed for their book Quest for the Tree Kangaroo!

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