Papa’s Mechanical Fish

Papas Mechanical Fish

Title: Papa’s Mechanical Fish

Author: Candace Fleming

Illustrator:  Boris Kulikov


Papa is an inventor—well, sort of.  He loves to tinker in his backyard workshop, but sometimes the things he makes (like edible socks and steam-powered roller skates) just don’t work.  In Papa’s Mechanical Fish, Papa’s trips to Lake Michigan with his family inspire him to invent a way to be underwater and glide like a fish.  It takes him four epic fails, but Papa succeeds in designing and building a submarine that has an air purifying system, electric headlights, and velvet chairs!  He amazes his family with a ride under Lake Michigan followed by a picnic at the beach.  Kids will be surprised to learn that the story of this inventor is almost true.  The book is based on the real life of Lodner Phillips, who really did take his wife and kids under the waves of Lake Michigan.  A short biography of Lodner’s life is included at the end of this delightfully illustrated picture book.

Curriculum Connections:

Problem solving and inventing


Physical science- buoyancy

Robotics in the Real World

Robotics in the Real World

Title: Robotics in the Real World

Author: Robin Koontz 


Curious kids who love robots will also love this informative introduction to the history of our fascination with robots, careers in robots, and where robots are headed in the future.  Robotics in the Real World is a photographically illustrated nonfiction short book that includes a Fast Facts section, a Stop and Think section that extends critical thinking, and a Learn More section suggesting further reading and website exploration.  Spark interest in this ever-evolving field and ignite a passion to help solve problems with technology!

Robotics in the Real World is part of the Core Library series, a line of nonfiction books for supporting the Common Core State Standards for grades 3-6.  Additional free tools for teachers and students are available at

Curriculum Connections:


Computer Science



Title: Planets

Author: Becky Baines


Planets is an easy to read, colorfully illustrated charming little book to start the conversation about our planet and the seven other planets that make up our solar system.  Kids will learn that our planet travels around the Sun, our closest star, along with the other planets. Exciting photographs and illustrations will teach about the characteristics of the planets and moons.  Comparisons are made to give kids an understanding of just how vast the solar system, galaxy, and universe are.  An invitation to continue exploring the night sky and “build an alien” wrap up this nonfiction book appropriate for pre-k to first grade.

Curriculum Connections:

Earth science

Trickiest! 19 Sneaky Animals


Title: Trickiest!  19 Sneaky Animals

Author: Steve Jenkins


How does a fire beetle protect itself from danger?  Would you know a leafy sea dragon when you saw one?  Sometimes animals need to trick each other in order to avoid being eaten.  This book is full of interesting creatures who are tricky enough to make predators think they are poisonous, dead, or invisible!  Some animals even imitate others in order to hunt for food.  Dive into this book to meet these unusual creatures, and come out knowing more than you ever dreamed about the animal kingdom.

Trickiest! is one book of four in the Extreme Animals series by Steve Jenkins.  Deadliest! is available now, and Stinkiest! and Speediest! will be available in Spring 2018.

Curriculum Connections:

Life Science:

Animal structures and physical features

Animal behavior and adaptations


The Grasshopper & The Ants

Grasshoppers and the ants

Author: Jerry Pinkney


The grasshopper wants to dance and sing all year long, while the ants are working hard. The ants are preparing for winter and the grasshopper wants to put it off for another day. Winter arrives and the ants are prepared, while the grasshopper sits outside in the cold. Queen Ant offers grasshopper a cup of tea and invites him inside, where they finally join the grasshopper in song and dance.

Curriculum Connections:

Animal behavior and hibernation


Ethical behaviors and character

A Rock Can Be…

A Rock Can Be

Author: Laura Purdie Salas

Illustrator:  Violeta Dabija


Discover the different roles that rocks can play throughout our world! A rock can be a dinosaur bone, a lake skimmer, a fire sparker, and so much more! Told through a poetic rhythm and beautiful illustrations, follow along and discover all of the possibilities a rock can be!

Curriculum Connections:

Earth Science- geology and the rock cycle


Human impact on the Earth

Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery That Baffled All of France


Author: Mara Rockliff

Illustrator:  Iacopo Bruno


During the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin is tasked with visiting France and asking the King and Queen to help the revolutionaries in the war. In France, Dr. Mesmer has been using a wand to cure people of their ailments, claiming to have discovered a new force, such as gas or electricity. Doctors have become furious, due to their patients new interest in Dr. Mesmer, and take their claims to the King and Queen. The King and Queen are baffled and turn to Benjamin Franklin for help. He begins to conduct experiments, specifically having people blindfolded while Dr. Mesmer uses his wand. He found that if the person expected something to happen, something would – even without Dr. Mesmer using the wand. If they did not expect something to happen, nothing would – even with the force. This was the beginning of studies of the placebo effect! Benjamin Franklin then returns to the United States, where the revolution has been won!

Curriculum Connections:

Scientific inquiry and investigations with the scientific method


Rubber vs. Glass

Rubber vs Glass

Title: Rubber vs. Glass

Author: Lawrence F. Lowery

Illustrator:  Phil Smith


Twins Bill and Mary are headed to a glass factory for a field trip, but before their trip, they engage in a friendly debate on which material is better—rubber or glass.  On the way to school, they peer into the window of a sports store where many things are made of rubber.  Bill points out how rubber is waterproof and can bounce and float.  Mary shows Bill that her glass marble can bounce, and tells him of a fisherman she saw using glass floats to hold up his fishing net.  They continue their debate as they look out the window of the bus on the way to the glass factory.  What they observe on their journey to the glass factory as well as what they learn while there teaches both of them that glass and rubber have similar properties, although they are different substances.

Rubber vs. Glass is part of the I Wonder Why book series, published by the National Science Teachers Association to encourage curiosity and critical thinking.

Curriculum Connections:

Physical science- characteristics and properties of matter

Engineering- choosing the right materials for a job or project

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

The boy who harnessed the wind

Title: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Authors: William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer

Illustrator:  Elizabeth Zunon


Based on the true story and life of William Kamkwamba, a boy who grew up in an area of Malawi, Africa stricken by drought, comes this beautifully illustrated book.  William was a boy who longed to solve the problems of thirst and hunger where he lived.  He dreamed of a machine that would pull water out of the ground and help his people grow crops to feed themselves.  William spent a lot of time teaching himself English and reading old science books to learn as much as he could about how to build a windmill.  He started collecting scraps of metal and wood and eventually turned them into a functional windmill that brought electricity and water to his village.  Williams’s story is a reminder that no matter how young you are, or how big your challenge is—perseverance and hard work can help save your world.

Curriculum Connections:






Title: Mousetronaut

Author: Astronaut Mark Kelly

Illustrator:  C.F. Payne


Meteor is a mouse training for a mission to space. NASA will only be sending six mice and Meteor is the smallest of them all, but is still chosen due to his hard work! In space, Meteor wants to be of help to the astronauts. When a key falls and is wedged into a tight space, Meteor comes to the rescue and is able to pull the key out! Back on Earth, Meteor is heralded as a hero and is given an official title, Mousetronaut!

Curriculum Connections:

Space travel


The universe