Lizzie Loftus and the Messy Mums Book Review : A Science Method Mystery

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book from the author to facilitate this review. As always, all opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

A few months ago I connected with a new children’s book author, Dr. Ruth Propper, through Facebook and I shared a review for her first book, Lizzie Loftus and the Missing Peanut Butter Cookies. Just as I was hoping, the second book is finally available!

Lizzie Loftus and the Messy Mums: A Science Method Mystery, written by Ruth E. Propper, Ph.D., and illustrated by Tanja Vacelija, is a great easy to read science chapter book that enforces the importance of experiments to young scientists.

Our fantastic trio is back (Lizzie, Joule and Robert) and they have another mystery that needs to be solved. Robert’s mom accuses him of playing basketball in the front yard and ruining the mums that were just planted. Unless Robert can come up with an alternate hypothesis before dinner he will be unable to go to the big basketball game.

Joule guides Lizzie and Robert through the scientific method to create Robert’s alternate hypothesis. She really makes it a point to follow the process in order and readers see first hand why Joule is right. The situation gets even more complicated when Daniel, the 7th grade neighbor, stops by and gives his own thoughts, which Joule believes instantly.

One new aspect of the this story that really stuck out to me was the underlying theme of seeing is believing. The theme first emerges during a conversation between Joule and her mom. Joule is trying to convince her mom that wind, moles, and sticks had a hand in the messy mums, but her mom points out many holes in the story.

“Just because someone older, or more mature, or even someone you respect, tells you something, it doesn’t make it true. When in doubt, believe what you see, not what someone says. You have to think critically, kids. That means trying to figure out why something might not be true” (46).

Mom’s words can be applied to so many situations involving peer pressure, science experiments, etc. I LOVE this quote and the point that mom is trying to make to the three scientists.

As with the first book, the characterization in this story is spot on. The attitude that Joule has is just enough sass to make readers roll their eyes, but not dislike her. Robert is truly an eight year old boy in how he acts and speaks. Propper really captures the essence of little boys with Robert in the very beginning of the story. Lizzie is still a sweetheart that truly wants to help her friends.

As a reader, I am always looking for clues and moments of foreshadowing. There was a smidge of foreshadowing in the book, but the plot events did surprise me, which I enjoyed. The creativity of what really happened is realistic and will make readers smile.

And in true Lizzie Loftus books fashion, there are bonus sections! The author includes a glossary of terms with reading comprehension questions to help readers explore the scientific concepts in more detail using the text. There is also a hands-on activity that includes a recipe for spaghetti and meatballs. The teachermom gets excited that readers can go beyond the text in fun and educational ways.

I recommend this book for readers/scientists ages 5-12 for a home or classroom library. It is also a great text for a science teacher or homeschool parent to use when teaching the scientific method or looking for STEM activities.

To purchase the book click here.

 

 

 

 

Share a Little Kindness Book Review

As a mom, I love that picture books have the power to teach young readers life lessons. With so much negativity, it’s important to remind our children that the actions and words used truly impact others.

Share a Little Kindness, written and illustrated by Colleen Brunetti, is an inspiring picture book that teaches readers the importance of different types of kindness.

I’ve been fortunate to have read and reviewed Brunetti’s first two books: Aidan the Wonder Kid and And Pip Too.

As a reader, I felt as though the narrator was speaking directly to me with the use of the word  ‘Love”. The narrator feels like a guide and mentor for young readers, explaining how to approach challenging situations and how to properly react. It made me feel calm and relaxed as it reminded me to listen more, spend time in nature, and use my imagination. In truth, I can’t remember a time when a text made me feel inspired and empowered, yet calm and reflective.

The layout of the text was just right, with the text on one side and the pictures on the other. The simplicity of the text with a smooth rhyme scheme makes it an easy read aloud for even the youngest of readers to enjoy. I like that Brunetti didn’t use sophisticated vocabulary, but chose to keep the word choice simple to match the feel of the flow. I really liked how the pictures focused on different animals to support the text instead of humans acting out the messages. It added to the calming feel and made the text even more memorable.

I really enjoyed that each page focused on a different aspect of kindness. Usually when kids think of ‘kindness’ they picture sharing and being nice to one another. This book dives deeper into what kindness is and looks like. And I may be a little bias, but I got excited to see the power of reading and imagination mentioned, featuring a creative picture. I also appreciated that Brunetti brought in experiencing nature by listening to the waves or playing outside. This reminder to take a break from technology is important for young readers and for parents (myself included).

However, a page that stuck out to me was, “Be strong and brave and speak your truth. Because you are in charge of you.” As a teacher, I have seen many students follow the crowd because they want others to like or accept them. This page speaks volumes to those students, reminding them to speak up and their voice matters.

I would recommend this book for readers 0-8. I think it would also be a great text for character education lessons about kindness, as well as a classroom and home library.

To purchase this book click here.

What’s in Molly’s Home Library?

Last weekend I was watching Molly play with her Disney princess dolls and her dollhouse. She’s at the age where she is starting to create stories with her toys, which is amazing to watch. She’s even becoming more independent with her reading skills. She still asks for me to read to her, but she is starting to “read” to herself more often.

I realized that it’s been quite a while since I’ve shared what’s in Molly’s home library. When I first started this blog, I wrote posts on Literacy in the First Year and Toddler Literacy, where I shared some fabulous Usborne Books.

Today I want to take you on a little tour of Molly’s home library.

I wanted to get a head start on her home library from the very beginning, so I had guests at my baby shower give me a book instead of a card. I am so incredibly grateful for all of the amazing texts that I got because it really created a great foundation.

As Molly has gotten older, family and friends continue to give her books, allowing us to expand her library. She also has mini libraries at both of her grandparents’ homes, and I’m pretty sure she has one in the car as well.

It’s crazy to think that Miss Molly is going to be three very soon. She has been in daycare for about two years, and I try to reinforce the skills she learns at school at home with specific books.

Vocabulary BooksRight now, we’re working on her vocabulary with opposites, colors, and shapes. Here are some of the books we’re using at home. Molly enjoys lifting the flaps and looking at the pictures. She will also point to all of the objects she knows on pages, and will guess at ones she isn’t sure of. I am a little bias and prefer Usborne books for teaching early learning skills. 

 

Molly is also a fan of singing. She loves the ABCs, “Bumble Bee” and “Row Row Row

Rhyming BooksYour Boat”. While we watch Frozen and Beauty and the Beast, she will sing along with the movies. We continue to use nursery rhymes at home using a few different books. All of these books were given to me at my baby shower.

Miss Molly has always loved listening to music, and when we first introduced her to noisy books she was excited.

Noisy Books

As she has gotten older, we have branched out to incorporate more books based on her interests (or current favorite TV show/movie). She has a habit of playing her favorite sounds over and over, that don’t align to the story.

As a teacher, I like to read Molly certain books to reflect the time of year, especially holidays. I like to give Molly a book for every

Holiday Stories

holiday, as do family members. We tend to read the same stories over and over again from this pile. Hug Day, is the biggest hit because Molly has an obsession with trolls. She also likes Pooh’s Halloween Pumpkin because she can carry it around by the string.

Regardless of how many new books she gets, there are always a few that will always be here favorite. Some of them are really obvious based on the teeth marks (Belly Button Book has been #1 since the beginning). Molly loves Pookie because

Molly's Favorite Books

she likes to say the name, and has even named one of her stuffed animals Pookie. Sandra Boynton is one of the most popular authors in our house. Potty Fairy Princess has always been one of her favorites, but now it’s even more popular because she’s starting to use the potty.

Just like Molly has her favorite books, Mommy also has her favorites. I Wish You More was the first book I bought Molly at the Scholastic book fair at my school when I was pregnant. I wanted theMommy's Favorite Books first book I bought her to be meaningful and special and this was was absolutely perfect. As a kid, I LOVED Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans (I have the whole TV show on DVD for Molly when she’s ready) so of course this one will always have a special place on her bookshelf. This one was given to me at my baby shower from my mom, which makes it even more precious. Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney is my absolute favorite book to read aloud because I like saying Llama Llama. It’s a bonus that Molly also loves these books, especially the illustrations. I Love You Forever by Robert Munsch made me cry the first time I read it to Molly the night before I started working again. This one has more sentimental value to me.

I am no longer a consultant with Usborne Books & More, but you can order the fabulous titles in this post from my amazing book friend here.