Guest post By Jessica Fries-Gaither

GUEST POSTS: NSTA Linking Literacy, NSTA National Convention, St. Louis, MO April 12, 2019, 1-4 pm.
The National Science Teacher’s Association has invited authors of Outstanding Science Trade Books and Best Stem Books to discuss literacy and children’s books at a special Literacy Event. 23 of these authors have contributed guest posts to run from January 15-April 9.

See the full author list at GUEST POSTS BY SCIENCE AUTHORS and the date on which they will post.

Meet the Authors at Linking Literacy Event, 2019 NSTA Convention April 12, 2019

When I began my career as a science educator 20 years ago, I knew that my job was to provide interesting learning experiences for students to engage in scientific practices and learn science content. Through fabulous colleagues and professional development, I’ve deepened my understanding of research-based instructional strategies and have become more effective. What I didn’t expect, however, was that my view of my role would dramatically change.

You see, I’ve come to realize that above anything else I do, my primary role is to help students see themselves as scientists. It’s not enough for them to understand concepts and be able to perform skills (although both are undeniably important). Instead, I believe, it is crucial for each student to develop an identity as someone who approaches the world in a scientific way. These dispositions remain long after facts are forgotten, and help students persist in challenging situations.

I’ve also learned that one effective way of helping students develop their identities as scientists is to connect their work with historical and contemporary scientists. While the range of excellent picture book biographies has expanded greatly in past years, there was still a missing link between students’ classroom activities and the work of professional scientists. And so I began writing children’s books to fill that gap.

Notable Notebooks

Notable Notebooks

My first book, Notable Notebooks: Scientists and Their Questions (NSTA Kids, 2016) profiles a group of nine diverse scientists throughout history and how keeping a notebook or journal was or is an integral part of their practice. Readers learn about the work of scientists such as Galileo, Jane Goodall, and Ellen Ochoa and even get to see snapshots of some of these historic notebook entries! The book ends with simple instructions for making and keeping a scientific notebook — perfect for kids reading this outside of school or those new to the practice. Rhyming text is aimed at students in grades 3-5, and Linda Olliver’s beautiful illustrations bring each scientist’s work to life!

The book has been quite a success, being named an Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students K-12 and even being sent to the International Space Station to be read by an astronaut as part of the Story Time From Space program. I’ve also heard from teachers across the country (in elementary, middle, and even high school) that their students love the book and their science notebooks, which is incredibly rewarding. It has been used as the kickoff for a year of science notebooking, a connection to existing practice, or even the launching point for a biography study of scientists.

Exemplar Evidence

Exemplar Evidence

My newest book, Exemplary Evidence: Scientists and Their Data (NSTA Kids, 2019) was released in December and I couldn’t be happier to share! A follow-up to Notable Notebooks, Exemplary Evidence profiles another set of nine scientists, including Alhazen, Nettie Stevens, and Marie Daly. In this book, the focus isn’t on record keeping in a notebook, but as the title suggests, the collection of data in both qualitative and quantitative forms. Just as in Notable Notebooks, each scientist’s story is told through rhyming text and accompanied by Linda’ Olliver’s gorgeous illustrations. The final two pages of the book walk readers through four steps of data collection and analysis.

While the target audience is children in grades 3-5, I suspect that other ages will enjoy and benefit from the book as well. I’m eager to hear how this book is used in classrooms and homes across the country.

If you attend the NSTA National Conference in St. Louis, MO in April, 2019, I will present on the topic of developing students’ identities and science and will also be part of a special series of events related to science and literacy on Friday April 12, and Saturday, April 13. I’d love to see you there!

Jessica Fries-Gaither

Jessica Fries-Gaither is the Director of Studies and the elementary science specialist at the Columbus School for Girls in Columbus, OH. An experienced science educator, Jessica has written two books for science teacher as well as two picture books for NSTA Press. More are in the works! Her website is


GUEST POSTS: NSTA Linking Literacy, NSTA National Convention, St. Louis, MO April 12, 2019, 1-4 pm.
The National Science Teacher’s Association has invited authors of Outstanding Science Trade Books and Best Stem Books to discuss literacy and children’s books at a special Literacy Event. 23 of these authors have contributed guest posts to run from January 15-April 9.

See the full author list at GUEST POSTS BY SCIENCE AUTHORS and the date on which they will post.

Guest Posts by Science Authors

Here’s the schedule of authors and when they will post!

January 15Jessica Fries-GaitherExemplary Evidence: Scientists and Their Data
January 17Heather MontgomerySomething Rotten: A Fresh Look at Roadkill
January 22Anna Crowley ReddingGoogle It: A History of Google
January 24Laurie WallmarkHedy Lamarr’s Double Life
January 29Baptiste PaulI Am Farmer: Growing an Environmental Movement in Cameroon
January 31Miranda PaulNine Months: Before a Baby is Born
February 5Anita Sanchez
February 7Shana KellerTicktock Banneker’s Clock
February 12Tracy Nelson MaurerJohn Deere, That’s Who!
February 14HP NewquistThe Book of Chocolate
February 19Carla Billups/Dawn CusickThe Fungus Among Us, the Good, the Bad, and the Downright Scary
February 21Ann RubinoEmmet’s Storm & Inga’s Amazing Ideas
February 26Mary Kay CarsonAlexander Graham Bell for Kids
February 28Darcy PattisonClang
March 5Jodi Wheeler-ToppenDog Science Unleashed
March 7Suzanne SladeCountdown: 2979 Days to the Moon
March 12Melissa StewartPipsqueaks, Slowpokes, and Stinkers
March 14Katherine RoyOtis and Will Discover the Deep
March 19Jen SwansonAstronaut-Aquanaut
March 21Patricia NewmanEavesdropping on Elephants
March 26Heidi E.Y. StmepleCounting Birds
March 28Jennifer WardMama Dug a Little Den & I Love Birds!
April 2Alexandra SiyFootprints on the Moon & Voyagers Greatest Hits (as a read-aloud)
April 4Shanda McCloskeyDoll-E 1.0
April 9See You at the Conference – Wrapup Post

Opinion essays and informative essays

Mentor texts help kids write great opinion and informative essays. Opinion essays are often considered one of the hardest essays for kids to write. Partly that’s because they are still developing opinions about many topics. But party it’s hard to give the reasons behind an opinion.
Narrative, Informative & Opinion Essays Printables |

Opinion Essay: Choosing a Topic

The difficulties in writing an opinion essay begin with the topic selection. Too often, the topics assigned don’t offer real options. For example, an opinion essay about changing bedtime from 7 pm to 9 pm offers very little to write about. Of course, kids want to stay up later, and of course, parents will say no.
Kids can’t articulate a reason for staying up late, except that they WANT to.
On the other hand, elementary essays about sensitive political topics aren’t useful either.
Instead, it’s helpful to think about topics for which there are clear criteria.

Criterion are rules or ideas that control how you evaluate things.

If you have a criteria that students are always polite in the classroom, then you can evaluate every statement against this criteria. Was there comment polite or impolite?
We often have multiple criteria for choosing something. These criteria help us form an opinion.

HGTV’s House Hunters

One fun thing to do with kids is to choose an appropriate episode of HGTV’s House Hunters to watch and discuss. I especially like the International House Hunter’s version since they focus on housing in other countries. Each episode follows a family as they look at and evaluate 3 different housing options. At the end, there’s always a grid comparing the options based on criterion appropriate for that family.


  • Big Garage
  • On a Lake
  • Big Yard

There’s always a compromise because no house ever meets all the family’s criterion. It’s a great example of using criterion to form an opinion and make a choice.

Dogs and Cats

One of the easiest elementary opinion essay topics is what breed of cat or dog is best for a student’s family. That’s because there are simple online engines that help students sort through the variety of breeds.

Dog Breed Selector Tool from Animal Planet
Cat Breed Selector Tool from Animal Planet

This simple tool uses ten criterion for choosing a dog breed: size, energy level, exercise needs,play needs, affectionate level, presence of other pets, training, protection, grooming, and climate. At the end of the quiz, the app recommends a breed and gives alternates based on your criterion. Students can also add their own criterion such as family tradition, health of family member, personal preference, hunting needs, and so on.

Writing the Opinion Essay

Once the criterion are clear, it’s easy to add the needed details to an opinion essay. One girl, for instance, said that her dad had back problems and couldn’t lean over. Therefore, he needed a big dog so he could still pet the dog. Another said her Grandma always liked lap cats, so she needed a cat who would enjoy the constant contact. Each family will present different circumstances, which means each student’s essay will be unique.

Out of the ten criterion from the tools, plus the individual circumstances criterion, most students will focus on 3-4 criteria. Each criteria can be discussed in a separate paragraph, which makes the essay’s structure simple.

Opinion Essay Mentor Texts

I Want a Dog cover. Opinion and informative essays |
Make Opinion Essays simple with this mentor text!
Our titles, I Want a Dog and I Want a Cat are mentor texts for going through the process of answering the criterion questions. Cousins Dennis and Mellie must decide on the best dog or cat for each family. They talk about the different needs of each family. Each book culminates with an essay that serves as a mentor text for writing an effective opinion essay.

I Want a Cat- Opinion and Informative Essays | MimsHouse.comWriting opinion essays are easy for elementary students when you start with criterion. It allows the students to evaluate choices based on something other than whim or un-reasoned opinions. By starting with a simple choice about the best pet for a student’s family, you bring the topic to their interests and knowledge level.


Read And Write Series -Complete Handouts | MimsHouse.comClick to Download

Writing the Informative Essay

Likewise, informative essays about cats and dogs are simple for elementary students because there’s so much information.

One strategy is to write about cat or dog breeds. For example, there are several classes of dog breeds: working dogs, toy dogs, and so on. It’s simple to research these broad categories of dog breeds and write a well-organized essay. Each category will receive its own paragraph. Look for topics with a similar built-in structure!

My Dirty Dog. Opinion and informative essay mentor texts.

Another type of essay required in elementary school is the how-to informative essay. These essays are essentially instructions on how to do or accomplish something. My Dirty Dog: My Informative Essay provides mentor texts for a how-to informative essay and one for an informative essay based on categories. The trick to getting these essays right is the time words: first, next, before, after, last and so on. When students understand these words and concepts, it’s easy to put the steps in the right order.

One way to facilitate this is to present the steps on separate cards and put them into the correct time order.

Use these mentor texts and the printables to make opinion and informative essay writing in your elementary classroom a fun and simple lesson.


Tomorrow is National Bird Day! Read about the astounding story of the oldest known wild bird in the world!

Surprised scientists have discovered that some birds live longer than they had thought. Scientists had been observing albatrosses for a long time. These seabirds spend much of the year at sea, just soaring over the oceans in search of food. They only come back to land to breed, lay eggs and raise chicks.

For example, in 1975 Harvey I. Fisher (Fisher, Harvey I., Pacific Science (1975), Vol 29, NO. 3, p. 279-3000) reported that after a 13-year study of 27,667 banded Laysan Albatrosses on Midway Island, they had a life expectancy of 16-18 years. The study reported the mortality (the percentage of birds that died) at each stage of their life. For example, during egg incubation, there could be up to 25% loss in some seasons.

It seemed to be the definitive study.

And yet, scientists still continued to band birds. Why? Because there was still more to learn. What else could they learn?

BIG IDEA: Sometimes, scientists don’t know what they’ll find. They do the work and then let the data tell them things.

BIRD BANDING: Surprised Scientists Find Banding Data Helpful

National Bird Day, Wisdom, the Midway Albatross |
eBOOK AVAILABLE: Click for more information.

How do you know the age of a wild bird? Usually, you can’t.
Banding birds (or Bird ringing, as it’s known in some countries) means that a band or ring of a durable material is places on a bird. Usually it’s a metal band places on a bird’s leg. It needs to be durable, yet lightweight enough that it doesn’t interfere with the bird’s normal life. The Bird Banding Laboratory is a UGSG program that keeps track of all bird banding in the US. (

On December 10, 1956, ornithologist Chandler Robbins banded 99 incubating Laysan Albatrosses on Sand Island, Midway Islands. One of those banded birds would later astound the world. The bird banded with number 587-51945 is still alive today, over 62 years later. She is Wisdom, now banded with a special red band, Z333.

The 1975 study said that Laysan albatrosses lived about 16-18 years. And yet, Wisdom is now over 67 years old and still laying eggs and still raising chicks. They assumed that she was at least 5 years old at the time of banding 62 years ago. She could be much older and we would have no way of knowing.

In 2012, Robbins said, “While I have grown old and gray and get around only with the use of a cane, Wisdom still looks and acts just the same as on the day I banded her.”

Wisdom has astonished scientists by living 3.5 times as long as expected. Statistically, if she’s lived over 60 years, there are other Laysan albatrosses who’ve also lived a long time.

What else could scientists learn from her? They are now banding each of her chicks with a special band. Her mate wasn’t banded originally, but has been banded for several years.

Questions for your students – think about what testing/observations methods would help answer these questions:

  • What else could scientists learn from Wisdom?
  • Do all Laysan albatrosses live longer than expected? Is a normal lifespan 16-18 years, and Wisdom is just an unusual bird?
    If there are short-lived and long-lived albatrosses, how are they different?
  • Will Wisdom pass her long-life to her children? Will they also live a long time? How long will be before we know the answer to this question?
  • How long has her “husband” lived? Has she had more than one husband?

Sometimes, previous research, such as the 1975 study of Laysan albatross populations seems to answer all the questions. However, science is about repeating the observations over time. Scientists observe, collect information and data, and then do it again. Only after observations have been repeated many times will they call the results a fact. Scientists will continue to band albatrosses, re-catch some albatrosses and report the data, and do it again.

Banding gives information about how long a bird lives, nesting habits, and migration habits.


National Bird Day, Wisdom, the Midway Albatross |
eBOOK AVAILABLE: Click for more information!

With new technology, scientists would like to track the location of birds over time. However, there are technological challenges. A tracking system is known as a GPS or Global Positioning System. The problem is the weight of these systems. Birds weight very little and can only carry certain weights; of course, each species will need a different size GPS unit.

For example, purple martins spend the summer months in the northern hemisphere. But as fall approaches in July to September, they fly south to the summer in the southern hemisphere. In July-August, a group of purple martins collect at a staging area near me in Arkansas. I’d like to know where my “Arkansas flock” travels to in South American. We suspect it’s somewhere in Brazil, but no one knows. A GPS system would answer that question.

While the GPS system is too heavy for purple martins, scientists can add a tracking unit that measures how much sunlight the bird gets. The length of each day tells scientists the latitude where the bird traveled. But without the GPS unit, they can’t pinpoint the longitude. Someday, when miniaturization technology is more advanced, we may be able to track the flight patterns of the purple martins.

We may be able to track Wisdom as she soars out over the vast Pacific ocean. That’s what we hope our students will be able to do for science. Add to our knowledge of our amazing world.

Aquaman MOVIE POSTER Opening this weekend is the DC Comics movie, Aquaman, the first full-length feature film about an creature who is half-man, half fish. Arthur Curry, the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis must lead his people against his half-brother Orm, who plans to unite the underwater kingdoms and fight the surface world. It’s going to be an exciting superhero to add to the DC collection.

The myth of mermen and mermaids has a place in Greek, Irish, Finnish and other mythologies. Best known is Poseidon, king of the underworld, and his son, Triton, who used a conch shell to call his people. Often, mermen have human torsos, but fish tails.


Sleepers, Book 1, Blue Planets World series | MimsHouse.comMy science fiction novel, SLEEPERS, draws upon the mermen mythology but takes it in a fresh direction. On the planet Rison, people evolved to be able to breath underwater and on land. Humanoid in shape, they have gills under their arms.

Because this was science fiction not mythology or fantasy, though, I worked through many issues in trying to figure out how humanoids could function underwater. For example, one problem with living in the seas is the temperature. Deep oceans are cold, about 32-38 degrees Fahrenheit (0-3 degrees Celsius). Seals have waterproof fur and whales have blubber (fat) to keep them warm. How could a humanoid survive the cold without protection?

In SLEEPERS, the aliens have a magma blood cell that runs hot and is activated by the ocean depths. The deeper they go and the more pressure their bodies experience, the hotter the magma cells run, keeping their body temperature regulated.


SLEEPERS isn’t a superhero novel like Aquaman. Instead, it’s a YA SciFi saga that begins when scientists on planet Rison realize that their planet is going to implode. They warn their governments years before it happens. Of course, they search for ways to stop the planetary implosion, but they are unsuccessful. They also sent out spaceship probes. They searched the universe for a suitable planet to which they could move.

Like any political situation, there were naysayers who slowed down the search for a new home. But they lucked out when they got a message from Earth. The Arecibo Message (this part is based in fact!) was a 1974 radio message sent toward globular star cluster M13 in hopes of encountering intelligent life.

Once contact was made with Earth, the Risons begged for a chance to evacuate people to Earth. “You only live on land,” they said. “Allow us to live in the seas.”


Essentially, it’s the question faced over and over by own own countries as they face immigrants and refugees fleeing this conflict or that war. Should we/could we/will we allow these foreigners—these aliens—to enter our country. It will be uncomfortable. They’ll take our jobs, food, land, and more, we worry. The humanitarian needs are weighted against our selfish desires to take care of our own homes. In many ways, the Blue Planets World series is a commentary on our strengths, weaknesses and struggles as humans as we consider other humans in distress.

But at it’s core, it’s an adventure that takes the teen reader on a thrilling ride.


The series is set up in the prequel, which is the story of First Contact between Risonians and Earth. We guarantee that you’ll be able to read this ebook on the device of your choice.

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ENVOYS - Prequel

The Blue Planets Series

Earth finally hears from space:

"You only live on land.

Allow us to live in the seas."


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The BIG IDEAS in SCIENCE blog series

Big ideas in science are ideas, concepts, processes, or lessons that aren’t part of the science curriculum – but should be. Writing about big ideas in science wasn’t my plan. Instead, I thought I was writing about one amazing animal or one fascinating scientist at a time. However when I write, I’m always looking for something to spark my interest. Turns out, it’s the big ideas in science that make a topic fascinating enough to write about. I care about how this one specific example of science fits into a child’s overall understanding of science.

For the next year, I’ll post once a month on BIG IDEAS IN SCIENCE.
BIG IDEAS OF SCIENCE: Teachers Impact Can Last Centuries |

BIG IDEA: The Impact of Science Teachers

On December 28, 1848, as part of the Royal Institution’s Juvenile Christmas Science Lectures (London, England), Michael Faraday gave a scientific lecture to juveniles (kids). He called the lecture, “The Chemical History of a Candle.” British scientist Faraday is known as a superb experimenter, able to set up and conduct experiments. And he was an exciting lecturer, using experiments in his lectures. He always asked, “What is the cause? Why does it occur?”

Michael Faraday is consistently on lists of the Top 10 Scientists. He’s most famous for his work in electro-magnetic rotations, which is the basis of the electric motor. In chemistry, he discovered two elements, chlorine and carbon. He also experimented with steel alloys and optical quality glass. When he needed a convenient source of heat, he invented the Bunsen burner.

His candle lecture is the most famous science lecture ever given. The Royal Institution began giving juvenile lectures during the Christmas holiday in 1825. Since then, it’s run every year except during World War II. Faraday’s candle lecture was published in 1861 and has never gone out of print.

Think of that, science teachers! What if you gave a student lecture, published it and it stayed in print for 150+ years?

What was so wonderful about the lecture?

Fellow naturalist William Crookes described Faraday’s lectures this way: “All is a sparking stream of eloquence and experimental illustration.”

In other words, he was a gifted speaker with the ability to keep an audience fascinated. He knew what would keep their interest. One of his props was a candle salvaged from the wreck of the Royal George, which sunk on the 29th of August, 1782; yet the candle still burned brightly when lit.

Second, Faraday was aware of cutting-edge science of his time. One of the candles he showed was made from paraffin, which had just been discovered a year or two earlier. It was distilled from peat from peat bogs.

Faraday’s explanations were clear and understandable. He organized his lecture in a series of steps and explained each step thoroughly before moving forward.

BIG IDEA in SCIENCE: A good science teacher can have a long-term impact.


Burn: Michael Faraday's Candle | MimsHouse.comI took Faraday’s original 6500-word lecture and reduced it to 650 words. Of course, a picture book also has the advantage of illustrations. The diagram of a burning candle, and of the sources of candle wax are interesting and allow for fewer words.

Page from BURN: Michael Faraday's Candle |

In the editing process, word choice was hard. One problem is that Faraday’s lecture has archaic language. For a children’s book, it was important to keep the vocabulary under control. Archaic British expressions were the biggest hurdle in writing the story. In the end, I left some touch of archaic language, while updating most of the text to modern language. It’s a delicate balance to achieve.

I only hope that this version of Faraday’s candle lecture will have its own long life.

The 2018 Christmas Lecture will be given by biological anthropologist, author and broadcaster, Prof Alice Roberts, and Genetics expert Prof Aoife McLysaght, will take us on a fascinating journey to answer the most fundamental of questions: Who am I? The lectures will take place on December 11, 13, and 15, 2018.

Wisdom Returns to Midway Island

The US Fish and Game service announced this week that Wisdom, the Midway Albatross has returned to Midway Island for the 2018 nesting season. And she’s laid an egg! They say, “Wisdom and her mate Akeakamai return to the same nest site on Midway Atoll each year. Albatross often take time off to rest between egg-laying years, but the pair have met on Midway to lay and hatch an egg every year since 2006.”

Photo of Wisdom on Midway Island 2018
Wisdom and her egg on Midway Atoll in 2018. Photo credit Madalyn Riley /USFWS. Click to read their article.

I first heard her story in 2011, because she survived the Japanese tsunami that struck in March that year, killing thousands and destroying a nuclear plant. Even seven years ago, it was an amazing story of survival. That’s when I worked with illustrator Kitty Harvill to write her story.

How Old is the Oldest Wild Bird in the World?

Answer: The oldest wild bird in the world is at least 68 years old.

  • How to a bird’s age? We don’t know exactly how old Wisdom, the Midway albatross is because no one was there at her birth. However, she was banded on December 10, 1956, or sixty-two years ago. At the time, she was nesting and the minimum age for these birds to breed is 5-6 years old. That means Wisdom is at least 67-68 years old, but may be much older.

    Ornithologist Chandler Robbins who banded her said in 2012, “While I have grown old and gray and get around only with the use of a cane, Wisdom still looks and acts just the same as on the day I banded her.” Robbins passed away in March, 2017.

    We must quickly qualify this answer: Wisdom is the oldest known wild bird in the world.

  • Known: If Wisdom is 68 years old, there are likely older birds, but they just didn’t get banded. With over 650,000 Laysan albatrosses nesting on Midway, it’s impossible to band every one.
  • Wild: There are older birds in captivity. For example, Cookie the Cockatoo lived to be 83 years old.

Wisdom, the Midway Albatross

Starred PW review.

Wisdom, the Midway Albatross |
Read Wisdom’s Story NOW!

Cover: Clang! Ernst Chladni's Sound Experiments | Great Science Experiments book for kids. | Mims HouseClang! Ernst Chladni’s Sound Experiments has just been named a 2019 Outstanding Science Trade Book by the National Science Teacher’s Association! See the full list here.

national science teachers association outstanding trade book sealHere’s what the NSTA says about the CLANG!:

A sound representation of sound! Takes the, sometimes hard to grasp, concept of sound and sound waves and makes it fun to learn.

Historical Accuracy of Clang!

The book is about German scientist Ernst Chladni (KLOD-nee) being presented to Emperor Napoleon. We have a historical record of Chladni’s visit. He wrote about the event for a German music magazine, which is quoted verbatim in his biography. The event was important for Chladni, because he was looking for financial backing to rewrite his book about acoustics, or the study of sound. Napoleon did finance a translation of his German book into French, and while translating it, Chladni updated it.

Science of Sound in Clang!

It’s great that the NSTA recognizes that the book makes the subject of sound and sound waves easy and fun for kids. My master’s degree is in Audiology, or the study of sound. Audiologists test hearing, fit hearing aids and other duties related to hearing and hearing loss. Sound is what I studied in college.

It was interesting to take a subject that I know well and make it fun for kids. For example, the different musical instruments make sound in different ways:

  • Piano – vibrating wires
  • Clavicylinder (Chladni’s invention) – vibrating glass, a solid
  • Pipe organ – vibrating column of air
  • guitar – vibrating wires/strings
  • Brass plate – vibrating solid

This video demonstrates Chladni’s experiment with modern equipment.

If you can’t see this video, click here.

This video shows a home-made version of the experiment which should be easy to replicate in your classroom. Start at about the 4:00 minute mark:

If you can’t see this video, click here.

Companion Book, Outstanding Science Trade Book: Nothing Stopped Sophie

Amazingly, another 2019 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book is related to CLANG! Ernst Chladni freely admitted to Napoleon that he didn’t understand the math behind the sound experiments. Napoleon offered another cash prize of 3000 francs to any mathematician who could write the acoustic formula. Eventually, it was won by Sophie Germain, the first woman to win a prize fromt he Paris Academy of Sciences. That story is told in Cheryl Bardoe’s book, Nothing Stopped Sophie: The Story of Unshakable Mathematician Sophie Germain.
Nothing Stopped Sophie, companion book for CLANG! |

These would make great companion books as you study sound and talk about the math of sound.

A Versatile Scientist

One of the more interesting things about Ernst Chladni is that he’s known as the father of two branches of science. He’s the Father of Acoustics, as detailed in the book. His sound experiments, though, took him around Europe, and as he traveled, he became interested in strange rocks. The rocks were meteorites, and Chladni was the first person to suggest that meteorites came from outer space. He’s also known as the Father of Meteoritics.

ORDER eBooks here on the Mims House website. Or order from your favorite online distributor or educational distributor (Follett, Mackin, Child’s Plus, Permabound, Overdrive and so on.)

Survival: World War II

70 years ago, my father, Private Henry B. Foster, was fighting in the Philippines, when the Allied Forces were overrun by the Japanese Fourteenth Army, resulting in the famous Death March, which sent 78,000 soldiers to the Camp O’Donnell as prisoners of war. Private Foster was on Corregidor, also known as “The Rock,” a tadpole-shaped island which divides the entrance of Manila Bay into the North and South Channels.

As the U.S. forces were cut off from supplies, conditions became difficult and at one point, rations were cut to 1/16 of a normal day’s food. Then, came the surrender on May 6, 1942 and removal to Camp O’Donnell to join those from the Death March. There, the conditions were so harsh, my father told stories of men who decided that no human should live this way; they turned their head to the wall and were dead in a few short days. But Private Foster was a survivor.

Survival Stories: Private Foster, WWII |

Two years later, when the tide of war turned, the POWs were taken by boat to Japan, herded into large cargo holds. (I actually found the name of his boat, and a list of passengers, which included his name.) My father climbed up into the pipes along the ceiling to be above the filthy, overflowing honey pots (latrines) and hopefully avoid some of the inevitable disease and sickness. They were fed boiled eggs, a smell which ever after he despised. For the year they were on Japanese soil, prisoners were on such short rations that everyone was emaciated, surviving on whatever rats or snakes they could capture. Once, they were allowed to visit a nearby river to bath. As he looked into the water, he wondered who that old man with white hair was, only to realize it was his own reflection. He contracted beri-beri and scurvy from vitamin deficiencies, and his gums were so infected that eventually he had to have all his teeth pulled and wore dentures the rest of his life.

Video of Survival in the Wild

If you can’t see this video, click here.

Survival in the Wild for Over 60 Years

Because of my Dad, survival stories have always touched me. Now, 70 years later, a different story of survival in the Pacific has captured my heart. When the Japanese tsunami overran Midway Atoll in March, 2011 the oldest known wild bird in the world—and her new chick—were in danger. Scientists said the scariest thing was that the tsunami struck at midnight when they could hear the water over-running the island, but couldn’t see what was happening. The next day, sunlight revealed 100,000 dead chicks and over 2000 dead adult seabirds. No one knew where Wisdom was. Her chick was a small heap of waterlogged feathers, bedraggled. And alone.

They waited.

Eight days.

Nine days.

On the tenth day, Wisdom was spotted feeding her chick. She had survived.

Many people read the story and stopped there: but I was captivated by the story of a 60+ year old bird who was still surviving and still laying eggs. The result is my children’s book, WISDOM, THE MIDWAY ALBATROSS: Surviving the Japanese Tsunami and other Disasters for over 60 Years.

A Timeline of Survival

Wisdom was first banded in 1956 by Chandler Robbins, a young Navy man. He said,

“On December 10, 1956, early in my first visit to Midway, I banded 99 incubating Laysan Albatrosses in the ‘downtown’ area of Sand Island, Midway. Wisdom (band number 587-51945) is still alive, healthy and incubating again in December, 2011. While I have grown old and gray and get around only with the use of a cane, Wisdom still looks and acts just the same as on the day I banded her.”

Since the first banding, she was caught and re-banded in 1966, 1985, 1993, and 2002. In 2006, she received two new bands: the usual metal one and a bright red band, Z333, which could be seen at a distance. She was also given the name Wisdom by former Refuge Biologist and current Deputy Refuge Manager, John Klavitter. Scientists observed that she laid an egg and hatched a chick in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016. In 2017, her egg didn’t produce a chick, but she hatched another in 2018. At 65+ years old, she is still raising chicks!

That’s the bare bones of this story of survival and many stopped there. But it wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to know more. I wanted details of her story of her survival.

Research took me back to 1951, the year Wisdom was presumably born and back to Midway Atoll and events in the Pacific. I studied other earthquakes and tsunamis: November 4, 1952 a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Kamchatka, Russia and sent a tsunami across the Pacific. Archival photos show the water in the streets on Midway.

I studied storms: tropical storms and hurricanes that struck Midway Atoll: Hurricane Dot in 1958, Hurricane Iwa in 1982, Tropical Depression Raymond in 1983, Hurricane Iniki in 1992, Tropical Depression Orlene in 1992, Tropical Depression Eugene in 1993.

I studied ecological problems that seabirds faced during the last half of the 20th century: As early as the 1960s came worrisome reports of seabirds eating plastic floating in the ocean. Since then, the problem has only become worse, and many chicks die because their stomachs are so full of plastic, no food will fit and they starve to death. For over 50 years, the alarm has been sounded–and ignored. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, predicted in scientific literature as early as 1988, has only grown with the addition of the debris from the Japanese tsunami, which is estimated to be the size of California.

I studied how fishing practices have affected the seabird population: Longline fishing is the practice of baiting lines that are several miles line and may contain up to 2500 hooks. When a seabird swoops to eat the bait and is caught on a hook, nothing can reach them fast enough to save them. In 1991, estimates said up to 100,000 albatrosses were caught on such lines; they were considered an acceptable by-catch. Today, even with required modifications, it is still a problem.

Wisdom, the Midway Albatross ebook on an iPad |
This ebook tells the story of Wisdom, the Midway Albatross, the oldest known wild bird in the world. Possibly the oldest mother in the world, at the age of 65+!

Add to these man-made and natural disasters the ever-present danger of predators. Sharks are often waiting in squid-rich waters when albatrosses land on the sea to eat and the albatross becomes prey instead of predator. And add to that the incredible distances albatrosses fly: In Wisdom’s 60+ years, it is estimated she has flown about 50,000 miles each year, for a total of about 2 to 3 million miles in her lifetime.

This is one of the incredible survival stories!

Years after my father was released from the POW camp and returned to the U.S., I visited Auschwitz in Poland and stood talking with a Polish man about the differences in the German and Japanese POW camps. Finally, the Polish man said, “Let’s talk of better days.”

“You don’t understand,” I said. “My Dad came home from the war, from three years as a POW. He married and had eight children. In spite of everything, he had a full and happy life. He survived.”

I am the product of a story of survival. In spite of everything, my Father survived. When I look at Wisdom and her chick, I see my father and his eight chicks.

And here’s something I never realized before: I have to tell every survival story I can.

Other Survival Stories from Darcy Pattison

Click on the covers to read more.
The Blue Planets World series |

Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma |

Gift guides for the 2018 Christmas season. If you’re needing a gift for kids, Mim’s house has books for all ages. We all love getting book boxes, with the books and other things that go with it. Here are five suggestions for books and gifts you can get your loved ones!

   Guest post by Rachael Steele

   Gift guide #1: Pre-School Bedtime Story

Rowdy is a great book for your pre-schooler. It's a great story for father's to read to their daughters at bedtime. Give both your daughter and her father the gift of a great relationship. | Rowdy: The Pirate Who Could Not Sleep | Mims House Rowdy is a great book for your pre-schooler. It’s a great story for father’s to read to their daughters at bedtime. Give both your daughter and her father the gift of a great relationship.

And here’s a fun map, and a hat to go with it!

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   Gift guide #2: STEM for the curious elementary student

Nefertiti is a great picture book for STEM education, and it teaches kids about science experiments and space exploration.    Nefertiti is a great picture book for STEM education, and it teaches kids about science experiments and space exploration.

Here’s a fun Star Wars lego set, and a spider finger puppet to go with it!

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   Gift guide #3: STEM book for kids

Follow Michael Faraday back into the 1800s to read about his science experiment with fire! This is a great STEM book to read with your kids, as it condenses the lecture Faraday published in 1861 into something the whole family will understand. Follow Michael Faraday back into the 1800s to read about his science experiment with fire! This is a great STEM book to read with your kids, as it condenses the lecture Faraday published in 1861 into something the whole family will understand.

Your child can also hold a glowing candle while you read.

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Gift guide #4: Picture book for kids

Kell is a fun book about an Alien who crash lands on Earth and has to survive third grade. Your kids will love reading about him and his best friend Bree! | Kell, the Alien, Book 1, The Aliens, Inc. series | MimsHouse.comKell is a fun book about an Alien who crash lands on Earth and has to survive third grade. Your kids will love reading about him and his best friend Bree!

Here’s a fun paint set, so your child can paint like Kell and Bree do! They can wear these fun glasses too.

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   Gift guide #5: YA book for JR high/high school

      Sleepers is a great YA book about sirens who need to inhabit earth. Your kids will love to read about the different take on sirens. | Sleepers, Book 1, Blue Planets World series |

Sleepers is a great YA book about sirens who need to inhabit earth. Your kids will love to read about the different take on sirens.

Here’s a sea shell necklace that goes perfectly with the book!

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About the Guest Blogger: Rachael is a five foot ten and a half inch tall writer who is frequently called smol. She writes while stroking her sister’s bunny, jumbling words to creates stories. Typically writing in fantasy and futuristic, she has written over twelve full length novels, both by herself and a few with other people. She blogs at, and is a intern at Mims House.




Guest blog by Rachel Steele

Available from Follett, Mackin, directly from Mims House, or at your favorite educational distributor.

Author Question #1: What is a high-low book?


High-low stands for a high interest low reading level book. It’s designed for middle grade to high school. The interest is there, but the reading level is lower. The way they grade the reading level is sentence structure, complexity, etc. I couldn’t lower the vocabulary very well; there are a lot of new words in here. I could simplify the sentences. If you take away the complexity, it’s a great way to grow the readers vocabulary. Over the three books, there’s still this sweeping story of a planet thats about to implode and they need a new place to go. They ask earth, “You only live on land, can we live in your oceans?” The story is there, the emotion is there, the experience of reading the story is still there, I’ve just simplified it so that people with lower reading levels can read it.

Author Question #2: What made you want to write a high-low book?


Because our family has always had exchange students. We had six different exchange students all in high school who lived with us  I know learning a second language and I know how hard it was to jump into Young Adult for them. It was very difficult. They are mature intelligent people. The internationals who come to come to the United States are the cream of the corn. I saw them struggling reading age appropriate reading materials. I’ve always had sympathy for people who struggle with reading but want books on their maturity level.

Author Question #3: Why did you choose to adapt Blue Planets World Series into a high-low series?


   It was an easy entry because I already knew the story and I could concentrate on getting the reading level where I wanted it to be. It took one level of complexity away from the writing. I also think it might be fun in classrooms if someone is reading sirens if someone is reading sleepers and emerging readers are reading the same story.  They can take part in the conversation, and although they don’t have all of the story since it’s cut down, they still have the basic story.

Author Question #4: How much research did you do for your high-low books?


   I read some high-lows, I talked to industry professionals. One person challenged me to make the reading level as low as possible so it’s really an entry level book. It’s about 2.3 grade level. It’s very hard to get it to an early second grade level. It was definitely a challenge.

Author Question #5: How long did it take you to adapt it from a YA to a high-low?


   I did it in a month. I knew the stories, I knew what I had to cut, I knew what the main things that needed to say and I was just figuring out how to rewrite it in the simplest language I’ve ever done.

Author Question #6: Did the high-low characters lose anything from the original YA characters?


   Not a lot. Of course they lose sub plots and complexities are gone, but the characters are there. I love language, and it’s a hard thing to do to simplify this.

Author Question #7: Who else reads high-low books?


I understand there’s a range of reading difficulties, and these books are for these readers. ADD, dyslexia, and other problems make it hard for some readers to concentrate.  I’m old enough to remember the Readers Digest Condensed Books. I remember a time when I thought it was fine to speed things up and get the story quicker. With high-low books, you still get the basic story, it’s just speeded up.

Author Question #8: How can people learning a second language who aren’t from the U.S. relate to these books?

These books aren’t just targeted for internationals, but for them, its also a story of immigrants. These people are asking for permission to come to earth. There’s lots of technical difficulties and political problems with that, so there’s that sympathy for the immigrants as well.

About the Guest Blogger: Rachael is a five foot ten and a half inch tall writer who is frequently called smol. She writes while stroking her sister’s bunny, jumbling words to creates stories. Typically writing in fantasy and futuristic, she has written over twelve full length novels, both by herself and a few with other people. She blogs at, and is a intern at Mims House.

Moments in Science is a new collection of books from Mims House.

Sometimes in publishing, you stumble into something that works so well that you want to do more.
We’ve done that with a collection of elementary science picture books. And now, we’re making it formal by giving this collection a name.

Moments in Science – BURN:Michael Faraday’s Candle

Burn: Michael Faraday's Candle | MimsHouse.comIt started with Burn: Michael Faraday’s Candle. Michael Faraday gave his famous juvenile lecture, “The Chemical Composition of a Candle,” in December 28, 1948. It was published a few weeks later and has never been out of print.

It’s the most successful science lecture ever given.

And it was originally given to children as part of the Royal Institution’s Christmas children’s lectures, a program that is still presents annual lectures.
However, I was astounded to learn that it had never been done as a children’s book.

It was daunting.
Over 6000 words of dense, archaic language.
I cut it to about 600 words.
Add to that, Peter Willis’s amazing cartoon illustrations.
The result? BURN: Michael Faraday’s Candle, one of our most popular science books.

Moments in Science – CLANG! Ernst Chladni’s Sound Experiments

Cover: Clang! Ernst Chladni's Sound Experiments | Great Science Experiments book for kids. | Mims HouseBecause BURN worked so well, I looked around for another “lecture” or “moment” of science where something changed or some important presentation helped people understand science better. I also looked at the NextGen Science Standards to make sure the book would have a wide appeal.

In 1806, German scientist Ernst Chladni (Klod NEE) was granted an audience with Napoleon Bonaparte. Why?
French scientist loved Chladni’s book on acoustics.
Chladni was a science entertainer. Think Bill Nye, the Science Guy.
He didn’t work for a university.
He didn’t have wealthy patrons.
Instead, he traveled and entertained with his science experiments.

What an opportunity! To perform for Napoleon, the Emperor of France!

Two things excited me about this story.
First, we have Chladni’s own words describing the encounter. He wrote for a French music magazine, which was quoted in his biography.
Second, Chaldni’s entertainment worked.
Napoleon gave Chladni 5000 Francs to write his book, Acoustics, in French.

The story also gave me an opportunity to talk about sound, sound vibrations, wave forms, and so on to tie into the NextGen science standards.

Since its launch in February, 2018, it’s also receiving a lot of interest.

Moments in Science – POLLEN: Darwin’s 130 Year Prediction

Next March, we’ll launch a third science book and we’ll be adding all these books into a collection, Moments in Science.
Moments in Science - A collection of science picture books about important moments in science history. | Mims
Moments in Science is simple a collection of science picture books about important moments in science history that tie into the elementary curriculum.

We’re excited about our 2019 titles in the Moments of Science collection.
Here’s a sneak peek at the cover for our March 2019 release, also illustrated by Peter Willis.
Pollen: Darwin's 130 Year Prediction coming March 2019 |

How long does it take for science to find an answer to a problem?
On January 25, 1862, naturalist Charles Darwin received a box –
– of orchids.

One flower, the Madagascar star orchid, fascinated him.

Why? Because it had an 11.5” nectary, the place where flowers make nectar, the sweet liquid that insects and birds eat.

How, he wondered, did the orchid get pollinated?

After experiments, he made a prediction.
There must be a giant moth with a 11.5” proboscis, a straw-like tongue.

Darwin died without ever seeing the moth, which was catalogued by entomologists in in 1903.

But still no one had actually observed the moth pollinating the orchid.

In 1992, German entomologist, Lutz Thilo Wasserthal, Ph.D. traveled to Madagascar.
By then, the moths were rare because of loss of habitat.

He managed to capture two moths.
He collected an orchid.
He released the moths into in a cage with the orchid.

Finally! He captured the first photo of the moth pollinating the flower,
just as Darwin had predicted
130 years before.

Backmatter will feature the original photo taken by Wasserthal.
Look for this book in March, 2019.

Interested in seeing review copy when they are available? Email Sue Foster.

August eBook of the MONTH

Welcome to the Mims House eBook of the Month. We offer a free ebook each month. This month, we’re featuring our September release WONKY. Why?

New Classic! First day of school book!

Because while it’s a great Robotics Club story, it’s also a First-Day-of-School book. We hope you’ll share the book with your students on that first day! We know you have your favorites for the first day of school, but we think you’ll enjoy this book for variety! Find a new favorite!

Kirkus Reviews: “With pages filled with animals and robots, this tale will certainly appeal to kids; the story of friendship conquering first-day-of-school jitters remains a bonus.


WONKY: A Robotics Club Story

Wonky: A Robotics Club Story |“A delightful story of friendship and teamwork.” Dori Hillestad Butler, Theodore Geisel Honor Award for King & Kayla and the Case of the Missing Dog Treats, and Edgar award for The Buddy Files: The Case of the Lost Boy

“. . .offbeat and clever. . . With pages filled with animals and robots, this tale will certainly appeal to kids. . . .” Kirkus Reviews

Howie ambles into robot club hoping to find a friend. But when Lincoln bounds into the room, Howie hides. The strange new bird is too big and fluffy. The teacher, however, puts the unlikely pair together. Will they be able to accept each other’s wonky ideas and become friends?

For STEM classes, this story emphasizes the discussion of form v. function.
The story encourages divergent thinking as Lincoln and Howie design a robot. For kids who are rigid and inflexible, they’ll see the value of considering different options, and accepting those who are different.



Nathaniel Gold is the award-winning author and illustrator of the beloved Chimpman series, as well as Too Much TV Rots Your Brain and Other Poems. His first book, The Chimpanzee Manifesto, received a 2010 IPPY award for outstanding book of the year.
Nathaniel lives in upstate New York with his wife, two children, and a dog.


“Charming. . .Pattison’s storytelling skills give readers a look into the give-and-take of friendship.”
Carla Killough McClafferty, author of The Many Faces of George Washington

“What’s WONKY? The heart-warming story of an unlikely friendship between Robot Club partners, told in Darcy Pattison’s classic, charming voice. WONKY is a good reminder that friendships are often found with a heart that’s open to the unexpected.” Lynn Rowe Reed, illustrator of Punctuation Takes a Vacation

“WONKY is a delightful mixture of a story about new friends and a robot club–honestly, what could be more fun? I adored Howie and Lincoln, Darcy Pattison’s endearing animal characters, and Nathaniel Gold’s colorful illustrations just pop off the page!” Monica Clark-Robinson, author of Let the Children March


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Makerspace areas of a library have gained popularity in recent years and School Library Journal recently recommended 39 books to stock in your makerspace. See the article for the full list.

Our title, CLANG: Ernst Chladni’s Sound Experiments, was included in the list of eight Real-Life Makers.

Makerspace Books: Real Life Makers |

Makerspace Books about Real-Life Makers

Clang! 3 Reasons to Read & Buy | Mims House. School Library Journal says useful for " history and science and music."

CLANG! ERNST CHLADNI’S SOUND EXPERIMENTS has been reviewed in School Library Journal.

From School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—Pattison and Willis introduce Ernst Chladni, aka the Father of Acoustics, to young children through an engaging narrative and colorful cartoon illustrations. Chladni was a German scientist who traveled Europe entertaining people by explaining and demonstrating the science of sound in the early 1800s. The meeting between Chladni and Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte is the main focus of this telling. Willis’s charming artwork provides realistic representations of Chladni’s inventions while staying true to the fun cartoon style of the rest of the story. Pattison includes German and French words, acknowledging the language barrier that the scientist faced when describing his research on the science of sound. Included in the back matter is more information about Chladni’s instruments, his life, and additional historical context. The book can be utilized in the classroom for a variety of curriculum connections from history and science to music. Pattison’s and Willis’s early collaboration Burn: Michael Faraday’s Candle is an equally enjoyable read. VERDICT An additional purchase for elementary school libraries. —Aileen Barton, Sherman Public Library, TX

“Engaging Narrative” says School Library Journal

The reviewer “got” this book, calling it an “engaging narrative.” The illustrations by Peter Wills are “charming.”

This is the second book in the Moments in Science series. The first two focused on elementary physics. Next year, we’ll add two new titles to the series:

  • BURN: Michael Faraday’s Candle
  • POLLEN: Darwin’s 130-Year Prediction, Spring 2019
  • ECLIPSE: How the 1919 Eclipse Proved Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, Fall, 2019

Peter Willis will be back with exciting illustrations that make the science fun and interesting. Charming!

3 Reasons to Read and Buy

As the SLJ review says, this book is useful for three content areas:

  1. HISTORY. Clang is the story of how Ernst Chladni met with Napoleon Bonaparte and earned a huge stipend to write his book about acoustics – in French. Placing scientists into context of history is important. Also fascinating is how the French and Germans cooperated to further the needs of science. Also of historical interest is the musical instrument that Chladni invented, the clavicylinder.
  2. SCIENCE. While the focus is on the historical event of Chladni meeting Bonaparte, there’s also science about sound. Chladni studied how sound travels in solids. The book explains how sound makes wires, columns of air, and solids vibrate.
  3. MUSIC. To understand music means you must understand sound. Music is a pleasant arrangement of sounds. The book shows how sound is created by vibrating wires, columns of air, and solids.

For extra reading: NOTHING STOPPED SOPHIE: The Story of the Unstoppable Mathematician Sophie German

Nothing Stopped Sophie - Companion book to CLANG! Ernst Chladni's Sound Experiments |

While Ernst Chladni understood the science of his experiments, he didn’t fully understand the math behind the sound. Napoleon was also interested in the mathematical formulas. He offered a math prize to anyone who could solve the math. It was eventually won by French mathematician, Sophie German. This charming book tells her story. These two books make perfect companion books for the study of sound.

For a Elementary Physical Science companion book, consider, BURN: Michael Faraday’s Candle. BURN is a discussion of light, while CLANG! covers sound. Together, they cover the Next Gen Science Standards for elementary physical science.

Covers of BURN and CLANG, elementary science books about light and sound |

Free eBook of the Month

CLICK HERE for Your FREE eBook of the Month Here!

Kell, the Alien: Book 1, The Aliens, Inc. Series
“Amusing, accessible, engaging” – Publisher’s Weekly

For June’s eBook of the Month, we are featuring KELL, THE ALIEN (Lexile: 530L) . When their spaceship crash lands on Earth, those lovable aliens from planet Bix must find a place to live, figure out how to make a living, and try to fit in with Earth’s culture.

Kell finds a best friend in his next-door neighbor, Bree, who inspires the aliens to create Aliens, Inc., a party planning business. They throw an alien party for Bree’s birthday. But what do aliens know about what Earthlings think aliens are like? It’s a mixed up mess complete with a rousing food fight.

It would be SO easy, if not for the Alien Chaser’s Society, led by the school’s principal, Mrs. Lynx. She’s convinced that there’s an alien in 3rd grade and she’s going to find it.

Publisher’s Weekly called this book “amusing” and “engaging and accessible.”

School Library Journal Review: “This fun chapter book series is out of this world.”

Join our Reader’s Group and we’ll send you KELL, THE ALIEN as the June eBook of the Month! You’ll be the first to know each month about the new books. Never miss a Mims House eBook of the Month!

FORMAT: The ebook is available in Kindle or ePub formats. Our customer service makes sure you can load it onto the ebook reader of your choice.

CLICK HERE for Your FREE eBook Here!

Happy Summer Reading

Summer reading! It’s time for beaches, mountains, grandmas, and, yes, reading! Whatever fun you’ve got cooked up for the kids this summer, you’ll want to have along some great books. Books on tape will keep them quiet and occupied during those long car rides, entertaining them with stories, keeping their minds occupied, and their hands away from their neighbor.

We’ve got a summer reading guide for you! It includes audiobooks stories of amazing animals and novels that will keep your teens fascinated. Let’s start with audiobooks.

Listen to the audiobooks!

Summer reading! Covers of easy readers for grades 1-4 summer reading
Available as audio books, ebooks, paperbacks and hardcovers.

Josiah Bildner is an amazing audiobook narrator who took on the task of narrating the aliens Inc. series. These books are our great for third graders to read; however, they are great audiobooks for anywhere from four years old to 10 years old.


Kell and the Alien

Kell and the Horse Apple Parade

Kell and the Giants

Kell and the Detectives

Or, if you prefer adding the books to your ebook reader–it’s a slam dunk to hand a kid a reader and watch them be engrossed for hours–try this box set! Buy the three-book set now at a discounted price of only $4.99.
Summer reading! The Aliens, Inc. Box Set by Darcy Pattison |


Our animal biography series is unique because each book features an individual animal and its life. Bird, spider, mammal–these animals are fascinating for the elementary crowd. CLICK EACH COVER FOR MORE INFORMATION.

Summer reading! Wisdom, the Midway Albatross | Summer reading! Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma | Summer reading! Nefertitit, the Spidernaut |

Teen Science Fiction Novels

Summer reading for teens, especially boys! The Blue Planets World series |
For those older kids, especially middle grade boys, who are looking for a fascinating series, try THE BLUE PLANETS WORLD series, starting with Sleepers. NOW FREE AT AMAZON. (The entire series is free on Amazon till June 1)!

Through all your travels and adventures this summer, we hope you and your kids keep reading! Have fun!
Summer Reading for Kids & Teens 2018

Video Interview: Darcy Pattison

B.L. Ochman, Co-host of the Beyond Social Media Show, interviews author Darcy Pattison about her book, The Nantucket Sea Monster: A Fake News Story.

video interview with Darcy Pattison, author of The Nantucket Sea Monster: A Fake News Story|
2018 Notable Children’s Book in Language Arts from NCTE |

If you can’t see this video, click here.

Summary of the Interview

B.L. Ochman is fascinated by this true story and asks Darcy to summarize the story. She talks about the Nantucket Publicity Committee created in March, 1937, and most members of that committee were involved in the hoax.

B.L asks why this would be a good children’s book.

“Kids need,” Darcy says, “a non-political story to discuss fake news.”

The sweet spot for this book is for grades 3-6. A documentary on the story is in process and Darcy may appear in the documentary.

The backmatter of the book includes a timeline, quotes from Thomas Jefferson, and sources.

Thomas advocates for literacy and a free press in his quote: “Where the press is free, and every man able to read, all is safe.”

Later, his opinion turns cynical: “Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper.”

Darcy says these two quotes frame the discussion of a free press in America. A democracy needs a free press to keep check on the government; but the free press is also free to print lies. In the end, citizens must maintain a healthy skepticism and support the free press so that democracy can thrive.

This is a story about teaching kids about fake news.
by Darcy Pattison

This week, I participated in the Arkansas Literary Festival, especially their Writers In The Schools (WITS) program. At Forest Heights STEM Academy, librarian Deidre Williams set up a session with 3rd grade for me to read THE NANTUCKET SEA MONSTER: A FAKE NEWS STORY.

This 3rd grade class are all holding a copy of a Darcy Pattison book.
This 3rd grade class (one of several who attended) are all holding a copy of a Darcy Pattison book, including her fake news story.

In August, 1937 Tony Sarg, inventor of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloons, floated a sea monster balloon off Nantucket as a publicity stunt. What raises this above the level of publicity stunt, though, is that all the newspapermen knew the story was fake and yet still published it. The book presents the reports as true and when it’s revealed that the sea monster is just a balloon, the kids were outraged!

Fake News & 3rd Grade: From Outrage to Understanding

The first reaction was outrage. From there, the kids tried to understand what had happened. They had to work through the ideas of fake news.

First, they related fake news to teacher cautions about using websites for research on their own projects.

They’ve been told to trust .org and .gov sites. But as we know, those can still lie.
They’ve been told to look for popular articles. But as we know, popularity isn’t a good gauge of truthfulness.
They’ve been told to check multiple sources. But as we know, each source may say something different and leave confusion.

Those things they could understand.

But one boy asked a specific question. The story said that an eyewitness reported seeing the sea monster rising 15-20 feet out of the air. “How,” he asked, “did they get that balloon to go so high?”

I asked, “Do you think that eyewitness actually saw a sea monster?”

That confused him.

“The eyewitness lied. He didn’t see anything. He just SAID that he saw something.”

That had never occurred to the boy before that moment.

Learning to distinguish truth from lies is hard for 3rd grade. They know when THEY lie, or when a family member lies. But lies on this scale were difficult to understand.

Which is exactly why we need books like this. Digital citizens must develop ways to assess the credibility of a source.

What I found most encouraging was the discussions of the issues. The kids were eager to ask questions and understand. Talking about fake news, it was an important day.

A fake news story, 2018 Notable Children's Book in Language Arts from NCTE |
A story of fake news, a 2018 Notable Children’s Book in Language Arts from NCTE |

Middle grade sports novel, ROAD WHIZ, is just out.

Click to enter a chance to win one of three paperback novels.

middle grade sports novel
Middle Grade Sports Novel

Why do you run? A Thoughtful Sports Novel

When middle grade students start seriously competing, their motivations are often mixed. Why do you compete? Because you love the sport? Or because you want to win? Or because you want to please someone, like a parent?

For Fans of Mike Lupica and Tim Green

Fourteen-year-old Jamie is growing too fast! Friends taunt him that his feet are so big the last time he stepped in a puddle, they called it the Mississippi River. As Jamie moves from 8th to 9th grade, Dad expects Jamie to join traditional sports, like football. Instead, Road Whiz, a retired greyhound racing dog, inspires Jamie to run. He starts training to run 5Ks.

Like the retired greyhound, Jamie struggles with the question of why should he run? Does he run to win, or does he run because he loves running? With Road Whiz as his mentor, Jamie faces the challenges in his life, from family changes to his own growing body.

This middle grade novel will mesmerize boys who struggle with the idea of competition. Jamie’s resolution of his doubts, fears and hopes about competing will inspire teens as they experience their own disturbing, if inevitable, growth.

For more information, see the catalog listing, including a recent librarian review. here.

We are thrilled that the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) has named our book a 2018 Notable Children’s Book in Language Arts.

2018 Notable Children's Book in Language Arts from NCTE |
2018 Notable Children’s Book in Language Arts from NCTE |

News of fake news has blanketed the political discussion for the past two years. In the midst of the accusations of truth and lies, it’s confusing to know how to discuss this issue with children. As students learn about civics and the American political system, balancing the need for a free press and the need to monitor the press’s truthfulness can become controversial.

That’s why children’s book author Darcy Pattison wrote THE NANTUCKET SEA MONSTER: A FAKE NEWS STORY. “It’s a non-political story about the balloons that fly in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. And it’s true.”

On Saturday, August 7, 1939, the Inquirer and Mirror newspaper on Nantucket Island reported sightings of a sea monster. Island residents were troubled and scared. Tensions mounted as footprints were found on Mandaket Beach. Expert biologists were consulted who said they couldn’t explain the reports or footprint photos. More stories of sightings were published in the August 14 issue of the Inquirer and Mirror and by now, the reports had gone out on the wire services with newspapers nation-wide reporting the incidents.
However, on August 18, the real sea monster appeared: a rubber balloon that would fly in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

It was all great fun, the newspapers said because 1) no one was injured, and 2) Macy’s didn’t attempt to commercialize or make money from the event.

But this was far more than just a publicity stunt: the newspapermen knew the story was fake and yet published it anyway.

Two Thomas Jefferson quotes are offered for students to debate:
1) Where the press is free, and every man able to read, all if safe.
2) Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper.

The book is a Junior Library Guild selection and has just been named a 2018 National Council of Teacher’s of English (NCTE) Notable Children’s Book in the Langauge Arts. (NCBLA). For more information, Click Here.

I’m an audio book junkie. I love listening to audio books as I drive. I always have a book going.
Why? Because I love the medium. And because it makes a boring drive interesting. But the real question is if KIDS love audio books?
(And do you spell it as two words or one? Audio books or audiobooks?)

Benefits of Audio Books for Kids

In an article on Reading Rockets, Denise Johnson lists these benefits for all readers, not just the ESL or striving readers.

    • Introduce students to books above their reading level
    • Model good interpretive reading
    • Teach critical listening
    • Highlight the humor in books
    • Introduce new genres that students might not otherwise consider
    • Introduce new vocabulary or difficult proper names or locales
    • Sidestep unfamiliar dialects or accents, Old English, and old-fashioned literary styles
    • Provide a read-aloud model
    • Provide a bridge to important topics of discussion for parents and children who can listen together while commuting to sporting events, music lessons, or on vacations
    • Recapture “the essence and the delights of hearing stories beautifully told by extraordinarily talented storytellers” (Baskin & Harris, 1995, p. 376)

My son was a reluctant reader. He read well, but he didn’t want to sit still long enough to read. But he always loved books on tape. In fact, going back and forth to school, about a 20 minute drive, he and his sister listened to the entire 50 hour audio of THE LORD OF THE RINGS.

In other words, audio books allowed me to give him a love of story! Now, as an adult, he reads more than ever.

Popular audiobooks for kids! Listen to sample audio tracks and choose the best one for your child. Great children's books as audiobooks. | #audiobooksforkids #audioforkids #listentoabook

Audible Free Trials

Audible offers a free trial to get you started listening to audio books. You can choose apps on any smart phone and get started quickly. Choose a book below to get started on your free trial.


Kell, the Alien, Book 1, The Aliens, Inc. series |
Listen to a sample chapter!

Kell and the Horse Apple Parade, Book 2, The Aliens, Inc. series |

Listen to a sample chapter!


Kell and the Giants, Book 3, The Aliens, Inc. series |


Click HERE to start your FREE Audible trial with this title.


Kell and the Detectives, Book 4, The Aliens, Inc. Series |


Mims House is very excited by our March release, CLANG! Ernst Chladni’s Sound Experiments, a story about sound vibrations.

Cover: Clang! Ernst Chladni's Sound Experiments, a story about sound vibrations
CLICK COVER FOR INFORMATION ON HOW TO ORDER: Hardcover and Paperback are always 10% discounted on the Mims House site.
Burn: Michael Faraday's Candle |
CLICK COVER FOR INFORMATION ON HOW TO ORDER: Hardcover and Paperback are always 10% discounted on the Mims House site.

When Mims House published BURN: Michael Faraday’s Candle, we had no idea that it would lead to more science history books. BURN is about Michael Faraday’s famous lecture on how a candle burns. Because elementary science studies light, the book has found a home in many classrooms.

The study of light often accompany studies of sound and sound vibrations. I wondered if there was an equally fascinating story about sound vibrations. So, I went looking for sound stories. This was especially interesting to me because my Master’s degree is in Audiology, or the study of hearing. I worked for a time testing hearing at a doctor’s office, and then teaching at the local deaf school. Sound, or acoustics, has always been fascinating to me.

A Fascinating, Vibrating Story

Clang! is a story of international cooperation among scientists.
Clang! is the story of the Father of Acoustics.
Clang! is the story of an Emperor taking an interest in a scientists experiments with sound vibrations.

The story opens in 1806 when Ernst Chladni . . .
(Wait right there. How do you say that name? KLOD-nee.)
. . . left his home in Wittenberg, Germany for a three year trip.

Most scientists of the time worked for a university, which provided a living, a lab, and funding for their work.
Instead, like Bill Nye the Science Guy, Chladni was a science entertainer and educator. He traveled giving demonstrations of his work to rich people who could act as his patron. He lingered in the Netherlands and Brussels, but finally made his way to Paris.

He arrived in France in 1808.
The French scientists were very interested in his German book, Die Akustik or The Acoustics, about acoustics and asked Chladni to translate it into French. They agreed to help with the French language problems. But Chladni needed funds to live while he did the translation. They had a solution for that, too.

At 7 pm on a Tuesday evening in February 1809, they took Chladni to see Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte!
Chladni showed his experiments, as always, and discussed the math behind acoustics.
The next day, Bonaparte sent Chladni 6000 francs (French dollars) to translate the work.

For me, as a writer, one of the most fascinating things was that I found a discussion of the event in Chladni’s own words! To find such a primary source is amazing! After the audience with Napoleon, Chladni wrote an article about the evening with
Napoleon for the Caecilia, a German music magazine. The article was quoted in his 1888 biography by Franz Melde, Chladni: Life and Times. That means this story is based on Chladni’s own account of his meeting with Napoleon.

In addition, the story is a useful addition to any elementary classroom study of sound and sound vibrations because it discusses vibrating strings, columns of air, and solid materials. Chladni’s own invention, the clavicylinder, is an example that will inspire young STEM students.

The books are available from the Mims House website for 10% discount, or from your favorite educational distributor or online bookstore. It officially launches on March 8. Review copies are available to bloggers or reviewers. Please email Sue Foster.

A Story of Pollen

Even more exciting is that science history will be featured in a forthcoming 2019 book. POLLEN: Darwin’s 130 Year Prediction will follow the pollen of a unique orchid. Look for more in the coming months about this fascinating story.
Covers of BURN and CLANG, elementary science books about light and sound |

On the tiny Midway Atoll, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, there lives the oldest bird, that is the oldest wild nesting bird. Wisdom, a Laysan albatross, and her mate, Akeakamai, nest close to the old Navy bunkhouses. Seabirds, they fly over the north Pacific for half the year before returning to Midway in December to nest.

Book cover of Wisdom, the Midway Albatross, the oldest bird | Surviving plastic pollution and other disasters for over 65 years. | Mims House
Starred Review in Publisher’s Weekly. Click to learn more.
I’ve been following Wisdom’s story since the 2011 Japanese tsunami. I wrote about her amazing survival story then. Her story is intriguing because she was banded by ornithologist Chandler Robbins in 1956, which means we can document that she is over 67 years old. Because she’s so old, I keep thinking that this is her last year to hatch a chick. One of these days, she just won’t come back in December. I anxiously await word that she’s back–somehow, she survived another year.

Scientists think that albatrosses will often take a sabbatical year, a year when they won’t come back and nest. But she’s been laying eggs continuously since 2003. Even if she didn’t show up in December, I’d think she’s just taking a vacation and hope that she’d be back the next year. Instead, she’s steady as clockwork. Appears in December to nest and lay an egg. Hatches that chick in February.

Well, two years ago, the chick didn’t hatch. For whatever reason, the egg just didn’t mature. It’s a common thing among the albatrosses. And last year’s chick hatched on February 4 with no problems.

Still, it’s exciting! On February 6th, 2018, Wisdom hatched a new chick. No one knows how many babies she’s had, but scientists estimate 30-35.

Read more about her story in this February 2018 news article.

The Oldest Bird and Her Family 2017

This video shows the 2017 chick. I haven’t seen any photos of the 2018 chick yet. (Let me know if you see one!)

If you can’t see this video, click here.

See teacher materials including student-made videos, coloring pages, and a vivid verbs worksheet.

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