Science and Math through Literature
 

Reviews and Endorsements

Midwest Book Review-September 2010
"A Day on the Mountain" is a followup book to the author's award-winning first book, "A Day in the Salt Marsh." A verse narrative describes a trip from bottom forest land to a snow-covered top of a mountain. During this climb, different animals and habitat are observed. Beautiful illustrations of black bears, bighorn sheep, yellow bellied marmot, great gray owl, garter snake, salamander, mountain goats, and more creatures are displayed. Along with this handy visual and verbal guide, there are suggested learning activities in For Creative Minds, such as match the animals, mountain to Arctic Pole map comparisons and more. There are also free online resources and support for the book. "A Day on the Mountain" is a great nature activities and environmental studies resource for students in grades K-4.
-James A. Cox
Go to review online


NSTA Recommends-September 2010
Let’s set off and climb to the top of a mountain! Do you want to see bear cubs at play, with their mother ready to protect them? Did you know that the Great Gray Owl coughs up “scat,” which contains the leftover hair and bones of its prey? If you carefully watch a garter snake, you can learn about its molting. By “hiking” upwards from the lower forest level, readers of this book encounter a busy nutcracker and will wonder what it's doing. By quietly observing various animals and plants in this book, readers will see their distinct habitats along the way.

As readers observe bighorn sheep, a mountain lion in the distance, hummingbirds close by the path, yellow-bellied marmots, shiny salamanders, and the far-away mountain goats, they will learn that each animal group has its own habitat with a distinct elevation and preferred climate. At the summit, multi-colored lichen and snow fleas appear at the tree line area.

This story is told in rhyme, which makes it fun to read aloud. A reference section at the end gives more details about mountain ecosystems. There are maps and a quick quiz on what one finds above and below the tree line. The two-page extension called "Match the Animals" gives pictures and clues to match; it can be used as an assessment of what was learned by reading this book, and carefully illustrated pictures lead readers higher up the mountain. "For Creative Minds" is a free online extension area for teachers to use with their students, in English and Spanish. Other online resources that link with this book (from www.SylvanDellPublishing.com) are interdisciplinary teaching activities, interactive quizzes, related websites, and alignments to state standards from a searchable database.
Go to review online
-Suzanne Flynn

Book Loons-December 2011
At five-thousand feet above sea level and higher, the author guides readers through habitats, revealing grazing Rams, hovering Hummingbirds, Bighorn Sheep, Snow Fleas, and the development of a colorful 'carpet of living lichens ... The lichens create the soil ... that each living thing on the mountain depends on every day.'
Erin Hunter's sketches and paintings of the featured animals and their habitats capture their essence, from the large Black Bear to the tiny Snow Flea, and from the vastness of a mountain range to the small berries and lines within the leaves of the bush.
Go to review online

For the Love of Books-March 2011
Your child will love the habitat and climate changes as they go.  (Ssshhhh don't tell them they may even learn about different animals and plants!)  The illustrations are just as lovely as the the animals and plants that they meet on their way higher up the mountain.
Go to review online

Wild About Nature-October 2010
Come spend A Day on the Mountain where readers are introduced to a variety of animals that inhabit the different layers of the mountain. We see big horn sheep, salamanders, snow fleas and many other interesting creatures. Kurtz shares fun facts about each of these animals with his lyrical rhyming text. My favorite stanzas are:

Keep hiking up the mountain,
and it may be hard to see,
but a single Great Grey Owl
perches in a tree.

It looks like it is coughing-
a pellet drops from its beak.
It's the leftover hair and bones
of a vole it ate this week.

Back matter includes more facts about mountain ecosystems and an animal matching activity. As with all Sylvan titles, you can find even more activities on their website.
This book is a companion to A Day in the Salt Marsh by Kevin Kurtz. Both titles would be excellent additions to any study on ecosystems.
This post is part of the Nonfiction Monday Round-Up hosted this week by Madigan
Reads blog
.
-Kim Hutmacher
Go to review online

The Chronicle of the Earth-August 2010

I always love release time at Sylvan Dell Publishing! Five new great books came out for fall 2010. I passed these around to several local homeschooling families and got some great feedback from all the mothers who previewed them.

Ready Set Wait is a refreshingly simple story with education value that helps explain what animals do before and during a hurricane. Out of the five releases this was my 9 year old's favorite saying she "really liked the type of story, the way it was written." I think she liked the repeating phrases found throughout the book. Connie McLennan's illustrations are rich and captivating. The book is wonderful for the younger crowd but the For Creative Minds section in the back really jumps up in level for older children.

Champ's Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too! This is a slightly longer more complex book by Sherry North, a new but promising author for Sylvan Dell books. It has a happy ending (everyone who I shared this this book with flipped to the last page first just to make sure!) and is a good way to introduce the subject of cancer with excellent ideas and information in the back "For Creative Minds" section. And Cheers to the illustrator Kathleen Rietz who is a educator in her homeschooling community!

Astro The Steller Sea Lion is a neat story with very unique illustrations that add to it's appeal. One family I shared this book with had actually been to see Astro in Mystic Connecticut and all the kids were tickled to read this story about a seal they had "met". This is an excellent book to add to a homeschooling unit learning about sea lions. It would also be a great book to do along with a lapbook about sea lions.

A Day on the Mountain is the only story out of the fall's five that was done in poetry and bravo to Kevin Kurtz for pulling it off so gracefully! My tongue didn't stumble once as I read this aloud to my crew. Kevin is a new author to Sylan Dell and I hope he'll be back. The story teaches about the animals you find in a mountainous habitat and how the animals you find changes as you go higher above sea level. Erin Huter (also new to Sylvan Dell) rocked these illustrations (my favorite illustrations out of these releases) and was very clever with her "zooming in" boxes to see up-close details on the animals.

Fur and Feathers is a short imaginative story that helps children start understanding the process of animal class identification. Illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein, who also illustrated one of my all time favorite Sylan Dell books Where Should Turtle Be, this book has soft and appealing illustrations. This story was short and engaging enough for my three year old, but would still be good to use with my six year old using the back "For Creative Minds" section for expansion.
Alia Heise
Go to review online


Katie's Literature Lounge

A day spent visiting the mountain proves to be a very educational experience! Children will learn all about the flora and fauna at different points as they "hike" alongside author, Kevin Kurtz on this adventure. From black bears to to snow fleas, trees to lichens, there is a great deal to be learned in an interesting, unique way!

I think children will love this book! The illustrations are gorgeous and almost truly-captivating of the sights you would actually see on a hike up the mountain. The text itself is simple, yet intriguing and offers much room for children to become engaged and show their inquisitive nature, perhaps wondering what "above sea level" means or wanting to learn more about those snow fleas! Definitely a great science read!

Learning/Reading Activity:

Check out the 33-page teaching activity packet, provided courtesy of Sylvan Dell Publishing. It is packed with different activities that coincide with the story. My personal favorite can be found on page 21, Mountain True/False. Have children make predictions about each statement - is it true or false? Give children the answers, and then have them research and then write any false sentences to make them true!
-Katie Harvey
Go to Review Online


Readingt to Know-August 2010

Sylvan Dell Publishing just released their new Fall 2010 titles and I was excited to see them! I love Sylvan Dell (having mentioned them a time or two) but I was most excited to see the newest title by Janet Halfmann. You might recall that she wrote Little Blank Ant on Park Street (click on the title to read my review) which we have read just a time or two this summer. She also wrote Little Skink's Tail which is another of our favorites. I was feeling pretty confident that we'd like this new title and I was right!

In this new story, we meet Sophia, a little girl who is being read a bedtime story by her mother. This story results in her having a dream about all of the animals losing their fur and feathers. Sophia worries for the animals and they take turns coming to her to be redressed in their original outer coverings.

Cute story which points out the uniqueness of the animals in their various skin coverings. As per usual with Sylvan Dell titles, in the back of the book there is additional information about the animals. In this case, the book details a bit more what the differences are between mammals, adult insects, reptiles, birds, fish, snails and amphibians.

A Day on the Mountain is written by Kevin Kurtz who also wrote A Day in the Salt Marsh. If you liked Salt Marsh, the chances of you enjoying A Day on the Mountain is likely a sure bet.

In this new title we take a trip up the mountain, learning about the various animals that live at various levels above the sea. We meet black bears, garter snakes, the yellow-bellied marmot, mountain goats and more! Illustrated by Erin E. Hunter, this book is simply beautiful and, well, it really makes you want to go on a hike up a mountain! The back of the book includes an animal matching game which, of course, provides more information about each creature.

These books certainly testify to the quality of books that Sylvan Dell publishes to open up the world of animals to children. I'm going to keep harping on them, but if you haven't yet checked out their website, you really must! There are plenty of activities available for download and use by parents and teachers on their website. They are a cracker jack publishing company and I hope you'll check them out.
-Carrie Brownwell
Go to review online

In the Pages-August 2010
Another box I never tire of is Sylvan Dell's latest releases. I LOVE their focus on Science and Math and the supporting materials they offer. Their website is just loaded with great resources for teachers and parents - really, they are NOT to be missed!

Their latest titles are:

Ready, Set...Wait! by Patti R. Zelch. This is an interesting book - all about what the animals do to prepare for hurricane. Something I have not considered before, but based on research and observations, Zelch describes what animals of all types may do when a hurricane is coming. Really an interesting read - one that kids will enjoy. (Ages 4-9)

A Day on the Mountain by Kevin Kurtz. GREAT read on the habitat of the mountain. You meet animals but also explore the plants that one can find on this interesting location. Erin Hunter's illustrations are beautiful and lend authenticity to this title. (Ages 4-9)

Fur and Feathers by Janet Halfmann. What can I say - I do enjoy Janet Halfmann!! She never ceases to write books that kids just enjoy. This is a sweet story of Sophia - a little girl who wants to make clothes for each of her animal friends - but seeing that they won't work - she then decides to make just the right coat for each of them. Each animal proceeds to tell her what they need in a coat and thus begins the wonderful teaching of animal coverings and even animal classification brought to life in a fun, readable way! (Ages 4-9)

Astro: The Steller Sea Lion by Jeanne Walker Harvey. This is a fun story of Astro, a sea lion that is cared for and raised at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California. This is a true story that will make you cheer for Astro. When the Mammal Center eventually decides to let him go back into the wild - Astro has other ideas, he just keeps coming back to the center and will not stay in the ocean. You will enjoy this story and learn about sea lions in the process! (Ages 4-9)

Champ's Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too! by Sherry North. This is a story that so many will relate to - whether you need a book explaining the effects of cancer or a story for a little child that has lost someone to cancer - this is a great starting point. When this young boy's dog develops cancer, children can follow along to learn the treatments and feelings that may go along with this disease. It is a tender story that children will come back to - one we can really use with kids that need an "understanding read"! (Ages 4-9)

-Becky Bilby
Go to review online

Amazon Review-July 2010
What a nice nature study book for the younger set this one is! Kevin Kurtz has taken us to the mountains in this recently publication from Sylvan Dell Publishing and given his readers quite an informative treat.

The text of this interesting little book is written in mild verse form. Consider the mountain goats:

One thousand more feet above sea level,
the mountain is getting steep!
Yet mountain goats are up there.
Higher and higher they leap.

On some mountains these goats are natives.
On others, they don't belong,
brought there by people,
before we knew it was wrong.

The author visits a mountain and gives us a very nice overview of the wildlife that can be found in this environment. Black bears, garter snakes, bighorn sheep, yellow bellied marmot, salamanders, great gray owls, Clark's nutcracker, hummingbirds, mountain goats and snow fleas. Big critters and small, the author gives a very nice overview.

The story of these animals is enhanced by some very nice art work by Erin E. Hunter. Each animal is presented in its habitat and we get some idea of that animal's life style. Each creature is presented on a double page format. Anatomy of each animal is quite accurate and the background is quite representative of their habitat.

The book concludes with a very nicely written and presented study guide for parents and teachers. Mountain ecocystems are presented here and a very nice little match the animal with the facts quiz is offered.

This is a great little book for the classroom or individual child's library. It would be a great gift to give to a child who is about to visit the mountains for the first time. Home Schoolers will find this one quite useful. All in all, it would be quite difficult to find something not to like about this work.

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks
Go to review online