Media Reviews: Science- and Nature-Themed Books for Children

A picture book by a Caldecott winner, a graphic novel for teens and a productivity app with a conservation mindset are among the latest recommendations from Columbus Metropolitan Library.

Elisa Stone Leahy
Zonia’s Rain Forest

Zonia’s Rain Forest

Written and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

This charming picture book by a talented Caldecott Honor winner follows a young Asháninka girl on her daily adventures through the lush Peruvian rainforest. The gorgeous illustrations perfectly depict one child’s heartfelt relationship with nature—both enjoying and defending it. The back of the book includes a list of featured animals, facts about the Asháninka people, information about the Amazon and current threats to this beautiful ecosystem. FOR AGES 4-8

The Polio Pioneer: Dr. Jonas Salk and the Polio Vaccine

The Polio Pioneer: Dr. Jonas Salk and the Polio Vaccine

By Linda Elovitz Marshall, illustrated by Lisa Anchin

With an engaging voice and adorable illustrations, this picture book biography follows a quiet yet mighty hero. Jonas Salk grew from a kid “who saw things differently” to the doctor and researcher who developed the first safe and effective polio vaccine. Kids of today will empathize with the children kept indoors during the polio scare and will understand the celebration as Salk’s vaccine triumphed over the disease. FOR AGES 4-8

Planet Ocean: Why We All Need a Healthy Ocean

Planet Ocean: Why We All Need a Healthy Ocean

By Patricia Newman, photography by Annie Crawley

Jampacked with detailed information and remarkable photography, this book is a treasure trove for the fact-loving reader. From the group of Indonesian children who clear trash from their beach every Sunday to the teen whose speech led to a plastic bag ban in Washington, stories of young people protecting the ocean fill these pages. Scan QR codes throughout the book to view breathtaking footage of underwater dives. FOR AGES 9-14

The Last Cuentista

The Last Cuentista

By Donna Barba Higuera

Petra is one of the few chosen to escape a doomed planet Earth. For 380 years, she travels through space in stasis, her schooling happening by download. When she awakens, with her mind full of the mythology and stories of Earth, she discovers that a sinister group has taken over and erased everyone’s memories of the past. Only Petra remembers Earth and now only her stories, her “cuentos,” can save the remnants of humanity. This sci-fi, dystopian thriller is a heartbreaking, glorious ode to the power of stories, science and the resilience of humanity. FOR AGES 10-14

The Curie Society

The Curie Society

By Janet Harvey, art by Sonia Liao

In this smart, layered graphic novel, a secret society of brilliant women combat injustice and corruption around the world. When three very different college students receive mysterious invitations to the Curie Society, they are soon embroiled in high-stakes intrigue, ethical conundrums and personality clashes. The plot is peppered with cool science—all fact-checked by a team of real scientists. FOR TEENS

Try This App

Flora

Flora

A conservation-focused app that aims to combat screen addiction? Yes, please! Flora turns productivity into a plant-themed game that older kids (and their parents) can use to limit digital distractions. For example, set your phone down for 10 minutes of homework and the app will grow a virtual plant for your garden. If you pick up your device before the time is up, your tree dies. The paid version of the app works with actual conservationists to plant real trees around the world, which climate-conscious teens will especially love.

Elisa Stone Leahy is an information services specialist at the South High branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

This story is from the Spring 2022 issue of Columbus Parent.