The Acadia Files, Book Four, Spring Science by Katie Coppens

Illustrated by Holly Hatam and Ana Ochoa

Tilbury House Publishers, Thomaston, Maine, 2020.

Acadia is a kid who loves science. She’s full of questions and eager to learn their answers. She seeks answers through conversations with her scientist parents and through her own research both in the field and online. Each chapter includes a section of Acadia’s science journal with her findings from her explorations, experiments, and research, vocabulary words that relate to the chapter, and further related questions Acadia has. These sections are packed with information, charmingly illustrated, and show great examples of lab reports following the scientific method, a field journal, and ways to organize information such as a point graph and a timeline.

It’s not always a good idea to start a book series with the last book in the series. It can be confusing and sometimes annoying when the author doesn’t do a good job of explaining references from previous books, so a reader takes a risk. But this book landed in my review pile this week. It was seasonally appropriate—I read it on Earth Day, and looked appealing, so I decided to give it a go. I wasn’t disappointed by starting last. The characters are quite straightforward, as it’s primarily a book about science concepts, so there’s little catching up to do there. The references to the other books provide enough information that you could understand it’s a reference to an earlier book, and many are interesting enough to encourage readers to seek out the story behind the information referenced. That’s great, because as these books have seasonal themes, kids will probably choose to read them season by season rather than in order.

Filled with great information about meteor showers; reawakening plants and animals; ticks, mosquitoes and parasites; Earth Day and pesticides; this book will capture the attention of eager science learners. The charming illustrations make the information very accessible to late elementary school and middle school kids. It’s also easy to see this book used in the classroom or a home school environment. Acadia’s science journal provides a great model for students to use when performing their own experiments, recording their observations in the field, researching, or collecting data.

I received an electronic copy of The Acadia Files, Book Four, Spring Science in exchange for an honest review.

Geometry Is as Easy as Pie by Katie Coppens

Tumblehome Books. 2019

Caution: This book will inspire you to play with geometric concepts…and your food!

Katie Coppens has written a delightful book for elementary and middle schoolers that covers an array of geometric concepts through pie. From concepts of symmetry to tessellations, polygons, angles, and measurements, Coppens links basic geometric concepts to pies of all sorts. The text is direct and straightforward and will leave readers itching to try the concepts, and the recipes, themselves.

This book looks appealing from page one. It features delicious looking pies, diagrams to clarify and explain geometric principals, and step-by-step recipes illustrated with photos of pies in progress.

This physical means of teaching geography is a brilliant approach, and what kid would complain with a delicious snack as the result?

Coppens is a teacher and she definitely knows how to interest kids and how to cover geography concepts clearly. Although the text is concise, the reading level is a bit high, in part because the book has a lot of domain-specific vocabulary. Although some gifted kids may take off and devour this book on their own, I think most kids will benefit by working through the book and the recipes with a parent or teacher. As I write this review, the country is locked down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It might just be the perfect time to work through this book as a family. When they return to school, the kids can wow their teachers with their geometry knowledge!

Teachers and homeschoolers should note that in addition to the recipes and hands-on practice such as decorating your pie with tessellations or parallel and perpendicular latticework, there are also thirty meaty geometry questions in the book and an answer key on the publisher’s website. In addition, there’s a great glossary and an eye-popping array of pie inspiration pictures.

I highly recommend this book. And after I finish making pie, I’m heading online to check out Geology is a Piece of Cake also by Katie Coppens.