The Twenty-One Balloons



The Twenty-One Balloons

by William Pène du Bois

Age: 8 +

Interests: balloons, travel, inventions, inventors, science, adventure, volcanoes



The Radium Woman


The Radium Woman

by Eleanor Doorly

illustrated by Robert Gibbings

Age: 10

Interests: science, scientists, biography, history, strong girls, Paris, Poland


The Trumpeter of Krakow



The Trumpeter of Krakow

by Eric P. Kelly

Age: 8+

Interests: medieval history, Poland, Krakow, adventure, action, religion, science


“Every child is a scientist.”

Here’s a wonderful perspective on children and science from astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson:

I can’t think of any more human activity than conducting science experiments. Think about it — what do kids do? … They’re turning over rocks, they’re plucking petals off a rose — they’re exploring their environment through experimentation. That’s what we do as human beings, and we do that more thoroughly and better than any other species on Earth that we have yet encountered… We explore our environment more than we are compelled to utter poetry when we’re toddlers — we start doing that later. Before that happens, every child is a scientist. And so when I think of science, I think of a truly human activity — something fundamental to our DNA, something that drives curiosity.

(courtesy of )

Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci

Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci

Joseph D’Agnese, text

John O’Brien, illustrations

Henry Holt and Company, 2010

40 pp.

Age: 7+

Interests: math, history, science, biography, Middle Ages, Italy


The Glorious Flight


The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Blériot

by Alice and Martin Provensen

The Viking Press, 1983

38 pp.

Age: 5+

Interests: history, biography, inventors, airplanes, France

Next: science/invention biography – Snowflake Bentley; more about France in this era – The Invention of Hugo Cabret; artistic style – look up works by Henri Rousseau


Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth

BLUE SPRUCE nominee – 2012

Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth

by Marie-Louise Gay

Toronto: House of Anansi/Groundwood Books, 2010

28 pp.

Age: 3+

Interests: digging, scientific inquiry, nature, animals

Also by this author: Rainy Day Magic, Stella: Queen of the Snow


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Released: 1968
Rated: G
Length: 144 min. (with an intermission at the 1:27 mark)
Age: 6 and up            Commensense Media sez: 6 +

Scary Factor: fantasy adventure story abounds in peril but all is exaggerated and cartoonish; the Baron and his spies are too bumbling to be truly scary; the Child Catcher on the other hand is extremely creepy, he’s the scariest thing in the movie, especially when he captures Jemima and Jeremy

Intense Scenes: all the children living underground is a rather pathetic sight, it stuck with me as a child; Caractacus and Truly posing as dolls is a bit suspenseful, but mostly amusing

Questionable Language: apparently Grandpa says “ass” at some point

Other Violence and Mayhem: the Baron and Baroness are pretty weird, especially the Baron’s sly attempts to do away with his wife, particularly during their cutesy song together before the party; in an earlier scene the Baroness is ejected high into the air, she floats gently down thanks to her large skirts and the Baron hauls out his shotgun and shoots at her! (the resulting holes in her billowing skirt bring her down quickly, and he expresses disappointment that he only hit her skirt!)

Interests: cars, inventions, magic, action, adventure, castles, scientists, inventors, spies, musicals

Next: Ian Fleming book Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (very different plot)

Snowflake Bentley


Snowflake Bentley

By Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Illustrations by Mary Azarian

New York: Scholastic, 1998

30 pp.

Age: 5+

Interests: snowflakes, snow, biography, science, scientists, photography, nature

Also about W. A. Bentley: My Brother Loved Snowflakes by Mary Bahr


All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.