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  Santa Cruz Parent Santa Cruz, CA

December 17, 2015
Santa Cruz Likes Science!

Five Books Guaranteed to Make Kids Love Science
Gifts from Seymour Center's Gift Shop
Offbeat Science Books

More Science Books for Teens and Parents
Click to view our Business Directory
  Santa Cruz Likes Science!

(A Dec) Christmas_SantainRocket.jpg"Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time," E.B. White observed in a wonderful 1969 interview. "You have to write up, not down."

From our friend Maria Popova, "What's true of great children's books is true of great science books, which must do three things for the reader - explain, enchant, and elevate. They must tell you what something is and why it matters, captivate you to care about it and tickle you into taking pleasure in understanding it, and leave you in a higher state of awareness regarding whatever subtle or monumental aspect of the world the book had made its subject."... read entire article

(A Dec) Christmas_Junco.jpgI'm excited to bring you three lists of science books recommended by people whom I respect.  There's surely one for each of us depending on our personal interests or curiosity. Also, here's a great source for books and more about birds: Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

(A Buttons) Button_Weekend.jpgHave wonderful holiday preparations with your family.  Take time to get outdoors, rain or shine.  Be with your children in the woods, meadows and beaches!  I am thankful for you, our readers.  Please recommend our newsletter to new friends so they won't miss any fun events!



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  Five Books Guaranteed to Make Kids Love Science

by Rachel Poliquin, December 12, 2014 Science Friday

In these five children's books, wickedly talented authors and illustrators take on the science of supernovas, worms, stomach rumblings, and more with impressive style.  These kids' books spark science curiosity with playful illustrations and facts to match.

61JKPLSA8PL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space, by Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman (Flying Eye Books)

Every child deserves to learn moon facts from a space-cat wearing a tiny fedora. Written by physicist Dominic Walliman, with pictures by award-winning illustrator Ben Newman, Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space explains everything kids need to know about our universe and how we explore it. Ever wonder how rockets work, how spacesuits evolved, or just how big Earth is compared to our neighboring planets? Professor Astro Cat breaks it down with clever diagrams and ingenious comparisons. (If Earth were a cherry tomato, Mercury would be a peppercorn and Jupiter, a watermelon!) Best of all, like any good scientist, Walliman doesn't claim to have all the answers. Sections on the future of space travel and the possibility of extra-terrestrial life leave the mysteries of deep space open for future scientists to unravel.

Shackleton's Journey, by William Grill (Flying Eye Books)

Ernest Shackleton once wrote, "I believe it is in our nature to explore, to reach out into the unknown. The only true failure would be not to explore at all." That passion for adventure comes to life in Shackleton's Journey, William Grill's beautiful picture book about the explorer's failed attempt to cross Antarctica. Grill's colored pencil drawings are lively and charming, with an attention to detail. Elaborate visual lists immortalize every one of Shakleton's 69 sled dogs and detail each piece of equipment packed on board the explorer's ship, Endurance. Meanwhile, vast seascapes convey Antarctic loneliness and the peril of an ice-packed sea.

Animalium (Welcome to the Museum), by Katie Scott and Jenny Broom (Candlewick Press)

For the kid who lingers over the cases of taxidermied animals at the natural history museum, Animalium is the ticket. Consider this oversized encyclopedia a museum visit between two covers. Katie Scott and Jenny Broom divide the animal kingdom into "galleries," arranged in evolutionary order from sea sponges to mammals. Some showcase animal families; others explore habitats or zero in on a single species. Scott's full-page pen and ink spreads have the timeless elegance of a John James Audubon print, and Broom's prose moves nimbly between broad facts to curious details. Take, for example, the book's account of frog metamorphosis. The illustrations carefully record the stages from spawn to adult, while this tidbit-Darwin's frogs nurture their young in their mouths-is memorable enough to stick with readers long after their tour.

Infographics: Human Body, by Peter Grundy and Simon Rogers (Candlewick Press)

For every gross or awe-inspiring fact about the human body you'll find in Infographics: Human Body, designer Peter Grundy has a stylishly minimalist infographic to match. Take, for example, the image exploring the body as a "factory." Grundy's blocky human icon sports a pencil leg (we each contain enough carbon to make 900 pencils), a cannon firing from its backend (humans produce one liter of gas every day), and a cleaver hovering above an itchy pet (humans contain enough sulphur to kill a dog's fleas.) With bold colors, simple shapes, and subtle humor, Infographics explains complex bodily processes in kid-size pieces.

The Worm, by Elise Gravel (Tundra Books)

Elise Gravel's The Worm is the second book in her Disgusting Critter series, which introduces kids to the charms of such squirm-inducers as head lice, flies, rats, slugs, and spiders. In this installment, Gravel covers basics like worm anatomy and diet with simple text and bold, hand-lettered typography. But it's the earthworm protagonist, sporting a beret and greeting readers with a worldly "Énchanté!", that helps make the book so entertaining. It has a witty quip for every wormy fact (at one point, the hermaphrodite exclaims "You look ravishing today, dear!" to its tail). But even the book's more aesthetically challenged creatures-tapeworms, I'm looking at you-can't help but woo with their cute dot-eyes and expressive mouths. The Worm is gross, silly, and informative-the perfect combo for maximum kid appeal.

Rachel Poliquin is a freelance writer based in Canada. She is the author of The Breathless Zoo: Taxidermy and the Cultures of Longing and Beaver, due out in 2015.

  Gifts from Seymour Center's Gift Shop
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  Offbeat Science Books

From Rube Goldberg devices to jet packs, these books cover subjects that won't disappoint.

by Annie Minoff, on December 13, 2013

From Science Friday come some wonderful science books that you might consider gift-giving this season. Contributors to this list are science writer Deborah Blum and Brain Pickings editor Maria Popova who joined  Ira to highlight science books to amuse and inspire your giftees-and maybe even prompt some DIY projects this holiday break. Have your own book suggestion? Email us!

The Art of Rube Goldberg_Cover ArtFor the MacGyver:
The Art of Rube Goldberg (A) Inventive (B) Cartoon (C) Genius, selected and with commentary by Jennifer George; introduction by Adam Gopnik (Abrams ComicArts, 2013)

For the basement inventor, tinkerer, or Sunday funnies fan, you won't do better than The Art of Rube Goldberg, a collection of comics and sketches selected by Goldberg's granddaughter, Jennifer George. For the cover, paper engineer Andrew Baron designed a kinetic sculpture replica of Goldberg's 1939 cartoon "Simple Way to Get Fresh Orange Juice Upon Awakening." As with typical Goldberg devices, the mechanism is less than "simple": Move Baron's paper pull-tab from side-to-side, and watch a "pet Albanian ook" twitch its tail, causing an orange to get squeezed between two brass cymbals. And that's just the beginning.

Animal Earth 9780500516966For the Exotic Fauna Fan:
Animal Earth: The Amazing Diversity of Living Forms, by Ross Piper (Thames & Hudson, 2013)

Paging through zoologist Ross Piper's Animal Earth, you quickly realize: In the vast animal kingdom, the province of cute animals is small. Animal Earth brims with mugs only a mama hagfish could love. But that's probably why this book is so captivating. Stunning photos, scanning electron microscope images, and illustrations give us a view into the secret lives of water bears (tiny, ponderous creatures that live in aquatic moss; see a video here), sea squirts (which collect in large flower-shaped colonies), and strange worms (so mysterious biologists call them, well, "strange worms"). Piper's text explains how this awe-inspiring diversity descended from a common ancestor as many as 4 billion years ago.

Great American Jet Pack coverFor the Rocket Man:
The Great American Jet Pack: The Quest for the Ultimate Individual Lift Device, by Steve Lehto (Chicago Review Press, 2013)

Jet packs have been a scifi fantasy for so long, your giftee might not realize they actually got off the ground. They did-briefly-as readers of Steve Lehto's lively history of these futuristic devices will discover. The Great American Jet Pack tells the story of a machine that, despite technological advances, always seems just out of reach. In their attempts to pioneer personal flight for the average Joe, engineers embraced everything from "flying shoes" and "jump belts" to hovering platforms, often to arrive at the same conclusion: Jet pack flying is better left to the test pilots. As one such pilot joked, flying a "rocket belt" was like walking across a gym-on top of a basketball.

Barely Imagined coverFor the Fantasy Aficionado:
The Book of Barely Imagined Beings: A 21st Century Bestiary, by Caspar Henderson (The University of Chicago Press, 2013)

Caspar Henderson's The Book of Barely Imagined Beings is an A-to-Z guide to the strange creatures that populate our planet, told in the form of a medieval "bestiary." The bestiaries of old were catalogues of animal life both mythic (dragons) and real (salamanders), containing, Henderson writes, "zany pictures, bizarre zoology, and religious parables." While the beasts in Henderson's modern take are all real, his book retains the charming eclecticism of those old tomes, mingling scientific descriptions with literary and mythological lore (though fact is clearly delineated from fiction). A chapter on the infamous "honey badger," for instance, references modern zoology, Herodotus's The Histories, the language of Tanzania's Hadza tribe, and the infamous internet video "The Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger."

9781452109527For the Kids (and Kids at Heart):
How to Build A Hovercraft: Air Cannons, Magnet Motors, and 25 Other Amazing DIY Science Projects, by Stephen Voltz and Fritz Grobe (Chronicle Books, 2013)

It's no jet pack, but a hovercraft might just be the closest your nieces and nephews will come to manned flight this holiday season (outside of the airplane ride to Grandma's house). Luckily Stephen Voltz and Fritz Grobe (you might know them as "the Coke and Mentos Guys") have made constructing such a device relatively easy, and understanding the science behind it even easier. But the hovercraft is just one of the DIY experiments Voltz and Grobe outline in How to Build a Hovercraft. Other projects range from simple paper-and-tape affairs (such as a nifty visual illusion that causes the eyes of a paper cutout to follow you around a room) to complex constructions (a plastic tub air cannon). Before you gift, know that many projects require adult help, and you might want to consider just how soda-soaked you'd like your lawn to get.

Science Friday Radio Show

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Christine's Science Fun

Bluebird Moms Pass On Aggressive Tendencies!

Some recent research on bluebirds may give us insight on human issues with aggression. Read more>>>>

  More Science Books for Teens and Parents

Readers' Picks

The Fly Trap: A Book About Summer, Islands and the Freedom of Limits by Fredrik Sjöberg

How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction by Beth Shapiro

NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman and Oliver Sacks

The Last Unicorn: A Search for One of Earth's Rarest Creatures by William DeBuys

Maria Popova's Picks Deborah Blum's Picks
(1) On the Move: A Life, by Oliver Sacks

(2)The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World, by Andrea Wulf

(3) Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe, by Lisa Randall

(4) The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer, by Sydney Padua

(5) The Physicist and the Philosopher: Einstein, Bergson, and the Debate That Changed Our Understanding of Time, by Jimena Canales

(6) Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World, by Julia Rothman

(7) Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, and Future, by Lauren Redniss

(8) The Blue Whale, by Jenni Desmond


(1) H is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald

(2) The Hunt for Vulcan...And How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe, by Thomas Levenson

(3) The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness, by Sy Montgomery

(4) Plucked: A History of Hair Removal, by Rebecca Herzig

(5) Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World, by Rachel Swaby

(6) The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients' Lives, by Theresa Brown, RN

(7) Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words, by Randall Munroe

(8) Rain: A Natural and Cultural History, by Cynthia Barnett

Annie Minoff is Science Friday's SciArts producer. She's visited Olympic ski jumps and a nuclear reactor, all in the name of science.  Maria Popova is the editor and founder of and is based in Brooklyn, New York.  Deborah Blum is the author of The Poisoner's Handbook (Penguin, 2010) and a journalism professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Madison, Wisconsin.


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click to view website
Date: 12/18/2015 from 4:00pm to 8:00pm
Details: 3rd Friday: Winterpalooza December 16 @ 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm   Enjoy
City: Santa Cruz Phone: 831 763 4047 view all details >>
Santa Claus at Marini's
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  Santa Claus at Marini's
Date: Every day (Dec 5-Dec 23) from 1:00pm to 5:00pm
Details: Santa Claus at Marini's Candies DowntownCome visit the jolly man
City: Santa Cruz Phone: 831.423.3299 view all details >>
Exciting Science!
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  Exciting Science!
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Cabrillo Youth Chorus
Date: 12/17/2015 at 4:30pm
Details: Cabrillo Youth Chorus Caroling! Thursday, December 17th, 4:30pm in
Special Instructions: in front of O'Neil's in downtown Santa Cruz
City: Santa Cruz view all details >>
Horse-drawn carriage rides
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  Horse-drawn carriage rides
Downtown Santa Cruz
Date: Every Su and Sa (Dec 17-Dec 23) from 3:00pm to 8:00pm
Details: Clip-clop through Downtown Santa Cruz via the original form of horsepower.
City: Santa Cruz view all details >>
Story Skills, Like Pixar
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  Story Skills, Like Pixar
Khan Academy
Date: Every day
Details: The story experts at Pixar will help you learn how to compellingly organize and structure your own stories.
view all details >>
Swan Lake
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  Swan Lake
Agape Dance Academy
Date: 06/16/2017 at 7:00pm
Ages: All
Details: Swan Lake is a story about love conquering all
Special Instructions: Tickets available at all three Agape Dance Studios
City: Aptos Phone: 831-359-0850 view all details >>
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Santa Cruz Performing Arts
Date: 12/18/2015
Ages: All Ages
Details: Holiday caroling for both kids and adults!
City: Santa Cruz Phone: (831) 334-2121 view all details >>

click to view website
Date: 12/18/2015 from 4:00pm to 8:00pm
Details: 3rd Friday: Winterpalooza December 16 @ 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm   Enjoy
City: Santa Cruz Phone: 831 763 4047 view all details >>
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
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  How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Nickelodeon Theater
Date: 12/19/2015 from 10:00am to 11:45am
Details: The Nickelodeon Theatres along with the Downtown Association of Santa
Special Instructions: Donation Food or Cash
City: Santa Cruz view all details >>
Girls Night Out
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  Girls Night Out
Art Factory
Date: Every Fri (Oct 14-Dec 16) from 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Details: Treat yourself to some time with the girls, wine and cheese and a create evening
City: Aptos Phone: 831-688-8862 view all details >>
Highlights from the NUMU Permanent History Collection.
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  Highlights from the NUMU Permanent History Collection.
New Museum
Date: Every Su and Sa (Jan 7-Jan 29)
Details: In the spirit of celebrating our local history and its connection
City: Los Gatos view all details >>
Guided Elephant Seal Walks Start Dec 15
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  Guided Elephant Seal Walks Start Dec 15
State Park Ano Nuevo
Date: Every day (Oct 25-Mar 31)
Ages: All: (Lots of walking)
Details: 3 mile hike over sand and sloping terrain to see thousands of elephant seals, including newborn pups, their mothers, and bulls
Special Instructions: Dec 15 - Mar 31
City: Pescadero Phone: 800.444.4445 view all details >>
Santa's Kingdom Holiday Lights Train
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  Santa's Kingdom Holiday Lights Train
Roaring Camp Railroads
Date: Every day (Nov 27-Dec 23)
Details: Sing along to seasonal carols while sipping hot-spiced cider, listen to musical entertainment, and enjoy a visit from Santa and
City: Felton Phone: (831) 335-4484 view all details >>
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