Boys and girls into science will likely gravitate to the following new books, as my 9-year-old did:
“The Big, Bad Book of Beasts: The World's Most Curious Creatures” (HarperCollins, $18.99) by Michael Largo is an encyclopedia of creatures, real, extinct or imagined. In the real category, illustrated text informs readers of interesting facts such as this: On average, a woodpecker bangs its head against a tree 10,000 times a day. Of the imagined, my son’s favorite entry is for the ant-lion, which, according to ancient books, was lion on the top and ant on the bottom. That blew his mind and made him want to read more, not just about the fantastical.
“Albert Einstein and Relativity for Kids: His Life and Ideas with 21 Activities and Thought Experiments” (Chicago Press, $16.95) by Jerome Pohlen is an accessible way for young minds to understand the theoretical physicist’s work. It does that by using plain, straightforward language (“it took the best minds in physics years to determine that Einstein was correct, so you can cut yourself some slack”) and offering easy-to-do experiments that help to explain Einstein’s work (the one tackling the concept of “relative motion” requires only an “adult driver,” a “car with reclining front seat” and a “long, smooth highway”). The book also delves into Einstein’s personal life, aspects of which fascinated by my two-time science fair winner, although his favorite parts of the book involved explanations of "gravity, fusion and chain reactions," he said.
“Perfectly Hidden: The Animal Kingdom's Fascinating Camouflage” and “Journey Into the Invisible: The World From Under the Microscope” (Skyhorse, $16.95), both by Christine Schlitt, are presented the way kids today like to read — with lots of well-done photos and illustrations with meaty captions. My son found the books engaging, particularly the section in “Perfectly Hidden” about the “completely harmless” lizard known as the thorny devil (whose leafy colors and sharp spikes trick predators into thinking it is inedible) and the spread in “Journey Into the Invisible” about where green water comes from (when magnified, volvox algae “look like colorful soap bubbles”).