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Storms, Swamps, Woods & More: Kids' Nature Books

By kileyturner
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tagged: botany, kids, nature, flora
This summer, kids across Canada will be exploring new habitats—whether across the country or just outside their city limits. This is a list of books to help them understand what they're seeing and experiencing, from trees to storms to swamps. In Part 2, we'll turn to the fauna side of things.
Canada Close Up: Canada's Trees

Canada Close Up: Canada's Trees

edition:Paperback

Find out all there is to know about Canada's trees!

A fantastic book for 7-to 9-year-olds that explores the characteristics of Canada's many trees. Among the topics explored are: where they grow, what they look like, how they affect the environment, how they are affected by their surroundings, and so much more.

With full-colour photographs throughout, a glossary, a table of contents, and a simple index, learning has never been so easy!

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Who Needs a Swamp?

Who Needs a Swamp?

edition:Hardcover

Tundra introduces the first three books in its important new ecosystems series. Each title celebrates the world’s diversity by presenting a different ecosystem: its land and water, its animals and plants. The art is brimming with creatures and ecological features, described in fact-filled notes at the end of each book and in a useful glossary and map.
 
Swamps are often seen as a dangerous and useless. They are often drained to create farmland or to reduce diseases. But such measures can be d …

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Cool Woods

Cool Woods

A Trip around the World's Boreal Forest
by Jane Drake & Ann Love
illustrated by Andrew Kiss
edition:Hardcover

Winner of the Skipping Stones Honor Award in the Ecology and Nature Books category

The boreal forest is the last great forest wilderness on earth. It drapes across the subarctic right around the world. It pervades our myths and folklore. It provides us with wood and water. It freshens the very air we breathe.

Jane Drake and Ann Love take the reader on an unforgettable journey around the world to view the boreal forest. They show the reader the seasons in the bush, the science and myth of wolves, t …

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Excerpt

FOREVER GREEN
Step into the woods. The wet ground – springy with moss – soaks your shoe. The soft-green needles of the spruce tree tickle the palm of your hand. Above, a chocolate shadow presses against the trunk. One wink reveals a boreal owl, daydreaming of voles and chickadees. Speckled summer sunlight catches a mound of dog-tongued lichen but misses a nearby wood frog. Shut your eyes and breathe deeply. A wild mix of skunk, damp mushrooms, and fragrant fir tingles your nose. Brush the mosquito from your ear and listen to the woodpecker’s staccato beat.

These are the cool, northern woods that encircle the world. To return the hug, we are learning to care for them, the largest forest left on Earth.

***

WOLF CALL
Around the world, people hear the haunting howls of a wolf pack and think of the wild northern forest. From prehistoric times, wolf lore has crept into people’s imaginations. Some fear wolves; others shoot them. But many understand and admire these intelligent carnivores.

Crying Wolf?
Wolves don’t cry, they howl – to define territory, gather family, and warn intruders.

Thrown to the Wolves?
Wolves are villains in stories. But you’re more likely to be struck by an asteroid than eaten by a wolf. Healthy wolves avoid people.

Wolf Down Food?
Sharp teeth and strong jaws make powerful eating machines. A wolf meal is meat, and lots of it – up to 9 kg (20 pounds), about 80 hamburgers worth, at a time.

***

WINTER IN THE WOODS
A still, bitter cold settles on the forest this January afternoon. The spruce trees stand rigid, resisting the occasional gust of wind. From its snow-covered branch, a red squirrel scolds a pine grosbeak as the bird snaps up the last frozen blueberry on a nearby bush. The temperature is well below zero and falling

In the north woods, temperatures stay below freezing for more than half the year. And the ground is often snow-covered from October until May. With everything frozen for so long, winter is also dry. Yet resident birds and animals survive the meanest of winters, as do the trees that shelter them. Northern trees actually prefer long, dry winters. Coniferous spruce, fir, pine, and larch have adapted to the harsh climate in special ways:

Conical shape: Heavy snow slides off conifers rather than weighing down and breaking branches.

Needles: Trees lose less water through thin, waxy needles than through leaves.

Evergreen: Most conifers don’t waste energy growing needles each year. And by staying dark green year round, the needles absorb some heat from the winter sun.

Shallow roots: The farther north you go, the longer the ground stays frozen in spring. In the farthest north, only the top layer thaws above permanently frozen ground, or permafrost. Northern trees have shallow roots that spread sideways to draw up water as soon as the ground surface melts.
Deciduous Survivors
Northern birch, alder, and young aspen are adapted to survive winter too. Their branches will bend in half before snapping under heavy snow.
***
FIRE! FIRE!
Springtime is fire time. The sun shines more than twelve hours a day. Dried by winter’s wind, pine needles ignite quickly. Fire wipes the woods clean by devouring undergrowth and debris; healthy, sick, and weak trees; wildlife and insects. Native trees can take the heat – they’re adapted to regrow after fire. Intense flames release seeds from hardy pinecones while ash enriches the soil and protects germinating seeds.

As the smoke clears, in move the wood-eating beetles. Beetle-eating woodpeckers quickly follow. Fireweed, berries, and grasses sprout from the ashes, and moose nibble their tender shoots. Aspen and birch send up new saplings from old root systems, and jack pine and spruce quickly reestablish. Ten years later, a diverse woodland community has taken over.

The woods cope with – in fact need – some fire. Small fires caused by lightning strikes are as natural as wind and snow. But human activities such as camping, road building, mining, and logging increase the number of fires. Some of these fires are monsters, roaring through the woods, destroying everything in their path as billions of trees go up in smoke. A warming world alters the forest’s ability to regenerate after a fire, as higher temperatures and less rain hampers growth.

Satellite images lead water-bombers and skilled firefighters to forest-fire hot spots. But allowing small, remote fires to burn out on their own is one key to the future health of the forests.

***

THE GOOD FOREST
The north woods have many names. Some people call them boreal forest after Boreas, Greek god of the north wind. Others call them taiga, a Russian word for marshy woods, although many scientists save the word taiga for the wet, scrubby woods that border the arctic tundra. But to most northerners, the north woods are the bush – beautiful, wild, and full of trees.

From earliest times, people have gone into the bush for resources. They have hunted forest animals, collected firewood, gathered mushrooms and berries, and chosen strong, lean trunks for tent poles. Today, we still cut spruce to frame our homes. We use larch to make telephone poles and railroad ties; jack pine for sturdy posts, pilings, and timber. And fine white spruce gives special resonance to our musical instruments. But most of the northern trees we cut are mashed into pulp for making paper.

We also use the boreal forest by just letting it grow. And the boreal forest uses us. Like all living plants, trees grow by taking carbon dioxide from the air and releasing oxygen. Like all living animals, we do the reverse – our lungs take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide. The boreal forest is the biggest forest left in the world – bigger than the tropical rain forest. So, when you breathe, some of the air you inhale is likely fresh, sweet oxygen from the boreal forest. And some of what you exhale will eventually become part of a living boreal tree. That’s why environmentalists call the boreal forest “the lungs of the Earth.”
***
AROUND THE BOREAL WORLD
If you walked around the world through the boreal forest, you’d find few roads. As you bushwhacked through woods and wetlands, you’d notice many of the plants and animals were the same whether you were in North America, Siberia, or Europe. But you’d also spot important changes in the landscape and the kinds of trees and animals you were seeing. In places, you’d run into logging, mining, industry, and hydroelectric development. You’d also find people living off the land as their ancestors did. You might discover relics from early settlements – maybe even a ghost town. And in each community or homestead you’d meet people who tell their own exciting tales about the woods.

This book divides the forest into six sections or eco-zones – all boreal, but each with a life and story of its own.

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Fire!

Fire!

The Renewal of a Forest
edition:Paperback
tagged : disasters

It hasn't rained in the forest for many weeks. And in the sunny clearing, everything is dry and scorched. Then, late one afternoon, a hot wind begins to blow and storm clouds gather. But instead of rain, lightning fills the sky and strikes a tall tree beside the clearing. The lightning strike shoots down the tree and ignites the dry vegetation below. In no time, the forest is engulfed in flame. Soon there is nothing left but the charred ruins of the forest, devoid of life.

But the story is not ov …

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Explore Water!

Explore Water!

25 Great Projects, Activities, Experiments
by Anita Yasuda
illustrated by Bryan Stone
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Drip?Drop?Splash! Water is essential to all forms of life.Explore Water! 25 Great Projects, Activities, Experiments, captures a child’s imagination with an intriguing look at the world of water.

Combining hands-on activities with history and science, kids will have fun learning about the water cycle, water resources, drinking water and sanitation, water pollution and conservation, water use, water folklore and festivals, and the latest in water technology. Entertaining illustrations and fascina …

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Dirty Science: 25 Experiments with Soil

Dirty Science: 25 Experiments with Soil

25 Experiments with Soil
edition:Paperback

Go on . . . get dirty!

Think that the dirt beneath your feet is boring? Wrong! There's more to dirt than, well, dirt. In fact, don't call it dirt to a scientist - it's soil! Soil can tell you a lot about where you live and what's going on behind, or beneath, the scenes. Learn how to make a Berlese funnel that brings out tiny unseen bugs in soil; learn the differences between various soils; even change a blue hydrangea to a pink one! Is it magic? Nope . . . it's science!

With the fun, easy experime …

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Branching Out

Branching Out

How Trees Are Part of Our World
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover

Trees have been around for nearly 400 million years, and today about 25,000 species of trees have been identified. We've relied on trees for everything from fuel, food, and medicine to building railways. Today, trees still touch our lives in countless ways. But what do we really know about them?

Branching Out takes an in-depth look at these incredible plants, introducing the basics of tree biology and profiling 11 different trees from around the world, including familiar ones such as the red …

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Oceans

Oceans

Looking at Beaches and Coral Reefs, Tides and Currents, Sea Mammals and Fish, Seaweeds and Other Ocean Wonders
edition:Paperback

Find out about this vast and rich storehouse of living things through lively descriptions of ocean plants and animals. From plankton too small for the naked eye to see, to sharks as big as a school bus, kids discover how each marine wonder has adapted to the ocean's unique conditions.

Detailed drawings and full-color photographs bring the ocean to the reader, while the accompanying text explores the mysteries of Earth's oceans and ocean life. Safe and simple experiments and activities that can be …

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