Ricky's Recommended Reads for Kids

About Fire

The Charcoal Forest: How Fire Helps Animals and Plants by Beth Peluso, 2007. Mountain Press.

This is a book about recovery from fire in the Northern Rocky Mountains of the United States and Canada. Each page begins with “Who needs burned trees?” then tells about a plant or animal that plays a role in renewal of the forest (there are twenty species). Look for the black-backed woodpecker hiding on each page.

Fire in the Forest: A Cycle of Growth and Renewal by Laurence Pringle, illustrated by Bob Marstall.
Wonderful illustrations follow how the forest recovers after fire. The separate text helped me understand the process of recovery. A good reference book.

About Cartography (Map Making)

Small Worlds; Maps and Mapmaking by Karen Romano Young, 2002. Scholastic Inc.

From ancient maps on rocks to views of the universe from space, this book covers the wide world. In the process it showed me how to create maps myself. Maps of our earthly systems, our city networks, even our brains show what we can learn from maps.

Be Your Own Map Expert by Barbara Taylor, 1993. Sterling Publishers

Simple directions for figuring out maps and how to make my own. Liked the ideas for making a compass, fun symbols to use on maps and games, drawing flat and round maps.

Charting the World; Geography and Maps from Cave Paintings to GPS with 21 Activities by Richard Panchyte 2011. Chicago Review Press.

A wonderful book for a map lover like me, filled with old and new maps, besides stories on how they were used. Creative ideas for making all kinds of maps—like engraving a map, projecting a sphere onto a flat surface, making moon observations, and a war strategy game.

About Weather

Weather by Brian Cosgrove, 1991. An Eyewitness Book. Alfred Knopf Inc.
Stormy weather of all kinds with helpful labels that explain what is happening in the sky. Kind of an almanac about watching and predicting weather, old records, modern technologies.

About Geology

Focus on Middle School Geology by Rebecca W. Keller, 2012.

It was easy for me to follow the conversational style of this introduction to geology. Layers inside the Earth, and cycles of the atmosphere and hydrosphere helped me understand what happens on our globe. Plate tectonics, mountain formation, volcano eruptions, and earthquakes are truly amazing. Part of the Real Science 4-Kids series.

About Adaptations

Island; A Story of the Galapagos by Jason Chin, 2012. Roaring Brook Press.

This book is like a beautifully illustrated diary of an island in little snapshots. From the island’s birth 6 million years ago until 1835 when it sinks back into the ocean, the book records how the island erupted as a volcano, animals that colonized it, new arrivals, and evolutionary changes over time. I like to read this over and over again.

Ecosystem and Field Guides

National Audubon Society First Field Guide Trees by Brian Cassie, 1999. Scholastic Inc.

If you’d like to see photographs of the trees in my book, here’s where you’ll find good shots of cones, needles, leaves, and the trees themselves.

Oregon Wildflowers; A Children’s Field Guide to the State’s Most Common Flowers by Beverly Magley, illustrated by D. D. Dowden, 1992. Falcon Press

I like the simple but realistic color drawings of many of the common flowers I’ve seen in Oregon. Arrangement by habitats is very handy.

Temperate Grasslands by Ben Hoare, 2011. The Brown Reference Group Ltd.

Here’s a global view of grasslands that has plants and animals familiar to our native prairie. I especially liked the sections on grassland climate and the ecology of fire in grasslands.

Related Stories

Fire Race; A Karuk Coyote Tale retold by Jonathan London, illustrated by Sylvia Long. 1993. Chronicle Books.

The Karuk are native to the Klamath River region of Northern California. This book’s vivid illustrations drew me into their traditional tale about how coyote and his friends brought fire from upriver, and coaxed it out of willow.

Beaver Steals Fir: A Salish Coyote Story by the confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, illustrated by Sam Sandoval. 2008.

This is also a story about how coyote stole fire from the sky world with help from his friends. These tribes presently live in Montana. It would be fun to compare versions. There is also a two-DVD set that goes with this book, Beaver Steals Fire/Fire on the Land, which includes the story told by a Salish elder, histories of the two tribes and information about tribal fire management.   

Crow and Weasel by Barry Lopez, illustrated by Tom Pohrt. 1990. Harper Perennial

This story is set in “myth time” by a great storyteller. Though it’s not based on any particular Native American tradition, it shows a native respect for the natural world. Crow and Weasel are hunters who travel north through forests and grasslands (set in the northern plains of North America) that remind me of the forests and prairies of eastern Oregon. I hope you like this adventure story about place, survival, and companionship.

While a Tree Was Growing by Jane Bosveld, illustrated by Daniel O’Leary, 1997. American Museum of Natural History.

There are two storylines here—one about the giant sequoia that began as a sapling three thousand years ago, and the other about what was happening in human history while the tree was growing. I really got a feel for the time scale of how long old trees have survived on earth.

Websites I like:

fossils at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument


This is the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network page with daily info on precipitation that Tony and I talk about after the big thunderstorm. You can sign up to post what you measure on an official four-inch rain gauge (that you can purchase through them). They have a training video, and the OSU Extension Service has training workshops. For our state, Oregon Season Tracker

(http://oregonseasontracker.forestry.oregonstate.edu/) connects up information about rainfall and plant phenology.