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Where are the Science Books?

Updated: Nov 16, 2022

Newsletter, Oct 21st 2022

Where are the Science books?”, is the question we asked ourselves when our Book club went to the Twin Cities Book fair last Saturday. While it was great to see the enthusiasm for books in general, it was hard to find any science books. Sure, there were a few on social science and nature and definitely more so in kids than Adults, but overall, science was conspicuous by its absence! This is the diversity issue I'd like to see addressed. We came away recognizing the need for a place like The Thinking Spot, which thanks to all of you will continue to increase visibility of science books, working towards the day we get our own table at the book fair! Keep spreading the word and thank you for your support!

I did meet Jessica Nordell of “The End of Bias” and Sequoia Nagamatsu of ”How high we go in the dark" at the fair and both have agreed to come to The Spot for a discussion and book signing! Thank you to all who filled out the survey for Jessica's event. If you haven't had a chance yet, survey is still open another week. I really want to ensure a good audience for these authors and have them leave with positive impressions of The Spot community.

Speaking of positive impressions, the Christina Soontornvat event was a huge success! We had 7 classrooms call in. Christina did a wonderful presentation and the kids asked great questions! The session was recorded and is available for all to watch. However, since there are school children involved, we are being mindful and only making it available on demand. Call/Email if you'd like to watch with your kids or classrooms. I think it would be very beneficial to 3rd-5th graders. We will watch in-store with our middle grade book club on Nov 13th at 4p. Anyone interested is welcome to join us then.

Fun New Product Alert - We are on a PUZZLE! The Midwest Indie Bookstore Roadmap is now a Puzzle! Not only that, its a Puzzle with a Twist. These are puzzles where the picture you use to solve the puzzle is just slightly different than the actual puzzle - not meant to be too tricky to solve, rather give a surprise reward for solving it! While I was at it, I got several other puzzles with "Minnesota" themes. These are by a local maker and some of them are based on artwork by Kevin Cannon - who did the above Spot artwork - best known for his work with The Star Tribune. Check these out next time you're here!

Upcoming Events

  • Saturday Oct 22nd 10:30am - Super excited to meet Drew Brockington tomorrow at 10:30a. If you have a young reader, they've probably heard about the Catstronauts! Don't miss sending them over. Drew will do a presentation on graphic novel creation and have the kids create their own characters! Will be fun!

  • Friday Oct 28th 2022 7:30pm- Monster science standup comedian Matt Kessen is back with a session on the science behind the Halloween monsters. Come dressed in your favorite Halloween costume and be entered in a raffle to win a review copy of The Ghost Eaters (or another age-appropriate book)

  • Friday Nov 11th 2022 4:00pm- STEM Builders is back with a Lego WeDo robotics session for all elementary age kids. This time we're planning to customize the session to each kids level so everyone will be challenged and have a chance to learn something new.

  • Friday Nov 25th 2022 ALL DAY - The Thinking Spot 1st Birthday Party! It will be an open house with STEM stations, Authors, Activities, plus discounts, freebies and refreshments! The festivities may spill over into Small Business/Shop Local Saturday! Watch for invites soon!

Book Clubs

  • Non-Fiction - Ages 18+ - Wrapping up “An Immense World”. Starting “Joy of X” by Steven Strogatz on October 30th. Now would be a good time to join as we switch books! Every member gets a chance to choose the next book.

  • Fiction - Ages 7-12 - Reading “Flush” by Carl Hiaasen. Meeting will be on November 13th. Call/Email if your child would like to join!

Science News

Was it a coincidence that I read this news item on pandemic threats from melting glaciers, and met Sequoia Nagamatsu whose novel - How high we go in the dark - is based on the exact same premise, in the same week? Fiction follows real life or real life follows fiction? You decide!

Reading Recs

There have been a lot of great new additions for the middle grade readers(ages 7-12) recently. Today's picks are 3 standalone fiction books and 2 non-fiction. One of the non-fiction is not just for middle-graders and not technically a reader but seeing as how kids that age are starting to think about our planet, our impact on it and what we can do about it, I thought this would be a good addition.

Keep reading, Happy Diwali to all those who celebrate and see you at The Spot soon!

Middle Grade New Releases

Once Upon a Camel

By Kathi Appelt

“A delight to the senses.” —Kirkus Reviews

Perfect for fans ofThe One and Only Ivan, this exquisite middle grade novel from Newbery Honoree and National Book Award finalist Kathi Appelt follows a creaky old camel out to save two baby kestrel chicks during a massive storm in the Texas desert—filled with over a dozen illustrations by Caldecott winner Eric Rohmann.

Zada is a camel with a treasure trove of stories to tell. She’s won camel races for the royal Pasha of Smyrna, crossed treacherous oceans to new land, led army missions with her best camel friend by her side, and outsmarted a far too pompous mountain lion.

But those stories were from before. Now, Zada wanders the desert as the last camel in Texas. She’s not, however, alone. Two tiny kestrel chicks are nestled in the fluff of fur between her ears—kee-killy-keeing for their missing parents—and a dust storm the size of a mountain is taking Zada on one more grand adventure. And it could lead to this achy old camel’s most brilliant story yet.Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honoree, National Book Award finalist, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the National Book Award finalist The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Maybe a Fox (with Alison McGhee), Keeper, and many picture books including Counting Crows and Max Attacks. She has two grown children and lives in College Station, Texas, with her husband. Visit her at

Eric Rohmann is the Caldecott Medal–winning illustrator ofMy Friend Rabbit and received a Caldecott Honor for Time Flies. He has both written and illustrated numerous books for children, including Bulldozer’s Big Day,Honeybee,and Bulldozer’s Christmas Dig, all written by Candace Fleming. He lives in Oak Park, Illinois. Find out more at

Houdini and Me

By Dan Gutman

Harry has always admired the famous escape artist Houdini. And when Houdini asks for help in coming back to life, it seems like an amazing chance...or could it be Houdini's greatest trick of all?

Eleven-year-old Harry Mancini is NOT Harry Houdini--the famous escape artist who died in 1926. But Harry DOES live in Houdini's old New York City home, and he definitely knows everything there is to know about Houdini's life. What is he supposed to do, then, when someone starts texting him claiming that they're Houdini, communicating from beyond the grave? Respond, of course.

It's hard for Harry to believe that Houdini is really contacting him, but this Houdini texts the secrets to all of the escape tricks the dead Houdini used to do. What's more, Houdini's offering Harry a chance to go back in time and experience it for himself. Should Harry ignore what must be a hoax? Or should he give it a try and take Houdini up on this death-defying offer?

Dan Gutman is the award-winning author of series including My Weird School, The Genius Files, and the baseball card series, including Honus & Me. He uses his writing powers for good once again in this exciting new middle grade novel. Named a New York State Great Read by the Empire State Center for the Book!

Dan Gutman grew up in New Jersey loving sports, which inspired him as an adult to write his baseball card book series, that begins with Honus & Me, which was nominated for eleven state awards and adapted for television. Other titles of his include the My Weird School series, The Genius Files series, The Kid Who Ran for President, and much more. He lives with his wife and two kids in New York City. Houdini and Me is Dan's first title with Holiday House. Game On!

By Mary Amato

Join Albert and a group of ragtag aliens as they dribble, cross, and score across the galaxy in this soccer-themed story of unlikely friendships. The day that aliens abducted 13-year-old Albert Kinney was the day he was hoping to make the school soccer team.But that's the way life works sometimes, especially for Albert. Astonishingly the Zeenods, don't want to harm Albert, they want him to play soccer. And so, Albert jumps at the chance to join the Zeenods. Yet just as he's making friends and getting used to the high-tech gear, he faces a series of direct threats to his life. Does someone have a mysterious vendetta against Albert? Or does their first opponent, the ruthless team from Planet Tev, want to guarantee that they win? Action-packed, yet filled with humor and heart, Star Striker is the first book in a series that combines a sports friendship story with an exploration of social justice and the importance of compassion for others.

Mary Amato writes fiction for children, such as the hilarious Riot Brothers series, but she is also a singer-songwriter who performs in the Washington, D.C. area. In addition, she is a co-founder of Firefly Shadow Theater, a puppet company for which she writes and directs shows. Her novels have appeared on children's choice state award lists around the country. She lives in Hyattsville, Maryland.

The Secret World of Plants

By Ben Hoare

Plants are found almost everywhere on Earth, but to many people their lives are a mystery. Discover the secrets of more than 100 amazing plants in this treasury of intriguing flora. Learn how seagrass changes the environment around it, how the Venus flytrap counts to make sure it catches its prey, and why some tulips used to cost more than a house! This book explores the vast plant kingdom and explains how plants work, as well as the weird and wonderful relationships they have with animals. Plants provide us with food, fuel, and medicine, and without them, life as we know it would not exist. From orchids that grow vanilla pods to trees that cause headaches, and from bamboo that can be made into clothes to moss that soaks up vast amounts of carbon dioxide, plants shape our world in an endless variety of ways. The Secret World of Plants covers the key plant groups; the essentials of plant science, including photosynthesis, pollination, and germination; and what they mean to the people around them. Each species is shown with remarkable photography and beautiful illustrations, all brought to life by Ben Hoare’s writing, filled with charm and infectious enthusiasm. This book is a must for any child interested in the natural world and the plants that grow in it. Ben Hoare is a science writer and editor, and the author of the hugely successful An Anthology of Intriguing Animals, The Wonders of Nature, and Nature’s Treasures for DK. He is passionate about nature and sharing his knowledge of the natural world.

Posters for the Planet

By Princeton Architectural Press

These 50 full-color tear-out posters feature original artwork that conveys the urgent need to take action to combat climate change. Whether you're an activist, a student, or are looking for the perfect environmental gift, this collection of original posters from a series of international artists and designers is sure to inspire change.

In a time when our environmental future is uncertain, natural disasters are becoming more frequent, and the window to avoid further irreversible climate damage is closing, collective action is essential. Compiled from an open call (design poured in from all over the world), 50 winning designs were selected from more than 800 entries. A global problem requires a global solution.

Historically, posters have been one of the most common mediums of communication for dissent and social change, and the 50 tear-out posters in Posters for the Planet allow you to voice the importance of taking action now. Printed on 11-by-17-inch FSC paper, each of the perforated posters features a unique design that you can proudly display or distribute to convey how crucial it is to act responsibly, fight climate change through environmental policy, and create a bright future for ourselves and future generations.

Partial proceeds of the sale of this book will be donated to Indigenous Environmental Network, Clean Air Task Force, and Coalition for Rainforest Nations.

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