From Tadpoles to Whales
Science Books for Young Readers
Tags: bugs, dinosaurs, tadpoles, experiments, aquatic creatures
Posted: 2011-07-07 10:53:32 By: Joanne Oppenheim


Among the best books of the season are some gems with handsome illustrations and information that many young readers find enticing. Although a real bug will fly away, the picturebook images allow time to look more closely. A trip to the Natural History Museum can best be recalled with books that can be returned to any day of the week. For those who like hands-on discoveries, consider the experiments in the Mythbusters Science Fair Book. Here is a sampling, but you'll find more in the age appropriate listing on our site.



2011 Award
Wow! Ocean!
(by Robert Neubecker, Hyperion $17.99 Score: )

Newest in his "Wow!" series, Robert Neubecker's dynamic illustrations give kids a whirlwind look at life in the ocean. His colorful images swim across the pages. Some pages open wide for long double spreads of sea creatures in the tide pool, on the coral reef, in the deep and beyond. There are labels on some pages, but no story as such. The vibrant images on the page will provide much to talk about and ponder. This is a science book, an art book, a fun to look at together-and-alone kind of book. Most of all it says look at all the wondrous life that is under the water just beyond the sand shore! Wow! Indeed!

Play It!

Magic Art
You'll need: a wax candle or a white waxy crayon, white or manilla construction paper, blue and greenish water color paint and brush.
Step 1. Draw lots of fish—big and small on the white paper. They will hardly be visible.
Step 2. Make a light wash of blue and or greenish blue watercolor paint.
Step 3. Use a big brush to paint over the waxy drawing and abracadabra the drawings will appear.

Wow! Shells !
On your next trip to the beach take a photo of your child gathering up plenty of small shells to bring home for crafts. Wash the shells in sudsy water and let them dry on the sun. Kids can paint them or leave them as they are in a natural state. Bring home and inexpensive plastic picture frame and white glue. Together paste the shells around the border of the frame. When they dry in place put the photo in the frame and you have a double Wow! A happy memory!

       A few years ago we published several books with suggested books and follow-up games that extend the book experience. One collection Read It Play It is for playing with babies and toddlers. The other is for preschool and early school years children. We also did a collection in Spanish, featuring books that were in Spanish or were bilingual. 

Click to buy Read It! Play It!

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on




2011 Award
Big Bug Little Bug, A Book Of Opposites
(Paul Strickland, Scholastic $12.99 Score: )

Bugs with spots or stripes, underground or over ground, big and little, all kinds of bugs are pictured in these pages of opposite pairs. Some of the so-called opposites are a stretch. But the pay-off comes with a final pop-up with all the bugs. If you are looking for a way to reinforce the idea of opposites, this would be a playful opening to playing around with the concept. At the risk of self promotion may we also suggest Have You Seen Bugs? by Joanne Oppenheim, also pubished by Scholastic.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on




2011 Award
From Tadpole to Frog
(by Kathleen W. Zoehfeld, Scholastic $3.99 Score: )

Early school age kids are very interested in the real world and this new series is right on the mark. From Tadpole to Frog is illustrated with photographs and told with an economy of words. A young science book that will appeal to beginning readers. Level 1. Also, see, Butterflies (by Nic Bishop, Scholastic $3.99) Illustrated with clear colorful photographs, this book for level two has longer sentences and more vocabulary than the Tadpole book. Level 2.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on




2011 Award
Mythbusters Science Fair Book
(by Samantha Margles, Scholastic $9.99 Score: )

An excellent collection of science experiments, this affordable paperback book is based on science myths that can be tested in your own home. For example, there are a series of myths about what cola can do. Can it shine a penny? Can it dissolve a steak in 48 hours? Can it remove a grease stain? Each of the myths is presented with a list of items needed and the steps in running the test. An estimated time is given and finally readers are asked to check their conclusions. An thought provoking book that guides kids through the scientific process with common household items. 

Age: . Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on




2011 Award
Suryia & Roscoe, A True Story of an Unlikely Friendship
(by Bhagavan Doc Antle with Thea Feldman/ illus. , Henry Holt $16.99 Score: )

At an animal preserve in South Carolina, a stray dog wanders into the world of far more exotic animals. Most of them are endangered species. Few would expect that an orangutan and a stray dog would become such good friends, but that is what happens. Told with a series of full color photographs, this is a short but sweet true story. Along the way it introduces young readers to the importance of wildlife conservation and protecting endangered species. Though it is not written in the format of an easy to read book, it would be a good choice for level 3 readers or as a read aloud for younger listeners.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on




2011 Award
(by Frances Barry, Candlewick $12.99 Score: )

With playful flip the flap surprises, the pages of this young science book come alive with information and engaging illustrations. Each page asks an "I wonder--" question that is then answered with simple but clear information. All of the sturdy double page spreads have a hidden surprise that makes it all the more pleasing to budding scientists. Preschoolers and early grades kids love wrapping their mouths around the long names of prehistoric creatures and learning about how these strange animals.

Age: . Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on


Products for Infants
Products for Toddlers
Products for Preschoolers
Products for Early School Years
Products for Later School Years
Twitter   Facebook     YouTube 

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio - All Rights Reserved. Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award, and Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Blue Chip Award are Registered Trademarks of the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio.

Instructions for submitting product to the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio for review.



Contact the Toyportfolio by phone at (212) 598-0502 or by email at

Copyright 1995-2015


Products reviewed by the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio are provided by the manufacturer at their cost. The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio does not require or accept fees for reviewing products.