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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Close-up look at Galileo and his brilliant inventions

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WATCHING a summer sky at night can be an awesome experience, especially for a child when there are shooting stars or northern lights. If you are able to watch through a telescope, even a small one, it can be an even more inspiring occasion.

I Galileo, written and illustrated by American author Bonnie Christensen (Knopf, 32 pages, $20 hardcover) tells everything you want to know about the man who perfected the telescope. It also lists the many other inventions connected to this 16th-century scientist: the hydrostatic scale, the thermometer, the microscope, the geometric compass and the pendulum clock.

Lavishly illustrated, this is a very readable account of Galileo's life and tempestuous career. While his last years were spent in house arrest and he was not allowed to publish his scientific findings, subsequent generations confirmed his research and allowed us to recognize his brilliance. For ages 7-12.

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If you want to learn more about Mennonite history, culture and food, look at On the Zwieback Trail: A Russian Mennonite Alphabet of Stories, Recipes and Historic Events by Lisa Weaver with illustrations by Julie Kauffman and Judith Rempel Smucker (CMU Press, 72 pages, $25 hardcover).

From A for Anabaptist to Z for Zwieback, the book packs plenty of history as well as mouth-watering recipes into its pages. The Hochfield house at the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach is the illustration for H.

Smucker is originally from rural Manitoba, while both Weaver and Kauffman come from the northern United States.

There is also an illustrated timeline for Russian Mennonite history from the 1500s to the present, detailing how thousands of Mennonites ended up in Canada, the U.S., Mexico and South America. For ages 10 and up.

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Super-active small boys will appreciate When I Woke Up I Was A Hippopotamus by U.K. author and TV writer Tom MacRae (Andersen Press, 32 pages, $11 paperback). A little boy's imagination runs wild as he fantasizes he is everything from a hippo (sluggish in bed) to a statue (won't go to school) to a monkey (acting up in class) and a monster (chases the girls at recess) as he spends an exciting day until his parents finally calm him down.

Set in rhyming verse, MacRae's text is great to read aloud. For instance: "When it was time to go to school I was a ...STATUE. I couldn't move a muscle./ I couldn't blink an eye./I couldn't lift a finger./ I couldn't breathe a sigh."

Glasgow artist Ross Collins' large and humorous illustrations add to the enjoyment of this fun-filled paperback. For ages 4-8.

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For a picture book that is special in its combination of educational and entertainment value, try Tadeo's Search for Circles by Alberta author Marion Brooker with illustrator Kyrsten Brooker (Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 32 pages, $19 hardcover).

Tadeo, a young boy living in Central America, hopes to find the perfect circle. When he falls asleep, his dreams take him all over the world -- to a circle of giraffes in Africa, to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, to the "Eye in the Sky" in London, and to a rolly-polly polar bear in the Canadian Arctic -- before he returns home and finds the perfect circle in his mother's arms.

Brooker, a graduate of the University of Manitoba in interior design, now lives in Edmonton. Her paintings are large and intensely coloured, making a fitting accompaniment to a book that teaches a little geography along with a gentle lesson about the comforts of home. Suitable for ages 4-8.

 

Winnipeg writer Helen Norrie has taught children's literature at the University of Manitoba. Her column appears on the third weekend of the month.

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 21, 2012 J9

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