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The Frog Scientist (Scientists in the Field Series) Paperback – September 13, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 5–8—Being raised in then strictly segregated Columbia, SC, couldn't keep a smart young African-American man out of college, even prestigious Harvard University. Floundering in an unfamiliar milieu, Tyrone Hayes caught the attention of a serious science professor who recognized the potential of this struggling student and became his mentor. Turner's lucid text and Comins's clear color photos follow Hayes's developing career to his present respected place as a gifted member of the scientific community. Researching the effects of atrazine-contaminated water on vulnerable amphibians, he is surrounded by the "Frog Squad," a group of enthusiastic students pouncing on frogs in ponds or collecting careful data in the lab. Grinning from pierced ear to pierced ear (and that is a story in itself), the genial scientist nurtures his assistants, encouraging their enthusiasms while demanding serious work. Of the same sterling quality as Sy Montgomery's engaging The Tarantula Scientist (2004) or her exciting Quest for the Tree Kangaroo (2006, both Houghton), this new addition to a stellar series opens an upbeat window to the adult application of youthful enthusiasms.—Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY END --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Hayes comes across as both a dedicated scientist and a regular person, willing to work hard in pursuit of his scientific work yet quick to laugh and joke with his family and the graduate students he mentors. The result is one of the most compelling portraits of a scientific career the series has produced. Sharp, vivid photographs alternate between portrayals of the scientists—at work in field and laboratory settings, as well as relaxing at lab picnics and at home—and the frogs they study. The abundant images of many different frog species allow readers to observe in detail each animal’s characteristics, including size, anatomy, and habitat."--Horn Book, starred review

". . . lively volume . . . Well organized and clearly written, the text goes into detail about the process of analyzing the chemical’s affects on the frogs, but pulls back from specifics to show how the experiment fits into the larger picture . . . Excellent color photos offer clear pictures of frogs and of this scientific team at work in the field and in the lab . . . Throughout the book, Turner portrays Hayes as both a colorful personality and a dedicated scientist: the final chapter opens with a discussion of his four ear piercings and concludes with an overview of his research. A vivid, realistic view of one scientist at work."--Booklist, starred review

". . . a nifty narrative that conveys science in action, offers some insight into environmental damage, and provides a vivid portrait of an energetic and charismatic (and hunky) young scientist who's clearly inspiring students to take an interest in the field. The visually appealing layout is thick with images of people, making it easy to envision the realities of biological work, and of frogs, from hopping to undergoing dissection . . . useful as an introduction to the creation and execution of an experiment, and it will therefore be invaluable in science classes."--The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review

"Of the same sterling quality as Sy Montgomery's engaging The Tarantula Scientist (2004) or her exciting Quest for the Tree Kangaroo (2006, both Houghton), this new addition to a stellar series opens an upbeat window to the adult application of youthful enthusiasms."--School Library Journal, starred review



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Product Details

  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Series: Scientists in the Field Series
  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547576986
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547576985
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #250,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

My Background

I was very interested in books as a child. I still remember how hard I worked as a four-year-old at learning to write my name because my mother promised I could have a library card as soon as I could scrawl "PAMELA." When my parents made me turn my bedroom lights out at night, I would read by the tiny red light on the temperature control for my electric blanket. I grew up in Riverside--a rather hot part of Southern California. I was forced to sweat through many books, and not just because I was worried about the hero.

The first thing I can remember wanting to be is a children's author. I also loved animals. We had a dog and a big outdoor cage full of doves. My good friend, Jenny, lived on a dairy farm and it was critter heaven for me. We would jump her horses bareback over bales of hay and ride for miles in the hills.

When I was in college I spent a year in Nairobi, Kenya as an exchange student. I didn't know much about Africa before I left, but I knew it had lots of wildlife. I traveled throughout East and Central Africa and saw lions, elephants, gorillas, Cape buffalo, and many other animals. I met my future husband, Rob, in Kenya. He was also an exchange student. We both loved living in another country.

I have a B.A. in Social Science from the University of California, Irvine, and a Master of Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley. I've worked as a legislative assistant for foreign affairs for a California congressman and as a international health consultant. Over the years Rob and I lived in Kenya, the Marshall Islands, South Africa, the Philippines, and Japan. We have three children, Travis (26), Kelsey (24), and Connor (21). Each of them was born in a different country.

How I Started Writing

My family and I lived in Japan for about six years, and my children all attended a local Japanese preschool. The Japanese mothers at the preschool told me the story of Hachiko. I thought it was a wonderful tale. When we returned to the U.S. I decided I wanted to be a writer, just like I'd planned to be when I was four.(Better late than never.) Hachiko is famous in Japan, and I thought his story would be a wonderful one to share with English-speaking children. HACHIKO was my first book. Since then I've written seven more (GORILLA DOCTORS, LIFE ON EARTH-AND BEYOND, A LIFE IN THE WILD, THE FROG SCIENTIST, PROWLING THE SEAS, PROJECT SEAHORSE, and THE DOLPHINS OF SHARK BAY). Another book is in the pipeline: SAMURAI RISING, to be published in 2016 by Charlesbridge.

On the Home Front

We now live in Oakland, California. I've written many science and nature articles for adults and for children. Besides reading and writing, I like to scuba dive and snow ski. I've been lucky enough to dive all over the world, including the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, the Pacific, and off California. I love diving because you can get closer to big animals underwater than anywhere else. Several years ago I began learning kendo (Japanese swordfighting) along with with youngest son, Connor. We are members of the Berkeley Kendo Dojo.

When I write I am ably kept company by my yellow labrador retriever, Manchee, and my son Connor's cockapoo, Tux. They sometimes respond to "sit." They always respond to "cookie." I also have a very obese Australian White's tree frog named Dumpy F. Lumpy who looks a lot like Jabba the Hut.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Connie Goldsmith on July 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Meet Dr. Tyrone Hayes, frog scientist extraordinaire. The author opens the book by taking us along on a field trip with Dr. Hayes and his graduate students as they collect leopard frogs from a Wyoming pond. Dr. Hayes will take the frogs back to his Berkeley lab to study how the commonly used pesticide atrazine affects their development. It feels like you're with the group at the pond in the cool morning air, splashing through water, squelching through mud, brushing clouds of mayflies from your face, and trying to wrangle the wily hoppers with big nets.

The second chapter flashes back in time to show us how a tough little African-American kid who grew up in a segregated south loved reptiles and amphibians so much that he ended up graduating from Harvard and UC Berkeley. That was 1989, the very year that scientists discovered that frogs were dying at an alarming rate around the world.

Fast forward to the future, when Dr. Hayes goes to work for the chemical company that makes atrazine. The firm wanted him to test the pesticide on frogs. But they didn't like what he found. Tiny amounts of the chemical "feminized" male frogs; they produced eggs in their testes rather than sperm! Obviously, they could not father future frogs. No wonder American frogs were dying out. But the company wouldn't allow Dr. Hayes to publish his findings, so he left to pursue his studies elsewhere.

The author skillfully takes the reader through the experiment that Dr. Hayes designed to test his hypothesis that atrazine causes feminized male frogs. Her writing is clear and concise, and she makes complex scientific concepts easy to understand and accessible to young readers. Profiles of Dr. Hayes' young lab assistants at work brighten the lively writing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Donovan TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Once I started reading this book, I loved it. I thought the author did an
excellent job of using and explaining scientific terms in a very readable way.

The text flowed nicely, and did read like a story. The pictures are fantastic, and add a beautiful visual element to the page-turning narrative.

Tyrone's story was inspiring, and he's a good role model to kids who may not be
interested in school, or science specifically, about the possibilities that are
out there. It also tied researchers' work, that kids might see as boring, into
the very real concerns that kids today have (about the environment).

I handed the book over to my 6th grade daughter. She loves to read. . . .
fiction. But once she started reading, she didn't get up off the couch, and
actually asked her brother to turn off the TV when he left the room. She really
liked it. I asked if she would read other books like that, and she still said
that she prefers fiction, but she did like this book, and thinks that people who
like non-fiction would really like it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Susan Quinn on June 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful non-fiction book that reads like a story. The book follows scientist Tyrone Hayes and his experiments as he attempts to discover why frogs all over the world are disappearing. With over a hundred species going extinct since 1980, I love how the book does not take a simple approach to this complex problem with many sources, including pesticides, fungal attacks, encrouching species, and habitat loss. The story has a similarly nuanced view of Hayes' struggles in school, his abiding love of science, and the help he gets along the way from mentors and friends encouraging him to continue his work. This heart warming story will encourage young readers think big questions about science, one of my great loves as well, and with a high reading level and challenging non-fiction content, this is an excellent read for advanced readers 8+.
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Format: Hardcover
Tyrone was the type of boy who always had his toes in the waters of Colombia, South Carolina. He lived near "a swamp full of frogs, snapping turtles, and snakes," and to this day he's still dipping in water looking for frogs. If you want to catch them, you have to get up at the crack of dawn and get moving. Field biology isn't for people who want to sleep until noon and Dr. Tyrone Hayes isn't about to lie in bed when he has a mission to do. In particular he is running experiments to see if the pesticide altrazine affects the development of frogs. He noticed that "atrazine feminized male leopard frogs." Around the world certain types of frogs have become extinct and many appear to be following in their footsteps.

There are a few obvious reasons why frogs are disappearing such as the fact that forests are being cut down and wetlands are being filled up with soil and built upon. Things like global warming have encouraged the spread of the chytrid fungus which is rapidly killing them off, but the unseen factors such as the introduction of altrazine to fresh water sources are why has Dr. Hayes working at a breakneck pace in his laboratory. In this book you'll learn even more reasons why frogs are dying off, you'll get to see and learn about why there are so many deformities, why Hotel Campresre became a "frog hotel," you'll learn about "bizarre half-male, half-female" frogs, and more!

This is a fascinating story about an unusual scientist at work that will mesmerize even the most reluctant reader. I particularly liked the way the story draws the reader in right from the start in Dugway Pond and brings him or her right through an actual experiment in the Hayes Lab. The book does make it clear without saying that "environmental health and human health are one and the same.
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