MG/YA – Media Bias: What Is It and Why Does It Matter?

Marcovitz, Hal. Media Bias: What Is It and Why Does It Matter? ReferencePoint Press, 2023. 64 p. $33.05. Grades 6-12.

Beginning with an introduction that discusses that national news coverage on the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, Media Bias: What Is It and Why Does It Matter? shows readers how members of the media “can provide vastly different views of the same event” (7). Four short chapters follow and provide researchers and with a wealth of information about news, news consumption, bias, and perception. Chapter one (News, Opinion, and Bias: How Do They Differ?) provides information on objective reporting, editorials and columns, going for shock value, many forms of bias, bias on the right, bias on the left, bias at the supermarket, and the hallmarks of fair and unbiased reporting. The shock value call out focuses on Meghan Markle as a popular target of sensationalism after her marriage to Prince Harry. Chapter two focuses on bias’s impact on news consumers and addresses vaccine decisions, presidential elections, localized and national crises, sports reporting, and the impact of media on people’s lives. Social media, fake news, historical issues (Franklin purchasing the the Pennsylvania Gazette to advocate revolution against the British) and current issues (COVID-19 and the January 6, riot at the US Capitol) are addressed. Color photos and text boxes enhance information presented throughout the book. This title concludes with source notes, for further research, recognizing bias, and an index.

THOUGHTS: ReferencePoint Press’s single titles series will enhance secondary library collections looking to update their current issues collections for student research. Depending on student research needs, this title is appropriate for middle and high school collections.

302.23 Media

MG/YA – Pandemic Aftereffects: The Surge in Teen Eating Disorders

Teenagers have a lot to say about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their lives. In Pandemic Aftereffects: The Surge in Teen Eating Disorders, an introduction and four short chapters provide researchers and readers with a wealth of information about the rise in teen eating disorders as a result of the pandemic. In the introduction four teens  – two with preexisting eating disorders and two who develop eating disorders during the pandemic – are briefly profiled. Four chapters follow, covering What are eating disorders, Why the pandemic triggered eating disorders, getting treatment, and coping with an eating disorder during a pandemic. The chapter on what are eating disorders provides general information as well as sections on anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder. Each disorder includes specific anecdotal situations to help readers better understand from the point of view of someone who has experienced it. This chapter also includes a section on Black people and eating disorders, other underdiagnosed groups, how eating disorders affect the body, an explanation of how complex disordered eating is, and a section on risk factors. The chapter on getting treatment provides hope for those who may be personally impacted by disordered eating or those who are trying to help a friend or loved one. Color photos and text boxes enhance the heavy information presented throughout the book. This title concludes with additional source notes, organizations and websites, for further research, and an index.
THOUGHTS: ReferencePoint Press’s single titles series will enhance secondary library collections looking to update their current issues collections for student research. Depending on student research needs, this title is appropriate for middle and high school collections.
616.85 Eating Disorders

MG/YA – Dealing with Addiction (Series NF)

Dealing with Addiction. BrightPoint Press, 2023. 64 p. $33.05 ea. $$165.25 Set of 5. Grades 6-12.

Kaiser, Emma. Smartphone Addiction. 978-1-678-20380-7.
Llanas, Sheila Griffin. Drug and Alcohol Addiction. 978-1-678-20374-0.
Miller, Marie-Therese. Social Media Addiction. 978-1-678-20378-8.
Roberts, Kizzi. Gaming Addiction. 978-1-678-20376-9.
Voss, Elizabeth Hobbs. Vaping Addiction. 978-1-678-20382-5.

This reviewer evaluated Gaming Addiction and Smartphone Addiction. Each title in this series begins with At a Glance which provides readers with a quick, bulleted overview of the topic addressed. Statistics like “Researchers think between 1 and 10 percent of gamers become addicted” (Roberts 4) easily could be incorporated into basic student research or utilized for a lesson on summarizing research. The introduction gives readers an anecdote regarding the topic. In Gaming Addiction, Ben loses interest in activities with his friends, instead opting to beat his high score. Ben’s friends confront changes they’ve noticed in him. In Smartphone Addiction Riley realizes she needs help after hardly hearing her friends while she checks social media notifications on her phone and earning a poor grade on an English essay. Four chapters include What is ___?, The science of ___, The effects of ___, and Treating the ___ (___ = addiction the title addresses). Frequent color photos, charts, text box highlights, and bold-faced vocabulary words make this series highly accessible to secondary researchers. Each book concludes with a glossary, source notes, for further research, and an index.

THOUGHTS: Marketed as hi-lo YA nonfiction, the titles in this series are best suited to middle and high school libraries and would be a great update to addiction collections or for use with health classes.

616.85 Mental Disorders 
616.86 Substance Abuse

Elem. – Becoming Charley

Among a forest full of young caterpillars eating milkweed “just as they’d been taught to do” is Charley who would rather admire the trees, clouds, and stars. Despite his elders scolding him to focus on becoming a big, strong butterfly, Charley wonders if it might be nice to be a spotted fawn or a waterfall. Despite daily lessons – “Think black. Think orange. Think black. Think orange.” and “This. Not that!” Charley is distracted by the sun, the wildflowers, the mountains, and the turquoise sea. When each caterpillar forms its chrysalis, everyone is excited, but Charley feels unsure. Will Charley remember to “Think black. Think orange.” or will the other colors and shapes of nature fill his mind? As millions of butterflies take to the skies in summer, Charley emerges.

THOUGHTS: Charley is determined to be an individual, focusing on the things he loves instead of what others expect of him. Wise’s beautiful illustrations bring to life this story of being true to oneself, even when you’re forging your own path. Young readers will appreciate the detailed digital illustrations and love learning about the life cycle of a butterfly.

Picture Book

Elem. – Love Makes a Garden Grow

Yoo, Taeeun. Love Makes a Garden Grow. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2023. 978-1-534-44286-3. Unpaged. $18.99. Grades K-2.

Among a garden full of beautiful blooms and lush greens, a young girl grows. With a watchful, loving eye, her grandfather cares for her and his plentiful plants. The two favor different flowers – she peonies, he orchids – but they care for the garden together, humming to the plants. Surrounded by plants, the little girl feels her grandfather’s love. As she grows and experiences life’s changes – like moving away and eventually having a family of her own – plants make her feel like she is loved and home.

THOUGHTS: This sweet intergenerational story would be perfect to celebrate grandparent’s day. Stunning pencil illustrations are brought to life with digital coloring. Highly recommended.

Picture Book

Elem. – Lovely Day

Withers, Bill. Lovely Day. Illustrated by Olivia Duchess. Scholastic, 2023. 978-1-338-81538-2. Unpaged. $18.99. Grades K-2.

Based on the song “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers and Skip Scarborough, Olivia Duchess creates an upbeat story about facing the day with optimism. Too bright sunshine, an empty cereal box, and a puddle of milk on the floor melt away when little sister has made big bro breakfast. Getting ready for the day is more fun with a partner. The playground is closed for repairs? No worries! There are other ways to have fun. Rain arrives to ruin the day? Nope! Puddles can be fun too. A diverse cast of characters – in ability and skin tone – are brought to life with Duchess’s illustrations which add to the overall sense of optimism that this book exudes.

THOUGHTS: This title will be hard to resist for Social Emotional Learning or counseling lessons or morning meetings. Even a music teacher would enjoy incorporating the original song into a lesson.

Picture Book

Elem. – Pocket Full of Sads

Davidson, Brad. Pocket Full of Sads. Illustrated by Rachel Mas Davidson. Rodale Kids, 2023. 978-0-593-56456-1. Unpaged. $18.99. Grades K-2.

For no specific reason, Bear’s “heart feels heavy / like [his] pocket’s full of sads.” It is hard to explain. A physical ailment isn’t the cause. It’s more like how one would feel if a brand new toy broke or a friend chose to sit with someone else. Rabbit is determined to fix Bear, but it isn’t as simple as telling a  funny joke or using the internet for an answer. Finally, things become too hard. Will Rabbit fix Bear’s pocket full of sads, so they can go fishing, or will this be one feeling that’s too big to fix?

THOUGHTS: Davidson’s story is perfect for morning meetings or a counseling/Social Emotional Learning lesson.  Told in a simple, gentle manner, young learners will understand how little things can cause big emotions. Rachel Mas Davidson’s colorful illustrations add brightness and hope to a book about facing sadness. Highly recommended.

Picture Book

MG – Not So Common Cent$: Super-Duper Important Facts About Money You Can’t Afford to Miss

Flynn, Sarah Wassner. Not So Common Cent$: Super-Duper Important Facts About Money You Can’t Afford to Miss. National Geographic Kids, 2023. 978-1-426-37328-2. 160 p. $14.99. Grades 3-6. 

In full-color, excited ‘did you know this?’ National Geographic style, Not So Common Cent$ introduces readers to money: its history; its creation and evolution; its growth worldwide; and how to make wise money decisions by working, saving, investing, and philanthropy. Financial independence is the goal, because with it, “not only will you have more choices in life, but you’ll also be in a better position to support yourself and others and contribute to your community” (9). The book answers questions like: What makes a coin valuable? When we run out of money, why can’t we just print more? How do countries make money? How does bitcoin work? And of course, money myths and ‘weird but true’ facts. Although this browseable nonfiction book offers just short bursts of information, that information is enlightening and can lead readers to further questions and learning. 

THOUGHTS: A great book for curious kids and a fun way to ease kids into financial literacy.  

332.4 Money

YA – Work With What You Got: A Memoir

Clark, Zion, and James S. Hirsch. Work With What You Got: A Memoir. Candlewick Press, 2023. 978-1-536-22421-4. 232 p. $18.99. Grades 7-12.

Born in prison with a rare congenital condition that left him without legs, and given up by his drug-addicted mother, Zion Clark faced a lifetime of bias and underestimation.  However, he maintains that negative stereotypes of being African American and being part of the foster care system were also large obstacles in his life.  The instability and the lack of training and oversight are two problems plaguing the foster care system, where the reality is, “who’s going to listen to a ten-year-old?” He acknowledges the help of some amazing people as he grew up: his first two foster families, his wrestling coach, and his adoptive mom. Their combined messages supporting his self-worth; determination; and hard work; combined with the outlets of music, athletics and faith, led Clark away from a gang and crime. Clark became a formidable athlete, first in wrestling, then in wheelchair road racing. Now a motivational speaker, Clark inspires others with his life story and overcomer attitude.

THOUGHTS: This honest memoir is riveting reading, appropriate for middle and high school.        


MG – Total Garbage: A Messy Dive Into Trash, Waste, and Our World

Donnelly, Rebecca. Total Garbage: A Messy Dive Into Trash, Waste, and Our World. Henry Holt & Co, 2023. 978-1-250-76076038-8. 156 p. $21.99. Grades 5-8.

Donnelly tackles an everyday reality: garbage, and answers questions such as: What is garbage? Where does it come from? Why do we make so much? Where does it go? What can we learn from our garbage? How bad is our garbage problem? And how can we do better? Trash is complicated, and whether it ends up in a landfill, incinerator, recycling center or compost heap, it doesn’t really go ‘away.’ Using first person plural we and and direct address (“take a look at your kitchen trash”), Donnelly establishes a friendly tone through the ordinary and unknown trash realities. Occasional line drawings by John Hendrix help to lighten the heavy load.  Along the way, readers will learn facts ranging from disgusting to simply sobering, facts like: early garbage piles in Paris were so large that troops had difficulty seeing around them, decomposing garbage produces toxic gas, recycling has not been the solution we hoped for, there are many ocean garbage ‘patches,’ planned obsolescence increases profits and trash, and much more. This book explains new terms like MSW, fatbergs, fast fashion, materials recovery facility (MRF), downcycling, middens, mudlarks and toshers, and the rag-and-doll man. The result is a complete look at garbage and ways we can confront our garbage problem.

THOUGHTS: Donnelly covers all the facts on global trash yet maintains a hopeful tone for readers, resulting in a very useful book. This title could work well with Can I Recycle This? A Guide to Better Recycling and How to Reduce Single-Use Plastics by Jennie Romer (2021).

628.4 Conservation & Environment