Elem. – Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls

Whipple, Annette. Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls. Reycraft Books, 2020. 978-1-478-86962-7. 32 p. $17.95. Grades 1-3. 

Children and adults have long been fascinated with owls. Likely many of our students have read a fictional story featuring an owl or heard the hoot of an owl while camping, hiking, or just relaxing in their backyard. In Whooo Knew?, readers have the opportunity to learn more about these amazing creatures. Information about owl characteristics, life cycle, and habitat are introduced by the author posing a question (for example: “Can Owls Spin Their Heads?”, “What Good Are Ear Tufts?”, and “What Do Owl Babies Do?”). Each question is answered in an informational two page spread featuring numerous photographs. The title also includes a section on what readers can do to help owls, and backmatter includes a glossary, instructions on dissecting an owl pellet, and illustrations of owl anatomy.

THOUGHTS: This engaging non-fiction title is sure to be a hit with students, who will find it useful for research as well as casual reading. The structure of the book, with each topic introduced by catchy questions, will catch the attention of readers and the numerous photos of owl species and close-up views of owl characteristics will allow readers to appreciate these amazing animals. Recommended.

*Note: This book is by a Pennsylvania author.

598.97 Owls          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem./MG – Animals Back From the Brink (Series NF)

Animals Back From the Brink. Crabtree Publishing, 2020. $14.30 ea. $290.50 set of 14. 32p. Grades 3-6.

Bringing Back the American Alligator. 978-1-549-08040-1.
Bringing Back the Black-Footed Ferret. 978-1-725-44237-5.
Bringing Back the Blue Iguana. 978-1-725-48072-8.
Bringing Back the California Condor. 978-1-725-48073-5.
Bringing Back the Giant Panda. 978-1-549-08041-8.
Bringing Back the Gray Wolf. 978-1-549-08042-5.
Bringing Back the Grizzly Bear. 978-1-549-08043-2.
Bringing Back the Humpback Whale. 978-1-549-08044-9.
Bringing Back the Island Fox. 978-1-725-48074-2.
Bringing Back the Lesser Long-Nosed Bat. 978-1-725-44238-2.
Bringing Back the Mountain Gorilla. 978-1-725-44239-9.
Bringing Back the Snow Leopard. 978-1-725-44240-5.
Bringing Back the Southern White Rhino. 978-1-725-48075-9.
Bringing Back the Whooping Crane. 978-1-549-08045-6.

Readers will discover endangered species around the world. Each book begins with facts about the featured species including its habitat and an introduction to the dangerous factors contributing to extinction. Each book explains the scientific criteria that is used to figure out the levels of threat to each species, the historical and current threat to each species, and the problems environmental groups have had trying to protect them. Each book concludes with an explanation of future protection efforts and what the reader can do to help. The “Learning More” section of each book provides books and websites for the reader to learn more about the specific species featured.

THOUGHTS: A good supplement to an existing collection of  endangered species books and for libraries with patrons interested in this topic.

590 Animals     Jaynie Korzi, South Middleton SD

Elem. – Nesting

Cole, Henry. Nesting. Katherine Tegen Books, 2020. 978-0-062-88592-0. 32 p. $17.99. Grades K-3. 

From the branches of an apple tree, a male robin calls out to his mate on an early spring morning. After scoping out the perfect spot, the pair gather twigs and grasses, building a nest in the crook of the tree. The mother robin settles in quietly, and soon, four smooth, blue eggs appear. One week later, the eggs hatch, and the parents begin gathering food for their defenseless babies. The young family weathers a spring storm, as well as an unwelcome snake visitor, before the baby birds flap their small wings and leave the nest for the first time. As spring gives way to summer, then autumn, the family fills up on berries to tide them over during the approaching winter. Snow covers the nest, and the world is quiet, waiting for spring to return, along with the robin’s first call. The story unfolds through simple, straightforward text as well as a brief author’s note sharing additional information about robins. The illustrations are the stars of the story. Cole uses Micron pens and acrylic paints to create beautifully detailed crosshatch illustrations that perfectly capture both the depth and the simplicity found in the natural world.  

THOUGHTS: Students who love nature, and especially bird-watching, will gravitate towards this book. It will also be a nice tie-in for primary grade teachers who discuss the changing seasons, since readers can follow the robin family throughout the year. Pair with Mark Teague’s Fly or Denise Fleming’s This is the Nest that Robin Built with a Little Help from Her Friends for a robin-themed story time. 

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Elem. – In the City

Raschka, Chris. In the City. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2020. 978-1-481-48627-9. 40 p. $17.99. Grades K-2.

In The City is a rhyming picture book that focuses on friendship using pigeons to illustrate that point. The book follows pigeons as they go through a city, landing on statues and flying overhead, and the narrator points out the different ways that pigeons form friendships and relates that to the people. The illustrations are beautiful in ink and watercolor which add to the story as readers follow the pigeons and people through making their friends.

THOUGHTS: This is a wonderful addition to any elementary school collection and highly recommended!

Picture Book          Mary Hyson, Lehigh Valley Regional Charter Academy

Elem. – Superhero Animals (Series NF)

Abdo, Kenny. Superhero Animals. Abdo, 2020. $19.95 ea. $119.70 set of 6. 24 p. Grades 2-5.

Ants. 978-1-5321-2947-6.
Bats. 978-1-5321-2948-3.
Black Panthers. 978-1-5321-2949-0.
Falcons. 978-1-5321-2950-6.
Spiders. 978-1-5321-2951-3.
Wolverines. 978-1-5321-2952-0.

The Superhero Animals series explores the connection between animals and their comic/movie namesakes. Readers will learn about the history and characteristics of the comic superheroes as well as their namesakes in the animal kingdom. They will learn how animal characteristics were incorporated into the comic book characters. In Black Panthers, for example, readers learn how black panthers are intelligent creatures, known for their ability to stealthily track their prey. They are also known for their speedy running ability. The comic Black Panther (aka King T’Challa) is known for his wisdom, strength and speed, among other characteristics. Clearly the comic book creators drew inspiration from wild panthers in creating this superhero. Each title features photos of the animal in the wild as well as illustrations of the comic characters, including still photos from recent film adaptations of the comics. Back matter includes a glossary of terms and links to online resources.

THOUGHTS: This series is an unique combination of comic book history and animal facts. As such, it holds appeal for both fans of the many recent superhero comic film adaptations as well as animal fans. A worthwhile additional purchase.

590s Animals          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – Snow Birds

Hall, Kirsten. Snow Birds. Abrams, 2020. 978-1-419-74203-3. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-3.

This delightful work of poetry pays tribute to those birds that stay behind and face the harsh winter. Each two page spread focuses on a different bird. The text is written in assorted rhyming patterns and includes the calls that each species makes. The work begins in autumn with a blue jay foraging for nuts and a wren looking for a home. As the snow begins to fall, snow geese and snow buntings are seen flying amidst the snowflakes. As winter deepens and darkens, a great gray owl chases its prey while a ruffed grouse burrows into its snowy home. A woodpecker searching for insects, and blue jays preparing a nest signal the arrival of spring.  The back matter contains more information about each of the seventeen featured birds and how they adapt to a wintry climate. The beautiful full bleed illustrations by Desmond are done in assorted media and deftly add atmosphere to the text.  One can almost feel a chill when reading about the “shaking quaking” chickadee’s struggles to stay warm and the snowy owl’s venture into the black frozen night.

THOUGHTS: This poetic work is a great introduction to winter birds for primary students and is perfect for a winter themed story time. This is a first purchase for elementary collections.

811.54 Poetry          Denise Medwick, Retired, PSLA Member

Elem. – Lali’s Feather

Zia, Farhana. Lali’s Feather. Peachtree, 2020. 978-1-682-63129-4. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades PreK-2.

Lali is a young girl living in India who finds a feather on the ground. She asks a number of birds if this feather belongs to them. A rooster, crow, peacock, and other birds deny that the plain feather is theirs. Lali then shows that the feather is useful and uses it to write, sweep, and even to tickle her father’s feet. Then, the feather catches the wind and blows away and the distraught Lali runs after it. With the help of her bird friends, the feather is retrieved and the next day, Lali finds a button. The digitally created illustrations by Stephanie Fizer Coleman are colorful and engaging. The artist gives a hint of the Indian landscape and culture in the drawings.

THOUGHTS: This story is a good read aloud and could be a discussion starter for ideas about what Lali will do next with the button. A supplemental purchase for elementary collections.

Picture Book          Denise Medwick, Retired, PSLA Member

Elem. – Tiny Bird: A Hummingbird’s Amazing Journey

Burleigh, Robert. Tiny Bird: A Hummingbird’s Amazing Journey. Christy Ottaviano Books: Henry Holt and Company. 2020. 978-1-627-79369-8. $18.99. Grades K-4.

Behold, a tiny bird, no bigger than a quarter. This tiny bird takes its last drink at an orange flower, manages to bite one last bug, before it begins it’s difficult journey to it’s winter home. The bird faces many obstacles: hawks, storms, and anything in between. Some hummingbirds never complete the journey, including the 24 hour flight across the raging sea. Will this tiny bird make it to it’s winter home? We hope so!

THOUGHTS: This book is filled with tons of information about hummingbirds. In addition to the great information provided, the book is illustrated with beautiful colors, showing the beauty of nature and this tiny bird.

Picture Book          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Elementary NF – Penguin Chicks; Engineered by Nature

Murray, Julie.  Penguin Chicks.  ABDO Kids Publishing, 2018. 9781532100741. 24 p.  $19.00.  K-2.

With attractive photographs and simple text, Murray has written an introduction to the life cycle of the penguin from egg to chick for young readers.  The reader learns about the behavior and physical description of the penguin, as well as some simple terminology.  The book is designed in classic nonfiction style and includes an index and table of contents.  A few words are highlighted in the text, like hatch, thick, webbed and fine and these are defined in the picture glossary.  However, words like krill are not explained. There are one or two sentences on a page in a large font size, while the opposite page contains a full page photograph. Children can access activities and videos about penguins on abdokids.com by using the special code, which is provided.  This book is part of the ABDO Kids: Baby Animals series, but the other books in the series were not available for review.  THOUGHTS:  This book is perfect for teachers to use in the ever popular penguin unit. It will also appeal to children who will enjoy reading about this unique animal independently.  Young readers will be drawn to the charming photographs. This text is a winner and should be added to all elementary collections.

598.47; Birds            Denise Medwick, West Allegheny SD

 

Spilsbury, Louise and Richard. Engineered by Nature. Bellweather Media, 2017. 32 p. $25.95 each. Gr. 3-6.

Animal Adaptations. 978-1-62617-585-3.

Animal Homes and Hangouts. 978-1-62617-586-0.

Animal Traps and Lairs. 978-1-62617-587-7.

Born Survivors. 978-1-62617-588-4.

Deadly Predators. 978-1-62617-589-1.

Killer Plants. 978-1-60686-467-8.

This series focuses on the marvels of nature and the ways in which nature engineers animals and plants for survival. Each title focuses on a different mode of survival, such as physical adaptations or skillfully built animal homes. Every book provides a basic introduction along with 11 mostly well-done examples, such as the large ears of a fennec fox that help keep it cool in the hot desert climate or the intricately dug colonies of prairie dogs which keep them safe from predators. Examples include one or two colorful photographs along with straightforward text. Page layout is clean and often includes Fast Facts or Did You Know? highlights. Each book includes a Table of Contents, Index, Glossary, and To Learn More section. THOUGHTS: An attractive and interesting series for students of many ages.

500s              Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin School District

Upper Elem./MS NF – Crow Smarts; Military History

Turner, Pamela S. Crow Smarts: Inside the Brain of the World’s Smartest Bird. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2016. 978-0544-416192  $18.99.  73 pp. Gr. 5-9.
The latest in more than two dozen popular titles in the Scientists in the Field series, Crow Smarts follows crow scientist Gavin Hunt as he tracks and tests the crows of New Caledonia.  We meet several crows with individual personalities (Little Feather, Munin, Lefty, and even “The Crow We Never Got Around to Naming”), and we also meet a writer and researchers with a shared sense of humor.  One crow, “looks at me as though she’s attempting a Jedi mind trick.”  Combined with inviting and colorful page spreads, and beautiful photographs, this book draws readers into the story.    Author Turner has cared for baby crows until they’re ready to be released.  She observes of crows, “[Baby crows] are obsessively interested in everything. No newspaper goes unripped. No food goes unplayed with.  If one crow has something, the other crow wants it.  They are awesomely naughty” (65).  Turner believes more people should recognize the crows’ ability to use tools and to make tools, even specialized hooked tools.  This discovery has led to a re-definition of “human” (scientist Louis Leakey famously wrote that toolmaking was the “step which lifted ‘near-man’ from the purely animal level to that of human status” (8)).  Of the 1,371,500 known animal species, only five are known to make multiple kinds of tools (humans, chimps, orangutans, capuchin monkeys, and New Caledonian crows) and of those five, only two (humans and New Caledonian crows) are known to make hooked tools (39).  Turner’s writing is the perfect complement to the beautiful photographs that make the scientists’ work more clear.  THOUGHTS: Suitable for readers in grades 4-9, the entire Scientists in the Field series is excellent for promoting careers in science and an understanding of the wide variety of scientific work that is being done in the world.  Turner has a second title in the series, titled The Dolphins of Shark Bay.
598 Birds      Melissa Scott, Shenango High School  

 

McCarthy, Cecelia Pinto. The Science of Warriors. Minneapolis: ABDO, 2017. 978-1-68078-253-0. 48 p. $23.00. Gr. 3-6.

Hand this book to your students who can’t get enough books about weapons, battles, and the military. The Science of Warriors breaks down the history of weapons, protective devices, and vehicles to show how changing science has improved these areas within a warrior’s realm. Each section details early efforts by warriors through current practice, such as the use of armor made with animal skins to mail and plate armor through modern-day use of Kevlar, all influenced by science.  The text is interesting, factual but easy to read, and provides many sidebars with further information. There are also great photographs to enhance the text. The book contains a Table of Contents, glossary, index, and sections of Fast Facts and Stop and Think questions. THOUGHTS: This book is an interesting mix of history, science, and warfare. It will fly off the shelves.

355 Military History     Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools