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

New Picture Books…The Tiny Wish; You Nest Here with Me


Evert, Lori. The Tiny Wish. New York: Random House, 2015. 978-0-385-37922-9. 32p. $17.99. Gr. PK -3.

Young Anja and her cousins are playing in the mountain meadows. Then , while playing hide-and-seek, Anja wishes that she could be smaller to hide more effectively. When she looks up again, she is tiny, and a wren offers her a ride. So begins Anja’s adventures through nature, as she sees things from a new, smaller perspective.

This beautiful book with its colorful illustrations and realistic photo-shopped creations is  a wonderful jumping off point for a fantasy story starter having students create their own tiny adventure. It also might be a great discussion to answer: What might be difficult if you were only six inches tall? What might be easier? The last page challenges the reader to decide, was it a dream or was her adventure real? Such creative and fun photographs bring the beauty of the mountains and its creatures to life in this inventive tale.

Picture Book, Fantasy        Donna Fernandez, Calvary Christian Academy


Yolen, Jane and Heidi E.Y. Stemple. You Nest Here With Me. Honesdale: Boyd Mills Press, 2015. 978-1-59078-923-0. 32p. $16.95. Gr. PreK-3.

Jane Yolen and daughter Heidi Stemple created a beautiful bedtime offering in which a mother tells her daughter about different birds and their nests, but reassures her that “you nest here with me.” For example, “Coots nest low in cattail reeds, Sparrows’ nests are full of weeds, Plus tangled grasses, feathers, seeds…But you nest here with me.” Fourteen different birds are featured, though a few other kinds make guest appearances; nature lovers may be able to spot them in Sweet’s illustrations. The rhyming text is succinct and flows nicely, making this a perfect soothing read at bedtime.

The text is also full of facts about different birds and might encourage a new generation of bird-watchers. Yolen, daughter Heidi, and husband David are bird enthusiasts. There is an Authors’ Note that describes their family’s passion for birds and each bird mentioned in the text is highlighted with a few quick facts, a silhouette, and illustrations of their eggs and feathers. Sweet’s illustrations have her usual sketchy quality, full of patterns and a bit of mixed media. They suit the story well. A great book!

Easy Fiction, Picture Book       Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools