Elementary NF – Super Cute!; Amazing Trains; Mighty Machines; Awesome Dogs

Borgert-Spaniol, Megan. Super Cute!. Bellwether, 2017. $17.95ea. 24p. Gr. K-3.
Baby Racoons. 979-7-8162617-545-7.
Baby Rhinos. 978-1-62617-546-4.
Baby Skunks. 978-1-62617-547-1.
Baby Zebras. 978-1-62617-548-8.
Who can resist baby animals? Not most elementary readers, that’s for sure, which no doubt influenced Bellwether’s expansion of of its Super Cute! series for younger readers. Each one of these engaging titles features basic information about the animal under discussion, including how the young are raised, what they eat, and how they protect themselves from predators. Numerous close-up photos show the baby animals eating, playing, sleeping and more! A glossary and link for online resources is also included. THOUGHTS: These titles are ideal for the lower elementary reader. The photo selection in each volume is excellent – the reader feels as if they are right there with the baby animals. Recommended for primary schools looking to add to their animal collection.
500s Animals           Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg School District

 

Leighton, Christina. Amazing Trains. Bellwether, 2017. $17.95ea. $107.70 set of 6. 24p. Gr. K-3.
City Trains. 978-1-62617-669-0.
Freight Trains. 978-1-62617-670-6.
High-Speed Trains. 978-1-62617-671-3.
Monorails. 978-1-62617-672-0.
Passenger Trains. 978-1-62617-673-7.
Subway Trains. 978-1-62617-674-4.
The Amazing Trains series aims to inform younger readers about various types of trains. Each volume examines a specific type of train, outlining the purpose of the train, how they are powered, the role of the driver of the train, and passenger accommodations (if it is a passenger-style train). Numerous photos show the various trains at work, traveling through they city streets or the countryside. A glossary and link for additional online resources is also included. THOUGHTS: This series is ideal for the primary school rail fan. Readers will enjoy the numerous photos present on each page illustrating the important role these trains play in everyday life. Recommended where trains are popular or for schools looking to expand their transportation collections.
600s Transportation       Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg School District

 

Mighty Machines in Action. Bellwether, 2017. $25.95 ea. 24pp. Gr. 1-3.

Bowman, Chris. Backhoes. 978-1-62617-600-3.

Bowman, Chris.  Bulldozers.978-1-62617-601-0.

Oachs, Emily Rose. Police Cars. 978-1-62617-607-2.

These three entries in the Mighty Machines in Action series are dynamic entries in easy non-fiction. Visually appealing, with bright, glossy pictures and large font text, these books introduce young readers to the structure of non-fiction books. Each volume has a table of contents, index and a glossary of words highlighted throughout the book, as well as boxed text and labeled diagrams. As in other series by this publisher, the “To Learn More” page refers readers to books and websites for more information. Websites are found through the (apparently) proprietary search engine Factsurfer.com. THOUGHTS:  These books are sure to be a hit with youngsters looking for books on vehicles.

Machines; Transportation     Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor School District

 

Awesome Dogs.  Bellwether, 2017. $25.95 ea. 24pp. Gr. K-2.

Leaf, Christina. Boston Terriers. 978-1-62617-557-0.

Scheutz, Kari.  Pugs. 978-1-62617-558-7.

Sommer, Nathan. Cocker Spaniels. 978-1-62617-611-9.

These books, part of the Awesome Dogs series, are aimed at early readers. Sparse informative text is superimposed on vibrantly colored pages. Bolded words correspond to the glossary. Cute pup pictures dominate, and are sure hold a child’s attention. With features such as table of contents, glossary and index, as well as at least one diagram with labels, and a map in each book, these volumes would be excellent for teaching parts of a book, or text features. A page at the back of the book refers students to book and websites for further information. However, as with other books from this publisher, they recommend Factsurfer.com search engine, which provides very select results (all age appropriate) and does not offer any information as to who operates the search engine. THOUGHTS: A nice introduction to research for the earliest students.

Dogs     Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor School District

Elementary NF – This is How we do It; She Persisted; Skyscraper

Lamothe, Matt. This is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from Around the World. Chronicle Books, 2017. 978-1-4521-5018-5. Unpaged. $17.99. Gr. K-3.

This is How We Do It introduces readers to seven children from seven different countries.  The children take readers through a typical day explaining who they are, where they live, their families, what they eat, how they dress, where they go to school, and what they like to do.  Each page is divided equally for each story, while also offering a “This is…” block that both introduces what the pages will cover and can be used in a lesson by having students consider their own experience in comparison to those of children their age around the world.  The illustrations are hand drawn and represent the people, places, and colors of each nation.  Lamothe includes notes at the end about his experiences traveling and the lives of these seven real children and a glossary to further explain some of the children’s experiences.  Also included are the real pictures of each family that were illustrations earlier in the book.  THOUGHTS:  This is a wonderful book for introducing culture and different experiences around the world.  The last page with the night sky establishes that we aren’t all that different; we still sleep under one sky.  This book can also be used for further study and research about other cultures and traditions.  On a personal note, I was blown away by the time that each child eats dinner.  Only one eats around 6 pm, everyone else is much later.

305.23; Cultures of the World      Erin Bechdel, Beaver Area SD

 

Lamothe, Matt. This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids From Around the World.  Chronicle Books, 2017.  978-1452150185. $17.99  Unpaged.  Gr. K-3.  

Author and illustrator Lamothe shows in side-by-side pictures a day in the life of ordinary kids from seven different countries.  Kei from Japan; Ribaldo from Peru; Kian from Iran; Oleg from Russia; Ananya from India; Romeo from Italy; and Daphine from Uganda.  Endpapers show their locations on a world map.  Pages show where they live, with whom (in their family), what they wear to school (uniforms for four of the seven), food eaten for each meal, after-school activities (including “how I help”), and how they get to school.   This is an amazing look at the average day lived by a variety of kids in cultures around the world.  Words underlined (such as bechamel, abwooli, or sensei) are defined in a short glossary, and an author’s note explains how Lamothe located these real families in order to show a regular day.  Photos of the families help to bring home the reality of the illustrations.  THOUGHTS: This is a strong addition to discuss geography or social customs with children.  

305.23 World Culture    Melissa Scott, Shenango Area SD

 

Clinton, Chelsea. She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World. Ill. Alexandra Boiger, Philomel Books, 2017. 978-1-5247-4172-3. Unpaged. $17.99. Gr. K-3.

“The right way is not always the popular and easy way.  Standing for right when it is unpopular is a true test of moral character,” Margaret Chase Smith, one of the thirteen women who changed the lives of women (and at times their race) through their actions.  She Persisted shares the stories of Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Clara Lemlich, Nellie Bly, Virginia Apgar, Maria Tallchief, Claudette Colvin, Ruby Bridges, Sally Ride, Florence Griffith Joyner, Oprah Winfrey, and Sonia Sotomayor, many of whom elementary (and older students) are unfamiliar.  Although each story is just a brief summary of the greatness of these women, the continual use of “She Persisted” sticks with readers as a mantra.  Clinton ends this beautifully illustrated picture book with, “They persisted and so should you.”  This simple message encouraging students to do more, achieve more, fight for what is right not only for your, but for others, is uplifting and important to teach students at a young age.  As Clinton writes, “So, if anyone ever tells you no, if anyone ever says your voice isn’t important or your dreams are too big, remember these women.  They persisted and so should you.”  THOUGHTS:  I love this book.  It highlights amazing women who many students are unfamiliar with or only recognize their names, not their accomplishments.  I like that the women are from all walks of life, young and old; black, white, and Native American; politicians and athletes; entertainers and astronauts.  It truly encompasses everything a woman can do.  This is a must have for all libraries.

One final note…Illustrator Alexandra Boiger includes a portrait of Hillary Clinton on the first page spread as the children visit a gallery of important and influential women.  Portraits and busts of those highlighted in the book are also included, along with children of all genders, cultures, and races.

Biography     Erin Bechdel, Beaver Area SD

 

Suen, Anastasia. Up! Up! Up! Skyscraper. Ill. Ryan O’Rourke. Charlesbridge, 2017. 978-158089-7105. $16.99 Unpaged. Gr. K-3.

This book won’t take much to sell it.  The highly popular construction site topic and the in-process building on the cover will have young children eagerly opening the book.  Inside they will find more detail than usual ‘construction books’ give including labeled items (concrete pile, rebar cage, pile driver, decking and more) and two blocks of text per page, one rhyming, and one explanatory.  One four-line rhyme reads, “Pour, pour pour! / A floor down low / The higher the building / the deeper we go” with an accompanying explanation, “Every building has a foundation, but tall buildings, like our skyscraper, need very thick foundations.  We pour concrete over a rebar frame to make the foundation.”  The building suffers from simple glass panels (“where is the door?”) and lack of detail, but the focus here is on the underlying framework of the building.  Multiracial male and female construction workers make the building grow as kids in construction hats look on.  THOUGHTS:  This is a welcome addition to nonfiction picture books about construction, and it explains the how and why, not just different vehicles.  This is a good choice for elementary and public libraries.

720, Construction      Melissa Scott, Shenango Area SD

Elementary series NF – Real Monsters; Our Renewable Earth; Olympic Biographies; Be an Engineer

Real Monsters (series). Abdo Publishing, 2017. $21.68 ea. 32p. Gr. 3 – 5.

Bernhardt, Carolyn. Gila Monster: Venomous Desert Dweller. 978-1-68078-420-6.

Harvey, Jillian L., Komodo Dragon: Toxic Lizard Titan. 978-1-68078-421-3.

Leusted,  Marcia Amidon. Tasmanian Devil: Savage Island Scavenger. 978-1-68078-423-7.

Polinsky, Paige V. Spotted Hyena: Cackling Carnivore of the Savanna. 978-1-68078-422-0.

Polinsky, Paige V. Giant Centipede: Colossal Creeper of the Night. 978-1-68078-418-3.

Polinsky, Paige V.  Giant Squid: Mysterious Monster of the Deep. 978-1-68078-419-0.

Spotted Hyena: Cackling Carnivore of the Savanna begins with a good table of contents, and has a very good introductory “Creature Feature” page with many of the basic facts (name, class, size , life span) as well as a world map showing the range and diet of the hyena. The book addresses legends, then moves on to educational facts. The cover and the series title are geared toward the more monstrous aspects of the species, and some of the contents reflect this. THOUGHTS: More recent books focusing on specific animals without a an agenda (biggest, scariest) are few and far between. This is not one of them, but it does have good information and the pictures are adequate.

Animals            Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School

 

Rivera, Andrea. Zoom In on Our Renewable Earth. ABDO Zoom, 2017. $18.95 ea. $113.70 set of 6. 24p. Gr. K-2.

Conservation. 9781680799385.

Plants. 9781680799392.

Recycling. 9781680799408.

Solar Power. 9781680799415.

Water. 9781680799422.

Wind Power. 9781680799439.

This series is geared toward the younger elementary set.  Wind Power looks at the basic ideas of wind and how it can be used to make electricity. The text is quite general with some keywords, such as “turbine,” that are explained in the glossary. It also covers a range of topics such as engineering, art, and math. THOUGHTS:  If your school is excited about renewable resources, this is a good series to introduce the concept to the youngest readers.

Science           Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School

 

Lajiness, Katie. Big Buddy Olympic Biographies (series). Abdo Publishing, 2017. $19.95 ea. Set of 6 $119.70.  32p. Gr. 2 – 5.

Ibtihaj Muhammad: Olympic Fencer. 9781680785548.

Katie Ledecky: Olympic Swimmer. 9781680785531.

Laurie Hernandez: Olympic Gymnast. 9781680785524.

Michael Phelps: Olympic Swimmer. 9781680785555.

Simone Biles: Olympic Gymnast. 9781680785500.

Usain Bolt: Olympic Sprinter. 9781680785517.

This series is notable not only for the quality information and the professional pictures, but also for highlighting women athletes. These biographies cover birthplace and training, as well as important milestones in the athlete’s career. It does focus on the Rio Olympics, and the further out they get the more dated this biographies will be. Yet some will be lasting because their Olympic careers are over. THOUGHTS: I love this series! It has the fastest runner (not from the US) as well as high profile women athletes. It’s great to expose young readers to success stories that are not just USA (Usain Bolt) and diverse females that don’t usually get coverage (Ibtihaj Muhammad).

Sports Biographies        Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School

 

Be An Engineer: Designing to Solve Problems (series). Crabtree, 2017. 24 pp. $17.95 each. Gr. 2-5.

Burns, Kylie. A Bridge Goes Over. 979-0-7787-2907-5.

Burns, Kylie. A Skyscraper Reaches Up. 979-0-7787-2904-4.

Sikkens, Crystal. A Dam Holds Back. 979-0-7787-2905-1.

Sikkens, Crystal. A Tunnel Runs Through. 979-0-7787-2903-7.

Engineers solve problems. It’s as simple as that, but much more complex is the process that gets them there. Whether building a bridge, a tunnel, a dam, or a building, each engineer uses science, math, and creative thinking to work out the problem. Each book in this series flows from an example problem to explaining the role of an engineer and the problem solving process. Then there are plenty of structure specific examples with photographs and captions to lead the reader to a model activity at the end. Also included are resource lists, online codes, glossaries, and indexes. Be an Engineer!: Designing to Solve Problems is a great way to open the eyes of young innovators to the structures that support us every day!  THOUGHTS: This series complements well with themes of STEAM and inquiry science and future careers. The predictable pattern of each book makes them comparable for small group projects, note taking or discussion. Visually they are a good blend of pictures, colors, and descriptions to hold the reader’s attention.

620, Engineering      Dustin Brackbill, State College Area SD

Picture Books – Abraham; Mighty Construction Site; Ladies of Liberty; Blue Sky White Stars

Keating, Frank.  Abraham.  Simon and Schuster Books for Young Children, 2017. 9781442493193. Unpaged.  $17.99.  Gr. 2-5.

This picture book biography about Abraham Lincoln is not so much a book that details all his accomplishments, but instead gives the reader insight into his character, aspirations and beliefs.  Keating begins by listing some of Lincoln’s titles, such as “Honest Abe” and “Great Emancipator.” He takes us from Lincoln’s humble beginnings through his presidency, although his assassination is not mentioned. The author discusses how the president valued education and books and that honesty was a guiding principle in his life.  Lincoln’s own quotations are peppered throughout the text.   Mike Wimmer’s full bleed illustrations accompany each page of text and are done in oil on canvas.  His illustration of Lincoln’s statue is stunning, as it appears to gleam in the sunlight.  The full text of the Gettysburg Address is included at the end.  In the author’s note, Keating states that “Abraham Lincoln was an affirmation of the…call of the Declaration of Independence that all men were created equal.”  The author includes a list of his resources.   THOUGHTS:  Although the book does not contain enough information for reports, this appealing biography works well as read aloud and will interest children who wish to know more about our sixteenth president.  This book is part of the Mount Rushmore Presidential series, which also includes Theodore and George.

Picture Book Biography           Denise Medwick, West Allegheny School District

 

Rinker, Sherri Duskey. Mighty, Mighty Construction Site. Chronicle Books: 2017. 978-1-4521-5216-5. 32pp. $16.99. Gr K-3.

In this sequel to Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, the heavy equipment trucks are back, and they’re ready to tackle their largest project yet! Crane Truck, Dump Truck, Cement Mixer, Bulldozer, and Excavator see the blueprints for their newest project, and they know they’re going to need some help. Cement Mixer honks his horn, and five new trucks come rolling down the road. With the help of Skid Steer, Backhoe, Flatbed Truck, Front-end Loader, and Pumper Truck, the crew pushes dirt, blasts rocks, digs trenches, lays pipes, lifts beams, delivers materials, hauls rubble, and pours foundations. Teamwork is the name of the game, and each truck has an important role to play in completing the project. Rhyming verse and colorful oil pastel illustrations ensure that this is a story construction-fans will return to again and again.   THOUGHTS:  This title will shine during a construction-themed storytime, and it can also be used to promote the benefits of teamwork.

Picture Book      Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

 

Roberts, Cokie. Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation. Harper, 2017: 978-0-06-078005-0. 37pp. $17.99. Gr 3-6.

This title highlights female reformers, writers, activists, explorers, educators, and orators who made their mark during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The collection features double-page spreads highlighting the accomplishments of ten women, including Lucy Terry Prince, Sacagawea, Martha Jefferson Randolph, Elizabeth Bayley Seton, Elizabeth Kortright Monroe, and Louisa Catherine Adams. Smaller biographical sketches also outline the contributions of women such as Eliza Hamilton, Lucretia Mott, Hannah Foster, and Margaret Dwight. Many of these women worked tirelessly to ensure the freedoms of all of our nation’s people, including women, orphans, and people of diverse faiths, were protected. Sepia-toned pen and ink illustrations by Caldecott Honor-winner Diane Goode lend a period-touch to the pages. Although the information presented is not detailed enough for in-depth research, this book serves as an easily-accessible introduction to some of America’s earliest feminists who strove to make our country a better place for all of its people.  THOUGHTS: This book can be used to in conjunction with American history units about the Founding Fathers and Westward Expansion. It can also serve as a jumping-off point for biographical projects centering around these diverse women. This is the sort of book that teachers could use to highlight one woman each week, or they could focus solely on one or two women who tie in to their current curricular study.

Nonfiction Picture Book     Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

 

Naberhaus, Sarvinder and Kadir Nelson. Blue Sky White Stars. New York, NY: Dial for Young Readers, 2017. 978-0-8037-3700-6. $17.99. Unpaged. Gr. K-3.

Defining America in broad terms can be a challenge for adults as well as students. One symbol that inevitably brings us together is the stars and stripes of the USA flag. This book is a vision of inclusivity using the pieces of the flag to bring out a greater message of the whole country. Naberhaus uses subtle homophones like “Sew together Won nation” with “So together One nation.” as well as phrases and homographs that carry dual meanings of importance. The ever skilled illustrations of Kadir Nelson bring the sparse words to life with diversity and patriotism. The parallels that this team bring to the work are relevant and rousing to our country’s past, present, and future aspirations. THOUGHTS: The discussions that I look forward to having with students around this book are hopefully around the way text and illustration can partner to carry meaning. The connections that I hope students make are hopefully about diversity, unity, and acceptance in a time when we need to emphasize these traits more than ever. This timely book quickly captured my heart and head.

Picture Book     Dustin Brackbill, State College Area SD

Picture Books – Giant Squid; Billions of Bricks

Fleming, Candace & Eric Rohmann. Giant Squid. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2016. 978-1-59643-599-5. Unpaged. $18.99. Gr. 1-4.

Meet the mysterious and little known giant squid. Fleming and Rohmann introduce this fascinating creature bit by bit teasing the reader with facts about the different body parts. Rarely seen by human eyes, the giant squid illustrations by Rohmann are sure to capture the attention of readers no matter what age (including a large four-page spread). The writing is lyrical and smooth and there is a wonderful author’s note in the back for those who want to know more.

THOUGHTS: This award* winning book is fun to read at any age. Perfect classroom book for science or library.  

*Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Honor

Non-Fiction Picture Book      Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School

 

Cyrus, Kurt. Billions of Bricks: A Counting Book About Building. New York: Henry Holt & Co, 2016. 978-1627-7927-38. Unpaged. $16.99. Gr. Pre-2.

A cute story incorporating skip-counting and building with bricks. Count by 2s, 5s, and 10s, and learn how bricks are made and used. Different styles of architecture are used to show this type of building material can be used. At the end a whole city (streets and all) emerges, but watch out for that extra brick!  THOUGHTS: I liked how how the workers were diverse in all senses, race, gender, and age. It’s fun to read aloud with Kindergarteners who are learning to skip count and count in groups.

Picture Book      Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School