Elem. – Over and Under the Canyon

Messner, Kate. Over and Under the Canyon. Chronicle Books, 2021. 978-1-452-16939-2. 56 p. $18.99. Grades K-3. 

Discover the wonders of a desert ecosystem in the newest edition of Kate Messner’s ecology-based Over and Under series. This story is about one family’s hike through a real-world desert habitat. Messner’s book Over and Under the Canyon aligns perfectly with national science standards with excellent and amazing facts about the animals, wildlife, and wonders that inhabit the desert world. With colorful and vivid illustrations by award-winning artist Christopher Silas Neal, this picture book is undoubtedly driven by an engaging narrative packed with STEM content. In addition, the content within the story provides many opportunities to discuss the importance of natural habitats and ecosystems and how to preserve our natural wonders. As a result, readers will be engaged in every page turn. 

THOUGHTS: Science-loving readers will want to explore this fact-filled story about animals and wildlife. Curiosity may grow with each page, and educators will be able to dive into the well-researched content. Messner’s other books in this series include: Over and Under the Pond and Over and Under the Rainforest. Add this gorgeous book to your science collection! 

Picture Book          Marie Mengel, Reading SD

Elem. – Bright Star

Morales, Yuyi. Bright Star. Holiday House, 2021. Unpaged. 978-0-823-44328-4. $18.99. Grades K-1.

Morales weaves English and Spanish text together to create a heartwarming tale of a young fawn and her mother. As narrator, the doe speaks to her child as they explore the Southwestern desert landscape. She tells her cosita (little thing) that she is a bright star and that she loves her. After hearing a loud sound, the fawn becomes frightened and the mother cautions her to be alert and find a safe space. In soothing tones, the deer comforts her anxious daughter and reminds her that she will never be alone and will always be protected. The illustrations are done in a variety of media, including embroidery, and reveal a few causes of her fear-a snake, a leopard, a cloud of dust, and a wall. In the author’s note, Morales explains that she began this book in 2019 after observing migrants being detained after attempting to cross the border and how the environment was being destroyed by the wall’s construction. Morales’ drawings are a showcase of the flora and fauna of the area, such as a hummingbird, a scorpion, and saguaro cacti, which in one spread are cut down into pieces. The author connects the disruption of the lives of the plants and animals to the disrupted lives of migrants and inhabitants of the region. This is shown in the final pages by the images of children wearing shirts with animal designs and surrounded by desert plants.  This story conveys a message of reassurance and hope during anxious times.

THOUGHTS: Morales’ art is beautiful, and the renderings of the animals, especially the fawn, are charming. Young children will enjoy looking at the creatures and will find comfort in this story. It also could be useful in ecology units. A strong purchase for elementary libraries.

Picture Book          Denise Medwick, Retired PSLA Member

Elem. – Looking at Layers (Series NF)

Looking at Layers. The Child’s World, 2020. $20.00 ea. 24 p. Grades 3-6. 

London, Martha. Looking Inside Earth. 978-1-503-83518-4.
Huddleston, Emma. Looking Inside the Human Body. 978-1-503-83519-1.
—. Looking Into Caves. 978-1-503-83522-1.
—. Looking Into Soil. 978-1-503-83520-7.
London, Martha. Looking Into the Atmosphere. 978-1-503-83516-0.
—. Looking Into the Grand Canyon. 978-1-503-83517-7.
—. Looking Into the Ocean. 978-1-503-83515-3.
Huddleton, Emma. Looking Into the Rain Forest. 978-1-503-83521-4.

An attractive nonfiction series exploring various layers of natural things, from the human body to soil to the rainforest. Straightforward text clearly explains concepts with a natural projection from outward layers in. Words from the glossary are highlighted in red which is a nice feature for readers. Sidebars focus on timely topics, such as “Creating Mountains” when text discusses tectonic plates in Looking Inside Earth. Visuals are both illustrations and photographs. Looking Inside the Human Body has fascinating illustrations of many body systems that will keep little readers absorbed. Back matter includes a helpful Fast Facts section that covers main points from the text, a glossary, “To Learn More” section, and index.

THOUGHTS: Nice collection additions if nonfiction is hot.

500s-600s          Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD

Elem. – Habitat Hunter (Series NF)

Potts, Nikki. Habitat Hunter. Ill. Maarten Lenoir, Picture Window Books, 2020. 31 p. $132.24 set of 6. $21.99 ea. Grades PreK-2.

Frog Moves out of the Rain Forest. 978-1-977-11423-5. 
Goat Moves out of the Barnyard.
978-1-977-11421-1.
Meerkat Moves out of the Desert
. 978-1-977-11419-8.
Owl Moves out of the Forest. 978-1-977-11424-2.
Penguin Moves out of the Antarctic. 978-1-977-11422-8.
Shark Moves out of the Ocean.
978-1-977-11420-4.

“Meerkats, meerkats everywhere!” (1), and Meerkat is not happy about it.  She wants a new home she does not have to share, so she sets out to find her new home. Meerkat tries the mountains, but they’re too quiet. She tries a cave, but it’s too cold and has too many bats.  Next she tries a playground; it seems like a great home with all of the tunnels, but the slide is too hot, and the monkey bars are too high. After trying a garden, Meerkat decides her own home is the best home and returns to it.

THOUGHTSMeerkat Moves out of the Desert is a fun way for young readers to learn about meerkats. Combining both pictures and illustrations, readers learn about various homes for Meerkat while also learning why the new habitat isn’t quite right. In the end, Meerkat’s realization that her habitat is the best not only solidifies basic understanding of a meerkat, but it also teaches readers to appreciate their home and family and that something different is not always best.  This title, as with the other titles in this series, also includes a page about the highlighted animal (meerkats) and an “Animal Passport.” This title is also useful for teaching comparing and contrasting because of the various homes Meerkat considers.

 

 

 

Animals        Erin Bechdel, Beaver Area SD

Elem. – Pollinators (Series NF)

Pollinators. DiscoverRoo, 2020. $168 set of 8. 32 p. Grades 3-6.

Bassier, Emma. Bats. 978-1-53216-592-4.
—. Bees. 978-1-53216-593-1.
—. Moths. 978-1-53216-598-6.
—. Wasps. 978-1-53216-599-3.
London, Martha. Beetles. 978-1-53216-594-8.
—. Butterflies. 978-1-53216-595-5.
—. Flies. 978-1-53216-596-2.
—. Hummingbirds. 978-1-53216-597-9.

Who knew pollen could be so interesting? DiscoverRoo’s “Pollinators” series gets elementary nonfiction right. Straightforward text explains the pollination process and provides details on pollinators and their habitats, habits, and issues surrounding the various types of creatures. “Honeybees can visit 5,000 flowers in one day.” Wow! Beautiful photographs, plenty of white space to keep page layout looking clean, QR codes sprinkled throughout the text, and lots of helpful nonfiction text features keep these titles feeling fresh. Each book includes a table of contents, glossary, index, and an online resources section accessible via a QR code for further learning opportunities.

THOUGHTS: Invest in this set if creature features are popular or if looking to update supporting science series.

590s Animals/Insects          Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD

Elem. – Winged Wonders: Solving the Monarch Migration Mystery

Pincus, Meeg. Winged Wonders: Solving the Monarch Migration Mystery. Sleeping Bear Press, 2020. 978-1-534-11040-3. $17.99. Grades 2-4.

Did you ever wonder who discovered the migration pattern of monarch butterflies?  Pincus explains it all in this beautifully illustrated picture book. She begins with a discussion of how these insects have inhabited North America for centuries, but no one knew where the butterflies went in winter. The answer was revealed in 1976 through the cooperation of scientists, science teachers, gardeners, and many other people. It began with a Canadian scientist who began tagging the butterflies’ wings in order to track them. He and his wife placed ads in newspapers throughout the continent, asking people to help with both tagging and searching for them. Finally in Mexico, an American adventurer and his wife located the insects’ winter destination with the help of the local people. The author asks readers of today to help save the monarch’s food source and habitat before it is too late. Imamura’s mostly full bleed drawings are colorful and full of details. The back matter includes a page called “How to Help the Monarch” and more information about the migration discovery.

THOUGHTS:  This is a wonderful nonfiction text that will delight the reader. It is a perfect choice for butterfly or ecology units and is a great read aloud at any time. A first purchase for elementary collections.

595.789 Butterflies          Denise Medwick, Retired, PSLA Member

Elem. – Exploring Earth’s Biomes

Exploring Earth’s Biomes. Capstone, 2020. 32 pp. $20.99 each. $125.74 set of 6. Grades 3-6.

Christensen, Victoria G. Freshwater Biomes Around the World. 978-1-543-57211-7.
—. Grassland Biomes Around the World. 978-1-543-57213-1.
Eboch, M.M. Desert Biomes Around the World. 978-1-543-57203-2.
—. Forest Biomes Around the World. 978-1-543-57204-9.
Simpson, Phillip. Marine Biomes Around the World 978-1-543-57234-6.
—. Tundra Biomes Around the World. 978-1-543-57235-3.

Attractively packaged, this series examines the geography, climate, plants, and animals of the earth’s biomes. The aquatic biome is discussed in separate volumes: marine and freshwater. In Marine Biomes Around the World, the author focuses on oceans, coral reefs, and estuaries. The text is accompanied by colorful photographs, charts, maps, and diagrams. The material is well-organized and holds the interest of the reader. The author provides suggestions on how to conserve this biome. Scientific terms are bolded in the text and are defined at the bottom of the page. A glossary and suggested readings and websites are in the back matter.

THOUGHTS: This series is an excellent choice for libraries wishing to update their biome holdings. It contains enough information for reports, but will also be an option for those readers wishing to learn about ecology on their own.

577 Ecology          Denise Medwick, Retired, PSLA Member