Elem. – Pets of Presidents (Series NF)

Hansen, Grace. Pets of Presidents. Abdo Kids, 2022. $21.95 ea. $131.70 set of 6. 24 p. Grades K-2. 

Birds of Presidents. 978-1-098-20923-0.
Cats of Presidents. 978-1-098-20924-7.
Dogs of Presidents. 978-1-098-20925-4.
Farm Pest of Presidents. 978-1-098-20926-1.
Horses of Presidents. 978-1-098-20927-9.
Unusual Pets of Presidents. 978-1-098-20928-5.

This series focuses on a unique part of presidential history – the pets of presidents and their families. Each two page spread features age appropriate text identifying the president and the pet(s) owned by their family. A historical image of the president (or family) is accompanied by a contemporary photo of the pet species they owned. This reviewer had an opportunity to read Birds of Presidents. While the overall book was very informative, the spread featuring the Teddy Roosevelt family and their macaw had text that simply mentioned “The Roosevelts” and a photo showing Teddy Roosevelt, Jr. with the macaw. It would have been clearer to the reader had the text indicated that “The Roosevelts” referred specifically to the Theodore Roosevelt family (since, after all, two Roosevelts have occupied the Oval Office). Each volume also features a picture glossary and a link to additional online resources. 

THOUGHTS: An interesting angle on presidential history that will appeal to both animal fans and history fans, this series is a worthwhile additional purchase for libraries looking to add to their presidential collections. 

973 American History          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – Animals with Armor

Murray, Julie. Animals with Armor. Abdo Kids, 2022. $21.95 ea. $131.70 set of 6. 24 p. Grades K-3. 

Armadillos. 978-1-098-22657-2.
Beetles. 978-1-098-22658-9.
Crabs. 978-1-098-22659-6.
Porcupines. 978-1-098-22660-2.
Rhinoceros. 978-1-098-22661-9.
Tortoises. 978-1-098-22662-6.

Many animals have developed adaptations to help protect them from predators and other enemies. The Animals with Armor series takes a look at some animals with armor related protection. In addition to learning about each animal’s unique armor, readers will learn about the animal’s habitat, food sources, size and other interesting facts. This reviewer had the opportunity to read Porcupines. The volume featured numerous facts as well as numerous photographs, including several close-up views of fearsome porcupine quills. Each volume also features additional facts, a glossary, and a website link where readers can find quality websites on the animal. 

THOUGHTS: This engaging series is sure to be a hit with young readers who are animal fans. The text is simple, yet informative and the high-quality photos allow readers to get a close up look at some armor (like porcupine quills) that they may not personally have the opportunity to view in the wild. A worthwhile purchase for schools looking to add to their animal collections.

590s Animals                Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – Science Questions (Series NF)

Andrews, Elizabeth. Science Questions (Set 2). Abdo Kids, 2022. $21.95 ea. $131.70 set of 6. 24 p. Gr. K-3. 

How Do Fish Breathe? 978-1-098-24107-0.
How Do Puppies Get Their Colors? 978-1-098-24108-7.
How Does a Body Heal? 978-1-098-24109-4.
How Does Plumbing Work? 978-1-098-24110-0.
Why Do Volcanoes Erupt? 978-1-098-24111-7.
Why Does a Boat Float? 978-1-098-24112-4.

The Science Questions series from Abdo Publishing is back with another six volumes answering common student questions regarding science. Each volume examines a science-related question, explaining the answer using age-appropriate language and terminology. This reviewer had the opportunity to examine How Do Fish Breathe?, a question that many children undoubtedly have wondered when watching fish in a tank or in the wild. The volume explains how oxygen is present in water and how fish use their gills to help distribute oxygen throughout their bodies. The volume closes with a brief chapter mentioning how climate change is causing falling oxygen levels in the ocean. Each volume features numerous high quality photographs, diagrams, a glossary, and making connections questions. In addition, a QR code is present where readers can access online resources such as videos, links, and activities (word search, coloring page, etc.). 

THOUGHTS: Children naturally are curious and questioning–this series is a great option to hand students with science related interests or questions. The series (and the online supplemental material) also would be useful in elementary classroom science lessons. Recommended. 

500s Science                Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – Feasts and Festivals Around the World: From Lunar New Year to Christmas

McGinty, Alice B. Feasts and Festivals Around the World: From Lunar New Year to Christmas. Illustrated by Tomoko Suzuki. Little Bee Books, 2022. 978-1-499-81217-6. Unpaged. $18.99. Grades PK-3.

Feasts and Festivals Around the World takes readers on an exploration of thirteen celebrations in twelve countries around the world, touching every continent but Antarctica. Loosely arranged by season, the book covers holidays with fixed dates (St. Patrick’s Day, Songkran, Mid-Summer, Australian Christmas, Day of the Dead, Feast of the Seven Fishes, and Hogmanay) and those whose dates vary (Lunar New Year, Eid al Fitr, Eid ul Adha, New Yam Festival, Chuseok, and Thanksgiving). Each celebration is briefly introduced by 6-8 lines of rhyming text on the leading page of a double-page spread, then elaborated upon with one-two paragraphs of additional information on the trailing page. Tomiko Suzuki’s illustrations compliment the text on each spread with a collage of traditions and foods for each celebration.

THOUGHTS: Feasts and Festivals shares interesting information about each holiday, and its illustrations are a simple and engaging compliment to the text on each spread. While this book is unlikely to be a casual read for young learners, it provides a strong launch point for holiday and country research as well as a wonderful option for students interested in holidays and curious about other countries. By including a wide variety of celebrations, the book provides an expanded opportunity for our learners to see their traditions represented in the pages of a book as well as to expand their horizons. The only shortcoming is possibly the dominance of Christian celebrations to the absence of a profile of Jewish celebration. Other strengths, however, make this book a recommended read.

394.2 Customs–Special Occasions          Hannah J. Thomas, Central Bucks SD

MG/YA – Ambushed! The Assassination Plot Against President Garfield

Jarrow, Gail. Ambushed! The Assassination Plot Against President Garfield. Calkins Creek, 2021. 978-1-684-37814-2. Grades 5-12

Author Gail Jarrow (Blood and Germs, Poison Eaters) is back with another top notch medical-related non-fiction title for secondary students. This time, she has turned her focus to the assignation of President James Garfield. Garfield was a respected former college president, Civil War general, and Congressman who was elected President in 1880. On July 2, 1881, Charles Guiteau, a disgruntled office seeker, shot Garfield shortly after he entered a train station. Though medical professionals in Europe had been advancing theories regarding germs and the importance of treating wounds with antiseptics, these ideas found little acceptance in America. Therefore, when Garfield was examined, his doctors probed his wound with dirty fingers and instruments. Garfield lingered for months, slowly wasting away as infection ravaged his body. The country united together, in hopes that Garfield would survive, but he passed away on September 19, 1881. Jarrow makes extensive use of primary documents, including diary entries and other communications to relate Garfield’s story. Numerous photographs, paintings, and illustrations enhance the text. Backmatter includes a glossary, timeline, and list of additional resources. 

THOUGHTS: Since Garfield’s presidency was short, he is little remembered today, which is unfortunate. He had an amazing life story, which Jarrow outlines in the beginning of this engaging title. Even though he was in constant pain following being shot, he remained in good spirits and never complained, even while undergoing painful (and as the reader learns, unsanitary) treatments. Readers will gain an appreciation for Garfield and an appreciation for how far medical knowledge and treatment has advanced. Highly recommended.

973.84 American History        Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem./MG – Why Longfellow Lied: The Truth About Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride

Lantos, Jeff. Why Longfellow Lied: The Truth About Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride. Charlesbridge, 2021. 978-1-58089-933-8. 134 p. $18.99. Grades 3-8. 

“Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is one of the most famous poems written by an American poet. Memorized by thousands of children (and adults) since its publication in 1860, the poem popularized Paul Revere and the story of the events on April 18 & 19, 1775, when riders traveled the countryside around Boston to warn citizens that British troops were on the move. While the average reader may accept the poem as fact, in actuality Longfellow took some artistic license in his retelling. Author Jeff Lantos examines the poem stanza by stanza, comparing the text of the poem to primary source accounts of the events. Readers will learn reasons Longfellow strayed from the historical record is his retelling, including the need to maintain pacing in the poem, removing details that might detract from the main storyline, and the need to give the poem a sense of drama. Numerous sidebars highlight historical facts and figures, and the text is enhanced by the inclusion of maps, photographs, paintings, and drawings. 

THOUGHTS: This fantastic title is a combination history lesson and literary analysis. The author is a retired teacher and has an engaging conversational tone that is sure to keep readers turning the page. An excellent choice for casual readers or those researching the events surrounding the beginning of the American Revolution, this title deserves a spot on library shelves.

811 Poetry          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem./MG – A Curious Collection of Dangerous Creatures

Bayly, Sami. A Curious Collection of Dangerous Creatures. The Experiment, 2021. 978-1-615-19824-5. 125 p. $18.95. Grades 3-8. 

Dangerous…it’s a word that evokes feelings of fear and terror in many individuals. While animals considered or called dangerous can pose some level of threats to humans, they are often misunderstood. Author and illustrator Sami Bayly spotlights some of these creatures and explores how they have adapted to ward off predators with amazing (and yes, dangerous) defense mechanisms. For example, the greater slow loris (a small, tree-dwelling primate native to some countries in Asia), produces toxins in its elbow glands. If you see it licking its armpit/elbow area, watch out! It’s collecting venom that mixes with saliva to create a toxic bite. The geography cone snail lives near coral reefs in the Pacific. From the outside, it looks like a beautiful seashell, but inside lives the world’s most venomous sea snail. One shot of the snail’s venom can kill up to 15 people! These are just two of the 60 creatures profiled in this engaging title. Each entry defines the danger profile for the animal, as well as identifying their habitat, eating habits and conservation status. Particularly noteworthy are Byly’s illustrations. Trained as a natural history illustrator, her detailed watercolor paintings are true works of art and bring the animals to life.
Note: A Curious Collection of Dangerous Creatures was previously published in Australia under the title The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Dangerous Animals.

THOUGHTS: This fantastic title will give readers a new appreciation and respect for the ways animals have adapted to survive. Ideal for casual browsers or researchers, readers will find themselves engrossed by the interesting facts presented about each animal and the detailed illustrations. 

591.6 Animals          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem./MG – The Curse of the Mummy: Uncovering Tutankhamun’s Tomb

Fleming, Candace. The Curse of the Mummy: Uncovering Tutankhamun’s Tomb. Scholastic Focus, 2021. 978-1-338-59662-5. 304 p. $18.99. Grades 4-8. 

The discovery of the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamun in 1922 made headlines all over the world. Soon, rumors of a curse on the tomb began to circulate. Author Candace Fleming takes readers on a journey back in time as archeologist Howard Carter and his partner and patron Lord Carnarvon embark on their hunt to find the tomb of Tutankhamun. The discovery of the tomb was the result of years of planning and earlier expeditions. Readers will follow along as Carter, Carnarvon, and their workers embark on their hunt and the thrill and excitement they felt when they made their amazing discovery. The work that went into removing treasures from the tomb, preserving them, and cataloging them is also discussed. Scattered throughout the text are short sections of several pages each that present some of the numerous curse stories surrounding Tutankhamun, his tomb, and it’s discovery. These sections help to add an element of mystery to the story and are sure to catch the attention of readers. At the end of the book, a chapter is devoted to examining the curse stories and separating fact from fiction. The text is enhanced by the inclusion of numerous period photographs of the amazing discoveries made within the tomb. 

THOUGHTS: This narrative non-fiction title is certain to keep readers engaged. Since the title reads somewhat like an adventure or thriller, it sure to be a hit with fans of these genres as well as those interested in history or Ancient Egypt. Highly recommended. 

932.014 Ancient Egypt        Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – Gumboot Kids Nature Mystery

Hogan, Eric, and Tara Hungerford. Gumboot Kids Nature Mystery. Firefly, 2021. $19.95 ea. 32 p. Grades K-2. 

The Case of the Hanging Food Catcher. 978-0-228-10337-0.
The Case of the Shrinking Friend. 978-0-228-103350-5. 

The mice Scout and Daisy (aka the Gumboot Kids) have returned to solve more nature-related mysteries! In The Case of the Hanging Food Catcher, when Scout and Daisy meet to pick pumpkins, Scout mentions nearly walking into a hanging food catcher earlier in the day. They consult Scout’s field notebook, where he recorded clues about his encounter, which lead them to a beautiful spider web. Their findings are confirmed when they consult a book about spiders. In The Case of the Shrinking Friend, while on a winter hike, Daisy notices that the snow mouse she had built the day before had shrunk! Using Daisy’s sketchbook filled with drawings from the day prior, they set off to solve the mystery. The clues, together with knowledge they gain from a book about weather, lead them to conclude that the snow mouse is shrinking because the warmth of the sun has melted the snow. Each title concludes with a mindful moment in which Scout and Daisy pause and reflect on nature and the knowledge they have gained. Back matter includes definitions of the terms in the field notes, a fact page featuring photographs, and a related nature craft that children can complete. 

THOUGHTS: I love how this series encourages readers to solve mysteries by making observations and then consult books in the library to interpret their observations and answer their questions–what a great way to introduce the basics of the scientific research process to young readers. In addition, the series encourages readers to go out into nature, explore and engage with the world around them, and to be curious. Recommended.

500s Natural Sciences          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – My Book of Butterflies

Valerio, Geraldo. My Book of Butterflies. Groundwood, 2021. 978-1-773-06335-5. 48 p. $24.99. Grades 1-3. 

Author and illustrator Geraldo Valerio introduces readers to a variety of his favorite butterflies in this beautifully illustrated title. Detailed paint, colored pencil, and paper collage illustrations vibrantly depict butterflies in various stages of life. The volume is arranged geographically, with each section depicting a selection of butterflies from a continent. Most spreads feature several species of butterflies, some shown in flight, while others rest on leaves or branches, occasionally enjoying some nectar. The accompanying text, though brief, offers readers a description of key and unique characteristics of the species. Opening pages of the volume depict the stages of a butterfly’s life cycle, as well as identifying parts of a butterfly. The end pages are also a treat as they show caterpillars as well as butterflies in the chrysalis stage. Backmatter includes a glossary and list of additional resources. 

THOUGHTS: Browsers will enjoy spending some time with My Book of Butterflies and pouring over the detailed illustrations. A worthwhile purchase for schools serving young readers. 

595.78 Butterflies            Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD