Elem. – Dinosaur Graveyards (Series NF)

Hansen, Grace. Dinosaur Graveyards. Abdo, 2022. $22.95 ea. $137.70 set of 6. 24 p. Grades PreK-2. 

Dinosaur Graveyards in Africa. 978-1-0982-0944-5.
Dinosaur Graveyards in Asia. 978-1-0982-0945-2.
Dinosaur Graveyards in Australia. 978-1-0982-0946-9.
Dinosaur Graveyards in Europe. 978-1-0982-0947-6.
Dinosaur Graveyards in North America. 978-1-0982-0948-3.
Dinosaur Graveyards in South America. 978-1-0982-0949-0.

Readers will travel around the world to different contents to explore dinosaur fossils in the new series Dinosaur Graveyards. Each volume explores a different continent. This reviewer had the opportunity to read Dinosaur Graveyards in Africa. The volume opened with a general overview of the concept of dinosaurs and fossils. Each two page spread then profiled a dinosaur group, identified where on the continent their fossils can be found, and gave some basic facts about the dinosaur. The information is accompanied by a digital rendering of the dinosaur, a map identifying where the dinosaur lived, and a photo showing part of the dinosaur fossil or in some cases, a photo of the complete dinosaur skeleton. Back matter includes a table identifying major dinosaur groups and a glossary.

THOUGHTS: Looking to expand your elementary dinosaur collection? Then you might want to consider adding this set to your shelves. The titles are sure to engage dinosaur (or fossil) fans who will enjoy checking out the oversize photos, close up pictures of selected fossils, and reading the dino facts. The online supplemental materials could be incorporated into classroom lessons or for additional research.

567 Fossils          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

YA – Hanged! Mary Surratt & The Plot to Assassinate Abraham Lincoln

Miller, Sarah. Hanged! Mary Surratt & The Plot to Assassinate Abraham Lincoln. Random House, 2022. 978-9-593-19156-0. 333 p. $18.99. Grades 9-12.

While the name John Wilkes Booth is infamous in American history, the name Mary Surratt is less well known today. Yet in 1865, they were equally famous, their names appearing in the paper with others, all connected to the same crime–the plot to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. Mary Surratt was a widow and devout Catholic who owned and ran a boarding house in Washington, D.C. It was in this boarding house the conspirators involved in the plots to assassinate President Lincoln and other government officials regularly met. Surratt’s son, John Surratt, was a friend of John Wilkes Booth and an active member of the conspiracy. But was Mary? The government certainly thought so. In the days following the assassination, she was arrested and, despite the fact that she was a civilian, put on trial in front of a military tribunal. Newspaper coverage of the time was harsh, often prejudicial to the accused (and sexist in their descriptions of Mary). Despite sometimes wildly conflicting witness statements, Mary Surratt was found guilty of conspiracy, sentenced to death, and executed. Questions have lingered ever since about Mary’s guilt or innocence. Author Sarah Miller (The Border Murders) examines Mary Surratt’s life and story in Hanged! Mary Surratt & The Plot to Assassinate Abraham Lincoln. Numerous primary source documents (newspaper articles, letters, trial transcripts, photos) are incorporated throughout the text.

THOUGHTS: This title is an example of nonfiction at its best. Readers quickly will find themselves immersed in Mary’s story, on the scene in the boarding house as she is arrested and later, listening to witnesses at the military tribunal. Will appeal to readers of biography, true crime, history, or those with an interest in the Civil War era. An excellent choice for those researching the assassination of President Lincoln and the related conspiracy. 

973.7 Civil War          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

YA – Murder Among Friends: How Leopold and Loeb Tried to Commit the Perfect Crime

Fleming, Candace. Murder Among Friends: How Leopold and Loeb Tried to Commit the Perfect Crime. Anne Schwartz Books, 2022. 978-0-593-17742-6. 355 p. $19.99. Grades 9-12. 

Award winning author Candace Fleming is back with another top notch history title. This true crime history volume explores what was then known as the “Crime of the Century,” the kidnapping and murder of fourteen year old Bobby Franks in 1924 Chicago. The perpetrators of this horrendous crime were nineteen-year-old Nathan Leopold and his friend eighteen-year-old Richard Loeb. These intelligent and wealthy friends had become consumed with the idea of committing the “perfect crime.” They had planned for months to kidnap and murder a random youth, and fleece his frantic family out of a ransom payment. With their superior intellectual capabilities, they were sure they could outwit the local police. But their plan fell apart within days as a dropped pair of eyeglasses by their victim led police straight to their doors. Facing the death penalty, their wealthy families employed the services of one of the most gifted lawyers of the day, Clarence Darrow, in an attempt to spare their lives. The resulting courtroom drama captivated the nation. Fleming makes extensive use of primary sources, including newspaper excerpts, letters, police interviews, courtroom transcripts, and more to follow Leopold and Loeb from their troubled childhoods, to the chilling details of their beliefs and crime, and to the courtroom, where Darrow sought to spare them from the death penalty.

THOUGHTS: This historical true crime title will hold appeal for older teen readers who enjoy the genre of true crime (reading books, listening to podcasts, or watching television programs like Dateline). Students researching famous figures of the 1920s or the history of the death penalty in the U.S. also will find this volume a valuable resource.

364.1523 Crime          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

YA – I Could Not Do Otherwise: The Remarkable Life of Dr. Mary Edwards Walker

Latta, Sara. I Could Not Do Otherwise: The Remarkable Life of Dr. Mary Edwards Walker. Zest Books, 2022. 978-1-728-41391-4. 206 p. $29.99. Grades 9-12.

Author Sara Latta introduces readers to Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, an outspoken and pioneering woman of her times. Born in 1832, she was raised by progressive parents who believed in education for their daughters. They supported Mary’s dream of becoming a doctor, and she later graduated from Syracuse Medical College. She found work as a doctor, but also was passionate about other causes, including women’s dress reform. As a doctor, she believed that the tight corsets restricted freedom of movement, caused breathing problems, and contributed to other ailments. She advocated more practical styles of dress and wore a mid calf dress over trousers that reached her shoes. When the Civil War broke out, Dr. Walker turned her attention to helping wounded and sick soldiers. She worked for several years as a volunteer army doctor and later was commissioned into the army as a civilian contract surgeon. Taken as a prisoner of war while making rounds treating ill civilians, she was accused of being a spy and sent to a Confederate prison before being freed in a prisoner exchange. In 1865 she became the first (and only) woman ever awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. After the war, she continued her advocacy efforts, supporting veterans rights, female dress reform, women’s suffrage, and other causes. The text incorporates numerous primary sources, including newspaper articles, letters, and period photos and illustrations to tell Walker’s life story. 

THOUGHTS: Dr. Mary Walker led an amazing life and was quite well known in her time, but is little remembered today. This engaging biography hopefully will help to rectify this situation. This title will appeal to history fans and readers of biographies, as well as those researching the role of women in the Civil War or pioneers of women’s rights.

921 Biography          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – When the Sky Glows

Beckerman, Nell Cross. When the Sky Glows. Illustrated by David Litchfield. Beach Lane Books, 2022. 978-1-534-45039-4. Unpaged $18.99. Grades PreK-2.

Undoubtedly at some point in your life, you have looked up into the sky and wondered about what you see–why does the sky look that way? What is that light up in the sky? Author Nell Cross Beckerman aims to answer these questions for young readers in her nonfiction picture book When the Sky Glows. Shooting stars, auroras, rainbows, lightning storms, volcanic eruptions, and full moons are just some of the natural events that fill the sky with light and amazing colors. Simple and  lyrical text introduces each topic on a spread with an accompanying illustration depicting humans (or animals) observing the sky. The following spread is illuminated with color showing the glowing sky above the scene. A brief paragraph in the lower right explains the science behind the event. David Litchfield’s digitally rendered illustrations saturate each scene with lawyers of glowing yellows, pinks, purples, greens, and blues. Backmatter includes sources for additional research and a section of text discussing the issue of light pollution.

THOUGHTS: This title is ideal for read alouds and could easily be incorporated into lessons involving science, meteorology, weather, etc. Illustrator David Litchfield’s illustrations put the “glow” into When the Sky Glows and will surely inspire a sense of wonder and appreciation for light in readers. Highly recommended for elementary collections.

551.26 Meteorology          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – Serengeti: Plains of Grass

Bulion, Leslie. Serengeti: Plains of Grass. Peachtree, 2022. 978-1-68263-191-1. Unpaged. $18.99. Grades 2-5. 

The Serengeti Plains of Africa host an amazing ecosystem that is explored in Leslie Bulion’s Serengeti: Plains of Grass. In winter, winds carry rain to the Serengeti. Grasses grow, flowers bloom, and then the migration of millions of animals, including wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles begins. Millions of animals travel to the plains to feed on grasses and other plant life. Other animals, like lions and cheetahs, prey on the migrating travelers. Bulion relates these facts via a combination of poetry and narrative. The book is primarily told through verse. As she explains in the back matter, Bulion uses a modified form of the East African Swahili poem form called utendi to create her verse. Each spread includes one stanza of poetry as well as narrative that shares ecological facts relating to the verse. The text is accompanied by Becca Stadtlander’s gouache and pastel illustrations, which bring the open space of the grasslands and its wild inhabitants to life. Back matter includes a glossary, additional resources, and map.

THOUGHTS: The variation on Swahili utendi as a medium to tell this story makes this title an excellent option for read alouds. The verses are both lyrical and informative. A great choice for units on poetry, ecology, geography or animals. Highly recommended.

577.48 Ecology          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – Makerspace Trios (Series NF)

Makerspace Trios. Abdo, 2022. $22.95 ea. $137.70 set of 6. 32 p. Grades K-3. 

Felix, Rebecca. Creating with Cardboard, Crayons & Duct Tape. 978-1-532-19640-9.
Olson, Elsie. Creating with Chenille Stems, Bottles & Tissue Paper. 978-1-532-19641-6.
Olson, Elsie. Creating with Egg Cartons, String & Straws. 978-1-532-19642-3.
Felix, Rebecca. Creating with Felt, Craft Sticks & Clothespins. 978-1-532-19643-0.
Felix, Rebecca. Creating with Newspaper, Buttons & Paper Clips. 978-1-532-19644-7.
Olson, Elsie. Creating with Paper Tubes, Rubber Bands & Yarn. 978-1-532-19645-4.

Each volume in the Makerspace Trios series challenges readers to become a maker by using three common items to complete projects. The title opens with an overview of the concept of a makerspace. Next, each of the three craft items is introduced. Their characteristics and properties are presented, and various prompts are posed in order to get readers thinking about way they could use and transform the items in various projects. Readers are then encouraged to consult adults, gather maker tools, set up a makerspace area, and get to work creating and innovating. While some specific projects are presented (such as weaving plastic straws and string to create mat to use as a coaster, or making a wall hanging out of cut and painted egg cartons), readers are are also prompted to imagine and think about other ways they could use the items to create or solve problems. 

THOUGHTS: This series serves as an excellent gateway into the concept of makerspaces for young readers. Many of the materials used are common items found in most households. Some projects can be completed independently, while others will require adult assistance (cutting, etc.). A worthwhile purchase for elementary libraries looking to expand their makerspace collection. 

745.5 Crafts          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – Transforming Animals (Series NF)

Gieseke, Tyler. Transforming Animals. Abdo, 2022. $21.95 ea. $131.70 set of 6. 24 p. Gr. K-2. 

Turning into a Butterfly. 978-1-098-24114-8.
Turning into a Dragonfly. 978-1-098-24115-5.
Turning into a Fish. 978-1-098-24116-2.
Turning into a Frog. 978-1-098-24117-9.
Turning into a Jellyfish. 978-1-098-24118-6.
Turning into a Newt. 978-1-098-24119-3.

The ability of animals to transform and grow has been a source of fascination to people of all ages for centuries. The Transforming Animals series explores the life cycle processes of six common creatures. This reviewer had the opportunity to examine the Turning into a Butterfly volume. The text takes readers on a journey of the life cycle of the butterfly–from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to adult butterfly. Each spread includes high-quality close-up photos of each stage of the butterfly’s life cycle. QR codes within the book allow readers to access a video, additional information, useful links and activities. Back matter includes a Making Connections page and a glossary. 

THOUGHTS: This series would be a worthwhile addition to any library serving primary age students. The life cycle of each animal is clearly and simply explained. Characteristics of each animal are also identified and explained. The supplemental material available via QR code is high-quality, and the activities easily could be incorporated into classroom science lessons. Highly recommended.

570s; 590s Insects, Animals           Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – Trains (Series NF)

Murray, Julie. Trains. Abdo, 2022. $21.95 ea. $131.70 set of 6. 24 p. Grades K-3. 

Disney Monorail. 978-1-098-22671-8.
Eurostar. 978-1-098-22672-5.
London Underground. 978-1-098-22673-2.
New York City Subway. 978-1-098-22674-9.
San Francisco Cable Car. 978-1-098-22675-6.
Shinkansen Bullet Train. 978-1-098-22676-3.

Author Julie Murray explores the histories of some of the world’s most popular trains in this new series intended for emerging readers. Each volume contains a brief history of the train (or train system) as well as an overview of the current operations of the train today. This reviewer had the opportunity to view the London Underground volume of the series. This volume traced the history of the Underground (or “The Tube”) from its founding in 1863 to its present day services. Numerous historical photos and drawings as well as contemporary photos were present throughout the text. Back matter in each title includes a list of facts and glossary. 

THOUGHTS: This series is sure to be popular with young train enthusiasts who will enjoy learning about some of the unique and popular trains around the world. This series merits consideration for libraries serving younger readers looking to expand their transportation collection.

388.42 Transportation           Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

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