Elem. – Mini Animals

Murray, Julie. Mini Animals. Abdo, 2020. $19.95 ea. $119.70 set of 6. 24 p. Grades PreK-2. 

African Pygmy Hedgehog. 978-1-532-18878-7.
Dwarf Caiman. 978-1-532-18879-4.
Fennec Fox. 978-1-532-18880-0.
Leaf Chameleon. 978-1-532-18882-4.
Little Penguin. 978-1-532-18881-7.
Pygmy Marmoset. 978-1-532-18883-1.

The only thing cuter than a regular animal is a miniature animal, of course! In Mini Animals readers will learn about some of the amazing small creatures that populate the world. Easy text (example text from African Pygmy Hedgehog: “It has small eyes and ears. Its legs are short.”) make the series best suited for young readers. Basic facts about each animal, including habitat, physical characteristics, and diet are included in the text. The text is paired with numerous highly appealing photographs. Each title also contains a visual glossary and a comparison page comparing the mini animal to the typical sized animal.

THOUGHTS: This series is sure to be a hit with young animal lovers. The close-up, high quality photos  will allow students to fully appreciate these tiny, amazing animals. Highly recommended. 

590s  Animals          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD   

Elem. – Horses, Set 2 (Series NF)

Hansen, Grace. Horses (set 2). Abdo, 2020. $20.95 ea. $125.70 set of 6. 24 p. Grades PreK-2. 

Arabian Horses. 978-1-532-18563-2.
Highland Ponies. 978-1-532-18564-9.
Mustang Ponies. 978-1-532-18565-6.
Palomino Horses. 978-1-532-18566-3.
Pinto Horses. 978-1-532-18567-0.
Shetland Ponies. 978-1-532-18568-7.

Horse books of all types are always a popular choice for students. Abdo, realizing this fact, has expanded their existing Horses nonfiction series for young readers with the publication of six additional titles. Each book explores the unique characteristics of a specific horse breed. Readers will learn about the history of the breed as well as the horse’s physical characteristics and abilities. Highland Ponies, for example, informs the reader about the strong and sturdy horse breed native to Scotland. Easy to handle and train, these horses are versatile, working on farms, but also to be used as family ponies and trained for riding and showing. The text is supported by the inclusion numerous high quality photos, a “More Facts” page, and glossary.

THOUGHTS: This series is an excellent choice for primary school libraries looking to update the horse area of their collections. The books are oversized, allowing for larger photos that are sure to capture the interest of readers. The supplemental Abdo Online materials that relate to series are a nice added bonus – I particularly like the craft project, which involved using a paper bag to create a horse puppet.

636.1  Horses          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem./MG – Real-Life Ghost Stories

Real-Life Ghost Stories. Capstone, 2020. $21.49 ea. $171.92 set of 8. 32 p. Grades 3-6. 

Andrus, Aubrey. Bloody Mary. 978-1-543-57336-7.
Atwood, Megan. Popper the Poltergeist. 978-1-543-57342-8.
Peterson, Megan Cooley. The Bell Witch. 978-1-543-57335-0.
—. The Brown Lady. 978-1-543-57340-4.
—. The Flying Dutchman. 978-1-543-57338-1.
—. The Greenbrier Ghost. 978-1-543-57339-8.
—. La Llorona. 978-1-543-57337-4.
Wilkins, Ebony Joy. Perron Family Haunting. 978-1-543-57341-1.

Real-Life Ghost Stories features tales of spooky hauntings and happenings from around the world. Each volume focuses on an individual ghost story. The history behind the event or location is related and then readers learn about the subsequent claims of ghostly appearances. Fact boxes and skeptic’s notes offer readers background information as well as alternate explanations for the ghostly sightings. This reviewer had the opportunity to read The Brown Lady: The Ghost of Raynham Hall, a classic example of a haunted English manor house story. Raynham Hall not only has its own ghost (Lady Dorothy Walpole), but it was also the location of a famous photo that supposedly captured the ghost on film in the 1930s. The title features numerous illustrations, as well as photographs of the house, including the famous ghost photo. The cover illustration is also very appealing to potential browsers.

THOUGHTS: These spooky titles are sure to capture the interest of readers interested in haunted tales or mysterious happenings. They would also be a great addition to Halloween/October book displays. Libraries looking to add to their ghostly non-fiction shelves should consider this worthwhile series.
133.1  Ghost stories                Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

MG – Fighting to Survive (Series NF)

Fighting to Survive. Capstone, 2020. $26.49 ea. $161.64 set of 6. 64 p. Grades 5-8.

Braun, Eric. Fighting to Survive in the Wilderness. 978-0-756-56187-1.
Dickmann, Nancy. Fighting to Survive Animal Attacks. 978-0-756-56184-0.
Dickmann, Nancy. Fighting to Survive World War II. 978-0-756-56188-8.
Raum, Elizabeth. Fighting to Survive Being Lost at Sea. 978-0-756-56185-7.
Raum, Elizabeth. Fighting to Survive Space Disasters. 978-0-756-56186-4.

Readers looking to experience action-packed true stories will want to pick up the latest titles in Capstone’s Fighting to Survive series. Each volume features multiple stories (some from in the past; others from more recent history), of individuals and groups fighting to survive potentially life-threatening situations. This reviewer had the opportunity to read Fighting to Survive Being Lost at Sea. Chapters related tales of those experienced adventures on the ocean, from being aboard the Titanic, to surviving a U-Boat attack during WWII to a present day tale of a teen on a round-the-world sailing trip who encounters difficulties. Sidebars highlight points of interest and historical facts. The text is accompanied by photos, paintings and maps.

THOUGHTS: This engaging series is a worthy purchase for libraries serving upper elementary and middle school students. Each action-packed tale will have readers on the edge of their seats wondering how the individual/group will ultimately survive. These volumes would also pair nicely with fictional stories of survival.

613 Survival          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – Silly Measurements

Cella, Clara. Silly Measurements. Capstone, 2020. $21.99 ea. $87.96 set of 4. Unpaged. Grades PreK-1. 

How Many Ducks Could Fit in a Bus? Creative Ways to Look at Volume. 978-1-9771-1324-5.
How Many Flamingos Tall Is a Giraffe? Creative Ways to Look at Height. 978-1-9771-1322-1.
How Many Kittens Could Ride a Shark? Creative Ways to Look at Length. 978-1-9771-1323-8.
How Many Llamas Does a Car Weigh? Creative Ways to Look at Weight. 978-1-9771-1325-2.

The Silly Measurements series encourages pre/early readers to learn about measurements via humorous comparison between non-traditional measuring units. For example, in How Many Llamas Does a Car Weigh?, in addition to the comparison between llamas and cars (in case you are wondering, a car weighs nine llamas), other items compared include clowns and camels, moose and motorcycles, and baseball and bunnies. Each comparison features large photos and large, colorful text. 

THOUGHTS: A great way to begin to introduce the concept of measurement to young readers, these books are sure to bring a smile to the face of readers with their choice of unusual comparisons. They would also be a great option for those looking for math-related read alouds for PreK-1 age students.

530.8 Measurement          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – Animal Homes

Murray, Julie. Animal Homes. Abdo, 2020. $19.95 ea. $119.70 set of 6. 24 p. Grades PreK-2.

Burrows. 978-1-5321-8521-2.
Caves. 978-1-5321-8522-9.
Dens. 978-1-5321-8523-6.
Nests. 978-1-5321-8524-3.
Trees. 978-1-5321-8525-0.
Webs. 978-1-5321-8526-7.

While many children’s non-fiction series focus on animals, fewer titles focus solely on the habitats they call home. Abdo aims to fill this gap with their Animal Homes series for younger readers. Each title discusses a home, giving several examples of creatures that live in each type of home and also how each home is created. This reviewer had the opportunity to review Nests. Photographs depicted a variety of nests, including birds’ nests, wasp nests, sea turtle nests, and more. The accompanying text conveyed basic information regarding nests and their inhabitants. Back matter includes a visual glossary and additional photos of creatures that live in the home. Also present is a code that readers can use on Abdo Online to access crafts, games, videos, etc. related to the title. 

THOUGHTS: This series offers primary readers a basic understanding of some of the most common animal homes they might encounter in nature or see outside their windows. Abdo’s accompanying online material is superior to what many other publishers offer and could be utilized by teachers in lessons or as extension activities. Educators who are teaching in a hybrid-type model may wish to encourage students who check out Abdo titles of the school library to explore their title’s Abdo Online resources on days when classes are not meeting in-person. 

591.564 Animals          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

MG – Close Calls: How Eleven US Presidents Escaped from the Brink of Death

Spradlin, Michael P. Close Calls: How Eleven US Presidents Escaped from the Brink of Death. Bloomsbury, 2020. 978-1-5476-0023-6. 116 p. $18.99. Grades 5-8.

While many authors have told the stories of the untimely deaths of American Presidents, author Michael Spradlin has chosen to focus on the lesser known tales of Presidents who narrowly escaped death during their lifetimes in Close Calls. Each action-packed chapter focuses on an event when a President (or future President) nearly lost his life. Some examples of near misses include: George H.W. Bush being shot down and nearly captured during WWII, Andrew Jackson avoiding death when both(!) pistols an assassin shot at him misfired, and Theodore Roosevelt narrowly escaping death when an assassin shot him, only to have the bullet stopped by a folded speech Roosevelt was carrying. The text is supplemented by the inclusion of sidebars explaining historical events of the time(s) or biographical sketches of persons involved in the story. 

THOUGHTS: This engaging title is sure to be a hit with biography and history readers, as well as readers who enjoy action-packed, adventure-type stories. Highly recommended.

973 American History            Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

MG – Unconventional Science

Unconventional Science. ABDO Books, 2020. $23.00 ea. $138.00 set of 6. 48 p. Grades 5-8. 

Burling, Alexis. Turning Poop Into Power. 978-1-532-11901-9.
Hand, Carol. Controlling Invasive Species with Goats. 978-1-532-11898-2.
Hustad, Douglas. Cleaning Up Plastic with Artificial Coastlines. 978-1-532-11897-5.
McCarthy, Cecilia Pinto. Capturing Carbon with Fake Trees. 978-1-532-11896-8.
—. Eating Bugs as Sustainable Food. 978-1-532-11899-9.
—. Harvesting Fog for Water. 978-1-532-11900-2

This series expertly presents new scientific ideas that many adults and students never may have considered, and aims to give some explanation about the pros and cons of each idea. In four chapters, readers learn about the environmental problem which led to the idea being considered, how well the idea could work, and problems with adopting the idea as a solution. The gross factor of Eating Bugs or Turning Poop into Power may turn off readers or prove irresistible to them.  Chapters end with either compelling deeper thinking questions, or segments linking other documents to the text, again with thoughtful questions. The end matter includes glossary, index, fast facts, and further resources, and is notable for the “Stop and Think” section and the ABDO Book Links website (readers scan QR code to access resources for each specific book).

THOUGHTS: This is a well-presented, engaging format with refreshing and unusual ideas, perfect for middle school learners. ABDO has paid attention to what young learners (and their teachers) need. Librarians may want to give more attention to the various series in ABDO’s Core Library (“nonfiction for grades 3-6”). Free teaching resources are available for download via Follett’s Titlewave. (Title reviewed: Eating Bugs as Sustainable Food.)

363; 628 Science, Engineering        Melissa Scott, Shenango Area SD

MG – Engineering Disasters

Engineering Disasters. ABDO Books, 2020. $23.00 ea. $138.00 set of 6. 48 p. Grades 5-8. 

Huddleston, Emma. Ford Pinto Fuel Tanks. 978-1-532-19-072-8.
—. The Johnstown Flood. 978-1-532-19073-5.
—. The New Orleans Levee Failure. 978-1-532-19074-2.
Kortemeier, Todd. Air France Flight 447. 978-1-532-19070-4
—. Chernobyl. 978-1-532-19071-1.
—.  The Space Shuttle Challenger. 978-1-532-19075-9.

This series looks at well-intentioned concepts which ultimately failed in some way. The solid format covers the disaster, the search for the cause, and the changes enacted to avoid further disasters. The text is clear and factual, with various sidebars and charts adding meaningful supplemental perspectives. A full-page “Straight to the Source” occurs twice in the book, linking another text with useful questions for further thinking and writing, while a “Stop and Think” segment is part of the well-rounded back matter of Fast Facts, glossary, index, and ABDO’s free online resources.

THOUGHTS: This is a well-presented series on major failures and how the engineering in question has changed. (Title reviewed: The Space Shuttle Challenger.)

363 Manmade Disasters            Melissa Scott, Shenango Area SD

Elem. – Talkin’ Sports (Series Nonfiction)

Talkin’ Sports. The Child’s World, 2020. $20.00 ea. $160 set of 8. 24 p. Grades 3-6. 

Buckley, James. Talkin’ Baseball. 978-150383-571-9.
—. Talkin’ Basketball. 978-150383-574-0.
—. Talkin’ Lacrosse. 978-150383-576-4.
—. Talkin’ Motor Sports. 978-150383-577-1.
—. Talkin’ Soccer. 978-150383-573-3.
Gigliotti, Jim. Talkin’ Football. 978-150383-572-6.
—. Talkin’ Golf & Tennis. 978-150383-578-8.
—. Talkin’ Hockey. 978-150383-575-7.

“Play sports? Watch sports? Talk sports!” That’s the tagline for this series highlighting special sports terms, insider phrases, comical or descriptive terms, and player nicknames. Fans of these sports will want to check up on their lingo–historical and modern-day–and add some understanding to their use of it as they go. They may even think of plenty more to add to the mix. For example, “The slugger ripped a frozen rope into the gap and pulled up with a two-bagger.” Baseball translation: “A powerful hitter smashed a line drive (further defined) between two outfielders (further defined) & ran to second base.” These books will cause laughter, and comments such as, “that’s right” or “I didn’t know that was why…” as fans feel a bit more at home watching, playing, and talking sports. For the uninitiated, these books can solidify the lingo.

THOUGHTS: A fun series suitable for upper elementary and middle school. ( Titles reviewed: Talkin’ Baseball and Talkin’ Football.)

796 Sports          Melissa Scott, Shenango Area SD