Elem. – In a Garden

McCanna, Tim. In a Garden. Ill. Aimée Sicuro. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020. 978-1-5344-1797-7. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades PreK-2.

Through rhyming verses and vivid watercolor illustrations, In a Garden explores how things grow. From seeds being planted to sunlight and rain nurturing the plants, readers see all of the various aspects of natural growth both in a garden and in those who nurture and care for the garden. McCanna identifies a variety of flowers and vegetables that grow in gardens, while also describing the duties of the various insects that help the garden grow. The four seasons establish how things grow unseen, and also establish the life cycle with insects laying eggs and a woman, pregnant in the beginning, holding a baby when spring returns after winter.

THOUGHTS: This is a gorgeous picture book. Sicuro’s watercolors represent each aspect of the natural world beautifully, while McCanna’s words are playful and representative of the life cycle. Many readers will see themselves in this text because the garden is in a city, and the humans are representative of the diversity in a city. This picture book is a great introduction to the life cycle, gardening, and caring for the natural world. It would pair well with growing a school garden or just planting a seed that students can take home and grow.

Picture Book        Erin Bechdel, Beaver Area SD

Elem. – A Way With Wild Things

Theule, Larissa. A Way With Wild Things. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2020. 978-1-681-19039-6. $17.99. Unpaged. Grades K-2.

Beautifully written and illustrated! Poppy’s shy nature makes her want to fade into the background around people, but outside, amongst the beauty of nature, Poppy really blooms. She loves the insects and flowers and knows much about them. When a dragonfly lands on her hand at a birthday party for Grandma Phyllis, all eyes are on Poppy. Grandma Phyllis shares that “Poppy’s got a way with wild things,” and she finds the courage to tell everyone the scientific name for the dragonfly. Poppy decides that rather than being a wallflower, she’s a wildflower. Larissa Theule’s beautiful language combines with Sara Palacios’s layered illustrations to bring Poppy to life.

THOUGHTS: Shy kids will see themselves in Poppy. A lovely book overall.

Picture Book          Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin 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. – Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera

Fleming, Candace, and Eric Rohmann. Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera. Neal Porter Books, 2020. 978-0-8234-4285-0. Unpaged. $18.99. Grades K-2.

On a summer morning, a new life begins, a new honeybee emerges from her cell. With characteristically flawless prose, Fleming guides the reader day by day through the short life cycle of the honeybee. The new worker bee immediately begins tasks about the hive, from cleaning, to feeding larva, to tending the queen. At approximately four weeks, the worker transitions to a forager, seeking nectar and communicating its location to other foragers. This job will consume the honeybee for the rest of her days. Fleming’s text is gently poetic, imbuing grace and beauty to the life of the bee and the hive. Caldecott winner Rohmann’s eye-catching artwork adds another layer to the experience and is not for the faint-of-heart.  Illustrations of the bee are enormous, covering entire pages. Some young readers will thrill to the extreme closeups of eyes and antenni, but other, more bug-phobic, children (and adults) may find the pictures terrifying.

THOUGHTS: This is a lovely, lyrical peek inside the hive and the life of the honeybee, but know your audience before using it as a read-aloud.

Picture Book          Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

Elem. – The Bug Girl: A True Story

Spencer, Sophia, & Margaret McNamara. The Bug Girl: A True Story. Schwartz & Wade Books, 2020. 978-0-525-64593-1. 44 p. $17.99. Grades K-3.

Sophia Spencer describes herself in three words: “The Bug Girl.” Sophia falls in love with bugs at the young age of two-and-a-half when a butterfly lands on her shoulder and stays there for her entire visit while she is visiting a butterfly conservatory. She starts learning all she can about every type of bug and because of that, Sophia notices them everywhere she goes. She has a strict no-kill policy with any bugs, a rule her mother respects, even when Sophia brings unwanted critters inside the house. When Sophia is in kindergarten, all of her classmates are entranced by her stories and facts about bugs. But as she grows up and moves through elementary school, she notices that her classmates, once intrigued by her unique hobby, are now making fun of her. Crushed by the criticism and ridicule of her peers, Sophia gives up bugs for a bit… until her mother reaches out to other bug scientists. The responses she receives change her life forever. Beautiful illustrations by the husband and wife team Kerascoët (illustrators of Malala’s Magic Pencil) show how full of color Sophia’s life really is.

THOUGHTS: What makes this picture book biography unique, besides showcasing the much under-represented topic of women in science, is that it is written by The Bug Girl herself. This is quite an accomplishment for a fourth grader. There is even a section of bug facts in the back of the book, written by Sophia in kid-friendly language. Her inspirational story shows that elementary students are quite capable of pursuing their interests even when others do not understand them, although it may not be easy. Young female readers who are interested in science will connect to Sophia’s story.

921 SPE          Danielle Corrao, Ephrata Area SD

Elem. – What Lives in the Dirt?

Williams, Susie. What Lives in the Dirt? Crabtree Publishing Company, 2020. $9.95. ea. $39.80 set of 4. 32 p. K-3. 

Ants. 978-0-778-77395-5.
Centipedes and Millipedes. 978-0-778-77396-2.
Snails. 978-0-778-77397-9.
Worms. 978-0-778-77398-6

This non-fiction picture book series, What Lives in the Dirt?, is great for introducing the primary set to what creatures live in the world at their feet. Hannah Tolson’s illustrations are simple enough so that even the youngest of students can clearly see what the information in the text is stating. These books are packed with facts that are right on cue with primary grade vocabulary. Each title contains highlighted words that can be found in the Glossary in the back, an at-home project that includes a material list and step-by-step instructions for students to extend their learning, a “More amazing facts” section, and an index. There is also a QR code on the back to access a Teacher’s Guide. This reviewer read Snails and Ants in the series.

THOUGHTS: A great series addition for elementary libraries for use in classrooms as well as for kids who love to get down and dirty outside.

595.7 Ants          Krista Fitzpatrick, Waldron Mercy Academy
594.3 Snails

Elementary NF – Money Math; Project Passion; Dropping In On; Abandoned Places; Dragonflies

Adler, David A. and Edward Miller, Ill. Money Math: Addition and Subtraction. Holiday House, 2017. 978-0-8234-2698-9. 32 p. $17.95. Gr. 1-3

A great book to fill in that 513 Dewey section in your library that might be languishing. Cartoon kids want to buy things but need to understand how money works first. In jump the Presidents who are on the different coins and bills and talk about how to add, then subtract money. Decimal points and coins are discussed, and the math in the book gets progressively harder the further you go.  THOUGHTS: I thought it was interested that they had half dollar coins in the book, but they didn’t discuss the $1 Sacagawea coin.  Overall it’s a good addition (pun intended) to the library, but not a must read.

Math; Money       Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School

 

Bolte, Mari. Project Passion (series). Capstone, 2018. 32 p. $20.99 ea. Gr. 4-6.

Bit by Bit:  Projects for Your Odds and Ends.  978-1-5157-7375-7.

Bought in Bulk:  Projects for Surplus Supplies.  978-1-5157-7376-4.

Create and Keep:  Projects to Hang On To.  978-1-5157-7373-3.

Share the Love:  Projects You’ll Love to Give.  978-1-5157-7374-0.  

Bit by Bit:  Projects for Your Odds and Ends and Bought in Bulk: Projects for Surplus Supplies are similar titles that include simple craft projects that can be made using common household objects and leftover craft supplies.  The books include photographic illustrations for nearly every project, including variations on each project, and clear, easy-to-follow directions.  Most of the projects can be completed entirely by children, although a few do require adult supervision or assistance.  THOUGHTS:  These books are useful additions to a makerspace which often include many of the supplies needed. Recommended for upper elementary and middle schools needing to update their craft book collections.

Handicraft 745.5                Maggie Bokelman, Cumberland Valley SD

 

Dropping In On… Rourke Educational Media, 2017. 32 p. $23.00 each, $268.00 for set of 12. Gr. 3-6.

Barger, Jeff. Dropping In On…Atlanta. 978-1-68191-404-6.

Canasi, Brittany. Dropping In On…Boston. 978-1-68191-408-4.

Staton, Hilarie. Dropping In On…Chicago. 978-1-68191-406-0.

Greenspan, Judy. Dropping In On…Dallas. 978-1-68191-407-7.

Staton, Hilarie. Dropping In On…Denver. 978-1-68342-173-3.

Canasi, Brittany. Dropping In On…New Orleans. 978-1-68342-174-0.

Staton, Hilarie. Dropping In On…New York City. 978-1-68191-403-9.

Waxler, Melanie. Dropping In On…Orlando. 978-1-68191-402-2.

Nelson, Deb Tuttle. Dropping In On…Philadelphia. 78-1-68191-409-1.

Canasi, Brittany. Dropping In On…San Francisco. 978-1-68342-172-6.

Greenspan, Judy. Dropping In On…St. Louis. 978-1-68342-175-7.

Barger, Jeff. Dropping In On…Washington D.C. 978-1-68191-405-3.

Calling all travelers! The Dropping In On… series is ready to prepare students for their next big family vacation or city trip. Each title provides a basic historical overview of the title city, including facts on how that city was developed or discovered and information about major historical events impacting the city. For example, Dropping In On…St. Louis reviews the Louisiana Purchase and Lewis and Clark’s explorations, while Dropping In On…New Orleans details New Orleans history both before and after the Civil War and the changes in laws and life felt by African Americans like schoolgirl Ruby Bridges. Series titles also focus on each city’s landscape, parks, monuments, major sports teams, cultural history and attractions, and spots that every tourist must visit. Each book is packed full of beautifully colored photographs, often displayed in overlapping style like a traveler’s scrapbook of photographs. Illustrated children hop into some photographs to point out interesting tidbits, similar to tour guides. Each book features a table of contents, city facts section, glossary, index, and before and after reading activities for educators. THOUGHTS: Not an essential purchase but an interesting, fact-filled introduction to several major US cities.

900s     Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD

 

Abandoned Places (series). Bellwether Media, 2018. $19.95 ea. Set of 6 $119.70.  24p. Gr. 2 – 5.

Leaf, Christina. Machu Picchu: The Lost Civilization. 9781626176966.

Owings, Lisa. Craco: The Medieval Ghost Town. 9781626176959.

Owings, Lisa. Battleship Island: The Deserted Island. 9781626176935.

Owings, Lisa. Pripyat: The Chernobyl Ghost Town. 9781626176973.

Schuetz, Kari. Bodie: The Gold-Mining Ghost Town. 9781626176942.

Schuetz, Kari. Roanoke: The Lost Colony. 9781626176980.

This informative series checks all the boxes of a good non-fiction book: Table of Contents, Glossary, To Learn More, and Index. Some of the best features in this series are the maps showing where the site is located, and the timelines that are in each book. The full-color modern pictures with interspersed historical ones provide a good viewpoint for young learners. THOUGHTS: The reinforced library binding makes this series worth its cost. I liked all the features, and it’s a series that won’t be quickly outdated, so will have a long shelf life.

Nonfiction; Historical Places       Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School

 

Perish, Patrick. Dragonflies. Bellwether Media, 2018. 9781626176621. $19.50. 24 p. Gr. K-3.

In this attractive early reader, Perish presents basic information about the dragonfly. Despite its length, the book is set up like a traditional nonfiction book with a table of contents, pictorial glossary, index, and bibliography.  The author gives the insect’s physical description, habitat, diet and life cycle in a succinct manner, as is typical of books in the Blastoff Readers series.  The stunning photographs complement the text and the reader sees full-page images of the insect on each two-page spread. One can see why this particular series is called Insects Up Close after examining the pictures, like the one which shows the size of the dragonfly’s eyes.  There are also some inset images, which are used to further explain such terms like nymph and molting.  Other interesting photographs include a dragonfly swimming underwater and one eating a mosquito.  Children will enjoy poring over the photos. This series includes a web resource called Factsurfer.  Readers are told to enter the term into the search box and get a list of websites.  One link from the San Diego Zoo did not have the referenced article and one site contained ads.  There are other books in the “Insects Up Close” series, which follow the same format.  Also examined were Cicadas, Grasshoppers, and Ladybugs.  THOUGHTS: This series is a great addition to any library collection serving children, despite the problem with the web resources. These texts would be useful in science units on insects and children will enjoy reading them for personal interest.  They are a good choice for emerging readers.

595.7  Science; Bugs            Denise Medwick, West Allegheny SD