Elem. – Smithsonian Little Explorer Series NF

Smithsonian Little Explorer. Pebble, 2020. $21.49 ea. $214.90 set of 10. 32 p. Grades 1-3. 

Dickmann, Nancy. Benjamin Franklin: The Man Behind the Lightning Rod.
—. Lewis Latimer: The Man Behind a Better Lightbulb. 978-1-977-11411-2.
—. Marie Curie: The Woman Behind Radioactivity. 978-1-977-10976-7.
—. Ralph Baer: The Man Behind Video Games. 978-1-977-10972-9.
Lee, Sally. Alexander Graham Bell: The Man Behind the Telephone. 978-1-977-10975-1.
—. Madam C.J. Walker: The Woman Behind Hair Care Products for African
Americans. 978-1-977-10971-2.
Loewen, Nancy. Grace Hopper: The Woman Behind Computer Programming.
Raatma, Lucia. Jerome Lemelson: The Man Behind Industrial Robots. 978-1-977-11412-9.
—. Lonnie Johnson: NASA Scientist and Inventor of the Super Soaker.
—. Thomas Edison: The Man Behind the Light Bulb. 978-1-977-10974-3.

In the 5th book of this series, Lewis Latimer: The Man Behind a Better Light Bulb, readers meet an inventor they may not have heard of before. Lewis Latimer, the son of escaped slaves, became a draftsman by reading books and teaching himself how to use drafting tools. He was so talented that many famous inventors of the time sought out his help when drawing and fixing their designs. Because of Latimer, Alexander Graham Bell was able to turn in the paperwork for the telephone patent just hours before another inventor. Perhaps his most famous invention is a better light bulb. He created a filament that lasted much longer and was more cost effective. Thomas Edison, inventor of one of the first practical light bulbs, was so impressed with Latimer that he hired him as an engineer for his company. Latimer was the only black person on Edison’s team, a huge achievement.

THOUGHTS: This book belongs in every elementary library biography collection as many of them most likely contain many books about white male inventors. This biography shows a refreshingly different view of who an inventor can be and where they can come from. Latimer, like many black inventors of his time, has been overlooked. Latimer’s lifetime is not just filled with educational achievements. The obstacles he overcame during his life are just as inspirational: his family escaped slavery, he fought in the Civil War against the South, and he studied law in his later years at a time when not many black people were able to do so. Latimer’s legacy is one of hard work and risk-taking, and it should be shared with young students who hope to be like him one day.

921 LAT          Danielle Corrao, Ephrata Area SD

These scientists and inventors saw problems in their world and found ways to solve them! From electricity to lightbulbs, robots to super soakers, these figures in history were able to be inventive and look for different solutions to different problems. This series provides readers with great information and historical photographs to engage readers and allow them to take a step back through history, solving the problem with the scientist or inventor.

THOUGHTS: Although I only had one item in the series, Grace Hopper, I enjoyed the information the book provided. This series is stated as a Gr. K-3 series, but I believe it would be better enjoyed and understood by readers in grades 2-4.

921         Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Elem. – Fun STEM Challenges (Series Nonfiction)

Ventura, Marne. Fun STEM Challenges. Pebble, 2020. $20.49 ea. Set of 6 $122.94. 24 p. Grades K-3.

Building Boats that Float.  978-1-977-11297-2.
Building Marble Runs 978-1-977-11300-9.
Building Simple Traps. 
Building Strong Bridges. 978-1-977-11299-6.
Building Sunshades. 978-1-977-11301-6.
Building Tough Towers. 978-1-977-11296-5.

In this book, we learn all about Marble Runs! In text young readers can understand, this book informs us as to what a marble run is, why we can build them, how we make our own, and a review of what we learned! This book also contains a glossary for important key words, both text and Internet sites where we can obtain more information, and even some critical thinking questions. This informative book will have young readers creating their own marble runs out of a variety of materials!

THOUGHTS: This is a must have for any STEM/STEAM teacher who works with young grades! A simple book to allow students to begin thinking about his/her own marble run and how to make it work. (Title Reviewed: Building Marble Runs)

507.8 Inventions          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD