Elem. – Feel the Fog

Sayre, April Pulley.  Feel the Fog.  Beach Lane Books, 2020. 978-1-534-43760-9. Unpaged.  $17.99. Grades K-3.

Similar to her other works Best in Snow and Raindrops Roll, Sayre has created a beautiful photographic nonfiction book on the topic of fog. The images depict this “cloud, ground level” in a variety of settings, like the mountains, forests, valleys, and iceberg laden seas. Using spare rhyming text and personification, the author explains how fog develops, how it affects visibility and sound, as well as its appearance in different seasons. The reader also learns how animals like birds and deer adapt to their habitats when this phenomenon occurs. The words and images work together to provide a treat for the senses like this phrase, “Silhouettes sing from wires and fences,” which appears on a page with images of resting birds. The back matter contains additional information.

THOUGHTS: This lyrical and sensory depiction of this weather marvel is a first purchase. It works well as an introduction to weather units and also serves as a mentor text for the use of personification. Children will be fascinated by the images. After reading this book, they will experience fog in a different way the next time it rolls in.

551.575 Rainfall          Denise Medwick, Retired, PSLA Member
Moisture

Elem. – Geology Rocks! Set 2 (Series NF)

Hansen, Grace. Geology Rocks! (Set 2) Abdo, 2020. $20.95 ea. $125.70 set of 6. 24 p. Gr. K-2. 

Crystals. 978-1-532-18556-4.
Igneous Rocks. 978-1-532-18557-1.
Metamorphic Rocks. 978-1-532-18558-8.
Mineraloids. 978-1-532-18559-5.
Organic Gems. 978-1-532-18560-1.
Sedimentary Rocks. 978-1-532-18561-8.

Adbo has expanded their Geology Rocks! series for young readers with the addition of these six titles. Sure to be of interest to students with an interest in rocks and/or minerals, each title features simple text that explains the science behind geology. This reviewer had the opportunity to read the Igneous Rocks volume. The text broke down and described the steps in the igneous rock cycle in an easy to understand manner aimed at primary students. Numerous photos as well as charts accompanied the text in order to illustrate the formation and composition of the rocks. Back matter included a glossary, a chart that shows different types of igneous rocks and a link to Abdo’s extension activities and materials for the volume.

THOUGHTS: This series is an excellent choice for primary libraries looking to update or expand their geology-related collections. The titles offer a great way to introduce the topic of geology to young readers and the oversize books with high-quality photos will hold great curb appeal to browsers. As always, Abdo’s online supplemental content is a cut above what is provided by many publishers and could easily be incorporated into classroom lessons.

549-553 Minerals and Geology          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – The Great Bear Rescue: Saving the Gobi Bears

Markle, Sandra. The Great Bear Rescue: Saving the Gobi Bears. Millbrook Press, 2020. 978-1-541-58125-8. 40 p. $25.59. Grades 3-6. 

Gobi bears are the only species of bear to live entirely in a desert–the Gobi Desert, which means harsh, dry landscape in summer and bitter cold in winter. They eat mainly plants that they dig up with their claws, but the lack of availability of food and water has caused their numbers to dwindle to an estimated 31 (only 8 are female). What can conservationists do? Mongolians consider the Gobi bear to be a national treasure, and the Mongolian government has set aside large tracts of the desert as protected space for the bear, being sure to include areas with natural springs. They also established the Gobi Bear Project, which has led to tracking and accurate numbering of the remaining bears. Still, climate and humans threaten the bears.  Increasingly common droughts, as well as illegal gold mining of the desert (including protected areas) hurts the species’ chances of survival. But researchers are encouraged that the government is protecting the species, the Mongolian people are supportive, the tracked bears appear healthy, and the number of bears has increased slightly (from 22 to 31). Markle presents information about the bear and conservation efforts in a readable manner, made more accessible by numerous photos of the bears, the desert, and the people who would help or harm the future of the bears.

THOUGHTS: This book is a top example of nonfiction for young people, complete with timeline, glossary, source notes, further research, index, and note from the author. Markle has published 12 titles in the series “Sandra Markle’s Science Discoveries,” most recently The Great Penguin Rescue (2018), The Great Rhino Rescue (2019), and Follow Those Zebras (2020). Each title is expertly researched and presented for upper elementary and middle school students.

333.95 Endangered Species          Melissa Scott, Shenango Area SD
Bear

Elem. – 10-Minute Makers (Series NF)

10-Minute Makers. Capstone Press, 2020. $23.99 ea. $239.90 set of 10. 32 p. Grades 3-6. 

Enz, Tammy. 10-Minute Game and Gadget Projects. 978-1-496-68090-7.
—. 10-Minute Upcycled Projects. 978-1-496-68091-4.
Harbo, Christopher. 10-Minute Drawing Projects. 978-1-496-68089-1.
—. 10-Minute Origami Projects. 978-1-496-68088-4.
Schuette, Sarah L. 10-Minute Art Projects. 978-1-543-59094-4.
—. 10-Minute Duct Tape Projects. 978-1-543-59098-2.
—. 10-Minute Engineering Projects. 978-1-543-59093-7.
—. 10-Minute Paper Projects. 978-1-543-59096-8.
—. 10-Minute Science Projects. 978-1-543-59095-1.
—. 10-Minute Yarn Projects. 978-1-543-59097-5.

10-Minute Engineering Projects contains thirteen different engineering projects that students can complete with simple materials from around the house. Many projects, including Parking Garage, Kickball, and Marble A-Maze-ing require simple materials such as cardboard, tape and scissors, while others require materials that might be a little more difficult to find. For example, Magnet Plane requires a craft magnet and a bar magnet to function. Each project is written in simple step-by-step numerical directions and are accompanied by pictures of each step. Also included are photographs of the final project as well as tips for using it. All of the projects range in complexity from three steps to six, but they all have one thing in common: engineering is at the core of every one. Every project shows how engineers incorporate movement, balance, and stability to solve puzzles and make work easier.

THOUGHTS: In recent years, the push for STEM has become greater in school districts around Pennsylvania. This book is perfect for elementary teachers or makerspace facilitators who may need a quick and easy project to use in their classroom. But it is also perfect for young students who have an interest in engineering. Each project is written in kid-friendly language, and full of color photographs demonstrate what the product should look like every step of the way. This book is a great nonfiction addition to any elementary library, especially in schools that are STEM-focused.

620  Engineering          Danielle Corrao, Manheim Central SD

Elem. – Astonishing Animals (Series NF)

Astonishing Animals. Crabtree Publishing Company, 2020. $15.16 ea. $90.96, Set of 6. Grades 3-6. 

Howell, Izzi. Animal Athletes. 978-0-778-76933-0.
—. Animal Engineers. 978-0-778-76936-1.
Hyde, Natalie. Animal Oddballs. 978-0-778-76937-8.
—. Animal Disguises.  978-0-778-76935-4.
—. Animal Survivors. 978-0-778-76938-5.
Johnson, Robin. Animal Celebrities. 978-0-778-76934-7.

Astonishing Animals is a high-interest nonfiction series for upper elementary students brimming with full-color nature photography and fascinating facts. Each title focuses on animals that have extraordinary characteristics. In Animal Oddballs, students will read about animals with bizarre adaptations and how these adaptations have allowed the species to thrive including the red-lipped batfish, flic-flac spider and naked mole rats. Animal Athletes focuses on the fastest, toughest, most flexible, and strongest specimens in the animal kingdom. Highlighted animals include impalas, mako sharks, and horned dung beetles. The text is divided into manageable chunks with colorful call-out boxes and captions. Most two-page spreads also include a Fact File table with brief notes about the animal’s size, habitat, diet, and location. Other non-fiction text features include a glossary, index, and table of contents. Website suggestions are also included for students who would like to read more about the featured astonishing animals.

THOUGHTS: This series is filled with everything nonfiction elementary readers crave especially bite-sized facts about unusual nature and extreme full-colored photography. Readers who enjoy almanac and fact books will also appreciate Astonishing Animals.

591.5 Habitats and Behavior          Jackie Fulton, Mt. Lebanon SD

MG – Being LGBTQ in America (Series NF)

Being LGBTQ  in America. Abdo Publishing, 2020. $25.95 ea. $155.70, set of 6. 112 pp. Grades 6-8.

Harris, Duchess, J.D., Ph.D. with Rebecca Rowell. Growing Up LGBTQ.  978-1-532-11904-0.
Harris, Duchess, JD, PhD. with Kristin Marciniak. Being Transgender in America. 978-1-532-11903-3.
Harris, Duchess, JD, Ph.D. with Kristin Marciniak. LGBTQ Discrimination in America.978-1-532-11905-7.
Harris, Duchess, JD, Ph.D. with Martha Lundin. LGBTQ Rights and the Law.   978-1-532-11906-4.
Harris, Duchess, JD, Ph.D. with Jill C. Wheeler. LGBTQ Service in the Armed Forces.  978-1-532-11907-1.
Harris, Duchess, JD, Ph.D. with Martha Lundin. LGBTQ Social Movements in America.  978-1-532-11908-8.

This well-researched series provides an easily understandable, comprehensive exposition of the LGBTQ community, its difficulties, and its successes. In Growing Up LGBTQ, by Dr. Duchess Harris with Rebecca Rowell, the authors focus on LGBTQ teens navigating their gender identity with compelling language and plentiful real-life explanations. The book acts as a primer with each chapter covering a different issue facing LBGTQ and ending with brief list of discussion questions. An interesting topic is a description of stores that engage in “gendering materials,” separation of traditional boy and girl products like clothing and toy and heightened prices for “girl” toys. The authors list the various ways LBGTQ* teens suffer from discrimination in the health care field, among law enforcement, in the homeless community, and in prisons. This particular book reinforces the need for LBGTQ teens to feel the support of family and school in order to find their voices. It concludes with with a discussion of the protests and the consequences around Title IX, its advances and its demise under the Trump-deVose administration. Complementary photographs and informative textboxes interspersed touch on topics like microaggressions, same-sex marriage, and more. Though the slim volume doesn’t go in-depth on any topic, it does give a lively, simple overview of being a LGBTQ teen. Includes a glossary, suggested resources, and an index.

THOUGHTS: Middle-school students as well as reluctant high school readers doing research papers or projects will make good use of these short, information-packed books. They also will benefit gender-curious youth because the authors don’t seem to have missed any issue. Being LGBTQ+ and a person of color and asexuality are also briefly addressed. I wonder if the title will be revised to read LGBTQ+.

306.76 Social Sciences          Bernadette Cooke, School District of Philadelphia

MG – When Stars are Scattered

Jamieson, Victoria, and Omar Mohamed. When Stars are Scattered. Dial, 2020. 978-0-525-55391-5. 257 p. + notes. $20.99. Grades 3-8.

Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have been living in a Kenyan refugee camp since fleeing Somalia at the age of 4. Omar’s life consists of taking care of Hassan, with the assistance of Fatuma, an elderly woman who has been appointed the boys’ guardian. UN supplied food rations are meager and entertainment is what can be manufactured, such as playing soccer with a ball created from plastic bags. Omar has not gone to school, feeling responsible for Hassan. But a camp community leader encourages Omar to begin attending school, and a new world  opens to Omar. But it can be a painful world, of crushed dreams and disappointments. Brilliant student Maryam who dreams of going to university in Canada, is forced to quit school and get married. The system of choosing people for possible relocation to the United States seems random, and when Omar and Hassan are finally chosen for an emigration interview, nothing comes of it. But Omar continues to study and dream. When Omar is 18 the brothers are finally selected for resettlement. This stunning autobiography portrays, in beautiful color palettes, the reality of life in a refugee camp. Living conditions are horrific, but there are also close bonds of people who care for and support each other. Omar’s horrific backstory is revealed during his first resettlement interview, explaining how he and Hassan came to be in the  camp alone at such a young age. Author notes at the end of the story update the reader on the brothers’ story after reaching the United States, including the delightful surprise that Omar is currently living in Lancaster, PA.

THOUGHTS: This important story is a must purchase for most libraries. It carries the gravitas of Jarrett Krosocka’s Hey Kiddo, but appropriate for a younger audience.

Autobiography          Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

As Omar so succinctly states in the word bubble on the back cover: “Refugee Camps are supposed to be a temporary place to stay until it’s safe to go back home. I guess no one expected the war to last so long, though, because Hassan and I have been here for 7 years.” With gorgeous colors and interesting characters, Jamieson and Mohamed take us through childhood in a refugee camp in Kenya. The monotony of daily essential routines for survival are mixed with increasing odds against finding their mother or going back home to Somalia. What remains is the effort to take care of one another, the opportunity to get schooling and seek a future, and the slightest chance to immigrate to another country for a new beginning. All of these seem unlikely for Omar, who faces tragic memories, current realities, and future possibilities with truth and sincerity that will bring young readers into his world and into their hearts. When the Stars Are Scattered is a remarkable light in the night sky which guides hope home.

THOUGHTS: Both Pennsylvania residents do an excellent job bringing the refugee experience to children. The sibling relationship with Hassan, who is nonverbal except for one word, is truly touching and real. The afterword and authors’ notes bring the story up to date, and help realize the many other refugee stories that need to be heard. Highly recommended.

Graphic Novel          Dustin Brackbill, State College Area SD

This beautifully drawn graphic novel tells the story of Omar Mohamed, a young Somalian boy who was forced out of his country and into a refugee camp in Kenya with his young brother at the age of 4.  Omar’s younger brother, Hassan, is special needs and only says one word, Hooyo, the Somalian word for Mama. Omar and Hassan saw their father killed and were separated from their mother as the Civil War in Somalia started. With the kindness of a new foster mother, Omar and Hassan survive and grow up in the Dadaab refugee camp. Omar’s life changes when he starts school and excels, earning the right to continue to attend school as he grows up. Omar and Hassan never give up looking for their real mother, and in the Afterword we see real photos of Omar and Hassan, and learn that, years later, they are reunited with her.

THOUGHTS: A must purchase for any middle grade library collection.

Graphic Novel          Krista Fitzpatrick, Waldron Mercy Academy

Elem. – The Only Woman in the Photo: Frances Perkins and her New Deal for America

Krull, Kathleen. The Only Woman in the Photo: Frances Perkins and her New Deal for America. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2020. 978-1-481-49151-8. 48 p. $18.99. Grades K-3.

Readers may know author Kathleen Krull from her writings on important feminist leaders, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Louisa May Alcott. This book, in that same vein, is about a woman who was instrumental in FDR’s New Deal – but rarely given any credit. Frances Perkins learned from a young age to walk through any proverbial door that opened, and she lived by those words every day of her life. As a quiet girl growing up in New England, she observed and listened to the world around her. She saw the extreme inequities between the working class and upper class, even at a young age. Perkins observed working conditions in places like textile mills and bakeries. She helped people in need by fighting for better working conditions, a fight that intensified after she watched the smoldering fire at The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory claim the lives of 146 victims. Perkins knew that in order to make a real difference, she needed to enter the all-male world of politics. Luckily, President Theodore Roosevelt heard of her wonderful work and recommended her to head a committee on workplace safety. Although she was always the only woman in the room, her hard work and compassion allowed her to climb the ranks until she became President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s secretary of labor. Finally, she had a front row seat in the president’s cabinet of advisors; however, many men who worked with her despised answering to a woman and either quit or made snide remarks behind her back. Perkins did not let this deter her – she went on to author the ground-breaking New Deal and presented it to FDR himself.

THOUGHTS: This book is a reminder that even though our textbooks often credit white males for important events in American history, the real credit often goes to other people behind the scenes. Although Frances Perkins did not like the limelight and preferred not receiving credit for her incredible deeds, it is still critical that librarians expose young readers to all facets of historical events. This biographical book reads like a story and the bright, cartoon-like illustrations will capture elementary readers from the first page.

331 Women Social Reformers            Danielle Corrao, Ephrata Area SD

Elem. – The Fabled Life of Aesop

Lendler, Ian. The Fabled Life of Aesop. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020. 978-1-328-58552-3. 63 p. $18.99. Grades K-3.

The Fabled Life of Aesop follows the life of Aesop, as he began his life as a slave and ended up becoming free. All throughout Aesop’s life he told stories and tales to his different masters, so you see the tales that he told as well as what happened as a result of his telling those tales. In the middle of the story, there are nine of Aesop’s more famous fables; however, they are woven into the story of Aesop’s life. The afterword by the author goes into more detail about Aesop’s life as far as what is known, as well as more about the fables and how they came to be. The illustrations are absolutely stunning and add so much detail to the story, as well as making the fables come to life. This is a wonderful addition to any elementary school library collection, and gives new life into some of Aesop’s fables that you may have heard several times before.

THOUGHTS: I loved the illustrations and feel they really added so much to the story. The afterword was informative and made me feel like I got more information, even though there isn’t a lot known about Aesop himself.

398.24 Fables          Mary Hyson, Lehigh Valley Academy Charter School

MG – Mary Seacole: Bound for the Battlefield

Rubin, Susan Goldman. Mary Seacole: Bound for the Battlefield. Candlewick, 2020. 978-0-763-67994-1. 48 p. $17.99. Grades 5-8.

The true nursing hero of the Crimean War was born in Jamaica and wanted to help others with natural remedies, kindness, and good food since she was young. Mary Seacole is an unsung hero of the nursing world, and this book tells the story of Mary’s interest in medicine from a young girl, watching her mother, the doctress, and practicing on her dolls, pets, and herself to be able to follow in her mother’s footsteps. The frequent full-page illustrations are colorful and a way for a young reader to imagine what Mary’s life was like. Although her story has a lot of focus on healthcare, this book is just as much about prejudice in various countries during the 1800s. In 48 pages, the reader can learn about the tenacity of one person and her ability to help all in any way she could. There is a brief mention of the first modern war correspondent and how Mami Seacole’s fame spread through many countries. The book includes source notes and a bibliography.

THOUGHTS: If you have any biographical books on Florence Nightingale in your library, this needs to sit right beside it on the shelf. Mary Seacole’s story of determination and perseverance is one with which all students should be familiar. This book could find a home in elementary through high school libraries.

973 Biography          Samantha Hull, Ephrata Area SD