Elem. – A Leopard Diary: My Journey into the Hidden World of a Mother and Her Cubs

Eszterhas, Suzi. A Leopard Diary: My Journey into the Hidden World of a Mother and Her Cubs. OwlkidsBooks, 2022. 978-1-771-47491-7. 40 p. $18.95. Grades 2-6.

Wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas, author of Moto and Me, returns with A Leopard Diary! Eszterhas specializes in photographing baby animals, and she jumped at the chance to photograph a female leopard and her two cubs in Botswana’s Jao Reserve, located in the Okavango Delta. In A Leopard Diary she has compiled her diary of the adventure, from the day she arrived at the Tubu Tree Camp through various return trips over the next two years. Her diary entries conversationally document the female cubs’ development, accompanied by full-color photos and lively page spreads that showcase their journey from cubs to sub-adults. The narrative culminates in the arrival of the Camp Female’s new baby, a male cub. As in all of Eszterhas’s books, the photographs are the star of the show. Many include captions that further explain the scenes so skillfully captured by her camera. The closing pages include an interview with Kambango (a guide and tracker who works in the reserve), information on Children in the Wilderness, and a useful list of Words to Know. 

THOUGHTS: The author’s love of both her profession and the wildlife she photographs shines through on every page. Readers will come away from A Leopard Diary with a new understanding of these big cats and their “hidden” lives in the bush.

599 Wildlife          Amy V. Pickett, Ridley 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

Elem. – Animals with Armor

Murray, Julie. Animals with Armor. Abdo Kids, 2022. $21.95 ea. $131.70 set of 6. 24 p. Grades K-3. 

Armadillos. 978-1-098-22657-2.
Beetles. 978-1-098-22658-9.
Crabs. 978-1-098-22659-6.
Porcupines. 978-1-098-22660-2.
Rhinoceros. 978-1-098-22661-9.
Tortoises. 978-1-098-22662-6.

Many animals have developed adaptations to help protect them from predators and other enemies. The Animals with Armor series takes a look at some animals with armor related protection. In addition to learning about each animal’s unique armor, readers will learn about the animal’s habitat, food sources, size and other interesting facts. This reviewer had the opportunity to read Porcupines. The volume featured numerous facts as well as numerous photographs, including several close-up views of fearsome porcupine quills. Each volume also features additional facts, a glossary, and a website link where readers can find quality websites on the animal. 

THOUGHTS: This engaging series is sure to be a hit with young readers who are animal fans. The text is simple, yet informative and the high-quality photos allow readers to get a close up look at some armor (like porcupine quills) that they may not personally have the opportunity to view in the wild. A worthwhile purchase for schools looking to add to their animal collections.

590s Animals                Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – Science Questions (Series NF)

Andrews, Elizabeth. Science Questions (Set 2). Abdo Kids, 2022. $21.95 ea. $131.70 set of 6. 24 p. Gr. K-3. 

How Do Fish Breathe? 978-1-098-24107-0.
How Do Puppies Get Their Colors? 978-1-098-24108-7.
How Does a Body Heal? 978-1-098-24109-4.
How Does Plumbing Work? 978-1-098-24110-0.
Why Do Volcanoes Erupt? 978-1-098-24111-7.
Why Does a Boat Float? 978-1-098-24112-4.

The Science Questions series from Abdo Publishing is back with another six volumes answering common student questions regarding science. Each volume examines a science-related question, explaining the answer using age-appropriate language and terminology. This reviewer had the opportunity to examine How Do Fish Breathe?, a question that many children undoubtedly have wondered when watching fish in a tank or in the wild. The volume explains how oxygen is present in water and how fish use their gills to help distribute oxygen throughout their bodies. The volume closes with a brief chapter mentioning how climate change is causing falling oxygen levels in the ocean. Each volume features numerous high quality photographs, diagrams, a glossary, and making connections questions. In addition, a QR code is present where readers can access online resources such as videos, links, and activities (word search, coloring page, etc.). 

THOUGHTS: Children naturally are curious and questioning–this series is a great option to hand students with science related interests or questions. The series (and the online supplemental material) also would be useful in elementary classroom science lessons. Recommended. 

500s Science                Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – Traditions Around the World (Series NF)

Traditions Around the World.  The Child’s World, 2022.  $30.79 ea. Set of 8. 32 p. Grades K-3.

Axelrod-Contrada, Joan. Halloween and Day of the Dead Traditions. 978-1-503-85016-3.
Cosson, M.J.  Easter Traditions. 978-1-503-85015-6.
—. Wishing Traditions. 978-1-503-85014-9.
Ingalls, Ann.  Birthday Traditions. 978-1-503-85011-8.
—. Christmas Traditions. 978-1-503-85012-5.
Kesserling, Susan. National Day Traditions. 978-1-503-85017-0.
Malaspina, Anna. New Year Traditions. 978-1-503-85018-7.
—. Tooth Traditions. 978-1-503-85013-2.

Each volume of this collection discusses various holidays, celebrations, or traditions in a variety of countries. These include Christmas, birthdays, Easter, Halloween, New Year, National holidays, and customs regarding tooth loss and wishing.  The text is formatted in typical nonfiction style and includes a table of contents, glossary, index, and suggested supplemental reading. What makes this series interesting is that the author has included at least one country from every inhabited continent. In Christmas Traditions, there are pages for Uganda, Chile, and India. In Birthday Traditions, one can learn about customs in Australia, Ghana, and Korea. At the bottom of each country’s page, a world map highlights the featured nation in red. The texts give some general background about the featured subject on the first few pages. The author includes either a craft or recipe as well as a song in the back matter. There are colorful photographs or illustrations on each two page spread. 

THOUGHTS: Although the set is a bit pricey, it is a good choice for those libraries needing updated diverse materials on holidays and traditions. This set is also useful for demonstrating nonfiction text features. Also available in digital format.  The volumes about Christmas Traditions and Birthday Traditions were used for this review.

394 General Customs          Denise Medwick, Retired, PSLA Member

Elem. – Happy Sloth Day!

Sayre, April Pulley. Happy Sloth Day! Beach Lane Books, 2022. 978-1-534-45373-9. $17.99. Grades K-3.

Sloths, slow and gentle creatures, are found in the rainforest canopy. They stay towards the top of the trees to hide from predators and continue on with their day-to-day lives. As you read this book, you will see gorgeous photographs of sloths throughout their day, as well as learn amazing facts about sloths and the wilderness that surrounds them.

THOUGHTS: This book is filled with gorgeous photographs of sloths and a ton of great information for young readers. The back of the book contains additional information for readers to enjoy, as well as web links to continue exploration and research. 

599 Mammals            Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD
Picture Book

Elem. – Pura’s Cuentos: How Pura Belpré Reshaped Libraries with Her Stories

Pimentel, Annette Bay. Pura’s Cuentos: How Pura Belpré Reshaped Libraries with Her Stories. Abrams, 2021. 978-1-419-74941-4. Unpaged. $18.99. Grades PreK-2. 

Born in Puerto Rico, Pura Belpré grew up listening to her aubeula’s stories. When, as an adult, Puera left the island to move to New York City, she carried the stories of her aubeula and her homeland with her. In New York, Puera found a job at the 135th Street Library working with children. Belpré loved leading storytimes at the library, but rules said she could only tell stories from printed books. This meant the wonderful stories of her youth told to her by her abuela could not be shared because they were not written down. When she makes her case to her bosses, they agree that she can share her stories. Soon Puera is conducting outreach to the surrounding community, inviting all children to the library where she regularly leads bilingual storytimes, telling cuentos, some from print books, others not. Eventually Belpré wrote her stories down in book form and they were published, reaching an even wider population. Pimentel’s lyrical retelling of Puera Belpré’s story will introduce this important figure in librarianship to new audiences. The text is primarily in English, but Spanish words and phrases are incorporated at various points throughout the story. Magaly Morales’ vibrant digital illustrations capture Belpre’s energy when storytelling and interacting with children. 

THOUGHTS: This engaging biography shines a spotlight on an important figure in librarianship. Belpre was a trailblazer who strove to make public libraries more inclusive and welcoming to all. This title would pair well with Belpre’s story Pérez y Martina, which is referenced several times in Puera’s Cuentos.

921 Biography          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

MG/YA – Ambushed! The Assassination Plot Against President Garfield

Jarrow, Gail. Ambushed! The Assassination Plot Against President Garfield. Calkins Creek, 2021. 978-1-684-37814-2. Grades 5-12

Author Gail Jarrow (Blood and Germs, Poison Eaters) is back with another top notch medical-related non-fiction title for secondary students. This time, she has turned her focus to the assignation of President James Garfield. Garfield was a respected former college president, Civil War general, and Congressman who was elected President in 1880. On July 2, 1881, Charles Guiteau, a disgruntled office seeker, shot Garfield shortly after he entered a train station. Though medical professionals in Europe had been advancing theories regarding germs and the importance of treating wounds with antiseptics, these ideas found little acceptance in America. Therefore, when Garfield was examined, his doctors probed his wound with dirty fingers and instruments. Garfield lingered for months, slowly wasting away as infection ravaged his body. The country united together, in hopes that Garfield would survive, but he passed away on September 19, 1881. Jarrow makes extensive use of primary documents, including diary entries and other communications to relate Garfield’s story. Numerous photographs, paintings, and illustrations enhance the text. Backmatter includes a glossary, timeline, and list of additional resources. 

THOUGHTS: Since Garfield’s presidency was short, he is little remembered today, which is unfortunate. He had an amazing life story, which Jarrow outlines in the beginning of this engaging title. Even though he was in constant pain following being shot, he remained in good spirits and never complained, even while undergoing painful (and as the reader learns, unsanitary) treatments. Readers will gain an appreciation for Garfield and an appreciation for how far medical knowledge and treatment has advanced. Highly recommended.

973.84 American History        Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem./MG – Why Longfellow Lied: The Truth About Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride

Lantos, Jeff. Why Longfellow Lied: The Truth About Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride. Charlesbridge, 2021. 978-1-58089-933-8. 134 p. $18.99. Grades 3-8. 

“Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is one of the most famous poems written by an American poet. Memorized by thousands of children (and adults) since its publication in 1860, the poem popularized Paul Revere and the story of the events on April 18 & 19, 1775, when riders traveled the countryside around Boston to warn citizens that British troops were on the move. While the average reader may accept the poem as fact, in actuality Longfellow took some artistic license in his retelling. Author Jeff Lantos examines the poem stanza by stanza, comparing the text of the poem to primary source accounts of the events. Readers will learn reasons Longfellow strayed from the historical record is his retelling, including the need to maintain pacing in the poem, removing details that might detract from the main storyline, and the need to give the poem a sense of drama. Numerous sidebars highlight historical facts and figures, and the text is enhanced by the inclusion of maps, photographs, paintings, and drawings. 

THOUGHTS: This fantastic title is a combination history lesson and literary analysis. The author is a retired teacher and has an engaging conversational tone that is sure to keep readers turning the page. An excellent choice for casual readers or those researching the events surrounding the beginning of the American Revolution, this title deserves a spot on library shelves.

811 Poetry          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem./MG – A Curious Collection of Dangerous Creatures

Bayly, Sami. A Curious Collection of Dangerous Creatures. The Experiment, 2021. 978-1-615-19824-5. 125 p. $18.95. Grades 3-8. 

Dangerous…it’s a word that evokes feelings of fear and terror in many individuals. While animals considered or called dangerous can pose some level of threats to humans, they are often misunderstood. Author and illustrator Sami Bayly spotlights some of these creatures and explores how they have adapted to ward off predators with amazing (and yes, dangerous) defense mechanisms. For example, the greater slow loris (a small, tree-dwelling primate native to some countries in Asia), produces toxins in its elbow glands. If you see it licking its armpit/elbow area, watch out! It’s collecting venom that mixes with saliva to create a toxic bite. The geography cone snail lives near coral reefs in the Pacific. From the outside, it looks like a beautiful seashell, but inside lives the world’s most venomous sea snail. One shot of the snail’s venom can kill up to 15 people! These are just two of the 60 creatures profiled in this engaging title. Each entry defines the danger profile for the animal, as well as identifying their habitat, eating habits and conservation status. Particularly noteworthy are Byly’s illustrations. Trained as a natural history illustrator, her detailed watercolor paintings are true works of art and bring the animals to life.
Note: A Curious Collection of Dangerous Creatures was previously published in Australia under the title The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Dangerous Animals.

THOUGHTS: This fantastic title will give readers a new appreciation and respect for the ways animals have adapted to survive. Ideal for casual browsers or researchers, readers will find themselves engrossed by the interesting facts presented about each animal and the detailed illustrations. 

591.6 Animals          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD