Elem. – Flip! How the Frisbee Took Flight

Muirhead, Margaret. Flip! How the Frisbee Took Flight. Charlesbridge. 978-1-580-89880-5. 32 p. $17.99. Grades K-3. 

Toss, glide, catch, repeat! Frisbees are some of the top-selling toys of all time, and this title explores their history. In the 1920s, east-coast college kids began flinging empty pie plates from the Frisbie bakery. The fad soon spread from campus to campus. Around the same time, in California, a high school football player named Fred Morrison began tossing a flat, tin popcorn lid with his girlfriend. They were amazed how the lid hovered, dipped, and glided through the air. When the tin lid became too dented to fly straight, the pair experimented with pie plates and cake pans. When someone offered to buy the cake pan from Fred after seeing him tossing it around on the beach, Fred was hooked with the idea of introducing the fun to others. Over the next several years, Fred tweaked the materials for the flying discs and capitalized on America’s obsession with aliens and flying saucers. Eventually, he sold his design to the Wham-O toy company who helped give the toy national recognition. Full-page retro-style gouache illustrations capture the excitement of a game of frisbee from all angles, making readers feel like they are ready to fling the flying disc themselves. An Author’s Note includes details about other colleges that claim to have invented the game of frisbee as well as additional information about Fred’s persistence and creative energy. 

THOUGHTS: This title will be an asset to units about inventions, and it also highlights STEM concepts, particularly ideas about creating prototypes and perfecting designs. It also can be integrated into social-emotional discussions, particularly those centering on resilience and perseverance. 

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD
796.2 Activities and Games

Elem. – Summertime Sleepers: Animals that Estivate

Stewart, Melissa. Summertime Sleepers: Animals that Estivate. Charlesbridge, 2021. 978-1-580-89716-7. Unpaged. $16.99. Grades K-3. 

Scientists are still learning about estivation, the opposite of hibernation. Animals that estivate sleep away the summer in cool, sometimes wet, environments while their bodies take a break from warm temperatures. Melissa Stewart provides simple text about estivation that wraps through pages while each two-page spread shows a different estivating animal from around the world. Illustrator Sarah S. Brannan’s watercolor pictures show the estivating animal in their home environment topped with a notebook sketch of the animal; the notebook page also contains the animal’s name, home location, scientific name, and size. Each spread includes a paragraph of information from Stewart. Featured animals include yellow-bellied marmats, Christmas Island red crabs, convergent ladybugs, and more. Excellent, supportive back matter includes more information about featured animals, a section on estivation vs. hibernation, recommended resources, author’s and illustrator’s notes, and selected sources. Front and back endpapers are also beautiful and add excellent visual appeal.

THOUGHTS: Interesting and appealing, suggest this book to animal lovers, kids interested in science, and any reader who enjoys learning about new topics. 

571.7 Animal Biology           Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD

Elem. – Uncharted: Stories of Survival (Series NF)

McGregor, Harriet. Uncharted: Stories of Survival. Bearport, 2021. $19.95 ea. $119.70 set of 6. 24 p. Grades 2-5. 

Blown Away by a Blizzard! 978-1-64747-030-2.
Destroyed by a Hurricane! 978-1-64747-031-9.
Flattened by an Earthquake! 978-1-64747-032-6.
H
eat Wave Horror! 978-1-64747-033-3.
Lightning Strike Survivor! 978-1-64747-034-0.
Tornado Terror! 978-1-64747-031-9.

These action packed graphic novel stories recount various true stories of individuals who had to survive natural disasters. This reviewer had the opportunity to review Blown Away by a Blizzard!, which recounted the story of Randy Kraxberger, a skier who was trapped in the wilderness of Olympic National Park during a blizzard. Kraxberger had to build a snow cave to survive overnight during the blizzard and stay alert with exercise sessions to ward off hypothermia. Thankfully, in the morning he was rescued by park rangers. At the conclusion of the story, a two-page informational spread (not in graphic novel format) defined a blizzard and explained the science behind how blizzards form. Safety tips were also presented.

THOUGHTS: This action-packed, non-fiction graphic novel series is sure to be a hit. Readers will be kept on the edge of their seats as they wait to see how the individual will survive their situation. A worthwhile purchase for elementary libraries looking to expand their non-fiction graphic novel collections.

Graphic Novel          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD
363 Survival Stories

Elem. – Fascinating Facts (Series NF)

Fascinating Facts. The Child’s World, 2021. $19.95 ea. $239.40 set of 12. 24 p. Grades 2-5. 

Kruesi, Liz. Inventions. 978-1503844698.
—. Space. 978-1503844636.
Lassieur, Allison. Natural Disasters. 978-1503844681.
—. Scary Stuff. 978-1503844704.
Pearson, Marie. Dogs. 978-1503844629.
Peterson, Sheryl. U.S. Presidents. 978-1503844599.
Smibert, Angie. Engineering. 978-1503844612.
—. Math. 978-1503844643.
York, M.J. Dinosaurs. 978-11503844667.
. Earth. 978-1503844650.
—. History. 978-1503844605.
—. Human Body. 978-1503844674.

Did you know that Theodore Roosevelt had a photographic memory? Or that Chester Arthur was a clotheshorse who owned 80 pairs of shoes? These are just some of the presidential tidbits shared in the U.S. Presidents volume of the Fascinating Facts series. Each volume explores unusual and unique facts and stories on a given subject. Facts are grouped together by chapter (for example, the U.S. Presidents book chapters included “Life in the White House,” “First Families,” and “Strange but True Tales.”) The text is accompanied by numerous sidebars as well as photos on each page. A glossary as well as links to web resources are also included.

THOUGHTS: Perfect for aficionados of fact-style books, this series is a worthwhile additional purchase for elementary collections.

363.34-973.09 Science, Math, Animals, History          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD  

The world is a mysterious place, filled with lots of unique and bizarre stories! This series focuses on some of the most odd stories of the world, including stories about the human body, space, natural disasters, and scary stuff. The Reviewer read Natural Disasters and Scary Stuff. Natural Disasters showcases some of the most iconic types of natural disasters, including earthquakes and tsunamis, volcanoes, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Each section of this book describes what the natural disaster is, in addition to presenting unique stories about each. Scary Stuff displays some of the most iconic scary items found throughout the world, such as vampires and werewolves! Scary Stuff shares some legends of these scary items, in addition to ways to prevent and/or save yourself from the monsters that go bump in the night.

THOUGHTS: This series is very well done. It includes a lot of information that is presented with colorful visuals and pictures, both photographs and illustrations.

363.34-973.09                    Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Elem. – Chickenology: The Ultimate Encyclopedia

Sandri, Barbara, and Francesco Giubbilini. Chickenology: The Ultimate Encyclopedia. Princeton Architectural Press, 2021. 978-1-616-89908-0. 71 p. $19.95. Grades 3-6. 

What’s that clucking noise you hear? It’s a chicken, of course! Students will learn all about these amazing barnyard creatures in Chickenology: The Ultimate Encyclopedia. Topics presented include the different varieties of chickens, chicken characteristics, habitat, chicken care and health, reproduction, chickens throughout history, and much more. Also discussed are chickens in literature and chickens as pets. In addition, readers will learn about chicken eggs, including parts of the egg, types of eggs, and how eggs are eaten around the world. The text is accompanied by Camilla Pintonato’s numerous detailed illustrations, which are sure to keep readers engaged in the world of chickens.

THOUGHTS: This is an excellent resource for all things chicken! Written in a conversational style, Chickenology will be of use to student researchers as well as the casual browser, who will no doubt enjoy all the unique chicken factoids shared through the book. (Did you know studies have shown chicks can count up to four?) Highly recommended.

636.5 Farm Animals          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD   

Elem. – Sounds All Around: The Science of How Sound Works

Hughes, Susan. Sounds All Around: The Science of How Sound Works. Kids Can Press, 2021. 978-1-525-30250-3. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-3. 

Students occasionally can be loud and noisy, but do they understand how sound works? Sounds All Around aims to explain the concept of sound to young readers. The book opens with a young boy relaxing in a field on a summer day when a bee buzzes by. Readers then follow the boy throughout various settings, including nature, the city, and inside his home as he (and his dog) experience various sounds. Readers will learn about how sound is created through vibrations in the air which travel through the ear and are translated into signals to the brain. The science of pitch is introduced by discussing the hearing range of various animals and a chart outlining their hearing ranges (measured in Hertz) is included. Sound measurement (decibels) is also described and several examples provided. The book ends with the boy and his dog walking to the beach as a bee once again buzzes by. The text is enhanced by Ellen Rooney’s charming paint, pencil crayon, and digital illustrations. Backmatter includes a glossary as well as a craft in which children can make a bee buzzer (to mimic the sound of buzzing bees) with a few simple materials.

THOUGHTS: Sounds All Around successfully breaks down the science of sound in a relatable way for young readers. The text allows for reader experimentation/demonstration at prescribed points–for example, readers are asked to clap their hands to hear sound, and to hum while touching the side of their throats to feel vibrations. Highly recommended for those libraries looking to add titles to explain science/STEM concepts to young readers.

534 Science          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – Bird Show

Stockdale, Susan. Bird Show. Peachtree, 2021. 978-1-682-63128-7. Unpaged. $16.99. Grades K-2. 

Author and illustrator Susan Stockdale celebrates the unique characteristics and adaptations of birds in Bird Show. Each vibrant illustration, created with acrylic on paper, depicts a bird displaying it’s unique coat of feathers. The text, which is written in rhyming couplets, features the birds describing their characteristics. Examples include the golden pheasant declaring “My scarf stripes are curvy” while the egret tells readers “I flaunt a full skirt of milky-white lace.” Backmatter includes a profile of each bird as well as a quiz that asks readers to match the colors and patterns to the correct bird.

THOUGHTS: A fantastic choice for read-alouds, this title could be incorporated into a variety of lessons, including poetry, birds, or an illustration. A first purchase for any elementary library collection.

598 Birds          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem./MG – Explore! America’s National Parks

Langlois, Krista. Explore! America’s National Parks. Kane Miller, 2021. 978-1-684-64193-2. 96 p. $18.99. Grades 3-6. 

It’s time for a trip – a trip to America’s amazing national parks! This title takes readers around the United States to explore 61 parks. Parks are profiled by geographic region, and readers will learn about not to be missed landmarks as well as recommended activities. Selected flora and fauna readers should keep an eye out for plants that are also spotlighted. Recommended camping and hiking spots are identified as well as locations to take the perfect park photo. Environmental issues facing parks are also highlighted, along with suggestions of what readers can do to help protect and care for parks. The text is accompanied by Hannah Bailey’s beautiful illustrations, which are created with stencil, ink, and digitally enhanced/arranged.

THOUGHTS: A great resource for research projects on national parks or the armchair traveler, this title is deserving of a spot on elementary an/or middle school shelves. The author consulted with park rangers and it is clearly evident in the wide variety of suggested park activities and park spots not to be missed.

917 National Parks          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD   

Elem. – Asian Animals (Series NF)

Hansen, Grace. Asian Animals. Abdo, 2021. $20.95 ea. $125.70 set of 6. 24 p. Grades K-2. 

Bengal Tiger. 978-1-0982-0592-8.
Giant Panda. 978-1-0982-0593-5.
Great Hornbill. 978-1-0982-0594-2.
Indian Cobra. 978-1-0982-0595-9.
Pangolin. 978-1-0982-0596-6.
Water Buffalo. 978-1-0982-0597-3. 

The continent of Asia is home to many amazing and unique animals, six of which are featured in this new series for early readers from Abdo. Each oversize volume informs readers about the habitat, characteristics, and lifestyle of the spotlighted animal. This reviewer had the opportunity to read the volume on Giant Pandas. Each two-page spread of the volume featured a high-quality photo accompanied by corresponding text. Readers learn about the habitat of the giant panda, it’s diet of bamboo, how young are raised, and more. As with most Abdo titles, a code in the back of the book allows readers to access supplemental material (video, activities, and more) online.

THOUGHTS: This series is sure to hold appeal for primary readers. The oversize high-quality photos will be sure to engage the interest of even the casual animal fan. For libraries looking to expand their animal collections, this series featuring both common (tiger, panda) and unique (pangolin, water buffalo) animals merits consideration.

590s Animals          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – My Tiny Life by Ruby T. Hummingbird

Meisel, Paul. My Tiny Life by Ruby T. Hummingbird. Holiday House, 2021. 978-0-823-44322-2. 36 p. Grades K-2. $17.99.

This charming picture book is told from the point of view of a hummingbird called Ruby. Written in a diary format, the humorous narrative follows the bird’s life cycle. The story begins with Ruby exiting his tiny egg and looking forward to a tasty meal of insects and nectar delivered by his mother. Soon the small bird begins to fly and finds his own source of food. Ruby needs to learn to defend himself from the other hummingbirds, who also enjoy eating at the flower-shaped feeder. With the arrival of fall, this tiny creature flies to Mexico and makes an exhausting return trip by flying 500 miles nonstop over the Gulf of Mexico. In the spring, Ruby turns his thoughts to finding a mate. The text is sparse, with one or two sentences per page, which allows the pictures to take center stage. Meisel uses watercolors, acrylics, and gouache to create his colorful large scale full bleed illustrations. He does an excellent job showing the motion of the hummingbird’s fast beating wings and its amazing aviation skills, as the birds go up, down, backwards and even upside down. The author includes facts about these feathered friends on the front endpapers and in the back matter and gives helpful comparisons to allow readers to imagine their actual size.

THOUGHTS: Children will enjoy poring over the drawings as they read about this interesting animal. They may want to check out other books in Meisel’s “A Nature Diary” series to learn about the praying mantis, the bluebird and the always popular stink bug. This book is a worthwhile addition to elementary collections as a good resource for science units, as a mentor text for point of view, and creative nonfiction and for just plain enjoyment.

598.764, Hummingbirds          Denise Medwick, Retired, PSLA Member