MG/YA – Our Solar System (Series NF)

Our Solar System. BrightPoint Press, 2023. $33.05 ea. $198.30 set of 6, 64 p. Grades 6-12. 

Fraiser, Carolyn Bennett. Moons. 978-1-678-20406-8.
LaPierre, Yvette. The Asteroid Belt. 978-1-678-20402-0.
Mitchell, KS. The Gas Giants: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. 978-1-678-20404-4.
Terp, Gail. Pluto and the Dwarf Planets. 978-1-678-20408-2.
Thacher, Meg. The Terrestrial Planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. 978-1-678-20412-9.
Wolny, Philip. The Sun. 978-1-678-20410-5.

This reviewer evaluated the titles The Sun and Moons. Each of the series titles is organized in a similar fashion, with a two-page ‘at a glance’ summary preceding the books’ longer introduction and chapters. An index, source notes, and a bibliography is included for students to use in further research of the topic. In The Sun, Wolny includes information about the Parker Solar Probe, launched in 2018 to gather new information about Earth’s relationship with the Sun. The book also contains information about heliocentric and geocentric models, and it covers civilization’s historical understanding of the Sun. Moons contains a multitude of information about not just Earth’s moon but the many other moons present in the solar system. In each book, the authors take care to place vocabulary words in bold font, and they include clear text features with extra information on missions and locations. Pictures are varied and contain captions that do not distract from the chapters’ text.

THOUGHTS: These new hi-lo solar system nonfiction titles will be great primers in all things outer space for interested students in both middle and high school. The up-to-date information offered in this collection will be a welcome addition for libraries that may be living with an otherwise aged natural science nonfiction collection. One thing I particularly liked about this series is its inclusion of carefully curated source notes and bibliography. The authors include credible online sources (as well as books), so students easily can look up additional bits of information as needed. These series books are short but mighty at 64 pages each, and this series makes great resource material for young scientists!

500 Science

Elem./MG/YA – Space Exploration (Series NF)

Space Exploration. BrightPoint Press, 2023. $32.95 ea. $164.75 set of 5. 64 p. Grades 5-12.

Gagne, Tammy. Colonizing Mars. 978-1-678-20426-6.
Layton, Christine Marie. Beyond the Solar System. 978-1-678-204242.
Wolny, Phillip. Living in Space. 978-1-678-20428-0.
Toth, Henrietta. Robotics in Space. 978-1-678-20430-3.
Moon, Walt K. Rockets and Space Travel. 978-1-678-20432-7

The focus of the 5-book nonfiction series is on the cutting-edge technology that is being used in space travel currently as well as looking to the future. Each book has engaging images along with an informative text that will appeal to students. The series contains topics that range from life on other planets to robotics in space. The book concludes with a glossary, additional resources, source notes, and an index.

THOUGHTS: This series is a good addition to enhance upper elementary and middle school library collections seeking to update their space and science section. It is labeled as Hi-lo YA nonfiction, so it also would be a good addition to a high school library.

600s Science and Space  

Elem. – Hello, World! Kids’ Guides (Series NF)

McDonald, Jill. Hello, World! Kids’ Guides. Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2022.  $15.99 ea. $63.96 set of 4. 32 p. Grades K-4.

Exploring Sharks. 978-0-593-56481-3.
Exploring the Solar System. 978-0-593-48204-9.
Exploring Dinosaurs. 978-0-593-56820-0. (available in 2023)
Exploring Insects. 978-0-593-56823-1. (available in 2023)

This nonfiction selection tours our solar system beginning with the sun. The eight major planets and the known dwarf planets are covered. Each planet has a two-page spread with fun facts, a footer indicating the location of the planet in relation to the rest of the solar system, and a sidebar with statistics. The sidebar info-panels give the size, distance, temperature, length of day and year, and number of moons for each planet, in a consistent and organized format. The text is simple but has enough interesting information to keep young readers intrigued without being overwhelmed. Each spread includes a thought-provoking discussion question. Delightful, bold, brightly colored  illustrations add to the fun on this engaging trip through the solar system.

THOUGHTS: A very well organized informational text with plenty of intriguing facts for early elementary students. Varied fonts and the whimsical illustrations give the book a fun and exciting feel. My very favorite part of each two-page planetary information spread are the discussion questions. Some questions are pensive queries about favorite things on Earth, or personal preferences for warm or cold environments. Others are STEAM related questions about cloud colors and day length. These questions have an SEL quality that will enhance scientific discussions in the classroom. 

523.2 Astronomical Objects and Astrophysics          Anne McKernan, Council Rock SD
500s Science

Elem. – Stella, Star Explorer

Miller, Kelly Leigh. Stella, Star Explorer. Simon & Schuster, 2022. Unpaged. $18.99. 978-1-534-49767-2. Grades PK-2.

Stella is fascinated with space and sick of Earth. She builds a rocket and takes her dog Luna on a voyage of discovery. They meet two aliens who need help finding the planet just right for them. Stella the expert steps right in, acting as a real estate agent of space. She shows the two aliens each planet (skipping Earth), noting a special feature of each (Neptune is more than five times colder than the North Pole; Jupiter has seventy-nine moons; Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system; although Mercury is closest to the sun). When the only planet left is Earth, Stella grudgingly introduces them. The aliens ask Stella to show them everything about Earth, and in doing so, she realizes that if every planet is special, why wouldn’t Earth be? Seeing her planet through the aliens’ eyes gives Stella a new appreciation for Earth, so that it becomes her favorite planet.

THOUGHTS: This is a clever way to learn about the planets and, like Stella, learn to appreciate Earth. This could be a great opener for learning about the planets and for caring for the Earth.  

Picture Book          Melissa Scott, Shenango Area SD

Elem. – Mars! Earthlings Welcome (Series NF)

McAnulty, Stacy. Mars! Earthlings Welcome. Henry Holt and Company, 2021. 978-1-250-25688-1. $18.99. 40 p. Grades Pre K-2.

Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years. 2017. 978-1-250-10808-1.
Sun! One in a Billion. 2018. 978-1-250-19932-4.
Moon! Earth’s Best Friend. 2019. 978-1-250-19934-8.
Ocean! Waves for All. 2020. 978-1-250-10809-8.

The fifth book in the “Our Universe” series is about Mars. This nonfiction read, disguised as a fiction book, is a fun and informational read for those that love the solar system and the planets. All of the books in this series are told from the perspective of the subject, so in this case Mars is the author of this book, with the help of McAnulty (of course!). This book is attractively illustrated and reads like a fiction picture book but is filled with informational text. This series is terrific for those reluctant non-fiction readers.

THOUGHTS: I LOVE this series! Sun! One in a Billion was a PA Young Reader’s Choice Award selection this past year, and the students loved it. They really enjoyed reading all of the books in this series. Lovers of books about space will enjoy these books, but they will also appeal to all readers.

523.43 Mars          Krista Fitzpatrick, PSLA Member