Elem. – Over and Under the Rainforest

Messner, Kate. Over and Under the Rainforest. Chronicle Books, 2020. 978-1-452-16940-8. Unpaged. $18.99. Grades K-3.

Following up Over and Under the Snow and Over and Under the Pond Messner explores the rainforest both high and low. Christopher Silas Neal’s artwork, overwhelming the pages in luscious saturated shades of green, draws the reader into the forest along with the young narrator and her guide. Above is a world of monkeys, insects, and birds. Colorful toucans, flit among the branches. Capuchin and howler monkeys and sloths move through the leafy growth. Below are critters and creatures, both cute and deadly: agoutis and crocodiles, anteaters and spiders. As the day wanes, the rainforest fades to purples, creatures of the night emerge, and the young narrator heads for home, Abuelita and supper. Messner’s informative text never overwhelms the reader. Facts are lovingly wrapped in description to evoke life in the rainforest.

THOUGHTS: Messner never disappoints, and this book will be a solid addition to any elementary collection, useful as a read-aloud or with a classroom curriculum.

Picture Book         Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

Elem. – Looking at Layers (Series NF)

Looking at Layers. The Child’s World, 2020. $20.00 ea. 24 p. Grades 3-6. 

London, Martha. Looking Inside Earth. 978-1-503-83518-4.
Huddleston, Emma. Looking Inside the Human Body. 978-1-503-83519-1.
—. Looking Into Caves. 978-1-503-83522-1.
—. Looking Into Soil. 978-1-503-83520-7.
London, Martha. Looking Into the Atmosphere. 978-1-503-83516-0.
—. Looking Into the Grand Canyon. 978-1-503-83517-7.
—. Looking Into the Ocean. 978-1-503-83515-3.
Huddleton, Emma. Looking Into the Rain Forest. 978-1-503-83521-4.

An attractive nonfiction series exploring various layers of natural things, from the human body to soil to the rainforest. Straightforward text clearly explains concepts with a natural projection from outward layers in. Words from the glossary are highlighted in red which is a nice feature for readers. Sidebars focus on timely topics, such as “Creating Mountains” when text discusses tectonic plates in Looking Inside Earth. Visuals are both illustrations and photographs. Looking Inside the Human Body has fascinating illustrations of many body systems that will keep little readers absorbed. Back matter includes a helpful Fast Facts section that covers main points from the text, a glossary, “To Learn More” section, and index.

THOUGHTS: Nice collection additions if nonfiction is hot.

500s-600s          Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD

Children’s Nonfiction – Unsolved; Tricky Vic; Tree of Wonder


Powell, Marie.  Unsolved.  New York:  Crabtree Publishing, 2015.  978-0-7787-8073-1.  $14.56. Gr. 3-6.

This nonfiction text, which is part of the series Mystery Files, explores unsolved mysteries.  Some of the areas included are Princess Anastasia Romanov, Amelia Earhart, and the Lost Colony of Roanoke.  The text includes a glossary, index, and a “Find Out More” section with a webography.  This would be a great addition to any elementary or middle school library.  Each two page spread examines a different topic and includes photographs and/or illustrations.  Although this book may be used for informational purposes, students will also enjoy reading it for recreation.  THOUGHTS:  A great addition for any children’s library collection.  It will especially appeal to students looking to explore unsolved mysteries of the past.

001.94       Anastasia Hanneken, School Lane Charter School




Pizzoli, Greg. Tricky Vic. New York: Viking, 2015. 978-0-670-01652-5. 39p. $17.99. Gr. 3-6.

With the subheading “The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower,” Tricky Vic sets out to explain what seems highly unlikely. This is the story of Robert Miller, aka “Count” Victor Lustig, a high-stakes con man who went from small schemes, to playing Al Capone to, yes, proposing to sell the Eiffel Tower for scrap metal. Each event in Miller’s life is richly described and while his face is done only as a fingerprint (the author’s, actually!) the illsutrations are chock full of primary sources: photos, documents, and even his certificate of death. In addition to the colorful narrative, pages are adorned with additional facts, diagrams, and humorous drawings.  Thoughts: Pizzoli’s clever collage of illustration, photos and more blend well with his story-like fact-filled text. Whether you have heard of Tricky Vic, been to France, or none of the above, you will find yourself intrigued by this con artist extraordinaire!

364.16 Criminals/Biography      Lisa Weiss, Churchville Elementary




Messner, Kate. Tree of Wonder. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2015. 978-1-4521-1248-0. 29 p. $16.99. Gr. 1-4.

This book introduces us to the Almendro tree, native to Latin American rain forests and the many creatures who make their homes there. Descriptive text explores a different animal on each page, with a blurb at the bottom that gives more informational details. As the reader progresses, the number of creatures doubles each time, noted in their silhouetted pictures. At the end of the book, Messner has included many resources, including information on conservation groups and books and websites for additional research. She includes a few pages of rainforest math using concepts and numbers from the book as well.  Thoughts: A beautifully written and illustrated addition to a rain forest section that would be good for earth day and other units. The math tie-in is a definitely bonus!

577.34 Rain Forest      Lisa Weiss, Churchville Elementary School