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.
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.
The Antarctic Animal series features some of the most impressive animals on Earth: those that can survive the freezing cold Antarctica. This series spotlights some amazing animals and the characteristics that make them unique. This reviewer read the Antarctic Shag book which features information about Antarctica, then focuses specifically on the Antarctic Shag, a bird that is the only one of its species to live in Antarctica. The book informs readers about diet, size, shape, coloring, babies, and other interesting features of this bird.
THOUGHTS: This series is a great starter to learning about several different animals that live in Antarctica. Full photographic illustrations, large words, and additional information located in the back of the book make this series a great nonfiction series for younger readers.
Hopkinson, Deborah. Only One. Anne Schwartz Books, 2022. 978-0-399-55703-3. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-3.
A young narrator takes readers on a walk through the woods as she explains how, with a big bang, one tiny speck turned into a universe full of stars, planets, galaxies, and more. Situated in this universe is our Earth, which is surrounded by a layer called the atmosphere and contains continents, oceans, and millions of species. Ultimately, the narrator finishes the same way she began–with one. She declares that even though there are more than seven billion human beings, all of us unique, we all are still part of one human family responsible for preserving our one and only planet, Earth.
THOUGHTS: Through an informational monologue and soft, beautiful illustrations, the narrator manages to educate while simultaneously relaying an important message about protecting our planet. Also, at the end of the story, the author provides a list of resources for additional information about climate change and how we can help the Earth. This is an excellent resource for earth science, space science, and environmental science collections.
Brown, Carron. Getting Sick and Feeling Better. Kane Miller, 2022. 978-1-684-64282-3. Unpaged. $12.99. Grades PreK-1.
A new addition to Kane Miller’s Shine-A-Light series, this book covers the basics of germs, illness, hygiene, and staying healthy. These concepts are broken down for young children through the use of simple questions and answers. Readers are able to use a flashlight to see through the pages and find the answer to each question that is posed. This interactive feature, along with the uncomplicated explanations, make this book very relatable and child-friendly.
THOUGHTS: My kids (ages 6 and 4) LOVE the Shine-A-Light books! They enjoy shining the flashlight through the page to make images magically appear. The educational aspect of the book is an added bonus. This would be a welcome addition to any health or science collection that serves young children.
Dutton, Talia. M Is for Monster. Abrams ComicArts, 2022. 978-1-4197-5197-4. 224 p. $17.99. Grades 7-10.
Frankenstein’s monster gets a gender-flipped, graphic novel update in Talia Dutton’s M Is for Monster! Innovative scientist Frances Ai lost her younger sister in a laboratory accident six months ago. Frankie cobbled Maura back together and, with the help of a well-timed lightning strike, brought her back to life. However, she isn’t quite … Maura. “M” has no memories from before her resurrection, and she fears that Frankie may take apart and reassemble her over and over again until she gets it right. She finds an unlikely ally in the ghost of Maura, who appears in mirrors and coaches M through interactions with her older sister. This way, M avoids a dismantling and Maura gets to keep living, in a fashion. But the cracks in this arrangement begin to show as M and Maura assert their individuality. Can they both find a path forward, or will Frankie intercept their Cyrano de Bergerac-style ruse? Author and illustrator Talia Dutton uses a green, black, and white color scheme (and plenty of period details) to portray M’s limited but intriguing world. It’s one she desperately wants to continue living in, and readers will feel the same!
THOUGHTS: What first appears to be a straightforward horror novel is also a thought-provoking take on grief and identity.
Kay, Edward. Germy Science: The Sick Truth about Getting Sick (and Staying Healthy). Kids Can Press, 2021. 978-1-525-30412-5. 48 p. $18.99. Grades 4-8.
This entertaining, comprehensive guide to germs presents readers with a wealth of well-researched information. Topics include the history of germs, the different types of germs, important discoveries about germs, how the immune system works, how to stay healthy, and more. There is information about plagues and pandemics, including a brief section on the COVID-19 pandemic. There is even information about the use of germ warfare and the future of germs. Sections of text are split up by goofy, cartoon-like illustrations and informational sidebars. A glossary, index, and additional resources are included in the end matter. A truly engaging and enlightening book, this would be an excellent addition to middle school science collections.
THOUGHTS: I found this book very timely and incredibly fascinating. For instance, did you know that some therapists cure their patients of mysophobia (irrational fear of germs) by taking them on the subway and making them lick the handrails? Gross! I think middle school students would find this work absolutely captivating.
Nordstrom, Kristen. Mimic Makers: Biomimicry Inventors Inspired by Nature. Charlesbridge, 2021. 978-1-580-89947-5. 44 p. $17.99. Grades 2-5.
This book describes eight inventions that were inspired by natural phenomena. From solar cells that absorb sunlight like leaves to trains that move silently and efficiently through the landscape like kingfishers, this book explains how ten scientists incorporated ideas from nature to solve various real-world problems. With end matter that includes brief biographies of each inventor, suggestions for becoming a mimic maker, and a bibliography and additional resources, this intriguing book is a solid addition to any elementary collection.
THOUGHTS: I was really impressed by the curricular connections between the natural sciences and the applied sciences presented in this book. I also think the book presents a wonderful opportunity to spark creative thinking in students. It would be interesting to have students research a plant or animal of their choice and see if they can identify any unique structures that perform specific functions for the plant or animal. Then, they could brainstorm inventions of their own using this newfound knowledge. The book is definitely thought-provoking and full of potential for classroom applications!
Hogan, Eric, and Tara Hungerford. Gumboot Kids Nature Mystery. Firefly, 2021. $19.95 ea. 32 p. Grades K-2.
The Case of the Hanging Food Catcher. 978-0-228-10337-0. The Case of the Shrinking Friend. 978-0-228-103350-5.
The mice Scout and Daisy (aka the Gumboot Kids) have returned to solve more nature-related mysteries! In The Case of the Hanging Food Catcher, when Scout and Daisy meet to pick pumpkins, Scout mentions nearly walking into a hanging food catcher earlier in the day. They consult Scout’s field notebook, where he recorded clues about his encounter, which lead them to a beautiful spider web. Their findings are confirmed when they consult a book about spiders. In The Case of the Shrinking Friend, while on a winter hike, Daisy notices that the snow mouse she had built the day before had shrunk! Using Daisy’s sketchbook filled with drawings from the day prior, they set off to solve the mystery. The clues, together with knowledge they gain from a book about weather, lead them to conclude that the snow mouse is shrinking because the warmth of the sun has melted the snow. Each title concludes with a mindful moment in which Scout and Daisy pause and reflect on nature and the knowledge they have gained. Back matter includes definitions of the terms in the field notes, a fact page featuring photographs, and a related nature craft that children can complete.
THOUGHTS: I love how this series encourages readers to solve mysteries by making observations and then consult books in the library to interpret their observations and answer their questions–what a great way to introduce the basics of the scientific research process to young readers. In addition, the series encourages readers to go out into nature, explore and engage with the world around them, and to be curious. Recommended.
Valerio, Geraldo. My Book of Butterflies. Groundwood, 2021. 978-1-773-06335-5. 48 p. $24.99. Grades 1-3.
Author and illustrator Geraldo Valerio introduces readers to a variety of his favorite butterflies in this beautifully illustrated title. Detailed paint, colored pencil, and paper collage illustrations vibrantly depict butterflies in various stages of life. The volume is arranged geographically, with each section depicting a selection of butterflies from a continent. Most spreads feature several species of butterflies, some shown in flight, while others rest on leaves or branches, occasionally enjoying some nectar. The accompanying text, though brief, offers readers a description of key and unique characteristics of the species. Opening pages of the volume depict the stages of a butterfly’s life cycle, as well as identifying parts of a butterfly. The end pages are also a treat as they show caterpillars as well as butterflies in the chrysalis stage. Backmatter includes a glossary and list of additional resources.
THOUGHTS: Browsers will enjoy spending some time with My Book of Butterflies and pouring over the detailed illustrations. A worthwhile purchase for schools serving young readers.