MG – Germy Science: The Sick Truth about Getting Sick (and Staying Healthy)

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.

579.3 Bacteria          Julie Ritter, PSLA Member

Elem. – Mimic Makers: Biomimicry Inventors Inspired by Nature

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!

610.28 Biomimicry           Julie Ritter, PSLA Member

Elem. – Gumboot Kids Nature Mystery

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.

500s Natural Sciences          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – My Book of Butterflies

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. 

595.78 Butterflies            Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – 13 Ways to Eat a Fly

Heavenrich, Sue. 13 Ways to Eat a Fly. Charlesbridge. 2021. 978-1-58089-890-4. $16.99. Grades K-4.

Science and math combine to make an icky, yummy, tasty counting book filled with insects and ways they can be consumed! As a swarm of flies go by, one-by-one they are consumed in a variety of ways by a variety of animals. Don’t be sad, however, as the flies are consumed, for more will be born and the process will continue! You will laugh and be shocked at the icky ways these bugs are consumed, in ways humans may not want to know about!

THOUGHTS: This is a very fun book all about how insects are consumed! This book is filled with great details, scientific facts, and fun pictures.

595.77 Other Invertebrates            Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

MG – Inquire and Investigate (Series NF)

Inquire and Investigate. Nomad Press, 2021. $17.95 ea. $71.80 set of 4. 128 p. Grades 6-9.

Danneberg, Julie. The Science of Fashion. 978-1-64741-027-8.
Danneberg, Julie. The Science of Weather and Climate. 978-1-61930-850-3.
Taylor, Daian C. The Science of Natural Disasters. 978-1-61930-858-9.
Wood, Matthew Brendon. The Science of Science Fiction. 978-1-61930-470-3.

Science, especially STEM, is a hot topic in all educational institutions. This set of four books reveals the science behind topics such as fashion, science fiction, and natural disasters. This reviewer had the opportunity to read The Science of Fashion. Each chapter, six in total, is chock full of information, comics, experiments, photos, facts, and timelines. The author makes sure to include the science behind textiles, design, accessories, and even color. Another interesting feature in each chapter is the QR codes leading to primary sources on the topic discussed on the page. Throughout the book, the author prompts thinking and encourages the reader to work through the engineering design process. Perhaps the most interesting chapter explains how fast fashion causes damage to the environment but with science and engineering, sustainable, environment-friendly fashion is possible. Back matter includes a glossary, metric conversions, resources, and an index.

THOUGHTS: The titles in this collection would be a good purchase for a library serving upper middle grade students. These books also would serve as an instructional tool in a science, engineering, or even a consumer science classroom.

746.9 Engineering and Technology           Danielle Corrao, Manheim Central SD

Elem. – Dr. Fauci: How a Boy From Brooklyn Became America’s Doctor

Messner, Kate. Dr. Fauci: How a Boy From Brooklyn Became America’s Doctor. Illustrated by Alexandra Bye. Simon & Schuster, 2021. 978-1-665-90243-4. 48 p. $17.99. Grades K-3. 

Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, the name Dr. Fauci is a name that we have heard so many times over the last two years. Dr. Fauci is best known as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a face and voice we have heard in our homes and in the news as we navigated the current health crisis. However, Dr. Fauci has worked with seven U.S presidents to tackle the largest public health challenges within the last 50 years! Kate Messner, author of Dr. Fauci: How a Boy From Brooklyn Became America’s Doctor, examines the doctor’s life as a young boy, his time in medical school, and the challenges he faced in his personal and medical career. Dr. Fauci learned early in his life to ask questions, consider all aspects and research, and strive for perseverance and communication to tackle the most difficult challenges. This picture book also contains a timeline, accurate information about vaccines, and recommended further readings to better understand how vaccines work. Through the author, Dr. Fauci offers his own tips for future scientists! There is a little bit of everything in this well-written (and beautifully illustrated by Alexandra Bye) picture book about the life and career of Dr. Anthony Fauci and the impact he has made on our country. 

THOUGHTS: It is obvious that author Kate Messner did her research! Messner completed an extensive interview with Dr. Fauci to write this book, and the product is a thoughtful narrative with important information. Not only is this picture book presented as a biography, but it also serves as a science read as well! Timely, important, informational. Bravo! 

Picture Book          Marie Mengel, Reading SD

Elem. – Mars Is: Stark Slopes, Silvery Snow, and Startling Surprises

Slade, Suzanne. Mars Is: Stark Slopes, Silvery Snow, and Startling Surprises. Peachtree Atlanta. 978-1-682-63188-1. 51 p. $19.99. Grades K-3. 

Sand dunes, craters, volcanoes, canyons, lava flows, cliffs, and ice are only some of the amazing landforms covering the surface of Mars. In this oversize book, each double page spread consists of a full-page landform photo that is complemented by large-scale descriptive text and a smaller, more detailed caption. One spread features “sandy, windswept dunes” and describes how Mars’s winds blow the sand into mesmerizing ripple and wave patterns. Another highlights the “stark slopes” of an impact crater formed by an asteroid or meteorite collision. The full-color images in the book were taken with NASA’s HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) camera. The camera was launched into space in 2005 and has been sending images back to Earth ever since. Detailed backmatter include sections titled “Launching the Mission to Mars,” “HiRISE: The Spectacular Space Camera,” “More About Mars,” and “Highlights of the Exploration of Mars.” 

THOUGHTS: This title is reminiscent of April Pulley Sayre’s books which present brief and poetic nonfiction tidbits complemented by beautiful full-page photographs. Although there is not enough information in this title to support research reports, students will be drawn in by the breathtaking photos of the Red Planet. It also will be useful as an introduction to science units about the solar system and outer space. 

523.43 Planets          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

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. – Picture Book Science

Perdew, Laura. Picture Book Science. Nomad Press, 2021. $8.96 ea. $116.48 set of 13. 29 p. K-3.

The Earth: One-of-a-Kind Planet. 978-1-619-30984-5.
The Moon: Small-but-Mighty Neighbor. 978-1-619-30988-3.
The Stars: A Gazillion Suns. 978-1-619-30988-3.
The Sun: Shining Star of the Solar System. 978-1-619-30992-0.

Endearing alien narrators tell the story of the sun, moon, Earth, and stars. The narrators discuss how they were all formed and how they are all related. Hands-on activities and glossaries are included in the end matter of each book, giving readers even more opportunities for learning. These informative, easy-to-follow narratives of our solar system are a solid addition to any elementary science collection.

THOUGHTS: I personally received and reviewed The Moon: Small-but-Mighty Neighbor, but there are actually four new releases in the Picture Book Science series (listed above). Additionally, there are 9 other previously published books in the series on topics such as energy, animal adaptations, and more. I especially like how these books bring scientific topics down to a level easily understood by elementary schoolers, and I appreciate the extension activities included in the books.

523 Solar System          Julie Ritter, PSLA Member