Elem./MG – Spectacular Sports (Series NF)

Doeden, Matt. Spectacular Sports. Millbrook Press, 2021. $25.99 each. $208.32 Set of 9. 64 p. Grades 5-8.

Coming Up Clutch: The Greatest Upsets, Comebacks and Finishes in Sports History. 978-1-512-42756-1.
It’s Outta Here! The Might and Majesty of the Home Run. 978-1-728-41716-5.
The College Football Championship: The Fight for the Top Spot. 978-1-467-71897-4.
The Final Four: The Pursuit of College Basketball Glory. 978-1-467-78780-2.
The NBA Playoffs: In Pursuit of Basketball Glory. 978-1-541-54153-5.
The Negro Leagues: Celebrating Baseball’s Unsung Heroes. 978-1-512-42753-0.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs: The Quest for Hockey’s Biggest Prize. 978-1-541-57838-8.
The Super Bowl: Chasing Football Immortality. 978-1-512-42754-7.
The World Cup: Soccer’s Global Championship. 978-1-512-42755-4.

This reviewer read It’s Outta Here! The Might and Majesty of the Home Run in the Spectacular Sports series. This series offers meticulously-researched, well-written information, tons of sports statistics, and interesting full-color illustrations about high-interest sports topics that middle-level readers will be excited to learn more about. Each book in the series addresses a different major event in sports or sports history. The books include short chapters with catchy titles, captioned photos and diagrams, a glossary, and an index.

THOUGHTS: This series contains worthwhile additions for any upper elementary or middle level library that needs to add colorfully-illustrated, high-interest books about popular sports topics to its collection. (Title Reviewed: It’s Outta Here! The Might and Majesty of the Home Run.)

796s Sports          Erin Faulkner, Cumberland Valley SD

Elem. – Ordinary People Change the World (Series NF)

Meltzer, Brad. Ordinary People Change the World. Dial Books for Young Readers, 2021. $14.27 ea. $385.29 set of 27. Unpaged. K-3.

I am Frida Kahlo. 978-0-525-55598-8.
I am I. M. Pei. 978-0-525-55601-5.
I am Oprah Winfrey. 978-0-593-40582-6.

In this remarkable biography series, Brad Meltzer presents American icons in an extremely conversational, unintimidating manner. Beginning with their childhood, he tells each person’s story from his/her own point of view, focusing on personality traits that made each of them unique. Cartoon-like drawings and speech bubbles are interspersed with realistic images (like actual works of art) to make each story more intriguing. A timeline and photographs are included at the end of each book. I personally reviewed I am Frida Kahlo, and I absolutely loved the message being sent to the intended audience. Despite all of Frida’s difficulties in life – a bout with polio, a terrible bus accident, being ostracized because of her dress and actions – she remained true to herself and became a legend because of it. Not only does this encourage children to overcome curveballs in life, but it also sends them the message that they should be unafraid of being different. The format of these biographies definitely is unique and deserves to be considered for inclusion in all elementary biography collections.

THOUGHTS: This series would be extremely useful for biographical research as well as for character building activities. I also would recommend it to fans of Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum on PBS Kids, as the television series was actually inspired by this book series. In addition, it is worth noting that there are 24 other books in the series with publication years before and after 2021.

921 Biography          Julie Ritter, PSLA Member

MG – Xtreme Armed Forces (Series NF)

Xtreme Armed Forces. ABDO Books, 2021. 48 p. $22.00 Grades 5-8.

Hamilton, John. Green Berets. 978-1-532-19455-9.
—. Navy SEALs. 978-1-532-19456-6.
—. United States Air Force. 978-1-532-19457-3.
—. United States Army. 978-1-532-19458-0.
—. United States Marine Corps. 978-1-532-19459-7.
—. United States Navy. 978-1-532-19460-3.

This series focuses on the special forces of the military. Despite their average size of 48 pages, much helpful information and interesting photos are packed into the books. Green Berets (available for this review) covers history of the elite group, training and special survival skills, headgear and weapons, and typical assignments. The Green Berets use their skills all over the globe primarily to meet their mission to “free the oppressed.” Their skills and stealth are admirable, and largely kept quiet, earning them the nickname ‘the quiet professionals.’ They carry out reconnaissance missions, train foreign troops to defend their homelands, and fight against drug trafficking. They are often used to rescue downed pilots, or in counterterrorism measures. The efforts of this elite group are largely unknown publicly, but lead to greater worldwide peace and safety. The book includes a quiz, glossary, index, and QR code for online resources. This QR code leads to three active links, one of which proved to offer even more interesting details about the group. 

THOUGHTS: An impressive series choice for middle and high school libraries.  

356 Military           Melissa Scott, Shenango Area 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. – Engineered by Nature (Series NF)

London, Martha. Engineered by Nature (series of 8). Abdo Publishing, 2021. 32 pp. $21.29 each. Set of 8 $170.32 set of 8. Grades 2-5.

Cave of Crystals. 978-1-5321-92845.
Arches National Park. 978-1-5321-92838.
Giant’s Causeway. 978-1-5321-92852.
Grand Canyon. 978-1-5321-92869.
Great Barrier Reef. 978-1-5321-92876.
The Great Blue Hole. 978-1-5321-92883.
Mount Everest. 978-1-5321-92890.
Uluru. 978-1-5321-92906

These STEM oriented books focus on natural wonders and how they were formed. In Cave of Crystals, the author discusses this little known place in Mexico. Discovered by a mining company under the Sierra de Naica Mountains in the year 2000, the cave is just about as deep as the Eiffel Tower is tall. Once the water was pumped out, miners were surprised to see giant selenite crystals, some 36 feet tall. The largest of the interconnecting caverns is called Cave of Crystals. The author describes how these crystals were formed, what the conditions were like inside the cave, and which microorganisms lived inside the crystals. This natural wonder was only seen by scientists and is no longer accessible because the water is no longer being pumped out. The text contains a glossary, index, table of contents, map, and suggested resources. QR codes take readers to websites that contain teacher resources, as well as a site for children. There is also a quote from a scientist, which is labeled a primary source. The photographs are striking, especially the one that shows the size of the crystals compared with a human.

THOUGHTS: This series will appeal to those budding earth scientists. Although it is short with simple text, there is enough information for reports. Good resources for elementary STEM units.

Geography, Earth Science          Denise Medwick, Retired, PSLA Member
(917.24, 979.2, 914.1, 979.1, 551.4, 994.3, 954.96, 994.29)

MG – Scientists Who Changed the World (Series NF)

Croy, Anita. Scientists Who Changed the World (series of 6). Crabtree, 2021. 64 p. $25.00 each. $150.00 Set of 6. Grades 5-8.

Albert Einstein. 978-0-778-78209-4.
Charles Darwin. 978-0-778-78218-6.
Galileo Galilei. 978-0-778-78219-3.
Sir Isaac Newton. 978-0-778-78221-6.
Rachel Carson. 978-0-778-78220-9.
Stephen Hawking. 978-0-778-78222-3.

Each of these books is divided into six chapters, covering 1. Biography, 2. Background (of the time period), 3. Breakthrough (scientific discoveries), 4. Key Ideas, 5. Reputation, and 6. Legacy. Croy interweaves the biography and ideas of the scientist well with the time period, making the person’s accomplishments more understandable for their enormity and effect. The design is full of charts, illustrations/photographs and frequent related text boxes, and also frequent white text on black background. Each chapter is set alongside a page printed with a quote or idea from the scientist.  Examples include: “Newton said that gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it does not explain who or what set the planets in motion” (Sir Isaac Newton 33) and “Galileo said that modern discoveries proved that ancient writers did not have superior knowledge. However, if ancient writers could see what modern scientists could see, they would draw the same conclusions” (Galileo Galilei 33).

THOUGHTS: Useful for reports, but thanks to the inviting pages broken into readable segments, this series could also be enjoyed by the casual reader.  It would be nice to see the series expanded in the same fashion.

Titles reviewed: Galileo Galilei and Sir Isaac Newton.

Biography          Melissa Scott, Shenango Area SD
500s Scientists

Elem. – Be a Pet Expert (Series NF)

Barder, Gemma. Be a Pet Expert (series of 6). Crabtree, 2021. 32 p. $20.75 each. $124.50 Set of 6. Grades 3-6.

Be a Cat Expert. 978-0-778-78015-1.
Be A Dog Expert. 978-0-778-78016-8.
Be a Hamster & Guinea Pig Expert. 978-0-778-78017-5.
Be a Horse & Pony Expert. 978-0-778-78018-2.
Be a Rabbit Expert. 978-0-778-78019-9.
Be a Reptile Expert. 978-0-778-78020-5.

These books provide helpful information, facts, and pet care tips for a variety of animals. Many photos, text boxes, and checklists help readers to learn more about the animals and consider them as pets. A flowchart guides readers through yes/no questions to determine what type best suits their personalities. Placing hamsters and guinea pigs in the same book will help readers to differentiate the two. Each book surprises readers with some interesting facts even on ‘well-known’ pets. For instance, no two dogs have the same noseprint; cats cannot taste sweet foods; horses and ponies have the largest eyes of any mammals on land; and rabbits can sleep with their eyes open.

THOUGHTS: These helpful books shed a positive yet truthful light on pets, which will appeal to pet-owners and animal lovers alike.

630s Domesticated Animals, Pets        Melissa Scott, Shenango Area SD

Elem. – World of Wonder (Series NF)

Barnham, Kay. World of Wonder (series of 4). Illustrated by Maddie Frost. Crabtree, 2021. 32 p. $20.75 ea. $83.00 Set of 4. Grades K-2.

Amazing Animal Babies. 978-0-778-78247-6.
The Awesome Night Sky. 978-0-778-78276-6.
Incredible Rain Forests. 978-0-778-78248-3.
A Wonderful World of Weather. 978-0-778-78246-9.

Barnham and Frost team up wonderfully with text and pictures suitable for the K-2 crowd. Each book focuses on one aspect of nature or science, acting as a pleasant introduction to the topic for beginners. Each book keeps a positive tone about ecology, learning and exploring, offering two-page spreads with a paragraph of text on each page. It’s just enough information, and may leave curious readers questioning; be prepared with answers to “what’s that animal?,” “where does the sky end?,” “why do some babies stay with their moms and some don’t?,” or “how many constellations are there?”  Two friendly children (one white, one slightly darker-skinned) and a black dog appear throughout the books, learning with the reader. The books close with Things To Do (three ideas such as inventing your own animal, creating a word cloud (each book), or designing a weather board game), Learning More (book and online resources), and Glossary (7-9 words used in text).

THOUGHTS: A solid choice for introducing astronomy, weather, rain forest and animal babies to young readers.

Science (520, 551, 577, 591)            Melissa Scott, Shenango Area SD

Elem. – Outbreak (Series NF)

Outbreak! Abdo Zoom, 2021. $20.00 ea. $120.00 set of 6. 24 p. Grades 3-6. 

Aids Crisis. 978-1-098-22325-0.
Black Death. 978-1-098-22326-7.
Covid-19 Pandemic.
978-1-098-22327-4.
Ebola Outbreak. 978-1-098-22328-1.
Spanish Flu. 978-1-098-22329-8.
Typhoid Epidemic. 978-1-098-22330-4.

Covid – 19 Pandemic is a nonfiction book about the Covid 19 pandemic and features information about the beginning of the virus as well as some of the more recent information. There is nothing found within this nonfiction book about the vaccines; however, it does mention that the scientists are continuing to work on something for Covid-19. There is a glossary found in the back of the book, as well as an index. There is a QR code found in the back of the book that can be scanned to find more information about Covid-19. There are links from this QR code that go to the CDC Covid-19 website, the World Covid Case meter, and the WHO COVID timeline.

THOUGHTS: Overall, this is a great introduction to Covid-19, and is a great book to start learning about Covid-19. As the information changed, the book might become outdated quickly however, it is a good book to start with.

614.49 Diseases          Mary Hyson, Lehigh Valley Regional Charter Academy

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