This new series takes a look at the hottest topics of 2020. The #movements series takes hashtags that are trending on social media and brings awareness to social justice issues such as bullying, racism, and more. Each title provides an overview of the topic and introduces people who are champions for social justice. The books provide a look into how these movements came into being and provide information regarding the reasons why we fight for certain rights.
THOUGHTS: This series would be a great addition to a middle school library. These titles can help the younger generation be champions for the future. The simple text is easy to read and comprehend, which would make it a great series for struggling readers who have an interest in social justice.
Great Races. Momentum, The Child’s World, 2020. $20.95 ea. $167.70 set of 8. 32 p. Grades 3-6.
Ford, Jeanne Marie. Race Around the World. 978-1-503-83219-0. Havemeyer, Janie. Race to Mount Everest. 978-1-503-83223-7. Hutchinson, Patricia. Race to Space. 978-1-503-83220-6. Maurer, Gretchen. Race to the Bottom of the Ocean. 978-1-503-83224-4. Perdew, Laura. Race to Discover Energy Independence. 978-1-503-83222-0. —. Race to Renewable Energy. 978-1-503-83226-8. Rea, Amy C. Race to Develop the Atomic Bomb. 978-1-503-83225-1. —. Race to the Poles. 978-1-503-83221-3.
Author Amy C. Rea taps into touchstones of world history in these concise overviews. Race to the Atomic Bomb provides the highlights of the creation of the atomic bomb, starting with brief background of founding scientists and ending with a mention of the post World War II proliferation of nuclear weapons. Aimed at a young audience, the thirty-two page book traces the development of the atom bomb from the British James Chadwick’s discovery of the neutron in 1935 to Albert Einstein’s prodding Franklin Delano Roosevelt to form the Manhattan Project to the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Black and white photographs of major scientists and scenes give context for young readers. The book concludes with probing critical thinking questions. Includes contents, glossary, resources, index.
THOUGHTS: Young readers who need some knowledge of these topics may benefit from this series. Though the facts are true, they just skim the surface. For example, Harry Truman’s decision to drop the atom bomb merits a few lines. Relaying the number of deaths and including Truman’s reflection on the dreadfulness of the atom bomb does not convey the impact of such devastation. This series seems directed at a younger audience who are just learning about these events.
355.8 History Bernadette Cooke, School District of Philadelphia
The only thing cuter than a regular animal is a miniature animal, of course! In Mini Animals readers will learn about some of the amazing small creatures that populate the world. Easy text (example text from African Pygmy Hedgehog: “It has small eyes and ears. Its legs are short.”) make the series best suited for young readers. Basic facts about each animal, including habitat, physical characteristics, and diet are included in the text. The text is paired with numerous highly appealing photographs. Each title also contains a visual glossary and a comparison page comparing the mini animal to the typical sized animal.
THOUGHTS: This series is sure to be a hit with young animal lovers. The close-up, high quality photos will allow students to fully appreciate these tiny, amazing animals. Highly recommended.
590s Animals Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD
Horse books of all types are always a popular choice for students. Abdo, realizing this fact, has expanded their existing Horses nonfiction series for young readers with the publication of six additional titles. Each book explores the unique characteristics of a specific horse breed. Readers will learn about the history of the breed as well as the horse’s physical characteristics and abilities. Highland Ponies, for example, informs the reader about the strong and sturdy horse breed native to Scotland. Easy to handle and train, these horses are versatile, working on farms, but also to be used as family ponies and trained for riding and showing. The text is supported by the inclusion numerous high quality photos, a “More Facts” page, and glossary.
THOUGHTS: This series is an excellent choice for primary school libraries looking to update the horse area of their collections. The books are oversized, allowing for larger photos that are sure to capture the interest of readers. The supplemental Abdo Online materials that relate to series are a nice added bonus – I particularly like the craft project, which involved using a paper bag to create a horse puppet.
636.1 Horses Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD
Real-Life Ghost Stories. Capstone, 2020. $21.49 ea. $171.92 set of 8. 32 p. Grades 3-6.
Andrus, Aubrey. Bloody Mary. 978-1-543-57336-7. Atwood, Megan. Popper the Poltergeist. 978-1-543-57342-8. Peterson, Megan Cooley. The Bell Witch. 978-1-543-57335-0. —. The Brown Lady. 978-1-543-57340-4. —. The Flying Dutchman. 978-1-543-57338-1. —. The Greenbrier Ghost. 978-1-543-57339-8. —. La Llorona. 978-1-543-57337-4. Wilkins, Ebony Joy. Perron Family Haunting. 978-1-543-57341-1.
Real-Life Ghost Stories features tales of spooky hauntings and happenings from around the world. Each volume focuses on an individual ghost story. The history behind the event or location is related and then readers learn about the subsequent claims of ghostly appearances. Fact boxes and skeptic’s notes offer readers background information as well as alternate explanations for the ghostly sightings. This reviewer had the opportunity to read The Brown Lady: The Ghost of Raynham Hall, a classic example of a haunted English manor house story. Raynham Hall not only has its own ghost (Lady Dorothy Walpole), but it was also the location of a famous photo that supposedly captured the ghost on film in the 1930s. The title features numerous illustrations, as well as photographs of the house, including the famous ghost photo. The cover illustration is also very appealing to potential browsers.
THOUGHTS: These spooky titles are sure to capture the interest of readers interested in haunted tales or mysterious happenings. They would also be a great addition to Halloween/October book displays. Libraries looking to add to their ghostly non-fiction shelves should consider this worthwhile series. 133.1 Ghost storiesElizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD
Fighting to Survive. Capstone, 2020. $26.49 ea. $161.64 set of 6. 64 p. Grades 5-8.
Braun, Eric. Fighting to Survive in the Wilderness. 978-0-756-56187-1. Dickmann, Nancy. Fighting to Survive Animal Attacks. 978-0-756-56184-0. Dickmann, Nancy. Fighting to Survive World War II. 978-0-756-56188-8. Raum, Elizabeth. Fighting to Survive Being Lost at Sea. 978-0-756-56185-7. Raum, Elizabeth. Fighting to Survive Space Disasters. 978-0-756-56186-4.
Readers looking to experience action-packed true stories will want to pick up the latest titles in Capstone’s Fighting to Survive series. Each volume features multiple stories (some from in the past; others from more recent history), of individuals and groups fighting to survive potentially life-threatening situations. This reviewer had the opportunity to read Fighting to Survive Being Lost at Sea. Chapters related tales of those experienced adventures on the ocean, from being aboard the Titanic, to surviving a U-Boat attack during WWII to a present day tale of a teen on a round-the-world sailing trip who encounters difficulties. Sidebars highlight points of interest and historical facts. The text is accompanied by photos, paintings and maps.
THOUGHTS: This engaging series is a worthy purchase for libraries serving upper elementary and middle school students. Each action-packed tale will have readers on the edge of their seats wondering how the individual/group will ultimately survive. These volumes would also pair nicely with fictional stories of survival.
Cella, Clara. Silly Measurements. Capstone, 2020. $21.99 ea. $87.96 set of 4. Unpaged. Grades PreK-1.
How Many Ducks Could Fit in a Bus? Creative Ways to Look at Volume. 978-1-9771-1324-5. How Many Flamingos Tall Is a Giraffe? Creative Ways to Look at Height. 978-1-9771-1322-1. How Many Kittens Could Ride a Shark? Creative Ways to Look at Length. 978-1-9771-1323-8. How Many Llamas Does a Car Weigh? Creative Ways to Look at Weight. 978-1-9771-1325-2.
The Silly Measurements series encourages pre/early readers to learn about measurements via humorous comparison between non-traditional measuring units. For example, in How Many Llamas Does a Car Weigh?, in addition to the comparison between llamas and cars (in case you are wondering, a car weighs nine llamas), other items compared include clowns and camels, moose and motorcycles, and baseball and bunnies. Each comparison features large photos and large, colorful text.
THOUGHTS: A great way to begin to introduce the concept of measurement to young readers, these books are sure to bring a smile to the face of readers with their choice of unusual comparisons. They would also be a great option for those looking for math-related read alouds for PreK-1 age students.
While many children’s non-fiction series focus on animals, fewer titles focus solely on the habitats they call home. Abdo aims to fill this gap with their Animal Homes series for younger readers. Each title discusses a home, giving several examples of creatures that live in each type of home and also how each home is created. This reviewer had the opportunity to review Nests. Photographs depicted a variety of nests, including birds’ nests, wasp nests, sea turtle nests, and more. The accompanying text conveyed basic information regarding nests and their inhabitants. Back matter includes a visual glossary and additional photos of creatures that live in the home. Also present is a code that readers can use on Abdo Online to access crafts, games, videos, etc. related to the title.
THOUGHTS: This series offers primary readers a basic understanding of some of the most common animal homes they might encounter in nature or see outside their windows. Abdo’s accompanying online material is superior to what many other publishers offer and could be utilized by teachers in lessons or as extension activities. Educators who are teaching in a hybrid-type model may wish to encourage students who check out Abdo titles of the school library to explore their title’s Abdo Online resources on days when classes are not meeting in-person.
McCurry, Kristen. What Was It? Pebble, 2020. Unpaged (32). $21.99 ea. Pre-K.
What Was It Before It Got Wet? 978-1-9771-1334-4. What Was It Before Melted? 978-1-9771-1332-0. What Was It Before It Was Cut? 978-1-9771-1331-3. What Was It Before It Was Smashed? 978-1-9771-1333-7.
These “turn and see” books encourage critical thinking in the very young. What Was It Before It Got Wet presents readers with vibrant close-up photographs of a wet substance, and challenges them to identify what the substance was in its dry state. Many of the illustrations are of familiar items – soapy lather, hot chocolate – but some are more challenging to recognize, including a drenched koala. A photo of a seedling may really stretch young minds to determine the answer. The graphic design of the volume is gorgeous, with bright “what was it?” photos set off by wide margins, and answer photos on the reverse side full-page images.
THOUGHTS: This book begs to be read one-to-one, with enthusiastic discussion to ensue.
530.02 Physics and Matter Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD
Jaycox, Jaclyn. Polar Animals. Pebble, 2020. $20.99 ea. $167.92 set of 8. 32 p. Grades K-3.
Arctic Foxes Are Awesome. 978-1-977-10814-2. Caribou Are Awesome. 978-1-977-10819-7. Killer Whales Are Awesome. 978-1-977-10816-6. Narwhals Are Awesome. 978-1-977-10817-3. Penguins Are Awesome. 978-1-977-10815-9. Polar Bears Are Awesome. 978-1-977-10818-0. Seals Are Awesome. 978-1-977-10820-3. Snowy Owls Are Awesome. 978-1-977-10821-0.
Narwhals Are Awesome gives readers a glimpse inside the life of a narwhal, one of the Arctic Ocean’s most interesting creatures. Known as the unicorns of the sea, these animals have a long tooth that sprouts through its lip and looks similar to a unicorn’s horn. People hunt narwhals for this exact reason: their tusks are often sold or used to make jewelry. Like dolphins and other whales, narwhals use echolocation to search for their food which they find on the ocean floor. Narwhals can stay underwater for twenty-five minutes before having to return to the surface to breathe air. This means that climate change can be harmful to them; as rising temperatures cause ice to melt, the ice moves while narwhals swim underneath. Sometimes, they can become trapped under the ice and drown. Currently, there are about 75,000 narwhals in the ocean, but they are hard to study given the very chilly climate of their habitats. But one thing is for sure – no other animal is quite like them.
THOUGHTS: As narwhals become more prominent in books and graphic novels (such as the Narwhal and Jelly series by Ben Clanton), younger students have shown an increased interest in these creatures. Full of facts and written in kid-friendly language, this book shows readers what a narwhal’s life is like in the Arctic Ocean while also addressing current event issues like climate change. Students also will enjoy up close and personal photographs of these creatures. Although the critical thinking questions in the back of the book are lacking, other features, such as the list of other nonfiction narwhal books and websites to explore, are valuable. There is even a website focused on STEM-inspired narwhal activities. This book is a perfect nonfiction addition to any elementary library.