Elem. – Thank You, Moon: Celebrating Nature’s Nightlight

Stewart, Melissa. Thank You, Moon: Celebrating Nature’s Nightlight. Illustrated by Jessica Lanan. Alfred A. Knopf, 2023. 978-0-593-43507-6. 40 p. 18.99. Grades K-3. 

This homage to the moon is part poem, part science text. Lyrical lines honor the moon’s constant presence in the night sky and highlight the many ways it benefits life on planet Earth. The moon’s gravity keeps Earth stable, and its light helps all kinds of nocturnal animals thrive. Baby leatherback turtles use the moon’s bright light to crawl towards the ocean, while prides of lions take advantage of a waning crescent moon’s sliver to creep up on unsuspecting prey. Watercolor and colored pencil illustrations in dusky blues, greens, and purples showcase several of nature’s nocturnal creatures under the luminous moonlit sky. Backmatter includes information about how the moon lights up the night sky and descriptions and diagrams of the phases of the moon. The scientific name, size, habitat, range, diet, predators, lifespan, and field notes about each featured animal are also included. 

THOUGHTS: This informative title describes the ways animals adapt their nighttime behaviors to match the way the moon cycles through the sky. Students will be fascinated by the ways different animals behave based on the amount of light that appears each evening. This will be a good addition to STEM collections for the youngest readers and for units about nocturnal animals. 

591.5 Animal Behavior

Elem./MG – Investigating (Series NF)

Investigating. A Child’s World, 2023. $24.95 ea. 32 p. Grades 3-8. 

Edwards, Sue Bradford. Fossil Fuel Pollution. 978-1-503-85806-0.
Gagliardi, Sue. Household Waste Pollution. 978-1-503-85811-4.
Henzel, Cynthia. Manufacturing Pollution. 978-1-503-85810-7.
—. Noise Pollution. 978-1-503-8581-21.
MacCarald, Clara. Agricultural Waste. 978-1-503-85807-7.
—. Nuclear Pollution. 978-1-503-85809-1.
Perdew, Laura. Light Pollution. 978-1-503-8580-84.
—. Plastic Pollution. 978-1-503-85805-3.

The focus of this nonfiction series is on pollution. It discusses the cause, the harm, and what humans can do to reduce pollution.The book concludes with a table of contents, fast facts, phonetic glossary, additional resources, source notes, and an index. Other books in the series focus on these topics: plastic pollution, nuclear pollution, manufacturing pollution, household waste pollution, fossil fuel pollution, and agricultural waste pollution.

THOUGHTS: This series is a good addition to enhance upper elementary and middle school library collections seeking to update the environment and STEM section.

300s Environmental Protection  

Elem. – Kitchen Trios (Series NF)

Borgert-Spaniol, Megan. Kitchen Trios. Super Sandcastle, 2023. 32 p. $23.00 ea. $144.00 Set of 6. Grades K-3.

Making Breakfasts with Grains, Fruit & Proteins. 978-1-532-19905-9.
Making Pastas with Noodles, Sauce & Cheese. 978-1-532-19906-6.
Making Pizzas with Crust, Sauce & Toppings. 978-1-532-19907-3.
Making Snacks that are Sweet, Salty & Crunchy. 978-1-532-19908-0.
Making Soups with Broth, Proteins & Veggies. 978-1-532-19909-7.
Making Tacos with Tortillas, Fillings & Toppings. 978-1-532-19910-3.

This title is part of the six-book “Kitchen Trio” series that challenges young chefs and their adult helpers to prepare meals using only three primary ingredients – in this reviewer’s case, noodles, sauce, and cheese. Readers are encouraged to view the kitchen as a kind of makerspace where imagination, inspiration, collaboration, and problem-solving lead to endless delicious possibilities. After learning about different kinds of noodles, exploring several kinds of sauces, and differentiating between hard, medium, and soft cheeses, several simple recipes are introduced. From fresh tomato pasta to white bean pasta, kale pesto pasta, and mac and cheese, there are possibilities for every palate. Each recipe is broken down into simple steps and includes a photograph illustration for each description. Additional kitchen prep vocabulary such as colander, cheese grater, and whisk are introduced, and colorful sidebars address kitchen safety tips, such as washing hands often and asking for an adult’s help with the stove, oven, and knives. Text features such as a Table of Contents make the book easy to navigate, and bold vocabulary words relating to ingredients and preparation instructions are defined in the Glossary. Five additional titles are included in this “Kitchen Trios” series: Making Breakfasts with Grains, Fruit, and Proteins; Making Pizzas with Crust, Sauce, and Toppings; Making Snacks that are Sweet, Salty, and Crunchy; Making Soups with Broth, Proteins, and Veggies; and Making Tacos with Tortillas, Fillings, and Toppings. 

THOUGHTS: Thanks to plenty of colorful photographs and easy-to-read chunks of text, this is an attractive title for browsing or using to prepare a meal. A note on the title page shares that the titles in this series were developed by a team of professional educators and reading specialists with phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, text comprehension, and fluency in mind. This title will also support STEM and makerspace units as well as Common Core standards. 

641.5 Cooking

Elem. – Can You Dance Like a Peacock?

Rajan, Rekha S. Can You Dance Like a Peacock? Sourcebooks Explore. 2023. 978-1-728-26423-3. $18.99. Grades K-3.

Did you know that animals use dancing and movement to communicate? Each animal communicates in a different way and often moves around to do so! Some animals move a specific way to attract a mate, while others move to collect and tell their friends where food is located. Can you dance like these animals and communicate to the people around you?

THOUGHTS: An interesting movement book that informs readers about the different ways some animals communicate with each other. Take a dance break and move along with these fascinating animals!

590 Animals (Zoology)

MG – Lo and Behold

Mass, Wendy. Lo and Behold. Illustrated by Gabi Mendez. Random House, 2023. 978-0-593-17963-5. 205 p. $20.99. Grades 4-7.

Addie Brecker’s life is full of wonder and imagination until her mother breaks her leg in a bicycling accident. Unable to cope with the pain of leg surgery, her mother becomes addicted to painkillers and even begins to sell them. While her mother is incarcerated for her crime, Addie and her father temporarily move to a college campus where her dad has gotten a job mentoring students working on virtual reality projects. Addie keeps to herself despite the efforts of Mateo, her neighbor across the hall. Even though he wants to be friends, Addie is not interested in sharing anything about herself. She assumes he has enough company with his mother and little brother. To fill the long hours while her father is at work, she straps on her virtual reality headset and tries out the students’ VR gaming prototypes. Mateo eventually leaves her alone, frustrated that his efforts to make a friend have been met with resistance. After she finds out what happened to Mateo’s family, she realizes she has to apologize. She stops by the hospital where Mateo volunteers in his free time. During her visit, Addie interacts with chemotherapy patients and  discovers a way to make a difference in their lives while also starting a healing process of her own.

THOUGHTS: Wendy Mass has been fascinated with technology since she was a child, and her knowledge of virtual and augmented reality clearly comes across in the story. The events in the story are timely and touching, especially when paired with Gabi Mendez’s eye-catching illustrations. Lo & Behold is a touching story about coping with grief and using technology to improve the life of others.

Graphic Novel

Elem./MG – Rooting for Plants: the Unstoppable Charles Stewart Parker, Black Botanist and Collector

Harrington, Janice N. Rooting for Plants: The Unstoppable Charles Stewart Parker, Black Botanist and Collector. Illustrated by Theodore Taylor III. Astra Books for Young Readers, 2023. 978-1-662-68019-9. $18.99. Unpaged. Grades 2-6.

From “brainy boy” in Spokane, Washington, to world-renown mycologist* at Howard University, Charles Stewart Parker led a full and successful life as a botanist, professor, and researcher. Born in 1882, Parker founded an African-American newspaper, then enlisted to serve as a lieutenant in the 366 Infantry of Black soldiers during World War I. As a leader, he protested the discrimination his men faced in the military. After his return from service, he could not afford to buy a farm so he became a consulting horticulturist, teaching others how to farm, plant, and garden, while achieving a botany degree from the State College of Washington. His interest in exploring and cataloging plants brought him from the Pacific Northwest to the East Coast. From his base at Howard University, he traveled to the American South collecting samples. His time at Penn State with mushroom authority, Lee Oras Overholts, though, revealed his expertise: fungi. He was the first botanist to write a clear, organized description of hypholoma. Through Parker’s eyes, young readers not only learn the parts of a mushroom, but also have the fungi elevated to something special. Theodore Taylor III’s clear, colorful illustrations engage the viewer of this picture book in varied frames: close-ups of plants, full-page spreads, or idyllic nature scenes. Esteemed in his field, Parker may be little known to the general public. In only 32 pages complemented by pictures, author Janice N. Harrington creates a well-rounded, informative biography of a scholar who can inspire many budding scientists. Includes glossary, timeline, spotlight of other African-American botanists and mycologists, and extensive bibliography.

*someone who works with fungi, like mushrooms 

THOUGHTS: A quick search on the internet still yields little on Charles Stewart Parker (Charles S. Parker), so this biography and the loads of information crammed into it (without being overwhelming) is welcome. Students interested in STEM, girls and African American students interested in science, anyone looking for scientists with different areas of expertise will use this book. The back matter is valuable as well and allows for the wider grade range. Parker’s life teaches more than mushrooms. He showed scholarship, determination, persistence, and passion, and he never gave up being a student. The importance of his studies at Penn State is a high point.


Elem. – When the Sky Glows

Beckerman, Nell Cross. When the Sky Glows. Illustrated by David Litchfield. Beach Lane Books, 2022. 978-1-534-45039-4. Unpaged $18.99. Grades PreK-2.

Undoubtedly at some point in your life, you have looked up into the sky and wondered about what you see–why does the sky look that way? What is that light up in the sky? Author Nell Cross Beckerman aims to answer these questions for young readers in her nonfiction picture book When the Sky Glows. Shooting stars, auroras, rainbows, lightning storms, volcanic eruptions, and full moons are just some of the natural events that fill the sky with light and amazing colors. Simple and  lyrical text introduces each topic on a spread with an accompanying illustration depicting humans (or animals) observing the sky. The following spread is illuminated with color showing the glowing sky above the scene. A brief paragraph in the lower right explains the science behind the event. David Litchfield’s digitally rendered illustrations saturate each scene with lawyers of glowing yellows, pinks, purples, greens, and blues. Backmatter includes sources for additional research and a section of text discussing the issue of light pollution.

THOUGHTS: This title is ideal for read alouds and could easily be incorporated into lessons involving science, meteorology, weather, etc. Illustrator David Litchfield’s illustrations put the “glow” into When the Sky Glows and will surely inspire a sense of wonder and appreciation for light in readers. Highly recommended for elementary collections.

551.26 Meteorology          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – Makerspace Trios (Series NF)

Makerspace Trios. Abdo, 2022. $22.95 ea. $137.70 set of 6. 32 p. Grades K-3. 

Felix, Rebecca. Creating with Cardboard, Crayons & Duct Tape. 978-1-532-19640-9.
Olson, Elsie. Creating with Chenille Stems, Bottles & Tissue Paper. 978-1-532-19641-6.
Olson, Elsie. Creating with Egg Cartons, String & Straws. 978-1-532-19642-3.
Felix, Rebecca. Creating with Felt, Craft Sticks & Clothespins. 978-1-532-19643-0.
Felix, Rebecca. Creating with Newspaper, Buttons & Paper Clips. 978-1-532-19644-7.
Olson, Elsie. Creating with Paper Tubes, Rubber Bands & Yarn. 978-1-532-19645-4.

Each volume in the Makerspace Trios series challenges readers to become a maker by using three common items to complete projects. The title opens with an overview of the concept of a makerspace. Next, each of the three craft items is introduced. Their characteristics and properties are presented, and various prompts are posed in order to get readers thinking about way they could use and transform the items in various projects. Readers are then encouraged to consult adults, gather maker tools, set up a makerspace area, and get to work creating and innovating. While some specific projects are presented (such as weaving plastic straws and string to create mat to use as a coaster, or making a wall hanging out of cut and painted egg cartons), readers are are also prompted to imagine and think about other ways they could use the items to create or solve problems. 

THOUGHTS: This series serves as an excellent gateway into the concept of makerspaces for young readers. Many of the materials used are common items found in most households. Some projects can be completed independently, while others will require adult assistance (cutting, etc.). A worthwhile purchase for elementary libraries looking to expand their makerspace collection. 

745.5 Crafts          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Elem. – Donut: The Unicorn Who Wants to Fly

Gehl, Laura. Donut: The Unicorn Who Wants to Fly. Illustrated by Andrea Zuill. Random House Studio, 2022. 978-0-593-37625-6. $17.99. 40 p. Grades PK-2.

Unicorn fans will be thrilled with this new title. Donut is a wingless unicorn with a rainbow horn who desperately wants to fly. Donut tries many flying strategies but is unable to fly. A pair of bunnies and a flock of friendly birds help Donut to achieve the ultimate goal through a series of amusing plans. Eventually Donut is successful, with a little help from the woodland friends. Told in minimal rhyming language with bright ink drawings by illustrator Andrea Zuill, this is a fun and fantastic read aloud. 

THOUGHTS: Absolutely adorable. The pictures combined with only a few words of text tell a delightful story of grit, ingenuity, persistence, and teamwork. There are many possible STEAM activity tie-ins with this selection.

Picture Book          Anne McKernan, Council Rock SD

Elem. – Martha Maps it Out

Hodgkinson, Leigh. Martha Maps it Out. Kane Miller, 2022. 978-1-684-64412-4. $14.99. 40 p. Grades PK-3.

Martha greets the day and the universe with a bright hello as she explains her place within the universe. Martha creates a series of maps showing our solar system, Earth, Martha’s city, street, apartment building, apartment, and room. Martha then creates a mind-map of her thoughts, dreams, aspirations, and questions, again expanding her viewpoint to the entire universe. As Martha bids the universe good-night, it is clear Martha has a world of opportunities and adventures to explore as she grows up. Bright and colorful illustrations with nonfiction text features (maps, keys, labels, captions, etc.)  creatively are woven throughout.  

THOUGHTS: A spunky and fun look at the world through the eyes of a young child. The weaving of Martha’s fictional story with nonfiction text features is perfect for teaching about these devices. The mind-mapping sequence is particularly intriguing, and is an element not often included in typical books about maps and nonfiction illustrations. A great STEAM resource.

Picture Book          Anne McKernan, Council Rock SD