Elem. – Antarctic Animals (Series NF)

Hansern, Grace. Antarctic Animals series. Abdo Kids, 2022. $22.95 ea. or $137.70 for set of 6. Grades K-3.

Adélie Penguin. 978-1-098-20937-7.
Antarctic Shag. 978-1-098-20938-4.
Gentoo Penguin. 978-1-098-20939-1.
Leopard Seal. 978-1-098-20940-7.
Southern Minke Whale. 978-1-098-20941-4.
Wandering Albatross. 978-1-098-20942-1.

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.

598 Birds          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

Tags:  Animals, Antarctica, Science, Technology

MG – Not Starring Zadie Louise

McCullough, Joy. Not Starring Zadie Louise. Atheneum Books For Young Readers, 2022. 978-1-543-39623-1. $17.99. 247 p. Grades 5-8.

Ten year old Zadie Louise Gonzales dreams of becoming an astronaut. When her family is unable to afford to  send her to science camp for the summer, she is forced to spend the summer putting on a show in her town’s community theater. With a Mom who is a stage director and a sister who loves to perform, Zadie often feels like she has nothing in common with her family. Terrified to audition to be in the cast of the show, Zadie is stuck without much to do all day long. Her many attempts to be helpful fall short and create extra work for her Mom and the production staff. Zadie offers to help style wigs and accidentally uses spray adhesive instead of hairspray, ruining the wigs. An attempt to help paint set pieces results in wet paint getting all over the stage. Barrelling her way from one disaster to another has left Zadie at odds with her Mom and feeling useless. The Gonzales family is under financial strain. Musician Dad is forced to drive an Uber, and beloved Grandma Sooz is looking to find a new place to live so that the family can rent out her room. Worse yet, if Zadie’s Mom doesn’t impress the board of directors with a fantastic show, she may be out of work as well. Funny and quirky, this story also accurately depicts the pressure and strain of the family’s financial situation. 

THOUGHTS: Teen and tween theater lovers will thoroughly enjoy this thoughtful and funny novel. The theater scenes, situations, and back-stage technology are very accurately portrayed. The story does not skimp on character development however. Zadie’s confusion over her changing relationship with friends and family is heartfelt and very moving. Middle grade readers will relate to Zadie’s desire to do the right thing despite continually bungling every attempt to be better.

Realistic Fiction          Anne McKernan, Council Rock SD

Elem./MG – Explaining How Things Work (Series NF)

Higgins, Nadia. Explaining How Things Work. The Child’s World, 2022. 32 p. $24.00 ea. $240.00 Set of 10.  Grades 3-5.

How Do Airplanes Work? 978-1-503-85589-2.
How Do Cell Phones Work?
978-1-503-85591-5.
How Do Hybrid Cars Work? 978-1-503-85593-9.
How Do Lasers Work?
978-1-503-85595-3.
How Do Submarines Work?
978-1-503-85597-7.
How Do Telescopes, Binoculars, and Microscopes Work?
978-1-503-85590-8.
How Do Wind Turbines Work?
978-1-503-85598-4.
How Does Electricity Work?
978-1-503-85592-2.
How Does Solar Energy Work?
978-1-503-85596-0.
How Does the Internet Work?
978-1-503-85594-6.

There are more than 5 billion cell phones in the world today, and many people can’t imagine living without one. This nonfiction title details the history of cell phones and also explains the science behind their operation. It explains how sound waves work, why frequency is important, and how base stations and switching centers operate. Text features such as a table of contents, glossary, index, timeline, headings, captions, and spotlight boxes help readers navigate and understand the information. Colorful illustrations as well as real primary source photographs are interspersed throughout the book. This title is one in a 10-book series about how things work. The series also features books about airplanes; electricity; hybrid cars; the Internet; lasers; solar energy; submarines; wind turbines; and telescopes, binoculars, and microscopes.

THOUGHTS: Although the science of how cell phones work is complex, this title makes the information easily accessible for middle grade readers. Large, colorful pictures, lots of captions, and chunked information ensures the facts aren’t too overwhelming. Share this book with science and technology teachers to jumpstart conversations about how technology impacts our lives today and where it might be heading in the future.

384.5 Wireless Communication          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

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

MG – Build It Yourself Science Biographies (Series NF)

Build It Yourself Science Biographies. Nomad Press, 2021. 128 p. $22.95 (HC) $17.95 (paper). Grades 5-8.

Klepeis, Alicia Z. The Science & Technology of Ben Franklin. 978-1-647-41018-6.
Knutson, Julie.The Science & Technology of Marie Curie. 978-1-647-41022-3.
Pagel-Hogan, Elizabeth. The Science & Technology of Leonardo da Vinci. 978-1-647-41014-8.

Knutson’s book on Marie Curie showcases Curie’s intelligence and scientific contributions, while encouraging readers to try their own scientific experiments. Despite social and economic restrictions on women, Curie persevered in her scientific endeavors, working with her husband Pierre, and continuing their work after his death. Her work earned her a Nobel Prize.  When World War I began soon thereafter, Curie easily could have worked to build better weapons to win the war, but instead she decided to use her knowledge to promote health and peace. When she learned that doctors at the front were often amputating injured soldiers’ limbs simply because they could not pinpoint the location of shrapnel, she used all her clout and contacts to get small X-ray machines to the front. These ‘petit Curies’ were small vehicles staffed by three medical persons, and their x-rays saved untold lives. A later affair with a married man brought disgrace upon Curie (but not the man), but she continued throughout her life to work for greater scientific knowledge for peace. This book includes black and white photos, humorous comic style sidebars, and frequent experiments for readers to try.

THOUGHTS: This is an engaging look at Marie Curie’s life and scientific work. This book is part of the many popular “Build It Yourself” biographies by Nomad Press, and the most recent three focus on Marie Curie, Ben Franklin, and Leonardo da Vinci.      

540 Chemistry          Melissa Scott, Shenango Area SD
Biography

MG – Privacy in the Digital Age (Series NF)

Buckey, A.W. Privacy in the Digital Age. Core Library, an imprint of Abdo Publishing, 2020. $23.00 ea. $138.00 set of 6. 48p. Grades 3-6.

Hudak, Heather. Cell Phone Privacy. 978-1-53211-889-0.
—. Cybercrime. 978-1-53211-890-6.
Edwards, Sue Bradford. The Dark Web. 978-1-53211-891-3.
Buckey, A.W. Identity Theft. 978-1-53211-892-0.
—. Personal Data Collection. 978-1-53211-893-7.
—. Surveillance. 978-1-53211-894-4.

Using platforms they are very familiar with, such as Netflix, YouTube, Facebook, and even 23andMe, Personal Data Collection introduces middle grade readers to the idea that the convenience that data collection affords may not always be in their best interest. Part of the Privacy in the Digital Age series, this book explores the history of data collection, what data is being collected and why, how that data is being used, and how it could potentially be harmful to individuals. Fast Facts at the end will help students organize their thoughts about what they have read, and guiding questions could be used by educators in a digital literacy lesson.

THOUGHTS: A good introduction to the topic. Graphs, sidebars, and diagrams create interest, and teacher resources are an added bonus.

005.8  Computer Security          Melissa Johnston, North Allegheny SD

Elem. – Ocean Speaks: How Marie Tharp Revealed the Ocean’s Biggest Secret

Keating, Jess. Ocean Speaks: How Marie Tharp Revealed the Ocean’s Biggest Secret. Tundra Books, 2020. 978-0-735-26508-0. 32 p. $17.99. Grades K-3.

From the time she was a young girl, Marie loved being outdoors. From feeling waves splash on her toes to discovering boulders, trees, and bird calls, she was fascinated by the world around her. But, girls were not supposed to have outdoor jobs involving rocks, mountains, and sunshine, and they weren’t supposed to dream of becoming explorers or scientists. When men enlisted during World War I, women like Marie had their chance to study science. Marie learned as much as she could about earth science and geology, and she secured a job in a New York laboratory. When men returned from War, they were sent on ocean research trips, but Marie had to stay behind. As her male colleagues sent back box after box of measurements, Marie used the data to create a map of the ocean floor. She’d found a way to be an explorer, even if she had to stay in her small office. After weeks of plotting data, Marie discovered a giant rift valley on the bottom of the ocean floor: a long crack with mountains on both sides. Her colleagues made her redo the map, and even then, no one believed her work was accurate. Jacques Cousteau sent cameras to the bottom of the ocean to prove her wrong, but instead, the cameras captured the evidence revealing Marie was actually correct. Today, she’s credited with mapping the mid-Atlantic ocean ridge, and her maps have been displayed at the Library of Congress. Katie Hickey’s watercolor and pencil illustrations, featuring a palette of primarily blues, yellows, and greens, gorgeously capture the spirit and perseverance of this unsung scientist. Two pages of Author’s Notes and Questions and Answers provide further insights about Marie Tharp and her legacy.

THOUGHTS: Share this story of female resilience and determination as part of STEM units or during elementary morning meetings. Also a great choice to recommend to girls who are interested in outdoor pursuits such as rock collecting, bird watching, and exploring.

526 Mathematical Geography          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

MG – Tracking Pythons: The Quest to Catch an Invasive Predator and Save an Ecosystem

Messner, Kate. Tracking Pythons: The Quest to Catch an Invasive Predator and Save an Ecosystem. Millbrook Press, 2020. 64 p. $24.04 978-1-541-55706-2 Grades 4-8.

Once native only to Asia, Burmese pythons have invaded Florida!  Researchers speculate that animals kept as pets were released and quietly flourished undetected in the lush, protected swamps of Florida. Native animals such as alligators and mink, herons, deer, possums and more, are being affected by the insatiable appetite of the pythons. “People will ask me what pythons eat. The question should be, What don’t they eat?” says Bartoszek (44). Kate Messner follows researchers Ian Bartoszek and his colleagues from the Conservancy of Southwest Florida as they explain the scope of the problem and their efforts to control it. Scientists can respond to an invasive species in four ways: prevention, eradication, containment, or control. The burmese python population in Florida, estimated to be in the tens if not hundreds of thousands, is well beyond the first three responses, and even controlling the population is proving difficult.  Bartoszek and colleagues track the pythons using radio telemetry, capture them for analysis and transmitter implantation, and try to better control the population. “Another big goal is to advance snake science in general. We kind of owe it to the pythons. We have tremendous respect for this animal, so we try to gather as much scientific information as possible” (44).  Each chapter includes segments on “How to Catch a Python” (some surprising stories and methods) as Messner shares lessons learned, “python CSI,” and the wonder of the undetectable python, even when standing atop one! The book includes QR codes showing python releases and telemetry flights, and extensive back matter.

THOUGHTS: A compelling look at an amazing animal and its effects on an ecosystem, this book will engage readers with an interest in animals, the environment, and scientific careers.  A top example of narrative nonfiction.

597.96 Burmese Pythons        Melissa Scott, Shenango Area SD

MG – Unconventional Science

Unconventional Science. ABDO Books, 2020. $23.00 ea. $138.00 set of 6. 48 p. Grades 5-8. 

Burling, Alexis. Turning Poop Into Power. 978-1-532-11901-9.
Hand, Carol. Controlling Invasive Species with Goats. 978-1-532-11898-2.
Hustad, Douglas. Cleaning Up Plastic with Artificial Coastlines. 978-1-532-11897-5.
McCarthy, Cecilia Pinto. Capturing Carbon with Fake Trees. 978-1-532-11896-8.
—. Eating Bugs as Sustainable Food. 978-1-532-11899-9.
—. Harvesting Fog for Water. 978-1-532-11900-2

This series expertly presents new scientific ideas that many adults and students never may have considered, and aims to give some explanation about the pros and cons of each idea. In four chapters, readers learn about the environmental problem which led to the idea being considered, how well the idea could work, and problems with adopting the idea as a solution. The gross factor of Eating Bugs or Turning Poop into Power may turn off readers or prove irresistible to them.  Chapters end with either compelling deeper thinking questions, or segments linking other documents to the text, again with thoughtful questions. The end matter includes glossary, index, fast facts, and further resources, and is notable for the “Stop and Think” section and the ABDO Book Links website (readers scan QR code to access resources for each specific book).

THOUGHTS: This is a well-presented, engaging format with refreshing and unusual ideas, perfect for middle school learners. ABDO has paid attention to what young learners (and their teachers) need. Librarians may want to give more attention to the various series in ABDO’s Core Library (“nonfiction for grades 3-6”). Free teaching resources are available for download via Follett’s Titlewave. (Title reviewed: Eating Bugs as Sustainable Food.)

363; 628 Science, Engineering        Melissa Scott, Shenango Area SD

MG – Engineering Disasters

Engineering Disasters. ABDO Books, 2020. $23.00 ea. $138.00 set of 6. 48 p. Grades 5-8. 

Huddleston, Emma. Ford Pinto Fuel Tanks. 978-1-532-19-072-8.
—. The Johnstown Flood. 978-1-532-19073-5.
—. The New Orleans Levee Failure. 978-1-532-19074-2.
Kortemeier, Todd. Air France Flight 447. 978-1-532-19070-4
—. Chernobyl. 978-1-532-19071-1.
—.  The Space Shuttle Challenger. 978-1-532-19075-9.

This series looks at well-intentioned concepts which ultimately failed in some way. The solid format covers the disaster, the search for the cause, and the changes enacted to avoid further disasters. The text is clear and factual, with various sidebars and charts adding meaningful supplemental perspectives. A full-page “Straight to the Source” occurs twice in the book, linking another text with useful questions for further thinking and writing, while a “Stop and Think” segment is part of the well-rounded back matter of Fast Facts, glossary, index, and ABDO’s free online resources.

THOUGHTS: This is a well-presented series on major failures and how the engineering in question has changed. (Title reviewed: The Space Shuttle Challenger.)

363 Manmade Disasters            Melissa Scott, Shenango Area SD