Elem. – Room for Everyone

Khan, Naaz. Room for Everyone. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2021. 978-1-534-43139-3. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-3.

Musa and Dada are off to Nungwi Beach in Zanzibar when, along the way, Dada stops the bus to pick up an old man with a broken bike. Musa argues that there’s no room for the man and his bike, but Dada insists there is plenty of space. They make room, and before long, Dada stops again to pick up a herder with two goats. Again, Musa argues there is no room, and again, they shuffle around and make space. This pattern continues throughout the book until, by the end, it’s Musa insisting that there is room for everyone. Ultimately, they reach the beach, where they all pile out to enjoy a day under the sun. Rhyming text and detailed, colorful, mixed-media illustrations make this a very lively, engaging read.

THOUGHTS: I love everything about this book! Not only does it convey the subtle message that there is always room for new friends and experiences, but it also provides readers with a glimpse of African culture. A glossary in the back explains unfamiliar words like daladala (a shared minibus), baghala (a boat used by people living near the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean), and more. This is a solid purchase for social studies classrooms and/or elementary library collections.

Picture Book           Julie Ritter, PSLA Member

Elementary NF – Super Cute!; Amazing Trains; Mighty Machines; Awesome Dogs

Borgert-Spaniol, Megan. Super Cute!. Bellwether, 2017. $17.95ea. 24p. Gr. K-3.
Baby Racoons. 979-7-8162617-545-7.
Baby Rhinos. 978-1-62617-546-4.
Baby Skunks. 978-1-62617-547-1.
Baby Zebras. 978-1-62617-548-8.
Who can resist baby animals? Not most elementary readers, that’s for sure, which no doubt influenced Bellwether’s expansion of of its Super Cute! series for younger readers. Each one of these engaging titles features basic information about the animal under discussion, including how the young are raised, what they eat, and how they protect themselves from predators. Numerous close-up photos show the baby animals eating, playing, sleeping and more! A glossary and link for online resources is also included. THOUGHTS: These titles are ideal for the lower elementary reader. The photo selection in each volume is excellent – the reader feels as if they are right there with the baby animals. Recommended for primary schools looking to add to their animal collection.
500s Animals           Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg School District


Leighton, Christina. Amazing Trains. Bellwether, 2017. $17.95ea. $107.70 set of 6. 24p. Gr. K-3.
City Trains. 978-1-62617-669-0.
Freight Trains. 978-1-62617-670-6.
High-Speed Trains. 978-1-62617-671-3.
Monorails. 978-1-62617-672-0.
Passenger Trains. 978-1-62617-673-7.
Subway Trains. 978-1-62617-674-4.
The Amazing Trains series aims to inform younger readers about various types of trains. Each volume examines a specific type of train, outlining the purpose of the train, how they are powered, the role of the driver of the train, and passenger accommodations (if it is a passenger-style train). Numerous photos show the various trains at work, traveling through they city streets or the countryside. A glossary and link for additional online resources is also included. THOUGHTS: This series is ideal for the primary school rail fan. Readers will enjoy the numerous photos present on each page illustrating the important role these trains play in everyday life. Recommended where trains are popular or for schools looking to expand their transportation collections.
600s Transportation       Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg School District


Mighty Machines in Action. Bellwether, 2017. $25.95 ea. 24pp. Gr. 1-3.

Bowman, Chris. Backhoes. 978-1-62617-600-3.

Bowman, Chris.  Bulldozers.978-1-62617-601-0.

Oachs, Emily Rose. Police Cars. 978-1-62617-607-2.

These three entries in the Mighty Machines in Action series are dynamic entries in easy non-fiction. Visually appealing, with bright, glossy pictures and large font text, these books introduce young readers to the structure of non-fiction books. Each volume has a table of contents, index and a glossary of words highlighted throughout the book, as well as boxed text and labeled diagrams. As in other series by this publisher, the “To Learn More” page refers readers to books and websites for more information. Websites are found through the (apparently) proprietary search engine Factsurfer.com. THOUGHTS:  These books are sure to be a hit with youngsters looking for books on vehicles.

Machines; Transportation     Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor School District


Awesome Dogs.  Bellwether, 2017. $25.95 ea. 24pp. Gr. K-2.

Leaf, Christina. Boston Terriers. 978-1-62617-557-0.

Scheutz, Kari.  Pugs. 978-1-62617-558-7.

Sommer, Nathan. Cocker Spaniels. 978-1-62617-611-9.

These books, part of the Awesome Dogs series, are aimed at early readers. Sparse informative text is superimposed on vibrantly colored pages. Bolded words correspond to the glossary. Cute pup pictures dominate, and are sure hold a child’s attention. With features such as table of contents, glossary and index, as well as at least one diagram with labels, and a map in each book, these volumes would be excellent for teaching parts of a book, or text features. A page at the back of the book refers students to book and websites for further information. However, as with other books from this publisher, they recommend Factsurfer.com search engine, which provides very select results (all age appropriate) and does not offer any information as to who operates the search engine. THOUGHTS: A nice introduction to research for the earliest students.

Dogs     Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor School District

Elementary NF – Cool Cats; Building Rt. 66; Living & NonLiving Things

Rathburn, Betsy.  Siberians.  Bellwether Media, 2017. 9781626176287. 24 pp. $19.50. Gr. K-2.

Rathburn, Betsy. Ocicats. Bellwether Media, 2017. 9781626176287. 24 pp. $19.50. Gr. K-2.

This series on various cat breeds is designed for the primary grade reader.  With colorful photographs and simple text, these books are a good choice for libraries who need to update or add more “cat books” to their collection.  There are 26 books in the Cool Cats series, which includes breeds not found in other series, such as Siberians and RagaMuffins.  Words found in the glossary are highlighted in the text, but without a pronunciation guide. The author begins with a history of each breed and then gives a description of what the cat looks like and how it behaves.  Readers will be interested to learn that Siberians love to play in the water and that some Ocicats can open lids to get treats. An index and suggestions for further print or online reading are contained in the back matter. The photographs are appealing and show cats in different colored coats. THOUGHTS:  This series is sure to be a hit in elementary libraries, especially with children who enjoy reading about this popular pet.  

636.8 Cats                     Denise Medwick, West Allegheny SD

Rathburn, Betsy. Cool Cats.  Bellwether, 2017. $25.95. 24pp. Gr. K-2.

Japanese Bobtails. 978-1-62617-562-4.

Selkirk Rexes. 978-1-62617-564-8.

Burmese. 978-1-62617-561-7.

These three books from the Cool Cats series offer beginning readers and researchers an attractive non-fiction text. Vibrantly colored pages showcase compelling photographs of the cats. There is minimal text per page and in large font for easy reading. Selected words are bolded, corresponding to the glossary. Each slim volume provides a table of contents, glossary, index and a “To Learn More” page with suggested reading and websites. This is the one concern with these books: they direct readers to search on www.factsurfer.com for further information. There is no attribution with the search engine to identify who is sponsoring the tool. Additionally, while two of the searches yielded three results, when searching Burmese Cats the search is returned as No Results Found. THOUGHTS:  The books are visually appealing and well organized for the young researcher with accurate information, but the problematic search engine issue is an irritant.

Cats     Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor School District


Doudna, Kelly. Building Route 66. Abdo Publishing, 2018. 9781532111082. $17.95. 24p.

Gr. K-4.

This book, about the building of Route 66, begins by defining what a road is and a little bit of history of early cars, roads, and a short biography of the “Father of Route 66” planner, Cyrus Avery. The book is defined into three sections: Planning the Road, Building the Road, and The Road Today. Each section has bold headings, appropriate photographs to accompany the text, and large photo captions. THOUGHTS: This is a well-designed, easy-to-use nonfiction picture book that could be used for enjoyment or research. It includes a map, glossary, old photographs, a section on other famous roads of the world, and a short quiz at the end.

Transportation     Bridget Fox, Central Bucks SD


Kurtz, Kevin. Living Things and Non-Living Things: A Compare and Contrast Book. Arbordale Publishing, 2017. 9781628559859. $17.95. 32pp. Gr. K-3

The book Living Things and Non-Living Things tries to help young people identify living and nonliving things by using thought-provoking questions and accompanying photographs. The difficulty is that there are both living and nonliving things that grow, move, change, reproduce, move, need oxygen, etc. The photographs are beautiful and are integral to helping readers see why it is difficult for scientists to come up with an accurate definition of what makes something living or nonliving.  THOUGHTS: This nonfiction book is a wonderful resource for teaching the concepts of living and non-living and comparing and contrasting skills. There is a page for creative minds, which includes a short glossary, and several pages of photographs with checklists for the reader to quiz themselves on identifying living and non-living things. This book also includes Curriculum Connections and an online Teaching Activity Guide.

NF Picture Book      Bridget Fox, Central Bucks SD

Life in the Fast Lane…New Transportation Books for Middle School

Life in the Fast Lane (series).  New York: Cavendish Square, 2015. 48 p. $22.00 ea. Gr. 5-8
   Inside a Drag Racer.  978-1-62713-049-3.
   Inside a Formula 1 Car.  978-1-62713-034-9.
   Inside a High-Speed Train.  978-1-62713-043-1.
   Inside a Speedboat.  978-1-62713-037-0.
   Inside a Sprint Car.  978-1-62713-052-3.
   Inside a Stock Car.  978-1-62713-040-0.
   On a Jet Ski.  978-1-62713-046-2.

Each of the books in this series takes a look at a fast-moving, action-packed vehicle and discusses both the history and mechanic aspects of each.  They also contain colorful pictures of modern and historical vehicles.  The writing style encourages students to put themselves in the driver’s seat, and throughout the text, difficult vocabulary words are printed in bold and defined at the end of the book.  The topics themselves will garner high interest, though a student could use these books as part of a research project.  The size and amount of text is geared toward a younger audience, but all who read these books will certainly learn something new!

629s, 790s  Transportation          Nicole Starner  Biglerville HS/Upper Adams MS