November 21, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Archives for March 2011

A Star is Born! | Series Made Simple Spring 2011

No, the star in question is not my son, Henry, who made his debut two days after the last Series Made Simple was published (he’s the child of an editor, for sure). I’m referring to the first Series Made Simple starred review. I would tell you about it myself, but my colleagues are tired of listening to me rave about this book; instead you can find the review, along with Mary Mueller’s other reviews of American history books from […]

What Happened?: World History | Series Made Simple Spring 2011


Read Series Made Simple, School Library Journal‘s guide to new series nonfiction

From warriors and tales of combat to great inventions and protected heritage sites, these series present different ways of bringing the past into perspective. The most successful of them find a niche through which to explore cultures both ancient and modern, whether through the use of a single theme, such as technology; by relating a daring event; or by discussing the history of a region. Some of […]

Fun and Fitness: Sports | Series Made Simple Spring 2011

Read Series Made Simple, School Library Journal‘s guide to the latest series nonfiction

This spring there are several captivating sports series that can be used for a wide age range of readers. Some of the topics, such as dance or unusual races, will pique the interest of older students who are reading below grade level, as well as those who are interested in learning about the pastime. Paragraphs with a traditional narrative flow are not always the norm […]

Simplifying Matter: Physical Science | Series Made Simple Spring 2011

Read Series Made Simple, School Library Journal‘s guide to the latest series nonfiction

Children are innately curious about the physical world in which they live. The series included here tap into this interest by explaining the science behind a variety of topics. Electricity, gravity, matter, simple machines, robotics—the topics are not new, but the need to present current information in the most engaging manner possible keeps authors and scientists going back to the drawing board. There is something here […]

Friends Indeed: Pets and Working Animals | Series Made Simple Spring 2011

Read Series Made Simple, School Library Journal‘s guide to the latest series nonfiction

Few topics are as universally and consistently appealing as pets, and children are fascinated by working animals. Whether kids are looking to learn more about their own (or potential) pets, or just want to browse through pictures of cute or interesting animals, many librarians no doubt find themselves constantly handing out books on furry companions. Luckily, there is no shortage of books on the topic […]

From Aliens to Zombies: The Mysterious | Series Made Simple Spring 2011

Read Series Made Simple, School Library Journal‘s guide to the latest series nonfiction

Kids are intrigued by that which is strange or extreme and find endless fascination in books about Guinness world records or “Ripley’s Believe it or Not!” anecdotes. They love to read about fantastic creatures and tales of long-ago intrigue. The series reviewed here tap into that fascination by delving into myths and mysteries of creatures dead and undead, of this world or another. Throw a […]

Under the Hood: Machines | Series Made Simple Spring 2011

Read Series Made Simple, School Library Journal‘s guide to the latest series nonfiction

This selection of series on machines covers all kinds of dragsters, muscle cars, construction equipment, sports cars, and motorcycles. The challenge is always for the authors and publishers to construct a series with worthwhile content and appropriate vocabulary and illustrations. Some have succeeded, while others have succumbed to the urge to “dumb down” the content in the name of controlled vocabulary. The construction and rescue series […]

Ways with Words: Language Arts | Series Made Simple Spring 2011

Read Series Made Simple, School Library Journal‘s guide to the latest series nonfiction

Today, writing and research assignments can be found across the curriculum. Students may craft nature poems for science class, send emails to community leaders in civics, or write letters to historical figures in social studies. The series in this section will assist those who want to put a creative touch to their compositions.

Preschool—Grade 4

BULLARD, Lisa. Nina and […]

What’s Inside: Life Science | Series Made Simple Spring 2011

Read Series Made Simple, School Library Journal‘s guide to the latest series nonfiction

The wide range of topics, treatments, and reading levels in these life sciences series makes selection both interesting and challenging. Traditional layouts still reign for the youngest readers and in some reference-style volumes. It’s mainly in the intermediate and middle school series that layouts reflect readers’ more sophisticated visual tastes and editors’ efforts to satisfy them. Unfortunately that is where problems often […]

Exciting Explorations: General Science and Science Experiments | Series Made Simple Spring 2011

Read Series Made Simple, School Library Journal‘s guide to the latest series nonfiction

Science experiment books are often checked out only at science-fair time, but some of the titles reviewed here are cool enough to get kids experimenting throughout the year. Robotics and “green” science are hot topics, and the quality titles below will make welcome additions. Some of these series prove that science can be fun for everyone.

Preschool—Grade 4

BELL-REHWOLDT, Sheri. Science Experiments that Surprise […]

Spiny, Scaly, and Scary: Extreme Animals | Series Made Simple Spring 2011

Read Series Made Simple, School Library Journal‘s guide to the latest series nonfiction

Sharks, dinosaurs, lions, snakes—some creatures need no publicity to attract audiences. Each season brings new batches of elementary introductions that aim to excite, delight, titillate, gross out, and, occasionally, even instruct young readers with quick looks at the natural world’s toothier residents. With only occasional exceptions, the series below offer large, dramatic, and sharply reproduced photographs paired with short, clearly written narratives—almost all presented in 24 […]

Home Sweet Home: Earth | Series Made Simple Spring 2011

Read Series Made Simple, School Library Journal‘s guide to the latest series nonfiction

Interdisciplinary study of the complex interrelationships between geology and geography can lead even younger children to a broader, wiser, more informed view of their planet’s physical features and human cultures. Though few explore these influences in any detail, some of the volumes in this crop of new series take at least passing note of them. Several offer worthy presentations featuring specific, clearly stated facts paired with […]

Pioneers and Pop Stars: Biography | Series Made Simple Spring 2011

Read Series Made Simple, School Library Journal‘s guide to the latest series nonfiction

The most effective biographies not only examine the who, but also the where, when, why, and how of their subjects. Some of the offerings this season delve a bit more deeply than usual into the stories behind and around their famous subjects. There is something for children with many different interests: history, music, race relations, technology, war, science, politics, and environmentalism are just a few of […]

Win, Lose, and Draw: Arts and Crafts | Series Made Simple Spring 2011

Read Series Made Simple, School Library Journal‘s guide to the latest series nonfiction

There is plenty to do in the world of art and recreation, as demonstrated by the following how-to books. Using these titles, readers can put their personal spin on a family dinner, organize a scavenger hunt, or create their own manga. Whatever activity the books describe, the best empower children and teens to make the suggested creations their own.

Preschool—Grade 4

BEAUMONT, Steve. Drawing Dragons […]

Fur, Fins, and Feathers: Animals | Series Made Simple Spring 2011

Read Series Made Simple, School Library Journal‘s guide to the latest series nonfiction

Echoing the struggle for existence in the natural world, nonfiction series are continuing to evolve from their cruder, shorter-lived ancestors. Vestiges of the past—uninformative or cheap-looking illustrations, factual howlers, content simplified into bland platitudes and generalities—still make occasional appearances, as noted below. In general, though, the improving quality of art and text alike in this season’s litter of animal surveys ensures strong appeal to the […]

The Big Picture: American History | Series Made Simple Spring 2011

Read Series Made Simple, School Library Journal‘s guide to the latest series nonfiction

“What’s the big picture?” It’s a question that’s been asked so often that it’s become a cliché. But for students, especially those in the elementary and middle levels who are just beginning to learn about history, it’s one that must be asked, explored, and answered. The books pupils read—even those about limited or highly specialized topics—should provide enough background and detail so that they can understand […]

Pick Me! Pick Me!: It’s not easy to choose a series nonfiction ebook platform | Series Made Simple Spring 2011

Read Series Made Simple, School Library Journal‘s guide to the latest series nonfiction

Ebooks. You know their time has come, but the market is bewildering. So many formats and readers, and forget about the pricing models. But help is at hand. Over the last two months, I have examined some of the e-platforms offered by series nonfiction publishers, with an eye toward the formats that are offered and product functionality.

The good and the bad news […]

SLJ’s Spending Survey: As the economy limps along and federal dollars dwindle, school librarians are turning into resourceful survivors

Thank goodness we’re a resourceful bunch. How else could media specialists have survived this protracted recession, where our colleagues continue to get pink slips, budgets keep getting slashed, and we constantly have to defend what we do?

How have things changed since we published our last spending survey in April 2009? Our latest SLJ survey of school expenditures and collections for 2009–2010 shows that librarians have used a variety of coping techniques to weather this economic storm, […]

The Kindles Are Coming: Ereaders and tablets in schools

Ereaders and tablets are springing up in schools—and librarians are leading the way

Photograph by David Stuart

Buffy Hamilton only has to look at the waiting list of students clamoring to get their hands on one of five Kindles she purchased for Creekview High School to know the ereaders are bundling the three P’s of librarianship—participation, portability, and personalization—into one magical package. “The students can participate in saying what they want to read, the Kindles are portable, and there’s a […]

Super Sad Love Story: Ruta Sepetys’s ‘Between Shades of Gray’ is a heartbreaking tale of courage | Under Cover

Few people know that Stalin deported more than 300,000 Lithuanians, including many women and children who were shipped to Siberia in cattle cars and left to die. That was Stalin’s plan. There’s this quote which is just chilling, where Stalin says death is the solution to all problems—no man, no problem. What’s even more tragic, though, is that the Soviets occupied Lithuania, but then later, in 1941, the Germans kicked the Soviets […]