November 21, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Archives for October 2011

Fascinating Folks: Biography | Series Made Simple Fall 2011

For a biography to be effective, the information must be engaging, engrossing, and educational. The most enjoyable of them paint a fascinating, clear picture of their subjects while grabbing readers’ attention and imparting knowledge. Biographies in graphic-novel format are becoming more prevalent and more popular, and this season’s offerings will add value to most collections. Beginning readers will find titles suited to their needs, while older students have slimmer pickings.

Preschool-Grade 4

ARTELL, Mike. Drew Brees: Football Superstar. ISBN […]

Hands-On Reading: Arts and Crafts | Series Made Simple Fall 2011

Arts-and-crafts books can inspire hands-on learners to turn pages; encourage children who are all thumbs to glue some googly eyes onto a pompom, and, in a pinch, entertain a classroom on a rainy day. What makes a great craft book, though? It needs easy-to-follow instructions; representative photos, especially of kids actively engaged; inexpensive, easily obtainable materials; and, most of all, projects that are interesting, attractive, and durable.

Preschool–Grade 4

ALEXANDER, Heather. Easy Desserts from Around the World. ISBN […]

A Lesson in Everything | Series Made Simple Fall 2011

Like the astronauts on our cover, I’m a fan of the D.I.Y. mindset (“do it yourself” for those not up on your home improvement lingo). Fortunately, I don’t need to worry about repairing a space shuttle or baking in zero gravity. Instead, I worry about beating my father at Trivial Pursuit, and like our intergalactic travelers I turn to series nonfiction to bulk up my knowledge.

Little did I know when I became editor of Series Made Simple this past summer […]

There’s Always Room for More: Suggestions for Series Nonfiction | Series Made Simple Fall 2011

Do your students hunger to learn more about famous treasure hunters or can they not get enough books about high-tech gadgets or prehistoric life? Our reviewers have learned through requests in their libraries and classrooms just what kind of nonfiction patrons want-and they have a few suggestions for some series.

Librarian Jennifer Prince would love to see a set all about fashion-covering history, famous designers, do-it-yourself projects, and accessories. At her library in North Carolina, books on making jewelry, reworking T-shirts, […]

Working on the Edge: Careers | Series Made Simple Fall 2011

This fall’s selection of career-centered series is predominantly devoted to “extreme,” often dangerous occupations. Every branch of the military is explored, as is the work of first responders and a variety of other high-risk vocations, including storm chasers, miners, and astronauts. Students seeking more cerebral thrills may find them in Cherry Lake’s “Cool Arts Careers,” and the youngest students can sharpen their deductive skills with Capstone’s “Community Helper Mysteries.” Overall, there are quality selections at all reading and interest levels, […]

Society, Safety, and the Changing Times: Social Science | Series Made Simple Fall 2011

Many of the books highlighted here involve some sort of interdisciplinary component, be it art activities, recipes, or literacy elements. The ability of students to relate what they are learning to other subject areas and to be encouraged to have hands-on experiences are fantastic ways for them to continue to get a deeper understanding of the series’ subjects. Some sets reviewed below might be improvements on series you already own, and others, such as Facts On File’s “Computers, Internet, and […]

Monster Mash: Mythology, Folktales, and the Supernatural | Series Made Simple Fall 2011

Thanks to the likes of Edward Cullen and Percy Jackson, supernatural creatures and mythology are everywhere in fiction these days. Books for elementary and high school students are full of references to all kinds of monsters, myths, and mysteries. Luckily, mythology and folklore are rich topics with nearly endless areas to explore.

Preschool-Grade 4

GUNDERSON, Jessica, retel. Jason and the Argonauts. illus. by Nadine Takvorian. ISBN 978-1-4048-6669-0. LC 2011006588.
—-. Medusa’s Stony Stare. illus. by Rich Pellegrino. ISBN 978-1-4048-6665-2. LC […]

Critters in the Neighborhood: Animals | Series Made Simple Fall 2011

Books about animals have no trouble finding an audience, and the efforts reviewed below are no exception. All of these titles have consistently amazing photographs that serve to instill an understanding of how important animal life is to our world. For the most part, there aren’t any dust-gathering shelf-sitters to be found here.

Preschool-Grade 4

ARONIN, Miriam. Saving Animals from Volcanoes. ISBN 978-1-61772-291-2; ISBN 978-1-61772-328-5. LC 2011014176.
MARKOVICS, Joyce. Saving Animals After Earthquakes. ISBN 978-1-61772-289-9; ISBN 978-1-61772-326-1. LC 2011005616.
—-. Saving […]

Strange, Enormous, and Extraordinary: Animals | Series Made Simple Fall 2011

Animal books are favorites for reports and for pleasure reading. Most of these titles feature an appealing book design that will attract browsers. Unfortunately, the writing, while serviceable, is not always engaging. Some books are clearly aimed at report writers who need general information, while others focus on multiple animals and what makes each species unique, such as its camouflage or survival skills.

Preschool-Grade 4

ALLYN, Daisy. Deadly Blue-Ringed Octopuses. ISBN 978-1-4339-5734-5; ISBN 978-1-4339-5736-9; ISBN 978-1-4339-5735-2. LC 2010049784.
JAMES, Lincoln. […]

Beyond Living Green: Environment | Series Made Simple Fall 2011

This latest generation of environmental books stresses the importance of living sustainably. Young readers are introduced to the fact that their actions impact the planet, for good or bad, while older readers are asked to investigate human beings’ effect on the environment and reliance on energy resources. Discussions about recent disasters elucidate the concept that the possibility of living without power, proper shelter, sanitation, or food could be only a hurricane or an earthquake away.

Preschool-Grade 4

AITKEN, Stephen. […]

From Kitchens to Crime Scenes: General Science | Series Made Simple Fall 2011

These series fall neatly into two groups: introductions to the gathering and processing of forensic evidence from archaeological or crime scenes—and everything else. The latter category contains general surveys of the natural world and collections of low-budget demonstrations and experiments designed to teach students about thinking systematically and observing scientific principles in action. In all of these series, the level and reliability of the contents vary, but bright, inviting page designs, well-chosen illustrations, and back matter that includes suggestions for […]

What’s the Matter?: Physical Science | Series Made Simple Fall 2011

How does the universe behave? Early on, people sought supernatural, religious, or mythological explanations for what they observed-eventually, and sometimes begrudgingly, discarding these theories and turning to science for explanations and understanding. The discoveries that early and contemporary scientists and philosophers made have transformed and continue to change how we understand our world. Each of these series examines matter and its interactions as it moves through space and time, hopefully inspiring a new generation to develop scientific curiosity.

Crunching Numbers: Mathematics | Series Made Simple Fall 2011

For the youngest readers, math series are most appealing when they contain a gimmick. Among the hooks this fall are endearing animals adding and subtracting, creating your own adventures while solving math problems, and the ever-popular math in sports. Series for older students take a more serious approach, and although there are textbook-style, text-heavy volumes, there are some visually dynamic sets as well. Regardless of age, it’s important to all students that math concepts are presented with clear, concise explanations, […]

Spacing Out: Astronomy | Series Made Simple Fall 2011

Even as our exploration of the high frontier is entering a new, privatized phase, astronomers are discovering additional wonders. Unfortunately, only hints of this scientific ferment are on display in the roundup below. Though bright, intense page designs promise fresh content and insights, most of these volumes only rehash information about our solar system and the universe that was presented to young readers five or more (often considerably more) years ago. Similarly, though the available pool of stunning sky photos […]

Keeping the Doctor Away: Health | Series Made Simple Fall 2011

The World Health Organization Constitution states that “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Proper nutrition, an active lifestyle, and a clear head are all necessary to live up to this definition. To counter the lure of fast food, TV and computer games, and poor decision-making, good habits must be instilled in the youngest readers. This fall’s series focus primarily on the building blocks of good health […]

Olympic Ambitions: Sports | Series Made Simple Fall 2011

There are common sports (baseball, basketball, football, etc.) that readers already know a little about. Then there are the unfamiliar sports (extreme surfing, ice dancing, capoeira, etc.) that pique children’s interest. This season’s bunch of new series includes titles about sports that represent both the well known and the unusual, as well as Olympic events in anticipation of the Summer Games in 2012. Brief biographies of stars are often included.

Preschool-Grade 4

DAVIDS, Stacy B. Hip-Hop Greats. ISBN 978-1-4296-6502-5; […]

Poetic Gestures: Language and Literature | Series Made Simple Fall 2011

The series in this section explore the craft of writing, genres, online literacy, languages, and grammar. Several books encourage readers to try out different writing strategies and areas. Others show how language allows human beings to communicate, both verbally and on the page. A number of these books provide a road map as readers explore the power of language and literature.

Preschool-Grade 4

GANERI, Anita. French. ISBN 978-1-4329-5079-8; ISBN 978-1-4329-5086-6. LC 2010043783.
—-. Hindi. ISBN 978-1-4329-5081-1; ISBN 978-1-4329-5088-0. LC 2010043785. […]

Who We Were: American History | Series Made Simple Fall 2011

Americans have a unique national identity. We are confident in our diverse culture, our rule of law, and the social and economic mobility that draws immigrants from countries around the globe. But it can be difficult for students to comprehend how much the country has developed over the course of history. Our founding and governing documents, immigration, wars and internal conflicts, changing perceptions of human and civil rights, and even our clothing have shaped how Americans view themselves. Most of […]

From the Ancient World to the Moon: World History | Series Made Simple Fall 2011

History lovers have long known that studying the past is about more than just memorizing dates and places. History can be gross and messy, or full of adventures as people move from place to place or face great adversities. This season’s batch of series, many geared toward the middle school crowd, include escapes from dire circumstances, journeys to strange lands, and pieces of the past that have gone missing and then been rediscovered in modern times. While some books emphasize […]

AASL Conference 2011: Colorado Elementary School Ditches Dewey for Bookstore Model

Colorado’s Red Hawk Elementary School has gone Dewey-less—and so far the results have been great.

The new school, which opened its doors just six weeks ago, is the only building in the St. Vrain Valley School District to scrap the Dewey Decimal system in favor of a more user-friendly bookstore model for organizing its 6,031-title collection. In fact, according to District Librarian Holli Buchter, Red Hawk is the only elementary school in the United States to ditch Dewey. (The only other […]