Check out the latest in nonfiction series, including continuations of previously reviewed series as well as some new offerings that librarians won’t want to miss. There’s a wide variety of subjects here for readers of all ages: adorable animals, cutting-edge looks at science, and in-depth examinations of the Civil Rights Movement, among others.
Preschool to Grade 4
ALOIAN , Molly. Cultural Traditions in Canada. ISBN 9780778702979; ISBN 9780778703129. LC 2014005116.
––––. Cultural Traditions in Israel. ISBN 9780778703037; ISBN 9780778703150. LC 2014005117.
PEPPAS , Lynn. Cultural Traditions in France. ISBN 9780778703020; ISBN 9780778703143. LC 2014005115.
ea vol: 32p. (Cultural Traditions in My World). ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. maps. notes. photos. reprods. websites. Crabtree. 2014. lib. ed $26.60; pap $8.95.
Gr 3-5– Readers will enjoy these attractive updates in an existing series that tackles holidays and customs from around the world (previous books include Brazil, Mexico, China, and Japan, and SLJ described the series as “broad synopses in clear-cut terms”). The books are well designed, with plenty of photos and a large font. Some of the holidays may not be particularly enlightening from a cultural standpoint (for instance, Canada discusses Labor Day, and France has a section on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, holidays that likely won’t be new to most readers), but there’s plenty of other content that students will find useful and enjoyable. Those looking to add a few more countries to their holiday or cultural collections should take note of these informative offerings.
BAILEY , Gerry. Alone in the Arctic. ISBN 9780778704287; ISBN 9780778704348.
––––. Dry in the Desert. ISBN 9780778704294; ISBN 9780778704355.
––––. Stranded on an Island. ISBN 9780778704300; ISBN 9780778704362.
––––. Swept Away by the Storm. ISBN 9780778704317; ISBN 9780778704379.
––––. Tangled in the Rainforest. ISBN 9780778704324; ISBN 9780778704386.
––––. Trapped on the Rock. ISBN 9780778704331; ISBN 9780778704393.
ea vol: 32p. (Science to the Rescue: Can Science Save Your Life?). further reading. glossary. illus. index. notes. photos. websites. Crabtree. 2014. lib. ed $27.60; pap $9.95.
Gr 3-5– A cartoon character named Joe introduces each of these survival books, discussing how he managed to endure being swept away at sea or lost in the rainforest, all through his scientific know-how. Sidebars briefly discuss Joe’s journey and how he became endangered, while the accompanying spreads discuss what he saw (animals at sea, such as sharks and humpback whales) and what put him in danger (a hurricane). The books breakdown the science, discussing where waves come from and why the sea is salty. Students looking for genuine survival tales, replete with tips, may long for books with a bit more danger, but there is some solid science on offer, presented through a fairly creative lens.
Gr 2-4– This new series offers a somewhat meta discussion of various forms and genres of literature. Definitions and explanations are brief but informative, with illustrated examples along the way—Nonfiction Genres includes a photo of Loree Griffin Burns’s Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey (2014), while Graphic Novels includes a spread from Na Liu and Andrew Vera Martinez’s Little White Duck (2012, both Lerner). A colorful but pared down layout adds to the charm, and the books all end with suggested activities. Concise works ideal for units on introducing the concept of genres or types of literature.
Gr 3-5– This new series offers profiles of some lesser-known originators of well-known creations (with the exception of Jacques Cousteau). The book designs may not grab kids, but they should be engaged by these intriguing choices of subjects. Librarians looking to beef up biography sections or supplement curricular units have some solid and well-written, if not groundbreaking, choices here.
Gr 1-3 –With a huge font size, a simple yet appealing layout, and large images, these continuing books in this attractive series can’t miss. SLJ said of previous series titles that they “[do] a good job of covering the basics” and “[offer] a solid opportunity to start introducing nonfiction features.” Attractive, clear photos are action packed, informative, and, at times, adorable (expect baby animals galore!), and the text, while simple, is appropriate to young audiences, discussing these animals’ body parts, life cycles, and eating habits. Rudimentary but clear diagrams are a nice plus.
K-Gr 1– These introductions to science cover the most basic of information in ways that young readers will find easy and fun. Colorful designs with a large, readable font and tons of fun photos featuring young children in action are easy on the eyes, while the content is broken down into bite-size portions, ideal for those new to such concepts as density or absorpency. The titles all start off the same way: with a brief definition of “matter,” “mass,” and “property.” Concise explanations (“Matter is anything that takes up space and has mass”; “Mass is the amount of material in an object”) are ideal for readers with a limited science background. Short and sweet, these are solid overviews.
Gr 2-4– These continuations in Cavendish’s hands-on guide to animals (previous titles include Ants, Beetles, and Grasshoppers, which SLJ described as “valuable resources for teachers planning natural-history field trips”) offer rudimentary information on various species. Readers get the basics on the usual: body parts, life cycles, what these creatures eat, and more, but what sets these books apart is their proposed projects. For instance, Fireflies provides ideas for activities, such as communicating with the insects (with a penlight, some paper, and a jar) and reporting sightings to the Boston Museum of Science. Though the layout is a bit lacking (a ton of text on each page may prove daunting to younger students), overall these are enjoyable and informative takes on science.
STEWART , Melissa. Zoom in on Bees. ISBN 9780766042100. LC 2012040386.
Pres-Gr 1– Enslow continues to “Zoom in,” this time focusing on insects (previous series have centered on “Body Invaders,” “Crime Scenes,” and “Bizarre Bugs”). Stewart breaks down these bugs part by part, providing basic information on antennae, legs, wings, eyes, as well as on their life cycles and habitats, relying upon sparse text ideal for young readers and a colorful, eye-catching layout. Though quality of the photos varies, for the most part, these close-up images will engage children–particularly Grasshoppers and Dragonflies.
Grades 5 Up
Gr 4-6– Four additional titles in this series that includes Gary Paulsen, Kate DiCamillo, Jeff Kinney, and Rick Riordan (and that SLJ previously described as “an engaging, informative, and interesting resource”) tackle some more beloved writers. Though the books are light on illustrations and images, with a somewhat lackluster layout and design, readers should find the text easy and accessible. The detailed back matter makes this set ideal for report writers; it includes a word of advice to students about research and separates out further reading into “print articles,” “online sources,” and books about the writing process. Given Walter Dean Myers’s recent passing, librarians may wish to hold off on purchasing this biography until updates can be made to future editions.
Gr 5-8– Through fresh, well-done reproductions, these books present overviews of specific moments from the Civil Rights Movement. The black, white, and red design give the books a slick, professional look, and the images are well chosen, including both moments from demonstrations and protests as well as examples of victory (President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act into law as Martin Luther King Jr. and others look on). Though not quite as personal or innovative as Capstone’s Little Rock Girl (2012), these books nonetheless provide a nuanced, well-organized perspective on the time period.
Gr 4-6– This socially conscious new series addresses the potential issues and concerns with the foods and objects we consume, such as the rights and safety of workers and the negative implications for the environment. Though the books cover some difficult subjects, they do so tastefully and without sensationalizing, and the colorful but uncluttered designs should hold readers’ attention. A solid introduction to the more unsavory side of capitalism.
Gr 6-10– This series that profiles well-known businesses (previous books include The Story of Google, The Story of Microsoft, The Story of Amazon, and The Story of Nike, which SLJ called “interesting and well written”) continues with some more winners. Though books on corporate America sound like a hard sell, the large, attractive photos and beautiful design will pull in readers, and these companies—focusing on music, movies, and social media—have a fairly high “cool” quotient. Well written and well organized, the text flows smoothly, providing comprehensive coverage.
Gr 5-8– Stewart continues with a topic near and dear to devotees of the 590s, once more providing both fascinating and well-written facts and some truly arresting images. Scientific material on each species is offered, along with pop cultural and historical information. Fans of previous books in this series, such as Sea Lions and Piranhas (both of which SLJ called “remarkable for their clear information and exceptional photography”) and Bats, Crocodiles, and Killer Whales will flock to these new entries. Thorough in scope and elegant in design, these stellar titles will attract the browser and the report writer alike.
Gr 6-10– These creative books use a pleasantly unusual angle to show how aspects of nature can inspire scientists and engineers. For instance, some scientists, inspired by the way a gecko’s feet allow it to stick to surfaces, are attempting to create an adhesive tape using the structure of the lizard’s foot. High-resolution photographs and a dark black and purple layout give the books a slick, stylish look, while the narrative is both fascinating and informative. Intriguing additions to science collections.
Gr 3-6– With their pink-infused covers, these titles that focus on women’s contributions to various fields positively scream, “girl power.” (Previous series books include Military, Sports, Business, and Entertainment.) The books each offer a history of women in the profession, as well as short profiles of various women (such as Regina Benjamin, the 18th U.S. surgeon general, and Jackie Lacey, the first female and African American to serve as the Los Angeles County district attorney). Readable text, with tons of quotes from a variety of women in different occupations, will appeal to readers, though the organization gives it limited use for reports or essays.
Gr 7 Up– These books provide descriptions of various law enforcement careers, providing history and discussing tools of the trade. Some historical information on the various organizations is included as well—for instance, ATF includes a section on Eliot Ness, who during Prohibition was tasked with enforcing anti-liquor laws and who captured Al Capone. The titles also offer some direct, practical advice that goes beyond generic descriptions: how to get started, preparation and education, and benefits and salary.