June 19, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

21 Series for Crafters and Maker Spaces

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There’s a lot of wisdom to be gained from craft books. Each title in ABDO’s “Cool Makerspace” series, reviewed below, starts with these precepts: “Have a plan. Ask for permission. Be respectful. Keep your space clean. Expect mistakes and be creative!” Capstone’s “First Facts: Curious Scientists” cautions, “Read through each activity before starting. Collect all of the materials that you will need. Experiments can be tricky. Be sure to ask for help if you need it”—valuable advice. But what else do readers learn from activity books? As they work back and forth between text instructions and illustrations, they practice synthesizing information. And as their eyes seek the next step, they learn to automatically sort content using typographic or numerical clues. It’s vital to keep craft and activity collections fresh—the skills featured within are essential for young people.

Elementary

Bernhardt, Carolyn. Engineer It! Bridge Projects. ISBN 9781532111228.

––––. Engineer It! Canal Projects. ISBN 9781532111235.

––––. Engineer It! Dam Projects. ISBN 9781532111242.

––––. Engineer It! Road Projects. ISBN 9781532111259.

––––. Engineer It! Skyscraper Projects. ISBN 9781532111266.

––––. Engineer It! Tunnel Projects. ISBN 9781532111273.

ea vol: 32p. (Super Simple Engineering Projects). glossary. photos. ABDO. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $27.07.

Gr 1-4 –Six projects per volume illustrate engineering principles by having students create models out of ordinary materials. Straws, plastic bins, cardboard, and a lot of duct tape are all pressed into service. Key concepts are explained clearly in introductory matter with well-chosen photos and graphics. These books are a trifle uneven; for instance, the projects in Road require a lot of setup (as many as 15 steps) for a negligible payoff, and those in Tunnel require a lot of balancing and wedging in order to work. While the reading level and conceptual level of these projects are suitable for elementary schoolers, the skill level for executing them is higher, making them more appropriate as family or team projects. Skyscraper is the standout title; once kids have made a structure out of pretzels and Nutella and then destroyed it with an apple wrecking ball, they get to eat the rubble! VERDICT Consider Skyscraper and select the other titles as needed.

Bolte, Mari. Draw Amazing Animal Mash-Ups. illus. by Alan Brown. ISBN 9781515769361.

––––. Draw Astonishing Warrior Mash-Ups. illus. by Raphael Kan-J. ISBN 9781515769378.

––––. Draw Scary Monster Mash-Ups. illus. by Stefano Azzalin. ISBN 9781515769354.

––––. Draw Wild Robot Mash-Ups. illus. by Loic Billiau. ISBN 9781515769347.

ea vol: 32p. (Drawing Mash-Ups). further reading. websites. Capstone. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $27.99.

Gr 3-6 –The cartoonish but detailed comic book–style and the use of vivid colors will give this series of drawing books immense shelf appeal—and kids will not be disappointed. All that’s required to convincingly duplicate the 13 chimerical combos in each book is a minimum of drafting or copying skill. Each drawing builds in six steps using volumetric construction shapes—big ovals for bodies and limbs and small circles for joints. This provides draftsmen with the opportunity to pose each creature to suit the scene they want to create. The wealth of ideas—a samurai dinosaur, a chicken knight, a squid chef—will inspire artists to take their own doodles up an imaginative notch. It’s a challenge to adapt body parts from various creatures so that they fit together, to stretch costumes designed for humans so that they fit animals, or to blend machine parts with living bodies. VERDICT Great to browse, even better to draw. This series is a winner for upper elementary schoolers.

Chenevert, Pam. Make It Yourself! Paper Pop-Up Art. ISBN 9781532110719.

Coss, Kelly. Make It Yourself! Bots & Circuits. ISBN 9781532110665.

Hove, Carol. Make It Yourself! Collages & Sculptures. ISBN 9781532110672.

––––. Make It Yourself! From Junk to Jewelry. ISBN 9781532110702.

Polinsky, Paige V. Make It Yourself! Coloring & Doodling. ISBN 9781532110689.

Schneider, Christa. Make It Yourself! Comics & Graphic Novels. ISBN 9781532110696.

ea vol: 32p. (Cool Makerspace). glossary. index. photos. websites. ABDO. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $28.50.

Gr 3-6 –This smart-looking series featuring very detailed instructions (as many as 24 steps per project) and clear photos of hands demonstrating the actions (drawing, folding, holding tools) will tempt readers to try something new. The five to eight projects per volume advance in complexity, so there is something for beginners and experienced crafters alike. It’s somewhat of a stretch to bill these as maker space projects—most are garden-variety crafts with a little bit of framing advice about collaboration, respect, and shared tools. However, there’s an emphasis on planning that many craft books do not include and on learning techniques that are easily applied to projects of crafters’ own design. Materials are drawn from standard craft and household items. VERDICT The stellar titles in this attractive series are Comics & Graphic Novels and Paper Pop-Up Art, while the projects in Bots & Circuits are hard to follow and are found in other books.

Deering, Alison. Fish and Fowl: Easy and Awesome Sandwiches for Kids. ISBN 9781515739203.

––––. Hold the Meat: Vegetarian Sandwiches for Kids. ISBN 9781515739197.

––––. More Meat Please!: Delicious Sandwiches for Meat-Eating Kids. ISBN 9781515739210.

ea vol: illus. by Bob Lentz. 48p. (Between the Bread). chron. further reading. websites. Capstone. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $31.32.

Gr 3-6 –Anyone can slap a piece of baloney and cheese between two slices of bread and call it lunch. But make a sandwich with Brie, salami, or hot mustard and you’ve got a standout meal. This is cooking without any of the intimidating parts—great for easing kids into the kitchen and familiarizing them with tools, techniques, vocabulary, and ingredients. These sandwiches make good use of leftovers and other refrigerator remnants, and many include instructions for making condiments and sauces such as pesto, tzatziki, and hummus. Recipes that encourage experimentation grant kids autonomy and agency in feeding themselves. Peppy cartoon illustrations, informal conversational language, and legitimately fascinating facts are a good match for the subject. Readers will learn a surprising amount of history, especially about immigration and the popularization of certain ingredients, while building their bread-based lunch. VERDICT Sandwiches are good stepping stones to “real” cooking, and these books make them fun. However, librarians may want to check out Deering and Lentz’s Sandwiches!, which compiles many of the recipes featured here into a single volume.

Ives, Rob. Fun Experiments with Electricity: Mini Robots, Micro Lightning Strikes, and More. ISBN 9781512432190.

––––. Fun Experiments with Forces and Motion: Hovercrafts, Rockets, and More. ISBN 9781512432176.

––––. Fun Experiments with Light: Periscopes, Kaleidoscopes, and More. ISBN 9781512432183.

––––. Fun Experiments with Matter: Invisible Ink, Giant Bubbles, and More. ISBN 9781512432169.

ea vol: illus. by Eva Sassin. 32p. (Amazing Science Experiments). diag. glossary. illus. index. photos. Hungry Tomato. Oct. 2017. lib. ed. $26.65.

Gr 3-6 –Clear diagrams guide readers through the nine to 12 projects found in each of these books. A good mix of old favorites (cornstarch slime and a homopolar motor) are featured along with some neat new tricks (a lens made of ice and coffee filter chromatography). Occasional inconsistent language use (joss stick vs. incense stick in Forces and thumbtack vs. drawing pin in Electricity) reflects the series’s British origin and could lead to confusion. The series is better for the simpler experiments, as the instructions sometimes miss a beat—the origami airplane in Forces is extremely complicated to make, so much so that even the photo of the finished plane looks bunchy and uneven. Best for classroom or club use, as students will need to tinker and adjust to achieve success with some of these projects. VERDICT For schools and libraries with a large budget for STEM activity book series.

Iyer, Rani. Amazing Life Science Activities. ISBN 9781515768869; ISBN 9781515768920.

––––. Eye-Opening Earth Science Activities. ISBN 9781515768852; ISBN 9781515768913.

Smibert, Angie. Exciting Engineering Activities. ISBN 9781515768845; ISBN 9781515768906.

––––. Mind-Blowing Physical Science Activities. ISBN 9781515768876; ISBN 9781515768937.

ea vol: 24p. (First Facts: Curious Scientists). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Capstone. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $25.32. pap. $7.95.

Gr 1-3 –Visually interesting, simple science activities for lower grade levels. There are a few oldies but goodies here (rubber egg, bending water with a charged balloon, etc.) and enough unusual projects to make this series worth consideration. Though librarians should first check the materials list—a few projects require specialty supplies like magnetic powder or Epsom salts. Neat “How It Works” sidebars add pedagogic content. Kids can make a geode in an eggshell or re-create the rock cycle using crayon shavings. And if the moldy bread experiment in Life Science doesn’t convince kids to wash their hands before touching food, what will? ­VERDICT Ideal for science classrooms or clubs.

Owen, Ruth. I Can Build a Fort! ISBN 9781499483444; ISBN 9781499483505.

––––. I Can Grow a Garden! ISBN 9781499483451; ISBN 9781499483512.

––––. I Can Have a Yard Sale! ISBN 9781499483468; ISBN 9781499483529.

––––. I Can Start a Band! ISBN 9781499483475; ISBN 9781499483536.

––––. I Can Start a Business! ISBN 9781499483482; ISBN 9781499483543.

––––. I Can Throw a Party! ISBN 9781499483499; ISBN 9781499483550.

ea vol: 32p. (Kids Can Do It!). glossary. index. photos. websites. Windmill. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $28.50. pap. $11.75.

Gr 3-5 –Bright colors and a collagelike layout with lots of asymmetrical, non-square graphic elements add energy to this upbeat, idea-filled series. Positivity rules, as kids learn about seven different small businesses they could start, five kinds of plants they could grow, and any number of activities that teach new skills, expand knowledge, or reduce waste. Fort and Garden go to some length to show these activities to be accessible even to kids with minimal outdoor space or resources (start seeds in yogurt cups or build forts out of chairs and blankets). Detailed instructions include steps for planning and getting permission, and emphasize teamwork. Business, Yard Sale, and Garden encourage writing, design, and math skills, while Party and Fort are fun but less relevant. The instructions in Band that “A song can also be a simple expression of joy!” are a bit vague. VERDICT Peppy ways to reinforce good habits while prompting elementary schoolers to try something new.

Owen, Ruth. Make Origami Amphibians. ISBN 9781499433456; ISBN 9781499433517.

––––. Make Origami Birds. ISBN 9781499433463; ISBN 9781499433524.

––––. Make Origami Fish. ISBN 9781499433470; ISBN 9781499433531.

––––. Make Origami Insects and Spiders. ISBN 9781499433487; ISBN 9781499433548.

––––. Make Origami Mammals. ISBN 9781499433494; ISBN 9781499433555.

––––. Make Origami Reptiles. ISBN 9781499433500; ISBN 9781499433562.

ea vol: 32p. (Animal Kingdom Origami). glossary. index. photos. websites. PowerKids. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $27.50. pap. $11.75.

Gr 2-4 –Well-lit photos with enough shadow so that readers can clearly see the dimensionality of the paper models make the instructions in this series unusually easy to follow. And there are lots of them, as many as a dozen steps, each with a picture and curved and dotted arrows to show the direction of folds. There is some accompanying informational content about each animal—bright images of interesting or adorable critters add liveliness to the layouts. Pastel backgrounds and darker borders in a crumpled paper texture unify the pages of each project and don’t distract from what’s important. VERDICT Clear, easy-to-follow instructions distinguish this series for younger folders.

Powell, Jillian. Craft Like the Ancient Egyptians. ISBN 9781499433654; ISBN 9781499433692.

––––. Craft Like the Ancient Greeks. ISBN 9781499433661; ISBN 9781508155980.

––––. Craft Like the Ancient Romans. ISBN 9781499433678; ISBN 9781499433708.

––––. Craft Like the Tudors. ISBN 9781499433685; ISBN 9781499433715.

ea vol: 32p. (Craft Box). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. PowerKids. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $27.50. pap. $11.75.

Gr 3-6 –A cute way to explore a time period through its material culture—12 items per volume, such as costumes, games, and toys, are outlined in simple steps with accompanying photos. Informative sidebars offer trivia tidbits: Did you know that the second story of Tudor homes was wider than the first in order to minimize the amount of ground rent assessed? Some caveats: many of these crafts have been simplified by reducing the number and types of materials used and, in some cases, by glossing over steps. Few precise measurements are included and there are no templates, which occasionally results in a flimsy or awkward finished product. Surface prep and cleanup instructions are not included, and many projects rely heavily on artistic talent. Readers are advised to search online for images and motifs with which to decorate a Roman fresco and an Egyptian sarcophagus, scarab, or amulet. VERDICT Best for classroom use, as a fun adjunct to literature or social studies content.

Suen, Anastasia. Birthday Gifts. ISBN 9781683423751; ISBN 9781683428848.

––––. Father’s Day Gifts. ISBN 9781683423720; ISBN 9781683428817.

––––. Holiday Gifts. ISBN 9781683423768; ISBN 9781683428855.

––––. Mother’s Day Gifts. ISBN 9781683423737; ISBN 9781683428824.

––––. Valentine’s Day Gifts. ISBN 9781683423744; ISBN 9781683428831.

ea vol: 32p. (Craft It!). glossary. index. photos. websites. Rourke. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $32.79. pap. $9.95.

PreS-Gr 3 –Little kids remain the most prolific makers of all. Without access to income or even allowance, and allowed a great deal of aesthetic leeway in their finished products, young kids need and want to make things to give to all of the great people in their lives. Using this series, they can decorate premade picture frames, shape and decorate salt dough, and learn how to stamp and glue their way into the hearts of family, friends, and teachers. Steps are numbered and formatted vertically so that they’ll be easy to follow. Most projects include a planning step—always a good habit. Photos are large and attractive; the layout is appealing and clean. These projects rely neither on drawing talent nor a steady hand, but rather on pleasing arrangements and some neatness. VERDICT A stress-free option for classroom or club use in the lower grades.

Suen, Anastasia. Circuitry and Electronics. ISBN 9781683423782; ISBN 9781683428879.

––––. Craft and Design 3-D. ISBN 9781683423805; ISBN 9781683428893.

––––. Moving Machines. ISBN 9781683423799; ISBN 9781683428886.

––––. Video Animation and Photography. ISBN 9781683423812; ISBN 9781683428909.

ea vol: 32p. (Make It!). glossary. index. photos. websites. Rourke. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $32.79. pap. $9.95.

Gr 3-6 –The projects in STEM activity books often function solely as concept demonstrations and do not result in durable, useful, or fun creations. By contrast, the five projects in each volume of this series are attractive (LEGO monogram in Craft and Design), handy (DIY touch screen gloves in Circuitry), or undeniably cool (an airboat in Moving Machines). Not incidentally, they provide visual and kinetic demonstrations of key scientific principles, demystifying everyday magic like touch screens, electricity, and motion. The concepts build in complexity along with the projects—simple assembly jobs using LEGO lead to 3-D printing projects in Craft and Design 3-D, while rubber bands give way to littleBits components in Moving Machines. Video Animation and Photography is particularly good, quickly explaining key elements of filmmaking, such as action and reaction, establishing shots, and lighting while teaching good planning exercises that don’t overwhelm or take the fun out of the process. A clean design with lots of white space and limited sidebars lets the projects take center stage. VERDICT Great rainy-day home projects that help kids learn by doing, easily adapted to club, school, or program use.

Yates, Jane. Cool Crafts with Cans. ISBN 9781499482799; ISBN 9781499482850.

––––. Cool Crafts with Cardboard. ISBN 9781499482805; ISBN 9781499482867.

––––. Cool Crafts with Cloth. ISBN 9781499482812; ISBN 9781499482874.

––––. Cool Crafts with Glass. ISBN 9781499482829; ISBN 9781499482881.

––––. Cool Crafts with Paper. ISBN 9781499482836; ISBN 9781499482898.

––––. Cool Crafts with Plastic. ISBN 9781499482843; ISBN 9781499482904.

ea vol: 32p. (Don’t Throw It Away…Craft It!). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Windmill. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $28.50. pap. $11.75.

Gr 3-6 –What are crafters if not thrifty? They’d rather weave a place mat than buy one, or they think a homemade snow globe beats one from a souvenir stand any day. So using castoff or recyclable items as materials is a perfect match. Each volume in this series starts off with prep and safety methods, along with broadly applicable techniques—how to make papier-mâché glue, sew a backstitch, or get rid of sticky label residue—before marching through instructions for 11 or 12 decorative or useful projects. Sidebar information includes facts about consumption and recycling for each type of material and ideas for variations. “Come up with your own creation using the examples as inspiration,” is a frequent sentiment. Some projects will be familiar (paper beads, sock puppet), but the sheer volume of ideas makes this series worthwhile. VERDICT Lots of options for making satisfying use of surplus or discarded items for eco-conscious crafters.

Middle to High School

Beaumont, Steve. How To Draw Dark Fantasy Art. ISBN 9781499466690; ISBN 9781499466720.

––––. How To Draw Epic Fantasy Art. ISBN 9781499466706; ISBN 9781499466737.

––––. How To Draw Gothic Fantasy Art. ISBN 9781499466713; ISBN 9781499466744.

––––. How To Draw Weird Fantasy Art. ISBN 9781508175940; ISBN 9781508175957.

ea vol: 48p. (Creating Fantasy Art). further reading. glossary. index. photos. Rosen YA. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $31.75. pap. $11.75.

Gr 7 Up –A text-heavy, extremely detailed instructional series. Beaumont proposes that students who enjoy drawing and are fans of fantasy will be most attracted to these books. They will benefit from the clear demonstrations of figure drawing and unusually good further reading recommendations. Like many illustrators, the author has well-informed opinions about art tools and materials, and while the bulk of the series focuses on analog processes, it also includes detailed descriptions of using Adobe Photoshop to add color and texture. VERDICT Tabletop and online gamers with a talent for art will eat these up.

Bolte, Mari. Bit by Bit: Projects for Your Odds and Ends. ISBN 9781515773757.

––––. Bought in Bulk: Projects for Surplus Supplies. ISBN 9781515773764.

––––. Create and Keep: Projects To Hang On To. ISBN 9781515773733.

––––. Share the Love: Projects You’ll Love To Give. ISBN 9781515773740.

ea vol: 32p. (Project Passion). further reading. photos. websites. Capstone. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $27.99.

Gr 4-8 –It’s refreshing to see a craft series that acknowledges two of the less popular realities of crafting—flimsy or unattractive finished projects and the ever-expanding proliferation of leftover materials. The 16 to 19 projects in each of these books function more as jumping-off points than formulas to be followed word-for-word. Crafters can cover plastic eggs with glitter as the instructions suggest or use beads and sequins—whatever little sparkly things they have lots of. However, sometimes this lack of specificity could lead to heartbreak, as when a twisted and rolled chenille stem craft begins to unravel because the directions merely called for “glue” instead of specifying a type of glue. But by and large, readers will find easy, medium, and challenging new uses for ribbon ends, leftover clay, extra casting resin, old crayons, and the like. And as promised, the results will be objects to keep. VERDICT Tweens can make a bracelet or decorate a picture frame while reusing and recycling. Consider for large collections.

Boone, Mary. Hair Hacks: Your Tresses Troubles Solved! ISBN 9781515768296.

––––. Nail, Hand, and Feet Hacks: Your Nail Nuisances Solved! ISBN 9781515768302.

Rissman, Rebecca. Fashion Hacks: Your Fashion Failures Solved! ISBN 9781515768272.

––––. Makeup and Skin Hacks: Your Skin Situations Solved! ISBN 9781515768289.

ea vol: 48p. (Beauty Hacks). further reading. photos. Capstone. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $31.32.

Gr 5-8 –It is especially important that beauty books—which are by definition about appearance—include a diverse array of models. This series features dark- and light-skinned African American girls, Latina girls, and a girl in a hijab on the cover of Makeup and Skin. Oddly, many of the models appear older than the target audience, with even a few tattoos making an appearance, although this may only increase the appeal. And unfortunately, much of the information and many of the hacks presented read like rehashed magazine sidebars. There are a few kitchen recipes for cleansing and moisturizing, a DIY solution for stretching too-tight shoes, and one legitimately practical chart showing what the various types of hair dryers are actually useful for. VERDICT This series for tweens and young teens is valuable more for its design and inclusivity than its content.

Canavan, Thomas. Awesome Experiments with Living Things. ISBN 9781538207406; ISBN 9781538207468.

––––. Cool Experiments with Heat and Cold. ISBN 9781538207413; ISBN 9781538207512.

––––. Excellent Experiments with Electricity and Magnetism. ISBN 9781538207420; ISBN 9781538207505.

––––. Fantastic Experiments with Forces. ISBN 9781538207437; ISBN 9781538207499.

––––. Magnificent Experiments with Materials. ISBN 9781538207444; ISBN 9781538207482.

––––. Super Experiments with Light and Sound. ISBN 9781538207451; ISBN 9781538207475.

ea vol: illus. by Adam Linley. 32p. (Mind-Blowing Science Experiments). glossary. index. photos. websites. Gareth Stevens. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $26.60. pap. $10.50.

Gr 4-7 –Exceptionally clear instructions are laid out in panels, almost like a comic strip—reducing the chance of error in these simple experiments. Readers will make milk turn into a plastic or demonstrate Boyle’s law by lifting a stack of books with just their breath. Some projects require patience, as when seeds need to germinate or an eggshell dissolves in vinegar, and many are more easily executed with a buddy or two, making these solid classroom or club choices. No specialty materials are required, and the illustrations show kids following steps. Sidebars provide specific information about the concepts at work, from Bernoulli’s principle to osmosis to torque, and offer real-world examples. Perhaps most important: each experiment comes with suggested variations and next steps, inviting readers to predict results and then test their hypotheses. VERDICT A top-notch STEM-focused activity series for upper elementary and middle students.

Hardyman, Robyn. Aircraft. ISBN 9781 626177079.

––––. Birds. ISBN 9781626177086.

––––. Dinosaurs. ISBN 9781626177093.

––––. Farm Animals. ISBN 9781626177109.

––––. Holidays. ISBN 9781626177116.

––––. Jungle Animals. ISBN 9781626177123.

––––. Ocean Animals. ISBN 9781626177130.

––––. Pets. ISBN 9781626177147.

ea vol: 24p. (Origami Fun). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Bellwether. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $25.95.

Gr 4-7 –Satisfy your enthusiastic paper folders with the eight models presented in each volume of this series. All the details that lead to origami success are here—the paper size is specified for each project, text instructions are augmented with small but abundant photos of the model at every stage, and there’s a key to notation and visual glossary of standard folds at the front of each book. A few sentences introduce each model to provide information about the animal, holiday, or machine being built but don’t get too bogged down in specifics. Similarly, the graph paper background and the palette of primary colors keep things clean and streamlined. An unobtrusive arrow helps readers navigate from one numbered step to the next. VERDICT Lots of options, clearly presented for upper elementary and middle schoolers.

Heneghan, Judith. Gardening. ISBN 9781 499434255; ISBN 9781499434316.

Hubbard, Suzie. Photography. ISBN 9781 499434279; ISBN 9781499434330.

Marland, Jane. Sewing. ISBN 9781 499434286; ISBN 9781499434347.

Marshall, Katie. Baking. ISBN 9781 499434231; ISBN 9781499434293.

Rochester, Kate. Drawing. ISBN 9781 499434248; ISBN 9781499434309.

Scott, Sophie. Knitting. ISBN 9781 499434262; ISBN 9781499434323.

ea vol: 32p. (Hobby Time!). glossary. index. photos. websites. PowerKids. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $27.50. pap. $11.75.

Gr 4-7 –Among other benefits, craft books offer great practice for visual literacy and print concepts. Well-designed instructions will reinforce the practice of reading across and then down, and offer visual clues like colors, borders, and graphics for visually distinguishing sidebars and materials lists from procedural writing. This series is a terrific example of all that done right. In addition, it passes the ultimate litmus test for craft instructions—the casting method in Knitting. (Close-up diagrams and useful analogies—“make a little bridge” with the yarn—improve the odds of successfully completing this difficult, abstract process.) Other books combine well-written instructions, digital illustrations, and one photo of each of the 10 to 12 projects per volume. Photography, Gardening, and Sewing rise to the top, while Briticisms in Baking somewhat hinder usage. VERDICT Look past the plain covers to find unusually good instructions for beginning to intermediate crafters.

Olson, Elsie. Are You Psychic?: Facts, Trivia, and Quizzes. ISBN 9781512434163.

––––. Astrological Signs: Facts, Trivia, and Quizzes. ISBN 9781512434156.

––––. Dreams and What They Mean: Facts, Trivia, and Quizzes. ISBN 9781512434170.

––––. Memory Fun: Facts, Trivia, and Quizzes. ISBN 9781512434187.

Potts, Francesca. Left Brain, Right Brain: Facts, Trivia, and Quizzes. ISBN 9781512434149.

––––. What’s Your Personality?: Facts, Trivia, and Quizzes. ISBN 9781512434132.

ea vol: 32p. (Mind Games). illus. index. photos. websites. Lerner. Nov. 2017. lib. ed. $27.99.

Gr 5-8 –Tweens will learn more about a likely fascinating subject—themselves! In one lazy afternoon, young people can evaluate their memory, discover their Myers-Briggs personality type, and find out just how well they know their closest friends. Plenty of fact and theory go along with the pencil exercises, memory challenges, and games to play with groups. Readers will pick up vocabulary like telekinesis and clairvoyance and learn about thinkers like Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Cool black-and-white brush and ink doodles give the design an edgy feel, and stock photos show a diverse cast of children and families, often in outdoor settings. Personality, Memory, and Left Brain, Right Brain contain the most entertaining activities, while Astrological Signs is perhaps the weakest of the bunch, with quizzes that seem to yield arbitrary results. VERDICT This series is going to be very popular in middle school libraries.

Potter, William. Drawing Classic Heroes. ISBN 9781508154648; ISBN 9781508154709.

––––. Drawing Cosmic Heroes. ISBN 9781508154655; ISBN 9781508154716.

––––. Drawing Dangerous Villains. ISBN 9781508154662; ISBN 9781508154723.

––––. Drawing Monstrous Heroes. ISBN 9781508154679; ISBN 9781508154730.

––––. Drawing Mystical Heroes. ISBN 9781508154686; ISBN 9781508154747.

––––. Drawing Urban Heroes. ISBN 9781508154693; ISBN 9781508154754.

ea vol: illus. by Juan Calle. 32p. (Ultimate Comic Art). further reading. glossary. index. websites. PowerKids. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $27.50. pap. $11.75.

Gr 5-8 –An enormous amount of practical instruction finds its way into this deceptively entertaining series. Kids can learn how to draw landscapes and objects using two- and even three-point perspective, how to write dialogue neatly, and much more as they duplicate the all-original villains and heroes featured in the books. In each title, a sketchy story emerges as the characters and settings are defined, and then drawn together in action panels and one big splash page. Drawings demonstrate how to choose an optimal point of view for scenes and show the ways that eyebrows and mouths can be manipulated to indicate fear, sadness, or surprise. Hands and gestures, textures, weapons, even vehicles get their due in this knockout series. VERDICT Tweens and young teens interested in sequential art will glean loads of terrific tips.

Wutschke, Heather. Bright and Happy Room: DIY Projects for a Fun Bedroom. ISBN 9781515740117.

––––. Glam and Gorgeous Room: DIY Projects for a Stylish Bedroom. ISBN 9781515740094.

––––. Sweet and Dreamy Room: DIY Projects for a Cozy Bedroom. ISBN 9781515740100.

ea vol: 32p. (Room Love). further reading. photos. websites. Capstone. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $27.32.

Gr 5-8 –Inspire middle schoolers to transform a space with the 13 easy-to-medium projects included in each book of this series. None of the projects make use of special skills or difficult techniques, and materials are limited to inexpensive items, such as scrapbook paper, washi tape, and cardboard, providing potential crafters with many means of self-expression. They can make a dream jar (just a labeled, decorated Mason jar) or stencil a chest of drawers. In many cases, however, truly striking results will require a good eye for aesthetics, not to mention a steady hand. Though readers should not be put off by the graceful design and pastel colors—all of these projects are highly adaptable. A few tweaks to the color scheme and content and crafters can have a punk rock room, an anime wonderland, or a goth paradise. VERDICT Win over avid accessorizers with this series.


Using craft and activity books, students turn reading instructions into real-world objects that they can touch, move, and learn from. Give readers the opportunity to translate their literacy skills into gifts, drawings, decorations, experiments, and even food. For this, librarians should check out Gareth Stevens’s “Mind-Blowing Science Experiments,” Capstone’s “Drawing Mash-Ups,” and Rourke’s “Make It!.” Because as Gareth Stevens’s Excellent Experiments with Electricity and Magnetism puts it, “You can understand some scientific principles more easily if you try them out in real life. The science might be complicated, but seeing it in action can be fascinating.”

Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson

This article was published in School Library Journal's November 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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