April 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

To the Moon and Back: STEM Series with High Interest

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The wonders of space and Earth are fabulously explored in this season’s general science selections. Accessible entry points for STEAM-focused study are provided via high-interest topics: astronaut robots, trapeze artists, and more. Collections that serve elementary and middle school students can’t go wrong with the following picks.

Elementary

Gallagher, Brigid. Exploring Meteor Showers. ISBN 9781515787372; ISBN 9781515787419.

Kenney, Karen Latchana. Exploring Auroras. ISBN 9781515787341; ISBN 9781515787389.

Latta, Sara L. Exploring Constellations. ISBN 9781515787358; ISBN 9781515787396.

Sherman, Jill. Exploring Eclipses. ISBN 9781515787365; ISBN 9781515787402.

ea vol: 32p. (Discover the Night Sky). charts. chron. diag. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Capstone. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $27.32. pap. $7.95.

Gr 2-5 –Taking a narrative approach (“Bright stars twinkle in the dark. Now watch—you are about to see the sky explode with color”), this rich series presents astronomy in an accessible manner kids and adults will appreciate. In each title, detailed text and vibrant digital images work together seamlessly; the choice of a serif font makes for an easy reading experience. Footnotes guide students through unfamiliar terms, and historical context is provided through “Did you know” callouts and a time line of notable events. Educators will appreciate the critical thinking questions and the nonfiction text features, including an eclipse calendar, covering 2018–22, in Exploring Eclipses. VERDICT A first purchase for elementary astronomy collections.

Hansen, Grace. Asteroids & Meteoroids. ISBN 9781532100499.

––––. Comets. ISBN 9781532100505.

––––. The Milky Way. ISBN 9781532100529.

––––. The Moon. ISBN 9781532100536.

––––. Stars. ISBN 9781532100512.

––––. The Sun. ISBN 9781532100543.

ea vol: 24p. (Our Galaxy). diag. glossary. index. photos. websites. ABDO. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $28.50.

Gr 1-3 –Younger readers eager to explore astronomy will enjoy this introductory set. Bright, detailed visuals take children on a journey across the universe. Since each title is well-organized for research, students should have no issue locating relevant information within the clean, colorful, and easy-to-navigate layouts. The texts are also kid-friendly (“It [the Moon] is just a little bit younger than Earth”). The “More Facts” page in each provides two to three bullet points of additional information to explore. VERDICT This series will circulate best in libraries in need of astronomy materials for younger elementary students.

Morey, Allan. Earth Satellites. ISBN 9781626176997; ISBN 9781618912824.

––––. The Hubble Space Telescope. ISBN 9781626177000; ISBN 9781618912831.

––––. The International Space Station. ISBN 9781626177017; ISBN 9781618912848.

––––. Lunar Probes. ISBN 9781626177024; ISBN 9781618912855.

––––. Mars Rovers. ISBN 9781626177031; ISBN 9781618912862.

––––. Robonauts. ISBN 9781626177048; ISBN 9781618912879.

––––. Rockets. ISBN 9781626177055; ISBN 9781618912886.

––––. Space Shuttles. ISBN 9781 626177062; ISBN 9781618912893.

ea vol: 24p. (Space Tech). diag. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Bellwether. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $25.95. pap. $7.99.

Gr 3-6 –In this hi-lo series, the title page of each book promises an “epic adventure.” Kids will be enticed by the saturated colors and lively fonts. While the amount of information on each page is brief, it highlights the very basics of the topic, and callouts are used effectively to explore additional concepts. For instance, in Robonauts readers learn about the tasks robonauts perform in space, while sidebars discuss NASA’s latest model (Valkyrie) and where robonauts’ batteries are located (in their backpacks). The layout, at times, is a little cluttered, but readers will stick around because of the energetic tone. Educators will appreciate the nonfiction text features, all of which are well done. VERDICT A fun romp through emergent technology for libraries seeking to expand their nonfiction hi-lo offerings.

Rivera, Andrea. Fossils. ISBN 9781532120435.

––––. Gems. ISBN 9781532120442.

––––. Minerals. ISBN 9781532120459.

––––. Ores. ISBN 9781532120466.

––––. Rocks. ISBN 9781532120473.

––––. Soils. ISBN 9781532120480.

ea vol: 24p. (Rocks and Minerals). glossary. index. photos. websites. ABDO. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $27.07.

K-Gr 2 –Simple text and colorful photos explore key areas of earth science while also making STEAM connections. Texts are well organized, as each volume breaks down the acronym of STEAM, dedicating two spreads to each letter. For example, in Ores the engineering section discusses how iron is used in building construction and the art section mentions jewelry making. A “Key Stats” page in each book provides a list of two or three additional facts. The design of the back matter in each title is lacking. The combination of green text against dark gray backgrounds makes for a somewhat difficult reading experience. VERDICT An additional purchase for earth science collections.

Middle to High School

Bodden, Valerie. 3-D Printers. ISBN 9781 532110870.

––––. Virtual-Reality Headsets. ISBN 9781 532110917.

––––. Wearable Technology. ISBN 9781 532110924.

Olson, Elsie. Drones. ISBN 9781532110894.

Zuchora-Walske, Christine. Bionic Eyes. ISBN 9781532110887.

––––. Self-Driving Cars. ISBN 9781532110900.

ea vol: 32p. (Modern Engineering Marvels). charts. chron. diag. glossary. illus. index. photos. websites. ABDO. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $27.07.

Gr 5-8 –Comprehensive and well researched, this colorful, organized series offers an abundance of qualitative information for middle schoolers. Throughout the titles, data is richly depicted via infographics, captioned photographs, illustrations, sidebars, and time lines. In addition, the texts are easily navigated with the help of a table of contents, labeled images, chapters, subheadings, and an index found in each book. Much of the content covers both the historical significance and the modern relevance of the subjects. The clean layout and occasional sidebars help to direct readers’ attention and communicate facts in a visually appealing and bright manner. VERDICT A must-have addition for collections exploring the maker movement and STEM topics or with a special interest in engineering.

Klepeis, Alicia Z. Hot Coal Walking, Hooping, and Other Mystifying Circus Science. ISBN 9781515772811.

Lusted, Marcia Amidon. Contortion, German Wheels, and Other Mind-Bending Circus Science. ISBN 9781515772828.

––––. Trapeze, Perch Poles, and Other High-Flying Circus Science. ISBN 9781515772842.

Mara, Wil. Fire Breathing, Sword Swallowing, and Other Death-Defying Circus Science. ISBN 9781515772835.

ea vol: 32p. (Circus Science). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Capstone. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $27.99.

Gr 5-8 –Step right up for an exciting glimpse into the inner workings of circus performances and wonders. In each book, information is presented very effectively and enticingly, with definitions provided at the bottom of their page and “Circus Fact” callouts. Photographs of the circus are aesthetically pleasing. An appropriately titled segment, “Don’t try this at home, try this instead,” suggests experiments for thrill-seeking readers to mimic the death-defying stunts featured but on a much smaller scale (e.g., a water bottle rocket as opposed to a human cannonball). Safety is also discussed throughout. Visual presentation is exceptional; titles are also well organized, with numerous nonfiction text features. VERDICT Highly recommended for libraries where science, entertainment, and the circus are popular.


Space-related topics figure widely this season. Capstone’s “Discover the Night Sky” and Bellwether’s “Space Tech” are both top-notch series for elementary students who can’t get enough of meteor showers, satellites, robonauts, and more. Back down to Earth, Capstone’s “Circus Science” presents STEM subjects with a great hook.

Doneanne Soult, WestamptonMiddle School, NJ

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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