February 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

8 Nonfiction Series from Smaller Publishers

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Elementary

Barnham, Kay. Feeling Jealous! ISBN 9781631982521.

––––. Feeling Sad! ISBN 9781631982538.

––––. Feeling Scared! ISBN 9781631982545.

––––. Feeling Shy! ISBN 9781631982569.

––––. Feeling Worried! ISBN 9781631982552.

Douglass, Katie. Feeling Angry! ISBN 9781631982514.

ea vol: illus. by Mike Gordon. 32p. (Everyday Feelings). further reading. Free Spirit. Sept. 2017. lib. ed. $12.99.

Gr 1-3 –Fictional narratives explore intense emotions and provide strategies for identifying and managing sources of stress. Each book follows a young child who encounters family members and friends exhibiting behavior associated with the titular feeling. The protagonists then offer sound advice, such as slowing down, compromising, and counting to 10 as well as teamwork, communication, and acceptance. The volumes are well paced and depict relatable scenarios (divorce, challenging schoolwork, and more). Gordon’s light palette nicely offsets the heavier subject matter. In spots, the artwork is reminiscent of Roz Chast’s oeuvre. Easy picks for collections in need of materials that emphasize social emotional learning.

Bodden, Valerie. Boxers. ISBN 9781608188970.

––––. Chihuahuas. ISBN 9781608188987.

––––. Dachshunds. ISBN 9781608188994.

––––. Pugs. ISBN 9781608189007.

ea vol: 24p. (Fetch!). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Creative Education. Jan. 2018. lib. ed. $29.95.

Gr 1-3 –Four more lovable, furry companions are introduced in this canine-focused series. Each title provides a brief breed profile, identifying physical traits, temperament, and typical pet-related maintenance. Each volume is upbeat (“Any lap makes a good seat.”). Some of the pop culture references are dated—for example, 1989’s The Adventures of Milo and Otis in Pugs. The main draw of the series is the photos. Clear images of cute pups playing are placed front and center in most of the spreads and will keep readers turning the pages. Accessible entries wherever animal books are popular.

Holland, Mary. Animal Ears. ISBN 9781607184522.

––––. Las orejas de los animales. ISBN 9781607184638.

ea vol: photos by Mary Holland. 32p. (Animal Anatomy and Adaptations). bibliog. Arbordale. Feb. 2018. pap. $9.95.

KGr 1 –Holland’s nature photography shines once again. Big images (taking up almost an entire spread) of animals and their respective ears introduce curious youngsters to how this organ keeps the featured reptiles, amphibians, insects, birds, and mammals alive. The photo of an owl’s ear is particularly captivating. The text in the Spanish language version is serviceable; the translation is occasionally a tad too literal and sometimes the adjectives are in the wrong place, coming before nouns instead of after (“Los orificios de sus orejas se encuentran a los lados de sus cabezas y, por lo general, están cubiertas de suaves plumas.”). In each book, the large black text appears either adjacent to or beneath its corresponding photo and is set against a white background. Consider for reading along with children.

Middle to High School

Bodden, Valerie. At the Scene. ISBN 9781608186792.

––––. Digital Forensics. ISBN 9781608186808.

––––. Identification. ISBN 9781608186815.

––––. Lab Analysis. ISBN 9781608186822.

––––. Medical Examination. ISBN 9781608186839.

––––. Mind of a Criminal. ISBN 9781608186846.

ea vol: 80p. (Odysseys in Crime Scene Science). bibliog. glossary. index. photos. websites. Creative Education. Sept. 2017. lib. ed. $44.20.

Gr 7 Up –Bodden covers, in compelling detail, how crime scene investigators, past and present, operate. The author often compares actual job duties to depictions in media (particularly the “CSI” TV series), proving that it’s all much more intricate and harder than it looks. Quotes from those working in the field lend authenticity to the narratives. The texts occasionally lack nuance: an examination of victimology in Mind of a Criminal suggests that “The victim might remind the killer of his mother…. Or she might look like the girls who laughed at him,” which can read as victim blaming, and there is little discussion of bias on the part of law enforcement. The layouts are uncluttered, but the images are less than inspiring. Though these selections have flaws, dedicated fans of true crime or those with career-related interests will enjoy.

DeMocker, Michael. Voices for Freedom. ISBN 9781624693717.

––––. Voices for the Environment. ISBN 9781624693731.

Orr, Tamra B . Voices for Equality. ISBN 9781624693755.

Wilson, Wayne L. Voices for Civil Rights. ISBN 9781624693793.

––––. Voices for Peace. ISBN 9781624693779.

ea vol: 48p. (I Protest: A History of Peaceful Protest). further reading. glossary. index. notes. photos. websites. Purple Toad. Oct. 2017. lib. ed. $29.95.

Gr 6-8 –Text-heavy volumes roughly outline various protest movements, mainly focusing on the United States but occasionally branching out internationally. The narratives tend to jump around in time and require careful reading (Freedom leaps from ancient Rome to Colonial America). There are a few inaccurate statements peppered throughout (“Communism is the form of government practiced by the Russians.”). In addition, the lack of potentially key information in Environment is noticeable; for example, the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is not mentioned in the chapter on nuclear weapons/power; more time is spent examining the “possible pollution” of the Standing Rock protestors than of the Dakota Access Pipeline itself; and though the book ends in 2017, President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement is not discussed. Equality is the most organized and readable of the bunch, and large collections may want to consider it.

Doeden, Matt. John Lewis: Courage in Action. ISBN 9781541512382.

Sherman, Jill. Gal Gadot: Soldier, Model, Wonder Woman. ISBN 9781541523586.

ea vol: 48p. (Gateway Biographies). bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. notes. photos. websites. Lerner. Jan. 2018. lib. ed. $31.99.

Gr 4-7 –Well-designed biographies of two contemporary figures in U.S. culture. Doeden effectively captures the widespread admiration of John Lewis. The narrative details several stages of the congressman’s life with reverence, making for an empowering read. However, there are a number of small but notable errors in the text, the most glaring of which is the statement that Emmett Till was “killed for innocently flirting with a white woman.” Gal Gadot chronicles the actress’s long path to stardom, laying out the many roles she did and didn’t secure on her way to Wonder Woman. Sherman often samples quotes from Gadot’s interviews, particularly when it comes to her service in the Israel Defense Forces. There is no mention of Palestine in the book. The popularity of the subjects alone will warrant consideration of these materials; still, librarians may want to wait for more thorough volumes.

Gunderman, Dan. Ashima Shiraishi: Rock Climber. ISBN 9781682655832.

––––. Dr. Alfredo Quiñones: Surgeon. ISBN 9781682655818.

Hume, Ryan. “Big Boy” Wills: Cartoonist. ISBN 9781682655825.

––––. Solomon Dubner: Podcaster. ISBN 9781682655801.

––––. Wé McDonald: Singer. ISBN 9781682655795.

ea vol: 56p. (Make It Happen!). bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Lightswitch Learning. Jan. 2018. pap. $10.95.

Gr 4-7 –Part biography, part guide to career readiness, this series aims to inspire as much as it informs. The entries each focus on determined trailblazers who navigated obstacles in pursuit of their dreams—many of the stories are ongoing, as in the case of Ashima Shiraishi’s hopeful 2020 Olympics bid. Interspersed throughout each volume are “Make It Happen!” activities that emphasize the importance of preparation and practice. The relative youth and relatability of the figures as biography subjects are pluses. However, workmanlike writing (“This book will discuss”) and busy layouts make for a somewhat tedious experience. Without handselling or report needs, these will likely sit on shelves.

This article was published in School Library Journal's February 2018 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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