Bug Burgers to Black Holes: General Science | Series Nonfiction

Covering everything from toilets to the electromagnetic spectrum, these titles aim to inspire readers to look beyond seemingly ordinary occurrences and into the underlying scientific principles that define our lives.

1604SMS-GenSciTargeting for the most part elementary grade students, this season’s STEM titles constitute a mixed bag—from the hands-on to peeks beneath the ground, city streets, and your skin. No matter how diverse the approaches or finely divided the topics, all give young readers firmer grips on how the world’s bridges and buildings, spacecraft and skateboards, trains and monster trucks rely on principles of motion and energy transfer, numbers, and physical materials to work. Along with glossaries and lists of further resources both in print and online, young readers will find in many of these titles fact summaries, quizzes, questions to test comprehension or to invite personal responses, and other aids to retentive learning.


Adamson, Heather. Inventing the Video Game. ISBN 9781634074629; ISBN 9781503806351.

Henzel, Cynthia Kennedy. Inventing the Internet. ISBN 9781634074575; ISBN 9781503806399.

Laine, Carolee. Inventing the Snowboard. ISBN 9781634074605; ISBN 9781503806344.

––––. Inventing the Television. ISBN 9781634074612; ISBN 9781503806375.

Mangor, Jodie. Inventing the Cell Phone. ISBN 9781634074551; ISBN 9781503806368.

Petersen, Christine. Inventing the Hybrid Car. ISBN 9781634074568; ISBN 9781503806405.

Smibert, Angie. Inventing the Personal Computer. ISBN 9781634074582; ISBN 9781503806382.

Zuchora-Walske, Christine. Inventing the Skateboard. ISBN 9781634074599; ISBN 9781503806337.

ea vol: 24p. (The Spark of Invention). further reading. glossary. index. The Child’s World. 2016. lib. ed. $28.50. ebk. $28.50.

Gr 2-4 –These highlights in the history of modern technology offer light doses of names and dates, along with nontechnical descriptions of significant early tweaks or innovations. The volumes take snowboarding from the time it was called “snurfing” through Shaun White’s legendary run in the 2010 Olympics, computers from UNIVAC to the Apple II, and mobile phones from Marty Cooper’s first taunting call to a competitor in 1973 to the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. Despite occasional gaps—Laine skips any mention of how color TV came to be—these titles will help young readers pair a range of common tools and toys with the often obscure men (all men, here) who made them possible. VERDICT Good choices for casual browsers and budding inventors.

Aloian, Sam. How a Bridge Is Built. ISBN 9781482439212; ISBN 9781482439199; ISBN 9781482439229.

––––. How a Car Is Made. ISBN 9781 482439250; ISBN 9781482439236; ISBN 9781482439267.

––––. How a Computer Is Made. ISBN 9781 482439298; ISBN 9781482439274; ISBN 9781482439304.

––––. How a Ship Is Built. ISBN 9781 482439175; ISBN 9781482439151; ISBN 9781482439182.

Hayes, Amy. How a Plane Is Made. ISBN 9781482439335; ISBN 9781482439311; ISBN 9781482439342.

Shea, Therese. How a Skyscraper Is Built. ISBN 9781482439373; ISBN 9781482439359; ISBN 9781482439380.

ea vol: 24p. (Engineering Our World). glossary. index. photos. Gareth Stevens. 2016. lib. ed. $22.60. pap. $8.15. ebk. $22.60.

Gr 1-3 –Just the ticket for getting young readers to think like engineers, these glimpses behind the scenes focus on design considerations, materials, and manufacturing steps. Skyscraper, for example, covers preliminary considerations from wind to number of elevators needed, explains the benefits of using steel and reinforced concrete, shows tall buildings at different stages of construction, and then closes with an excellent project that tests bunched “towers” of rolled-up newspaper for stability with an electric fan. Likewise, Bridge introduces terms like rebar and cantilever; Plane explains the physics of flight; and, along with showing the innards of a desktop from motherboard to cooling fan being assembled, Computer invites readers to build their own, and to write their own programs. Each volume begins with snatches of historical background, and closes with small but select resource lists. VERDICT Excellent choices for heightening awareness of important elements in our infrastructure.

Baer, T. Measuring Distance. ISBN 9781 482438581; ISBN 9781482438567; ISBN 9781482438598.

––––. Measuring Height. ISBN 9781 482438628; ISBN 9781482438604; ISBN 9781482438635.

––––. Measuring Speed. ISBN 9781 482438666; ISBN 9781482438642; ISBN 9781482438673.

––––. Measuring Temperature. ISBN 9781 482438703; ISBN 9781482438680; ISBN 9781482438710.

––––. Measuring Volume. ISBN 9781 482438741; ISBN 9781482438727; ISBN 9781482438758.

––––. Measuring Weight. ISBN 9781 482438789; ISBN 9781482438765; ISBN 9781482438819.

ea vol: 24p. (Measure It!). glossary. index. photos. Gareth Stevens. 2016. lib. ed. $22.60. pap. $8.15. ebk. $22.60.

K-Gr 2 –These introductions to units of measure combine full-page color photos and an explanatory narrative written in simple, large-font, declarative sentences to assist young readers in their measuring adventures. Each title presents one or two problems involving converting units, calculating an average, or, in the case of Volume, determining the volume of a small solid item using water displacement in a graduated cylinder. Disappointingly, the answers are given immediately. On the other hand, each volume closes with an intriguing extension of its topic: Distance, for example, shows how to use a dollar bill or a quarter when no ruler is handy; Speed closes with an introduction to knots and nautical miles; and Weight looks to the past when an arbitrarily chosen stone was used as a “weird way to measure weight” by some localities. VERDICT An excellent alternative to Cherry Lake’s “Measuring Mania,” aimed at a younger audience than Gareth Stevens’s “Measure Up Math.”

Butterfield, Moira & Pat Jacobs. Animals. ISBN 9781502608925; ISBN 9781502608901; ISBN 9781502608932.

––––. The Human Body. ISBN 9781502609007; ISBN 9781502608987; ISBN 9781502609014.

––––. Planet Earth. ISBN 9781502608888; ISBN 9781502608864; ISBN 9781502608895.

––––. Plants. ISBN 9781502608963; ISBN 9781502608949; ISBN 9781502608970.

––––. Space. ISBN 9781502608840; ISBN 9781502608826; ISBN 9781502608857.

––––. Technology. ISBN 9781502609045; ISBN 9781502609021; ISBN 9781502609052.

ea vol: 32p. (Know It All!). diag. further reading. glossary. illus. index. maps. photos. websites. Cavendish Square. 2016. lib. ed. $28.50. pap. $10.58. ebk. $28.50.

Gr 3-5 –Truly ambitious in scope, but generally managing to avoid either assemblages of vague generalities or barrages of random facts, these surveys present coherent overviews of their topics. Animals breaks out the taxonomic nomenclature on the first spread (“There are about thirty-five different phyla”) and goes on to discuss habitats and food chains, profile selected animal classes, and treat other topics before rounding off with endangered and recently extinct creatures, and conservation. Likewise, Space tours the solar system from Mercury to the dwarf planets of the Kuiper Belt, then continues on to the history of space exploration, space suits, space telescopes, and the “space mystery” of dark energy. Whew! Bright photos, graphics, insets, captions, and bite-size text blocks form uncluttered arrangements on each page. VERDICT Fine choices for filling broad gaps in smaller collections.

First, Rachel. Add It Up!: Fun with Addition. ISBN 9781624039324; ISBN 9781680771398.

––––. Count It!: Fun with Counting & Comparing. ISBN 9781624039331; ISBN 9781680771404.

––––. Measure It!: Fun with Length & Distance. ISBN 9781624039348; ISBN 9781680771411.

––––. Subtract It!: Fun with Subtraction. ISBN 9781624039355; ISBN 9781680771428.

––––. Weigh It!: Fun with Weight. ISBN 9781624039362; ISBN 9781680771435.

––––. What’s It Worth?: Fun with Coins & Bills. ISBN 9781624039379; ISBN 9781680771442.

ea vol: 24p. (Math Beginnings). glossary. illus. photos. ABDO. 2016. lib. ed. $16.95. ebk. $29.95.

PreS-Gr 1 –Using big, bright numbers and images interspersed with photos of children confidently smiling, the author lays out basic arithmetical operations, from 2+2=4 to measuring weights and distances. The author explains how to use groups and number lines to reach solutions, and appropriately approaches such thorny concepts as estimating (Count It!), using units of measure beyond Standard and Metric (Weigh It!), and adding up sets of coins and currency (What’s it Worth?). Each volume includes both number and word problems, and ends with a hands-on activity. The frequent focus on practical applications gives this a leg up over more fanciful introductory series, such as Heinemann’s “Animal Math.” VERDICT Lively support for primary level arithmetic instruction.

Gardner, Robert & Joshua Conklin. A Kid’s Book of Experiments with Animals. ISBN 9780766072664; ISBN 9780766072640; ISBN 9780766072671.

––––. A Kid’s Book of Experiments with Color. ISBN 9780766072015; ISBN 9780766071995; ISBN 9780766072022.

––––. A Kid’s Book of Experiments with Light. ISBN 9780766072053; ISBN 9780766072039; ISBN 9780766072060.

––––. A Kid’s Book of Experiments with Sound. ISBN 9780766072091; ISBN 9780766072077; ISBN 9780766072107.

––––. A Kid’s Book of Experiments with Stars. ISBN 9780766072701; ISBN 9780766072688; ISBN 9780766072718.

––––. A Kid’s Book of Experiments with Time. ISBN 9780766072749; ISBN 9780766072725; ISBN 9780766072756.

ea vol: 48p. (Surprising Science Experiments). diag. further reading. glossary. illus. index. photos. websites. Enslow. 2016. lib. ed. $27.93. pap. $11.70. ebk. $27.93.

Gr 2-5 –This series urges budding experimenters to enjoy activities in physics, biology, observational astronomy, and even psychology. The approach is somewhat free form, with the overall design and step-by-step instructions tending to be sketchy. The materials are easy to find and constructions simple to build (with some major exceptions, such as colored light bulbs and diffraction gratings in Color, and a squirrel-proof bird feeder in Animals—good luck with that!). Schematic diagrams with each experiment are often very helpful in interpreting the directions. There is plenty of both easy and hard-won satisfaction to be earned from this offering, with an average of nine to 12 numbered activities, suggestions for multiple experiments, and inset lists of ideas for science fair–worthy projects. VERDICT Good choices for classroom collections, likely to please informal experimenters more than those who require rigorous direction.

Hamen, Susan E. Astronomy in the Real World. ISBN 9781680780383; ISBN 9781680772555.

Idzikowski, Lisa. Computer Science in the Real World. ISBN 9781680780406; ISBN 9781680772579.

Koontz, Robin. Robotics in the Real World. ISBN 9781680780437; ISBN 9781680772609.

Marquardt, Meg. Bioengineering in the Real World. ISBN 9781680780390; ISBN 9781680772562.

––––. Physics in the Real World. ISBN 9781680780420; ISBN 9781680772593.

Zuchora-Walske, Christine. Mathematics in the Real World. ISBN 9781680780413; ISBN 9781680772586.

ea vol: 48p. (STEM in the Real World). chart. diag. further reading. glossary. index. maps. photos. websites. ABDO. 2016. lib. ed. $22.95. ebk. $35.95.

Gr 2-4 –These volumes are an excellent complement to the 2013 series “Science in the Real World” (ABDO), with upbeat, career-oriented surveys of the history, scope, recent trends, and types of work in selected STEM fields. Despite being aimed at readers who are still some years away from having to pick their majors, several volumes even cite salaries (though these are both unsourced and optimistic). The texts are surprisingly accessible, and if the authors sometimes go light on specific technical details, they don’t shy away from controversial topics like cochlear implants in the Deaf community. Also, along with generous quantities of back matter, each volume is pedagogically jet-propelled—with bulleted summary lists at the end and meaty primary-source passages from the likes of Copernicus and Bill Gates followed by comprehension-testing questions and project suggestions. VERDICT Recommended for budding experimenters and for career-minded younger readers.

Hustad, Douglas. Charles Darwin Develops the Theory of Evolution. ISBN 9781680780154; ISBN 9781680772326.

––––. Isaac Newton Discovers Gravity. ISBN 9781680780161; ISBN 9781680772333.

––––. Louis Pasteur Advances Microbiology. ISBN 9781680780178; ISBN 9781 680772340.

––––. Thomas Edison Invents the Light Bulb. ISBN 9781680780208; ISBN 9781680772371.

Rowell, Rebecca. Marie Curie Advances the Study of Radioactivity. ISBN 9781680780185; ISBN 9781680772357.

––––. Rachel Carson Sparks the Environmental Movement. ISBN 9781680780192; ISBN 9781680772364.

ea vol: 48p. (Great Moments in Science). chron. glossary. index. photos. ABDO. 2016. lib. ed. $22.95. ebk. $35.95.

Gr 3-5 –These studies complement equivalent volumes in ABDO’s ongoing “Great Minds of Science” series by leaving biographical details by the wayside to instead focus on specific ideas, experiments, evidence, chains of reasoning, and publications associated with each figure’s best-known work. Darwin, for example, begins with an explanation of what was so astonishing to the scientist about the Galápagos finches, then goes back to fill in major events of the Beagle’s voyage, and to trace the writing and publication of On the Origin of Species with nods along the way to earlier evolutionary theories and scientists. Brief extracts from letters or books supply exercises in understanding primary source material, and sets of closing queries invite readers to review and ruminate. VERDICT Strong choices for deepening subject collections.

Ivancic, Linda. What Is a Wave? ISBN 9781502609182; ISBN 9781502609175; ISBN 9781502609199.

––––. What Is the Color Spectrum? ISBN 9781502609212; ISBN 9781502609205; ISBN 9781502609229.

––––. What Is Wind? ISBN 9781502609243; ISBN 9781502609236; ISBN 9781502609250.

Sullivan, Laura. What Is Gravity? ISBN 9781502609083; ISBN 9781502609069; ISBN 9781502609090.

––––. What Is Heat? ISBN 9781502609120; ISBN 9781502609106; ISBN 9781502609137.

––––. What Is Motion? ISBN 9781 502609151; ISBN 9781502609144; ISBN 9781502609168.

ea vol: 32p. (Unseen Science). diag. further reading. glossary. index. photos. Cavendish Square. 2016. lib. ed. $28.50. pap. $10.58. ebk. $28.50.

Gr 2-4 –These first-rate introductions to topics in physics combine informative photos and diagrams with concise explanations and real-world examples. In Motion, the narrative segues from descriptions of Newton’s three laws of motion to showing how each law—along with friction, air resistance, and weight—comes into play on a moving automobile. Comprehension questions are embedded into the text, with recaps at each chapter’s close, and occasional provocative insights. For example, in Wave, a wave graph is said to be, “like the photo of a friend, in that we are only seeing a wave at a moment in time.” Each volume includes a hands-on demonstration—mostly doable, though an attempt in Gravity to reproduce Galileo’s dropping balls from ground level isn’t likely to produce accurate results. VERDICT High-priority additions to science collections of any size.

Jackson, Demi. How Does a Light Bulb Work? ISBN 9781482438192; ISBN 9781482438178; ISBN 9781482438208.

––––. How Is Paper Made? ISBN 9781482438239; ISBN 9781482438215; ISBN 9781482438246.

LaPlante, Walter. What Happens When I Flush the Toilet? ISBN 9781482438277; ISBN 9781482438253; ISBN 9781482438284.

––––. What Makes Fire Burn? ISBN 9781482438468; ISBN 9781482438444; ISBN 9781482438475.

Proudfit, Benjamin. Why Do Ice Cubes Float? ISBN 9781482438543; ISBN 9781482438529; ISBN 9781482438550.

––––. Why Does Food Go Bad? ISBN 9781482438505; ISBN 9781482438482; ISBN 9781482438512.

ea vol: 24p. (Everyday Mysteries). further reading. glossary. illus. index. photos. Gareth Stevens. 2016. lib. ed. $22.60. pap. $8.15. ebk. $22.60.

K-Gr 2 –Though offering at best only partial answers to their titular questions, these primary level introductions will start newly independent readers on the road to understanding the science and technology behind everyday sights and occurrences. Bulb, for instance, describes how electricity lights up incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs, but mentions LED bulbs without explaining how they work. The big photographs and graphic images are informative and eye-catching. Despite the odd inclusion of a photo of listeria bacteria with no accompanying discussion of its danger, Food is the best of the lot as it pairs explanations of how food spoils, along with proper storage methods and a cautionary note about preservatives. VERDICT Add selectively to deepen collections supporting strong early science instruction.

Kenney, Karen Latchana. Peeking Under Your Skin. illus. by Steven Wood. ISBN 9781479586684; ISBN 9781479586721.

––––. Peeking Underground. illus. by Steven Wood. ISBN 9781479586660; ISBN 9781479586707.

Porter, Esther. Peeking Under the City. illus. by Andrés Lozano. ISBN 9781479586653; ISBN 9781479586691.

––––. Peeking Under the Hood. illus. by Andrés Lozano. ISBN 9781479586677; ISBN 9781479586714.

ea vol: 32p. (What’s Beneath). diag. further reading. glossary. illus. websites. Picture Window. 2016. lib. ed. $19.99. pap. $7.95.

Gr 2-4 –These “peeks” take a system-by-system approach to their subjects—pairing informal but pleasantly specific commentary to cartoon-style cutaways and diagrams. Though the illustrations are not consistently to scale, in all but Hood they are formatted sideways for an effective sense of depth. Underground begins with images and descriptions of the layers of soil, continuing on past bedrock to fossil fuels, tectonic plates, volcanoes, and the mantle to reach Earth’s outer and inner cores. City pays tribute to the importance of civil engineers as it peels away generic pavements to expose pipes, conduits, mains and submains, fossils and artifacts, train and traffic tunnels, and even crypts and catacombs. The back matter in each volume includes several Common Core-linked questions. The texts can occasionally verge on the simplistic; for example, in Skin, involuntary muscles, “move without the brain’s messages.” Still, the overall level and accuracy of detail make the series a worthy addition. VERDICT Good additional choices for science collections.

Kenney, Karen Latchana. Science of Color: Investigating Light. ISBN 9781624039607; ISBN 9781680771183.

––––. Science of Glaciers: How Temperature Works. ISBN 9781624039614; ISBN 9781680771190.

––––. Science of Music: Discovering Sound. ISBN 9781624039621; ISBN 9781680771206.

––––. Science of Race Cars: Studying Forces and Motion. ISBN 9781624039638; ISBN 9781680771213.

––––. Science of Roller Coasters: Understanding Energy. ISBN 9781624039645; ISBN 9781680771220.

––––. Science of Stars: Exploring Matter. ISBN 9781624039652; ISBN 9781680771237.

ea vol: 32p. (Science in Action). diag. glossary. index. photos. ABDO. 2016. lib. ed. $18.95. ebk. $31.95.

Gr 3-5 –Exploring the physics behind things and phenomena that will be familiar to younger students, Kenney ratchets up the level of specific detail. In Color the text doesn’t just explain exactly why the sky is blue but discusses the electromagnetic spectrum, photons, how the eye works, and even why mixed paints darken rather than lighten. The photos in each volume are interspersed with clear, easy-to-understand charts and diagrams. Each also features at least one profile of a prominent scientist of the past and instructions for an elementary hands-on demonstration. The author does skip over some thornier topics, such as dark matter, and mentions that glaciers are melting faster without reference either to global warming or even the politically safer term climate change. Still, these are solid informative studies of select but important basic principles. VERDICT Excellent discussions of some of physics’ underlying principles, for serious younger students.

Macken, JoAnn Early. Bees. ISBN 9781634400527; ISBN 9781634400602.

––––. The Internet. ISBN 9781634400534; ISBN 9781634400619.

––––. Oil. ISBN 9781634400510; ISBN 9781634400596.

––––. Plastic. ISBN 9781634400503; ISBN 9781634400589.

ea vol: 40p. (Take a Closer Look at...). chart. further reading. glossary. index. Red Chair. 2016. lib. ed. $19.99. ebk. $29.99.

Gr 3-5 –Hoping to foster an awareness of problematic elements in the world, these volumes provide well-stirred mixes of background information and food for thought. Bees, for instance, briefly describes the insect’s life cycle and the role of pollination in creating our food supply, then discusses Colony Collapse Disorder, along with Integrated Pest Management and other remedial measures. Internet not only discusses phishing and cyberbullying but other large-concept dangers like net neutrality. While suggestions for direct action tend to be generalities and the illustrations decorate rather than expand on the texts, these volumes do make for coherent overviews of their topics. VERDICT Thought-provoking additions—but as the series premise is unfocused, consider individual titles as needed.

Marsico, Katie. Bridges. ISBN 9780 531224793; ISBN 9780531222690.

––––. Drones. ISBN 9780531224809; ISBN 9780531222706.

––––. Giant Trucks. ISBN 9780531224816; ISBN 9780531222713.

––––. Self-Driving Cars. ISBN 9780 531224823; ISBN 9780531222720.

––––. Skyscrapers. ISBN 9780531224830; ISBN 9780531222737.

––––. Warships. ISBN 9780531224847; ISBN 9780531222744.

ea vol: 48p. (A True Book: Engineering Wonders). chart. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Children’s Pr. 2016. lib. ed. $29. pap. $6.95.

Gr 2-4 –This mix of new titles and updates in this venerable series offers pictures of each selected techno-wonder’s past, present, and future with splashy graphics and bright colors to crank up the visual energy. The crisply reproduced photos on nearly every page are as appealing as ever and often come with helpful labels. Among the entirely new titles, Self-Driving Cars steers readers to a chapter on Google cars; Drones flies current models, ranging from the aptly named “wallet drone” to the RQ-4B Global Hawk; and Warships floats facts about the soon-to-be-launched supercarrier USS Gerald R. Ford. Each volume features a pair of true/false questions at the front, and some eye-widening statistics at the back. VERDICT Additions to an essential series: consider to fill collection gaps or to replace older titles.

Oxlade, Chris. Fossils. ISBN 9781410981363.

––––. Minerals. ISBN 9781410981370.

––––. Rocks. ISBN 9781410981356.

––––. Soil. ISBN 9781410981387.

ea vol: 32p. (Rock On!). diag. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Heinemann-Raintree. 2016. lib. ed. $22.49.

Gr 3-5 –This economical alternative to the publisher’s seven-volume “Let’s Rock!” series surveys the fields of geology and fossil paleontology. Despite a great deal of overlap—no surprise, as fossils are found in rocks, which are composed of minerals and are, like soil, subject to erosion—Oxlade avoids boilerplate in describing the varied types, origins, compositions, and human uses of each item. In Soil, for instance, along with pictures of the substance’s varieties and its mineral and biological components, the author presents overviews of past and present agricultural practices plus dirt’s uses as fuel (peat) and as a building material (mud bricks). In each volume, selected significant facts are underlined, and each includes one or two easily doable activities or demonstrations. VERDICT Rock-solid choices for enhancing earth science collections.

Peterson, Megan Cooley. How Electricity Gets from Power Plants to Homes. ISBN 9781491484340; ISBN 9781491484388.

––––. How Water Gets from Treatment Plants to Toilet Bowls. ISBN 9781491484357; ISBN 9781491484395.

Shores, Erika L. How Food Gets from Farms to Store Shelves. ISBN 9781491484289; ISBN 9781491484364.

––––. How Garbage Gets from Trash Cans to Landfills. ISBN 9781491484333; ISBN 9781491484371.

ea vol: 24p. (Here to There). further reading. glossary. index. Capstone. 2016. lib. ed. $19.49. pap. $6.95.

PreS-Gr 1 –The focus is on transport in these reasonably accurate, highly simplified travelogues. Illustrated with big, bright color photos, Electricity follows the juice from a (nuclear) power plant to a light bulb, and Food tracks the ingredients in a bowl of breakfast cereal. Smaller inset photos supply bits of additional detail, and along with short resource lists and glossaries, each volume ends with two or three Common Core-linked study questions such as “What might happen if there were no plumbers?” Most titles end by urging readers to cut down on consumption, but disappointingly fail to mention why that would be a good idea. Still, these books will leave younger readers more aware of the infrastructures that support their daily routines while serving to kick off discussions about recycling and environmental issues. VERDICT Will be popular with curious newly independent readers.

Royston, Angela. All About Forces. ISBN 9781484626894; ISBN 9781484626931.

––––. All About Light. ISBN 9781484626887; ISBN 9781484626924.

––––. All About Magnetism. ISBN 9781484626900; ISBN 9781484626948.

––––. All About Sound. ISBN 9781484626917; ISBN 9781484626955.

ea vol: 32p. (All About Science). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Heinemann-Raintree. 2016. lib. ed. $19.99. pap. $7.99.

Gr 1-3 –These first surveys present clearly explained basic descriptions of select physical phenomena. Each succeeding concept builds on earlier material—in Light, for instance, a description of natural and artificial sources is followed by discussions of transparency, shadows, and reflection in succession—and three at least are reinforced in each volume by as many easy experiments. There are photos on every page, and most feature a diverse cast of children helpfully demonstrating relevant actions or processes. Occasional moot generalizations, such as a claim in Light that “light always travels in a straight line,” can stand until students are exposed to higher-level physics. VERDICT Appealing first glimpses of physical principles and phenomena.

Royston, Angela. Experiments with a Flashlight. ISBN 9781625881410; ISBN 9781680710175.

––––. Experiments with a Lemon. ISBN 9781625881403; ISBN 9781680710151.

––––. Experiments with a Ruler. ISBN 9781625881434; ISBN 9781680710168.

––––. Experiments with Water. ISBN 9781625881427; ISBN 9781680710144.

ea vol: 32p. (One-Stop Science). diag. further reading. glossary. illus. index. photos. websites. Smart Apple. 2016. lib. ed. $21.95. ebk. $31.35.

Gr 2-4 –Following brief introductions, each of these volumes offers 10 to 14 very simple demonstrations of chemistry or physics in action. The activities involve no more than two to six clearly explained steps, use easily available materials and substances, and conclude with an expected result. Big color photos, many showing young experimenters at work, make the projects easy to visualize. Lemon doesn’t start off well, as readers are directed to cut a lemon in half on their own, and are unlikely to “Grow a Lemon Tree” from seed—but later endeavors include making invisible ink, a battery, and a bendable chicken bone, as well as making litmus paper and then going on to use it in tests. With similar versatility, a ruler is put to multiple uses: to make measurements, as a lever, a catapult, a balance beam, a whirling hummer, and more. There are no quizzes or reviews, but print and web lists lead to further hands-on resources. VERDICT Good choices where additional ideas for science experiments are needed.

Silverman, Buffy. How Do Big Rigs Work? ISBN 9781467795012.

––––. How Do Fire Trucks Work? ISBN 9781467795043.

––––. How Do Formula One Race Cars Work? ISBN 9781467795036.

––––. How Do Monster Trucks Work? ISBN 9781467794992.

––––. How Do Tanks Work? ISBN 9781467795029.

––––. How Do Trains Work? ISBN 9781467795005.

ea vol: 32p. (Lightning Bolt Books: How Vehicles Work). further reading. glossary. index. photos. Lerner. 2016. lib. ed. $26.65.

K-Gr 2 –A particular focus on engines, wheels, and other components set these unusually informative introductions apart. Silverman steers clear of potentially intimidating terminology like “internal combustion” and “hydraulic” but describes in lucid detail how pistons drive crankshafts, fluid pressure lifts a fire ladder, friction affects speed and control, and various design elements counteract air resistance. The mix of close-ups and wider angled views on every page are both helpful and stimulating—and, as a plus, show women on a tank’s crew or driving big rigs and monster trucks. Each volume closes with a labeled diagram, a set of “Fun Facts,” and a relatively generous set of further resources. A poorly expressed claim in Trains that it “takes little energy to pull heavy trains because there is little friction” aside, all of the volumes merit consideration either on their own or as upgrades for relevant titles in Lerner’s “Vroom! Vroom!” or “Mighty Movers” series. VERDICT Prime material for budding gearheads and mechanics.

Worms, Penny. Eco Cars. ISBN 9781599209944; ISBN 9781680710090.

––––. Motorcycles. ISBN 9781599209968; ISBN 9781680710106.

––––. Off-Road Vehicles. ISBN 9781599209951; ISBN 9781680710083.

––––. Race Cars. ISBN 9781599209920; ISBN 9781680710113.

––––. Sports Cars. ISBN 9781599209937; ISBN 9781680710120.

––––. Trucks. ISBN 9781599209975; ISBN 9781680710137.

ea vol: 32p. (Motormania). glossary. index. photos. Smart Apple. 2016. lib. ed. $21.95. ebk. $31.95.

Gr 3-5 –Well designed to cater to fans of maximum speed, each of these albums offers quick profiles of 10 specific vehicles—ranging from production models to purpose-built one-offs and prototypes. The selections are international, mostly of recent vintage (the Tesla Roadster in Eco Cars has been out of production since 2012, for instance—but it’s still really cool). Along with a large, dramatically angled photo or digital image, each vehicle appears in one or more small inset action photographs and, particularly in Eco Cars, cutaway views that compensate for relatively low levels of specific technical detail with glimpses of the various fueling and propulsion systems. VERDICT Crowd-pleasing browser material, with occasional informative looks beneath the flashy surfaces.

Middle to High School

Abramovitz, Melissa. Brain Science. ISBN 9781624039140; ISBN 9781680770919.

Hand, Carol. Sustainable Agriculture. ISBN 9781624039195; ISBN 9781680770964.

Hulick, Kathryn. Artificial Intelligence. ISBN 9781624039126; ISBN 9781680770896.

––––. Energy Technology. ISBN 9781 624039157; ISBN 9781680770926.

Kruesi, Liz. Astronomy. ISBN 9781624039133; ISBN 9781680770902.

––––. Space Exploration. ISBN 9781 624039188; ISBN 9781680770957.

Morris, Alexandra. Medical Research and Technology. ISBN 9781624039164; ISBN 9781680770933.

Slingerland, Janet. Nanotechnology. ISBN 9781624039171; ISBN 9781680770940.

ea vol: 112p. (Cutting-Edge Science and Technology). bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. notes. photos. ABDO. 2016. lib. ed. $24.95. ebk. $37.95.

Gr 6-9 –For more dedicated students exploring future careers in high-tech science, these eye-opening surveys both lay out current areas of progress and impart a heady sense of the breathtaking pace of discovery. Along with offering broad overviews enriched with specific descriptions of relevant physical, chemical, and biological processes, each author cites specific recent experiments, research projects, and newly opened fields of inquiry. In Brain Science, for example, among other topics, Abramowitz describes brain structures and mapping, physical changes caused by Alzheimer’s and other maladies, how memory works, developments in artificial intelligence, and advances in brain-computer and even brain-to-brain interfaces. Each volume includes several sidebar profiles of renowned and/or currently active researchers and cogent discussions of issues or controversies. VERDICT These titles will update and deepen science collections of any size and scope.

Arbuthnott, Gill. What Makes You You? ISBN 9780778722397; ISBN 9780778722472.

––––. What Makes Your Body Work? ISBN 9780778722410; ISBN 9780778722496.

––––. Your Guide to Life on Earth. ISBN 9780778722434; ISBN 9780778722519.

––––. Your Guide to the Periodic Table. ISBN 9780778722458; ISBN 9780778722533.

ea vol: illus. by Marc Mones. 64p. (Drawn to Science: Illustrated Guides to Key Science Concepts). diag. illus. index. glossary. Crabtree. 2016. lib. ed. $31.93. pap. $11.95.

Gr 5-8 –The comical cartoon illustrations immediately reflect the approachable way Arbuthnott has chosen to cover his many diverse subjects. The author keeps things lively with eye-catching, provocative headers, discussions of controversial topics (like the ins and outs of genetic engineering), and lots of hands-on demonstrations. Body is particularly full of “Try It Yourself” activities related to body systems—changing, perhaps thankfully, to “You Can’t Try It Yourself!” when he gets to the urinary, reproductive, lymphatic, endocrine, and immune systems. After examining cell function and the seven basic characteristics of life (with a handy mnemonic), Earth goes on to profile nine select animal phyla and the major classes within each. The urging of readers to care for our biosphere, “in all its scaly, slimy, prickly, squishy glory!” is both timely and accurate. VERDICT Apt fare for fans of Simon Basher’s “Basher Science” titles.

Brannon, Cecelia. A Look at Erosion and Weathering. ISBN 9780766072800; ISBN 9780766072787; ISBN 9780766072817.

––––. A Look at Igneous Rocks. ISBN 9780766073180; ISBN 9780766073166; ISBN 9780766073197.

––––. A Look at Metamorphic Rocks. ISBN 9780766073227; ISBN 9780766073203; ISBN 9780766073234.

––––. A Look at Minerals. ISBN 9780766073098; ISBN 9780766073074; ISBN 9780766073104.

––––. A Look at Sand, Silt, and Mud. ISBN 9780766073340; ISBN 9780766073326; ISBN 9780766073357.

––––. A Look at Sedimentary Rocks. ISBN 9780766073388; ISBN 9780766073364; ISBN 9780766073395.

ea vol: 32p. (The Rock Cycle). diag. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Enslow. 2016. lib. ed. $25.27. pap. $10.52. ebk. $25.27.

Gr 4-6 –Though the information in this finely divided series overlaps considerably—aside from the illustrations and a diagram of the rock cycle in each volume—the author adroitly avoids boilerplate. The photographs, though small, offer vivid views of a wide range of landforms, geological marvels, gemstones in the rough and finished, and of buildings and other artifacts made from stone. Minerals goes into how minerals are classified according to the Mohs Scale for hardness, as well as by luster, color, even smell and taste (readers are cautioned never to put tongues to unknown substances). Brannon extends the topic to mentions of birthstones and magnets. These don’t break any new ground but merit consideration to fill gaps or deepen subject collections. VERDICT Solid choices for classroom or library collections.

Duke, Shirley. Information Waves. ISBN 9781681913919; ISBN 9781681914336; ISBN 9781681914725.

––––. What’s the Matter? ISBN 9781681913933; ISBN 9781681914350; ISBN 9781681914749.

Haelle, Tara. Edible Sunlight. ISBN 9781681913995; ISBN 9781681914411; ISBN 9781681914800.

––––. Seasons, Tides, and Lunar Phases. ISBN 9781681913957; ISBN 9781681914374; ISBN 9781681914763.

Koontz, Robin. Our Place in Space. ISBN 9781681913902; ISBN 9781681914329; ISBN 9781681914718.

––––. Poop Is Power. ISBN 9781681913896; ISBN 9781681914312; ISBN 9781 681914701.

Larson, Kirsten. Rock Cycle. ISBN 9781681913988; ISBN 9781681914404; ISBN 9781681914794.

––––. Tools of the Trade: Using Scientific Equipment. ISBN 9781681914008; ISBN 9781681914428; ISBN 9781681914817.

Mangor, Jodie. Cells: Constructing Living Things. ISBN 9781681913971; ISBN 9781681914398; ISBN 9781681914787.

––––. Really Rotten Truth About Composting. ISBN 9781681913926; ISBN 9781681914343; ISBN 9781681914732.

McNeilly, Linden. What’s Your Potential?: The Energy of Motion. ISBN 9781681913940; ISBN 9781681914367; ISBN 9781681914756.

Sirota, Lyn. People and the Planet. ISBN 9781681913964; ISBN 9781681914381; ISBN 9781681914770.

ea vol: 48p. (Let’s Explore Science). glossary. index. photos. websites. Rourke. 2016. lib. ed. $35.64. pap. $11.95. ebk. $35.64.

Gr 6-8 –The newest entries in this ongoing series encompass a range of topics—most of them gratifyingly broad—in physics, technology, and earth sciences. Duke covers the history of human understanding of matter from ancient times to subnuclear physics—in enough detail to encompass all five states of matter and even a rare note about some possible others. Though most of the presentations are both informative and accurate, Waves contains incorrect descriptions of Philo Farnsworth’s TV and Bill Gates’s BASIC. BASIC was not a “microcomputer” but a language. In Space, Kootz offers an incomprehensibly garbled version of string theory. The two or three hands-on activities in some (not all) volumes vary likewise, from a terrific one in Power that involves using rotting meat to blow up a balloon to an unfeasible, complex household survey for Planet. VERDICT Uneven as a series, but the better titles are worthy additions to most library collections.

Sparrow, Giles & Judith John. Exploring Space. ISBN 9781502610126; ISBN 9781502610133.

––––. How the Universe Works. ISBN 9781502610140; ISBN 9781502610157.

––––. Shuttles and Space Missions. ISBN 9781502610164; ISBN 9781502610171.

––––. The Solar System. ISBN 9781502610188; ISBN 9781502610195.

––––. Stars and Galaxies. ISBN 9781 502610201; ISBN 9781502610218.

ea vol: 80p. (Discoveries in Space Science). chart. diag. further reading. glossary. illus. index. photos. Cavendish Square. 2016. lib. ed. $35.64. ebk. $35.64.

Gr 6-8 –While the page design is the opposite of “spacious,” these richly detailed summary accounts offer broad pictures of our ventures into the immediate celestial neighborhood and what we know or believe about the universe at large. Universe begins with black holes and goes on to describe, among much else, galactic types and life cycles, quantum and string theory, the “Fab Four,” the search for extraterrestrial life, and dark matter. Along with mixes of photos, graphic conceptions, constellation maps, and cutaway views of various spacecraft, the narrative is supplemented by many inset lists, sets of facts, space mission profiles, and biographical notes. The information is current, but unevenly so; the arrival of the New Horizons probe near Pluto in mid-2015 gets a mention in Exploring Space, for instance, but the MAVEN and Mars Orbiter Mission craft are described as not having reached orbit—though they both did in 2014. Also, Shuttles and Space Missions does not cover recent commercial space initiatives, and there is no mention in any volume of exoplanet discoveries. VERDICT Serviceable updates for serious middle grade students.


Both Gareth Stevens’s “Measure It!” and ABDO’s “Math Beginnings” will give readers in the earlier stages of numeracy a healthy boost. Students in lower primary grades unaware of the central role engineering plays in scientific and technological advances will definitely come away with new insight from Gareth Stevens’s “Engineering Our World” and ABDO’s “STEM in the Real World.” Readers eager to understand underlying physical forces and principles will find Cavendish Square’s “Unseen Science” and ABDO’s “Science in Action” of compelling interest, and the historical connections between select innovations and discoveries of the past and of the present are clearly laid out in ABDO’s “Great Moments in Science.” Crabtree’s “Drawn to Science” offers information with broad dashes of humor, and for middle school collections, ABDO’s “Cutting-Edge Science and Technology” presents meaty surveys of science’s exciting present and tantalizing future. But all the series here make above average or better choices for collections where STEM topics are a priority.

John Peters, Children’s Literature Consultant, New York City

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Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones


Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones


Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

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