Discover Creativity: Fun For Everyone | Arts & Recreation Series Nonfiction

The newest titles in the arts and recreation series focuses on celebrations, creativity, and mindfulness, seen around the world and in our own backyards.

The newest titles in the Arts and Recreation series focus on celebrations, creativity, and mindfulness seen around the world and in our own backyards. The majority of the titles provide an activity that corresponds with colorful photos and graphic designs to engage readers with age-appropriate text. When titles don’t provide an activity, beginning readers may find inspiration to play a new instrument, create a mindful space, or make an amusing craft. Many of the titles give further reading resources, but all of them are able to spark curiosity in readers. The 12 series below offer readers a wide variety of activities, wellness practices, intriguing oddities, and exciting celebrations.

 

Elementary

Fullman, Joe. Origami at Night on the Farm. ISBN 9781642824339.
––––. Origami Farm Animals. ISBN 9781538389959.
––––. Origami in the Barnyard. ISBN 9781538389874.
––––. Origami in the Field. ISBN 9781538389997.
ea vol: illus. by Anne Passchier. 32p. (Origami on the Farm). Rosen/PowerKids Pr. Dec. 2022. Tr. $27.93.
Gr 2-4 –A version of origami is introduced for making different animals that can be found on a farm in this series. As stated in the introduction, not all crafts made are true origami because scissors, glue, and markers are used, e.g., for the legs of the spider in Origami in the Field. The beginning also offers a key of symbols commonly used to describe the direction and places to fold paper. There are six origami animals to make per title; the level of difficulty is indicated using one to three stars from easy to hard. Every animal origami craft has step-by-step instructions with a picture that shows what the paper should look like and the direction it is getting folded. Sometimes a fact is given about the animal, such as, “See the ducks splashing around—they have waterproof feathers,” but generally the animal is introduced via the setting of the title. While one might wish for more content about the origami animal, the titles provide an activity for multiple levels of enthusiasts. The back matter includes a glossary, more information, and an index. VERDICT An origami craft series for a variety of ages.

Gieseke, Tyler. Band. ISBN 9781098243319.
––––. Brass. ISBN 9781098243326.
––––. Orchestra. ISBN 9781098243333.
––––. Percussion. ISBN 9781098243340.
––––. Strings. ISBN 9781098243357.
––––. Woodwinds. ISBN 9781098243364.
ea vol: 32p. (Explore Music). Pop!/DiscoverRoo. Jan. 2023. Tr. $32.79.
Gr 1-3 –Each title in the series provides a basic understanding of instruments and how they are played. Opening with a table of contents, each title also features vocabulary words in bold and in a different color while describing instruments in short paragraphs accompanied by appropriate images. Back matter includes making connections with the text to self, text, and world, as well as a glossary, index, and QR code for extra activities. Throughout the text, “Did You Know?” fact bubbles are included, such as “The word ‘band’ comes from the French word ‘bande,’ which means ‘troop’ in English,” and labels on graphics explain how instruments look and techniques used to play an instrument, like standing with a bass in front of the body versus sitting down with a cello. Titles also include famous or noteworthy composers, conductors, or musicians important to the topic, such as cellist Yo-Yo Ma. While each title does not go into too much depth, the topics have sufficient coverage to spark curiosity. VERDICT A good overview of different types of instruments for beginning readers.

Green, Sara. Disney. ISBN 9798886871401.
––––. LEGO. ISBN 9798886871418.
––––. Minecraft. ISBN 9798886871425.
Polinsky, Paige V. Nintendo. ISBN 9798886871432.
––––. Star Wars. ISBN 9798886871456
Rathburn, Betsy. Pokémon. ISBN 9798886871449.
ea vol: 32p. (Behind the Brand). Bellwether Media/Blastoff! Discovery. Jan. 2023. Tr. $27.95.
Gr 2-4 –Each popular brand is described from the beginning to its current existence in this series. Titles start with a table of contents and then provide a brief example written in third person showing how someone might enjoy the topic brand. With vocabulary bolded and in a contrasting color, shorter paragraphs correspond with pictures and graphics throughout. From where it was invented to original prototypes/concept art, the history of the creator(s) to the philanthropy of the brand, such as Minecraft developers, Mojang Studios, who “teamed with the Block by Block Foundation to improve communities around the world,” each title covers a wide variety of information in a short amount of time. Drawings and photos are labeled, and graphics, including maps, time lines, and graphs are used to further detail the where, when, and how the brand has been successful over time, such as how Pokémon has gone from card collecting to community connection through Pokémon Go Community Days. A glossary, further reading, and index are included in the back matter. While the amount of information could be overwhelming for younger readers, the pictures and graphics are eye-catching and allow for easy understanding. VERDICT A broad overview of popular brands for young enthusiasts of each topic.

Hansen, Grace. Carnival. ISBN 9781098261740.
––––. Dragon Boat Festival. ISBN 9781098261757.
––––. Harbin Ice and Snow Festival. ISBN 9781098261764.
––––. Holi Festival of Color. ISBN 9781098261771.
––––. Iditarod Race. ISBN 9781098261788.
––––. Taiwan Lantern Festival. ISBN 9781098261795.
ea vol: 24p. (World Festivals). Abdo Kids Jumbo. Jan. 2023. Tr. $32.79.
Gr 2-4 –Festivals celebrated around the world are summarized in this series. Through brightly colored photographs that accompany short paragraphs, the information about each festival is easily described. Starting with a table of contents, vocabulary words are in bold and in a different color than the rest of the text, and smaller graphics of maps or real artwork are used throughout. How and why different aspects of the festival started are explained; for example, a piece of art depicting the incarnation of Vishnu destroying the king is why “pyres are set on fire across India” the night before Holi. Depending on the festival, foods eaten for the festivals are also shown and briefly detailed, along with facts and rules on the final page, such as some of the rules for the Iditarod: “All mushers must be at least 18 years old at the start of the race.” The back matter has a glossary, index, and QR code for more interactive learning. VERDICT Engaging titles about festivals found around the world.

Kukla, Lauren & Aruna Rangarajan. Pets: A ­Can-You-Find-It Book. ISBN 9781666397086.
––––. Sports: A Can-You-Find-It Book. ISBN 9781666397093.
ea vol: 32p. (Can You Find It?). Capstone/Pebble. Jan. 2023. Tr. $29.32.
K-Gr 3 –Seek-and-find challenges based on the topic of each title are featured in this series. Colorful scenes of miniature pieces scattered and set seemingly haphazardly, but are actually broken down by title topic and color, create 14 puzzles throughout each title. Followed by a title of each setting, such as “Home Sweet Hamster,” a line of items is shown at the bottom of the set of pages with each item labeled clearly. The Sports topic range from soccer to hockey in the title. At the end, there is another challenge, “Did you know that a pair of blue swim shorts was hiding in every puzzle in this book?” While there is an answer key shown for one of the 14 puzzles, there does not seem to be a key for them all, which may be frustrating for those participating in the puzzle. There are no page numbers used in the layout; each set of two pages is used for each puzzle, much like “Where’s Waldo?” and the “I Spy” ­series, making each puzzle clearly separate. VERDICT Good for readers looking for more puzzles and learning how to match objects.

Nelson, Louise. Chinese New Year. ISBN 9781534543041.
––––. Christmas. ISBN 9781534543089.
––––. Day of the Dead. ISBN 9781534543126.
––––. Diwali. ISBN 9781534543164.
––––. Eid al-Fitr. ISBN 9781534543867.
––––. Hanukkah. ISBN 9781534543201.
ea vol: 24p. (Festivals and Celebrations). Greenhaven/KidHaven. Dec. 2022. Tr. $26.23.
Gr 2-4 –International festivals and celebrations are highlighted in each title. Each volume opens with a table of contents and uses colorful borders and large photos with a paragraph of text to describe the topic. A short quiz, glossary, and index are included in the back matter. Vocabulary words are underlined; labeled pictures and infographics are used to further understanding, explaining, for example, that Eid-al Firtr means a festival of breaking fast. Diverse people, places, and foods are pictured. Titles validate that many people who celebrate may do so differently, offering wider worldview understanding, such as for Hanukkah “In Cuba, people celebrate with fried plantain, which is a type of fruit.” Although titles are short, each topic touches on multiple aspects of each observance being discussed. VERDICT A great introduction to festivals and celebrations around the world for beginning readers.

Rebman, Nick. Drums. ISBN 9781646196982.
––––. Flute. ISBN 9781646196999.
––––. Piano. ISBN 9781646197002.
––––. Recorder. ISBN 9781646197019.
––––. Trumpet. ISBN 9781646197026.
––––. Ukulele. ISBN 9781646197033.
––––. Violin. ISBN 9781646197040.
––––. Xylophone. ISBN 9781646197057.
ea vol: 24p. (Musical Instruments). North Star Eds./Little Blue Readers. Jan. 2023. Tr. $28.50.
K-Gr 2 –Titles in this series cover different instruments. Opening with a table of contents, full-color photographs on one page correspond with two to three sentences on the following color-blocked page. Photos are labeled when necessary; when it states “I play my trumpet. It has three valves,” a picture of the three valves is clearly indicated. A picture glossary followed by an index is on the final page. Sound safety is also covered: “I play the drums. I wear earplugs.” Throughout the series, diverse groups of people are shown playing each instrument, making it accessible to all. Because the titles are brief, the information about each instrument is not overwhelming, so it remains a useful reading practice book. VERDICT A good introduction to instruments and great short nonfiction for beginning readers.

Redshaw, Hermione. Absurd Art! ISBN 9798885093804.
––––. Baffling Buildings! ISBN 9798885093811.
––––. Inexplicable Inventions! ISBN 9798885093828.
––––. Strange Science! ISBN 9798885093835.
ea vol: 24p. (Wacky World Of...). Bearport/Fusion Bks. Jan. 2023. Tr. $26.99.
Gr 3-4 –This series explores the amusing oddities that can be found in art, architecture, science, and inventions. Titles each have a table of contents followed by a brief explanation of the topic with vocabulary words in bold. The back matter has a quick list of more interesting facts followed by a conclusion, glossary, and an index. A mixture of graphic designs and photos combined with a short paragraph and facts via sidebar or bubbles are used to discuss the intriguing subjects throughout the text. Easy activities are included in each title to help readers connect to the text, such as making stencil art like Banksy in Absurd Art or a memory test experiment in Strange Science. While coverage is not in-depth, each topic is quickly described, sparking curiosity and encouraging further questions, such as “Turning milk into clothes takes around two months. One glass of milk can make five shirts!” ­Using short sentences, a variety of pictures, and the connecting activities makes this series less intimidating while imparting something new. VERDICT A quick read for reluctant readers on a wide range of topics.

Upper Elementary to Middle School

Felix, Rebecca. Crafting with Wood: DIY Woodworking Projects. ISBN 9781532198847.
––––. Creating with Ceramics: DIY Clay & ­Pottery Projects. ISBN 9781532198854.
Kukla, Lauren. Designing with Textiles: DIY ­Fabric & Fiber Projects. ISBN 9781532198878.
Olson, Elsie. Engineering with Circuits: DIY Motor & Robotics Projects. ISBN 9781532198885.
Rusick, Jessica & Ruthie Van Oosbree. Making with Metal: DIY Metalworking Projects. ISBN 9781532198892.
ea vol: 64p. (Craft to Career). Abdo & Daughters. Jan. 2023. Tr. $35.64.
Gr 4-8 –Materials used to highlight potential careers in this series are used to create everyday items. The table of contents is accompanied by pictures of the material being discussed, from fabric-making to metal and glasswork. Each title breaks down how the material can be made and its history. The back matter includes a glossary of terms, online resources with a QR code, and an index. The topics go further in-depth with materials, such as the finishing touches on a design, famous people who use the material, and how cultures use the materials. The titles also describe the tools needed to make and work with the material, how to set up a workshop, and the safety of working with the art form, such as “Many metalworking tools and materials are sharp….Work carefully and slowly when using these tools.” Each title has approximately four hands-on crafts with clear photos, step-by-step instructions, and design tips and tricks. While many of the activities will need instructor supervision, some crafts can be adapted for younger students or made more challenging for older readers. VERDICT A comprehensive series about working with different materials and the careers that are possible.

Peterson, Tamara Jm & Ruthie Van Oosbree. Hands-On Projects for Wildlife Watchers. ISBN 9781669004318.
––––. Handy Projects for Happy Campers. ISBN 9781669004370.
––––. Unique Projects for Nature Lovers. ISBN 9781669004493.
––––. Useful Projects for Hiking Fans. ISBN 9781669004431.
ea vol: 32p. (Adventurous Crafts for Kids). Capstone. Jan. 2023. Tr. $31.99.
Gr 4-8 –Activities and crafts to explore, connect, and experience nature safely can be found in this series. Each activity starts with a picture of the finished product and an explanation of the activity. Materials and step-by-step instructions are listed alongside labeled pictures. A general tip is sometimes given to an applicable craft, such as, “Take a look at premade dried meals at a grocery store to get ideas for other meals.” when preparing to go camping. The layout is simple and easy to read with contrasting text colors and clear examples. A table of contents starts each title, followed by a page that lists general supplies, tips, and safety precautions. End matter includes additional reading materials that can be found online or in books, and a section about the author or authors. Although some of the materials needed for each project may be expensive or hard to find if not prepared in advance, such as compost for “Pollinator Flower Seed Bombs,” many of the items are supposed to be reused items that can be found around the house or school to reinforce respecting the environment. VERDICT Fun crafts and activities to encourage creativity and support of the environment.

 

Upper Middle School to High School

Borgert-Spaniol, Megan. Move with Art! Activities to Power the Body. ISBN 9781532199820.
––––. Think with Art! Activities to Enrich the Mind. ISBN 9781532199837.
Kukla, Lauren. Breathe with Art! Activities to Manage Emotions. ISBN 9781532199783.
––––. Connect with Art! Activities to Strengthen Relationships. ISBN 9781532199790.
––––. Explore with Art! Activities to Experience Space. ISBN 9781532199806.
––––. Make with Art! Activities to Find Purpose. ISBN 9781532199813.
ea vol: 32p. (Wellness Workshop). Abdo/Checkerboard. Jan. 2023. Tr. $32.79.
Gr 4-9 –Titles in this series use art to help readers learn to manage stress in mindful, positive ways. Opening with a table of contents and a “Wellness Wheel,” each title covers an aspect on the wheel that includes social, physical, emotional, spiritual, environmental, and intellectual wellness. Designed pages contrast with full pages of text about each wellness topic, followed by an activity such as a quiz or craft with vocabulary words in bold. Even though the titles are short, the text does a good job of showing readers how to be mindful of their own feelings and those of others: “When meeting people, try to be empathetic. Try to find things you and your new friend might have in common, too!” The back matter includes a glossary, online resources via QR code, and an index. Although the text is intended for older readers, activities can be done by younger students and adapted if necessary, such as, “Belly breathing is a great way to calm strong emotions. The best part? You can do it anytime and anywhere!” With information, activities, and additional tips and steps shown throughout for each topic of wellness, the information is accessible and easy to follow. VERDICT A fantastic wellness workshop for all ages with a focus on art.

Kukla, Lauren. Mini Gifts that Surprise and Delight. ISBN 9781669004738.
––––. Mini Machines that Zoom and Spin. ISBN 9781669004554.
––––. Mini Projects to Style Your Space. ISBN 9781669004615.
––––. Mini Sweets to Savor and Share. ISBN 9781669004677.
ea vol: 32p. (Mini Makers). Capstone. Jan. 2023. Tr. $31.99.
Gr 2 Up –Making and crafting miniature items using new or upcycled materials is what this series brings. Each title opens with a table of contents that mostly lists where to find each activity. The back matter includes where to find more information, followed by an “About the Author” section. Key words are highlighted in bold and in different colors to emphasize points in the text. Each title starts with what basic supplies will be needed, along with crafting safety tips. Every mini-craft then lists the supplies needed for the specific activity and provides step-by-step instructions with corresponding photos for each step. While some crafts are a little inaccessible, like making a mini fan using a small fan motor with blades combined with common household items, some are more convenient, like making a mini terrarium. VERDICT Adaptable crafts and activities for a wide variety of ages, for home or the classroom.

 


The 12 series mentioned above provide many artistic and creative activities to broaden horizons, foster innovation, and explore. Reluctant readers may be interested in the intriguing oddities found in the Wacky World Of… (Bearport) series. Various series are dedicated to crafting for a variety of ages, such asAdventurous Crafts for Kids (Capstone), Crafting to Career (Abdo), and Mini Makers (Capstone). Other series like Origami on the Farm (Rosen) andCan You Find It? (Capstone/Pebble) offer simple recreation. Musical Instruments (North Star) and Explore Music (Pop!) are great introductions to music, while Behind The Brand (Bellwether) looks at passion in a field and its impact on popular fandom. World Festivals (Abdo) and Festivals and Celebrations (Greenhaven) showcase holidays and observances around the globe. Of the series mentioned, the Wellness Workshop (Abdo) stands out for setting the foundation for mindfulness in arts and recreation. Educators, caregivers, and readers will find cultural celebrations, fun projects, practical wellness tools, and possibly discover new passions along the way.
 

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