All Natural: Life Science | Series Nonfiction

More water, please! This season’s offerings are all about maintaining and preserving our blue planet, with just a glimpse of the devastating capabilities of nature. Learn about biomes, water treatment plants, tsunamis, genetic diseases, and much more.

1604SMS-LifeSciThese spring titles encourage readers to learn about natural worlds close to home and far away. Many deal with common phenomena that we take for granted. With two series devoted entirely to water, along with a few individual volumes in other series, this is indeed a big subject this season. There is a focus on the positive aspects of nature (picturesque trees and flowers) and devastating dangers (avalanches, hurricanes, wildfires). Additional titles explore the human body and various genetic conditions. Although most series reviewed below don’t break new ground, they offer an opportunity to do some spring cleaning—pruning and freshening a collection.


Adamson, Thomas K. & Heather Adamson. California Wildfires Survival Stories. ISBN 9781634074223; ISBN 9781503806627.

Bailer, Darice. Indian Ocean Tsunami Survival Stories. ISBN 9781634074247; ISBN 9781503806603.

Ford, Jeanne Marie. Hurricane Katrina Survival Stories. ISBN 9781634074216; ISBN 9781503806580.

O’Keefe, Emily. Joplin Tornado Survival Stories. ISBN 9781634074261; ISBN 9781503806634.

Ventura, Marne. Haiti Earthquake Survival Stories. ISBN 9781634074230; ISBN 9781503806597.

––––. Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Survival Stories. ISBN 9781634074254; ISBN 9781503806610.

ea vol: 32p. (Natural Disaster True Survival Stories). chron. further reading. glossary. index. maps. Child’s World. 2016. lib. ed. $28.50. ebk. $28.50.

Gr 3-6 –Following a two-page overview of the title event, each volume presents four or five dramatic accounts of people who experienced the effects. Photos of survivors accompany many stories, including those of a small boy pulled from Haiti’s earthquake rubble and a man floating on his house 10 miles off the coast of Japan. Along with tales of heroic rescues are unusual discussions such as how animals fled well before people sensed the Indian Ocean tsunami and how a structure was designed to survive wildfires. The locations, causes, and extent of each disaster are well documented. VERDICT Individual accounts of disaster survivors put human faces on statistics of injuries, fatalities, and devastating losses. A top choice for most collections.

Clay, Kathryn. Animals in Spring. ISBN 9781491483022; ISBN 9781491483060.

––––. Flowers. ISBN 9781491483046; ISBN 9781491483084.

––––. Planting Seeds. ISBN 9781491483053; ISBN 9781491483091.

––––. Rain Showers. ISBN 9781491483039; ISBN 9781491483077.

ea vol: 24p. (Celebrate Spring). further reading. glossary. index. photos. Capstone. 2016. lib. ed. $15.99. pap. $6.95.

PreS-Gr 2 –Two sentences of simple text accompany each photo that introduces an aspect of spring. Among the more striking images are the germination of a seed (Planting) and a frog floating on a mass of eggs (Animals). Flowers identifies a number of common varieties and encourages readers to search for their own examples. Rain Showers notes the importance of precipitation to plants and animals. The books’ small format will please beginners as they investigate the topics while gaining reading skills. The larger format and extra scientific information included in Capstone’s recent “All About Spring” will work better for group sharing. VERDICT Consider where demand for nonfiction for the youngest readers is high.

Dickmann, Nancy. Earth’s Landforms. ISBN 9781502608680; ISBN 9781502608666; ISBN 9781502608697.

––––. Habitats and Biomes. ISBN 9781502608802; ISBN 9781502608789; ISBN 9781502608819.

––––. Life Cycles. ISBN 9781502608642; ISBN 9781502608628; ISBN 9781 502608659.

––––. Plant Structures. ISBN 9781 502608765; ISBN 9781502608741; ISBN 9781502608772.

––––. The Rock Cycle. ISBN 9781502608727; ISBN 9781502608703; ISBN 9781 502608734.

––––. The Water Cycle. ISBN 9781 502608604; ISBN 9781502608581; ISBN 9781502608611.

ea vol: 32p. (Earth Figured Out). diag. illus. photos. Cavendish Square. 2016. lib. ed. $28.50. pap. $10.58. ebk. $28.50.

Gr 3-5 –One-volume overviews of multi-faceted topics offer useful introductions to subjects that are sometimes lumped together. For example, Habitats and Biomes not only introduces major examples but also mentions variations such as cold, hot, and temperate deserts, as well as tropical rain forests. Rock Cycle and Water Cycle are the most tightly focused texts, while Life Cycles attempts to cover plants, humans, and other animals. Each two-to-four-page explanatory section is followed by a spread using graphics and photos to highlight numbers related to the information. Larger photos enhance the text. VERDICT Introductions to the basics of important concepts that could generate ideas for more in-depth explorations using additional resources. Select volumes as needed to fill gaps or supplement collection resources.

Green, Jen. Wild Flowers. ISBN 9781 508145967; ISBN 9781508145943; ISBN 9781508145974.

Hibbert, Clare. Pond Wildlife. ISBN 9781508145899; ISBN 9781508145875; ISBN 9781508145905.

––––. Trees. ISBN 9781508145981; ISBN 9781508145912; ISBN 9781508145936.

Senker, Cath. Birds. ISBN 9781508145776; ISBN 9781508145752; ISBN 9781 508145783.

––––. Creepy-Crawlies. ISBN 9781508145813; ISBN 9781508145790; ISBN 9781 508145820.

––––. Garden Flowers. ISBN 9781508145851; ISBN 9781508145837; ISBN 9781 508145868.

ea vol: 32p. (Adventures in Nature). further reading. glossary. index. photos. PowerKids. 2016. lib. ed. $26.25. pap. $10. ebk. $26.25.

Gr 3-5 –Stressing observation and participation, each spread in these volumes includes puzzles to reinforce information presented on the opposite text page. Matching photos of animals and plants to their silhouettes, unscrambling names, spotting differences and similarities, and other activities keep readers engaged. Sometimes the photos are so small that identification can be difficult, but most are adequate. Suggestions for outdoor activities encourage students to go beyond the text by recording sights, sounds, and smells in their own nature notebooks. Basic information about structures, habitats, and seasonal changes offer starting points for young naturalists as they explore their surroundings. VERDICT The format of the in-book puzzles suits explorations by one or two readers at a time, but suggestions for outdoor activities can easily include groups. A good choice for most libraries.

Halvorson, Karin. Inside the Blood. ISBN 9781624039416; ISBN 9781680771480.

––––. Inside the Bones. ISBN 9781624039393; ISBN 9781680771466.

––––. Inside the Kidneys. ISBN 9781624039430; ISBN 9781680771503.

––––. Inside the Muscles. ISBN 9781624039409; ISBN 9781680771473.

––––. Inside the Skin, Hair, and Nails. ISBN 9781624039423; ISBN 9781680771497.

––––. Inside Your Germs. ISBN 9781 624039447; ISBN 9781680771510.

ea vol: 32p. (Super Simple Body Set 2). diag. glossary. illus. photos. ABDO. 2016. lib. ed. $18.95. ebk. $31.95.

Gr 1-4 –Eye-catching visuals and effective graphic design pack lots of information about body parts and systems into a few pages. Three or four activities interspersed among the factual presentations reinforce the concepts presented. Most volumes include at least one activity that produces a “model” such as a bone made with clay, a sponge, and a toilet paper tube. Unfortunately, the need for adult supervision is never stated, specifically in Kidneys, where projects involve cutting a plastic bottle or using a hammer and nails to punch holes in a jar lid. A plethora of diagrams plus detailed drawings and close-up photos help explain complex structures and functions of body parts like white and red blood cells and platelets. VERDICT Well-designed and informative presentations for young readers to explore on their own and investigate further with adult help, as noted above.

Hansen, Grace. Flowers. ISBN 9781 680801354; ISBN 9781680802474.

––––. Fruits. ISBN 9781680801361; ISBN 9781680802481.

––––. Leaves. ISBN 9781680801378; ISBN 9781680802498.

––––. Roots. ISBN 9781680801385; ISBN 9781680802504.

––––. Seeds. ISBN 9781680801392; ISBN 9781680802511.

––––. Stems. ISBN 9781680801408; ISBN 9781680802528.

ea vol: 24p. (Plant Anatomy). glossary. index. photos. websites. ABDO. 2016. lib. ed. $19.95. ebk. $32.95.

PreS-Gr 2 –Close-up photos and clear text introduce young readers to basic features of plant anatomy. The large format will work well with groups, who can compare plant parts and root systems or contrast features such as woody and herbaceous stems. Although most essential plant parts are clearly identified, some text references, such as sepals in Fruits, could benefit from a photo label in addition to the glossary entry. In Flower, diagrams of flower reproduction with photo sequences from seed to plant will aid young botanists in understanding growth and development. This treatment is not available in all of the titles, as Leaves would benefit from a similar diagram explaining photosynthesis. VERDICT Clean design and attractive visuals will hold the attention of browsers and beginning researchers. Purchase the entire set for an integrated overview of plant anatomy.

Lawrence, Ellen. Covered in Water. ISBN 9781943553266; ISBN 9781943553600.

––––. Say Hello to H2O. ISBN 9781943553211; ISBN 9781943553556.

––––. The Water Beneath Your Feet. ISBN 9781943553242; ISBN 9781943553587.

––––. Wet, Blue, and Good for You. ISBN 9781943553259; ISBN 9781943553594.

––––. What’s So Fresh About Fresh Water? ISBN 9781943553235; ISBN 9781943553570.

––––. Why Is Seawater Salty? ISBN 9781943553228; ISBN 9781943553563.

ea vol: 24p. (Drip, Drip, Drop: Earth’s Water). chart. diag. further reading. glossary. illus. index. maps. photos. Bearport. 2016. lib. ed. $17.95. ebk. $27.95.

K-Gr 3 –As Lawrence explores various aspects of water, she engages readers in the process. Although the illustrations are merely adequate, relevant questions interspersed throughout the volumes encourage readers to think before they turn the page for the answer. The “Science Lab” activity at the end of each book goes beyond listing instructions by including questions to foster prediction and observation. VERDICT Beneath Your Feet’s exploration of groundwater and Say Hello’s clear explanations of water’s properties rank as top choices, but the entire series merits first-purchase consideration.

Murray, Julie. Arms and Hands. ISBN 9781680801569; ISBN 9781680802689.

––––. Ears. ISBN 9781680801576; ISBN 9781680802696.

––––. Eyes. ISBN 9781680801583; ISBN 9781680802702.

––––. Legs and Feet. ISBN 9781680801590; ISBN 9781680802719.

––––. Mouth. ISBN 9781680801606; ISBN 9781680802726.

––––. Nose. ISBN 9781680801613; ISBN 9781680802733.

ea vol: 24p. (Your Body). diag. glossary. websites. ABDO. 2016. lib. ed. $18.95. ebk. $31.95.

PreS-Gr 2 –Simple introductions to the structure and function of body parts will capture readers’ attention from the first glimpse of the striking covers. Inside, one or two sentences pair effectively with the facing photo to help beginners explore the topic. Each volume includes an example of an animal with noteworthy features such as a wide-eyed owl (Eyes) or big-mouthed hippo (Mouths). A labeled diagram of the body parts concludes each volume. This feature enhances some introductions with terms such as wrist, forearm, and elbow but seems less helpful for external features of the nose (apex, columella) or ear (tragus, helix). VERDICT Promising choices that can be shared with small groups or browsed by individuals looking for basic information on the subjects.

Olien, Rebecca. Cleaning Water. ISBN 9781491482780; ISBN 9781491482827.

––––. Saving Water. ISBN 9781491482797; ISBN 9781491482834.

––––. The Water Cycle at Work. ISBN 9781491482735; ISBN 9781491482803.

––––. Water Sources. ISBN 9781491482773; ISBN 9781491482810.

ea vol: 24p. (Water in Our World). chart. diag. glossary. maps. Capstone. 2016. lib. ed. $18.49. pap. $6.95.

Gr 1-4 –These straightforward presentations about water-related topics will serve readers needing basic facts for reports. Definitions of unfamiliar terms are located at the bottom of the text pages on which the words are introduced. Each book concludes with a related activity, some requiring adult help. Cleaning Water clearly explains processes involved in water treatment plants and includes a well-labeled diagram as well as photos. Saving Water offers general suggestions for conservation. VERDICT Although collections needing report material might want to add the entire series, those with limited budgets or an ample supply of water-related titles might select only Cleaning Water, a first choice for most libraries.

Otfinoski, Steven. Avalanches. ISBN 9780531222942; ISBN 9780531225103.

––––. Quicksand. ISBN 9780531222959; ISBN 9780531225110.

––––. Tornadoes. ISBN 9780531222973; ISBN 9780531225134.

Squire, Ann O. Sinkholes. ISBN 9780 531222966; ISBN 9780531225127.

––––. Tsunamis. ISBN 9780531222980; ISBN 9780531225141.

––––. Volcanic Eruptions. ISBN 9780531222997; ISBN 9780531225158.

ea vol: 48p. (A True Book: Extreme Earth). diag. glossary. photos. websites. Children’s Pr. 2016. lib. ed. $29. pap. $6.95.

Gr 3-5 –After grabbing readers’ attention with a compelling account of a disaster, each volume proceeds to explain the science behind the event. Vintage photographs and artists’ renditions accompany presentations of historic examples such as the 1755 Lisbon tsunami and the 1951 Alpine avalanches, as well as more recent occurrences. Small diagrams enhance explanations of topics such as how tornadoes, sinkholes, and volcanoes form. The authors discuss scientific advances in prediction, efforts to mitigate deaths and injury, and locations where the phenomena occur most frequently. They also offer survival tips. VERDICT Although most of these topics are covered in many books, this series provides a chance to replace worn volumes and supplement holdings about less common subjects such as quicksand.

Schuetz, Kari. Life in a Coral Reef. ISBN 9781626173156; ISBN 9781681031408.

––––. Life in a Desert. ISBN 9781626173163; ISBN 9781681031415.

––––. Life in a Tropical Rain Forest. ISBN 9781626173200; ISBN 9781681031453.

––––. Life in a Tundra. ISBN 9781626173217; ISBN 9781681031460.

Waxman, Laura Hamilton. Life in a Forest. ISBN 9781626173170; ISBN 9781681031422.

––––. Life in a Grassland. ISBN 9781626173187; ISBN 9781681031439.

––––. Life in a Wetland. ISBN 9781626173224; ISBN 9781681031477.

––––. Life on a Mountain. ISBN 9781626173194; ISBN 9781681031446.

ea vol: 24p. (Biomes Alive!). chart. diag. further reading. glossary. index. maps. photos. websites. Bellwether. 2016. lib. ed. $22.95. ebk. $22.95.

K-Gr 3 –Using only a few sentences per page, these introductions offer a wealth of information for young readers. A world map identifies where the biome exists, and captioned photos throughout the book offer glimpses of specific places. The map in Desert notes hot, cold, and polar types, while Mountains identifies the highest peak on each continent. Representative plants and animals illustrate important characteristics such as camouflage or other survival strategies. Each volume concludes by featuring a specific example such as Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, complete with photo and statistics plus a food web diagram. VERDICT First-rate choices to update or supplement resources about biomes for beginning researchers.

Spilsbury, Richard Louise Spilsbury. At Home in a Coral Reef. ISBN 9781508145547; ISBN 9781508145523; ISBN 9781 508145554.

––––. At Home in Rivers and Lakes. ISBN 9781508145585; ISBN 9781508145561; ISBN 9781508145592.

––––. At Home in the Desert. ISBN 9781508145721; ISBN 9781508145608; ISBN 9781508145622.

––––. At Home in the Mountains. ISBN 9781508145653; ISBN 9781508145639; ISBN 9781508145660.

––––. At Home in the Ocean. ISBN 9781508145677; ISBN 9781508145738; ISBN 9781508145684.

––––. At Home in the Wetlands. ISBN 9781508145714; ISBN 9781508145691; ISBN 9781508145745.

ea vol: 32p. (A Home in the Biome). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. PowerKids. 2016. lib. ed. $26.25. pap. $10. ebk. $26.25.

Gr 2-5 –After a brief introduction to the major characteristics of a biome, each book features ways in which 11 plants or animals adapt to those conditions to survive. Each spread includes a panorama and close-up photo plus text boxes supplying basic and unusual facts about the subject. Examples range from the expected wetland frogs to the unusual argyroderma, a plant that resembles a pebble until it blossoms after rain. The final two pages of each title discuss threats from pollution, overdevelopment, and other human activity. This series’ major weakness is failing to indicate where most featured plants and animals live, which could lead readers to odd conclusions, such as that mountain gorillas, edelweiss, and condors coexist. Still, these introductions can serve as starting points for additional research. VERDICT Select titles as needed to bolster coverage of flora and fauna adaptations in particular biomes, with Coral Reef and Wetlands the strongest titles.

Middle to High School

McPartland, Randall. Hemophilia. ISBN 9781502609441; ISBN 9781502609458.

––––. Huntington’s Disease. ISBN 9781502609427; ISBN 9781502609434.

––––. Tay-Sachs Disease. ISBN 9781502609465; ISBN 9781502609472.

Miller, Petra. Alopecia Areata. ISBN 9781502609489; ISBN 9781502609496.

––––. Cystic Fibrosis. ISBN 9781502609403; ISBN 9781502609410.

––––. Down Syndrome. ISBN 9781502609380; ISBN 9781502609397.

ea vol: 64p. (Genetic Conditions). biblio. chron. diag. further reading. glossary. websites. Cavendish Square. 2016. lib. ed. $34.21. ebk. $34.21.

Gr 9 Up –Each volume discusses the causes, diagnosis, progression, and treatments for a single genetic condition. The authors delve into how doctors and scientists unraveled the causes of the conditions, stressing advances in the study of genes and DNA. Although treatments have improved quality and length of life in many cases, no cures for these diseases exist yet. Photos of famous and everyday people with the conditions put faces and names to the topic, but the authors do not minimize the stress and difficulties experienced by both patients and families. Diagrams help clarify complex concepts. An extensive list of resources leads to related organizations. VERDICT Whether seeking report material or personal information, readers will appreciate these thorough overviews. Libraries can add volumes as needed, but the entire series merits consideration.

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Among the top choices for the youngest readers, ABDO’s “Plant Anatomy” provides an attractive and integrated overview. Bearport’s “Drip, Drip, Drop: Earth’s Water” encourages participation, especially with the science lab activities. Bellwether’s “Biomes Alive!” does a fine job of using maps, photos, and diagrams to enhance text, making it accessible to beginners. For older readers, “Natural Disaster: True Survival Stories” from Child’s World effectively humanizes statistics by featuring compelling individual stories. PowerKids’ “Adventures in Nature” fosters reader engagement both with the text itself and with the wider world by offering opportunities for observation and participation. “Genetic Conditions” from Cavendish Square provides clear explanations that will help high school readers and adults understand complex disorders. Most of the other series also bolster or update collections, as noted in the reviews.

Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University Library, Mankato

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