10 Reference Titles for Research in Women's History, Sharks, AI & More

This print reference roundup features nonfiction titles for all ages, including a bird guide for kids, a volume on censorship, two research-ready tomes on women's history, and the ultimate bugopedia.

These titles are available as a downloadable spreadsheet.

ALLEN, John. Artificial Intelligence: Promise and Peril. 64p. ReferencePoint. Apr. 2024. Tr $32.95. ISBN 9781678207243.
Gr 5 Up–This title outlines the topic from the birth of the term artificial intelligence (AI) in 1955 to business giants discussing privacy, usage, and protective measures with the government in 2023. Eye-catching graphics and images introduce readers to mind-blowing points about AI’s technology time line spanning 82 years and crucial developments throughout history. Alan Turing built a chess-playing computing machine and a conversing computer and is considered the father of artificial intelligence. The author uses charts to compare concerns with AI and the excitement for the uses of this relatively new tool at citizens’ fingertips. Readers’ curiosity will grow as they learn about coding language, such as Bard, deep learning, and deepfakes. The book discusses how AI is already being used in several industries. Medical professionals use equipment and process patient records for more efficient treatments and diagnosis. Military drones contain extraordinary capabilities enhancing wartime strategies. Businesses are looking for ways to streamline their production in warehouses, upscale marketing content, and provide next-level customer services, which increases their overall profitability. This book also considers the dilemmas that artists and other individuals whose careers and livelihood are based on their original works and intellectual property face. Allen introduces readers to myriad examples, research, and thoughts to ponder in an easy-to-follow text. VERDICT Middle and high schoolers will be fascinated by this technology and intrigued by its present and future. Any accomplished nonfiction collection needs this resource.–Tanya Haynes

Careers in Intelligence & National Security379p. Salem Pr. Jan. 2024. Tr $125. ISBN 9781637007969.
Gr 7 Up–Innately curious students who find any career, event, or national security briefing remotely interesting are going to devour this guidebook. There are 31 career profiles, each one covering an area for specialization, work environment, education and training, earnings and advancement, employment and outlook, and more. Most profiles also include transferable skills and abilities that are necessary for success in the field as well as recommended high school courses to provide a foundation for further schooling and training if necessary. The “more information” section includes various websites that allow for extended learning. To lighten an otherwise dense text, there are fast facts for each career that range from famous people who held similar positions to historical information as well as interviews with people who currently hold those jobs. Back matter includes three appendices to help readers focus their career interests through the Holland Code analysis, further reading, and helpful organizations and resources. VERDICT This should be an easy purchase for any middle or high school library’s career collection that’s looking a bit dusty.–Samantha Hull

DEMELLO, Margo. Bigfoot to Mothman: A Global Encyclopedia of Legendary Beasts and Monsters320p. Bloomsbury. Feb. 2024. Tr $100. ISBN 9781440877254.
Gr 8 Up–The author of several books that shine a light on more obscure traditions around the world, now offers a global and multifaceted approach to cryptids. A lengthy introduction features the history and an overview of modern-day cryptozoology. The work also addresses the rise of mistrust in hard science during the pandemic and the nature of belief when it comes to the unexplainable. Crucially, DeMello stresses that the guide is not designed to prove the existence of the creatures covered but to explore the global cultural phenomenon of cryptids more fully. The text is organized geographically, alphabetically, thematically, and by taxonomy, providing multiple ways to access entries. It discusses approximately 50 cryptids and another 40 creatures like cryptids. Entries provide the name, alternative names, related cryptids, origin location, and the date and location of the “last documented sighting,” although there are no details or further information provided about such sightings. Many entries contain historical, cultural, psychological, and even literary perspectives on the role cryptids play in the human psyche. Discussions of governmental cover-ups in cryptid sightings and activities undercut that stronger narrative. Further reading, including primary sources, follows each entry. VERDICT Readers may find a more traditional and comprehensive resource in the 2014 Encyclopedia of Cryptology: A Global Guide by Michael Newton. An additional purchase where interest in the unexplained is strong.–Lee De Groft

DONOHUE, Moira Rose. Little Kids First Nature Guide: Birds48p. National Geographic. Apr. 2024. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781426375460.
K-Gr 3–A lovely entry into the world of birds, tailored specifically for young readers. From the first page, this book captures the imagination with the vibrant, high-quality imagery that National Geographic is known for. The book is designed to be engaging and educational, incorporating important text features, such as captions that elaborate on the visuals, a table of contents for easy navigation, a glossary to help young readers build their vocabulary, and an index for quick reference. These elements create a rich, interactive learning experience that is fun and informative. The photo-driven approach of this volume makes it a perfect introduction for children to the diversity and beauty of birds. Its layout and design are crafted to hold the attention of young readers, encouraging them to explore and learn at their own pace. This is a great option for young nature and wildlife lovers. VERDICT Highly recommended as a first purchase for educators looking to enrich their collection for avid avian fans.–Christina Salazar

DUQUAINE-WATSON, Jillian M. Prescription for Inequality: Exploring the Social Determinants of Health of At-Risk Groups. 320p. Bloomsbury. Feb. 2024. Tr $130. ISBN 9781440879272.
Gr 9 Up–An in-depth examination of the factors influencing health outcomes for 13 distinct population groups in the United States. These groups encompass various demographics, including race, income, gender, locality, age, and physical ability. The book delves into the current health status of each group and explores the underlying contributors, such as economic disparities, educational access, healthcare availability, and living conditions. Reading like a scholarly journal article, it presents a wealth of information, making it a valuable resource for research purposes. Readers will find not only detailed accounts of health conditions but also statistical data about the contributing factors. This text prioritizes substance over visual aids, offering a dense but informative read minus unnecessary embellishments. VERDICT A worthwhile purchase for libraries with students seeking comprehensive statistical insights into health disparities and the societal factors influencing group health outcomes.–Kate Rao

FLYNN, Sarah Wassner. 1,000 Facts About Sharks96p. (1,000 Facts About). National Geographic. Jun. 2024. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781426371752.
Gr 4-7–Did you know sharks are born with a complete set of teeth? Or that they have eyelids? Or that scientists are studying Greenland sharks to see how they live so long? Even if students already know these fun facts, there are hundreds more in store in this overview of one of the world’s apex predators. This short book organizes its facts by categories like “Colorful,” “Mega,” “Graceful,” or “Superpowered.” Also, there are categories like “High-Tech Facts About Shark-Inspired Technology,” “Pop-Up Facts About Sharks in Pop Culture,” and “Important Facts About Saving Sharks.” There are pages dedicated to famous sharks like hammerheads and great whites but also lesser-known sharks like angel and dogfish sharks. Lots of clear, crisp pictures are sometimes overshadowed by the text, but to fit all those facts into less than 100 pages requires lots of words. Some facts are very easy to understand; some are incredibly technical with large scientific terms. The last nine pages are dedicated to a glossary, list of types of sharks, and an index. VERDICT Great for curious ocean-explorers-to-be, and answers over and over the age-old question for kids everywhere—Why?–Jessica Durham

GUNNELL, Kristine Ashton, ed. Voices of American Women’s History from Reconstruction to the Present: Contemporary Accounts of Daily Life. 272p. (Voices of an Era). Bloomsbury. Nov. 2023. Tr $130. ISBN 9781440872464.
Gr 9 Up–This book offers personal insights into significant issues that have shaped American women’s lives from 18702020. Brief chapters follow roughly chronological order and are presented by offering an introduction, followed by points to consider while reading, first-person accounts with supporting documents, what happened after the historical moment that each chapter details, topics or activities that would inspire additional research, and short bibliographies. Of these last few items, the “Ask Yourself” questions and the “Topics and Activities to Consider” are the most unique to this title and make it stand out among other women’s history reference books for this age group. The sidebars that provide more details or definitions of terms used within the text are helpful, especially for younger readers. Photographs are used sparingly but effectively. This reference book discusses a range of topics, such as race, political ideologies, culture, religion, class, and sexual identity. Compared to other works available, this text provides more breadth of coverage, including Chinese immigration, plural marriage, and lesbianism in the military, in addition to the more expected subjects of women’s suffrage and birth control. While a few of the resources listed in the “Further Reading” sections of each chapter are available online, most are print resources, and some are from the last century. VERDICT A reference title that provides insight into a multitude of factors pertinent to American women’s history from the late 19th century to today. Recommended.–Jean MacDonald

HENDRICKS, Nancy. Women’s Equality in America: Examining the Facts. 208p. (Contemporary Debates). Bloomsbury. Feb. 2024. Tr $75. ISBN 9781440879463.
Gr 7 Up–This timely, detailed book provides a comprehensive overview of topics, issues, and resources relating to women’s equality throughout American history, spanning from the lead-up to the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention to the 2022 reversal of Roe v. Wade. To assist readers in digesting its content, the book employs a useful structure throughout. Chapters center on a theme, for example, “Women’s Equality and Intersectionality,” and are comprised of four to 10 questions surrounding that topic, such as, “How did intersectionality impact the suffrage movement?” For each question, the book provides a succinct answer, a detailed explanation of the relevant historical facts, and a list of resources for further reading. In addition to easing the cognitive load for readers, this structure also lends itself well to different classroom applications, including short reading assignments, group work, and starting points for research topics, and provides the opportunity for students to practice countering controversial claims with facts. This adeptly balances historical perspectives with modern contexts and weaves in more recent themes like intersectionality. VERDICT An excellent resource on women’s equality that, through its effective structure, encourages multiple practical classroom applications.–Mary Kamela

MOONEY, Carla. Censorship: What Is It and How Does It Impact Society? 64p. ReferencePoint. Jan. 2024. Tr $32.95. ISBN 9781678207267.
Gr 7 Up–This is a well-organized and accessible text for readers and researchers. Separated into five chapters, Mooney brings a balanced approach to the primary aspects of censorship and its consequences. Within the chapters, “Free Speech,” Banning Books,” “Controversy in the Classroom,” “Misinformation and Disinformation,” and “Debate Over Cancel Culture,” readers will discover current examples, current court cases, up-to-date pictures, and relevant quotations. Although there is a considerable amount of information contained here, it isn’t overwhelming because the chapters run between nine to 10 pages, and bright red headings, color photographs, and pull-out quotes break up the text. Most chapters also highlight specific issues, such as “Self-Censorship in Hollywood” and “Cross Burnings and Free Speech.” This will be accessible to most young adults, although students who haven’t had much exposure to nonfiction may need support. There are abundant source notes in addition to the lists of pertinent organizations, further reading, and websites for those who seek more information. An extensive index makes it simple for readers to find exactly the information that they need. VERDICT Quality material updated and organized for easy use makes this a good addition to libraries.–Laura Fields Eason

MURAWSKI, Darlyne & Nancy Honovich. Ultimate Bugopediaphotos by Darlyne Murawski. 2nd ed. 296p. National Geographic. Apr. 2024. Tr $34.99. ISBN 9781426376160.
Gr 2-5–Thank goodness for insects! Without insects that pollinate many of our fruits, flowers, and vegetables, our lives would be vastly different. There wouldn’t be much produce, honey, beeswax, silk, and other useful products that insects provide. Honovich and nature photographer Murawski have combined their numerous explorations and learning to present a profusion of interesting and intricate behaviors of insects. The book digs deep into the more than one million known species of bugs, some familiar and others not so much, that exist here on our planet. Specific features in the book are extensive lists of butterflies, bees, ants, flies, beetles, and many more species. It answers fascinating questions, such as how a giraffe weevil uses its noselike snout, or what it means to be a living fossil like the snakefly or a moth that feeds at night on the tears of Southeast Asian cattle. Each chapter is filled with hundreds of highlighted bug facts nestled alongside brightly colored photographs to support the attention and interest of young readers. Each insect has a story to share. Kids won’t want to miss a single section. VERDICT The perfect must-have, fun-filled reference book—for school or home—on all things bugs.–Lyn Smith

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