Earthly Marvels | Natural Science Series Nonfiction

New titles examine weather phenomena, food, seasons, and the natural processes that change the earth. Humanity’s impact on the environment is also a recurring topic, as the main theme of multiple series and as a side note or caveat in others.


Librarians and educators have a lot of options to choose from when updating their environmental and natural science collections this fall. New titles examine weather phenomena, food, seasons, and the natural processes that change the earth. Humanity’s impact on the environment is also a recurring topic, as the main theme of multiple series and as a side note or caveat in others. In addition to providing valuable information, the titles for the youngest readers will also introduce them to the common structure found in nonfiction books, as all include at least a table of contents, a glossary, and an index. Some have extensive back matter.



Boone, Mary. Clean It Up! ISBN 9781977125811.
––––. Conserve It! ISBN 9781977125835.
––––. Grow It! ISBN 9781977125781.
––––. Recycle It! ISBN 9781977125798.
––––. Reuse It! ISBN 9781977125804.
––––. Save the Animals! ISBN 9781977125828.
ea vol: 32p. (Saving Our Planet). Capstone/Pebble. Aug. 2020. Tr. $29.32.
Gr 1-3 –Key concepts and ways to take action are featured in this useful series. Examples of real community projects, youth activists, and their impact will inspire readers. Many small steps are suggested (taking quick showers to conserve water and using reusable water bottles) as well as larger ones (starting a community garden or school recycling program). A glossary, a “Read More” section, websites, and an index are included. VERDICT The focus on practical and age-appropriate actions kids can take to make a difference elevates this series. An essential purchase for libraries and classrooms.

Bullard, Lisa. Crayola Desert Colors. ISBN 9781541577503.
––––. Crayola Tundra Colors. ISBN 9781541577534.
––––. Crayola Woodland Colors. ISBN 9781541577527.
Lindeen, Mary. Crayola Grassland Colors. ISBN 9781541577510.
––––. Crayola Ocean Colors. ISBN 9781541577541.
––––. Crayola Rain Forest Colors. ISBN 9781541577497.
ea vol: 32p. (Crayola Colorful Biomes). Lerner. Aug. 2020. Tr. $27.99.
K-Gr 3 –Vivid nature photography is the star of this introduction to the six most common biomes. Each title features a map showing the biome’s locations in the world, a description of the climate and habitat, and chapters on a selection of the biome’s interesting and colorful plants, big animals, and small animals. While the series is not comprehensive enough to be a sole resource, the Crayola tie-in has the potential to intrigue reluctant readers. It also gives educators an opportunity to incorporate art themes into science classes. A glossary, a “To Learn More” section, and an index are included. VERDICT An appealing primer. Recommended for large collections and elementary environmental science lessons.

Horning, Nicole. Let’s Explore Earth’s Rocks! ISBN 9781502656230.
––––. Let’s Explore the Ocean! ISBN 9781502656278.
––––. Let’s Explore the Seasons! ISBN 9781502656315.
––––. Let’s Explore the Sky! ISBN 9781502656353.
––––. Let’s Explore the Soil! ISBN 9781502656391.
––––. Let’s Explore the Weather! ISBN 9781502656438.
ea vol: 24p. (Earth Science Explorers). Cavendish Square. Aug. 2020. Tr. $24.21.
Gr 1-3 –An ambitious series that is limited by its short page count and strange structural choices. Each title features an introduction and two chapters. Let’s Explore Earth’s Rocks! diverges from that format, with individual chapters examining igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks. The text is accessible, but occasionally the concepts are simplified to the point where additional resources or an adult may need to explain further. Let’s Explore the Seasons! is uneven, with fall having four times the page count as spring and summer. The cover of Let’s Explore the Sky! depicts clouds, but the subjects covered within are the sun, moon, and stars. Let’s Explore the Weather! is almost entirely about clouds. “Words to Know” and an index are included. VERDICT Functions decently as a set, but some of the individual titles aren’t as useful on their own.

Murray, Julie. Fall Adventures. ISBN 9781098202149.
––––. Fall Animals. ISBN 9781098202156.
––––. Fall Food. ISBN 9781098202163.
––––. Fall Holidays. ISBN 9781098202170.
––––. Fall Plants. ISBN 9781098202187.
––––. Fall Weather. ISBN 9781098202194.
ea vol: 24p. (Seasons: Fall Fun!). ABDO/Abdo Kids Junior. Aug. 2020. Tr. $28.50.
PreS-Gr 2 –Full-page photographs are the focus of this simple seasonal series. Each spread features one to two short sentences and an accompanying photograph. Fall Animals spotlights animals preparing for winter; all other titles depict children going on adventures, eating food, celebrating holidays, and interacting with plants and weather. The children and accompanying family members depict racial and ability diversity. Fall Weather includes a child who uses a wheelchair. A glossary and an index are included. VERDICT Although visually appealing, there is very little content in each title. An additional purchase for libraries looking to update seasonal collections.

Nelson, Penelope S. From Cow to Cheese. ISBN 9781645275299.
––––. From Flower to Honey. ISBN 9781645275329.
––––. From Garden to Pickle. ISBN 9781645275350.
––––. From Seed to Jam. ISBN 9781645275381.
––––. From Vine to Pizza. ISBN 9781645275411.
––––. From Wheat to Bread. ISBN 9781645275442.
ea vol: 24p. (Where Does It Come From?). Jump!/Bullfrog. Aug. 2020. Tr. $25.65.
K-Gr 3 –A look at the steps needed to bring favorite foods from the farm to the table. Each title includes a sidebar of “Ideas for Parents and Teachers” on the copyright page, with prompts for engaging with readers before, during, and after reading. The accurate descriptions of the preparation and processing are streamlined to be accessible to the target audience, and they are repeated toward the end of the text to reinforce the sequence. Circular labels identify the items in the photographs. Many words are defined in the narrative, with more complex ones found in the glossary. Instructions for accessing online resources are included, as well as an index. VERDICT A first purchase for elementary libraries and classrooms.

Rawson, Katherine. Flowers We Eat. ISBN 9781584150435.
––––. Fruits We Eat. ISBN 9781584150466.
––––. Leaves We Eat. ISBN 9781584150565.
––––. Roots We Eat. ISBN 9781584150640.
––––. Seeds We Eat. ISBN 9781883845049.
––––. Stems We Eat. ISBN 9781883845056.
ea vol: 24p. (Plant Parts We Eat). Mitchell Lane/EZ Readers. Aug. 2020. Tr. $25.
K-Gr 2 –With the visual appeal of a good cookbook, this series adds a high-interest aspect to plant parts. Each title defines the plant part, explains how it is responsible for helping the plant grow, and provides familiar examples of the plant parts that humans eat. The main narrative is clear and appropriate for young readers, with more complex words styled in bold type and included in the glossary. Additional facts are included in “Did You Know?” boxes. Each title features a “Tips for Reading Nonfiction with Beginning Readers” sidebar on the copyright page. A glossary, sources, further reading, an index, and an “About the Author” page are included. VERDICT Highly recommended. This series strikes a good balance of ­nutritious and delicious.



Anthony, William. Air. ISBN 9781502657916.
––––. Earth. ISBN 9781502657954.
––––. Fire. ISBN 9781502657992.
––––. Water. ISBN 9781502658036.
ea vol: 32p. (Elemental Earth). Cavendish Square. Aug. 2020. Tr. $28.50.
Gr 4-8 –A comprehensive, inviting infographic look at the four fundamental elements. Each title explains why the element is essential to life and how it can be destructive. Chapters examine at least two kinds of weather disasters (for example, Earth studies earthquakes and volcanoes), how the element is influenced by human actions, and how it is used for energy production. Other interesting sections detail festivals and celebrations, which include the element in some way, and the gods of world mythologies that control the elements. An “In Case of Emergency” section, a glossary, and an index are included. VERDICT Eye-catching covers, excellent interior graphic design, and high-interest content make this series highly recommended.

Blohm, Craig E. What Is the Impact of Climate Change? ISBN 9781682828595.
––––. What Is the Impact of Ocean Pollution? ISBN 9781682828656.
Kallen, Stuart A. What Is the Impact of Declining Biodiversity? ISBN 9781682828618.
Parks, Peggy J. What Is the Impact of Excessive Waste and Garbage? ISBN 9781682828632.
ea vol: 80p. (Environmental Impact). ReferencePoint. Oct. 2020. Tr. $30.95.
Gr 6 Up –A thought-provoking look at the human impact on the world. Each title includes an introduction and five text-heavy but engaging chapters, which focus on real-world examples and stories. The first four chapters explore what is currently taking place and what is likely to happen in the future, while the fifth chapter offers possible solutions and examples of what is already being done. What Is the Impact of Climate Change? provides the results of a 2019 survey, which states that the top three emotional responses that climate change invokes in teenagers are “afraid,” “motivated,” and “angry.” Each title in this series is likely to solicit the same emotions in readers, but they will hopefully walk away feeling motivated. Source notes, a “Make a Difference” section, a list of organizations, websites, further reading, an index, picture credits, and an “About the Author” page are included. VERDICT A necessary purchase for libraries serving teenagers.

Donato, Dan. Erosion and Weathering Reshape Earth! ISBN 9781538258286.
Doyle, Abby Badach. Biogeology Reshapes Earth! ISBN 9781538258200.
––––. Landslides and Mudslides Reshape Earth! ISBN 9781538258323.
––––. Plate Tectonics Reshape Earth! ISBN 9781538258248.
Light, Charlie. Earthquakes Reshape Earth! ISBN 9781538258408.
––––. Volcanoes Reshape Earth! ISBN 9781538258361.
ea vol: 32p. (Earth Under Construction!). Gareth Stevens. Aug. 2020. Tr. $26.60.
Gr 3-6 –An engrossing and enlightening look at the processes that change our planet. Each title contains 11 to 13 short chapters, which are two to four pages long. There is a significant amount of information, which increases the usefulness of this series for an older audience. Spreads feature two paragraphs of text on the verso page and a full-page photograph or diagram with a descriptive caption and text box on the recto page. The layout makes the series suitable for struggling readers. A glossary, further reading, and an index are included. VERDICT A first purchase for upper-elementary science collections.

Gilles, Renae. Agriculture in Infographics. ISBN 9781534169470.
––––. Clean Water in Infographics. ISBN 9781534169517.
––––. Climate Change in Infographics. ISBN 9781534169463.
––––. Industrialization in Infographics. ISBN 9781534169531.
––––. Invasive Species in Infographics. ISBN 9781534169487.
Lowe, Alexander. Natural Disasters in Infographics. ISBN 9781534169494.
––––. Pollution in Infographics. ISBN 9781534169500.
––––. Renewable Energy in Infographics. ISBN 9781534169524.
ea vol: 32p. (Enviro-graphics). Cherry Lake. Aug. 2020. Tr. $29.93.
Gr 4-6 –Environmental issues are examined from different perspectives in this visually appealing series. Each title introduces the subject, provides the necessary background information, explains the current problems in that field, and presents solutions. Some titles feature success stories, offering readers hope for their future. The series uses a variety of techniques to display information. Colorful time lines, maps, graphs, diagrams, and charts are included. Natural Disasters in Infographics varies from the standard format and contains a helpful chapter on planning for various types of possible disasters. An activity page, a “Learn More” section, a glossary, and an index are included. VERDICT A solid choice for both classrooms and libraries.

Mavrikis, Peter. Explorers of the Deepest Places on Earth. ISBN 9781496683656.
––––. Explorers of the Highest Places on Earth. ISBN 9781496683663.
Yomtov, Nel. Explorers of the Coldest Places on Earth. ISBN 9781496683670.
––––. Explorers of the Remotest Places on Earth. ISBN 9781496683687.
ea vol: 32p. (Extreme Explorers). Capstone. Aug. 2020. Tr. $29.32.
Gr 3-5 –This series introduces young readers to 25 explorers whose expeditions pushed the limits of technology and human endurance. Dry prose relays the facts and risks of the missions. Explorers of the Deepest Places on Earth and Explorers of the Remotest Places on Earth have many possible curriculum tie-ins, as the deep-sea, volcano, and cave explorers who made scientific discoveries are noted in the text. Mount Everest narratives historically minimized the roles of Sherpas, but Explorers of the Highest Places on Earth highlights Tenzing Norgay and Kami Rita. Some of the environmental impacts of climbing are explained in Junko Tabei’s chapter. A glossary, a “Read More” section, websites, and an index are included. VERDICT A supplemental purchase for large collections.

McGregor, Harriet. Blown Away by a Blizzard! illus. by Alan Brown & Diego Viasberg. ISBN 9781647470302.
––––. Destroyed by a Hurricane! illus. by Alan Brown. ISBN 9781647470319.
––––. Flattened by an Earthquake! illus. by Alan Brown. ISBN 9781647470326.
––––. Heat Wave Horror! illus. by Alan Brown & Diego Viasberg. ISBN 9781647470333.
––––. Lightning Strike Survivor! illus. by Alan Brown & Diego Viasberg. ISBN 9781647470340.
––––. Tornado Terror! illus. by Alan Brown. ISBN 9781647470357.
ea vol: 24p. (Uncharted: Stories of Survival). Bearport/Bear Claw. Aug. 2020. Tr. $28.50.
Gr 2-6 –Poor narrative choices drag down the survival stories in this disappointing graphic nonfiction series. Each title contains 16 pages of comic panels divided into three or four short chapters, followed by back matter that includes a two-page explanation of the featured weather phenomenon. The main characters rarely display a knowledge of any of the safety recommendations. This lack of agency limits these narratives as useful starting points for classroom discussions; the named characters seem to have survived simply because they were lucky and were rescued. Heat Wave Horror! is the exception. The protagonist, who is a Black paramedic, treats victims of heatstroke, but she is shown disregarding her own safety in a way that is never acknowledged or addressed. A “Keep Safe” section, a glossary, an index, further reading, and online sources are included. VERDICT Not recommended.

This season’s best choices are useful resources that offer vivid photographs and engaging graphic designs. “Plant Parts We Eat” (Mitchell Lane/EZ Readers) is a good choice for early independent readers that offers a unique perspective on food. The focus on real kid activists and practical, age-appropriate actions in “Saving Our Planet” (Capstone/Pebble) makes it a standout. “Earth Under Construction!” (Gareth Stevens) and “Elemental Earth” (Cavendish Square) have the most interesting information and the best visual presentation.

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