Extreme Weather, Global Warming, & More: 15 Life Science Series

The world of science can be such a wondrous place, from weird mammals to backyard insects, from big ideas about space to microscopic bacteria that roam the earth.

Now more than ever, children need accurate, up-to-date science books that answer questions, satisfy curiosity, and confound and intrigue. The world of science can be such a wondrous place, from weird mammals to backyard insects, from big ideas about space to microscopic bacteria that roam the earth. These series offer a wide range of topics to explore, including sustainable energy and living, the ever-fascinating human body, and the impact of weather on our world. Many of this season’s books center on the climate and its effects on the planet. Designed to entice, to inform, and, yes, even to entertain, these selections will bring science to life for many readers.


Almasy, Kip. How Do Monarch Butterflies Find Their Way Home? ISBN 9781508156420; ISBN 9781508156482.

Bloom, Cleo. How Do Robins Find Worms? ISBN 9781508156406; ISBN 9781508156468.

Garcia, Alonso. How Do Chameleons Change Color? ISBN 9781508156437; ISBN 9781508156734.

Jennings, Dorothy. How Do Beavers Make Dams? ISBN 9781508156444; ISBN 9781508156499.

MacDhui, Lori. How Do Dolphins Communicate? ISBN 9781508156390; ISBN 9781508156451.

Ripley, Mark. How Do Polar Bears Stay Warm? ISBN 9781508156413; ISBN 9781508156475.

ea vol: 24p. (How Life Science Works). glossary. photos. PowerKids. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $23.60. pap. $8.25.

Gr 3-6 –What’s particularly appealing about this series is the coupling of lively writing with a dynamic layout. The books tackle notable and commonly studied questions about animals, including monarch butterfly migration and the changing colors of chameleons. While the titles suggest a single focus, each selection covers a general introduction to the animal and its habitat, offspring, and connections to the wider world. The text is informative, well organized, and accessible to a wide range of readers. VERDICT A solid addition to life science collections.

Best, B.J. How Are Canyons Formed? ISBN 9781502628862; ISBN 9781502628886.

––––. How Are Caves Formed? ISBN 9781502625342; ISBN 9781502625366.

––––. How Are Islands Formed? ISBN 9781502625397; ISBN 9781502625373.

––––. How Are Lakes Formed? ISBN 9781502625519; ISBN 9781502625496.

––––. How Are Mountains Formed? ISBN 9781502625472; ISBN 9781502625458.

––––. How Are Rivers Formed? ISBN 9781502625434; ISBN 9781502625410.

ea vol: 24p. (Nature’s Formations). diag. glossary. photos. Cavendish Square. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $24.21. pap. $8.22.

K-Gr 2 –This early reader series examines the creation of six different geological formations. Each text begins with a brief definition of the geological feature, discusses how it’s formed, and concludes with descriptions of different types of formations. For example, Lakes differentiates among craters, glaciers, and man-made lakes. Short, readable sentences make these titles ideal for young scientists to practice their independent reading. Stock photography sits opposite each page of text. Some of the titles include diagrams, and each has a glossary of new words. VERDICT A general pick for early reader nonfiction collections.

Brooks, Marigold. Let’s Plant a Tree. ISBN 9781538321225; ISBN 9781 538321201.

Collier, Elise. What Grows in an Orchard? ISBN 9781508161615; ISBN 9781 508161592.

Haakonsen, Jens. What Are Seeds? ISBN 9781508161578; ISBN 9781 508161554.

Holmes, Porter. Plants in My Pond. ISBN 9781538321263; ISBN 9781 538321249.

Jennings, Dorothy. Our Flower Garden. ISBN 9781538321188; ISBN 9781 538321171.

Ripley, Mark. Picking Fruit. ISBN 9781 508161653; ISBN 9781508161639.

ea vol: 24p. (Plants in My World). index. photos. PowerKids. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $23.60. pap. $8.25.

K-Gr 2 –With short, simple sentences and plenty of white space on each page, the books in this attractive series introduce basic concepts about plants that are found in a variety of settings, including-ponds, orchards, and gardens. Each title provides a basic definition of the plant species, how they grow, how they interact with their ­environment, and, if appropriate, how to care for them. Included in each title is information for adults, such as vocabulary words, helpful background knowledge, and extension activities. VERDICT ­Consider this ­accessible and enlightening series for ­science collections in classrooms and libraries alike.

Dunn, Mary R. An Apple Tree’s Life Cycle. ISBN 9781515770558; ISBN 9781 515770619.

––––. A Bean’s Life Cycle. ISBN 9781515770510; ISBN 9781515770572.

––––. A Butterfly’s Life Cycle. ISBN 9781515770534; ISBN 9781515770596.

––––. A Frog’s Life Cycle. ISBN 9781515770527; ISBN 9781515770589.

––––. A Sunflower’s Life Cycle. ISBN 9781515770503; ISBN 9781515770565.

––––. A Turtle’s Life Cycle. ISBN 9781515770541; ISBN 9781515770602.

ea vol: 24p. (Explore Life Cycles). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Capstone. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $26.65. pap. $6.95.

K-Gr 2 –A very basic introduction to the life cycles of several plants and animals that are commonly studied with very young children. The books on butterflies, turtles, and frogs provide a thorough but simplified version of the various stages of the creatures’ lives. Sunflowers, apple trees, and beans are selections from the plant kingdom. Each book is designed with three to four simple sentences set opposite large, close-up photographs that complement the text. VERDICT Great for science corners in classrooms and most elementary school library collections.

Higgins, Nadia. Bodies of Water. ISBN 9781684100118; ISBN 9781684100767.

––––. Hop On the Water Cycle. ISBN 9781684100354; ISBN 9781684100774.

––––. Types of Precipitation. ISBN 9781684100576; ISBN 9781684100781.

––––. What Kind of Clouds? ISBN 9781684100613; ISBN 9781684100996.

ea vol: illus. by Sara Infante. 24p. (Water All Around Us). further reading. glossary. w/CD. Cantata Learning. Sept. 2017. lib. ed. $33.99. pap. $7.95.

PreS-Gr 2 –This unique set puts the focus squarely on natural water forms, from clouds to oceans, rivers to lakes. Each title provides a simple introduction to the topic, defining terms and concepts, and then launches into a song that is designed to engage learners and help them remember specific aspects of water, such as the different kinds of precipitation. The writing is accessible and geared toward young students, and the songs are catchy and repetitive—not trite or treacly. The artwork is child-friendly and doodlelike, done with bold black sketches that are filled in with two primary colors. Song lyrics, sheet music, and a QR code are provided in the back matter. VERDICT An excellent medium for collaborative teaching, ­bringing science and music together into the classroom.

Pettiford, Rebecca. Canyons. ISBN 9781 620317068; ISBN 9781620317440.

––––. Caves. ISBN 9781620317075; ISBN 9781620317457.

––––. Mountains. ISBN 9781620317082; ISBN 9781620317464.

––––. Rivers. ISBN 9781620317099; ISBN 9781620317471.

––––. Volcanoes. ISBN 9781620317105; ISBN 9781620317488.

––––. Waterfalls. ISBN 9781620317112; ISBN 9781620317495.

ea vol: 24p. (Legendary Landforms). diag. glossary. index. photos. websites. Jump!/Pogo. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $25.65. pap. $6.99.

Gr 2-5 –Bold backgrounds and large typeface are used effectively in this sophisticated series that introduces various landforms, including volcanoes, canyons, and waterfalls. Short sentences describe fairly complex scientific concepts such as plate tectonics, cave formation, and erosion. Accompanying photographs, diagrams, and captions add depth and interest. Each title begins with suggestions for parents or educators on reading the books with children and concludes with related activities. ­VERDICT Young researchers will find helpful information, and teachers can use these as strong components of a geography or geology unit.

Potts, Francesca. All About Allergies. ISBN 9781532111150.

––––. All About Broken Bones. ISBN 9781 532111167.

––––. All About Colds. ISBN 9781 532111174.

––––. All About Cuts and Bruises. ISBN 9781532111181.

––––. All About Ear Infections. ISBN 9781532111198.

––––. All About Sore Throats. ISBN 9781532111204.

ea vol: 24p. (Inside Your Body). diag. glossary. photos. ABDO. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $25.65.

Gr 1-3 –The focus of this straightforward set is common ailments that affect many children (e.g., sore throats, broken bones, ear infections). Each title provides a basic look at the part of the body impacted, descriptions of how the illness or injury happens (and tips to prevent it), and information on treatment. The overall design includes photographs, diagrams, captions, colorful backgrounds, and bold fonts that all come together for a visually appealing product. While the sentence structure is relatively simple and efficient, vocabulary is scientific and thoughtfully chosen. ­VERDICT This clear, accessible set will be most helpful during health or human body units of study.

Sawyer, Ava. Human Environmental Impact: How We Affect Earth. ISBN 9781515771968; ISBN 9781515772101.

––––. Humans and Earth’s Atmosphere: What’s in the Air? ISBN 9781515771999; ISBN 9781515772132.

––––. Humans and Other Life on Earth: Sharing the Planet. ISBN 9781515771975; ISBN 9781515772118.

––––. Humans and the Hydrosphere: ­Protecting Earth’s Water Sources. ISBN 9781515771982; ISBN 9781 515772125.

ea vol: 32p. (Humans and Our Planet). chron. glossary. index. photos. websites. Capstone. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $27.32. pap. $7.95.

Gr 3-6 –Our impact on Earth and its climate is undeniable, and these titles help students understand the specific relationship between human behaviors and the planet. Each book focuses on a different part of the environment, from the heights of the atmosphere all the way down to the groundwater beneath our feet. Concise introductions to each of the elements lead into the myriad ways that industrialization around the globe has negatively impacted the earth, air, water, and animals. While the writing is straightforward, students may feel overwhelmed and occasionally distressed by the gravity of the data. However, hope is offered at the end of each selection in the form of suggestions on how to be a better citizen: recycling, ­using less water, etc. VERDICT A great series for units on ­climate change or spreading ­environmental awareness.

Middle to High School

Amstutz, Lisa J. Invasive Species. ISBN 9781532110245.

Barker, David M. E-Waste. ISBN 9781 532110221.

Hand, Carol. Coral Reef Collapse. ISBN 9781 532110214.

––––. Melting Arctic Ice. ISBN 9781 532110252.

Perdew, Laura. The California Drought. ISBN 9781532110207.

––––. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. ISBN 9781532110238.

ea vol: 112p. (Ecological Disasters). bibliog. charts. diag. glossary. index. notes. photos. websites. ABDO. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $37.07.

Gr 8 Up –Tackling tough topics, this series highlights several ecological issues that have come to fore of the global mind-set only recently. The drought in California, the loss of coral reefs around the world, and the floating garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean are just three examples that are explored in depth. Each book takes a deep dive into historical factors that brought about the disaster and examines the science of the topic and possible solutions. The writing is engaging and informative, some of the titles taking a more narrative approach, while others are more scientific. All of them benefit from back matter that includes flowcharts that show cause and effect, and an “Essential Facts” section that sums up key points. VERDICT These volumes that look at difficult topics are critical reading for all students.

Anders, Mason. Animal Cells. ISBN 9781515772590; ISBN 9781515772637.

––––. DNA, Genes, and Chromosomes. ISBN 9781515772569; ISBN 9781 515772606.

––––. Heredity. ISBN 9781515772576; ISBN 9781515772613.

––––. Plant Cells. ISBN 9781515772583; ISBN 9781515772620.

ea vol: 32p. (Genetics). diag. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Capstone. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $27.32. pap. $7.95.

Gr 7 Up –This in-depth series on genetics, covering both plant and animal cells, is good for middle and high school students in need of research matter. Topics such as heredity, DNA, and cell structure are explored. Each book begins with an accessible overview, providing clear definitions, solid examples, and comparisons. Because the individual topics of each book are interrelated there is some overlap of facts, which reinforces the material. Photography of microscopic cells, diagrams, and sidebars make the complex topics more understandable. VERDICT With many cross-curricula applications, this set is a fine choice for classrooms and school libraries everywhere.

Farndon, John. Extreme Earthquakes and Tsunamis. ISBN 9781512432220.

––––. Extreme Fires and Floods. ISBN 9781512432213.

––––. Extreme Hurricanes and Tornadoes. ISBN 9781512432237.

––––. Extreme Volcanoes. ISBN 9781 512432206.

ea vol: illus. by Jeremy Pyke. 32p. (When Nature Attacks). charts. diag. further reading. glossary. index. photos. Hungry Tomato. Oct. 2017. lib. ed. $26.65.

Gr 4-7 –Chock-full of enticing facts and figures, this series focuses on natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and wildfires from around the globe. Definitions and basic introductions begin each title, followed by a series of related paragraphs, captions, sidebars, and diagrams that provide a broad overview of the individual topics. From the most devastating volcanic eruptions to the deadliest hurricanes, extremes are the name of the game here. Previous knowledge is not necessary, but a lack of a glossary coupled with a fairly sophisticated vocabulary means that older elementary and middle schoolers are the audience. VERDICT The eye-catching layouts and short bursts of information make these perfect for casual browsing and sharing among friends.

Fletcher, Patricia. Why Are Ostriches So Big?: And Other Curious Bird Adaptations. ISBN 9781538203873; ISBN 9781 538203866.

––––. Why Do Frogs Have Teeth?: And Other Curious Amphibian Adaptations. ISBN 9781538203910; ISBN 9781538203897.

––––. Why Do Mudskippers Walk?: And Other Curious Fish Adaptations. ISBN 9781538203958; ISBN 9781538203934.

––––. Why Do People Have Chins?: And Other Curious Human Adaptations. ISBN 9781538203996; ISBN 9781 538203972.

––––. Why Do Platypuses Lay Eggs?: And Other Curious Mammal Adaptations. ISBN 9781538204030; ISBN 9781 538204016.

––––. Why Do Thorny Devils Have Two Heads?: And Other Curious Reptile Adaptations. ISBN 9781538204078; ISBN 9781538204054.

ea vol: 32p. (Odd Adaptations). further reading. glossary. photos. websites. Gareth Stevens. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $26.60. pap. $10.50.

Gr 4-8 –Species throughout the animal kingdom have developed all sorts of adaptations that enable them to survive and thrive over many generations. The books in this beautifully designed series look at various animal groupings and highlight some of the more interesting or stranger adaptations. Clever headings, unique typefaces, and eye-catching layouts combine for an utterly browsable collection of facts and theories surrounding these adaptations. Details about why mudskippers walk on land or why some birds have hollow bones make for an intriguing premise and one that will keep kids digging through these titles over and over again. VERDICT Top-notch nonfiction for middle schoolers.

Kallen, Stuart A. Science and Sustainable Water. ISBN 9781682822579.

Mooney, Carla. Science and Sustainable Construction. ISBN 9781682822555.

Nardo, Don. Science and Sustainable Energy. ISBN 9781682822531.

Netzley, Patricia D. Science and Sustainable Agriculture. ISBN 9781682822517.

Parks, Peggy J. Science and Sustainable Wildlife Habitats. ISBN 9781682822593.

ea vol: 80p. (Science and Sustainability). diag. further reading. index. notes. photos. websites. ReferencePoint. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $39.93.

Gr 9 Up –This series takes a close look at the science and sustainability of a number of different areas, including water use, agriculture, the construction industry, and energy production and consumption. Each title begins with an introduction that draws connections between sustainability and the specific issue, providing historical context and related contemporary science. The writing is dense and scientific, but the explanations are detailed, and the material builds on successive chapters. Researchers will find plenty of current facts and data to wade through, with references to other studies and articles that are listed in the back matter. The stock photographs are serviceable, and the design is simple; the real draw is the complexity of the information and the currency of these issues. ­VERDICT Ample research resources for high schoolers.

McAuliffe, Bill. Clouds. ISBN 9781 608188239; ISBN 9781628324266.

––––. Forecasting. ISBN 9781608188246; ISBN 9781628324273.

––––. Hurricanes. ISBN 9781608188253; ISBN 9781628324280.

––––. Snow. ISBN 9781608188260; ISBN 9781628324297.

––––. Thunderstorms. ISBN 9781 608188277; ISBN 9781628324303.

––––. Tornadoes. ISBN 9781608188284; ISBN 9781628324310.

ea vol: 32p. (X-Books: Weather). chart. further reading. glossary. index. maps. photos. Creative Education. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $32.80. pap. $9.99.

Gr 4-7 –An action-packed pick for middle schoolers interested in the more extreme aspects of weather. Each title provides a basic introduction to weather formation; the connections among clouds, moisture, wind, etc.; and how it all comes together to create dangerous conditions. Overlapping information is inevitable and is actually useful in reinforcing the notion of how all these forces are interconnected. Forecasting is particularly noteworthy, as it offers an inside look at the tools and tricks that weather predictors use to make an accurate forecast. The writing is straightforward and accessible, with thorough descriptions and definitions of related terms. Each title contains plenty of color photographs and sidebars, and the texts make global history connections. VERDICT Students will come for the hook and stay for the content. A great addition to upper elementary and middle school collections.

Randolph, Joanne. The Eyes Have It. ISBN 9780766089952; ISBN 9780766089938.

––––. Growing and Aging. ISBN 9780766089839; ISBN 9780766089815.

––––. Microbes: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. ISBN 9780766089990; ISBN 9780766089976.

––––. Pump It Up: The Heart and Blood. ISBN 9780766089877; ISBN 9780766089853.

––––. Taste and Digestion. ISBN 9780766089914; ISBN 9780766089891.

––––. Understanding the Brain. ISBN 9780766090033; ISBN 9780766090019.

ea vol: 48p. (The Amazing Human Body). diag. photos. Enslow. Aug. 2017. lib. ed. $27.93. pap. $11.70.

Gr 7 Up –Diving into some of the more intriguing aspects of the human body, this series provides a close-up look at tits inner workings, including the circulatory, digestive, and neurological systems. The second-person point of view lends an engaging, almost casual tone but shares solid information on the fun, the gross, and the important aspects of each topic. Microbes, for example, goes into detail about gut health and the crucial roles that the ­billions of microbes play in the human body. Diagrams, photographs, and helpful back matter round out this solid science series. VERDICT A great choice for ­nonfiction collections.

For the youngest readers, highlights include Capstone’s “Explore Life Cycles” and Cantata Learning’s “Water All Around Us.” Upper elementary and middle schoolers are going to be immediately drawn to Gareth Stevens’s “Odd Adaptations.” For browsers, consider Hungry Tomato’s “When Nature Attacks” and Creative Education’s “X-Books: Weather.” ReferencePoint’s “Science and Sustainability” and Enslow’s “The Amazing Human Body” are perfect research tools for upper middle and high school students.

Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA

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