Fiction Meets Reality | Hi-Lo Series Nonfiction

Attention-grabbing topics will draw readers to this spring’s hi-lo selections, which emphasize readability to build confidence and fluency.

These hi-lo (high interest, low reading level) series are designed to capture the attention of readers. Titles draw in readers by using popular characters, cool facts, and mysterious creatures from folklore. The emphasis on readability in these titles builds confidence and fluency. After sparking curiosity with new facts and clear and exciting text, a majority of the entries offer further reading or engagement with the series topics. With so many different topics available, like gross facts in history, popular Pokémon characters, or the Batmobile, the following 10 series may inspire the most reluctant of readers to discover more about what they love.



DOEDEN, Matt. 34 Amazing Facts about Basketball. ISBN 9798765608982.
––––. 34 Amazing Facts about Football. ISBN 9798765608999.
––––. 34 Amazing Facts About Natural Wonders. ISBN 9798765609019.
MILLER, Marie-Therese. 34 Amazing Facts About Minecraft. ISBN 9798765609002.
––––. 34 Amazing Facts About Pro Wrestling. ISBN 9798765609026.
––––. 34 Amazing Facts About Space. ISBN 9798765609040.
SCHUH, Mari. 34 Amazing Facts About Sharks. ISBN 9798765609033.
––––. 34 Amazing Facts About Weather. ISBN 9798765609057.
ea vol: 32p. (UpDog Books: Unbelievable!). Lerner. Jan. 2024. Tr. $30.65.
Gr 2-4–Readers will discover 34 facts about the wonders of the world, space, sports, and more in this series. Full-page photos with one short sentence per page in bold text on a contrasting background, make titles quick and accessible for each high interest topic. Every book in the series has “list breaks” where topics are easily connected to statistics, such as Venus is the hottest planet at 867 degrees Fahrenheit (Space). Depending on the topic, famous people in history are highlighted in the titles. The back matter includes a glossary, resources for further reading, and an index. While the titles are each extremely short, the vocabulary is higher depending on the topic. VERDICT Good pick for elementary readers who like lists and quick facts about a subject.

HANSEN, Grace. Cyclopes. ISBN 9781098268565.
––––. Fairies. ISBN 9781098268572.
––––. Gnomes. ISBN 9781098268589.
––––. Gorgons. ISBN 9781098268596.
––––. Griffins. ISBN 9781098268602.
––––. Yetis. ISBN 9781098268619.
ea vol: 24p. (World of Mythical Beings Set 2). ABDO/Abdo Kids Jumbo. Jan. 2024. Tr. $32.79.
K-Gr 2–Mythical beings from folkloric tales, religions, and cultures are described in this series. Artwork from history and renderings using technology bring the creatures and deities to life for young readers. Two- to three-sentence paragraphs are paired with large or full-page colorful artwork and text written at a third grade level. The text traces our understandings of these creatures through time. For example, fairies “could be large or small, good or evil, beautiful or ugly,” (Fairies), where others like cyclopes have evolved to be considered lovable characters instead of just “giant one-eyed creatures” (Cyclopes). Maps are used to show where the stories of the mythical being take place or to connect the folklore to multiple continents. The end pages have a glossary and an index. VERDICT Quick read for those who love mythical stories and beings.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

ABDO, Kenny. Back to the Future’s DeLorean. ISBN 9781098284169.
––––. Batman’s Batmobile. ISBN 9781098284176.
––––. Ghostbusters’ Ecto-1. ISBN 9781098284183.
––––. Herbie the VW Beetle. ISBN 9781098284190.
––––. James Bond’s Aston Martin. ISBN 9781098284206.
––––. Transformers’ Camaro. ISBN 9781098284213.
ea vol: 24p. (Iconic Cars). ABDO/Fly! Jan. 2024. Tr. $31.36.
Gr 3 Up–The iconic cars of film, from the Batmobile to James Bond’s Aston Martin, are the focus of this series, focusing on both the cars and the films that made them famous. Layouts of two-sentence paragraphs on a contrasting background helps break up the information about the high-interest topic. With vocabulary in bold and contrasting color, readers get a general understanding about how the car works in the fictional story. In each title there is a spoiler section about the life of the car in question. Back matter includes a glossary, online resources, and an index. While a more detailed “biography” could have been given about the automobile, young readers who love this topic won’t care as long as they can read about the vehicles. VERDICT Great for elementary readers who love famous vehicles.

ABDO, Kenny. Gotta Catch All the Games. ISBN 9781098284237.
––––. Gotta Catch All the Movies. ISBN 9781098284244.
––––. Gotta Catch All the Pokémon Types. ISBN 9781098284251.
––––. Gotta Catch All the Trading Cards. ISBN 9781098284268.
––––. Gotta Catch All the Trainers. ISBN 9781098284275.
––––. Gotta Catch All the TV Shows. ISBN 9781098284282.
ea vol: 24p. (Pokémon Phenomenon). ABDO/Fly! Jan. 2024. Tr. $31.36.
Gr 3 Up–The multimedia options for enjoying the ever-popular Pokémon is showcased in this series. Whether readers want to learn about the games, movies, trading cards, shows, or the Pokémon trainers and types, this series will cover it. The perennially popular topic is written at about a third grade reading level with short two-sentence paragraphs per page on a high contrasting background. The information is told either in chronological order or by most to least popular, with vocabulary in bold and contrasting color throughout. A summary is given at the end of each title to wrap up the topic. The back matter has a glossary, online resources with a QR code, and an index. While in encyclopedia format, these titles serve more as a light overview of the most popular or iconic Pokémon characters and media. VERDICT For young fans who like to relive and learn about Pokémon.

BEARCE, Stephanie. Awesome, Disgusting, Unusual Facts About Mummies. ISBN 9781623108908.
––––. Awesome, Disgusting, Unusual Facts About Pirates. ISBN 9781623108922.
––––. Awesome, Disgusting, Unusual Facts About Roman Gladiators. ISBN 9781623108939.
––––. Awesome, Disgusting, Unusual Facts About the Civil War. ISBN 9781623108892.
––––. Awesome, Disgusting, Unusual Facts About the Middle Ages. ISBN 9781623108915.
––––. Awesome, Disgusting, Unusual Facts About the Wild West. ISBN 9781623108946.
ea vol: 24p. (Gross, Awesome History). Black Rabbit/Hi Jinx. Jan. 2024. Tr. $35.70.
Gr 4-6, Historical facts can be awesome, disgusting, or both at the same time, and readers who want to know more can read this series. From gladiators and mummies, to the Middle Ages and the American Civil War, there’s a variety of information to learn. Images and infographics support the text, and bolded vocabulary words and pop-up facts, such as “People in the 1600s used mummy flesh in their medicine” (Mummies), grab the reader’s attention. Following significant events and important people in history, the text is short, and doesn’t romanticize the past “People in the Wild West dealt with terrible diseases… Fleas spread typhus… A mosquito bite could give you yellow fever…” (Wild West). The back matter has three short answer questions, a glossary and an index, and additional resources. Some of the facts are, as the titles indicate, gross, which will be the appeal to certain readers. Similar reads include the “Weird But True” and “FACTopia!” series. VERDICT For older elementary readers who love learning gross facts.

FAUST, Daniel R. The Cold War. ISBN 9798889165514.
––––. Decolonization. ISBN 9798889165507.
––––. The Industrial Revolution. ISBN 9798889165491.
––––. The Vietnam War. ISBN 9798889165521.
––––. World War I. ISBN 9798889165484.
––––. World War II. ISBN 9798889165477.
ea vol: 32p. (World History: Need to Know). Bearport/SilverTip. Jan. 2024. Tr. $29.95.
Gr 4-6–This series describes a wide range of historical topics and events, like decolonization, the Industrial Revolution, and war. Paragraphs are paired with color photos or art from history, with vocabulary words bolded throughout. Lengthier paragraphs with short sentences are written at a second grade level, and fact boxes and picture captions offer information in addition to the main text. Infographics are also used to give a better understanding of a subject, like how more factories meant more people worked in factories, which made the Revolution move faster (The Industrial Revolution). The series is extremely timely, working to inform the reader without romanticizing the past and providing clarity for the present day, “The effects of colonialism are still felt today. Many countries still have strong ties to their former colonizers,” (Decolonization). Back matter includes learning and retention tips, a glossary and index, and additional resources. Younger readers may need guidance from an educator or caregiver. VERDICT A series that covers a variety of historical topics for older elementary readers.

FAUST, Daniel R. Global Warming. ISBN 9798889165217.
KUEHL, Ashley. Disappearing Ice Sheets. ISBN 9798889165255.
––––. The Greenhouse Effect. ISBN 9798889165262.
––––. Sea Level Rise. ISBN 9798889165248.
PARKS GARDNER, Jane. Animal and Plant Extinction. ISBN 9798889165231.
––––. Extreme Weather. ISBN 9798889165224.
ea vol: 32p. (Climate Change: Need to Know). Bearport/SilverTip. Jan. 2024. Tr. $29.95.
Gr 4-6–Clearly organized text, fact boxes, and colorful images with informative captions support young readers in understanding a variety of aspects of climate change in this series. Although paragraphs look longer, they are written at a second grade reading level, and the font was chosen with readability in mind. Infographic maps break down how the climate has changed over time. The text uses past and present examples for readers to connect how long climate change has been happening: “The average temperature on Earth has gone up about 2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880,” (The Greenhouse Effect,). The back matter includes learning and retention tips, a glossary and an index, and additional resources. While this topic can be overwhelming, each title has a section about action readers can take to slow climate change. VERDICT Extremely timely series for young readers.

GITLIN, Martin. Business Innovations Made by Mistake. ISBN 9781668938225.
––––. Delicious Food Mishaps. ISBN 9781668938232.
––––. Failures That Fueled Transportation. ISBN 9781668938270.
––––. Failures That Turned into Tech Fortunes. ISBN 9781668938256.
––––. Favorite Toys Made from Failures. ISBN 9781668938263.
––––. Surprising Starts of Health and Hygiene Products. ISBN 9781668938249.
ea vol: 32p. (Fantastic Failures: From Flops to Fortune). Cherry Lake/45th Parallel. Jan. 2024. Tr. $32.07.
Gr 5-8–The surprising starts and failures that launched entire industries and fields of study are highlighted in this series. Through history many experiments and inventions have had moments of disaster and triumph, from Play-Doh that was originally supposed to clean wallpaper (Favorite Toys) to how complaints about mushy fries made potato chips a reality (Delicious Food Mishaps). Longer paragraphs with short sentences are generally written at a third grade reading level. Each title has bolded vocabulary words, and some have a “Behind the Scenes,” and “Success Story” section, along with at least one “Flopped” section per book describing where an experiment or invention went wrong. End pages have a list of resources for additional reading, a glossary, and an index. Although the text can be dense at times, the paragraphs are informative. VERDICT Inspiring historic successes and failures for middle grade readers.

SOMMER, Nathan. African Wild Dog Pack vs. Leopard. ISBN 9798886878226.
––––. Amazonian Giant Centipede vs. Brazilian Wandering Spider. ISBN 9798886878233.
––––. Black Mamba vs. Caracal. ISBN 9798886878240.
––––. Peregrine Falcon vs. Red-tailed Hawk. ISBN 9798886878257.
––––. Red Fox vs. Fisher. ISBN 9798886878264.
––––. Saltwater Crocodile vs. Great HammerheadShark. ISBN 9798886878271.
ea vol: 24p. (Animal Battles). Bellwether Media/Torque. Jan. 2024. Tr. $26.95.
Gr 3-6–The titles in this series have animals facing off in a mostly realistic, albeit dramatic, battle. The animals pitted against each other in each book are from similar habitats and could cross paths in the wild. While there aren’t graphic photos of the battle, there are photos of the predators capturing their food. Each title begins by announcing the competitors, and employs short paragraphs and infographics of competitor profiles. The layout of each page is eye-catching with an action photo of each animal and white text on a dark background, which is easy to read. Readers are informed of what secret weapons and attack moves to expect before the competitors stand off. Back matter includes a glossary, an index, and additional resources. A similar read includes the “Who Would Win” series. VERDICT For elementary readers who enjoy nonfiction drama.


Upper Middle School to High School

HAUGEN, Brenda & Susan Johnson Taylor. The Battle of the Little Bighorn. ISBN 9781638891963.
LANEY, C.L. Poetry. ISBN 9781638891987.
SCHLESINGER, Emily. Artificial Intelligence. ISBN 9781638892007.
––––. Makeup Artistry. ISBN 9781638892489.
––––. Monuments Men. ISBN 9781638892502.
––––. Neuroscience. ISBN 9781638892564.
––––. Patterns of Motion. ISBN 9781638892540.
––––. Plastic Arts. ISBN 9781638892557.
––––. Prions. ISBN 9781638891994.
––––. Sand Gangs. ISBN 9781638892533.
––––. Track and Field. ISBN 9781638891956.
––––. Trail of Tears. ISBN 9781638892519.
WILSON, Libby. Pickleball. ISBN 9781638892526.
ea vol: 60p. (Blue Delta Nonfiction). Saddleback. Apr. 2024. Tr. $12.95.
Gr 5 Up–This hi-lo nonfiction series covers a variety of topics, from popular pastimes like pickle ball to historical events such as the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Each title has about eight chapters with a full page of text beside colorful photographs. Larger paragraphs are written at a third grade level and pair with infographics or photos to encourage further reading. Each title highlights a person who is well-known or important to the topic, such as a man named Sequoyah who invented a writing system to preserve history and culture (The Trail of Tears). A glossary is included. While there is a lot of information that can be overwhelming for younger readers, chapters can be easily broken down for a shorter reading experience. Some aspects of the titles that cover Indigenous and Native history feel lacking and might leave readers wondering what is being glossed over. VERDICT A series that connects history to the present day and piques curiosity in older readers.

These 10 series provide tons of facts that link readers with characters they love or information they’ll love to uncover. Reluctant readers excited to revisit their favorite fictional worlds will enjoy “Pokémon Phenomenon” (ABDO/Fly!) and “Iconic Cars” (ABDO/ Fly!). For those who enjoy drama, “Animal Battles” (Bellwether/Torque) is for them, while those fascinated by gross facts will be enthralled by “Gross, Awesome History” (Black Rabbit Books/Hi Jinks). Educators may like using “Blue Delta Nonfiction” (Saddleback), “World History” (Bearport/SilverTip) and “Climate Change” (Bearport/SilverTip) series for projects along with “Unbelievable!” (Lerner) and “Fantastic Failures” (Cherry Lake/45th Parallel) for supplemental learning. A series that offers readers a glimpse into folkloric tales about fantastical beings in different cultures may want to discover the “World of Mythical Beings” (ABDO/Abdo Kids Jumbo) series. These series offer multiple subjects to choose from and will spark curiosity in readers.


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