From the Ice Age to the Space Age | General Science Series Nonfiction

Saber-tooth cats, satellites, and everything in between can be found in this season’s releases.

Saber-toothed cats, satellites, and everything in between can be found in this season’s releases. Recent years have seen more diverse representation in the science titles for young readers and that continues to be the case, in both photos and illustrations. Whether math skills are being linked to real-life situations or students are making a mental exploration of the solar system, the content and concepts are presented appealingly. Graphic novel format, links to online resources, and hands-on activities to put information into practice are sure to make these series useful for exploration by budding scientists on their own or in the classroom.



Everett, Elizabeth. Bella Builds a Fort: A Measuring Adventure. ISBN 9781636908618.
––––. Greg’s Garage Sale: A Money Counting Adventure. ISBN 9781636908649.
––––. Kala and the Kites: A Shapes Adventure. ISBN 9781636908670.
––––. Sam Solves: A Word Problems Adventure. ISBN 9781636908700.
––––. Tuan Takes a Trip: A TimeTelling Adventure. ISBN 9781636908731.
ea vol: illus. by Amy Zhing. 24p. (Math Adventures). Jump!/ Grasshopper Books. Aug. 2022. Tr. $27.99.
Gr 1-3 –Everyday family math situations fill this series. Children notice the various shapes among the kites at the park or check the clock while getting ready for a family trip. Characters have a range of skin tones, hair textures, and culturally diverse names; some also use medical devices like hearing aids or leg braces. Back matter includes a review section that encourages readers to apply the skills presented in the story and a picture glossary to support reading comprehension. FactSurfer offers links to additional online resources such as Wonderopolis or PBS Learning that extend exploration of each topic. There are also tips for parents and teachers at the beginning of each book. VERDICT Welcoming illustrations show children joyfully putting math skills to use in this introductory series for very young learners.

Fliess, Sue. Astronauts on the Space Station. ISBN 9780807541531.
––––. Insect Experts in the Rain Forest. ISBN 9780807541470.
ea vol: illus. by Mia Powell. 32p. (Kid Scientist). Albert Whitman. Oct. 2022. Tr. $17.99.
K-Gr 3 –This series imagines children exploring science careers. Illustrations include boys and girls from diverse backgrounds searching for insects in the rain forest or carrying out experiments aboard the International Space Station. Back matter includes an explanation of the career featured in the story, as well as advice on how to prepare for that career. A review of the scientific method includes examples of how it was used by the characters. And a list of suggested reading concludes each book. The Insect Experts title is loosely based on a real event from 2014. VERDICT This series could be read aloud to introduce students to STEM careers or explored by readers who already have an interest in science.

Leaf, Christina & Karpova, Natalya. The Inner Planets. ISBN 9781644876558.
––––. The Outer Planets. ISBN 9781644876572.
––––. The Sun. ISBN 9781644876589.
Loy, Harriet & Karpova, Natalya. Moons. ISBN 9781644876565.
Rathburn, Betsy & Karpova, Natalya. The Asteroid Belt. ISBN 9781644876534.
––––. The Dwarf Planets. ISBN 9781644876541.
ea vol: 24p. (Journey into Space). Bellwether/Blastoff! Missions. Aug. 2022. Tr. $26.95.
Gr 2-4 –Colorful illustrations in these titles show various children learning about space. They imagine traveling to the planets, moons, and other objects in our solar system as they visit the science museum, learn in class, or take a plane ride. “Mission Goals” set a purpose for reading, while “Beyond the Mission” suggests an activity to extend learning as well as a few questions to ponder. Blastoff Jimmy appears with additional facts of interest like the composition of asteroids. The end of each exploration is a recap page with facts about the visited objects such as the comparative sizes of asteroids, or number of moons for each planet. A list of suggested reading as well as FactSurfer links to online resources offer additional material to explore. VERDICT An introduction to solar system basics for young readers that would work well in classrooms or library collections.

Mattern, Joanne. Math at School. ISBN 9781643711294.
––––. Math at the Game. ISBN 9781643711287.
––––. Math at the Store. ISBN 9781643711300.
––––. Math in the Garden. ISBN 9781643711317.
––––. Math in the Kitchen. ISBN 9781643711324.
––––. Math on a Trip. ISBN 9781643711331.
ea vol: 24p. (LOOK! Books: Math and Me!). Red Chair. Aug. 2022. Tr. $25.32.
K-Gr 2 –Math in these titles is part of daily life such as a visit to the store, a ball game, or working in the garden. Crisp photos depict individuals and families from various racial and ethnic groups preparing meals, taking a trip, or studying at school. Readers may see children using math while measuring ingredients to bake cookies or counting money to pay for groceries. “Math Fact!” textboxes explain which operation would be best to use or show how to work out the problems mentioned in the text, such as how to add up a batter’s strikes. Terms in bold print are found in the glossary and there is also a list of suggested books for further reading. VERDICT The inclusive feel of these everyday situations make it the perfect series to introduce math concepts to ­primary school students.

Olson, Elsie. Get Messy with Science! ISBN 9781666342178.
––––. Get Moving with Science! ISBN 9781666342321.
––––. Get Noisy with Science! ISBN 9781666342277.
––––. Get Smelly with Science! ISBN 9781666342222.
ea vol: 32p. (Not-So-Ordinary Science). Capstone/Capstone Press. Aug. 2022. Tr. $31.99.
Gr 3-4 –Looking for hands-on science activities for upper elementary students? These guides start with a list of general supplies and definitions of science terms to know. Each activity is also rated on a “­mess-o-meter,” which is helpful in choosing among the projects. “What You Need” (supplies), “What You Do” (directions), and “What You Get” (explanation of the science at work) are accompanied by photos of the steps and the results. Readers are encouraged to mix up their own slime, build a brush bot, create soundproof headphones, or even concoct a stink bomb. A list of books and internet sites encourages learners to continue their explorations. VERDICT Engaging activities for class projects or individual discovery.

Rusick, Jessica. Breaking Down Chemistry. ISBN 9781532198984.
––––. Examining Mixtures & Solutions. ISBN 9781532198991.
––––. Exploring Matter & Physical Changes. ISBN 9781532199004.
––––. Inspecting Elements & the Periodic Table. ISBN 9781532199011.
––––. Investigating Atoms & Molecules. ISBN 9781532199028.
––––. Understanding Chemical Reactions. ISBN 9781532199035.
ea vol: 32p. (Kid Chemistry Lab). ABDO/ Checkerboard Library. Sept. 2022. Tr. $31.36.
Gr 2-4 –The short chapters in these books are a mix of explanatory text, crisp photos of children and adults exploring aspects of chemistry, and supportive diagrams and tables. Readers will learn about atoms, elements, reactions and mixtures. Captions on the images offer additional information and glossary terms appear in bold within the text. Each book ends with a pair of experiments. A large-scale photo accompanies the explanation of the chemical process(es) that will be seen, while smaller thumbnails are part of the directions. There is also a review of the scientific process and a suggestion to alter a variable and observe the difference in the experiment’s results. ­Online resources from TED Ed, Kids Discover and other providers are available through ABDO Booklinks. VERDICT A solid purchase for libraries to support classroom instruction and update collections.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

Adams, William D. Chemical Compounds and Reactions. ISBN 9780716643753.
––––. Enviromental Chemistry. ISBN 9780716643807.
Meyer, Cassie. Atoms and Molecules. ISBN 9780716643739.
––––. Chemical Elements. ISBN 9780716643746.
ea vol: illus. by Maxine, Lee-Mackie. 40p. (Building Blocks of Chemistry). World Book. Aug. 2022. Tr. $299.
Gr 4-6 –The graphic novel format of this ­series offers a unique way to explore elements, compounds, and other basics of chemistry. Atoms and molecules serve as guides to the wonders of chemical reactions, how to write chemical equations, and even the carbon cycle. Humor is used to make the material more engaging, such as a “Most Wanted” gallery of air pollution “­felons” that includes carbon monoxide and particulate matter. A glossary defines the terms found in bold within the text. Some of the books also have a timeline of events such as the discovery of protons and a “Can You Believe It?” section of incredible facts. VERDICT A basic ­grounding in chemistry with a presentation style that will appeal to middle grade readers.

Scientific American Editors. Design & Build It. ISBN 9781684169580.
––––. Food Physics. ISBN 9781684169559.
––––. Math in Action. ISBN 9781684169641.
––––. Mind Games. ISBN 9781684169610.
ea vol: 64p. (Bring Science Home). Rosen/Scientific American Educational Publishing. Aug. 2022. Tr. $35.95.
Gr 4-6 –Each of these books offers 10 activities that include clear directions and expectations. Readers might construct an artificial hand, explore surface tension, or create fractal prints. The amount of time needed, a materials list, and the steps for preparation, procedure, and even clean up are listed. A background section explains how the activity works and where it may be seen in the real world, while an “Observations And Results” section explains details of what happened and how to correct any problems. Many of the activities also have additional suggestions to make the experiment suitable for science fair competition. A list of additional resources includes books, websites, and videos for further exploration of topics. VERDICT Especially helpful for their clarity of instructions and use for science fair ideas. This set would also be useful in a STEM lab.

Gish, Ashley. Ancient Bison. ISBN 9781640264328.
––––. Dire Wolves. ISBN 9781640264335.
––––. Giant Beavers. ISBN 9781640264342.
––––. Mammoths. ISBN 9781640264359.
––––. Monster Birds. ISBN 9781640264366.
––––. Saber-Toothed Cats. ISBN 9781640264373.
ea vol: 32p. (X-Books: Ice Age Creatures). The Creative Company/Creative Education. Jul. 2022. Tr. $35.70.
Gr 3-7 –X-Books are designed to present information in small chunks with numerous images; sidebars, labels and captions provide extra details. Ancient creatures such as mammoths and saber-toothed cats are ranked in a top five countdown of the best fossil finds. The physical features and social organization of each type of animal is explained, as well as the reasons for their extinction. Maps show the range covered by the animals during their time. Most books include a timeline of fossil finds, although there is a timeline of physical development for dire wolves. Each book has a page of “Xciting Facts” with tidbits comparing modern animals to their extinct ancestors, offering theories from researchers, and even making connections to popular culture. VERDICT A good choice for readers who prefer a more graphic presentation. Sure to circulate often.


Upper Middle School to High School

Scientific American Editors. How COVID-19 Changed the World. ISBN 9781684169979.
––––. The Science of Monsters. ISBN 9781684169252.
––––. The Science of Sports. ISBN 9781684169221.
––––. Understanding Violence. ISBN 9781684169436.
ea vol: 160p. (Scientific American Explores). Rosen/Scientific American Educational Publishing. Aug. 2022. Tr. $43.95.
High School –Each title in this series ­collects articles that relate to a common topic, whether it is COVID-19, violence, sports, or monsters. Separate sections within the book group the articles by theme. For instance, articles on sports might address sports technology, sports culture, or the psychology of sports. Articles run anywhere from two to twelve pages in length and there are no ­illustrations. A glossary and list of sources for further information round out each collection. One of the strengths of this series is the variety of viewpoints presented; each article has author information listed so that readers can see the background and expertise of the writer(s) and their particular perspective on the issue. That feature would make the articles particularly useful for classroom debate and discussion. VERDICT A useful collection for research and exploring different aspects of the various topics.

While all the series discussed have much to offer, a few stand out for their unique approach or extra features. “Scientific American Explores Big Ideas” (Rosen) is especially helpful for older students due to its range of articles on a particular topic and the various viewpoints within each collection. “Kid Chemistry Lab” (ABDO) includes helpful video content from TED Ed (among others), as well as experiments to see the chemical processes in action. The additional suggestions in “Bring Science Home” (Rosen) make it equally useful to science fair competitors and STEM lab instructors. Libraries and classroom teachers may be looking for theoretical introductions or hands-on ideas; there is something for ­every preference this season.

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