Looking Back, Looking Around | History & Landmarks Series Nonfiction

This spring’s history and landmark series include unusual facts, natural and architectural wonders, and sensational criminal cases.


This season, publishers have used a variety of techniques to make history more enticing to readers. Some have pulled out lesser-known facts and odd bits of information to make students curious about life in the past. Others employ riveting illustrations and photos to hold students’ attention, or pair high interest topics with lower text difficulty for reading support. And some have chosen to focus on critical turning points and sensational crimes. Whether your students are researching national parks, delving into famous criminal cases, or exploring architectural wonders, they will find plenty to choose from.



BECKER, Gertrude R. The Women’s Rights Movement. ISBN 9798889980469.
REBMAN, Nick. The Vietnam War. ISBN 9798889980445.
––––. Watergate. ISBN 9798889980452.
ROSSITER, Brienna. The Korean War. ISBN 9798889980414.
––––. New Frontier and Great Society. ISBN 9798889980421.
––––. The Postwar Boom. ISBN 9798889980438.
STRATTON, Connor. The Civil Rights Movement. ISBN 9798889980391.
––––. The Cold War. ISBN 9798889980407.
ea vol: 32p. (Postwar America). North Star Editions/Focus Readers. Jan. 2024. Tr. $31.35.
Gr 3-5–Straightforward text and plentiful photographs present a range of topics in U.S. history after World War II. There are descriptions of the events, the various motivations and perspectives of participants, and consequences. “Voices from the Past” is a feature in each book that looks at a particular aspect, such as the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War, and shares quotes from witnesses. Sidebars explain related issues such as executive privilege (Watergate) or the G.I. Bill (The Postwar Boom). Back matter includes a comprehension quiz, a glossary, titles for further reading, and the URL for educator resources online. VERDICT A good fit for research in upper elementary grades, or for older students who need accessible text.

BRAUN, Eric. Can You Survive a World War I Escape? ISBN 9781669061274.
DOEDEN, Matt. Can You Survive a World War II Escape? ISBN 9781669061281.
GUNDERSON, Jessica. Can You Survive a Civil War Escape? ISBN 9781669061250.
HOENA, Blake. Can You Survive a Revolutionary War Escape? ISBN 9781669061267.
ea vol: 112p. (You Choose: Great Escapes). Capstone. Jan. 2024. Tr. $34.65.
Gr 3-5–These titles give students the chance to participate vicariously in some of the greatest escapes in history. An introduction sets the scene, then the book has readers choose one of three characters to follow, making more than a dozen choices to try and escape. Each character and setting is based on “historical accounts and war-time scenarios.” Illustrations and photos show the setting and some of the historical figures involved. Suggested reading and Internet sites for further investigation are offered. Other extras include maps of key locations, lists of key events, a bibliography, and a glossary. Besides the opportunity to explore each of the possible choices within the narrative, there are also a few additional scenarios suggested in “Other Paths to Explore.” VERDICT Would work well with social studies units but would also be a perfect introduction to history through the lure of “choose your own adventure” style presentation.

CONNORS, Kathleen. Forgotten Facts About Life During the American Revolution. ISBN 9781978537675.
––––. Forgotten Facts About Life During the Gold Rush. ISBN 9781978537705.
––––. Forgotten Facts About Life in the American Colonies. ISBN 9781978537798.
––––. Forgotten Facts About Life in the Wild West. ISBN 9781978537736.
––––. Forgotten Facts About Life on a Wagon Train. ISBN 9781978537767.
––––. Forgotten Facts About Pioneer Life. ISBN 9781978537828.
ea vol: 24p. (History’s Forgotten Facts). Enslow. Dec. 2023. Tr. $24.27.
Gr 3-5–Frequent images, text in manageable chunks, and the allure of learning something secret will draw young readers into this series. The various titles walk students through overlooked and misunderstood facts surrounding important events in history. Plentiful photos, illustrations, and maps complement the text. Readers might learn that gold miners grew ill from their limited diet or see a political cartoon of American patriots tarring and feathering a British sympathizer. Fact boxes, captions, and graphic organizers offer additional explanations of how Bill Cody recruited cowboys for his Wild West show or the names of famous pioneers. A glossary, maps, a timeline of key dates, and a suggested list of books and websites for further reading are also available. VERDICT These books are sure to attract readers with their promise of the unknown. Handy for classroom instruction and individual reading.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

ABNETT, Dan & Larry Hama. Eureka! True Tales of Discovery. ISBN 9781499475555.
GANERI, Anita & Gary Jeffrey. Civil War Battles. ISBN 9781499475616.
HAMA, Larry & Steve White. World Myths. ISBN 9781499475678.
JEFFREY, Gary & Rob Shone. Civil Rights Heroes. ISBN 9781499475586.
––––. World War II Battles. ISBN 9781499475647.
ea vol: 112p. (Graphic Short Stories). Rosen Young Adult. Dec. 2023. Tr. $39.80.
Gr 5-8–Graphic novel enthusiasts and history buffs alike will enjoy this series that features social studies topics and historical figures. Dynamic full-color illustrations capture the urgency of civil rights protests, major battles, discoveries, and world myths. The abbreviated length of the stories makes them useful for in-class assignments, but readers will be pulled in and want to finish the entire book rather than just a single story. Action scenes from the attack on Pearl Harbor, Quetzalcoatl and the Aztec creation myth, the Battle of Antietam, and the March on Washington are supported by dialogue and narrative text boxes. The civil rights and war titles feature three stories, while the discovery and myth volumes have nine stories each. A glossary and suggested reading list accompany each book, but the main attraction will be the stories. VERDICT A useful collection for enriching classroom lessons and supporting visual learners.

GISH, Ashley. Burj Khalifa. ISBN 9781637387467.
––––. Channel Tunnel. ISBN 9781637387474.
––––. Hoover Dam. ISBN 9781637387504.
KELLEY, Tera. Golden Gate Bridge. ISBN 9781637387498.
ROSSITER, Brienna. Aqueduct of Segovia. ISBN 9781637387450.
––––. Eiffel Tower. ISBN 9781637387481.
––––. Panama Canal. ISBN 9781637387511.
––––. Petra. ISBN 9781637387528.
ea vol: 32p. (Extreme Engineering). North Star Editions/Apex. Jan. 2024. Tr. $31.35.
Gr 3-7–This series takes readers on a tour of incredible structures around the world. Written in digestible bites of text and easily understood vocabulary, the narrative is supported by numerous images. Details of when each structure was erected, its purpose, construction methods, and location are covered. Photographs show details and how the structure fits into its surroundings. Fun facts, sidebars, and captions offer details such as, “The aqueduct [of Segovia] is made of about 24,000 large stones.” Each title also includes a glossary, comprehension questions, and a list of books for further reading. Online resources for teachers include lesson plans and curriculum correlations. VERDICT Helpful for older students who need supportive text, but also handy for use in lessons on landmarks with intermediate grades.

LEAF, Christina. Everglades National Park. ISBN 9798886878127.
––––. Grand Teton National Park. ISBN 9798886878134.
––––. Joshua Tree National Park. ISBN 9798886878141.
––––. Olympic National Park. ISBN 9798886878158.
ea vol: 32p. (U.S. National Parks). Bellwether/Blastoff! Discovery. Jan. 2024. Tr. $27.95.
Gr 3-6–Each book in this series begins with a description of a popular park experience, then goes on to describe the history of the park, its top sites, human impact on the area, and other details. The wonders of each park are displayed in large photos along with smaller inset images. Two species from the area are highlighted, listing their life span and endangered status. A geological process related to the park is explained with a diagram in each book while a map highlights the park’s location. A final spread shares “Park Facts” like the number of annual visitors and a sample food web; there is also a timeline of major events in the park’s history. Recommended books and FactSurfer links offer further opportunities to explore. VERDICT A recommended purchase to update collections and support research into famous sites around the U.S.

MATHER, Charis. The Peculiar Past in Ancient Egypt. ISBN 9798889164784.
––––. The Peculiar Past in Ancient Greece. ISBN 9798889164791.
––––. The Peculiar Past in Ancient Rome. ISBN 9798889164807.
––––. The Peculiar Past in the Middle Ages. ISBN 9798889164777.
ea vol: 32p. (Strange History). Bearport. Jan. 2024. Tr. $29.95.
Gr 4-7–Looking for something to grab the attention of reluctant history students? Try this series that focuses on the odd and unusual. Readers can learn about the fake beards worn by Egyptian pharaohs, rich Greeks buying the sweat from Olympic athletes, or Romans eating flamingo tongues. Photos of historic sites and artwork establish setting while comic illustrations and speech bubbles offer humorous touches. Vocabulary terms appear in colored text for easy identification. Back matter includes a glossary, suggested books for further reading, and a QR code to access online resources. VERDICT A fun way to introduce a unit or for individual enjoyment. The humorous approach will appeal to fans of “believe it or not” type books.


Upper Middle School toHigh School

BITHELL, Rachel. The Murder of JonBenét Ramsey. ISBN 9781098292126.
LAPIERRE, Yvette. The Murder of Gianni Versace. ISBN 9781098292119.
MOONEY, Carla. Jeffrey Dahmer. ISBN 9781098292102.
––––. The Murder of Laci Peterson. ISBN 9781098292133.
––––. The Watts Family Murders. ISBN 9781098292164.
MORRIS, Rebecca. The Olympic Park Bombing. ISBN 9781098292140.
STORM, Ashley. The Casey Anthony Murder Case. ISBN 9781098292096.
STREISSGUTH, Tom. The Unabomber. ISBN 9781098292157.
ea vol: 112p. (American Crime Stories Set 2). ABDO/Essential Library. Jan. 2024. Tr. $41.36.
Gr 6 Up–These titles are not for the faint of heart. A warning in each book alerts readers to triggers of violence, crime, and death “that may be disturbing.” Each case is accompanied by infographics, detailed maps, photos, and a timeline of key events. The crime and its investigation are described along with information on the key participants. Sidebars explain rigor mortis, how CSI processes a scene, and other related topics. An “Essential Facts” section recaps key points at the end of each narrative. Back matter includes a glossary, source notes, a selected bibliography, a further reading list, suggested organizations to contact for more information, and a QR code to access online resources. VERDICT A good purchase to support criminal justice electives.

A few of the terrific series featured here warrant extra notice. A standout series this season is “Extreme Engineering” (North Star Editions/Apex). It pairs history with landmarks and offers readers a look at wonders from the ancient world like the city of Petra, along with the latest achievements such as the Burj Khalifa. The balance of images and hi-lo text makes it easy to use with a range of grade levels and instructional units. “You Choose: Great Escapes” (Capstone) is another series that will captivate readers by taking famous wartime escapes and making the narrative interactive. Plentiful images also add to the drama and interest level of these tales. Appealing to student interests in superlatives—the biggest, best, most dangeroust—the books in both series will wow students.


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