Mech Yourself at Home | Technology Series Nonfiction

There's something here for every curious reader, so get comfortable—hopefully nothing gets outdated while we're waiting for this to go to print—and let's go!

Smartphones, smartboards, smartspeakers, and smarthomes. As the Internet of Things connects us with practically everything in our homes (you can get smart dishwashers that send you phone notifications if their cycle is interrupted! Smart thermostats you can control remotely if your dog looks cold on the livestream camera!), technology and machines have certainly made themselves comfortable in our everyday lives. For kids, especially during the pandemic years, this has been a huge benefit as well as a significant challenge. A few of the series selected for this roundup address the exciting developments in STEM while acknowledging the safety risks that come along with experimentation. Many of the others are expressions of the pure joy that can be found in good engineering, from video games to sports cars, from bubble gum to toilets. There’s something here for every curious reader, so get comfortable—hopefully nothing gets outdated while we’re waiting for this to go to print—and let’s go!



Das, Priyanka. Hammer. ISBN 9781791146825.
Erlic, Lily. Measuring Tape. ISBN 9781791146887.
––––. Wrench. ISBN 9781791146795.
Hayward, Amanda. Drill. ISBN 9781791146856.
––––. Saw. ISBN 9781791146917.
––––. Screwdriver. ISBN 9781791146979.
ea vol: 24p. (Toolbox). Lightbox Learning/AV2. Jan. 2023. Tr. $32.84.
K-Gr 2 –Libraries looking to outfit their makerspaces with books about tools and tool safety for young readers will appreciate this thorough series. Each book shares the history of the different tools, how they fit into the simple vs. complex machines categories, and labeled photos of different variations of the tools. They range from simple (like claw, ball-peen, and sledgehammers) to complex (like cordless and hammer drills, or even manual hand drills), making it extra important that instructions on how to use the tools are also explained. Every installment ends with safety instructions and steps for using a tool, including making sure an adult is present when using any tool. Several of the books in this series (the titles written by Hayward) begin with a totally fictional story that veers towards informational fiction, making the ­series high-quality nonfiction for lower grades. VERDICT Recommended for libraries with collaborative workshops for kids.

Duling, Kaitlyn. Acura NSX. ISBN 9798886871746.
––––. Ford GT. ISBN 9798886871753.
––––. Koenigsegg Regera. ISBN 9798886871760.
––––. Porsche 718 Cayman GT4. ISBN 9798886871777.
ea vol: 24p. (Cool Cars). Bellwether Media/Epic. Jan. 2023. Tr. $26.95.
Gr 2-4 –Gearheads will love the flashy cars showcased in these books. The Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 can go from zero to 60 in 4.2 seconds, and testing is underway to make it fully electric. The Koenigsegg Regera is called the King of Cars, its nickname coming from its regal design and majestic performance. Not to be left behind, the Acura NSX and Ford GT are luxury models that outperform most other coupes on the market. Each book runs through the dimensions and engine specs of the cars, plus their body constructions. The highly visual presentation of this series leans on the impressive designs of the cars, the photo-heavy layouts supplemented with infographic factoids that impart extra knowledge. While the nonfiction text is sparse, forcing the writing into the background, it is full of unique vocabulary that is defined in the glossary. VERDICT Don’t let this browser-friendly series continuation pass you by—it’s worth the buy!

Earley, Ryan. Dump Trucks. ISBN 9781638979463.
––––. Fire Trucks. ISBN 9781638979494.
––––. Garbage Trucks. ISBN 9781638979517.
––––. Monster Trucks. ISBN 9781638979470.
––––. Pickup Trucks. ISBN 9781638979500.
––––. Tow Trucks. ISBN 9781638979487.
ea vol: 16p. (Mighty Trucks). Seahorse Pub./Pelican. Jan. 2023. Tr. $23.75.
PreS-Gr 2 –This highly visual series for evolving readers focuses on sight words and visual cues to guide young learners from beginning to end. From the big jumps of Monster Trucks to the dirt-hauling rigs of Dump Trucks and all the machines in between, this series sets readers up for success. The photos include arrows labeling vocabulary terms to provide context clues for unfamiliar words such as winch, gravel, or roll cage. Bright, engaging photo pages are offset by plain white pages featuring one line of text in an oversized font. The simplified design lets readers engage with the pictures to pick up visual cues and decode the words. “Teaching Tips” at the beginning of each book offer didactic reading ideas for adults. As far as evolving readers go, this series is unremarkable, but considering how popular big machines are in most libraries, it is likely to see heavy circulation. VERDICT An additional purchase if a collection refresh is needed.

Everett, Elizabeth. Gus’s Routine: A Looping Story. ISBN 9798885241762.
––––. Min Builds a Train Track: An If-Then Story. ISBN 9798885241793.
––––. Pete Makes a Pizza: A Sequence Story. ISBN 9798885241823.
––––. Sara Cleans Her Room: A Sorting Story. ISBN 9798885241854.
ea vol: illus. by Christos Skaltsas. 16p. (Early Coding Concepts). Jump!/Grasshopper. Jan. 2023. Tr. $26.99.
PreS-Gr 2 –Cheerful, diverse cartoon children play, create, and perform their daily tasks in this adorable series. When Gus comes home from school, he takes care of his dog by performing the same steps every day. Min builds a train track and explores how it affects the train and the rest of the track if she adds different pieces. Pete and his grandpa follow a recipe (which is just a fancy sequence, really) to make a delicious pizza. Sara cleans her room by sorting items neatly by size and color. Each book ends with a “Let’s Review” section that defines the coding concept illustrated by the story, then asks a follow-up comprehension question for readers and their grown-ups to discuss. While this series is better described as informational fiction than nonfiction, it explains the coding concepts beautifully for its young audience. VERDICT Recommended, though not as nonfiction.

Finan, Catherine C. Bubble Gum. ISBN 9798885093415.
––––. Chocolate Chip Cookies. ISBN 9798885093422.
––––. Ice Cream Cones. ISBN 9798885093439.
––––. Microwave Ovens. ISBN 9798885093446.
––––. Spray String. ISBN 9798885093453.
––––. Sticky Notes. ISBN 9798885093460.
ea vol: 24p. (Oops! Accidental Inventions). Bearport/Bearcub Bks. Jan. 2023. Tr. $26.99.
K-Gr 2 –Readers who’ve never heard the iconic Bob Ross-ism “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents” will see that concept come to life in this clever, engaging series. Some of these accidents, like bubble gum, chocolate chip cookies, and ice cream cones, have led to the invention of some very tasty treats. Chocolate chip cookies are notable for being the only featured invention created by a woman, Ruth Wakefield. Sticky notes came to be only because their inventor failed first—his super-strong glue came out way too weak. Microwave ovens and spray string strayed from their original intent, too. These books illustrate the lesson all good science teachers strive to impart: Sometimes we learn the most from our failures. Helpful pronunciation asides encourage readers to sound out vocabulary words phonetically before they’re defined in the glossary. VERDICT Worthwhile additions where young STEM-minded readers roam.

Leed, Percy. Minecraft Farming. ISBN 9781728476735.
––––. Minecraft Redstone. ISBN 9781728476759.
Zajac, Linda. Minecraft Crafting. ISBN 9781728476728.
––––. Minecraft Mobs. ISBN 9781728476742.
ea vol: 24p. (Lightning Bolt Bks: Minecraft 101). Lerner. Jan. 2023. Tr. $27.99.
Gr 2-4 –These “Minecraft 101” books are ideal for young fans who are just learning about the bestselling game of all time. Minecraft Crafting will teach them how to build the crafting table to help them make all the other tools necessary for survival. In Minecraft Farming, they’ll get tips on how to plant and harvest crops, raise animals, and protect their livestock from hostile mobs. Speaking of mobs, Minecraft Mobs has great advice to keep readers safe when they brave survival mode. When they’re ready for advanced gameplay, Minecraft Redstone will give them the know-how to use the power-source blocks and make their creations light up or move! Each book ends with a one-page section that relates the Minecraft concept to a real-life one, such as redstone circuits to coding, mobs to wild animals, the crafting table to stoves, and farming to, well, farming! The writing, while basic, is engaging, and Minecraft is forever a popular choice. VERDICT Recommended for purchase.

Murray, Julie. Aircraft. ISBN 9781098280154.
––––. Automobile. ISBN 9781098280161.
––––. Camera. ISBN 9781098280178.
––––. Printing Press. ISBN 9781098280185.
––––. Telephone. ISBN 9781098280192.
––––. Toilet. ISBN 9781098280208. ea vol: 24p. (Best Inventions). Abdo Zoom/Dash! Jan. 2023. Tr. $31.36.
Gr 2-4 –The inventions described in this transitional, evolving reader series have changed the world for the better. Aircraft and automobiles have made it possible not only to carry goods and people across countries and around the world but to ferry humans into outer space. Automobiles have evolved from the likes of the Model T to today’s safer, environmentally friendly electric models. Since their invention, printing presses and cameras have digitized and shrunk in size. Perhaps the coolest innovations are shown in Telephone and Toilet: Phones have evolved from mere methods of communication to tiny hand computers; and an interesting diagram in Toilet shows the science of how flushing keeps our bathrooms sanitary and safe. The simple, concise writing is not particularly exciting, but, in a utilitarian style, it gets the job done. Favoring photographs and patent diagrams over illustrations makes this series feel serious and authentic. VERDICT Strongly consider purchasing.

Philip, Claire. In the Air! illus. by Maxine Lee-Mackie. ISBN 9781538392713.
––––. On the Road! illus. by Mike Moran. ISBN 9781538392744.
––––. On the Tracks! illus. by Steven Wood. ISBN 9781538392775.
––––. On the Water! illus. by Ailie Busby. ISBN 9781538392805.
ea vol: 24p. (On the Go!). Rosen/Windmill Bks. Dec. 2022. Tr. $26.27.
PreS-Gr 2 –This cute picture book series features adorable, diverse cartoon characters exploring the planet on different types of transportation. On the Water! explains how boats can use man power, wind power, and engine power to move people from shore to shore, both for fun and for work. On the Tracks! includes trains that go above and below ground (and some even below the water!). In the Air! and On the Road! feature not only people movers, but some kid-pleasing rescue vehicles as well. Again, while the writing is engaging, this is informational fiction is―not nonfiction. It’s great for imparting information in an eye-catching way, but realistically, our transportation doesn’t have adorable smiley faces and tell us helpful tidbits about how it works. As stewards of information literacy, it’s important that librarians and educators in the library make sure kids see that distinction and recognize its value. VERDICT It’s charming, but it’s not nonfiction.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

Emminizer, Theresa. Alfa Romeos. ISBN 9781978528529.
––––. Corvettes. ISBN 9781978528567.
––––. Ferraris. ISBN 9781978528604.
––––. Lamborghinis. ISBN 9781978528642.
––––. Mustangs. ISBN 9781978528680.
––––. Porsches. ISBN 9781978528727.
ea vol: 32p. (High Gear). Enslow. Dec. 2022. Tr. $26.93.
Gr 4-6 –The history of some of the world’s most beautiful cars is rolled out in this detailed series. Discussing changes over time from their inception to the present, each classic car gets its moment in the spotlight. Italian automaker Alfa Romeo, a high-class sports car brand known for its speed and luxurious designs, has been around since 1910 (and their initial designs are wild—the 1913 Aereodinamica looks like a curveless Wienermobile). But it’s not the only Italian title here; Ferraris and Lamborghinis describe the jaw-dropping specs of all the carmakers’ most innovative models. Porsches notably includes a chapter about its founder’s involvement in the German World War II effort and his post war incarceration for war crimes. The American classic cars also get their time to shine, from the iconic sports car models in Corvettes to the raw “muscle car” power in Mustangs. The balance of photos and well-researched, interesting text keeps readers engaged from the start to the finish line. VERDICT Recommended for all libraries.

Foran, Racquel. All About Nanotechnology. ISBN 9781637394731.
Kehoe, Rachel. All About Lab-Grown Meat. ISBN 9781637394724.
––––. All About Streaming. ISBN 9781637394748.
MacCarald, Clara. All About Green Tech. ISBN 9781637394717.
––––. All About Virtual Reality. ISBN 9781637394755.
Mattern, Joanne. All About Artificial Intelligence. ISBN 9781637394700.
ea vol: 32p. (Cutting-Edge Technology Set 2). North Star/Focus Readers. Jan. 2023. Tr. $31.35.
Gr 4-6 –The biggest things since sliced bread are featured in this series about cutting-edge technology. Each book breaks down the history of the tech and gives a basic overview of how it works before looking ahead to its future. For some of the developments, such as nanotechnology and artificial intelligence, we have just begun to discover what they are capable of. Scientists hope to one day build a nano-elevator to space, and AI may one day allow cars to drive themselves completely. Gamers will appreciate the depth of information in Virtual Reality, which breaks down the science of turning two screens into 3D images. The environmental impact and ethical reasons behind green tech and lab-grown meat are impressive, but so far they have not made the same impact on most people’s day-to-day lives as streaming has. Overall, this series is well written and thorough enough to be useful for researchers. VERDICT Recommended first purchases.

Markovics, Joyce. Ancient Architecture. ISBN 9781668919811.
––––. Classical Architecture. ISBN 9781668919828.
––––. Green Architecture. ISBN 9781668919835.
––––. Industrial Architecture. ISBN 9781668919842.
––––. Modern Architecture. ISBN 9781668919859.
––––. Smart Architecture. ISBN 9781668919866.
ea vol: 32p. (Building Big). Cherry Lake. Jan. 2023. Tr. $32.07.
Gr 4-6 –Researchers and architecture enthusiasts alike will find their needs met with this thorough series. Not only are the books full of beautiful photography and informational diagrams but they also include important terminology that helps distinguish one architectural style from the next. Classical architecture leans heavily on ornate details and symmetry, while modern architecture’s clean lines fuse function with the beautiful simplicity of geometry. Green Architecture and Smart Architecture both focus on sustainability, with the latter including buildings with automated features as well. Industrial Architecture mentions the Industrial Revolution and does include some factories with sustainable or reworked architecture, but almost nothing about the environmental impact of factories. While Ancient Architecture adeptly describes how difficult it was for pre-modern civilizations to build elaborate structures, the unethical methods most early archaeologists used to raid and ruin these structures is downplayed to the detriment of readers. The books are otherwise well-written and researched. VERDICT The too-rosy view requires selectors to pick and choose through this otherwise well-done series.

Martin, Emmett. The Cloud: Understanding Modern Data Storage. ISBN 9781538283653.
––––. Everything Is Streaming: Music, Movies, and More. ISBN 9781538283493.
––––. Robots All Around Us: From Medicine to the Military. ISBN 9781538283530.
––––. Self-Driving Cars: Transportation of the Future. ISBN 9781538283578.
––––. Smartphones: Computers in Your Pocket. ISBN 9781538283615.
––––. Wi-Fi: Connecting Us Online. ISBN 9781538283691.
ea vol: 32p. (STEM Is Everywhere!). Gareth Stevens. Dec. 2022. Tr. $28.27.
Gr 3-5 –Any grown-up who has felt the urge to start an “In my day...” rant about the ease of access today’s students have will appreciate the educational content of these well-written, informative books. Not only do they lay out the history of how the technology came about, they also do a reasonably good job of explaining how the technology actually works. Wi-Fi includes a helpful diagram showing the electromagnetic spectrum of waves. While all the books spend some time describing safety concerns with technology, Self-Driving Cars and Robots All Around Us share the human concern that automation will take away people’s jobs. The Cloud reminds readers how cloud-based technology helped society transition quickly to home-based work and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each book ends with a time line of the tech’s development. With its blended descriptive science and tech development information, this series will make report writers very ­happy indeed. VERDICT Highly recommended.


If there was any theme to this technology roundup, it had to be that innovation is everything. Best Inventions (Abdo Zoom) and Oops! Accidental Inventions (Bearport) made that statement most forcefully. Cutting-Edge Technology (North Star Editions) and STEM Is Everywhere (Gareth Stevens) gave props to the tech of today while acknowledging its history and future. The flashy sports cars in Cool Cars (Bellwether Media) and High Gear (Enslow) showed that STEM is all about style. Real and virtual builders can unite over their shared love of engineering when Minecraft 101 (Lerner) and Toolbox (AV2) are on the shelves. With so many excellent options to satisfy eager readers, you won’t be able to keep the shelves full!

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