Observation & Exploration: Life Science | Series Made Simple Fall 2013

Seasons, colors, ecosystems, rocks, and other subjects covered by these series are well represented in most library collections.

Seasons, colors, ecosystems, rocks, and other subjects covered by these series are well represented in most library collections. The new volumes reflect publishers’ concerns to meet Common Core requirements by including features such as indexes, glossaries, diagrams, fact boxes, and tables of contents. The weaker sets use bland stock photos and repetitive, mediocre texts, but the more exciting series tackle old topics in new ways and provide vibrant visuals. A few suggest additional research ideas and/or activities to extend learning.

Preschool-Grade 4

ADAMSON, Heather. Blue. ISBN 978-1-62031-040-3. LC 2012039673.

––––. Purple. ISBN 978-1-62031-041-0. LC 2012039682.

––––. Yellow. ISBN 978-1-62031-038-0. LC 2012039933.

GLASER, Rebecca Stromstad. Red. ISBN 978-1-62031-036-6. LC 2012039932.

RUSTAD, Martha E. H. Green. ISBN 978-1-62031-039-7. LC 2012039680.

––––. Orange. ISBN 978-1-62031-037-3. LC 2012039681.

ea vol: 24p. (Colors in Nature Series). glossary. index. photos. websites. Bullfrog Books. 2013. lib. ed. $25.65.

K-Gr 2–Readers will be eager to spot colors after finishing these volumes. Parents and teachers are encouraged to introduce terms by using the covers and the picture glossaries, important nonfiction elements that are well designed in this set. The clean layout contains clearly identified photos of plants, animals, and other natural objects. Responses to the recurring question, “Why is it. . .?” are simple. For example, the answer to “Why is it orange?” in regard to a pumpkin is “It is ready to be picked.” Some examples, such as purple sand and cacti, seem a stretch. An attractive page devoted to four shades of the featured color could encourage students to find additional variations. Complexities, such as why a color can sometimes frighten potential predators and at other times provide camouflage, are not considered. However, such nuances are explored in Enslow’s fine “Rainbow of Animals” series.

ALLYN, Daisy. What Happens When I Hiccup? ISBN 978-1-4339-9338-1; ISBN 978-1-4339-9341-1.

HERBST, Benjamin. What Happens When I Cough? ISBN 978-1-4339-9333-6; ISBN 978-1-4339-9336-7.

JAMES, Lincoln. What Happens When I Sweat? ISBN 978-1-4339-9347-3; ISBN 978-1-4339-9350-3.

MILLER, Madison. What Happens When I Sneeze? ISBN 978-1-4339-9342-8; ISBN 978-1-4339-9345-9.

ROZA, Greg. What Happens When I Throw Up? ISBN 978-1-4339-9352-7; ISBN 978-1-4339-9355-8.

SCHWINN, Aleaha. What Happens When I Yawn? ISBN 978-1-4339-9357-2; ISBN 978-1-4339-9360-2.

ea vol: 24p. (My Body Does Strange Stuff! Series). diag. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Gareth Stevens. 2013. lib. ed. $22.60; ebk. $22.60.

Gr 1-3–These small-format volumes introduce the hows and whys of familiar bodily reactions. Text pages face photos or diagrams related to the simple explanations. Some of the basic anatomical diagrams are more helpful than others. For example, in Hiccup, a labeled illustration shows that the nose, mouth, epiglottis, trachea, and lungs help explain hiccups, but in Yawn, the diagram showing the portion of the brain that controls yawning is unnamed and not labeled. Possible reasons for each reaction (such as allergies, smoke, or colds for coughing) are discussed. While stressing that most responses are not serious, the books note that conditions such as uncontrolled vomiting or persistent coughing might warrant a doctor visit. Each stand-alone volume could be considered as needed for report material. Penny Durant’s Sniffles, Sneezes, Hiccups, and Coughs (DK, 2005) combines a number of topics.

GOSMAN, Gillian. What Do You Know About Earth’s Atmosphere? ISBN 978-1-4488-9699-8; ISBN 978-1-4488-9938-8. LC 2012030676.

––––. What Do You Know About Earth’s Oceans? ISBN 978-1-4488-9700-1; ISBN 978-1-4488-9939-5. LC 2012032009.

––––. What Do You Know About Plate Tectonics? ISBN 978-1-4488-9698-1; ISBN 978-1-4488-9937-1. LC 2012030674.

––––. What Do You Know About Rocks? ISBN 978-1-4488-9696-7; ISBN 978-1-4488-9935-7. LC 2012018695.

––––. What Do You Know About the Water Cycle? ISBN 978-1-4488-9697-4; ISBN 978-1-4488-9936-4. LC 2012028456.

––––. What Do You Know About Weather and Climate? ISBN 978-1-4488-9701-8; ISBN 978-1-4488-9940-1. LC 2012032070.

ea vol: 24p. (20 Questions: Earth Science Series). diag. glossary. index. map. photos. websites. Rosen/PowerKids Pr. 2013. lib. ed. $22.60; ebk. $22.60.

Gr 3-5–Each volume of 20 related questions and answers provides a basic overview of an earth-science topic. Because every section is brief, browsers or reluctant readers who tackle a page or two might be encouraged to explore further. The question-and-answer exchanges are accompanied by small illustrations with informative captions relating to the main texts. Diagrams, such as one of the electromagnetic spectrum or one of ocean ridges and rifts, are more visually engaging than many of the photos. Although each volume stands alone, the following pairs would work well together because the topics are closely related: Water Cycle and Earth’s Oceans, Rocks and Plate Tectonics, Earth’s Atmosphere and Weather and Climate.

HERRINGTON, Lisa M. How Do You Know It’s Fall? ISBN 978-0-531-29946-3; ISBN 978-0-531-22575-2. LC 2013014926.

––––. How Do You Know It’s Spring? ISBN 978-0-531-29947-0; ISBN 978-0-531-22576-9. LC 2013014927.

––––. How Do You Know It’s Summer? ISBN 978-0-531-29948-7; ISBN 978-0-531-22577-6. LC 2013014928.

––––. How Do You Know It’s Winter? ISBN 978-0-531-29949-4; ISBN 978-0-531-22578-3. LC 2013014929.

ea vol: 32p. (Rookie Read-About Science: Seasons Series). glossary. index. photos. websites. Children’s Press. 2013. lib. ed. $23; pap. $5.95.

PreS-Gr 2–Herrington explores seasonal changes in weather, plant and animal life, and people’s activities. Spreads consist of a few simple sentences, plus a fact box and/or caption opposite full-page color photos. The titles introduce concepts such as animal migration and hibernation, although only Spring notes that seasons in northern and southern hemispheres are opposite. Most of the stock photos are adequate. Some fall colors are garish, and people can look more posed than spontaneous. Each book includes a brief picture glossary and instructions for a simple science activity, such as making a sun print or rain gauge with adult help. Suggestions to take a nature walk or start a science journal encourage readers to continue observing seasonal signs. Accompanying publisher websites offer articles and web links from Grolier Online.

NELSON, Maria. Earth’s Minerals. ISBN 978-1-4339-8309-2; ISBN 978-1-4339-8312-2. LC 2012047094.

––––. Igneous Rocks. ISBN 978-1-4339-8313-9; ISBN 978-1-4339-8316-0. LC 2012047097.

––––. Metamorphic Rocks. ISBN 978-1-4339-8317-7; ISBN 978-1-4339-8320-7. LC 2012047153.

––––. The Rock Cycle. ISBN 978-1-4339-8325-2; ISBN 978-1-4339-8328-3. LC 2012047235.

––––. Sedimentary Rocks. ISBN 978-1-4339-8321-4; ISBN 978-1-4339-8324-5. LC 2012047237.

––––. Weathering and Erosion. ISBN 978-1-4339-8329-0; ISBN 978-1-4339-8332-0. LC 2012047239.

ea vol: 24p. (That Rocks! Series). chart. diag. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Gareth Stevens. 2013. lib. ed. $22.60; ebk. $22.60.

Gr 3-5–Nelson covers the essentials of geology from various types of erosion to formation of different kinds of metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary rocks. A clear diagram of the rock cycle in Cycle ties the topics together. Though the design and sentence structure seem aimed at beginning report writers, some of the specialized vocabulary doesn’t appear in the glossary. For example, although “lithification” is used several times in Sedimentary, it is defined only in a photo caption. Sulfides, silicates, and halides are mentioned as types of minerals but not differentiated. Full-page photos adequately provide examples to illustrate topics such as foliation or stratification. Consider this set for collections in which additional report materials are needed.

OWEN, Ruth. What Happens When I Eat? ISBN 978-1-909673-26-7; ISBN 978-1-909673-27-4. LC 2013908616.

––––. What Happens When I Grow? ISBN 978-1-909673-32-8; ISBN 978-1-909673-33-5. LC 2013908619.

––––. What Happens When I Move? ISBN 978-1-909673-28-1; ISBN 978-1-909673-29-8. LC 2013908617.

––––. What Happens When I Sleep? ISBN 978-1-909673-30-4; ISBN 978-1-909673-31-1. LC 2013908618.

ea vol: 24p. (My Body: Inside and Out! Series). diag. further reading. glossary. illus. index. photos. reprods. websites. Ruby Tuesday. 2013. lib. ed. $23.93; ebk. $23.93.

K-Gr 2–The large format and interesting mix of photos, diagrams, and cartoon drawings will assist librarians in sharing these introductions with a group. Individual readers will appreciate the clearly labeled diagrams. Each book stresses the importance of the brain in controlling processes such as digestion and movement. Grow discusses changes in bones and teeth plus development of muscle coordination and speech, but doesn’t mention the growth of hair, skin, or muscles themselves. Although caption boxes add helpful information, their dark blue backgrounds in Eat make the text hard to read. Sleep stresses the importance of rest for the brain, heart, and growth and introduces the sleep cycle. Glossaries include thorough definitions of highlighted terms in the texts. The publisher link to “Learn More Online” leads to a multiple-choice review quiz based on materials in the book, not to additional resources.

RISSMAN, Rebecca. Living and Nonliving in the Desert. ISBN 978-1-4109-5380-3; ISBN 978-1-4109-5387-2. LC 2012046869.

––––. Living and Nonliving in the Grasslands. ISBN 978-1-4109-5384-1; ISBN 978-1-4109-5391-9. LC 2012046872.

––––. Living and Nonliving in the Mountains. ISBN 978-1-4109-5385-8; ISBN 978-1-4109-5392-6. LC 2012046873.

––––. Living and Nonliving in the Ocean. ISBN 978-1-4109-5381-0; ISBN 978-1-4109-5388-9. LC 2012046868.

––––. Living and Nonliving in the Polar Regions. ISBN 978-1-4109-5383-4; ISBN 978-1-4109-5390-2. LC 2012046871.

––––. Living and Nonliving in the Rain Forest. ISBN 978-1-4109-5382-7; ISBN 978-1-4109-5389-6. LC 2012046870.

ea vol: 24p. (Is It Living or Nonliving? Series). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Heinemann. 2013. lib. ed. $22.65; pap. $6.49.

K-Gr 2–These repetitious books do little to tie information to particular habitats. After a brief definition (e.g., “A mountain is a rocky, tall landform”), the texts contrast living and nonliving things. Simple sentences assert that living things need food, water, air, and sunlight. They grow, change, and move on their own. Nonliving things do not. After applying these characteristics to six examples, the books challenge readers to categorize a seventh item. Five volumes include a rock as a nonliving example, and Mountains asks readers to identify if a rock is living or not. Instead of naming habitat-specific animals, the titles mention “a bird” or “a lizard.” Each brief picture glossary repeats again “living” and “nonliving” and defines “sunlight” as “light from the sun.” Insistence on sunlight as a requirement for living is inaccurate. Carol K. Lindeen’s Living and Nonliving (Capstone, 2008) covers essential concepts in a single volume.

Grades 5 & Up

AITKEN, Stephen. Animal Life. ISBN 978-1-60870-459-0; ISBN 978-1-60870-630-3. LC 2010025668.

––––. Ecosystems at Risk. ISBN 978-1-60870-463-7; ISBN 978-1-60870-634-1. LC 2011025243.

––––. Ocean Life. ISBN 978-1-60870-460-6; ISBN 978-1-60870-631-0. LC 2010025510.

––––. People. ISBN 978-1-60870-461-3; ISBN 978-1-60870-632-7. LC 2011036956.

––––. Plants and Insects. ISBN 978-1-60870-462-0; ISBN 978-1-60870-633-4. LC 2011012967.

ea vol: 64p. (Climate Crisis Series). further reading. glossary. index. notes. photos. websites. Cavendish Square. 2013. lib. ed. $31.36; ebk. $31.36.

Gr 5-8–These sobering overviews present current observable results of climate change and offer scientific predictions about its future effects on the Earth’s ecosystems and inhabitants. Fact boxes present relevant statistics and quotations that are documented in extensive notes sections. One- to two-page case studies provide examples of impacts on specific locales or species such as Spanish brown bears. Aitken explains humans’ role in carbon-dioxide production and gives examples of the work being done to mitigate the impact of climate change. He encourages readers to adopt familiar strategies such as recycling, buying locally, and using less energy. Suggested websites from educational and action-oriented organizations offer more options. These books should be considered to update collections on this important topic.

CLAYBOURNE, Anna. Caves. ISBN 978-1-4109-5428-2; ISBN 978-14109-5435-0. LC 2012042340.

GUILLAIN, Charlotte. Polar Regions. ISBN 978-1-4109-5431-2; ISBN 978-1-4109-5438-1. LC 2012042443.

HUNTER, Nick. Deserts. ISBN 978-1-4109-5429-9; ISBN 978-1-4109-5436-7. LC 2012042361.

––––. Rain Forests. ISBN 978-1-4109-5432-9; ISBN 978-1-4109-5439-8. LC 2012042446.

––––. Seas. ISBN 978-1-4109-5433-6; ISBN 978-1-4109-5440-4. LC 2012042553.

OXLADE, Chris. Mountains. ISBN 978-1-4109-5430-5; ISBN 978-1-4109-5437-4. LC 2012042362.

ea vol: 48p. (Explorer Travel Guides Series). chron. diag. further reading. glossary. index. map. photos. websites. Raintree. 2013. lib. ed. $29; pap. $7.99.

Gr 4-6–Addressing readers as potential explorers, these intriguing guides integrate information from many subject areas. Interviews with current scientists and explorers are complemented by sketches of people from the past. While presenting adaptations various plants, animals, and people make to survive in extreme conditions, the texts note conservation efforts required to mitigate current environmental threats. Photos and diagrams illustrate specialized terminology such as types of desert landforms. Caves and Mountains create the greatest sense of active participation as readers are introduced to potential dangers such as hypothermia or altitude sickness. “Fact File” boxes with comparative data (e.g., the size of major deserts) at the end of every volume could serve as starting points for developing graphs. Except for Polar Regions, each title suggests ideas for more research. Drawing from biology, anthropology, geology, history, geography, and other disciplines, this series should generate plenty of ideas for further investigation.

SCHOMP, Virginia. 24 Hours in a Pond. ISBN 978-1-60870-894-9; ISBN 978-1-60870-901-4. LC 2011041778.

––––. 24 Hours in a Tropical Rain Forest. ISBN 978-1-60870-895-6; ISBN 978-1-60870-902-1. LC 2011041779.

––––. 24 Hours in the Desert. ISBN 978-1-60870-893-2; ISBN 978-1-60870-900-7. LC 2011041777.

––––. 24 Hours in the Wetlands. ISBN 978-1-60870-897-0; ISBN 978-1-60870-904-5. LC 2011041776.

––––. 24 Hours on a Coral Reef. ISBN 978-1-60870-892-5; ISBN 978-1-60870-899-4. LC 2011041775.

––––. 24 Hours on the Tundra. ISBN 978-1-60870-896-3; ISBN 978-1-60870-903-8. LC 2011041780.

ea vol: 48p. (A Day in an Ecosystem Series). further reading. glossary. index. map. photos. websites. Cavendish Square. 2013. lib. ed. $29.93; ebk. $29.93.

Gr 4-6–Schomp introduces ecosystems by focusing on one day in a specific locale. Whether describing the Great Barrier Reef, Florida Everglades, or Sahara Desert, the easy texts reveal how plants, animals, and people adapt to challenges. For example, Tundra examines the unique environment created by a short growing season. The conversational style incorporates specialized terms such as “ergs” and “wadi” that reappear in the glossary. Stock photos and additional topics explained in sidebars relate to the main texts. Diagrams would have helped visualize concepts such as rain-forest layers. In most of the volumes, a world map identifies locations of major examples of the ecosystem and emphasizes the one featured. A final “Fast Facts” page discusses representative plants and animals, temperature, population, and other statistics. Although each volume stands alone, concepts such as adaptation, camouflage, predators, and environmental threats that appear in each one could support small group activities to analyze one ecosystem and compare results with others.

Raintree’s “Explorer Travel Guides” set offers an original and multidisciplinary approach to its topics, providing numerous possibilities for group and individual research and projects to extend learning. Because text and layout are engaging enough to lure readers beyond report writers, the series is a first purchase. Teachers could draw on connections among Cavendish Square’s “A Day in an Ecosystem” volumes to structure compare-and-contrast activities that provide practice in analyzing nonfiction. Cavendish Square’s “Climate Crisis” offers a solid starting point for research. Children’s Press’s “Rookie Read-About Science: Seasons” and Bullfrog’s “Colors in Nature” can be used to encourage students to observe the natural world. Consider volumes from other series as needed to bolster report materials about specific topics.

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