Our Natural World, Past and Present | Natural Science Series Nonfiction

This season’s series foster the love of all living things and their connection to our world, from the long ago mammoths of the ice age to the bison roaming Yellowstone today.

What is more exciting than dinosaurs clawing across the pages of a book? This season’s selection looks at cool animals from millions of years ago, such as the Jurassic Park favorite Compsognathus, and tells their stories all the way to their cousins of today, birds! We’ll also see series that foster the love of all living things and their connection to our world, from the long-ago mammoths of the ice age to the bison roaming Yellowstone today. Each organism has its place in the web of life and through evolution and time; readers can see how the world has changed around them or without them. There are fun critters of fur, scale, feather, and fin for all lovers of natural history and science.



Brink, Tracy Vonder. The Brachiosaurus.ISBN 9781039696518.
––––. The Spinosaurus.ISBN 9781039696501.
––––. The Stegosaurus.ISBN 9781039696495.
––––. The Triceratops.ISBN 9781039696471.
––––. The Tyrannosaurus Rex.ISBN 9781039696464.
––––. The Velociraptor.ISBN 9781039696488.
ea vol: 24p. (When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth). Crabtree/Seedlings. Sept. 2023. Tr $27.93.
K-Gr 2–Dinosaur words are some of the first, most exciting words young readers learn, and these titles build on that hype. There are key vocabulary terms folded into simple, short sentences and paired with images for additional context. There are color illustrations of dinosaurs both with and without feathers for knowledgeable fans. The enticing past is shown alongside the exploratory present day of paleontologists studying these prehistoric creatures in color photographs. The blending of the two media allows for a pleasant merging of the imagined past and real present, one influenced by the other. VERDICT Highlighting some of the most popular prehistoric creatures, these titles are perfect for libraries looking to build their dinosaur collections for emerging readers.

Dee, Nicky. Ankylosaurus: The Walking Tank.ISBN 9781978534803.
––––. Diplodocus: Long-Necked, Whip-Tailed Giant.ISBN 9781978534834.
––––. Megalosaurus: The First to Be Named.ISBN 9781978534865.
––––. Spinosaurus: Largest Meat-Eating Dinosaur Found to Date. ISBN 9781978534896.
––––. Stegosaurus: Plated, Spikey Herbivore.ISBN 9781978534926.
––––. Triceratops: Last and Largest of the Horned Dinosaurs. ISBN 9781978534957.
––––. Tyrannosaurus Rex: “The King of Dinosaurs”.ISBN 9781978534988.
ea vol: 32p. (What’s So Special About Dinosaurs?). Enslow. Aug. 2023. Tr $26.93.
Gr 2-4–These titles pose the question many ask: What’s so special about dinosaurs? Readers are introduced to some of the best known dinosaurs and shown just what makes them special. There is the magic and mystery of the past unveiled and these terrifying creatures that are nearly beyond our imagination who really existed. Each creature is brought into focus to explain their names, origins of discovery, habits and behaviors, and what we know about these dinosaurs so far. VERDICT Tapping into a passion children have and digging deeper to really explain what is so fascinating about something they love makes these a natural fit for libraries looking to update their dinosaur titles.

Lynch, Seth. Let’s Look for Beetles!ISBN 9781538286173.
––––. Let’s Look for Birds!ISBN 9781538286203.
––––. Let’s Look for Flowers!ISBN 9781538286234.
––––. Let’s Look for Leaves!ISBN 9781538286272.
––––. Let’s Look for Snails!ISBN 9781538286296.
––––. Let’s Look for Worms!ISBN 9781538286326.
ea vol: 24p. (Nature School). Gareth Stevens. Aug. 2023. Tr $24.27.
PreS-Gr 2–Vivacious color photographs of the plants and animals splash across the page to draw readers from the book to their backyard. Some basic information about how each organism lives is provided using short, simple sentences with familiar vocabulary for budding readers. Each title includes a small visual glossary that uses real images from the text of three highlighted terms to build science literacy skills and reflect upon what they have read. Readers are encouraged to explore and get their hands dirty as they learn about the natural world around them. VERDICT Libraries looking to engage young readers in outdoor and STEM play can use the ideas presented in these titles as a starting place for program planning.

Murray, Julie. American Mastodon.ISBN 9781098266325.
––––. Dire Wolf.ISBN 9781098266332.
––––. Giant Beaver.ISBN 9781098266349.
––––. Giant Short-Faced Bear.ISBN 9781098266356.
––––. Saber-Toothed Tiger.ISBN 9781098266363.
––––. Woolly Mammoth.ISBN 9781098266370.
ea vol: 24p. (Ice Age Animals). Abdo/Abdo Kids Jumbo. Sept. 2023. Tr $32.79.
K-Gr 2–Wolves and tigers and bears, oh my! For readers who have always wanted to know the differences between mastodons and woolly mammoths, these are the books for them. Some favorites such as the saber-toothed tiger and American mastodon are included, but lesser-known gigantic mammals are also featured: the giant beaver, dire wolves. A mix of illustrations, photographs, and computer-generated imagery is sprinkled between the short sections of text. Fossils are, of course included, but the really fun sections are the size comparisons to other animals of the past and present. VERDICT These titles address historic climate change and extinction in a captivating way for emerging readers. A great choice for school libraries to add to their animal and ecosystem collections.

Pettiford, Rebecca. Minerals.ISBN 9798885244398.
––––. Rocks.ISBN 9798885244428.
––––. Soil.ISBN 9798885244459.
––––. Water.ISBN 9798885244480.
ea vol: 24p. (Earth Basics). Jump!. Bullfrog. Aug. 2023. Tr $26.99.
PreS-Gr 2–These introductory earth science concepts foster in readers an understanding of the world around them and how they fit in it. Beginning with dialogic assistance and post-reading options, these titles provide a nice option to not only learn about important building blocks of our planet, but also what they mean to readers. The picture glossary is really useful as a visual cue for reviewing the concepts from the core text. While the subjects covered are familiar, like rocks and water, there are enriching conversations about how each exists and adds value to the world in its own way. VERDICT The rocks and minerals titles are particularly useful for libraries with geological interests past paleontology.

Ranch, Jeri. Ankylosaurus.ISBN 9781728491332.
––––. Brachiosaurus.ISBN 9781728491325.
––––. Compsognathus.ISBN 9781728491363.
––––. Pachycephalosaurus.ISBN 9781728491356.
––––. Spinosaurus.ISBN 9781728491349.
––––. Therizinosaurus.ISBN 9781728491370.
ea vol: 24p. (Read About Dinosaurs). Lerner. Aug. 2023. Tr $29.32.
K-Gr 2–Take a trip back in time to the Mesozoic era, when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Illustrations are varied between drawings, computer generated images, and photographs of fossils today. Those dinosaurs illustrated are shown with and without feathers, and the debate around this hot topic in paleontology shows to young readers that scientists are still learning things about these ancient animals. The author encourages dialogue and discussion through questions bookending the core text content in each title. This is made easier to facilitate on both ends by using dinosaurs that are well known in popular media, so that readers can approach each with a starting opinion or idea. VERDICT An excellent choice that features a high interest topic for children and aids in classroom or story time discussion of the selected dinosaurs.

Ruby, Rex. Gotcha!ISBN 9798888220405.
––––. Green!ISBN 9798888220436.
––––. Ouch!ISBN 9798888220412.
––––. Scatter!ISBN 9798888220443.
––––. Whoa!ISBN 9798888220429.
––––. Yikes!ISBN 9798888220450.
ea vol: 24p. (Plant-tastic!). Bearport. Aug. 2023. Tr $26.99.
Gr 1-4–Beyond roots and stems, readers will learn about adaptive protections and the myriad ways plants spread themselves around the world. Some key concepts like photosynthesis are included, with pronunciation guides and definitions to aid in comprehension. Variety is the star of these titles as they explore the ooey gooey and dangerous prickling of plants of all types. Recognizing and being about to appreciate dangerous plants like hemlock or stinging nettles from a safe distance are valuable skills for nature lovers of all ages and this series sets readers on the right track for that. VERDICT Teachers will find the texts helpful for core concepts around plant life cycles and the science lab experiments great for extension activities beyond the book.

Tomlinson, Marla. Baby Animals in Their Homes.ISBN 9781684506866.
––––. Habitats Big and Small: Where Animals Call Home.ISBN 9781684506897.
––––. Squeaks and Cheeps: What You See and Hear in Animal Homes. ISBN 9781684506910.
––––. What’s Down There?ISBN 9781684506842.
––––. Yellowstone National Park: A Natural Wonder. ISBN 9781684506835.
Williamson, Margaret. From Roots to Bloom: Plants Have a Purpose. ISBN 9781684506873.
––––. From Seed to Seed: The Mighty Oak Tree.ISBN 9781684506903.
––––. Gardens in the Moonlight: What Plants Do at Night.ISBN 9781684506880.
––––. The World of Bamboo.ISBN 9781684506859.
ea vol: 24p. (The Decodables: Discover Plants and Animals). Norwood House. Jul. 2023. Tr $27.93.
Gr 2-4–Vibrant, adorable pictures cover these titles aimed at teaching children the habits and habitats of living organisms around the world. Animals featured are made to be empathetic for readers to be able to connect human behaviors to animal ones, from crying babies to sleeping arrangements. The eye-catching photographs really draw readers in and engages them in the text to learn more about what is happening in each scene. There is a collection of plants and animals in focus in each title, which allows for increased exposure to more biodiversity. VERDICT A charming choice for animal lovers, as animals are the stars throughout. Perfect for classroom connection to nature hikes and outdoor play.


Upper Middle School to High School

Lowe, Lindsey. The Basics of Animal Systems.ISBN 9781499474466.
––––. The Basics of Microbes.ISBN 9781499474527.
O’Daly, Anne. The Basics of Evolution.ISBN 9781499474497.
––––. The Basics of Reproduction.ISBN 9781499474558.
ea vol: 96p. (Core Concepts). Rosen. Aug. 2023. Tr $39.77.
Gr 9 Up–A deep dive for science enthusiasts looking to go beyond the classroom and dig into the meat of foundational topics like microbiology and evolution. Science history from critical discoveries to past inaccuracies are shared alongside detailed explanations of concepts. There is a beautiful biodiversity that goes behind animals and plants to look into the full complex world of spores and microbes. Mixed media of historical images, photographs, and scientific illustrations are spread across the sections to hold the interest of readers. While it is put into some context, the author revisits the science of evolution versus the religious belief of creationism a bit too often in The Basics of Evolution ​. VERDICT A robust resource for biology classrooms looking to support their curricula from small to large concepts.

Touching on a lot of old favorites from classic films and television, “Read About Dinosaurs” (Lerner) is a must-have series for dinosaur lovers who are developing their reading skills. For those who are craving just a bit more for their prehistoric perusal, “What’s So Special About Dinosaurs?” (Enslow) answers the titular question and really explores the things we all love about the great giants who roamed this world before us. These books offer that elusive thing: give readers something big and interesting to marvel at.



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