Protecting and Connecting to the Natural World | Natural Science Series Nonfiction

A deep connection to the natural world and how it is evolving around us permeates this season’s natural science series. There is a major focus on visual literacy, presenting a variety of media from forecast data generated by weather software to crisp animal photography. 


A deep connection to the natural world and how it is evolving around us permeates this season’s natural science series. Climate change has altered both the physical and literary world, and these books look at the far-reaching impacts of climate change from severe weather in our neighborhoods to shrinking habitats in food webs with familiar animals. Young readers can dig into the exciting world of meteorology and older readers can step into the shoes of their favorite scientific adventurers for a day. Families can explore the natural world through portals into ecosystems in addition to connecting with their local parks for eco healing. There is a major focus on visual literacy across these series, presenting a variety of media from forecast data generated by weather software to crisp animal photography. With all of these things to feast on for the eyes, the biggest question for readers is which one they will pick first.



Anthony, William. Desert Food Webs. ISBN 9781534535114.
––––. Forest Food Webs. ISBN 9781534535183.
––––. Grassland Food Webs. ISBN 9781534535220.
––––. Mountain Food Webs. ISBN 9781534535268.
––––. Ocean Food Webs. ISBN 9781534535305.
––––. River Food Webs. ISBN 9781534535343.
ea vol: 24p. (Food Webs). Greenhaven/KidHaven. Jan. 2021. Tr. $24.60.
Gr 1-2 –Jumping between animals, this series on food webs takes an amusing look at each creature’s perspective from the herbivores to the apex predators. Readers dive downward and climb back up the many layers of each environment’s food web exploring competitors, predator-prey relationships, and food preferences of opportunistic and omnivorous animals. Some animals have wry perspectives like the bullfrog tadpole who is interrupted while eating algae and the sneaky cheetah who hopes you will forget they are there. River Food Webs shows a vibrant North American biodiversity hot spot that includes interesting animals in its web, such as crawfish, mud turtles, and alligators, all of whom pop off the page in an exciting photorealistic style. There are some inaccuracies, however: for example, Grassland Food Webs features an American bald eagle on its table of contents page, but the book’s setting is African Savanna. VERDICT Each title has a narrative and concludes with its respective food web mapped out as a diagram for easy use with class projects.

Colella, Jill. Let’s Explore Beans! ISBN 9781541590342.
––––. Let’s Explore Carrots! ISBN 9781541590359.
––––. Let’s Explore Chocolate! ISBN 9781541590366.
––––. Let’s Explore Eggs! ISBN 9781541590373.
––––. Let’s Explore Peanut Butter! ISBN 9781541590335.
––––. Let’s Explore Tomatoes! ISBN 9781541590328.
ea vol: 24p. (Food Field Trips). Lerner. Jan. 2021. Tr. $26.65.
PreS-Gr 1 –Displaying not only the origins of each food item as a living thing from the root to the chicken coop, the interactive visual literacy presentation also asks readers to draw conclusions based on their own observations. The connection between where food originates and how it comes into our homes helps to fill in knowledge gaps in nutritional and agricultural science. There is a magnificent visual diversity of the foods that brings something fresh to unfamiliar readers, from spotted beans to purple carrots. The recipes and activities included at the end of each title help ground the ideas in the real world through their personal interactions with the foods, though parents will have to assist. VERDICT Appetizing pictures of farm-to-table foods will fill readers of “Food Field Trips” with delicious excitement and the recipes will have them coming back for more.

Colich, Abby. Camping in Nature. ISBN 9781645278283.
––––. Connecting with Water in Nature. ISBN 9781645278313.
––––. Creating Art in Nature. ISBN 9781645278344.
––––. Gardening in Nature. ISBN 9781645278375.
––––. Hiking in Nature. ISBN 9781645278405.
––––. Listening to Nature. ISBN 9781645278436.
––––. Watching Animals in Nature. ISBN 9781645278467.
––––. Watching the Sky in Nature. ISBN 9781645278498.
ea vol: 24p. (Nature Heals). Jump!/Blue Owl. Jan. 2021. Tr. $26.99.
K-Gr 2 –Now that we are all plugged in and cooped up, a series on healing and unplugging by connecting through nature is just what many need. The series is heavy in calming scenes, and the images share much of the information and, as such, express a sense of inclusion through the depiction of diverse abilities within each selection. There is also so much to do in these titles from physical activities like yoga and birding, to thoughtful activities such as creating a collection of nature drawings and journaling about feelings. While not using the buzz words, these titles incorporate relaxing eco-therapy practices such as forest bathing through comfortable STEM activities for younger readers. ­VERDICT Gentle mindfulness tips like breathing and unplugging help guide actions to the connected social and emotional learning goal for the title.

Cooley Peterson, Megan. Understanding Climate. ISBN 9781977133519.
––––. Understanding Weather. ISBN 9781977133526.
Dickmann, Nancy. How Do We Measure Weather? ISBN 9781977133472.
––––. How Do We Predict Weather? ISBN 9781977133489.
––––. How Do We Prepare for Severe Weather? ISBN 9781977133496.
––––. Understanding Weather Patterns. ISBN 9781977133502.
ea vol: 32p. (Discover Meteorology). Capstone/Pebble. Jan. 2021. Tr. $29.32.
K-Gr 2 –Have you ever wondered what a weather balloon does? For the curious, “Discover Meteorology” introduces weather concepts to young readers. There are photographs of scientific implements that range from rain gauges to high-tech weather satellites. Additionally, there are computer-generated images that display the capabilities of weather software and a variety of scientific graphics. STEM vocabulary ranging from concepts in the water cycle to common news terms, such as polar vortex and jet streams, are defined in easy-to-understand language with helpful visuals. The star of this series is How Do We Prepare for Severe Weather?, as it breaks down key ideas related to emergency preparation from the necessity of a plan to the supplies in kits and actions related to drills. VERDICT With severe weather plans becoming increasingly part of school emergency preparedness, these titles address the hows and whys of weather, particularly extreme weather, and our responses to it.

Suen, Anastasia. Blizzards. ISBN 9781681519418.
––––. Earthquakes. ISBN 9781681519425.
––––. Floods. ISBN 9781681519432.
––––. Hurricanes. ISBN 9781681519449.
––––. Tornadoes. ISBN 9781681519456.
––––. Wildfires. ISBN 9781681519463.
ea vol: 16p. (Spot: Extreme Weather). Amicus. Jan. 2021. Tr. $27.10.
PreS-Gr 1 –Extreme weather can be a frightening thing for young readers, but understanding the events around it can help alleviate fears. The realities and dangers of each weather situation are presented, but are not overly specific as the books aim to inform rather than elicit event-based emotions. Real information is given, such as how and why windows are boarded up for hurricanes, and treated seriously without the intention to induce fear or sadness. The images included in this series are of diverse families, communities, and helpers who are all preparing for or dealing with the aftermath of extreme weather. Each title presents a cleanup or rebuilding stage and shows that people can work together to move past serious events like floods. VERDICT With helpful keywords that are highlighted throughout the text, the scientific literacy developed in this series builds off context clues to explain complex ideas to young children.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

Braun, Eric. Can You Save an Endangered Species? An Interactive Eco Adventure. ISBN 9781496695987.
––––. Can You Save a Tropical Rain Forest? An Interactive Eco Adventure. ISBN 9781496695994.
Burgan, Michael. Can You Protect the Coral Reefs? An Interactive Eco Adventure. ISBN 9781496695970.
Doeden, Matt. Can You Stop a Volcanic Disaster? An Interactive Eco Adventure. ISBN 9781496696007.
ea vol: 112p. (You Choose: Eco Expeditions). Capstone. Jan. 2021. Tr. $32.65.
Gr 4-6 –This series is a collection of interactive adventures where the reader is a scientist on a mission to save the day and the planet. There are, of course, consequences for choices that can result in catastrophic losses, but there are also exhilarating moments of field action. Readers can experience the greatest joys of fieldwork from home with these updated choose-your-own-adventure style STEM titles. Each book includes an information section to teach more about the topics, from endangered species to tectonics and volcanoes, after the conclusion of the adventures. These titles can be solo adventures or even more fun in a group setting where cooperation is paired with critical thinking. VERDICT An interactive activity wrapped in the trappings of an adventure story that encourages students to think as scientists while problem-solving different fieldwork scenarios.

Huddleston, Emma. Adapting to Climate Change. ISBN 9781532192715.
––––. Studying Climate Change. ISBN 9781532192760.
London, Martha. Climate Change and Politics. ISBN 9781532192722.
––––. The Effects of Climate Change. ISBN 9781532192739.
––––. How Climate Change Works. ISBN 9781532192746.
––––. Stopping Climate Change. ISBN 9781532192753.
ea vol: 48p. (Climate Change). ABDO/Core Library. Dec. 2020. Tr. $32.79.
Gr 6-8 –This new addition to environmental literature takes climate change to task, encouraging young people to form their opinions and fostering the desire to speak out as other young activists have. It is a must-have for middle school libraries as it is rich with information about the causes, direct impacts of, and primary sources related to climate change. The inclusion of women in STEM in this series is particularly good, but the highlight is its focus on youth activism by familiar people like Greta Thunberg. However, How Climate Change Works includes figures such as Louis Agassiz, who promoted polygenism, and Svante Arrhenius, who advocated eugenics, without even a footnote addressing their racist beliefs. Adults will have to provide context. Going beyond featuring activists and scientists, this series empowers readers to look at the primary sources and interpret the words straight from the experts and reports. VERDICT This series incorporates critical thinking activities in each title that include extensions blending language arts with science to develop scientific reading comprehension skills.

Johnson, Rebecca L. A Walk in the Boreal Forest, 2nd Edition. ISBN 9781728429212.
––––. A Walk in the Deciduous Forest, 2nd Edition. ISBN 9781728429120.
––––. A Walk in the Desert, 2nd Edition. ISBN 9781728429137.
––––. A Walk in the Prairie, 2nd Edition. ISBN 9781728429182.
––––. A Walk in the Rain Forest, 2nd Edition. ISBN 9781728429243.
––––. A Walk in the Tundra, 2nd Edition. ISBN 9781728429274.
ea vol: illus. by Phyllis V. Saroff. 48p. (Biomes of North America Second Editions). Lerner. Jan. 2021. Tr. $30.65.
Gr 4-6 –Spend the day walking through your favorite biological community in this series focused on different biomes across North America. With captivating color photographs, readers experience walking through the biomes such as the Boreal Forest and encounter each area of the forest as they go, from frozen spruce needles to a moose family crossing the water. Serving a dual function, the books present information about the biome as a larger entity as well as the specifics of each interlaced food web within it. VERDICT This series works well to answer questions from biology class while also fueling new ideas for projects with its strong visual appeal.

Martin, Claudia. Cleaning Warrior: Going Green. ISBN 9781647476946.
––––. Clothing Warrior: Going Green. ISBN 9781647476953.
––––. Entertainment Warrior: Going Green. ISBN 9781647476960.
––––. Food Warrior: Going Green. ISBN 9781647476977.
––––. School Warrior: Going Green. ISBN 9781647476984.
––––. Travel Warrior: Going Green. ISBN 9781647476991.
ea vol: 32p. (Be a Waste Warrior!). Bearport. Jan. 2021. Tr. $28.50.
Gr 4-6 –Adding on three additional Rs to the ubiquitous green phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle,” the new six Rs (refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, recycle, rot) express the impact everyday actions can have on the environment. The discussions one would expect are addressed such as single-use plastics, plastic bottles, composting, and biodegradable materials, but they are expanded upon and explained in greater detail. The books in this series shine a light on carbon offsetting, electronic waste, and material science as they relate to environmentalism. There is a refreshing offering of actions and swaps from washable cotton rounds to school-housed worm compost bins. Kids might not be able to have buying power for food selection or the ability to choose soaps/cleaners, but they can do classroom activities to make a difference. VERDICT Readers are encouraged to take action and be mindful about the choices they make from buying a toothbrush to washing their hair.

The strong visuals present in this selection help to bridge the gap that has been growing between people and the natural world without being overly heavy or pessimistic. Readers are encouraged to unplug and think critically about the world around them and how they live in it. These series ask not what the world can give to us, but what we can give back to the world. Most importantly, they consider different abilities and perspectives in their understanding of what people can do about the current climate crisis. There is room in this changing world for those who are daring and those who are caring, and this season’s offerings have something for both.

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