Love What You Do | Arts & Recreation Series Nonfiction

This season’s arts and recreation series prioritize hands-on learning, participation, and creative action. 

A wide variety of topics can be found in this season’s arts and activities offerings—from surprising trivia and craftivism to entertainment encyclopedias and the history of everyday things. Over half of the series listed either guide readers through an activity or are dedicated to participating or creating. They use colorful photos and short paragraphs to engage readers in the activity at hand. Other titles are devoted to listing trivia, biographies, or histories of beloved characters, objects, and media for elementary to middle grade readers. All the series offer further reading resource material to empower readers to learn and create more. The nine series below introduce readers to fun and interesting topics and spark creative action.



EBERTH, Krissy. Curious About Camping. ISBN 9781645496571.
––––. Curious About Rock Climbing. ISBN 9781645496649.
GRACK, Rachel. Curious About Canoeing. ISBN 9781645496588.
––––. Curious About Caving. ISBN 9781645496595.
––––. Curious About Duck Hunting. ISBN 9781645496601.
––––. Curious About Freshwater Fishing. ISBN 9781645496618.
––––. Curious About Geocaching. ISBN 9781645496625.
KASSUELKE, Elizabeth. Curious About Hiking. ISBN 9781645496632.
ea vol: 24p. (Curious about the Great Outdoors). Amicus Learning/Curious About. Jan. 2024. Tr. $35.70.
Gr 2-4–Outdoor activities can bring joy and a sense of accomplishment to those who participate, no matter the time of year. From rock climbing to freshwater fishing, canoeing to duck hunting, these titles provide readers with background and safety information while encouraging them to be curious about the great outdoors. Each title includes three short chapters with short paragraphs, full-page photographs with captions, and “Did you know?” facts. Sections throughout pose questions such as “What is Geocaching?” and “How Do I Find the Cache?” (Geocaching). Vocabulary words are in a bold, contrasting color, and infographics show maps and supplies for each activity. Back matter includes more questions to ask, how to search for answers, additional sources, how to share and take action, a glossary, and an index. While each activity should be done with the supervision of a knowledgeable adult, the information is meant to be accessible to young readers. VERDICT For readers who want to enjoy the outdoors or read about it at home.

KOSTER, Gloria. The Story of Chocolate. ISBN 9780756577469.
––––. The Story of French Fries. ISBN 9780756577490.
RESPICIO, Mae. The Story of Balloons. ISBN 9780756577452.
––––. The Story of Bicycles. ISBN 9780756577476.
––––. The Story of Books. ISBN 9780756577483.
––––. The Story of Teddy Bears. ISBN 9780756577506.
ea vol: 32p. (Stories of Everyday Things). Capstone/Pebble. Jan. 2024. Tr. $31.32.
Gr 2-4–Short paragraphs and full-page photos take readers through the history of each object, how they’re made today, and how the item is important to us. While titles are meant for a younger audience, the text does not shy away from the reality of some of the topics, such as the use of unprotected child workers in the production of chocolate. Vocabulary words are bolded in contrasting colors throughout. Along with a glossary and index, back matter includes a suggested activity, and resources for further reading. Whether readers are looking for fun facts or deeper discussions, this series shows how everyday objects can play an important role in our lives. VERDICT Good for inquisitive elementary readers.

MURRAY, Julie. Graffiti. ISBN 9781098283940.
––––. Impressionism. ISBN 9781098283957.
––––. Pop Art. ISBN 9781098283964.
––––. Post-Impressionism. ISBN 9781098283971.
––––. Renaissance. ISBN 9781098283988.
––––. Surrealism. ISBN 9781098283995.
ea vol: 24p. (Art Styles). ABDO/Dash! Jan. 2024. Tr. $31.36.
Gr 2-4–This series provides an overview of a variety of art styles throughout history, like Surrealism, Impressionism, and Pop Art. Full page images of art, artists, and related figures provide a background for short paragraphs. The opening text in each volumes gives a brief definition of the art style and who founded it, followed by an overall history, and key characteristics. Highlighting well-known artists and showing their most famous work give readers a basic understanding of the significant characteristics of each style. The back matter includes additional facts, a glossary, an index, and online resources. While the bold art design of dripping rainbow paint can be slightly distracting from the art styles being discussed, the information is accessible and easy to understand. VERDICT Informative and accessible for elementary readers who enjoy art.

REBMAN, Nick. Writing a Letter. ISBN 9798889980230.
––––. Writing a Report. ISBN 9798889980247.
––––. Writing an Argument. ISBN 9798889980254.
––––. Writing Fiction. ISBN 9798889980261.
––––. Writing in a Journal. ISBN 9798889980278.
––––. Writing Poetry. ISBN 9798889980285.
ea vol: 32p. (How to Write). North Star Editions/Focus Readers. Jan. 2024. Tr. $31.35.
Gr 3-5–Whether writing arguments, letters, poetry, or journal entries, learning to write can be vital to reporting information, changing minds, and maintaining one’s mental health. Every title in this series contains the basics of different forms of writing, geared towards beginners of all ages. Short paragraphs with sample photos break down different ways of writing. Bolded vocabulary words, photo captions, and “Did you know?” facts in each chapter provide additional information. Each chapter guides readers through the steps of crafting a piece of writing. Once the writing aspect has been thoroughly described, a sample piece is provided, with the steps clearly labeled. The back matter includes a “Focus On” section with quiz questions, a glossary, additional resources, and an index. VERDICT Great for learning basic writing skills for school, careers, and recreation for a variety of ages.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

BOLTE, Mari. Super Surprising Trivia About Natural Disasters. ISBN 9781669064824.
––––. Super Surprising Trivia About Video Games. ISBN 9781669064848.
PETERSON, Megan Cooley. Super Surprising Trivia About the Middle Ages. ISBN 9781669064831.
––––. Super Surprising Trivia About the Paranormal. ISBN 9781669064855.
ea vol: 32p. (Super Surprising Trivia You Can’t Resist). Capstone. Jan. 2024. Tr. $31.32.
Gr 3-5–Trivia facts about the Middle Ages, weather events, and even paranormal occurrences can be found in this series. Each title begins with a short summary of the topic before providing brief historical facts, famous people, and events associated with it. Photos and infographics on each page complement short paragraphs, with vocabulary words in bold. The back matter contains a glossary and index and additional resources. Although the text is not comprehensive, it is meant to provide quick facts to pique reader interest and can lead to more research. VERDICT For elementary readers who love trivia on a wide range of topics.

LOH-HAGAN, Virginia. Nerding Out About DIY. ISBN 9781668938287.
––––. Nerding Out About Fantasy. ISBN 9781668938294.
––––. Nerding Out About Gaming. ISBN 9781668938300.
––––. Nerding Out About Japanese Popular Culture. ISBN 9781668938317.
––––. Nerding Out About Role-Playing. ISBN 9781668938324.
––––. Nerding Out About Science Fiction. ISBN 9781668938331.
ea vol: 32p. (Nerd Culture). Cherry Lake/45th Parallel. Jan. 2024. Tr. $32.07.
Gr 5-8–Fandoms exist for almost every topic, from classics like the fantasy and science fiction genres to Japanese popular culture and DIY creations, and a shared excitement around these subjects can be found in this series. Each title opens with an introduction about “living the nerdy life” before leading into specifics. Each title introduces vocabulary related to the fandom via a “nerd lingo” page, and “nerdy tips” guide the readers who are just getting involved. Paragraphs of informative text are accompanied by full-page images and graphics. The final page has a glossary, additional resources, and an index. While the variety of topics for the series provides a good overview for each title, the amount of information makes it more accessible for older readers. VERDICT Good overview of fandom culture for middle school readers.

VAN OOSBREE, Ruthie. Create Joy with Crafts. ISBN 9781669062332.
––––. Help the Environment with Crafts. ISBN 9781669062455.
––––. Raise Awareness with Crafts. ISBN 9781669062394.
––––. Spread Kindness with Crafts. ISBN 9781669062516.
ea vol: 32p. (Crafting for Change). Capstone. Jan. 2024. Tr. $33.99.
Gr 3-8–Ranging from joyful crafting to crafting for change, this series invites readers to create something for themselves or for others. Each title starts with an explanation of what craftivism is, then introduces ten crafts of varying levels of difficulty with a supply list, a reason to make the craft, and step-by-step written instructions. A craftivism tip is offered for most of the activites (“Make window clings…to prevent bird crashes…”). Back matter includes a list of books and websites where readers can learn more. Not every craft has an image to accompany the written instructions, although many of the projects are simple enough to follow. As stated in every book, instructions should be read before starting, and safety precautions should be followed by asking for help from an adult. VERDICT Fun crafts for all ages (with supervision) that can spark joy and change.


Upper Middle School to High School

KELLY, Christa. The Superhero Encyclopedia. ISBN 9781098293000.
MCKINNEY, Donna B. The Actor Encyclopedia. ISBN 9781098292980.
MURRAY, Laura K. The Movie Encyclopedia. ISBN 9781098292997.
RINGSTAD, Arnold. The Video Game Encyclopedia. ISBN 9781098293017.
ea vol: 192p. (Entertainment Encyclopedias). ABDO/Encyclopedias. Jan. 2024. Tr. $49.93.
Gr 6-10–Geared toward young readers who love popular culture, these encyclopedias cover the entertainment industry from superheroes to video games. Each title starts with a table of contents and brief history of the media type. Every encyclopedia entry is marked by a different color throughout and is two to four pages long. The entries provide quick, pertinent information containing a brief description or history, photos with captions, and “at a glance” facts such as: “Batgirl appeared in Batman: The Animated Series, which ran from 1992 to 1995,” (Superhero). Back matter includes a glossary, additional information, and an index. While the order of entries varies from chronological (release) to alphabetical (name), the encyclopedias are easy to understand. VERDICT Enjoyable for readers who love entertainment media.

RUSICK, Jessica. Amusement Parks: Then and Now. ISBN 9781098291747.
––––. State Fairs: Then and Now. ISBN 9781098291785.
––––. Television: Then and Now. ISBN 9781098291792.
VAN, R. L. Baseball: Then and Now. ISBN 9781098291754.
––––. Muscle Cars: Then and Now. ISBN 9781098291761.
––––. Rockn’ Roll: Then and Now. ISBN 9781098291778.
ea vol: 48p. (Americana). ABDO/Abdo & Daughters. Jan. 2024. Tr. $34.22.
Gr 5-8–Connecting the past with the present, this series covers a variety of subjects such as baseball, muscle cars, amusement parks, and more. The opening of each title describes a significant moment or place in history, like the 600 million people who watched the moon landing (Television). Each volume has approximately seven sections that start with the history of each topic and move through time to the present day, and presents a broad overview of the topic. At the end of each book is a “Make Americana” section that encourages readers to get creative, such as decorating a square of an old shirt to make a rock ‘n’ roll themed patch (Rock ‘n’ Roll). The back matter includes a timeline, a glossary, a resource page, and index. Vocabulary words found in the glossary are not marked within the text. While the text might be overwhelming for younger readers, those enthusiastic about the subject matter will enjoy the amount of detail provided in each title. VERDICT Good for students or classrooms needing an overview of the subjects.

The nine series reviewed above provide a variety of activities to connect readers with people and history. For readers excited by new facts, the series “Super Surprising Trivia” (Capstone), “Entertainment Encyclopedias” (ABDO/Encyclopedias), and “Nerd Culture” (Cherry Lake/45th Parallel) may offer more of what they love. Educators may like how simply different forms of writing are explained in “How to Write” (Focus Readers). For readers, families, and educators who want activities to do together, look no further than “Crafting for Change” (Capstone) and “Curious About” (Amicus Learning) for individual and group projects. A handful of series are dedicated to connecting readers with art and history, such as “Americana” (ABDO/Abdo & Daughters), “Art Styles” (ABDO/Dash!), and “Stories of Everyday Things” (Capstone/Pebble).


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