Sights to See, Stories to Explore | History & Landmarks Series Nonfiction

Brightly colored illustrations, realistic portrayals of ancient warriors, and photos of famous landmarks make this season’s series visually appealing - but the true standout is the inclusion of historically overlooked viewpoints.


Brightly colored illustrations, realistic portrayals of ancient warriors, and photos of famous landmarks make this season’s series visually appealing. Readers will encounter the Sydney Opera House, a snapshot of Woodstock revelers, and many other scenes that bring the text to life. Whether describing long ago empires or recent events, multiple text features support readers. Captions, labels, sidebars, and back matter provide definitions and deep dives into topics. Many of the offerings explore how locations have changed, and how history itself may be told in different ways over time. Landmarks and history through a child’s perspective, a review of a time period’s major events, or leading figures facing off in an ideological standoff—there is something for every age level and interest.



Bithell, Rachel. The Black Hills.ISBN 9781637396155.
Glick, Susan. National Memorial for Peace and Justice.ISBN 9781637396193.
Hubbard, Martha. Gettysburg.ISBN 9781637396179.
Jopp, Kelsey. Mesa Verde.ISBN 9781637396186.
Murray, Tamika M. Alcatraz.ISBN 9781637396148.
Murrell, Diana. The Statue of Liberty.ISBN 9781637396209.
Troup, Roxanne. The Alamo.ISBN 9781637396131.
––––. Devils Tower.ISBN 9781637396162.
ea vol: 32p. (Visit and Learn). North Star Eds./Focus Readers. Aug. 2023. Tr $31.35.
Gr 2–4–Titles in this new series describe not just the landmark but also the visitor’s experience. Those who visit the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, for example, may be saddened, while tourists to the Black Hills may enjoy hiking and biking the trails. Each spread features a large image; readers may see cannons on the Gettysburg Battlefield or reenactors dressed as Mexican soldiers at the Alamo. The colorful photos bring this series to life and will appeal to readers. A special feature such as the Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde or details on the layered construction of the Statue of Liberty is included in each title. A comprehension quiz and answer key are provided in the back matter along with a glossary and suggested book list. Educators will find lesson plans and other resources on the Focus Readers website. VERDICT A good purchase to support intermediate grades studying landmarks tied to American history.

Hansen, Grace. Living in Colonial America.ISBN 9781098244293.
––––. Living through the Civil War.ISBN 9781098244309.
––––. Living through the Great Depression.ISBN 9781098244316.
––––. Living through the Industrial Revolution.ISBN 9781098244323.
––––. Living through the Revolutionary War.ISBN 9781098244330.
––––. Living through World War II.ISBN 9781098244347.
ea vol: 32p. (Living through American History). Abdo/DiscoverRoo. Aug. 2023. Tr $32.79.
Gr 2–4–Major turning points in American history are presented through descriptive text and abundant images within these titles. Captions for the illustrations add more details, as do sidebars on topics like Japanese internment camps or a recipe for Civil War hardtack. Each narrative wraps up with a “Day in the Life” of an individual from the era—a Revolutionary War farmwife, a 12-year-old mill worker, etc. Glossary terms appear in bold colored print within the text. There are also suggestions for making connections from the text to self, the world, and other texts. QR codes throughout the books link readers to a video about Chinese railroad workers, the website for the Holocaust Memorial Museum, a TED Talk on Juneteenth, and other resources. VERDICT The series offers a solid introduction to each historical period, strengthened by the excellent articles, sites, and videos available through the QR codes.

Leaf, Christina. Mexico City.ISBN 9798886873825.
––––. New York City.ISBN 9798886873832.
––––. Rome.ISBN 9798886873849.
––––. Tokyo.ISBN 9798886873856.
ea vol: illus. by Diego Vaisberg. 24p. (Cities Through Time). Bellwether Media/ Blastoff! Missions. Aug. 2023. Tr $26.95.
K–Gr 3–Blastoff Jimmy leads readers on a mission to learn about famous cities around the world. Mission goals at the beginning of the book set a purpose for reading, like learning about different periods in history and groups that have lived in the city being discussed. Brightly colored illustrations show people, art and architecture, and other iconic images of the city. Short paragraphs cover highlights of major time periods in the city’s history such as the fall of Tenochtitlán or the reign of Emperor Augustus. Glossary terms are bolded within the text and may also appear as labels in the illustrations. Back matter includes a time line, a world map with the city’s location circled, reflection questions, an activity to extend learning, and suggestions for further reading. The Factsurfer website offers additional resources. VERDICT A useful series for primary grades comparing past and present.

Quick, Megan. How Did Kids Live During the Civil War?ISBN 9781538288108.
––––. How Did Kids Live During the Middle Ages?ISBN 9781538288139.
––––. How Did Kids Live in Ancient Egypt?ISBN 9781538288160.
––––. How Did Kids Live in Ancient Greece?ISBN 9781538288191.
––––. How Did Kids Live in the American Colonies?ISBN 9781538288221.
––––. How Did Pioneer Kids Live?ISBN 9781538288252.
ea vol: 24p. (Kids in History). Gareth Stevens. Aug. 2023. Tr $24.27.
Gr 2–4–Every book in this series begins by asking readers to think about how kids lived during the titular time period. Food, education, recreation, family life, and social structure are covered in short sections with a text page and a facing illustration. Photos of King Tut’s riches and other images help readers visualize life in the past. Captions explain the illustrations and thought bubbles add extra information such as how children of enslaved families could be sold to other plantations. Work by children is also described, whether it was household chores or other labor. Most titles also include a map showing the original thirteen colonies, the extent of Ancient Greece, or similar geographic information. A list of books and websites for more information is provided in the back matter along with a glossary. VERDICT An informative introduction to different aspects of life in the past.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

Bell, Samantha. Christopher Columbus: The Making of a Myth. ISBN 9781668927601.
––––. John Henry: The Making of a Myth.ISBN 9781668927632.
––––. Johnny Appleseed: The Making of a Myth.ISBN 9781668927625.
––––. Paul Revere: The Making of a Myth.ISBN 9781668927649.
––––. Pocahontas: The Making of a Myth.ISBN 9781668927656.
––––. Rosa Parks: The Making of a Myth.ISBN 9781668927663.
––––. Thanksgiving: The Making of a Myth.ISBN 9781668927618.
––––. The “Wild” West: The Making of a Myth.ISBN 9781668927670.
ea vol: 32p. (How FACT Became FICTION). Cherry Lake/Cherry Lake Pr. Aug. 2023. Tr $32.07.
Gr 3–6–American history is full of legendary figures and events, but are the stories we’ve heard all true? This series traces how the facts surrounding figures and events tied to American history have changed over time. For instance, many students may have heard of John Henry’s legendary contest with the steam powered drill. Author Bell read railroad records and other accounts of the time to trace the origins of this story. The same is done for each figure: Primary sources are compared to the popularized version of events in order to separate fact from fiction. Each book discusses why a particular part of history was retold in a specific way. Plentiful photos and illustrations support the text, as do image captions and sidebars on related topics. Activities encourage students to write their own ballad, pen a letter describing their feelings about a current event, and other projects to extend learning. VERDICT A great collection to stimulate critical thinking and historical analysis for middle grades.

Buckey, A. W. American Life in the 1990s.ISBN 9781532198083.
Conley, Kate. American Life in the 1930s.ISBN 9781532198021.
––––. American Life in the 1980s.ISBN 9781532198076.
Edwards, Sue Bradford. American Life in the 1970s.ISBN 9781532198069.
McKinney, Donna B. American Life in the 1950s.ISBN 9781532198045.
MacMillan, Kathy. American Life in the 1940s.ISBN 9781532198038.
Murray, Laura K. American Life in the 1960s.ISBN 9781532198052.
Nicks, Erin. American Life in the 2000s.ISBN 9781532198090.
ea vol: 112p. (Iconic American Decades). Abdo/Essential Library. Aug. 2023. Tr $41.36.
Gr 4–6–Social studies standards often seem to be grouped around particular decades—the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, etc.—making this series an excellent option for classroom use. Each book begins with a well-known event such as the Hindenburg disaster, then moves on to highlights in society, science and inventions, war and conflict, politics, pop culture, fashion, and sports. A concluding chapter explores the lasting legacy of the decade such as greater government involvement in people’s lives due to the Depression and the war efforts of World War II. Features like time lines, lists of organizations to contact and books for further reading, and the online articles from CNN and other sources available through ABDO Booklinks will be helpful when using the books for research projects. VERDICT A recommended addition or update to history collections and classrooms.

Eason, Sarah & Louise Spilsbury. The Ancient Chinese. ISBN 9781915153678.
––––. The Ancient Egyptians.ISBN 9781915153661.
––––. The Aztecs.ISBN 9781915153685.
––––. The Maya.ISBN 9781915153692.
––––. The Romans.ISBN 9781915153708.
––––. The Vikings.ISBN 9781915153715.
ea vol: 48p. (Deadly History). Cheriton Children’s Books. Aug. 2023. Tr $31.99.
Gr 5–8–Written with a focus on the gory and frightening, this series captures the attention of readers with scary facts and photos of interesting artifacts such as Egyptian daggers or Chinese sacrificial knives. Other images show mummies or people dressed as Roman gladiators or Mayan warriors. Text is broken into digestible chunks describing military conquests, rulers and priests, and deadly games or sacrifices. Supporting text boxes with colored backgrounds and “Dark and Deadly” facts in white circles pop off the dark pages. Each spread features one large-scale image such as warriors on a Viking ship and then a smaller inset detail like a Viking helmet. Questions appear throughout the books, asking things like “Why do you think the ancient Chinese rulers inflicted such horrible punishments on people?” to encourage critical thinking. Additional books and websites are recommended for further learning. VERDICT High interest and engaging, this series is sure to be popular with students.

Gleason, Carrie. You Are Here: Australia.ISBN 9781039815353.
––––. You Are Here: China.ISBN 9781039815377.
––––. You Are Here: England.ISBN 9781039815384.
––––. You Are Here: United States.ISBN 9781039815421.
ea vol: 48p. (Exploring World Landmarks). Crabtree/Crabtree Forest. Nov. 2023. Tr $33.27.
Gr 5-9–Students will dive into this series with its stunning images of famous landmarks, both natural and man-made. A map of the country is marked with thumbnail images of all the sites described in the book. Five facts about the country appear in a short list. There is also a description of how each country is organized into states, provinces, etc. and a definition of what landmarks are. Each site is featured in a large photo; smaller inset photos are also included for some landmarks, such as a close-up of one of the caves in Uluru. A large text box holds the main description, while smaller boxes hold captions for the images. “At a Glance” is a final section with official data about each country such as population, official languages, etc. VERDICT A visually appealing series for classroom reports, armchair travelers, or those planning a sightseeing tour.

Lowe, Lindsey. Adolf Hitler and Winston Churchill: Rivals of World War II. ISBN 9781978536456.
––––. Al Capone and Eliot Ness: Rivals During Prohibition. ISBN 9781978536517.
––––. Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr: Rivals of the American Revolution. ISBN 9781978536487.
––––. The Founding Fathers and King George III: Rivals of Colonial America. ISBN 9781978536609.
––––. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams: Rivals in the New Nation. ISBN 9781978536579.
––––. Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee: Rivals of the Civil War. ISBN 9781978536548.
ea vol: 48p. (History’s Famous Feuds). Enslow. Aug. 2023. Tr $29.60.
Gr 6–8–This series is sure to appeal to those who enjoy studying major historical personalities. Each book begins with a paragraph and list of bullet points to introduce the two sides. “Background” sections describe the events that set the stage for the conflict — Hitler and Churchill leading opposing nations in a war, Hamilton and Burr disagreeing over the form of America’s new government, etc. Following chapters discuss how the conflict affected both sides, along with a description of the aftermath. A “Final Judgment” chapter summarizes major points and even mentions if current opinion has changed, such as new appreciation for John Adams. Images show the figures involved, famous scenes, or documents of the time. There are also quotes from the figures and their contemporaries. A time line, glossary, and suggested reading round out the resources. VERDICT Captivating reading and useful for classroom discussions of opposing viewpoints throughout history.

Wilberforce, Bert. The 13 Colonies.ISBN 9781502667816.
––––. America’s Westward Expansion.ISBN 9781502667847.
––––. The American Revolution.ISBN 9781502667670.
––––. Native Americans in Early America.ISBN 9781502667755.
––––. Slavery in America.ISBN 9781502667786.
––––. The Story of Immigration and Migration.ISBN 9781502667724.
ea vol: 32p. (The Inside Guide: Early American History). Cavendish Square. Aug. 2023. Tr $30.21.
Gr 4–6–Artwork, maps, archival photos, and other images support the discussion of these topics in American history. Captions identify the content of the illustrations while “Fast Fact” text boxes offer tidbits of information about the Minutemen, the Lewis & Clark expedition, or other related details to complement the main narrative. One of the biggest strengths of the series is the use of sidebars to discuss the impact of various policies and practices on portions of the population. Enslavement, indentured servitude, fear and resentment of different groups of immigrants at various times, and treatment of Native Americans are among the issues addressed. Each title ends with a time line of major events, glossary, and further reading lists. There are also questions asking readers their opinion of Manifest Destiny or similar reflection points. VERDICT A solid choice to update collections and stimulate discussion.


All the series featured above offer support for readers, many including questions to check comprehension, encourage reflection, or extend learning. Some also make the effort to include viewpoints from groups that have been historically overlooked. “How FACT Became FICTION” (Cherry Lake) takes readers along as primary sources are compared and the true stories behind American legends are sought. “The Inside Guide to: Early American History” (Cavendish) includes details about how Native tribes, enslaved people, and immigrants have been affected. And “Visit and Learn” (North Star Editions) not only introduces students to famous landmarks, but also explains the significance of some sites to Native groups and their culture. Along with the continued expansion of links to resources such as TED talks and National Geographic, outstanding series also work to present the whole story.



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