Stunning Locations | Landmarks Series Nonfiction

The featured titles meet readers at their level and, for the most part, do not sanitize the history of countries and cultures that suffered due to colonization.



This season’s newest series provide captivating sights and facts. Complex histories written in either simple or advanced text, supplemented with colorful photographs, help readers build vocabulary. Descriptions of daily life, food, unique animals, and symbols are engaging. Readers who are voyagers at heart can travel to unfamiliar places and befriend fascinating people.

The titles below meet readers at their level and, for the most part, do not sanitize the history of countries and cultures that suffered due to colonization. Hands-on activities and critical thinking practice allow readers to learn the similarities and differences between diverse countries and the landforms that are visited by millions of people every year.



Cords, Sarah. Your Passport to Ecuador. ISBN 9781496684028.
––––. Your Passport to El Salvador. ISBN 9781496684035.
Duling, Kaitlyn. Your Passport to Kenya. ISBN 9781496684073.
Gale, Ryan. Your Passport to Ethiopia. ISBN 9781496684042.
––––. Your Passport to Peru. ISBN 9781496684080.
Haley, Charly. Your Passport to France. ISBN 9781496684059.
Hustad, Douglas. Your Passport to China. ISBN 9781496684011.
––––. Your Passport to Russia. ISBN 9781496684097.
––––. Your Passport to Spain. ISBN 9781496684103.
Petersohn, Sara. Your Passport to Iran. ISBN 9781496684066.
ea vol: 32p. (World Passport). Capstone. Aug. 2020. Tr. $29.32.
Gr 3-5 –This series examines life in other countries. Six chapters of varying lengths describe daily life (such as church bells ringing in France), history, religion, and landscape through photographs and multiple paragraphs. Infographics and maps showcase important facts and where the country is found. The text often uses descriptive language, providing an immersive experience. Recipes are listed as well as popular sports, endangered animals, and specific landforms. The overall design of the series can be bland, but it helps balance out the information given to readers. The final pages include a glossary and further reading, which can be accessed online or in a book. VERDICT A good introductory series for mid-elementary readers who are interested in exploring the world.

Cotton, Jacqueline S. Honolulu. ISBN 9781791115982.
Erlic, Lily. Las Vegas. ISBN 9781791115821.
––––. Nashville. ISBN 9781791115944.
Friesen, Helen Lepp. Dallas. ISBN 9781791115784.
––––. New Orleans. ISBN 9781791115906.
Reeder, Eric & Heather Kissock. Charleston. ISBN 9781791115869.
ea vol: 24p. (American Cities). Weigl/AV2. Aug. 2020. Tr. $28.55.
Gr 2-4 –These titles spotlight American cities. Each chapter is two pages long; there is a photo or infographic on one page and two short paragraphs on the opposite page. Activities, attractions, sports, and entertainment in each city are thoroughly explored. A simple time line of the city’s history is provided as well as key words, which are matched with pictures. The climate, geographic information, and economy (such as farming pineapple in Honolulu) are briefly described. The titles highlight each city’s tourist destinations (the French Quarter in New Orleans), but the history is sanitized. For example, in Nashville, the subsection “Many Peoples” states, “Aboriginal Peoples were the first in the Nashville area.” However, there is no mention of the impact of the colonizers or how colonization fatally harmed Native communities. VERDICT This series provides a basic introduction to cities in the United States, but it should not be used as the sole resource.

Gagne, Tammy & Heather Kissock. Stadiums. ISBN 9781791121631.
––––. Zoos. ISBN 9781791121518.
Kissock, Heather. Museums. ISBN 9781791121594.
Reitmann, Kathleen & Heather Kissock. Aquariums. ISBN 9781791121471.
––––. Farms. ISBN 9781791121556.
ea vol: 24p. (Field Trips). Weigl/AV2. Aug. 2020. Tr. $28.55.
Gr 3-5 –This series describes different field trips. Each two-page section features large photographs, matched with a couple of paragraphs. The photo captions define key words or elaborate on a topic (such as the different careers at an aquarium). The titles explain what a visitor should expect, as well as the etiquette observed at specific locations. Ten questions are asked and answered at the end of the text. The format of photos with captions can be overwhelming, but it can allow readers to absorb information in the order they choose. Classrooms that take field trips every year may find the series provides students with a solid understanding of learning outside of school. VERDICT These titles offer valid instructions about going on a field trip and what to expect.

Gunderson, Jessica. Independence Hall. ISBN 9781977125866.
––––. The Lincoln Memorial. ISBN 9781977125897.
––––. Mount Rushmore. ISBN 9781977125842.
Orr, Tamra. The Bald Eagle. ISBN 9781977125873.
ea vol: 32p. (Smithsonian Little Explorer: Little Historian American Symbols). Capstone/Pebble. Aug. 2020. Tr. $29.32.
Gr 1-3 –This series describes well-known symbols of the United States. The white pages, which use an American flag border, feature a short paragraph and a historical drawing or photo. The history of each symbol, what it stands for, and who it was named for are explained. If the symbol is man-made (Independence Hall) or synonymous with the U.S. (such as the bald eagle), the process of the symbol’s creation is described. Although watered down for younger readers, the injustices committed against Native people in the context of American symbols are described, such as Mount Rushmore being built on the sacred land of Native nations in the Black Hills. A glossary and a list of books and websites for further reading are listed. VERDICT An introduction to historic American symbols without whitewashing actual events. Recommended for classrooms and libraries that need factual information for younger readers.

Hand, Carol. Living in Space. ISBN 9781725316652.
––––. Living on the Ocean. ISBN 9781725316539.
Klepeis, Alicia Z. Living in the Arctic. ISBN 9781725316461.
––––. Living in the Rain Forest. ISBN 9781725316577.
Mattern, Joanne. Living at High Altitudes. ISBN 9781725316508.
––––. Living in Swamps, Salt Marshes, and Other Wetlands. ISBN 9781725316614.
––––. Living in the Desert. ISBN 9781725316423.
ea vol: 32p. (How Do You Live There?). Rosen/PowerKids. Aug. 2020. Tr. $26.25.
Gr 2-5 –Each book in this series varies in the number of chapters, but each chapter is two pages long. Chapters feature a page of text and a relevant photo. Captioned photos, vocabulary words in boldface, and corresponding infographics break up the information. Every title explains how modern people live in the locations, along with the history, problems (such as climate change), and the interconnectedness of life in every environment. Living in the Desert describes how governments around the world work together to stop the spread of deserts. The titles make clear that climate change has negatively impacted Earth. While the overall design isn’t eye-catching, the graphics don’t detract from the information. A glossary, an index, and other websites for further reading are included. VERDICT A compelling introduction to how people survive in climates around the world and in outer space.

Spanier, Kristine. Cambodia. ISBN 9781645273233.
––––. Chile. ISBN 9781645273264.
––––. Costa Rica. ISBN 9781645273295.
––––. Denmark. ISBN 9781645273325.
––––. Iceland. ISBN 9781645273356.
––––. Indonesia. ISBN 9781645273387.
––––. Morocco. ISBN 9781645273417.
––––. Netherlands. ISBN 9781645273448.
––––. Pakistan. ISBN 9781645273479.
––––. Poland. ISBN 9781645273509.
––––. Saudi Arabia. ISBN 9781645273530.
––––. Somalia. ISBN 9781645273561.
ea vol: 24p. (All Around the World). Jump!/Pogo. Aug. 2020. Tr. $26.99.
Gr 2-5 –This eye-catching, well-organized series will spark interest in other countries. The three chapters are brief and feature vivid pictures. Young readers will not be intimidated by the short paragraphs offered throughout. Labeled pictures, boldface vocabulary words, and infographic facts are included. Each title starts with ideas for caregivers and teachers, and the text incorporates critical thinking questions. The series does not shy away from the struggles a country has endured (such as surviving a tsunami in Somalia) or the innovations a country has created to survive (the canals in the Netherlands). The text ends with a “Quick Facts & Tools” section, a glossary, an index, and a link to the “Fact Surfer” website, which provides additional information. VERDICT Accessible introductory information for younger readers.



Banting, Erinn & Heather Kissock. Zion. ISBN 9781791116040.
Gagne, Tammy & Heather Kissock. Death ­Valley. ISBN 9781791110666.
Perritano, John & Heather Kissock. Great Smoky Mountains. ISBN 9781791110703.
––––. Yosemite. ISBN 9781791110628.
ea vol: 32p. (National Parks). Weigl/AV2. Aug. 2020. Tr. $29.99.
Gr 4-6 –This series spotlights popular national parks in the United States. Sections are two pages in total, making the information easier to understand. Paragraphs appear on brightly colored pages and are paired with infographics and photos, such as the foggy, tree-covered hills of the Smoky Mountains. All titles feature relevant issues, details about cultural heritage that don’t downplay or sanitize uncomfortable truths (such as the Trail of Tears or the legend of Atagâ’hï), a time line of the area, tourist attractions, and hands-on activities (like building a biosphere). The number of facts could be overwhelming to younger readers, but each title offers questions to test what has been learned and encourage critical thinking, along with general information to broaden readers’ curiosity. VERDICT An eye-catching and informative series, which doesn’t gloss over serious history or key issues.

Gottschall, Meghan. Hola, Cuba. ISBN 9781534169548.
––––. Hola, Dominican Republic. ISBN 9781534169555.
––––. Xin Chào, Vietnam. ISBN 9781534169579.
––––. Zdravstvujtye, Russia. ISBN 9781534169562.
ea vol: 48p. (Countries of the World). Cherry Lake. Aug. 2020. Tr. $37.07.
Gr 4-8 –This short but immersive series spotlights countries around the world. Five chapters of varying lengths each have an activity that pertains to the topic at hand. Photographs that provide new information are captioned and mirror the text. Details about the climate, geography, wildlife, government, and business structures are explained. Each title takes time to describe the culture of the people who live there, depicting holidays, national celebrations, food, and popular sports. Although the amount of information could be overwhelming to younger readers, the text is organized in a way that offers an accessible reading experience. The back matter features a glossary and books and websites for further reading. VERDICT A good starting point for student projects or readers who are interested in other countries and cultures.

Green, Sara. Chichen Itza. ISBN 9781644872659.
––––. Petra. ISBN 9781644872703.
––––. The Taj Mahal. ISBN 9781644872710.
Noll, Elizabeth. Christ the Redeemer. ISBN 9781644872666.
––––. The Colosseum. ISBN 9781644872673.
––––. The Great Wall of China. ISBN 9781644872680.
––––. Machu Picchu. ISBN 9781644872697.
ea vol: 32p. (Seven Wonders of the Modern World). Bellwether/Blastoff! Discovery. Aug. 2020. Tr. $26.95.
Gr 3-8 –This series describes the seven wonders of the modern world. Each title contains five chapters, with colorful pages. Captioned photographs are accompanied by a short paragraph. “Think About It” questions are sprinkled throughout the narrative. The text examines the past and present and also compares and contrasts similar structures to the main subject, such as El Castillo in Mexico and the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. There are also popular culture references, such as LEGO making a Taj Mahal model, which offer readers further opportunity for engagement and connection building. Although more could be written for each of the seven wonders, the series emphasizes the meaning and nuance of each of these landmarks. A glossary and further reading, which can be done via books or a website, are included. VERDICT A good resource that provides accessible information.

Knutson, Julie. Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep. ISBN 9781534169036.
––––. The High Line. ISBN 9781534168985.
––––. Madison Children’s Museum. ISBN 9781534168992.
––––. Newbern Library. ISBN 9781534169029.
––––. Pingree Farms. ISBN 9781534169050.
––––. Project Row Houses. ISBN 9781534169043.
––––. Rittenhouse SoundWorks. ISBN 9781534169005.
––––. Seattle Gas Works Park. ISBN 9781534169012.
ea vol: 32p. (Changing Spaces). Cherry Lake. Aug. 2020. Tr. $29.93.
Gr 4-7 –Readers learn about the inception of the space and how it was reborn (the Newbern Mercantile became the Newbern Library). Historical and current photographs are supplemented with a paragraph of information, which is sometimes accompanied by a highlighted fact. Each title also follows the history of the local people through time and examines the current needs of a community. For example, an abandoned K-Mart becomes a Cristo Rey school. Although the topic of adapting old spaces can be dense for some readers, it could inspire innovation and critical thinking. A glossary and an index are included. VERDICT A relevant series for larger libraries and STEAM learning.



Adil, Janeen R. & Heather Kissock. Mississippi River. ISBN 9781791120597.
Banting, Erinn. Nile River. ISBN 9781791120672.
Lappi, Megan. Sahara Desert. ISBN 9781791120634.
Watson, Galadriel. Angel Falls. ISBN 9781791120719.
ea vol: 32p. (Natural Wonders of the World). Weigl/AV2. Aug. 2020. Tr. $29.99.
Gr 5-9 –This series focuses on natural wonders of the world, including Angel Falls in Venezuela and the Sahara Desert in Africa. Each two-page chapter features a photo, two paragraphs, and an interactive activity or highlighted information supplemented with a photo or an infographic. A time line is included along with a larger picture map that depicts similar wonders on other continents. Key issues (such as desertification) along with history (Ramses II of Egypt in Nile River) or colonization of the country (Hernando de Soto was the first European to see the Mississippi River) are explained. Questions to apply new knowledge and a hands-on activity to strengthen understanding are provided at the end. ­VERDICT A series that offers broad background information and details the importance of each landform for older readers.

The majority of this season’s series provide high-quality introductory information, with bright photographs, short chapters, and skill-building ­material. “Field Trips” (Weigl/AV2) explains the basics of a field trip experience in different places, while “All Around the World” (Jump!/Pogo) illustrates how the world is vast and varied. “National Parks” (Weigl/AV2) and “Seven Wonders of the Modern World” (Bellwether/Blastoff! Discovery) allow readers to visualize themselves in each location. Older readers will appreciate the vivid descriptions and photos in “Natural Wonders of the World” (Weigl/AV2), while “Changing Spaces” (Cherry Lake) will inspire teenagers to find and create landmarks in their own community.

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