Tools for Exploration | Technology & Machines Series Nonfiction

Readers interested in existing and emerging technologies will find a lot to tinker with in this spring’s tech selections.


If you are looking to beef up your STEM collection, these series will not disappoint. Every volume is filled with colorful photographs and entrancing graphics that will entice even the most reluctant of readers. These books are just right for those looking to learn more about new technologies that make outer space exploration possible, how robots are improving our lives, or what makes a drone work. Existing technologies that are in place today are addressed, but many of these volumes also describe what we can expect in the future as the technology is further developed and improved. Readers thinking about a career in engineering or science will find lots of food for thought in this season’s selection.


BELL, Samantha S. The Basics of Coding. ISBN 9781098292737.
––––. Coding Algorithms. ISBN 9781098292744.
––––. Debugging Code. ISBN 9781098292799.
––––. Why Learn Coding? ISBN 9781098292805.
KULZ, George Anthony. Coding Functions. ISBN 9781098292768.
––––. Coding Loops. ISBN 9781098292775.
––––. Coding Variables. ISBN 9781098292782.
MCKINNEY, Donna B. Coding Conditionals. ISBN 9781098292751.
ea vol: 32p. (Let’s Code!). ABDO/Kids Core. Jan. 2024. Tr. $34.22.
Gr 2-4–The authors of this series do not set out to teach young readers how to code but to explain what coding is, how it works, and why it is necessary to make a program or game possible. Each volume begins with a scenario of someone who is completing a real-world task and relates that task to the topic of the book. The cook who goes through the steps of making cheeseburgers is like the computer programmer who uses functions to complete a task in the code. Or, the boy who listens to music on a playlist is like the programmer who writes loops in their code for steps that need to be repeated over and over. The books go on to explain why functions or loops are necessary to complete the coding for a program. Bright colors with photographs including diverse characters make the books visually attractive. VERDICT Whether familiar with coding or not, students will find their interest sparked with these very readable books.

FENMORE, Taylor. Look Inside an Electric Car. ISBN 9798765608371.
KAISER, Brianna. Look Inside a Bulldozer. ISBN 9798765608340.
––––. Look Inside a Dirt Bike. ISBN 9798765608357.
––––. Look Inside a Drone. ISBN 9798765608364.
LEED, Percy. Look Inside a Big Rig. ISBN 9798765608463.
––––. Look Inside a Fire Truck. ISBN 9798765608470.
––––. Look Inside a Monster Truck. ISBN 9798765608487.
––––. Look Inside a Train. ISBN 9798765608494.
ea vol: 24p. (Lightning Bolt Books–Under the Hood). Lerner. Jan. 2024. Tr. $29.32.
Gr 1-3–Beautiful, colorful photography with accompanying clear and concise text make these volumes extremely attractive for early readers. In 24 pages divided into four chapters, the authors examine a type of vehicle. The text concludes a description of the parts of each vehicle with accompanying photos, and an explanation of how they work. Personal use (electric car or dirt bike), professional use (semi truck or bulldozer), and community use (fire truck) vehicles are discussed. VERDICT These highly appealing books belong in every library serving little ones and will not spend much time on the shelf.

Upper Elementary to Middle School

ADAMS, William D. Bioinspired Venus Flier. ISBN 9780716665656.
––––. Exoplanet-Spying Supertelescope. ISBN 9780716665663.
––––. Giant Lunar Telescope. ISBN 9780716665670.
––––. Inflatable Stargazers. ISBN 9780716665687.
––––. Made-to-Order Spacesuits. ISBN 9780716665694.
––––. Martian Fungoid Space Base. ISBN 9780716665700.
––––. Quantum Dot Solar Sail. ISBN 9780716665717.
––––. Sun-Powered Asteroid Miners. ISBN 9780716665724.
ea vol: 48p. (Out of This World 3). World Book. Mar. 2024. Tr. $20.00.
Gr 5-8–This series highlights some of the projects that have been funded by the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) grant program. A different emerging space technology is featured in each volume with a focus on the lead scientist for each project. In 48 pages, the author provides a look at how the scientist became interested in science, many quotes from the scientist about their life and the project at hand, and a description of how the new technology is going to solve a problem in space exploration. This includes the building of a space suit that will protect astronauts of different sizes and also be cost effective, and developing a manta ray-like vehicle that can explore and document Venus through its dense atmosphere. Due to the hostile environments of space to both humans and the human-made objects needed for exploration, these future technologies are fraught with problems that need solving. VERDICT Perfect choice to encourage and inspire our future engineers and scientists. The sky’s the limit!

BAILEY, Diane. Double Asteroid Redirection Test. ISBN 9798765609088.
––––. The Orion Spacecraft. ISBN 9798765609071.
REEVES, Diane Lindsey. James Webb Space Telescope. ISBN 9798765609064.
RHATIGAN, Joe. The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. ISBN 9798765609101.
RHATIGAN, Joe & Beth Adelman. Artemis Mission. ISBN 9798765609095.
––––. Parker Solar Probe. ISBN 9798765609118.
ea vol: 32p. (Space Explorer Guidebooks (Alternator Books)). Lerner. Jan. 2024. Tr. $30.65.
Gr 4-7–Young space explorers looking to learn about the history of the quest to explore outer space, exploration that is happening today, and future trips planned beyond Earth will find a treasure trove of information here. There is some overlap within the volumes, especially related to NASA’s historical events, but that doesn’t deter from the value of the series as each book has a unique focus. Many photographs and illustrations bring to life the history of space travel, like the first moon landing of 1969, as well as planned future travel like the Orion rocket that will send astronauts back to the moon. The writing is clear and easy to understand with vocabulary suited to upper elementary and early middle school readers. VERDICT Future space explorers will find these books mesmerizing whether they hope one day to travel into space or simply read about it from an armchair.

BOLTE, Mari. The Birthplace of Stars. ISBN 9781668938386.
––––. Deep Field. ISBN 9781668938348.
––––. Heart of a Galaxy. ISBN 9781668938355.
––––. Mysteries Revealed. ISBN 9781668938362.
––––. Our Solar System. ISBN 9781668938379.
––––. Where Stars Go to Die. ISBN 9781668938393.
ea vol: 32p. (Wonders of the Webb Telescope). Cherry Lake. Jan. 2024. Tr. $32.07.
Gr 4-7–The James Webb telescope was launched into space in 2021 and is the largest and most powerful telescope ever made. This telescope was developed to provide glimpses into what the universe looked like millions of years ago, as well as help give scientists insight as to how the universe works. Here is a series that explains what Webb has found in its travels and what it has shared with scientists on Earth over the last two years. There is some crossover of content, but each volume highlights one of the areas of space that the telescope has documented in photographs, including the Tarantula Nebula where many new stars are born and the Milky Way where our solar system is located. Photos captured by the telescope along with blocks of color make up engrossing spreads. The text is readable with concepts defined throughout and a glossary at the end. VERDICT This winning series will be of interest to all who wonder about what lies beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.

JACKSON, Tom. Aero Engines and Other High Precision Tech. ISBN 9780716654803.
––––. Metaverse and Other Virtual Tech. ISBN 9780716654834.
––––. Quantum Computers and Other Quantum Tech. ISBN 9780716654841.
SPILSBURY, Richard. Carbon Capture and Other Climate Tech. ISBN 9780716654810.
––––. Space Stations and Other Exploration Tech. ISBN 9780716654858.
WOOLF, Alex. Facial Recognition and Other Security Tech. ISBN 9780716654827.
ea vol: 48p. (Cool Tech 3). World Book. Mar. 2024. Tr. $25.00.
Gr 6-8–These books offer readers information about some very cool tech that is available today, but they also delve into how these technologies might function in the future. Colorful photos, illustrations, and fact boxes accompany short sections of text. The topics presented can be complicated, but the authors have made the information accessible by presenting it in small bites. Information on the building of quantum computers might be technically difficult for many readers to comprehend, but the volumes on the use of facial recognition and other biometrics as well as virtual tech like the metaverse will be of high interest to tech-minded readers. There is an activity at the end of every volume designed to help readers examine and learn about the more difficult terminology presented in each book. VERDICT Suitable for readers who are motivated to up their game and learn about evolving technologies that could be in their future.

SPILSBURY, Louise. Robots Discovering the Deep. ISBN 9781915761675.
––––. Robots Enforcing the Law. ISBN 9781915761682.
––––. Robots Exploring Space. ISBN 9781915761668.
––––. Robots Fighting Wars. ISBN 9781915761699.
––––. Robots Improving Industry. ISBN 9781915761712.
––––. Robots Saving Lives. ISBN 9781915761705.
ea vol: 48p. (Rise of the Robots!). Cheriton. Jan. 2024. Tr. $31.99.
Gr 4-8–The future of robots is here now. This exploration looks at the many ways that robots are being utilized on land, sea, and outer space, and in many industries across the globe. Vibrant photographs show the robots in action. Each spread includes visually appealing sections and boxed text that is engaging and informative. Debatable topics are addressed in side bars that give readers a chance to think about the pros and cons of the various technologies. Are robots used to clean pollution from the oceans better than teaching people how to conserve resources? Can robotic doctors be empathetic to their patients? Will robots used in industry take over jobs needed by humans? VERDICT Readers will be drawn to this series that provides them an up-close and personal view of the emerging technology of robots.

In both subject matter and complexity, this season’s series offer a range of options, from an early introduction to coding to an exploration of complicated developing technologies. Even the series geared to the youngest age groups include extra resources, encouraging young people whose curiosity has been piqued to read further on STEM topics that interest them. This is especially true with the highly intriguing “Out of this World” series (World Book). The personal connection made between the technology and the scientist creating it makes this series riveting, like the reader has a front row seat, watching the scientists in action. These books show how exciting and dynamic STEM careers can be, and allow readers to explore their inner geek to learn about the future of machines and technologies in our lives.


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