HISTORY MAKER BIOGRAPHIES SERIES. ABDO. K–GR. 2.
Amelia Earhart: Aviation Pioneer. By Grace Hansen. 2016. 24p.
illus. lib. ed., $28.50 (9781680801217). 629.130.
Cesar Chavez: Latino American Civil Rights Activist. By Grace
Hansen. 2016. 24p. illus. lib. ed., $28.50 (9781680801224). 331.88.
Eleanor Roosevelt: First Lady & Equal Rights Advocate.
By Grace Hansen. 2016. 24p. illus. lib. ed., $28.50
Ella Fitzgerald: American Jazz Singer. By Grace Hansen. 2016.
24p. illus. lib. ed., $28.50 (9781680801248). 782.421.
History Maker Biographies is an attractive series that introduces famous figures to young learners. The excellent design and extralarge
typeface help the books’ accessibility, but the simplicity and brevity of
the text occasionally hurt clarity. Amelia Earhart introduces the aviatrix,
describes her developing interest in flying and her famous firsts, and concludes with her unresolved death. However, there’s not much context
(e.g. discussing how flight was still in its early days when Earhart took to
the skies). Cesar Chavez looks at the activist’s life, with an emphasis on
how he helped farm workers. Eleanor Roosevelt characterizes this former
First Lady as someone who tried to improve the lives of others. Unfortunately, the text glosses over her husband’s illness and incorrectly states
that Mrs. Roosevelt was elected, rather than appointed, to the United
Nations. Ella Fitzgerald tracks her rise from poverty to prominence as
one of America’s foremost jazz singers. Each two-page spread is enhanced
by a black-and-white photo or two, so crisp and evocative that kids may
learn as much from looking at them as from the text. Each book includes
a time line and a glossary. Better readers will be intrigued enough to
move on to fuller biographies. —Ilene Cooper
LIVING WILD SERIES. CREATIVE COMPANY/CREATIVE
EDUCATION. GR. 4–6.
Crabs. By Melissa Gish. 2015. 48p. illus. $26.95
Falcons. By Melissa Gish. 2015. 48p. illus. $26.95
Meerkats. By Melissa Gish. 2015. 48p. illus. $26.95
Raccoons. By Melissa Gish. 2015. 48p. illus. $26.95
The handsome, large-format Living Wild series introduces middle-grade readers to a range of wildlife through creature-specific volumes. A
pair of crisp, beautiful photos graces each double-page spread, while the
text appears within wide margins to fit comfortably on the page. Each
book begins with a world map showing where various species of the
animal live. A quick scientific overview follows, describing the creature’s
physical traits, habitat, diet, and abilities. Next, mating and reproduction are addressed. This is followed by a sometimes overlong chapter
on the animal’s cultural impact that cites myths, literature, movies, and
television shows where it appears. Finally, the animal’s welfare is examined in relation to factors such as global warming, habitat loss, pollution,
and human activity. Crabs offers a fascinating look at a great variety of
these crustaceans, from the commonly known blue and Dungeness to
the quirkier decorator and pompom crab, which carries anemones in its
claws for protection. In Falcons, this keen-eyed raptor is revealed to be
the fastest animal on earth and to inhabit every continent but Antarctica. The community life of family groups, known as mobs, is central to
Meerkats. The dexterity and intelligence of the titular masked mammal
receive the most attention in Raccoons, which features common, crabeating, and pygmy species. A Native American legend or pourquoi tale
about the featured animal closes each volume. —Julia Smith
Also recommended from this series:
• Iguanas (9781608185672).
• Jellyfish (9781608185689).
• Storks (9781608185719).
A ROBBIE READER: CONTEMPORARY BIOGRAPHY
SERIES. MITCHELL LANE. GR. 3–5.
Ariana Grande. By Tammy Gagne. Ed. by Tricia Stuart. 2015.
32p. illus. lib. ed., $25.70 (9781680200942). 782.42164092.
Bruno Mars. By Risa Brown. Ed. by Tricia Stuart. 2015. 32p.
illus. lib. ed., $25.70 (9781680201024). 782.42164092.
Rixton. By Marcia Amidon Lusted. Ed. by Tricia Stuart. 2015.
32p. illus. lib. ed., $25.70 (9781680201048). 782.42166092.
Tim Howard. By Marylou Morano Kjelle. Ed. by Tricia
Stuart. 2015. 32p. illus. lib. ed., $25.70 (9781680201000).
The newest titles in the Robbie Reader: Contemporary Biography
series feature biographies of contemporary superstars of sports and
entertainment. In five short chapters, each title begins with the current status of the individual or group and then goes back to provide
interesting information about their childhood(s) and rise to stardom.
Ariana Grande discusses how the singer and actress has been entertaining audiences since she was 8, from starring in Annie and a television
show to releasing two hit albums by age 21; photo illustrations of her
in revealing costumes may be better suited to older readers. In Bruno
Mars, readers learn that in 2014, this singing sensation became the
youngest star ever to perform the Super Bowl halftime show. Rixton
details how the four British teens became friends and started a band,
which quickly rose to international stardom. Highlighting the achievements of the U.S. soccer team’s star goalie, Tim Howard not only looks
at his success during the 2014 World Cup but his struggle with To-urette’s syndrome. Writing quality varies among the volumes, but each
includes numerous captioned color photographs, boldface vocabulary
collected in a glossary, a chronology of important events, and additional sources. Although designed for a lower-elementary-school audience,
these high-interest entries on current celebrities will be popular with
tween readers. —J. B. Petty
SCIENCE READERS: CONTENT AND LITERACY IN
SCIENCE SERIES. TEACHER CREATED MATERIALS.
Composition of Matter. By Morgaine Paris. 2015. 32p. illus.
paper, $8.99 (9781480747203). 539.7.
DNA. By Wendy Conklin. 2015. 32p. illus. paper, $8.99
The Four Spheres of Earth. By Paul Larson. 2015. 32p. illus.
paper, $8.99 (9781480747258). 551.1.
What the Evidence Shows. By Dona Herweck Rice. 2015. 32p.
illus. paper, $8.99 (9781480747302). 507.2.
Spanning multiple topics, the Science Readers series aims to develop content-area literacy in the sciences. An engaging layout with
bright colors, large graphics, and informational sidebars invites
readers to explore the text, which builds in concepts. Composition
of Matter begins with a definition of matter itself before describing
atomic structure, elements and the periodic table, and molecules
and reactions. These explanations lead to the importance of studying
chemistry and how matter acts. DNA introduces this “key ingredient for life on Earth” by describing its connection to cells, genes,
and chromosomes. A look at genetics and DNA replication leads to
a questioning of cloning and other future challenges (both positive
and negative) involving DNA. The Four Spheres of Earth presents the
makeup of the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere
and how they connect to make the planet a unique place for life. The
book also relates the interdependence of ecosystems. What the Evidence Shows emphasizes inquiry, reliability, and objectivity through
the scientific method. It doesn’t just end with evidence but encourages students to interpret evidence for themselves. Each volume
includes a glossary and extends the discussion with concluding experiments and thought-provoking questions. Solid science basics for
individual or classroom use. —Angela Leeper