EXPLORE MY WORLD SERIES. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC.
Dolphins. By Becky Baines. May 2016. 32p. illus. paper, $4.99
Planets. By Becky Baines. May 2016. 32p. illus. paper, $4.99
These books in the Explore My World series are yet another example of
high-quality nonfiction for children from National Geographic. Though
covering disparate topics, they are held together by common strengths. In a simple and
clean layout, images and captions surround
the main text, which sits neatly in a box at the
center of each page. The text speaks directly to
young children in a friendly but factual tone
and is perfect for reading aloud. Scattered factoids and labeled diagrams further enhance
the text, as do the well-chosen color photos,
which range from appealing to stunningly beautiful. In addition, the
books have just the right amount of quirky personality. Dolphins is full
of age-appropriate wordplay (for example, “Calves . . . keep warm by
keeping up”); alliteration (such as “fast fish and slimy squid, crawling
crabs, and squirming shrimp”); and sound effects (including “Boing!”
and “Whee!” ). Planets takes a more standard approach, using comparisons to Earth to make the material relatable, but includes an unusual
activity at the end urging readers to “Build an Alien” from varied animal
parts. Young children and adults can enjoy these fun, informative books
together. —Miriam Aronin
LET’S EXPLORE SCIENCE SERIES. ROURKE. GR. 5–8.
Edible Sunlight. By Tara Haelle. 2016. 48p. illus. $35.64
(9781681913995); paper, $10.95 (9781681914411); e-book,
$35.64 (9781681914800). 572.
Poop Is Power! By Robin Koontz. 2016. 48p. illus. $35.64
(9781681913896); paper, $10.95 (9781681914312); e-book,
$35.64 (9781681914701). 621.
Really Rotten Truth about Composting. By Jodie Mangor.
2016. 48p. illus. $35.64 (9781681913926); paper, $10.95
(9781681914343); e-book, $35.64 (9781681914732). 631.
Tools of the Trade: Using Scientific Equipment. By Kirsten
Larson. 2016. 48p. illus. $35.64 (9781681914008); paper,
$10.95 (9781681914428); e-book, $35.64 (9781681914817).
Using lots of photos, eye-catching page layouts, and an engaging
tone, these titles in the Let’s Explore Science series tackle a wide variety
of topics. From the chemical process of photosynthesis to the myriad
ways plants are used for everything from food to
building materials, Edible Sunlight
comprehensively covers the vital role plants play in ecology.
Poop Is Power!, the most successful of the bunch,
entertainingly addresses how waste, human and
otherwise, can be converted into energy. Though
the tone is lighthearted and the gross-out factor is
undeniable, the author keeps the focus solidly on
the clearly articulated concepts. In Really Rotten
Truth about Composting, the author expounds on the benefits of small-and large-scale composting while also explaining nutrient cycles and
the dangers of food waste and crowded landfills. Activities encouraging
at-home composting are helpful, but kids without outdoor spaces or
gardens might be puzzled by what to do with their black gold. Tools
of the Trade, though at times a bit dry, provides a helpful overview of
the variety of tools scientists use to conduct experiments, though a
misidentified electron microscope is confusing. With thoughtful page
design, comprehensive discussion of the topics, and fairly unusual activities to encourage critical thinking, these inviting titles will make a
great addition to science classrooms. —Sarah Hunter
REAL BIOS SERIES. SCHOLASTIC/CHILDREN’S PRESS.
Ansel Elgort. By Marie Morreale. 2016. 48p. illus. lib. ed.,
$29 (9780531223772); paper, $7.95 (9780531225615).
Bethany Mota. By Marie Morreale. 2016. 48p. illus. lib. ed.,
$29 (9780531223789); paper, $7.95 (9780531225622). 746.9.
Lionel Messi. By Marie Morreale. 2016. 48p. illus. lib. ed.,
$29 (9780531223796); paper, $7.95 (9780531225639).
Mike Trout. By Marie Morreale. 2016. 48p. illus. lib. ed.,
$29 (9780531223802); paper, $7.95 (9780531225646).
The Real Bios series gives readers an inside look at the lives of
their favorite celebrities and does a good job of it. The books begin with overviews of their subjects that go into
some depth. In Ansel Elgort, readers learn that this
The Fault in Our Stars actor is the son of a famous
photographer, attended a performing high school,
and was panned in his first professional play.
Bethany Mota describes how this You Tube star was so
badly abused by mean girls online that she had
to be homeschooled. Lionel Messi tells how “Leo”
started playing soccer in his home of Argentina
at age 5, shocking his family with how good he was. And in Mike
Trout, readers discover this center fielder for the Los Angeles Angels
is only 22 but already being compared to baseball’s best. A “Fact File”
succinctly notes the subjects’ favorite books, movies, TV shows, and
sports. Adding tons more information are a series of quotes from
print and media interviews that add to the feeling of being up close
and personal. The books’ appealing format, incorporating bright colors and bold graphic choices, gives the series pick-me-up appeal. Fans
will be thrilled to learn so much about their idols and might find
some new ones. —Ilene Cooper
SHINE-A-LIGHT SERIES. KANE/MILLER. PRES–GR. 2.
On the Plane. By Carron Brown. Illus. by Bee Johnson. 2016.
36p. $12.99 (9781610674126). 629.13.
On the Space Station. By Carron Brown. Illus. by Bee Johnson.
2016. 36p. $12.99 (9781610674119). 629.4.
Secrets of the Vegetable Garden. By Carron Brown. Illus. by
Giordano Poloni. 2016. 36p. $12.99 (9781610674133). 635.
The title of this attractive series, Shine-a-Light, isn’t metaphorical
but literal. Within the narrative, each right-hand page features a stylized digital illustration with hidden parts that
show up only when sunlight, a flashlight, or
any other bright light hits the back of the
paper. The engaging, see-through pictures reveal what lies within or beyond objects in the
color illustrations. The books’ large format
showcases this special effect. Each double-page spread offers several lines of clearly
written, informational text, ending in a question that can be answered by shining a light through the artwork.
On the Plane shows a family taking a flight, from the airline check-in desk to the baggage-claim area at their destination. Secrets to be
discovered include air-traffic controllers within the tower and snacks
inside the service cart. In On the Space Station, three astronauts blast
off to the space station, where they eat, sleep, exercise, and carry
out experiments. Backlit, one illustration shows the astronauts sitting
inside their ship as it travels through space. Secrets of the Vegetable
Garden discusses how plants grow and introduces a few critters from
the garden. When held to light, the pictures reveal surprises, such as
peas within pods, worms underground, and a bumblebee in a flower.
An engaging series for young learners. —Carolyn Phelan