"Who doesn't love a birthday? With a birthday, of course, comes lots of food. The book beings with a one-pages "chapter" about birthdays and ends with another one-page chapter that links (somewhat incongruously) planning birthday parties to even planning as a career. Sandwiched in between are several very simple recipes that will doubtless fire the imagination of young children and already excited to start celebrating. Most recipes double as party activities, although some can be made in advance. Children as young as preschoolers can make many of the recipes largely on their own. That is because, though a cookbook, it features foods that tend to favor assembly over cooking—for example, trail mix, fruit "critter" kebobs, and cookie-cutter sandwiches. Children will enjoy this volume from the Holiday Recipe Box series (6 titles)."
"Aesop's tales get a delightful makeover in this silly series. Each book features one fable retold and includes plenty of jokes as well as updates to the story that kids will understand. (Think a shepherd who really needs to charge his phone.) Following the story is information about Aesop and the original fable. Readers then get a chance to examine the moral of the story by applying it to their own lives. Discussion questions and a glossary are included. The illustrations are fun and colorful from start to finish and are so vibrant that they appear to burst from the pages. –VERDICT A highly recommended purchase for schools and parents."
"The history, greatest moments, and superstars of some of the NBA's biggest teams are featured in this engaging series. Readers will learn that the Boston Celtics have the most NBA championship wins (17), followed closely by the Los Angeles Lakers with 16 wins (as of the 2018-19 season). Great moments in the teams' histories are described, like three of the six Chicago Bulls championships Michael Jordan helped win in the 1990s. After a rundown of the teams' most notable players, like Shaquille O'Neal (Miami Heat) and Allen Iverson (Philadelphia 76ers), each book ends with a time line of its team. With bolded glossary terms and callouts, the "fast facts" writing style combines with infographic sections to satisfy reluctant readers. Facts and statistics for all are current as of the 2018-19 NBA season, excluding the 2019-20 pandemic bubble season. -VERDICT An exciting series for NBA fanatics that's not comprehensive, but darn fun anyway. An additional purchase."
"Fans of paranormal television shows are in for a treat. This series examines different fields of paranormal investigation including cryptozoology, ghosthunting, aliens, and mysterious places. Simple sentences, bolded vocabulary, and exciting layouts make reading fun for struggling readers who might chafe at more traditional nonfiction. Each book explores organizations and tools investigators use as well as famous evidence such as photos of the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot. While the author entertains the idea that these paranormal entities exist, he is quick to offer alternative, non-paranormal explanations. Each book describes safe ways kids can join the investigation. Back matter includes discussion questions, a glossary, further reading, and index. –VERDICT Fans of shows like Ghost Adventures and Mountain Monsters will discover how fun reading can be."
"This series invites readers to visit their attic, library, park, yard, and other locations to use their imaginations and get active. Each title presents a number of simple, hands-on activities for kids, such as creating a photo scavenger hunt in the park or making up ghost stories in the attic. Alternative ideas are provided if readers do not have certain areas in their homes. The text is highly readable, with five short chapters written at a second grade reading level, and a comical, lighthearted tone that will appeal to striving readers. Colorful, cartoon-style illustrations show a diverse range of children and reflect the humorous nature of the writing. Bold vocabulary words are included on each page, and additional question prompts are included at the end of each book. -VERDICT Humor combined with entertaining, everyday activities will make this series appeal to striving readers at the upper elementary level."
"Talk about shelf appeal—these five-recipe cookbooks are unmissable, in blazingly bright colors, accompanied by digital animation-style cartoons, and chock-full of sweet treats and gimmicky dishes. Kids can contribute to holiday meals or plan a themed party, from a snack (Pickle Eyeballs, Halloween) to a striking main dish (Fireworks Pizza, Independence Day). An alarming Frito pie/pizza/seven-layer dip hybrid (Gobble Taco Pizza) has the makings of a truly memorable Thanksgiving appetizer. Most recipes rely on assembly and decoration skills, but the heavy use of semi-prepared and pre-made ingredients such as mixes, crusts, and marshmallow fluff means that results will taste fine regardless of appearance. - VERDICT High-interest recipes for kitchen beginners."
"Readers will be eager to get a glimpse of epic cars they may never get a chance to see in real life. The sleek design and light, yet powerful engine give the Acura NSX a race car like feel. The Audi R8 has a carbon fiber body that is ultra lightweight and a rad clear cover over the engine. The BMW I8 has "scissor doors" that swing upward to open and a battery-powered electric motor. Not only can the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera race at incredible speeds, it also boasts carbon ceramic brakes that stop the car quickly without overheating. The price points of many of these cars are so high that buyers can customize them in various ways—GranTurismo buyers can even pick their own interior upholstery stitching color. Infographic-style sections break up the text, providing easy visuals that break down the important details of these powerful cars. - VERDICT Exciting and engaging first purchases."
"Familiar prehistoric reptiles are introduced with a handful of facts and images. An opening paragraph describes the dinosaur in action; subsequent pages provide information in a few sentences per spread. Coverage includes size, diet, behavior, and fossils, usually with just enough data for readers new to the subject. While the language is occasionally overly vague (Triceratops: "Scientists have studied their teeth. These dinos lost teeth. But they grew new ones."), the authors distinguish known facts from scientific theory where needed and explain key concepts, such as the "flying reptile" classification of Pterodactylus, at an age-appropriate level. Illustrations are bold and active, depicting the animals realistically in a variety of situations. A two-page image with captioned body parts and a clear range map add useful visual content. -VERDICT Solid choices to beef up the dino shelves."
"Readers with a need for speed will zip through the pages of the books in the Epic Cars series. With their boldly colored, attention-grabbing layouts, these books, which diagram the functions of different high-speed vehicles, will catch the eyes of any kid with a budding interest in cars. BMW i8 lays out the statistics of this 2013 vehicle, which was one of the first sports cars to run on both gas and electricity. DBS Superleggera emphasizes the beautiful design of the famous Aston Martin speedster. Maserati GranTurismo delves into the history of this racecar company and this particular model, which was built for the road. Mercedes AMG GTR breaks down the different parts of this high-speed racer and explains how it became one of the fastest cars Mercedes ever created. While there's not a lot included to help readers differentiate between the different auto models—the general overviews tend to praise the sleek design that allows for both aerodynamic movement and passenger comfort—each dynamically designed volume is highly readable and packed with charts, diagrams, and notated photographs. A full-length "By the Numbers" spread in each book gives readers a fuller, to-scale picture of the size and shape of each vehicle (and its cost), which is especially useful if they're comparing different volumes. A tech-centric series for the car-obsessed kid."
"Action-packed photos will entice readers. Each book describes the various styles of superfast vehicles and also highlights safety gear that keeps riders out of harm's way. Formula One cars and Indy cars, for instance, have harnesses and padded cockpits, but drivers still wear helmets and protective clothing. Fact boxes on each page provide extra information without distracting from the text. Glossary terms are highlighted and defined on the same page. At the back of each book, pictures of the "wild rides" are labeled for easy identification. VERDICT This high-octane series will appeal to reluctant readers. Recommended."
"The entries in this series impart the right amount of spookiness while introducing paranormal creatures and phenomena, like ghosts, the Loch Ness Monster, and the Bermuda Triangle. Dark backgrounds with luminous colors, infographics, and other visuals enhance the simple text. "
"Because even small children wonder about the paranormal, Black Rabbit's A Little Bit Spooky series presents, as the series name suggest, just the right amount of creepy with short, simple text and numerous infographics. Bigfoot (2020), for instance, has a full-page recreated monster with "bad smells," "big feet" (of course), and a height comparison with a grizzly bear."
"When most people picture lemurs, it's the ring-tailed lemur that leaps to mind: vivacious, playful-looking animals with unmistakable striped tails and yellow eyes. With only a handful of simple sentences on each page, this book is just right for beginning readers looking to learn about this unique mammal. The text covers the basics, imparting information about lemurs' food, habitat, distinctive tails, families (or troops), and babies. Simple, colorful maps and diagrams illustrate key pieces of information: ring-tailed lemur size (smaller than most house cats), their main body parts, and where they live (Madagascar). Bold vocabulary terms and fact bubbles, plus a page of "Bonus Facts," round out the text. Large, vivid photos¬—many of them action shots—provide a sense of excitement to this engaging entry in the Awesome Animal Lives series (6 titles)."
"The high/low books in the Air Power series (6 new titles) rely on concise, clear sentences and, most effectively, bold infographics to detail the developmental history of different types of military aircrafts. Each aircraft in these volumes is still in use today, and the text discusses how technological advances have led to updates and improvements. AH-1Z Viper discusses how this attack helicopter was born out of updates made to the Cobra helicopter from the Vietnam War. The books' tone tends, at times, toward military glorification, though for the most part the focus is on the technological features of the aircrafts, while the concentration on their usage throughout their lifespans keeps the text from becoming dated too quickly. In addition to stock photos, each volume contains a time line of development, a labeled diagram, and a final "By the Numbers" spread of statistics. For visual learners, numbers fans, and technology nuts, this is a sharply designed pick."
"Like a well-prepared tour guide, the author takes readers through the history,
daily life, and culture of each type of warrior. Clearly written text combines with
supporting illustrations to convey their similarities and differences. Each title
includes the following: a map of the warrior's sphere of influence, a visual of the
warrior's uniform and weapons, and a reflection of the warrior's influence on
current society. No source notes are provided, but photo credits are included
along with age-appropriate, up-to-date books and websites. Though violence
is discussed and depicted within each title, none of it is graphic or gratuitous.
VERDICT These well-illustrated and well-written titles are recommended for
libraries serving upper elementary and middle school readers."
"After a general introduction and location map, each book profiles seven dinosaurs. One or two paragraphs offer a few key facts, accompanied by a full-page or larger illustration of the creature in action. Three "Feature Facts" compare specific attributes, including dinosaur lengths and heights, along with one other area such as speed or horn length. A concluding spread gathers that data into three different graphs so readers can note the variations through a clear visual representation. Some graphs show all seven dinosaurs; others highlight three or four. Readers will need to look elsewhere for standard data such as group names or geologic eras, but the focus on specific features with supporting graphic content provides an effective format for comparing and contrasting. VERDICT Limited facts presented in a way that might grab visually oriented learners."
"This is a different kind of dinosaur series: Books are organized not by
species, but instead by their unique abilities and physical characteristics,
such as dinosaurs with long necks, flying dinosaurs, and dinosaurs with
duck beaks. Every book is action packed with fast, fun facts that will keep
the pages turning. The series' title, "Dinosaurios por diseño / Dinosaurs by
Design," is a creative way for readers to think about dinosaurs and their
superpowers. Computerized and digital renderings of dinosaurs are vibrant
and exciting. This series is notable for its identification of lesser-known
species of dinosaurs. A review of important terms is included at the end of
each book, as well as an index, visual glossary, time lines, and more. VERDICT
Not your average dinosaur series, this will infuse any collection with fun."
"This series presents the wonder of the human body through coverage of the body's major systems, organs, and bodily functions. Each book cover features a skeletal bobble-headed figure that is sure to attract attention. The books have good nonfiction text features, including clear headings, labeled pictures and diagrams, infographics, bolded words with a glossary in the back, a table of contents, additional resources, and an index. The pages are lively, with vibrant and eye-catching text and graphics. Some of the books include gross facts that readers will find interesting. These solid, accessible books would be good for supplementing science curriculum and for inspiring readers. The clear, concise text would also make these titles good as read-alouds. Rachelle Pilarski, Librarian, Yeshiva Har Torah, Little Neck, New York. Recommended"
"The books in the Elite Warriors series (6 titles) carry out a straightforward mission: to provide a basic introduction to U.S. Special Forces and their work. Each book follows the same structure. The section "In Action" describes an instance of members of one of the Special Forces completing an exciting mission. For example, Air Commanos opens with the commandos assisting in hurricane rescue and recovery in the Philippines. Army Rangers starts with soldiers destroying an enemy landing strip in Afghanistan. Delta Forces begins with soldiers catching a suspected terrorist. Marine Raiders Regiment depicts the marines working with local forces in Afghanistan to fight terrorism. The focus widens in "Many Jobs, Many Places" to include the jobs the force does and where it operates. The third section, devoted to "Weapons and Gear," neither shies away from describing nor overly emphasizes violence and military weaponry. The final section, "Tough Training," tells what recruits must do to be accepted into the Special Forces. The text highlights the heroism of the Special Forces uncritically, and the photos reinforce that image. These books may not draw in readers who are not already interested in the topic. For readers already fascinated with the military, though, they offer sound, accessible, and interesting information."
"A detailed look at the contents of our solar system and the different types of galaxies. The books include photos, artists' concept illustrations, and infographics to support the narrative. Several of the titles include a time line showing the various missions that have collected information so far, and they all discuss future exploration plans. The text is informative and easy to understand, providing interesting facts about what makes life possible on Earth or about the probes and telescopes used to study other planets. Various graphs compare details like the temperatures on the planets or how many light-years across neighboring galaxies are. VERDICT These titles may duplicate current holdings, but the series covers current knowledge and efforts that are planned for the future. Libraries looking to update or add depth to their collections will want to consider."
"This visually appealing series includes a diagram of the inside of Tutankhamun's tomb, an explanation of how peat bogs are formed, and a drawing indicating the phases of construction at Stonehenge. Some critical questions, as, for example, which theory of dinosaur extinction is most plausible, are left unanswered for readers to consider. In some cases—sightings of ghost ships, a cursed tomb—critical judgment can be suspended in favor of tantalizing exposition. Each volume concludes with a sequence of reflection prompts, such as "What do the mummies' burials tell you about them?" or "Why did dinosaurs die out?" In addition to a glossary and index, each volume features a short bibliography of books and websites for further exploration. VERDICT Recommended, but, due to occasional vagueness of detail and light treatment of the supernatural, better suited to independent reading than careful study."
"Explore Earth's "local group" of galaxies with this title in the Deep Space Discovery series (6 titles). The book alternates between general information about galaxies and specific details about the Milky Way and several other nearby galaxies. Although the information is basic, the galactic scale is mesmerizing. The images, many from NASA telescopes, help inspire readers with an even greater sense of wonder. The material, though presented simply, is dramatic enough to interest readers of a variety of ages, including
adults. The publisher suggests that it is for grades four through six, but the length and simplicity of the text suggest that it is at least as well suited to proficient readers in younger grades. Readers with any interest at all in space will find much enjoyment—and much to learn—here."
"For animal lovers and aspiring environmentalists, this graphics-rich series provides introductory materials for animals and ecosystems across the globe. Buoyant, easy-to-follow charts and diagrams outline, in broad strokes, each creature's general form, life cycle, habitat, and food chain, and provide an overview of some basic statistics. Kangaroos explains that, though there are many subspecies of this marsupial, all have evolved to live in a dry climate and raise their young from a pouch. Even though the stars of Orangutans share 97 percent of their DNA with humans, people remain their greatest threat to survival; this book highlights our similarities and differences with the great apes. Owls showcases the evolutionary adaptations that make this bird of prey an amazing hunter and allow it to live all over the world. Red-Eyed Tree Frogs investigates how this little frog uses its most striking feature—you guessed it, those red eyes—to protect itself from predators. Some of the illustrations, especially in the books featuring animals with many subspecies (Kangaroos, Owls), could have benefited from clearer labeling, but the dynamic photographs will attract many viewers. In each volume, an ending chapter also expounds upon human interactions with each animal—both the threats they face because of us and any conservation efforts made to protect them. The Wild Animal Kingdom series offers an engaging introduction to STEM research. —Maggie Reagan"
"These informative new books in the Wild Animal Kingdom series give a good overview of basic facts about several fairly exotic animals. Each book follows the same general pattern. First, it tells the story of "A Day in the Life" of its animal. It continues with the animal's diet and habitat in the section "Food to Eat and a Place to Live." "Family Life" then covers reproduction and the animal's life as an individual or in a group. The final section, "Predators and Other Threats," identifies the creature's place in the food chain as well as the threats it faces from humans, often from hunting or habitat loss, and conservation efforts. Appropriate photos, sometimes accompanied by fact-filled captions, add interest to the text. Maps and diagrams, including a food chain, a size chart, and a "By the Numbers" spread in each book, provide additional information. For example, African Elephant reveals that a pachyderm's trunk alone weighs from 300 to 350 pounds. Readers of Bats will learn that a brown bat's heart beats 1,000 times per minute when the creature is in flight. The subjects of Ring-Tailed Lemurs get their name from the black bands on their tails—about 13 rings per lemur. Sloths' famously lethargic mammals sleep from 15 to 18 hours per day. Young readers will appreciate the varied animal facts these books offer. —Miriam Aronin"
"With lively, full-color photos, eye-catching infographics, and easy, readable text, these offerings will grab the attention of eager readers. The biggest names in the game are called out in Basketball Superstars and Football Superstars, both titles giving brief snapshots of some of the most famous players in their respective fields. Aside from these two offerings that contain fairly standard fare, the other selections in this series have much more to offer in terms of STEAM subjects. In addition to game-related statistics, Basketball Teams by the Numbers prompts readers to recognize the sizable gender pay gap in professional basketball. Football Science and Basketball Science will have the most curricular resonance, with discussion of force and movement as they pertain to sports. Unfortunately, concussions are not discussed in Football Science. Overall, there is good information here for those just beginning to familiarize themselves with basketball and football, but seasoned pros won't find much new news. VERDICT An additional purchase."
"They have deeply wrinkled foreheads, famously flattened muzzles, a penchant for afternoon naps, and now, their own entry in the brand-new Doggie Data series. Designed to match prospective pup owners with their ideal breed, this zippy primer breaks down the crucial personality traits, physical features, and care and keeping of the beloved pug into four chapters. Arranged as a series of engaging double-page spreads, the volume consistently serves up succinct, humor-tinged text on one page and vivid, high-quality photos of pugs doing what they do best (romping, panting, dozing) on the other. Additional image-heavy spreads introduce youngsters to both the pug's anatomy and its life cycle. Complete with a compatibility quiz, glossary, and list of further resources, this book may be small, but like its subject, it knows how to pack a (uniquely adorable) punch."
"Maybe they don't have the aw-factor of baby animals, but robot animals do have quite the wow-factor. This volume in the Mighty Bots series uses four short chapters to introduce a number of robots that have distictly animal-like features. Some are presented as entertaining wonders, like the BionicKangaroo that, well, hops, and AquaJelly, a way-cool robotic jellyfish. Others, though, have serious applications: WildCat, a doggish bot that "might one day chase enemies during war," and SandBot, an 11-inch roach-like gadget that "might be good for spy missions." All the circuity, wiring, and molded plastic dazzles the eyes, and the photos are enlivened by fact circles and fantastic two-page spreads that compare the robot in question with an animal (e.g. WildCat versus a cheetah). It's a slam-dunk of an idea, cogently and efficiently presented."
"Designed with the reluctant reader in mind, the volumes in the Rank It! series present high-interest content in an easily consumable format. Following a brief introduction to the topic are short profiles that highlight pertinent yet engaging facts. Each profile also includes an attention-grabbing photo and a "Rank It!" box with related by-the- numbers statistics. Earth's Scary Animals describes how certain animals, from the black widow spider to the great white shark, have garnered a scary rep from their size and/or methods of killing and defense. Natural Disasters covers Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti as well as other deadly floods, tsunamis, heat waves, volcano eruptions, and storms around the world in the twentieth and twenty-first centu- ries. Olympic Greats explains why both recent winners, such as Simone Biles and Michael Phelps, and now-legendary achievers, such as Jesse Owens and Sonja Henie, stand out in Olympic history. Planes and Choppers looks at the special features of the Boeing 747-8, UH-60 Black Hawk, and other commercial and military aircraft. Interspersed between profiles are full-page visuals that add more information, such as the parts of a helicopter or how tornadoes form, while a concluding series of charts and graphs sum up the "Rank It!" statistics. A pleasing series for the visual learner."
"Refreshingly, women get equal page time in this volume in the On the Pitch series, part of Black Rabbit's high/low Bolt imprint. This infographic-driven book provides a survey of records set on the soccer field. Kicking off with the World Cup and Europe's Champions League, the text presents such team stats as the most victories and championship appearances by both men's and women's teams. Next, individual player records report expected fare, such as the most goals scored, but also feature a comparison of the youngest and oldest World Cup players and a fact-studded time line of Pelé's career. Toward the book's end, a collage spread displays a variety of factoids for added interest. The uncluttered layout and visual elements make this an ideal choice for reluctant readers and browsers alike."
"This brightly designed nature series will draw the attention of young researchers with its dramatic, close-up photography. Each title covers four broad topic areas: "A Day in the Life," "Food to Eat and a Place to Live," "Family Life," and "Predators and Other Threats." Text is spare but includes intriguing details, such as the fact that red-eyed tree frogs have a third eyelid that they can see through, that a gray kangaroo can leap 30 feet in a single hop, or that orangutans chew a special leaf into a foam that they spread on sore arms and legs. Each title also includes graphs, a spread showing animal features, a map of the creature's range, a pictorial food chain, and a spread of intriguing statistics. Occasionally, the text will mention something that begs for an attending picture, such as how red-eyed tree frog hatchlings drop into water from the leaves that held their eggs. The animal feature pages simply label body parts and could be improved with explanations for how those features help the animal to survive. However, these are small criticisms of an otherwise highly attractive and informative series for young nature-lovers. Additional Resources. Glossary. Index. Jan Aldrich Solow, Retired School Librarian, Kingston, New York Highly Recommended"
"As the series name, A Little Bit Spooky, suggests, its volumes impart just enough, age-appropriate spookiness to intrigue children. In short chapters, double-page spreads comprise a few sentences of simple text that introduce a paranormal creature of phenomenon, strange encounters with it, and how some scientists study and explain what's actually going on in nature. More-difficult vocabulary is defined on the page and in a glossary. The plethora of graphics, including digitally created images with dark backgrounds and luminous colors, infographics, diagrams, maps, and fact boxes are the real enticement, however The Bermuda Triangle describes strange happenings and the high number of missing planes and ships in the area between Florida and Bermuda. Even Christopher Columbus saw weird lights there! Bigfoot relates the creature's commonly described characteristics, sightings of it around the world, and how researchers study it. Haunted Places focuses on famous ghost sightings, such as the White House and Alcatraz, and how ghost hunters look for answers. The Loch Ness Monster highlights different possibilities of what Nessie may be and includes the now famous blurry photo of the supposed monster. Each book concludes with a full page of "Bonus Facts" featuring a large, culminating image surrounded by fun, related facts. Just the right amount of mystery for young, imaginative readers."
"Full of adorable photographs of fox pups, tiger cubs, and more, these broad overviews explore different types of baby animals. Written at a first grade reading level, each title covers the animal's diet, home, and how it grows up, along with a smattering of fun facts, including amusing weight comparisons between newborn animal babies and common household items. These basic introductions do not offer in-depth details, and text features such as maps and diagrams sometimes feel like a missed opportunity to provide more specific facts. Page arrangements are attractive and easy to follow, with one short paragraph positioned next to an eye-catching photograph. Vocabulary words are bold with a definition on the same page. VERDICT While more entertaining than informative, this cute series will have a wide appeal at the elementary level with its irresistible subject matter."
"Young readers will love cozying up to this entry in the Baby Animals series (6 titles). Chapter one shows a joey snuggled with its mother in a tree as it hunkers down for a nap. The large-size text then describes how koalas are teeny tiny when they're born and do a lot of their growing in their mothers' pouches; a weight comparison infographic effectively shows how a newborn joey is lighter than a peanut! Photos are the true joy of this book, and a two-page vertical spread identifying a fluffy joey's parts (ears, fur, paws) takes the cake. Diet, growth, and habitat are explored, and a world map clearly highlights koalas' natural range. Vocabulary is defined on the page and in a glossary, with fact bubbles further enriching this charming introduction to Australia's cuddliest critter."
"Basic information is shared in this well-written, interesting series. The writing is simple and smooth. The covers and interior art are dramatic, sometimes scary, and each volume opens in an intriguing manner. Infographics in each title include size comparisons (height, length, weight); percentages of believers and nonbelievers in various phenomena; and labeled maps displaying locations of creature sightings. Alternative explanations are provided, exposing readers to different viewpoints. 'FACT' sidebars appear throughout volumes; 'What do you think?' questions stimulate critical thinking and decision-making skills. 'Bonus Facts' at the conclusion of each title offer additional relevant trivia. VERDICT Recommended for school and public libraries. Ghosts and Haunted Places seem redundant. Strongest: Aliens and The Bermuda Triangle. Have students refer to texts to support discussions about which creatures or phenomena are real or not and why they think so."
"With bold page design, short sentences, and high-interest topics, the World of Robots series (6 titles) is useful for emerging readers who still need a little bit of a visual assist. This entry is all about robots whose designs are based on animals. Chapters describe different kinds of robots, the animals they are modeled on, and what they are used for. Sentences are brief and clear, though the page design, which includes vocabulary definitions and additional fact bubbles, can be busy, and less confident readers may be overwhelmed. Maps and diagrams, when they appear, are clearly labeled, and the back matter collects vocab terms in a glossary and directs readers to additional resources. There's a lot going on here, but interested readers will still find plenty to appreciate."
"The drawing projects featured in these books (seven per book) contain outlandish figures and kooky expressions. Along the way, readers gain practice drawing cartoon staples like flames, poofy clouds, motion lines, curlicues, and fur while learning techniques like perspective, proportion, and lettering. Good advice, reflective questions, and career connections add value. Though finished examples are extremely aspirational—not only done with a high degree of finesse but digitally drawn and colored—tracing and guide lines are recommended. This cartoon style makes departing from the literal steps easy. If readers want to draw a curly-haired superhero dancing instead of shooting through the sky, it's an uncomplicated switch. VERDICT Easy to follow, fun to draw, with great technique practice."
"The high/low books in the Air Power series rely on concise, clear sentences and, most effectively, bold infographics to detail the developmental history of different types of military aircrafts. Each aircraft in these volumes is still in use today, and the text discusses how technological advances have led to updates and improvements. Technology is front and center in AC-130J Ghostrider, which explores this gunship's deadly battle capabilities and the military's hopes for future development. AH-1Z Viper discusses how this attack helicopter was born out of updates made to the Cobra helicopter from the Vietnam War. Multiple European nations collaborated to develop the subject of Eurofighter Typhoon, a jet known for its speed. MQ-9 Reaper Drone turns from piloted aircrafts to remote-operated drones, explaining how they function and how this particular drone evolved from a remote surveillance device into a weaponized aircraft. The books' tone tends, at times, toward military glorification, though for the most part the focus is on the technological features of the aircrafts, while the concentration on their usage throughout their lifespans keeps the text from becoming dated too quickly. In addition to stock photos, each volume contains a time line of development, a labeled diagram, and a final 'By the Numbers' spread of statistics. For visual learners, numbers fans, and technology nuts, this is a sharply designed pick."
"Accessible text and a high-interest topic make a winning combination in the Team Stats: Football Edition series. Each volume sets a thrilling tone with a one-page story of a significant team win. The books continue with an overview of the team's history, highlights of great plays and events, and profiles of star players. Indianapolis Colts traces the franchise's rocky beginning in Baltimore to its permanent home and its Super Bowl wins along the way. Kansas City Chiefs looks at the team's transition from the Texans in Dallas to the Chiefs in Kansas City, as well as a recent winning playoff game against the current Houston Texans. Minnesota Vikings describes how an early influential coach changed the course of this team. Seattle Seahawks emphasizes the importance of the team in its home city and numerous key wins. Modern and historical photographs of football players and coaches in action span the series, but the visuals don't stop there. Colorful charts and infographics depict a "By the Numbers" snapshot of the team (e.g., their Super Bowl winning percentage and the number of retired jerseys), the career records of leading players, a comparison of coaches' performances, and more. A time line, glossary, and related resources round out the volumes. A big score for reluctant readers."
"'McLaren used features from sharks and race cars in the 720S' design.' Hoo boy! That'll accelerate a kid's interest from 0 to 60 in .5 seconds. This supercar is a sleek, insanely fast beauty, with 720 horsepower and a top speed of 212 mph. The 'Design' chapter explains some of the car's most important features—a carbon fiber body, winglike doors, static adaptive headlights, and 35 mouthwatering paint options—through an engaging mix of text, eye-catching photos, and infographic spreads. This combination is standard throughout the book's four chapters, and readers will feel tingles of excitement as they learn how awesome this car is—especially once they hit the stat-filled 'By the Numbers' spread. The Epic Cars series (8 titles) is a thrilling choice for car enthusiasts and high/low collections."
"It's small. It's black and yellow. It flies. It's a bee! Or . . . a wasp? This handy entry in the Can You Tell the Difference? series (6 titles) provides kids with all they'll ever need to know about the differences between the two similar insects. It starts with the physical: bees are hairy, wasps are shiny. Their legs are different,
too, but don't get too close—wasps are more aggressive, while bees can sting only once ('Do not get stung by a bee or wasp to figure out what it is!'). The book then delves into behaviors readers are less likely to witness firsthand, like the differences in their diets and habitats. A combination of cartoon illustrations and photographs keeps things informative and fun, while ending activities and questions test retention. A lighthearted and useful comparison guide."
"This series highlights some of the very coolest robots that will catch the attention of young readers. Aside from being awesome, animal bots can be helpful. A snake bot that is small enough to wriggle through rubble can search for victims after earthquakes or bombings. Battle bots are mostly just for fun, but medical and military robots help people by assisting with surgeries and keeping soldiers out of harm's way, respectively. Space and underwater robots allow scientists to virtually go where they physically cannot, collecting samples and data for further analysis. Vocabulary words are introduced slowly, defined on the same pages as they're introduced, and then collected in the glossary. The writing is simple and not overly comprehensive, but is ample enough to give curious readers the bot fix they crave. VERDICT
A flashy series kids will gravitate toward."
The drawing projects featured in these books (seven per book) contain outlandish figures and kooky expressions. Along the way, readers gain practice drawing cartoon staples like flames, poofy clouds, motion lines, curlicues, and fur while learning techniques like perspective, proportion, and lettering. Good advice, reflective questions, and career connections add value. Though finished examples are extremely aspirational—not only done with a high degree of finesse but digitally drawn and colored—tracing and guide lines are recommended. This cartoon style makes departing from the literal steps easy. If readers want to draw a curly-haired superhero dancing instead of shooting through the sky, it's an uncomplicated switch. VERDICT Easy to follow, fun to draw, with great technique practice.
This playful hi-lo series depicts a range of villainous characters and imagines hypothetical situations about how kids could get the better of them. Wrongdoers range from werewolves to mad scientists, and each volume describes their traits alongside several silly scenarios about how they could be outwitted. For example, it is suggested that readers tell an evil villain that they are allergic to pizza and video games. Relevant facts and real-life connections with history and science are sprinkled throughout. The text is highly readable, with a paragraph per page and four short chapters in each book. Cartoon-inspired graphics are used liberally, making this a strong option for middle and upper elementary readers who gravitate toward 'Wimpy Kid' –inspired books, but need material at a lower reading level. VERDICT These slim, lighthearted volumes will appeal to humor fans at a second and third grade reading level.
... Famous Spies includes thumbnail sketches of Sidney Reilly, one of the men considered a source for the character James Bond, and prominent U.S. double agent Aldrich Ames. The presentation is highly visual, employing a balance of vivid accent color, cartoonish drawings, and stock photos to evoke a mysterious, Cold War past. Some volumes, particularly those covering disguises and spy strategies, are rich with suggestions for trying out espionage techniques, such as putting a pebble in a shoe to change one's gait or noticing the differences between two seemingly identical photos ... VERDICT An additional selection where narrative nonfiction is in demand for very young readers.
A cartoon goon in a trench coat and fedora lurks through the pages of this high-interest offering in the Spy Kid series (6 titles). The short sentences, alluring topic, and visually appealing design—a mix of digital art and period photos accented with primary-colored pop-art flair—will intrigue even reluctant or struggling readers. Each two-page spread profiles a famous spy, giving a brief account of their clandestine activities and ultimate fate; differences in motive (money versus principles) and type of spy (e.g., double agent) are also given. Three men and three women are featured, including James Bond–inspiration Sidney Reilly and WWII spies Krystyna Skarbek and Virginia Hall. The final chapter offers some advice and skills tips for wannabe spies, while three critical-thinking questions encourage more serious contemplation. A sneaky crowd-pleaser.
"From the somewhat unlikely to the downright improbable, these entries in the Survival Guides You Didn't Know You Needed series offer up enthusiastic, if not altogether helpful, bits of advice on how to get out of some sticky situations. The best thing to do when zombies attack isn't always fight back; Surviving a Zombie Attack recommends feeding them spaghetti ("It's squishy like brains") or avoiding them in water parks. Surviving an Alien Attack runs the gamut from the more-or-less reasonable (hide in a cave!) to the completely ridiculous (give the aliens some pants to trip on). The slightly more practical Surviving in the Jungle stresses befriending animals for a higher chance of survival and advises readers to be careful what they eat. Some STEM-influenced, project-based guides to island survival do exist, but Surviving on a Desert Island is more playful, suggesting that readers build a sandcastle for shelter or ride a whale to freedom. Though there is occasional trivia, these cartoon-illustrated guides are light on facts; frequent "editor's notes" feature asides from an increasingly frustrated third party ("This is absolutely ridiculous"). They won't be much help when it comes to research, but they're certainly engaging, and the goal here is to encourage critical-thinking skills. Add a few supplemental resources to the mix, and they should be able to prompt some interesting questions."
"In this quick, easy-to-follow installment in the Bot Maker series (6 titles), children can gain experience and have some fun building a scribble bot, a robot made out of a plastic cup, markers, a 9-volt battery, and a small motor. The illustrated list of materials appears at the beginning, and the clear, step-by-step instructions are accompanied by helpfully detailed images. Tips and suggestions accompany the text ... Concluding questions invite readers to imagine how they can change and improve their robots, and a glossary and list of helpful websites point kids in the direction of more resources and ideas about robot building. Ideal for library makerspaces."
"The Versus! series (6 titles), part of the playful new Hi Jinx imprint, pits two unlikely opponents from nature against each other for a high-interest showdown. Here the odoriferous corpse flower steps into the ring with the fanged Venus flytrap, but how will readers know which to back? The first two chapters highlight each plant's key characteristics and defenses, giving readers a clear understanding of what makes these flora so fierce. Will the corpse flower's hulking size triumph over the Venus flytrap's carnivorous cravings? Ultimately, it's up to the reader to decide. The two remaining chapters draw attention to habitat threats and challenge readers to think critically. The engaging mix of infographics, photos, and cartoonish artwork illustrate the conversational (and slightly sensational) text, making these plant facts easy to digest."
"Black Rabbit's All-American Fighting Forces series presents concise, high/low histories of minority-based U.S. fighting forces (code talkers, Buffalo Soldiers, the Go for Broke regiment, etc.) ..."
"The All-American Fighting Forces series introduces the subject of prejudice in the armed forces by focusing on minority groups who faced great obstacles in order to fight for their country. In American Indian Code Talkers, readers learn that Native Americans aided the U.S. in both WWI and WWII ... Go for Broke Regiment spotlights the Japanese American soldiers of WWII, most of whom were recruited from internment camps. The book notes both the regiment's success and how few of these soldiers had homes to return to at the end of the war. Harlem Hellfighters explains how this decorated African American unit fought bravely during WWI, even though its soldiers faced extreme prejudice at home. Women Airforce Service Pilots are the subject of WASPs, which spotlights how these women took on difficult tasks—like helping to train male pilots and flying broken planes in for repair—but were not permitted to fight in WWII themselves ... the graphics will draw reluctant readers with historical photographs, colorful time lines, and startling statistics. Use these titles to spark kids' interest before moving them on to more comprehensive titles."
"Attractive presentation and current subject matter will attract potential readers ... The layouts are very colorful and illustrations plentiful ... (Yousafzai includes an informative graphic about Pakistan.) The series is distinguished by its inclusion of some subjects less often covered in print biographies, especially principal ballerina Copeland and YouTuber Bethany Mota."
"Plenty of facts and photographs support the 'awful, disgusting' promise of the series title ... Each beginning describes an unsuspecting human who crosses paths with a parasite, leading into a discussion of the creature and its potential effect on people and animals ... Photographs are appropriately gross and generally informative and feature several excellent magnified close-up views, specifically in Bedbugs, Ticks, and Head Lice. Useful features include a "By the Numbers" statistics section, a range map, and a life cycle flow chart."
"Baseball fans will enjoy these short overviews of some of Major League Baseball's biggest Latino stars ... While most of these men had a relatively swift transition from minor to major leagues, discussion of Cruz's many years moving around to various ball clubs offers a message of persistence to readers. The inclusion of graphics, statistics, trivia, and a time line at the end of each book makes them quick picks for browsers and fans."
"With its slick images, bright color scheme, and straightforward text, this series should appeal to future car lovers. Presenting information clearly and concisely, each book is filled with descriptive passages that note each subject's history, parts, and future. Facts, such as cost, fastest speed, and miles per gallon, present the audience with finer details that are relevant and, at times, jaw-dropping. For example, a Formula 1 engine can cost more than $7 million. Supplementing informational text such as this are sidebars, time lines, and charts that lend visual interest and bite-sized facts, while the use of blues, oranges, and yellows throughout give each volume a comic book vibe. What really stands out are the vibrant photos of the various cars and motorcycles. Close-up looks at shiny chrome and glossy paint jobs are a visual feast and will have intermediate readers oohing and aahing from one page to the next. VERDICT Recommended for first purchase, especially in libraries where books about transportation vehicles are always checked out."
"A hi-lo introduction to a few popular and contested myths, most of which are located in the United States. Four short chapters give brief examples of sightings and explain some commonly held beliefs and work done by researchers ... Students will enjoy the concluding "Believe It or Not" quiz, though. VERDICT Useful introductions for younger or less fluent readers, these provide encouragement for critical thinking."
"In this bright and colorful series, readers will learn facts about wild animals. Each book is organized the same way, providing information about what the animal eats, where it lives, and which animals are predators. The text is full of facts and is interesting to read. There is a clear Table of Contents, Glossary, and Index as well as bold words (that are defined in the Glossary at the end of the book), maps, and photographs with labels — making this an excellent series to teach text features as well as share facts about wild animals. At the end of each book is a list of resources (books and websites) for more information. Recommended"
"Kids who prefer their books on the squirm-inducing side will love sinking their teeth into this entry in the Awful, Disgusting Parasites series, part of the new high/low imprint Bolt. Here readers will learn about the bedbug in four concise chapters, packed with crisp, close-up photos and simple, cleanly integrated infographics. The first chapter introduces this hitchhiking bloodsucker and its nocturnal feeding regimen, including a labeled diagram of the pest ... Subsequent chapters outline this parasite's life cycle, its pervasiveness (depicted on a world map), and general information about bites and bedbug prevention. A light but solid overview that doesn't sacrifice factual content for gross-out appeal."
"Killer bees take center stage in this volume of the Invasive Species Takeover series, opening with a dramatic photo of a bee-covered person and a story of a farmer stung to death by these insects. Designed for struggling readers, the highly visual format and accessible text is divided into four brief chapters that cover the origin and spread of killer bees, threats they pose to people and other honeybees, and efforts to curb their populations ... Readers will be drawn to the accounts of bee attacks and learn about invasive species along the way."
"This entry in the Wild Animal Kingdom series, part of the Bolt line of high/low books, cozies up to the red fox. The interestingly written narrative begins with a "day in the life" of this creature, which boasts an arresting photo of a fox mid-pounce. Next, readers learn that red foxes inhabit nearly the entire northern hemisphere, rural and urban areas alike, and maintain an omnivorous diet. The remaining two chapters feature descriptive facts about family units, the red fox's contributions to ecosystems, and its predators, humans chief among them. Throughout, numerous color photos and infographics appear, including a size chart, a pictorial food chain, and a "By the Numbers" spread of vulpine facts. A useful research book for reluctant readers or kids with a keen interest in animals that share their world."