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1. Updated Earth Day reading

The books recommended below were reviewed by The Horn Book Magazine. Grade levels are only suggestions; the individual child is the real criterion.

 

Picture books

Suggested grade level listed with each entry

The Promise written by Nicola Davies, illus. by Laura Carlin (Candlewick)
A girl, “mean and hard” as the city she lives in, survives by stealing. When one of her targets says she may keep the bag she’s taken if she promises to plant what’s in it, the girl commits herself to a lifetime of planting to transform bleak city landscapes. Grade level: 1–3. 48 pages.

Two Little Birds by Mary Newell DePalma (Eerdmans)
Two adorable bird siblings (based on the orchard oriole of North and Central America) hatch and begin their first year of life. Simple sentences explain the birds’ actions and underscore the instincts that drive each behavior. Grade level: PS. 40 pages.

Sophie Scott Goes South by Alison Lester (Houghton)
On an Antarctic adventure with her boat captain father, Sophie spots penguins, seals, and whales; one night she’s dazzled by the southern lights. Sophie’s scrapbook-style journal is written in a conversational style with appealing childlike art. Grade level: K–3. 40 pages.

Picture a Tree by Barbara Reid (Whitman)
“There is more than one way to picture a tree.” A series of vibrant Plasticine compositions focus readers’ attention on the shapes, colors, and textures of trees; parallel to these tree portraits are interlinked human stories. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.

Subway Story by Julia Sarcone-Roach (Knopf)
Retired subway car Jessie is dismantled and dumped into the ocean, where she happily resides as an artificial reef, home to myriad sea animals. The theme of reuse and recycling emerges naturally from a fine tale. Grade level: K–3. 40 pages.

 

Younger fiction

Suggested grade level for each entry: 1–3

Emmaline and the Bunny by Katherine Hannigan (Greenwillow)
The mayor of Neatasapin bullies everyone into inordinate tidiness and forbids all things wild. After lonely Emmaline befriends a wild bunny, she enlists her parents to invite wildlife back into the community. 101 pages.

Just Grace Goes Green by Charise Mericle Harper (Houghton)
In Grace’s fourth book, the third grader and her classmates are passionate about going green. While sneaking in information about recycling and reusing, Harper knows how to keep the story moving: amusing lists and sketches will keep her fans entertained. 178 pages.

 

Intermediate fiction

Suggested grade level for each entry: 4–6

The One and Only Ivan written by Katherine Applegate; illus. by Patricia Castelao (HarperCollins/Harper)
In this 2013 Newbery Award winner, Ivan is a gorilla who lives in a circus mall. When a new baby elephant arrives, Ivan taps into his creative side to help them both escape their restrictive environment. 307 pages.

Crunch by Leslie Connor (HarperCollins/Tegen)
When a severe fuel shortage strands their parents, the five Marriss children hold down the fort — and the family’s bike business. With fewer cars on the highway, the now-growing shop is about to overrun the kids’ abilities. Connor’s narrative ambles pleasantly along. 330 pages.

Toby Alone written by Timothée de Fombelle; illus. by François Place (Candlewick)
The world of the Tree, a society of miniature people, is threatened when a gangland boss/evil property developer grabs power. It’s up to thirteen-year-old Toby to save his parents, the Tree, and the day. 384 pages.

Blue Mountain by Martine Leavitt (Farrar/Ferguson)
Mankind encroaches upon the bighorn sheep’s habitat; wolf and puma feed on their dwindling herd. Biggest lamb Tuk must save the herd by finding a way west to “blue mountain,” a place he sees in visions and may not be real. 163 pages.

Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French (Abrams/Amulet)
Julian caught up in the conflict between his uncle and Robin, who is trying to protect a redwood forest from Uncle Sibley’s voracious investment company. French works in many facts about redwoods without losing the story’s focus on its characters. 355 pages.

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen (Knopf)
Wahoo Cray’s pop, a well-known South Florida animal wrangler, can’t work after an injury, so a lucrative offer seems like a godsend. Expedition Survival!, a TV program featuring a bumbling, egomaniacal star, wants to use their backyard zoo and faux Everglades pond. 290 pages.

 

Older fiction

Suggested grade level for each entry: 7 and up

H2O by Virginia Bergin (Sourcebooks/Fire)
Years after an asteroid almost collides with Earth, dust from the asteroid infects water molecules with an alien virus that kills humans on contact. Alone and thirsty, teen Ruby Morris holds tightly to the unlikely hope that her father is still alive. 331 pages.

Breathe by Sarah Crossan (Greenwillow)
In an environmentally ravaged world with four percent oxygen in the air, people live inside glass domes (and pay for air) or struggle to survive outside. Privileged Quinn, his poorer friend Bea, and rebel Alina travel outside of the dome and are stranded there. 373 pages.

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne (Feiwel)
Environmental disasters including a devastating hailstorm, an earthquake, and a chemical spill lead to a school bus of kids (teens and younger) seeking refuge in a superstore — with abundant resources and no adult supervision. Sequel: Monument 14: Sky on Fire. 296 pages.

The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd (Holiday)
London teen Laura chronicles in biting journal entries the first year of Britain’s new, stringent carbon rationing points system. She balances big-picture fears (blackouts, riots) with everyday issues of crushes and friends, and her punk band. Sequel: The Carbon Diaries 2017. 330 pages.

Endangered by Eliot Schrefer (Scholastic)
When Sophie, fourteen, visits her Congolese mother’s animal sanctuary, she becomes attached to a baby bonobo. When the political situation destabilizes dangerously and she’s scheduled to be airlifted back to Miami, she can’t bear to leave him behind. Companion book: Threatened. 264 pages.

My Chemical Mountain by Corina Vacco (Delacorte)
Jason and his friends roam the industrial zone near their neighborhood, swim in the toxic creek, and ride their dirt bikes around a landfill they call Chemical Mountain. This thought-provoking modern-day dystopian novel is plausible and action-packed. 186 pages.

 

Nonfiction

Suggested grade level listed with each entry

It’s Our Garden: From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garden written by George Ancona; photos by the author (Candlewick)
Full-color photographs and no-nonsense prose (perfect for new readers) chronicle a year in the life of an elementary school garden; students compost soil, water plants, raise butterflies, and sample edible delights. Grade level: K–3. 48 pages.

Buried Sunlight: How Fossil Fuels Have Changed the Earth by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm; illus. by Molly Bang (Scholastic/Blue Sky)
Bang and Chisholm explain the production and consumption of fossil fuels, along with the consequences: climate change. The sun narrates the relationship between photosynthesis/respiration and energy; a slight imbalance produces fossil fuels. Grade level: K–3. 48 pages.

Beetle Busters: A Rogue Insect and the People Who Track It [Scientists in the Field] by Loree Griffin Burns; photos by Ellen Harasimowicz (Houghton)
The Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), an invasive species, threatens “the entire northeastern hardwood forest.” In Worcester, Massachusetts, scientists hypothesize that destroying all of Worcester’s infected trees — i.e., the ALB habitat — will eradicate the beetle. Grade level: 4–6. 64 pages.

Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard written by Loree Griffin Burns; photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz (Holt)
Detailed accounts and handsome color photography introduce four scientific projects — studying monarch butterflies, birds, ladybugs, and frogs — which enlist regular people in data collection. Grade level: 4–6. 80 pages.

Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate (Candlewick)
In this introduction to birdwatching, the author/illustrator and birds (portrayed in cartoons with speech balloons) poke fun at themselves and one another while teaching basic bird identification: color, shapes, behaviors, songs, habitat, range, and migration. Grade level: 4–6. 64 pages.

The Bat Scientists [Scientists in the Field series] written by Mary Kay Carson; photographs by Tom Uhlman (Houghton)
With deft description and careful explanation, Carson profiles Bat Conservation International (BCI) as it researches the misunderstood title creatures. Clear text debunks “Batty Myths” while highlighting BCI’s conservation efforts. Grade level: 4–6. 80 pages.

Island: A Story of the Galápagos by Jason Chin (Roaring Brook/Porter)
Witness the six-million-year evolution of the Galápagos, from “birth” through “childhood” to “old age” and beyond. Gorgeous illustrations include sweeping double-page spreads and panels arranged to show dynamic changes. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.

Redwoods by Jason Chin (Roaring Brook/Flash Point/Porter)
In a fantastical visual narrative paired with a straightforward nonfiction text, a young boy waiting for the subway finds an abandoned book about redwood trees. He finds himself in a redwood forest, learning all manner of things about them. Grade level: K–3. 40 pages.

The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge [Magic School Bus series] written by Joanna Cole; illus. by Bruce Degen (Scholastic)
Ms. Frizzle’s class gathers information for a play about climate change. Cole and Degen are straightforward about the seriousness of global warming but focusing on day-to-day changes individuals can make. Throughout, humor keeps readers engaged. Grade level K–3. 40 pages.

Earth in the Hot Seat: Bulletins from a Warming World by Marfé Ferguson Delano (National Geographic)
Beginning with examples of changes seen by scientists, this well-written narrative then moves to thorough explanations of the underlying science and explores the ecological consequences of climate change. Grade level: 4–6. 64 pages.

In the Rainforest [Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science] by Kate Duke (Harper)
This tour through the rainforest describes the special features of the area and defines unfamiliar vocabulary. Cheerful mixed-media illustrations show visiting children climbing trees (with ropes and clamps), journaling, and exploring the ecosystem. Grade level: K–3. 40 pages.

Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines by Paul Fleishman (Candlewick)
A wake-up call about the environmental crisis, this book homes in on five “key fronts” — population, consumption, energy, food, and climate — and explores historical and sociological contexts. A refreshingly opinionated approach to informed action. Grade level: 7 and up. 204 pages.

Wild Horse Scientists [Scientists in the Field series] by Kay Frydenborg (Houghton)
Researchers are attempting to control the horse population on Assateague Island by developing a contraceptive vaccine that limits mares to a single foal per lifetime. Relevant and clear color photographs show both horses and scientists in situ. Grade level: 4–6. 80 pages.

The Buffalo Are Back by Jean Craighead George; illus. by Wendell Minor (Dutton)
This compact ecodrama documents the buffalo’s slaughter to decimate the Native Americans and open the prairie to settlers, then turns to the reversal: the discovery, instigated by President Theodore Roosevelt, of three hundred remaining wild buffalo. Grade level K–3. 32 pages.

Galápagos George by Jean Craighead George; illus. by Wendell Minor (HarperCollins/Harper)
The life cycle of a single female Galápagos tortoise, Giantess George, is extrapolated to the development of the entire species. She and other tortoises are transported to different islands in a storm; over thousands of years, they evolve into different subspecies. Grade level K–3. 40 pages.

Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 by Phillip Hoose (Farrar)
One rufa red knot known as “Moonbird” has flown some 325,000 miles in his lifetime. Lucid, graceful prose (with glorious photographs) details the birds’ characteristics, profiles scientists and activist kids, and explores long-term prospects for survival. Grade level: 4–6. 148 pages.

The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever written by H. Joseph Hopkins; illus. by Jill McElmurry (Simon/Beach Lane)
Kate Sessions, the first woman to graduate from Berkeley with a science degree, was responsible for populating San Diego’s Balboa Park with lush, green trees, just in time for the Panama-California Exposition in 1915. Grade level K–3. 32 pages.

Can We Save the Tiger? written by Martin Jenkins; illus. by Vicky White (Candlewick)
This volume provides a gracefully organized overview of several endangered species. Jenkins’s narrative voice is engagingly informal. White’s pencil and oil paint illustrations fill the large pages. A stunningly beautiful book as well as an eloquent appeal. Grade level K–3. 56 pages.

The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest — and Most Surprising — Animals on Earth by Steve Jenkins (Houghton)
This thoughtful book begins with a survey of the animal kingdom, then covers “Family,” “Senses,” “Predators,” and “Defenses.” The paper-collage art is taken from Jenkins’s previous work, each image recontextualized to serve the book’s purpose. Grade level: 4–6. 208 pages.

Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World written by Laurie Lawlor; illus. by Laura Beingessner (Holiday)
From the naturalist’s early fascination with wildlife to her determination to finish her landmark work, Silent Spring, before her death, this accessible account folds a commendable amount of significant information into picture book format. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.

Puffling Patrol by Ted and Betsy Lewin (Lee & Low)
On Iceland’s Heimaey island, children take part in a generations-old fledgling puffin search-and-rescue tradition. As they tour the island with researchers, the Lewins capture the beauty of the landscape and the awkwardly amusing appeal of the birds. Grade level: K–3. 56 pages.

The Manatee Scientists: Saving Vulnerable Species [Scientists in the Field series] by Peter Lourie (Houghton)
Scientists Fernando Rosas (Brazil), John Reynolds (Florida), and Lucy Keith (West Africa) investigate manatees in the wild and in captivity. The text and photographs capture the science and politics of animal conservation and the scientists’ dedication. Grade level: 4–6. 80 pages.

The Polar Bear Scientists [Scientists in the Field series] by Peter Lourie (Houghton)
Lourie takes us to Alaska to observe biologists researching a subpopulation of polar bears, then to the lab where the data is processed and stored. Crisp photographs capture the animals and the equipment needed to do research in such extreme conditions. Grade level: 4–6. 80 pages.

The Chiru of High Tibet: A True Story by Jacqueline Briggs Martin; illus. by Linda Wingerter (Houghton)
The antelope-like chiru of northern Tibet were hunted nearly to extinction for their soft wool. Wildlife champion George Schaller hoped to save the chiru by protecting their birthing ground — but first he had to find it. Grade level: K–3. 40 pages.

Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa’s Fastest Cats [Scientists in the Field] by Sy Montgomery; photos by Nic Bishop (Houghton)
Journal-style text and striking photographs introduce Laurie Marker and her team of conservationists at the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia. Of special interest is Tiger Lily, a cheetah who has spent her life at the CCF as an “ambassador.” Grade level: 4–6. 79 pages.

Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot [Scientists in the Field] by Sy Montgomery; photos by Nic Bishop (Houghton)
Montgomery and Bishop trek to Codfish Island off New Zealand’s coast to bring us a marvelous account of the efforts of naturalists to save the kakapo. In-depth descriptions and glorious photographs cover all aspects of the conservation effort. Grade level: 4–6. 74 pages.

The Tapir Scientist: Saving South America’s Largest Mammal [Scientists in the Field] by Sy Montgomery; photos by Nic Bishop (Houghton)
In the Pantanal wetlands of Brazil, scientist Patricia Medici and her team study the lowland tapir. Montgomery’s dramatic account of tracking the elusive animals is interspersed with scientific information about tapir species. Grade level: 4–6. 74 pages.

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A. Nivola (Farrar/Foster)
Earle’s intimate knowledge of the creatures she’s spent over half a century observing permeates this biography illustrated with exquisite watercolors. An author’s note explains why we all need to help curtail the threats of overfishing, climate change, oil spills, and pollutants. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.

Leopard & Silkie: One Boy’s Quest to Save the Seal Pups written by Brenda Peterson; photographs by Robin Lindsey (Holt/Ottaviano)
The Seal Sitters is a Pacific Northwest watch group that educates human beachgoers and protects harbor seals when they come ashore to give birth to and care for their young. Newborn seal Leopard is fortunate to have “kid volunteer” Miles on the case. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.

Celebritrees: Historic and Famous Trees of the World written by Margi Preus; illus. by Rebecca Gibbon (Holt/Ottaviano)
This gallery of impressive trees offers substantive information on what makes each specimen unique. Friendly folk art–style paintings bustle with life, including birds and squirrels in the branches and people in the shade. Conservation tips are appended. Grade level: K–3. 40 pages.

Plant a Pocket of Prairie written by Phyllis Root; illus. by Betsy Bowen (University of Minnesota)
There’s not a lot of prairie left in the U.S.; this book encourages readers to reverse this trend by planting native plants in their own backyards and watching what animals are attracted by each plant species. Grade level: K–3. 40 pages.

Parrots over Puerto Rico written by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore; illus. by Susan L. Roth (Lee & Low)
This gorgeously illustrated history of the endangered Puerto Rican parrot underscores the consequences of human populations on animal species. With stunning paper-and-fabric artwork, the book is laid out vertically to give a sense of height. Grade level: K–3. 48 pages.

Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands by Katherine Roy (Roaring Brook/Macaulay)
This account of great white sharks off the Northern California coast examines fascinating details about the predator. The main narrative describes a shark hunting; information-rich sections tell more about shark biology and about the scientists who study them. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.

Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out! written by April Pulley Sayre; illus. by Annie Patterson (Charlesbridge)
Very few sea turtles survive to adulthood. This turtle is one of the fortunate ones, thanks to the volunteers who protect turtle nests and hatchlings. Readers will be drawn in by Turtle’s newborn awkwardness, captured by softly colored realistic illustrations. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.

Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives by Lola M. Schaefer; illus. by Christopher Silas Neal (Chronicle)
The concept of quantity is examined in the context of animal lives. Schaefer presents the number of times an animal “performs one behavior” in its lifetime, from the single egg sac spun by a spider, up to the thousand babies carried by a male seahorse. Grade level: PS, K–3. 40 pages.

Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature written by Joyce Sidman; illus. by Beth Krommes (Houghton)
Scratchboard illustrations, vividly depicting spirals in nature, suffuse every page with color, shape, and movement. Each spread offers a treasure trove of details that will captivate the youngest readers. The simple text is powerful and poetic. Grade level: PS. 40 pages.

Dolphins by Seymour Simon (HarperCollins/Collins)
Simon draws readers beyond initial captivation with dolphins’ appearance and intelligence into deeper discussions of species, life cycles, and social organization. Vivid full-page photographs are well-matched to the text. A note on conservation is appended. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.

Global Warming by Seymour Simon (HarperCollins/Collins)
With straightforward prose, Simon leads novices through such tricky concepts as greenhouse gases and the differences between daily weather and long-term climate change. The book ends with the reassurance that we can help reverse the rate of change. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.

No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young; illus. by Nicole Wong (Charlesbridge)
Stewart and Young explain where chocolate comes from: working backward from cocoa beans (dried and processed by humans) to cocoa pods (from cocoa flowers pollinated by midges) to monkeys dropping cocoa seeds on the rainforest floor. Full-bleed ink and watercolor illustrations show each step along the way. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.

The Sea Turtle Scientist [Scientists in the Field] by Stephen R. Swinburne (Houghton)
The Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) studies the sea turtles in the Caribbean and works for their preservation. This series entry follows Dr. Kimberly Stewart, a.k.a. the “turtle lady,” who lives and works with WIDECAST on the island of St. Kitts. Grade level: 4–6. 65 pages.

Project Seahorse [Scientists in the Field series] written by Pamela S. Turner,; photographs by Scott Tuason
Readers follow conservation group Project Seahorse in its efforts to preserve seahorses, coastal reefs, and the fishing-based livelihood of Handumon, in the Philippines. Interspersed are details about seahorses, portrayed beautifully in underwater photography. Grade level: 4–6. 57 pages.

Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story by Thomas F. Yezerski (Farrar)
This ecological history of Meadowlands of New Jersey captures the complex relationship between humans and the environment. Each double-page-spread illustration is bordered by tiny images with a wealth of taxonomical information (and sly humor). Grade level: K–3. 40 pages.

Secrets of the Garden: Food Chains and the Food Web in Our Backyard written by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld; illus. by Priscilla Lamont (Knopf) 
Alice and her family have a plot of land upon which they grow edible plants, raise chickens, and enjoy their interactions with the variety of living things in their backyard ecosystem. Grade level: K–3. 40 pages.

 

Poetry

In the Wild by David Elliott; illus. by Holly Meade (Candlewick)
Full-spread woodcut and watercolor art captures both the essences and habitats of fourteen worldwide animals: a jaguar prowling the jungle floor, a polar bear immersed in a blue-green sea, etc. Deftly composed verses include paradoxes and wry thoughts. Companion books: In the Sea and On the Wing. Grade level: PS. 32 pages.

UnBEElievables: Honeybee Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian (Simon/Beach Lane)
Florian evokes the world of bees with repetitive patterning that cleverly references honeycombs, flowers, and the bees themselves. His humorous rhythmic verse, too, echoes bee behavior. A paragraph of more straightforward facts elucidates each spread. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.

All the Water in the World written by George Ella Lyon; illus. by Katherine Tillotson (Atheneum/Jackson)
Lyon celebrates the essence of life itself in a lyrical poem about the water cycle. In sweeping, digitally rendered art resembling watercolor and collage, Tillotson creates luxuriant ocean swirls and pelting streaks of rain. Grade level: K–3. 40 pages.

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2. Life, death, and football

Gritty and intense but also full of heart and hope, each of these four YA novels stars a teenage boy facing some of life’s most serious challenges.

smith_alex crowAndrew Smith follows his 2014 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award–winning Grasshopper Jungle with the similarly multilayered, ambitious novel The Alex Crow. Fifteen-year-old war refugee Ariel lived through the bombing of his village by hiding in a broken refrigerator. Ariel’s emotionally raw account of his year surviving various atrocities alternates with an often darkly funny account of his six-week stint at the disciplinary Camp Merrie-Seymour for Boys, which he attends with his American adoptive brother Max. Two other story lines converge with Ariel’s: that of a deranged man’s U-Haul road trip and of the ship Alex Crow‘s ill-fated nineteenth-century Arctic voyage. The multiple narratives and original sci-fi elements are anchored by strong prose and a distinct teenage-boy sensibility. (Penguin/Dutton, 14 years and up)

reynolds_boy-in-the-black-suitHigh-school senior Matt, the eponymous Boy in the Black Suit, is mourning the mother who died just before the book begins and the long on-the-wagon father who has returned to drink. At his funeral-parlor job he looks for “the person hurting the most,” hoping that his or her expression of grief will help him deal with his own. While all this sounds like heavy problem-novel territory, it isn’t. Just as in his previous novel When I Was the Greatest, Jason Reynolds writes about urban African American kids in a way, warm and empathetic, the late Walter Dean Myers would have applauded. (Atheneum, 14 years and up)

gardner_deadIknowIn The Dead I Know, another mortuary-set story, Aaron Rowe begins his first job at JKB Funerals. A young man of few words, Aaron takes to his work readily, assembling the coffins and washing the hearse, which helps him temporarily escape the disturbing events at home in the caravan park. After tragedy strikes, he is finally able to accept desperately needed help from the funeral home’s proprietors, who reach out to him through their own pain and loss. Moments of warmth and humor lighten the psychological suspense and frank depiction of death in Scot Gardner’s engrossing novel. (Houghton, 14 years and up)

lynch_hit countFreshman football player Arlo Brodie, star of Hit Count, sets his future goals: varsity linebacker by sophomore year, then college ball for a Division One team, then the pros. Arlo works out like a fiend, gets in super shape, makes varsity, and plays like a man possessed. An alarmingly high hit count, or number of hard blows to the head, forces the coach to bench him, but by that point, the adulation, the workouts, and the thrill of sanctioned combat have become Arlo’s drug, and he’s addicted. Chris Lynch’s unflinching examination of the price of athletic power, with plenty of bone-crunching play-by-play action, is both thought-provoking and formidable. (Algonquin, 14 years and up)

From the April 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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3. Fearless females

From an aspiring journalist to an up-and-coming roller derby grrl, the determined and curious female protagonists of these intermediate and middle-school books are ready to take on the world.

springstubb_moonpenny islandIn Tricia Springstubb’s Moonpenny Island, the titular tiny Ohio vacation spot is lousy with fossils — specifically, of trilobites from the Cambrian period. Sixth-grade townie Flor becomes fascinated with trilobites’ eyes after learning they were “among the very first creatures” to develop them. Flor herself is, in some ways, as sightless as early trilobites, for she misses much of what’s going on in her family and in her interconnected island community. Flor’s growing awareness of those around her results in a unique protagonist who, like a fossil, creates an imprint that remains after her story is finished. (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, 9–12 years)

birdsall_penderwicks in springJeanne Birdsall‘s fourth Penderwicks book, The Penderwicks in Spring, focuses on Batty, now ten and the “senior member of the younger Penderwick siblings.” To raise money for singing lessons, she starts a neighborhood odd-jobs business. There’s a lot of melancholy here: dog-walking sadly reminds Batty of her dear departed Hound, and she suffers benign neglect from one big sister (Rosalind is temporarily boy-crazy) and hurtful words from another. On the plus side, stepbrother Ben (seven) and half-sister Lydia (two), in their cheering-up efforts, emerge as formidable Penderwicks themselves, and Batty rewardingly finds her voice at her climactic Grand Eleventh Birthday Concert. (Knopf, 9–12 years)

vaught_footer davis probably is crazyAt the start of Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy by Susan Vaught, eleven-year-old Footer Davis’s mother, who has bipolar disorder, is admitted to a psychiatric hospital after shooting off an elephant rifle in their backyard. To distract herself from her mother’s worsening condition, budding journalist Footer (with aspiring-detective best friend Peavine) investigates a dramatic unsolved local crime. Footer’s lively narrative voice and irreverent sense of humor add levity to the heavy subject matter. Like its heroine, the book itself is compelling, offbeat, and fearless. (Simon/Wiseman, 9–12 years)

jamieson_roller girlWhen her best friend Nicole starts harping on about ballet, fashion, and dating, twelve-year-old Astrid, star of Victoria Jamieson’s graphic novel Roller Girl, is left behind (read: not interested). She’s behind on the roller derby track, too, where she has signed up for summer boot camp even though she can’t skate five seconds without disaster. Astrid faces the challenges of derby as well as tweendom, and when the time comes for her big end-of-summer bout, “Asteroid” is brimming with confidence and ready to roll. Readers will identify with Astrid’s journey to find her authentic self. Have this book at the ready for Telgemeier fans racing to find something new. (Dial, 9–12 years)

From the April 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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4. The early bird

After a long, hard winter, spring has finally returned. With it come our little feathered friends — and picture books about them.

konnecke_you can do it, bertIn Ole Könnecke’s humorous, cheering picture book You Can Do It, Bert!, a small red bird walks out to the end of a slender tree branch, trepidation written all over his face. “This is Bert. It’s his big day.” A brief, direct-address text follows Bert as he flaps his wings, checks his environment, and looks like he’s about to take a running start…but no, not yet. Simple shapes and minimal detail keep readers’ attention squarely on the (in)action — with a surprise twist! (Gecko, 2–5 years)

cronin_smickWith just a few words but a bounty of playfulness, Doreen Cronin introduces preschoolers (and early readers) to good-natured, droopy-eared dog Smick! During a game of fetch between dog and offstage narrator (“Stick?”), Smick is distracted by a “Cluck!” and discovers: chick. All ends in joyful friendship: “Sidekick… / Sidechick. / Side lick! ick.” Digital art by Juana Medina mostly consists of simple black lines against expansive white space that communicate Smick’s constant motion and boundless energy. (Viking, 2–5 years)

yolen_you nest here with meJane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple’s You Nest Here with Me incorporates real-life information about birds into a comforting bedtime picture book. A mother reads to her daughter (from a book called…You Nest Here with Me) about the different places birds can make their nests — “Pigeons nest on concrete ledges, / Catbirds nest in greening hedges…” The reassuring refrain is “You nest here with me.” Melissa Sweet’s watercolor, gouache, and mixed-media illustrations are both lovely and accurate in their depictions of the avian creatures and their habitats. (Boyds Mills, 2–5 years)

paschkis_p. zonka lays an eggA hen named P. Zonka is dismissed by the other chickens as a dreamer; she’s more concerned with flowers, clouds, and the colors of the sky than with laying eggs. Cajoled into trying it, P. Zonka finally succeeds, but her egg surprises everyone. Julie Paschkis’s P. Zonka Lays an Egg gives one possible (and humorous) explanation behind the tradition of those beautiful Ukrainian pysanky. Her watercolors, filled with repeated patterns and a beautiful use of black outlines, seem to pop off the pages. (Peachtree, 4–7 years)

From the April 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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5. Versatile verse

National Poetry Month (better known as April) celebrates a form that can be used in myriad ways to explore any topic imaginable. Here are two collections of poems with themes in common, and two books that use poetry to help tell a larger story.

wardlaw_won ton and chopstickA kitty named Won Ton makes his second appearance in Lee Wardlaw’s Won Ton and Chopstick: A Cat and Dog Tale Told in Haiku. Won Ton’s first-person haiku narrate his adjustment to the arrival of a new puppy. At first things do not go well — “Ears perk. Fur prickles. / Belly low, I creep…peek…FREEZE! / My eyes full of Doom.” — but eventually the two find common ground in their mutual love of their little-boy owner. The interrelated haiku together create a story of gradual friendship, but each can also stand alone, capturing Won Ton’s quintessential felineness (“Nap, play, bathe, nap, eat, repeat.”). Eugene Yelchin’s graphite and gouache illustrations contrast the sleek gray cat with the roly-poly brown puppy; pastel backgrounds highlight the pets’ expressive faces and body language. (Holt, 5–8 years)

mcnamara_poem in your pocketElinor, star of the picture book A Poem in Your Pocket, initially feels confident in her poetry-writing ability, but her firm grasp of terms like simile and metaphor doesn’t mean she can write great poetry herself. She gets more and more worried as the class prepares for a visit by a famous poet. Author Margaret McNamara slyly works in a lot of information about poetry while keeping the focus on Elinor’s dilemma. Examples of poetry the kids come up with may inspire young readers to attempt their own writing, especially since G. Brian Karas’s gouache, acrylic, and pencil pictures make the diverse group of classmates look like they’re having a great time. (Random/Schwartz & Wade, 5–8 years)

brown_hypnotize a tigerCalef Brown’s collection Hypnotize a Tiger: Poems About Just About Everything ends with an invitation to write your own poetry, but the whole book is such an invitation. Brown takes several kids’-book conventions — such as the celebration of the outlier, weird animals, and complaints about school — and gives them fresh energy. He even infuses the yucky-foods trope with original twists (the Loofah Torte is particularly startling). From the bottom margin, a peanut gallery of creatures much given to puns comment on the poems and offer their own. Black-and-white drawings add to the jauntiness and the welcoming, joyous mood. (Holt/Ottaviano, 7–10 years)

janczko_death of the hatIn their fourth collaboration, The Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects, selector Paul B. Janeczko and illustrator Chris Raschka offer readers fifty poems whose origins range from the early Middle Ages to the postmodern and contemporary eras. The poems are unified by a common theme — each is about an object — and organized chronologically. Raschka’s soft, impressionistic watercolors showcase each poem, visually encouraging readers to keep reading. Expect variety in the selections, from old favorites such as “My Shadow” by Robert Louis Stevenson to “Grainfield” by Ibn ‘Iyād to Pablo Neruda’s “Ode to a Stamp Album.” (Candlewick, 7–10 years)

From the April 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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6. Bad company

Conspiracy theory or everyday life? These new YA novels — three thrillers and one dark comedy — star teen protagonists finding their places in worlds manipulated by not-so-scrupulous corporations.

myers_on a clear dayWalter Dean Myers’s posthumously published On a Clear Day takes place in 2035. The Central Eight (C-8) companies rule everything, enriching themselves while the rest of society suffers. Millions are starving, schools have closed, and everyone seems to ignore the collateral damage caused by the seductive “marvelous gadgets” the companies sell. Hope lies in small bands of resistance such as the one joined by sixteen-year-old math whiz Dahlia Grillo. Dahlia is an appealing protagonist in a troubling world not far removed from our own. (Crown, 14 years and up)

bacigalupi_doubt factoryMoses Cruz, leader of a diverse group of orphan teens, has targeted Alix Banks in order to destroy his real objective: her father, whose PR firm defends harmful products sold by Fortune 500 companies. Moses shatters Alix’s sheltered, privileged existence — stalking and kidnapping her — in hopes that she’ll help expose her father’s corruption. In his compelling thriller The Doubt Factory, Paolo Bacigalupi excels at creating two fully rounded narrators: Alix, who transforms from naive rich-girl to activist, and Moses, enigmatic, dangerous, yet somehow likable. (Little, Brown, 14 years and up)

rubin_denton little's death dateIn seventeen-year-old Denton’s world, AstroThanatoGenetics makes it possible — and the U.S. government makes it mandatory — to know the date of a person’s death at the time of their birth. On the morning of his funeral, Denton wakes up in his best friend’s sister’s bed, unsure of whether he’s cheated on his girlfriend. He then spends his deathdate (also the day of his senior prom) wondering how he’ll go — and there are plenty of possibilities. Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin has dark humor in spades, plus fully developed relationships and a mystery that will keep pages turning. (Knopf, 14 years and up)

lippert-martin_tabula rasaIn Kristen Lippert-Martin’s Tabula Rasa, Sarah is one of several young patients in a remote state-of-the-art hospital, living in isolation while doctors surgically remove their memories. Before her final treatment can be completed — and after Sarah has taken a covertly delivered pill that may release her damaged memories — soldiers attack the hospital, killing patients and doctors alike. Sarah taps into a forgotten cache of strength, agility, and tactical instinct to evade the intruders, but to escape the hospital she must ally herself with friendly-but-cagey hacker Thomas. Mysteries stack upon mysteries in this gripping, multifaceted thriller. (Egmont, 12–16 years)

From the February 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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7. ABC, easy as 123

Who says ABC books are just for babies? Why can’t you mix up some colors using just your finger, no paint? The following concept books defy conventions — and expectations.

tullet_mix it upIn Mix It Up!, Hervé Tullet follows the same format as in his hugely entertaining Press Here, but this time the play is focused on colors and what happens when you mix them. Children are directed to press on color splotches or to shake or tilt the book to make the colors “mix” or “run.” Turn the pages to see the results. For example, “If you rub the two colors [red and blue] together really hard…then what happens?” (Page-turn: purple!) Lots of fun, with no messy cleanup. (Chronicle/Handprint, 2–5 years)

carter_b is for boxThat bright, friendly cube from David A. Carter’s The Happy Little Yellow Box: A Pop-Up Book of Opposites is back in B Is for Box: The Happy Little Yellow Box. This time it’s taking a trip through the alphabet, encouraging children to use pull-tabs, lift-the-flaps, and other interactive features every step of the way. The white text and chalklike drawings on black backgrounds introduce multiple upper- and lowercase letters per page. The bold color contrasts and carefully engineered surprises make for a high-energy alphabet book. (Little Simon, 2–5 years)

jeffers_once-upon-an-alphabetEach letter of the alphabet gets its own little four-page story in Oliver Jeffers’s Once Upon an Alphabet. The tales are clever, silly, and thought-provoking; some of them overlap, with characters making their way in and out of one another’s stories. Jeffers’s loose-lined illustrations include lots of visual humor that will appeal to older children who already know their ABCs but can still appreciate a good alphabet book. (Philomel, 5–8 years)

ramstein_before afterThe wordless Before After by Anne-Margot Ramstein and Matthias Arégui presents before-and-after sequences: night to day, acorn to oak tree, etc. As the book progresses, some of the sequences become longer (sheep to wool to knitting to sweater), as simple transitions make way for more complex or philosophical ones. Clean, subdued-palette digital illustrations help pave the way for thoughtful discussion. (Candlewick, 5–8 years)

From the February 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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8. Books mentioned in the November 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book

Social change

Captured History series

Burgan, Michael Tank Man: How a Photograph Defined China’s Protest Movement
Gr. 4–6     64 pp.     Capstone/Compass Point     2014
Library binding ISBN 978-0-7565-4731-8
Paperback ISBN 978-0-7565-4787-5

Nardo, Don Hitler in Paris: How a Photograph Shocked a World at War
Gr. 4–6   64 pp.     Capstone/Compass Point     2014
Library binding ISBN 978-0-7565-4733-2
Paperback ISBN 978-0-7565-4789-9

Cooper, Ilene A Woman in the House (and Senate): How Women Came to the United States Congress, Broke Down Barriers, and Changed the Country
Illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley
Gr. 46    144 pp.    Abrams     2014
Trade ISBN 978-1-4197-1036-0

Kuklin, Susan Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out
High school     182 pp.     Candlewick     2014
Trade ISBN 978-0-7636-5611-9

Levy, Debbie We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song
Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Gr. K–3      32 pp.     Disney/Jump     2013
Trade ISBN 978-1-4231-1954-8

Runstedler, Nancy Pay It Forward Kids: Small Acts, Big Change
Gr. 46     64 pp.     Fitzhenry     2013
Trade ISBN 978-1-55455-301-3

 

How things work

Lightning Bolt Books: How Flight Works series

Boothroyd, Jennifer How Do Hang Gliders Work?
Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Lerner     2013
Library binding ISBN 978-0-7613-8970-5

Boothroyd, Jennifer How Do Helicopters Work?
Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Lerner     2013
Library binding ISBN 978-0-7613-8966-8

Boothroyd, Jennifer How Do Parachutes Work?
Gr. K–3     32 pp.      Lerner     2013
Library binding ISBN 978-0-7613-8968-2

Silverman, Buffy How Do Hot Air Balloons Work?
Gr. K–3     32 pp.      Lerner     2013
Library binding ISBN 978-0-7613-8969-9

Silverman, Buffy How Do Jets Work?
Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Lerner     2013
Library binding ISBN 978-0-7613-8967-5

Silverman, Buffy How Do Space Vehicles Work?
Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Lerner     2013
Library binding ISBN 978-0-7613-8971-2

Enz, Tammy The Amazing Story of Cell Phone Technology: Max Axiom STEM Adventures [Graphic Library: STEM Adventures series]
Illustrated by Pop Art Properties
Gr. 4–6     32 pp.     Capstone     2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-4765-0137-6
Paperback ISBN 978-1-4765-3457-2

Blazers: See How It’s Made series

Hammelef, Danielle S. Building an Airplane
Gr. 4–6     32 pp.     Capstone     2014
Library binding ISBN 978-1-4765-3978-2
Paperback ISBN 978-1-4765-5118-0

Omoth, Tyler Building a Motorcycle
Gr. 4–6      32 pp.     Capstone     2014
Library binding ISBN 978-1-4765-3977-5
Paperback ISBN 978-1-4765-5117-3

Macaulay, David Toilet: How It Works [My Readers series]
With Sheila Keenan
Gr. K–3    32 pp.     Square Fish/David Macaulay Studio     2013
Trade ISBN 978-1-59643-779-1
Paperback ISBN 978-1-59643-780-7

How Does My Home Work? series

Oxlade, Chris Heating
Gr. K–3     24 pp.     Heinemann     2012
Library binding ISBN 978-1-4329-6564-8
Paperback ISBN 978-1-43296569-3

Oxlade, Chris Water
Gr. K–3      24 pp.    Heinemann     2012
Library binding ISBN 978-1-4329-6567-9
Paperback ISBN 978-1-4329-6572-3

 

Indigenous cultures

Bruchac, James and Bruchac, Joseph Rabbit’s Snow Dance: A Traditional Iroquois Story
Illustrated by Jeff Newman
Gr. K–3
     32 pp.     Dial     2012
Trade ISBN 978-0-8037-3270-4

Charleyboy, Lisa, and Leatherdale, Mary Beth, Editors Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices
Middle school, high school
     130 pp.     Annick     2014
Trade ISBN 978-1-55451-687-2

Ellis, Deborah Looks like Daylight: Voices of Indigenous Kids
Middle school, high school    253 pp.     Groundwood (House of Anansi Press)     2013
Trade ISBN 978-1-55498-120-5

McLaughlin, Timothy P. Walking on Earth & Touching the Sky: Poetry and Prose by Lakota Youth at Red Cloud Indian School
Illustrated by S. D. Nelson
Gr. 4–6     80 pp.     Abrams     2012
Trade ISBN 978-1-4197-0179-5

Ray, Deborah Kogan Paiute Princess: The Story of Sarah Winnemucca
Gr. 4–6     48 pp.     Farrar/Foster     2012
Trade ISBN 978-0-374-39897-2

 

Geography and maps

Map Smart series

Brasch, Nicolas Community Maps
Gr. 4–6     32 pp.     Smart Apple     2012
Library binding ISBN 978-1-59920-413-0

Brasch, Nicolas Country Maps
Gr. 4–6     32 pp.     Smart Apple     2012
Library binding ISBN 978-1-59920-414-7

Brasch, Nicolas Land and Sea Maps
Gr. 4–6     32 pp.     Smart Apple     2012
Library binding ISBN 978-1-59920-415-4

Brasch, Nicolas World Maps
Gr. 4–6     32 pp.     Smart Apple     2012
Library binding ISBN 978-1-59920-416-1

Pebble Books: My World series

Cane, Ella Countries in My World
Gr. K–3     24 pp.     Capstone     2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-4765-3122-9
Paperback ISBN 978-1-4765-3464-0

Cane, Ella Neighborhoods in My World
Gr. K–3     24 pp.     Capstone     2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-4765-3119-9
Paperback ISBN 978-1-4765-3461-9

Cane, Ella States in My World
Gr. K–3      24 pp.     Capstone     2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-4765-3121-2
Paperback ISBN 978-1-4765-3463-3

Kralovansky, Susan What Would You Do with an Atlas? [Super SandCastle: Library Resources series]
Gr. K–3     32 pp.     ABDO     2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61783-606-0

Mizielinska, Aleksandra Maps
Illustrated by Daniel Mizielinski
Gr. 4–6     110 pp.     Candlewick/Big Picture     2013
Trade ISBN 978-0-7636-6896-9

Walker, Sally M. Boundaries: How the Mason-Dixon Line Settled a Family Feud & Divided a Nation
High school     202 pp.     Candlewick     2014
Trade ISBN 978-0-7636-5612-6

 

Medicine and the human body

Arnold, Caroline Too Hot? Too Cold?: Keeping Body Temperature Just Right
Illustrated by Annie Patterson
Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Charlesbridge     2013
Trade ISBN 978-1-58059-276-6
Paperback ISBN 978-1-58089-277-3

Super Simple Body series

Halvorson, Karin Inside the Ears
Gr. K–3     32 pp.     ABDO     2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61783-610-7

Halvorson, Karin Inside the Eyes
Gr. K–3      32 pp.     ABDO     2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61783-611-4

Halvorson, Karin Inside the Heart
Gr. K–3      32 pp.     ABDO     2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61783-612-1

Halvorson, Karin Inside the Lungs
Gr. K–3      32 pp.     ABDO     2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61783-613-8

Jarrow, Gail Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat
Middle school, high school   192 pp.     Boyds/Calkins (Boyds Mills Press)     2014
Trade ISBN 978-1-59078-732-8

Murphy, Jim and Blank, Alison Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure
Gr. 4–6     149 pp.     Clarion     2012
Trade ISBN 978-0-618-53574-3

Ziefert, Harriet You Can’t See Your Bones with Binoculars!: A Book About Your 206 Bones
Illustrated by Amanda Haley
Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Blue Apple     2014
Trade ISBN 978-1-60905-417-5

Ziefert, Harriet You Can’t Taste a Pickle with Your Ear!: A Book About Your 5 Senses
Illustrated by Amanda Haley
Gr. K–3
     32 pp.     Blue Apple     2014
Trade ISBN 978-1-60905-418-2

These titles were featured in the November 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

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9. Around the world

Reading can take children on journeys outside of their everyday realms. The following stories — some humorous, some tender — allow independent readers to spend time with characters from all over the globe.

nye turtle of oman Around the worldWhen Naomi Shihab Nye’s The Turtle of Oman opens, Aref and his mother are preparing to leave their home in Muscat, Oman, to join his father in Michigan, where they’ll live temporarily while Aref’s parents attend graduate school. Though unhappy about the move, Aref is thrilled to spend his last few days in Oman going on adventures with Sidi, his grandfather. The setting is so affectionately portrayed, with descriptions of colorful sights, mouth-watering tastes, and friendly interactions with fellow countrymen, that even when Aref is ready to say goodbye, readers may not be. Nye’s story, with spot art by Betsy Peterschmidt, is both quiet and exhilarating. (Greenwillow, 7–10 years)

tak mikis and the donkey Around the worldPhilip Hopman’s illustrations set the stage on the island of Corfu in Bibi Dumon Tak’s Mikis and the Donkey (translated from the Dutch). Mikis befriends Tsaki, his grandfather’s new donkey, and advocates successfully for Tsaki’s welfare. There’s a lovely simplicity to this affecting portrait of a close-knit Greek community, where a teacher’s boyfriend can give her class motorbike rides to general contentment. The generous number of loosely drawn illustrations capture windswept landscapes and village life with equal aplomb. (Eerdmans, 6–8 years)

lagercrantz my heart is laughing Around the worldFirst grader Dani, of My Happy Life, returns in Rose Lagercrantz’s My Heart is Laughing (translated from the Swedish). Classmates Mickey and Vicky both like the same boy, Cushion, and they ostracize Dani because Cushion likes her. When they start sneakily pinching Dani’s arm at the lunch table, she fights back, inadvertently causing a food fight and getting herself into trouble. Eva Eriksson’s line drawings brilliantly portray facial expressions and body language — Cushion’s tentative approach to Dani; her teacher’s big, solid, comforting hand enclosing her shoulder. Salty and sweet, this is umami for the emerging reader. (Gecko, 6–8 years)

lloyd murilla gorilla and the hammock problem Around the worldThe titular primate in Jennifer Lloyd’s Murilla Gorilla and the Hammock Problem lives in the rainforest of an unnamed African country. Okapi (an indigenous central African mammal) hires Murilla to figure out who put a hole in the hammock she’s selling. This accessible book is easy to read without looking babyish, and the mystery is easy to solve without being too obvious. Jacqui Lee draws with muted tones, highlighting Murilla’s pink cheeks and prehensile feet and Okapi’s gray-striped legs and arms. (Simply Read, 6–8 years)

From the November 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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10. Board Book Roundup: Fall 2014 Edition

This column is part of a series of recommended board book roundups, formerly published twice a year, now published every season. You can find the previous installments here. Don’t miss Viki Ash’s primer “What Makes a Good Board Book?” from the March/April 2010 Horn Book Magazine.

baker 123peas boardbk2 Board Book Roundup: Fall 2014 Edition1-2-3 Peas
by Keith Baker
Little Simon     36 pp.
5/14     978-1-4424-9928-7     $7.99
“Five peas painting— / brush, brush, brush, / Six peas traveling— / rush, rush, rush.” In this follow-up to Baker’s LMNO Peas, the peas row, splash, build, nap, and more, on and around large-size numerals from one to ten, then skip counting by tens to one hundred. The rhyming text bounces along as the spring-green peas frolic in the lively illustrations. The smaller trim size means much of the art’s amusing details are harder to see, but the colorful pages and fun-to-read-aloud rhymes will delight small listeners.

horacek time4bed boardbk Board Book Roundup: Fall 2014 EditionTime for Bed: Flip-Flap Fun
by Petr Horáček
Candlewick     16 pp.
9/14     978-0-7636-6779-5     $7.99
First it’s “time to play.” Then, after putting “away my toys,” it’s “time for supper.” A little boy’s recognizable end-of-the-day routine plays out in Horáček’s simple, comforting text and boldly colored illustrations. The thick graduated pages make it easy for small hands to interact with the book. After a bath, teeth brushing, and a story, the final page-turn shows the narrator for the first time, tucked into bed and gently reminding listeners that it’s “time to say good night.”

laden peekazoo boardbk Board Book Roundup: Fall 2014 EditionPeek-a-Zoo
by Nina Laden
Chronicle     24 pp.
3/14     978-1-4521-1175-9     $6.99
If a board book could be a considered a cult classic, Laden’s Peek-a Who? (2000) would be one. In this animal-themed follow-up (in a small format perfect for little hands), the pattern is the same. “Peek a” on the left-hand page faces what looks like a linocut design; a die-cut hole hints at what’s revealed on the following spread. “Mew!” accompanies a tiger; “Bamboo!” captions an image of a panda munching on its favorite food. A kangaroo and a cockatoo are also featured, as well as the cute creature reflected in the mirror on the final page: “You, too!” For babies and toddlers, this trick never grows old.

carle pandabear boardbk Board Book Roundup: Fall 2014 EditionPanda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?
by Bill Martin Jr; illus. by Eric Carle
Holt     28 pp.
8/14     978-08050-9950-8     $12.99
This lap-size board book’s rhyming text follows the familiar pattern of the author/illustrator team’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear. A panda, water buffalo, spider monkey, whooping crane, and six other endangered species parade across the pages; at the end, a dreaming child sees all ten animals “wild and free.” Carle’s striking, brilliantly colored illustrations are as eye-catching as always, making this ideal for use with groups.

mckee elmer boardbkjpg Board Book Roundup: Fall 2014 EditionElmer
by David McKee
HarperFestival      32 pp.
8/14     978-0-06-232405-4     $7.99
Available in a board-book edition for the first time, Elmer has been everyone’s favorite patchwork elephant for twenty-five years. Though the other elephants in the herd love his jokes and games, Elmer wonders if they’re laughing at him because he looks different. He tries to blend in by covering up his colorful hide, but he can’t disguise what’s really special about him. The message about accepting yourself and celebrating differences isn’t likely to interest babies; older toddlers, however, will welcome Elmer into their herd.

mcphail babypigpigtalks boardbk Board Book Roundup: Fall 2014 EditionBaby Pig Pig Talks
by David McPhail
Charlesbridge     14 pp.
8/14     978-1-58089-597-2     $6.95

 

 

mcphail babypigpigwalks boardbk Board Book Roundup: Fall 2014 EditionBaby Pig Pig Walks
by David McPhail
Charlesbridge     14 pp.
8/14      978-1-58089-596-5     $6.95

Baby Pig Pig (Pig Pig Returns) reaches two developmental milestones in these original board books. In Talks, mother pig names everything they see during a stroller walk: “Snake. Taxi. Tricycle.” Baby Pig Pig repeats after her, sort of: “Hissa. Honka. Dinga.” An overly friendly dog gets him talking — “Mama!” In Walks, Baby Pig Pig wants to explore the world beyond his playpen. After some wobbly steps, he climbs out and heads off “…down the hallway…toward the kitchen” and right into his mother’s welcoming arms. The small adventures have just enough tension to keep little walkers and talkers enthralled.

sayre rahrah boardbk Board Book Roundup: Fall 2014 EditionRah, Rah, Radishes!: A Vegetable Chant
by April Pulley Sayre
Little Simon      34 pp.
7/14     978-1-4424-9927-0     $7.99
“Oh boy, bok choy! / Brussels sprout. / Broccoli. Cauliflower. / Shout it out!” Kids may not want to eat their greens, but they’ll dig right in to this colorful feast for the eyes and ears. Sayre’s energetic rhymes are accompanied by appetizing photos of a variety of veggies, many of which may be unfamiliar to small children. Bring this book along on your next trip to the farmers’ market and see how many vegetables you can find. Who knows? Maybe it will inspire some taste testing!

stiles todayimgoingtowear boardbk Board Book Roundup: Fall 2014 EditionToday I’m Going to Wear…
by Dan Stiles
POW!     18 pp.
10/14     978-1-57687-718-0     $9.95
“Today I think I’m going to wear a yellow ribbon in my hair.” In a pleasantly rhyming text, a little girl describes her hand-picked outfit, which includes a polka-dot cowboy hat, a too-small coat, “in case of sun, a parasol,” mittens, and rain boots. Stiles’s vibrant graphic illustrations are hard to resist; their hip, retro vibe will appeal to grownups and young kids alike.

wells drduck boardbook  Board Book Roundup: Fall 2014 EditionA Visit to Dr. Duck
by Rosemary Wells
Candlewick     30 pp.
8/14     978-0-7636-7229-4     7.99
Little guinea pig Felix eats too many “chocolate blimpies” and doesn’t feel well the next day. His mama tries chamomile tea and fresh air; finally, she takes him to see Dr. Duck. Originally published in hardcover as Felix Feels Better (2000), this edition’s title change puts the focus on going to the doctor — and Felix’s nervousness about the experience will resonate with young listeners. Wells’s comforting tone and warm illustrations will reassure toddler and preschool patients.

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11. Books mentioned in the October 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book

Unexplained phenomena

Extraterrestrial Life series

Allman, Toney Are Extraterrestrials a Threat to Humankind?
Middle school, high school     80 pp.     ReferencePoint     2011
Library binding ISBN 978-1-60152-170-5

Kallen, Stuart A. The Search for Extraterrestrial Life
Middle school, high school     80 pp.     ReferencePoint     2011
Library binding ISBN 978-1-60152-171-2

Marcovitz, Hal Aliens in Pop Culture
Middle school, high school     80 pp.     ReferencePoint     2011
Library binding ISBN 978-1-60152-154-5

Netzley, Patricia D. Alien Encounters
Middle school, high school     80 pp.     ReferencePoint     2011
Library binding ISBN 978-1-60152-169-9

 Whiting, Jim UFOs
Middle school, high school     80 pp.     ReferencePoint     2011
Library binding ISBN 978-1-60152-172-9

Arnosky, Jim Monster Hunt: Exploring Mysterious Creatures with Jim Arnosky
Gr. 4–6     32 pp.     Hyperion     2011
Trade ISBN 978-1-4231-3028-4

Everett, J. H. and Scott-Waters, Marilyn Haunted Histories: Creepy Castles, Dark Dungeons, and Powerful Palaces
Gr. 4–6     146 pp.     Holt/Ottaviano     2012
Trade ISBN 978-0-8050-8971-4

Halls, Kelly Milner Alien Investigation: Searching for the Truth About UFOs and Aliens
Gr. 4–6     64 pp.     Millbrook     2012
Library binding ISBN 978-0-7613-6204-3

Unsolved Mysteries series

Pelleschi, Andrea Crop Circles
Middle school, high school     112 pp.     ABDO     2012
Library binding ISBN     978-1-61783-300-7

 Zuchora-Walske, Christine The Bermuda Triangle
Middle school, high school     112 pp.     ABDO     2012
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61783-298-7

Memoir

Earl, Esther This Star Won’t Go Out: The Life & Words of Esther Grace Earl
With Lori Earl and Wayne Earl
Middle school, high school     240 pp.     Dutton     2014
Trade ISBN 978-0-525-42636-3

Ehlert, Lois The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life
Gr. K–3     72 pp.     Simon/Beach Lane     2014
Trade ISBN 978-1-4424-3571-1

Kehret, Peg Animals Welcome: A Life of Reading, Writing, and Rescue
Gr. 46     175 pp.     Dutton     2012
Trade ISBN 978-0-525-42399-7

K’naan  When I Get Older: The Story Behind Wavin’ Flag 
With Sol Guy; illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez
Gr. K3     32 pp.     Tundra     2012
Trade ISBN 978-1-77049-302-5

Leyson, Leon, Harran, Marilyn J. and Leyson, Elisabeth B. The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible…on Schindler’s List
Gr. 46     232 pp.     Atheneum     2013
Trade ISBN 978-1-4424-9781-8 

 

Domestic Animals

Dog Heroes series

Goldish, Meish Science Dogs
Gr. 4–6    32 pp.     Bearport     2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61772-887-7

Goldish, Meish Shelter Dogs
Gr. 4–6    32 pp.     Bearport     2013
Library binding 978-1-61772-886-0

Green, Jen Inheritance of Traits: Why Is My Dog Bigger Than Your Dog? [Show Me Sciences series]
Gr. 4–6    32 pp.     Raintree     2014
Library binding ISBN 978-1-4329-8747-3
Paperback ISBN 978-1-4329-8754-1

My New Pet series

Johnson, Jinny Guinea Pig
Gr. K3    24 pp.     Smart Apple     2014
Library binding ISBN 978-1-62588-029-1

Johnson, Jinny Hamster and Gerbil
Gr. K3   24 pp.     Smart Apple     2014
Library binding ISBN 978-1-62588-030-7

Johnson, Jinny Kitten
Gr. K3    24 pp.     Smart Apple     2014
Library binding ISBN 978-1-62588-026-0

Johnson, Jinny Puppy
Gr. K3    24 pp.     Smart Apple    2014
Library binding ISBN 978-1-62588-027-7

Johnson, Jinny Rabbit
Gr. K3    24 pp.     Smart Apple     2014
Library binding ISBN 978-1-62588-028-4

Horses That Help with the American Humane Association series

Spiotta-DiMare, Loren Draft Horses: Horses That Work
Gr. K–3    
48 pp.     Enslow/Elementary     2014
LE ISBN 978-0-7660-4220-9

Spiotta-DiMare, Loren Performing Horses: Horses That Entertain
Gr. K–3     48 pp.     Enslow/Elementary     2014
LE ISBN 978-0-7660-4219-3

Spiotta-DiMare, Loren Police Horses: Horses That Protect
Gr. K–3     48 pp.     Enslow/Elementary     2014
LE ISBN 978-0-7660-4218-6

Spiotta-DiMare, Loren Therapy Horses: Horses That Heal
Gr. K–3     48 pp.     Enslow/Elementary     2014
LE ISBN 978-0-7660-4217-9

Animals on the Family Farm series

Stiefel, Chana Chickens on the Family Farm
24 pp. Enslow 2013
LE ISBN 978-0-7660-4204-9

Stiefel, Chana Cows on the Family Farm
24 pp. Enslow 2013. LE ISBN 978-0-7660-4205-6

Stiefel, Chana Goats on the Family Farm
24 pp. Enslow 2013. LE ISBN 978-0-7660-4206-3

Stiefel, Chana Pigs on the Family Farm
24 pp. Enslow 2013. LE ISBN 978-0-7660-4208-7

Stiefel, Chana Sheep on the Family Farm
24 pp. Enslow 2013. LE ISBN 978-0-7660-4209-4

Stiefel, Chana Turkeys on the Family Farm
24 pp. Enslow 2013. LE ISBN 978-0-7660-4207-0

 

Big ideas

Adler, David A. Things That Float and Things That Don’t
Illustrated by Anna Raff
Gr. K3        32 pp.      Holiday     2013
Trade ISBN 978-0-8234-2862-5

Andregg, Michael M. Seven Billion and Counting: The Crisis in Global Population Growth
Middle school, high school   
88 pp.    Twenty-First Century     2014
Library Binding ISBN 978-0-7613-6715-4

Ross, Catherine Sheldrick Shapes in Math, Science and Nature: Squares, Triangles and Circles
Gr. 46     192 pp.     Kids Can      2014
Illustrated by Bill Slavin
Library binding ISBN 978-1-77138-124-6

Schaefer, Lola M. Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives
Gr. K–3     40 pp.     Chronicle     2013
Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
Trade ISBN 978-1-4521-0714-1

Zoehfeld, Kathleen Weidner Secrets of the Seasons: Orbiting the Sun in Our Backyard
Illustrated by Priscilla Lamont
Gr. K—3        40 pp.      Knopf (Random House Children’s Books)     2014
Trade ISBN 978-0-517-70994-8
Library binding ISBN 978-0-517-70995-5

Cookery

Barlow, Melissa Noodlemania!: 50 Playful Pasta Recipes
Illustrated by Alison Oliver
Gr. 46     112 pp.     Quirk Books     2013
Paperback ISBN 978-1-59474-617-8

Elton, Sarah Starting from Scratch: What You Should Know About Food and Cooking
Illustrated by Jeff Kulak
Middle school, high school      96 pp.     Owlkids      2014
Trade ISBN 978-1-926973-96-8

Yummy Tummy Recipes: Seasons series

LaPenta, Marilyn Fall Shakes to Harvest Bakes
Gr. K3     24 pp.     Bearport      2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61772-742-9

LaPenta, Marilyn Spring Spreads to “Nutty” Breads
Gr. K3     24 pp.     Bearport      2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61772-744-3

LaPenta, Marilyn Summer Sips to “Chill” Dips
Gr. K3     24 pp.     Bearport      2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61772-741-2

LaPenta, Marilyn Winter Punches to Nut Crunches
Gr. K3     24 pp.     Bearport      2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61772-743-6

Checkerboard How-To Library: Cool Young Chefs series

Wagner, Lisa Cool Backyard Grilling: Beyond the Basics for Kids Who Cook
Gr. 46     32 pp.     ABDO      2014
Library binding ISBN 978-1-62403-085-7

Wagner, Lisa Cool Best-Ever Brunches: Beyond the Basics for Kids Who Cook
Gr. 46     32 pp.     ABDO      2014
Library binding ISBN 978-1-62403-086-4

Wagner, Lisa Cool Cooking Up Chili: Beyond the Basics for Kids Who Cook
Gr. 46     32 pp.     ABDO      2014
Library binding ISBN 978-1-62403-087-1

Wagner, Lisa Cool Game Day Parties: Beyond the Basics for Kids Who Cook
Gr. 46     32 pp.     ABDO      2014
Library binding ISBN 978-1-62403-088-8

Walton, Ruth Let’s Bake a Cake [Let's Find Out series]
Gr. K3     32 pp.     Sea to Sea      2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-59771-386-3

These titles were featured in the September 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

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12. Domestic animals

goldish science dogs Domestic animalsGoldish, Meish Science Dogs
Gr. 4–6    
32 pp.     Bearport

Goldish, Meish Shelter Dogs
Gr. 4–6    
32 pp.      Bearport

Dog Heroes series. These series entries introduce two types of “dog heroes”: in Science, dogs are studied to aid beneficial scientific discoveries and innovations; Shelter discusses how unwanted dogs can go on to do remarkable things for humans after they’re adopted. The volumes are accessible, with numerous photographs and interesting personal anecdotes rounding out the texts. Reading list, websites. Bib., glos., ind.
Subjects: Domestic Animals; Pets; Animals—Dogs; Animal shelters; Scientists; Science

green inheritance of traits Domestic animalsGreen, Jen Inheritance of Traits: Why Is My Dog Bigger Than Your Dog?
Gr. 4–6    
32 pp.     Raintree

Show Me Sciences series. In a successful series entry, Green walks us through the “Ultimate Pet Show,” describing how dogs, cats, and horses evolved from the wild and are bred to encourage the emergence of certain traits in each species’ breeds. Explanations are clear, specific, and supported by simple diagrams and engaging photos of our animal companions. Reading list, websites. Glos., ind.
Subjects: Domestic Animals; Genetics; Animals—Horses; Animals—Cats; Animals—Dogs; Pets

johnson guinea pig Domestic animalsJohnson, Jinny Guinea Pig
Gr. K–3
     24 pp.     Smart Apple

Johnson, Jinny Hamster and Gerbil
Gr. K–3
     24 pp.     Smart Apple

Johnson, Jinny Kitten
Gr. K–3
     24 pp.     Smart Apple

Johnson, Jinny Puppy
Gr. K–3
     24 pp.     Smart Apple

Johnson, Jinny Rabbit
Gr. K–3
     24 pp.     Smart Apple

My New Pet series. Young children learn what it takes to care for a new pet. Large print and a combination of photos and drawings of familiar critters present the responsibilities — providing food, water, a place for sleeping and play, gentle handling, regular attention, and veterinary care. The books are narrated simply in the first-person voice of a child; a few notes for parents wrap things up. Glos., ind.
Subjects: Domestic Animals; Animals—Dogs; Animals—Rabbits; Animals—Cats; Animals—Guinea pigs; Animals—Hamsters; Animals—Gerbils; Pets

spiotta dimare draft horses Domestic animalsSpiotta-DiMare, Loren Draft Horses: Horses That Work
Gr. 4–6    
48 pp.     Enslow/Elementary

Spiotta-DiMare, Loren Performing Horses: Horses That Entertain
Gr. 4–6    
48 pp.     Enslow/Elementary

Spiotta-DiMare, Loren Police Horses: Horses That Protect
Gr. 4–6    
48 pp.     Enslow/Elementary

Spiotta-DiMare, Loren Therapy Horses: Horses That Heal
Gr. 4–6    
48 pp.     Enslow/Elementary

Horses That Help with the American Humane Association series. Examining horses that work as performers, with police, pulling plows and wagons, and in therapeutic environments, these volumes address the history of horses doing such work, breeds, training, the work itself, and horse retirement. The conversational writing, plentiful examples, and occasional references to the author’s own horse keep things engaging. Photos and “Fast Fact” sidebars enliven the design. Reading list, websites. Glos., ind.
Subjects: Domestic Animals; Animals—Horses; Police officers

stiefel chickens on the family farm Domestic animalsStiefel, Chana Chickens on the Family Farm
Gr. K–3     24 pp.     Enslow

Stiefel, Chana Cows on the Family Farm
Gr. K–3      24 pp.     Enslow

Stiefel, Chana Goats on the Family Farm
Gr. K–3     24 pp.     Enslow

Stiefel, Chana Pigs on the Family Farm
Gr. K–3     24 pp.     Enslow

Stiefel, Chana Sheep on the Family Farm
Gr. K–3     24 pp.     Enslow

Stiefel, Chana Turkeys on the Family Farm
Gr. K–3      24 pp.      Enslow

Animals on the Family Farm series. One family’s farm is the setting for these six simple books about domestic animals. In each volume, a conversational text and colorful photos briefly cover basics: what the animal eats, where it lives (coop, pen, etc.), differences between males and females (size, coloring), care of young, and what it’s raised for (eggs, cheese, meat). Reading list, websites. Glos., ind.
Subjects: Domestic Animals; Farms and farm life; Animals–Chickens; Animals—Cows; Animals—Goats; Animals—Pigs; Animals—Sheep; Animals—Turkeys

From the October 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

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13. Cookery

barlow noodlemania CookeryBarlow, Melissa Noodlemania!: 50 Playful Pasta Recipes
Gr. 46     112 pp.     Quirk Books

Illustrated by Alison Oliver. Sections named for pasta shapes (“Twisted & Twirly,” “Wheels & Whatever”) contain recipes that use common ingredients and simple techniques with the usual caveat about grown-up help. Appetizing full-color photos show final products. Pasta trivia, creative cooking tips, and “fun facts” are scattered throughout. A chart suggesting substitutions, such as ravioli instead of tortellini, is a clever addition. Ind.
Subjects: Cookery and Nutrition; Food

elton starting from scratch CookeryElton, Sarah Starting from Scratch: What You Should Know About Food and Cooking
Middle school, high school      96 pp.     Owlkids

Illustrated by Jeff Kulak. Although this book includes some recipes, it’s not a cookbook. Elton explores why we cook, how our senses contribute to food preferences, how culture and history affect food choices, and more. The lively prose is accompanied by stylized illustrations, charts, activities, and other graphics. A “guide to flavor pairing” and a measurement conversion chart are appended. Ind.
Subjects: Cookery and Nutrition; Food

lapenta fall shakes to harvest bakes CookeryLaPenta, Marilyn Fall Shakes to Harvest Bakes
Gr. K3     24 pp.     Bearport

LaPenta, Marilyn Spring Spreads to “Nutty” Breads
Gr. K3     24 pp.     Bearport

LaPenta, Marilyn Summer Sips to “Chill” Dips
Gr. K3     24 pp.     Bearport

LaPenta, Marilyn Winter Punches to Nut Crunches
Gr. K3     24 pp.     Bearport

Yummy Tummy Recipes: Seasons series. Corny titles and static illustrations aside, these cookbooks are something fresh for kids. With seasonal ingredients — pumpkin and cranberry for fall, peach and melon for summer, etc. — they offer enticing and healthy dishes that are perfect for holiday celebrations and generally enjoying each season. Sidebars present health tips, and directions are simple to follow and relatively concise. Reading list. Bib., glos., ind.
Subjects: Cookery and Nutrition; Seasons—Autumn; Seasons—Summer; Seasons—Spring; Seasons—Winter; Food; Bakers and baking

wagner cool backyard grilling CookeryWagner, Lisa Cool Backyard Grilling: Beyond the Basics for Kids Who Cook
Gr. 46     32 pp.     ABDO

Wagner, Lisa Cool Best-Ever Brunches: Beyond the Basics for Kids Who Cook
Gr. 46     32 pp.     ABDO

Wagner, Lisa Cool Cooking Up Chili: Beyond the Basics for Kids Who Cook
Gr. 46     32 pp.     ABDO

Wagner, Lisa Cool Game Day Parties: Beyond the Basics for Kids Who Cook
Gr. 46     32 pp.     ABDO

Checkerboard How-To Library: Cool Young Chefs series. Each volume emphasizes characteristics of being a good cook (efficiency, creativity, organization, etc.); introduces a cooking technique and safety guidelines; and includes nine not-too-difficult, kid-appealing recipes—caramelized onion dip, black bean chili, breakfast bakes, kebabs, and more—with variations. Clear step-by-step directions include helpful color photos. There is some boilerplate repetition across the useful, accessible series. Glos., ind.
Subjects: Cookery and Nutrition; Food

walton lets bake a cake CookeryWalton, Ruth Let’s Bake a Cake
Gr. K3     32 pp.     Sea to Sea

Let’s Find Out series. Beginning with a birthday cake baked at Grandma’s (recipe appended), this book explores the origin and processing of the ingredients: sugar, butter, eggs, wheat, and chocolate. Walton generally makes sound choices about coverage for these broad topics, along with occasional advocacy for organic, fair-trade products. Collage-style illustrations and captioned photos help clarify the wide-ranging (and haphazardly organized) subjects. Glos., ind.
Subjects: Cookery and Nutrition; Bakers and baking

From the October 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

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14. Big ideas

adler things that float and things that dont Big ideasAdler, David A. Things That Float and Things That Don’t
Gr. K3        32 pp.      Holiday

Illustrated by Anna Raff. Adler expertly teaches the concept of density, moving beyond classic floating and sinking experiments to a carefully constructed lesson that helps young thinkers appreciate both scientific explanations and practices. The concepts are kept simple and age appropriate, without shying away from the more abstract dimensions of science. Cartoonlike illustrations portray two children and their curious dog happily doing science.
Subjects: Physics and Chemistry; Water; Vehicles—Boats and boating

andregg seven billion and counting Big ideasAndregg, Michael M. Seven Billion and Counting: The Crisis in Global Population Growth
Middle school, high school   
88 pp.    Twenty-First Century

This book is chock-full of sobering statistics on human population growth. Andregg explains demographic basics, then how numbers are affected by the interplay of politics, religion, depletion of natural resources, poverty, education, and access to health care such as birth control. Photos and graphs extend the rich, thought-provoking text. Reading list, websites. Bib., glos., ind.
Subjects: Social Issues; Population

ross shapes in math science and nature Big ideasRoss, Catherine Sheldrick Shapes in Math, Science and Nature: Squares, Triangles and Circles
Gr. 46     192 pp.     Kids Can

Illustrated by Bill Slavin. Upper-elementary math fans (and teachers) will enjoy the many hands-on activities in this compilation of Ross and Slavin’s three earlier books about squares, triangles, and circles—and their related solid shapes. Numerous details (historical, architectural, geographical, etc.) are woven in among the projects and games—some of which are quite challenging (e.g., making a sundial). Chapters include diagrams and cartoonlike illustrations. Glos., ind.
Subjects: Mathematics; Mathematics—Geometry

schaefer lifetime Big ideasSchaefer, Lola M. Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives
Gr. K–3     40 pp.     Chronicle

Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal. The concept of quantity is cleverly examined in the context of animal lives. Schaefer presents the number of times an animal “performs one behavior” in its lifetime, starting with the single egg sac spun by a spider, up to the thousand babies carried by a male seahorse. Bold and beautifully composed, Neal’s retro illustrations contain the actual number of items mentioned. Supplemental information is appended.
Subjects: Natural History; Animals; Biology

zoehfeld secrets of the seasons Big ideasZoehfeld, Kathleen Weidner Secrets of the Seasons: Orbiting the Sun in Our Backyard
Gr. K—3        40 pp.      Knopf

Illustrated by Priscilla Lamont. Alice and friends from Secrets of the Garden return to enjoy her nature-filled backyard. This time, she learns to notice and welcome differences in weather, plants, and animal life in each of the four seasons of the temperate northern hemisphere. Throughout, airy pen and watercolor illustrations make the appeal of nature accessible to even the youngest readers.
Subjects: Earth Science; Astronomy—Sun; Seasons; Nature

From the October 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

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15. Memoir

earl this star wont go out MemoirEarl, Esther This Star Won’t Go Out: The Life & Words of Esther Grace Earl
Middle school, high school     240 pp.     Dutton

With Lori Earl and Wayne Earl. John Green dedicated The Fault in Our Stars to Esther Earl, who, in her own words, “went through a life changing experience known as Thyroid Cancer.” This posthumous collection (with a moving introduction by Green) gathers her musings and drawings, which span her illness. Reflections by family and friends both before and after Esther’s death at sixteen are also included. An ultimately hopeful offering.
Subjects: Individual Biographies; Women—Biographies; Diseases—Cancer; Autobiographies; Women—Autobiographies; Children’s writings; Illness; Death

ehlert scraps book MemoirEhlert, Lois The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life
K–3     72 pp.     Simon/Beach Lane

In a generously illustrated picture-book memoir, Ehlert speaks directly to her audience, particularly readers who like collecting objects and making things. The book is jam-packed with Ehlert’s art and photos from her life: her parents, the house she grew up in, and the small table where she was encouraged to pursue her art; along the way, we see how autobiographical her books have been.
Subjects: Visual Arts; Artists; Illustrators; Autobiographies; Women—Autobiographies; Women—Artists; Biographies; Women—Biographies

kehret animals welcome MemoirKehret, Peg Animals Welcome: A Life of Reading, Writing, and Rescue
Gr. 46     175 pp.     Dutton

Animals typically play important roles in Kehret’s fiction. In this memoir, readers see what a major role they play in her life. Living on a protected preserve, Kehret quietly rescues many feral, abandoned, and lost animals. Without undue drama, episodic chapters describe many such events, introducing the real-life models of many of her fictional animal characters.
Subjects: Individual Biographies; Animals; Women—Autobiographies; Autobiographies; Authors; Women—Authors; Women—Biographies

knaan when i get older MemoirK’naan  When I Get Older: The Story Behind Wavin’ Flag 
Gr. K3     32 pp.     Tundra

With Sol Guy. Illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez. K’naan is an acclaimed Somali-Canadian rap artist, poet, and songwriter, and his “Wavin’ Flag” was the anthem of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. This distilled autobiography chronicles his childhood: first in civil war–ravaged Somalia, then in Toronto as a refugee, and how “music made [him] safe” through it all. Gutierrez’s art has an intense, graffiti-like energy. Music, lyrics, and a note on Somalia are appended.
Subjects: Individual Biographies; Poets; Music—Rap music; Somalia; Canada; Songs; Autobiographies; Refugees; Black Canadians; Musicians

leyson BoyonWoodenBox 225x300 MemoirLeyson, Leon, Harran, Marilyn J. and Leyson, Elisabeth B. The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible…on Schindler’s List
Gr. 46     232 pp.     Atheneum

Leon Leyson (born Leib Lejzon in 1929) acknowledges that he was “an unlikely survivor of the Holocaust,” saved from extermination by his father’s lucky place in Oskar Schindler’s Kraków factory. Leyson’s account of his childhood in pre-war Poland and under the Nazi occupation stands out for its brisk and unsentimental style and for its human scale. The tone is forthright and almost grandfatherly. Websites.
Subjects: Individual Biographies; Nazism; Schindler, Oskar; History, Modern—Holocaust; Autobiographies; Poland; Jews

From the October 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

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16. Unexplained phenomena

allman are extraterrestrials a threat to humankind Unexplained phenomenaAllman, Toney Are Extraterrestrials a Threat to Humankind?
Middle school, high school     80 pp.     ReferencePoint

Kallen, Stuart A. The Search for Extraterrestrial Life
Middle school, high school     80 pp.     ReferencePoint

Marcovitz, Hal Aliens in Pop Culture
Middle school, high school     80 pp.     ReferencePoint

Netzley, Patricia D. Alien Encounters
Middle school, high school     80 pp.     ReferencePoint

Whiting, Jim UFOs
Middle school, high school     80 pp.     ReferencePoint

Extraterrestrial Life series. The notions of aliens as fact and fiction and the basis for their existence (or lack thereof) are recounted in painstaking detail in this series. The books are generally accessible; for some (especially Search), strong interest and aptitude in astronomy and physics would help comprehension. Occasional drawings and photographs, along with sidebars, help liven up these textbooklike volumes. Reading list, websites. Ind.
Subjects: Parapsychology; Extraterrestrial beings; Unidentified flying objects

arnosky monster hunt Unexplained phenomenaArnosky, Jim Monster Hunt: Exploring Mysterious Creatures with Jim Arnosky
Gr. 4–6     32 pp.     Hyperion

Inviting readers to join him on a “monster hunt,” Arnosky ponders the existence of “mysterious creatures” and compares real animals once thought to be folkloric (or extinct) with legendary creatures Bigfoot, Nessie, and Champ from Lake Champlain. Characteristic Arnosky illustrations support a conversational narrative that questions what’s real or possible, making this a friendly outing intended to inspire further research. Resources not included.
Subjects: Parapsychology; Monsters

everett haunted histories Unexplained phenomenaEverett, J. H. and Scott-Waters, Marilyn Haunted Histories: Creepy Castles, Dark Dungeons, and Powerful Palaces
Gr. 4–6     146 pp.     Holt/Ottaviano

This book is a collection of stories, trivia, maps, and drawings of various haunted locations—castles, dungeons and jails, palaces, and graveyards—throughout history. Reluctant readers will appreciate the short entries, snarky narrator, and varied format, while those with a taste for horror will find fascinating, rarely covered material here (e.g., “Top Ten Torture Devices”). Reading list, timeline, websites. Ind.
Subjects: Parapsychology; Supernatural—Ghosts; Haunted houses; History, World; Supernatural—Horror stories

halls alien investigation Unexplained phenomenaHalls, Kelly Milner Alien Investigation: Searching for the Truth About UFOs and Aliens
Gr. 4–6     64 pp.     Millbrook

With a surprisingly evenhanded tone, this book uses an interest in aliens to inspire scientific inquiry. It discusses the history of UFO sightings, crashes, and hoaxes, providing thoroughly researched, factual information while remaining nonjudgmental about unexplained phenomena. A fictionalized thread of an alien mission is interspersed with the nonfiction. The author’s interviews with experts and witnesses are particularly insightful. Websites. Bib., glos., ind.
Subjects: Parapsychology; Extraterrestrial beings; Unidentified flying objects; Space

pelleschi crop circles Unexplained phenomenaPelleschi, Andrea Crop Circles
Middle school, high school     112 pp.     ABDO

Zuchora-Walske, Christine The Bermuda Triangle
Middle school, high school     112 pp.     ABDO

Unsolved Mysteries series. Archival photographs, sidebars, and maps combine with a straightforward text to present thought-provoking examinations of these “unsolved” phenomena. Theories and possible explanations along with myths and current debates provide a comprehensive discussion. The concluding “Tools and Clues” feature includes a list of equipment used to investigate crop circles and a summary of popular explanations for the Bermuda Triangle. Reading list, timeline. Bib., glos., ind.
Subjects: Parapsychology; Extraterrestrial beings; Bermuda Triangle

From the October 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

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17. Atmospheric audiobooks

These audiobooks offer intrepid listeners stories of supernatural and psychological suspense, all with vividly evoked settings.

stroud screaming staircase audiobook Atmospheric audiobooksIn the world of Jonathan Stroud’s The Screaming Staircase (first book in the Lockwood & Co. series), ghost-busting firms employ psychically sensitive children to neutralize supernatural pests infesting London. Lucy Carlyle joins an indie agency — consisting of Lucy, amiable teenage owner Anthony Lockwood, and sardonic George — just before Lockwood accepts a client with a very haunted property. Miranda Raison’s narration imbues Lucy with the right balance of droll humor and compassion for uneasy spirits. Her pacing ratchets up the tension while allowing the teens’ snarky banter room to breathe in this thrilling and funny story. (Listening Library, 10–14 years)

sedgwick midwinterblood audiobook Atmospheric audiobooksMarcus Sedgwick’s Midwinterblood chronicles life on a remote Scandinavian island—going backwards from the future to the distant past — through seven related stories. The tales gradually reveal Blessed Island’s dependence on a strange drug and disturbing history of human sacrifice. Each tale centers on two bonded souls, reincarnated variously as family members, lovers, and intergenerational friends, who reunite only to be wrenched apart again. Narrator Julian Rhind-Tutt ably captures the emotional extremes of this unsettling novel: the uncanny recognition and tender reunion of the protagonists; the desperate fear and violence of their community; and the dark machinations of the island itself. (Listening Library, 12–16 years)

foxlee midnight dress audiobook Atmospheric audiobooksNew girl Rose’s sharp edges gradually soften through relationships with classmate Pearl and eccentric dressmaker Edie in Karen Foxlee’s The Midnight Dress. Edie teases out Rose’s past and shares her own as they sew Rose’s (possibly magical) gown for the upcoming harvest festival. Reader Olivia Mackenzie-Smith transports her listener to a specific era and place (1980s coastal Australia) while also imparting the lyrical prose’s dreamy sense of once-upon-a-time. But there’s no happily ever after here: interspersed interludes reveal that one of the girls has disappeared; Mackenzie-Smith gives these interludes an ominous tone as they progress inexorably towards betrayal and tragedy. (Listening Library, 14 years and up)

lockhart we were liars audiobook Atmospheric audiobooksAfter a two-year absence due to an accident she can’t remember, Cady returns to the private island where her beautiful, privileged family spends its summers. Relationships (particularly among Cady, her same-age cousins Johnny and Mirren, and family friend Gat) feel oddly strained, and no one will tell Cady what happened the summer of the accident. The pieces of her fragmented memory slowly come together to reveal a truth more devastating than Cady (or the listener) could have imagined. The shocking denouement of E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars hits hard — and even more so with narrator Ariadne Meyers’s disbelieving, heartbroken delivery. (Listening Library, 14 years and up)

For more on recommended audiobooks from The Horn Book, click on the tag audiobooks. From the October 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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18. Off-the-wall picture books

Here are some off-the-wall books for the Halloween season, from funny and not-very-scary for younger readers to suspenseful and weird for older readers.

seeger dog and bear tricks and treats Off the wall picture booksIn Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s Dog and Bear: Tricks and Treats, best friends Dog and Bear prepare for and enjoy Halloween. They go shopping for costumes (Bear gets distracted when he spies “another Bear” in the mirror); receive trick-or-treaters (Dog takes the children’s treats rather than giving treats out); and go trick-or-treating themselves (they go as each other). Seeger’s simple, satisfying text is supported by lively India-ink and acrylic illustrations that capture the characters’ emotions, particularly through the use of their expressive eyebrows. Plenty of white space and the division into three chapters make this work both as an easy reader and a picture book. (Roaring Brook/ Porter, 3–6 years)

chung ninja Off the wall picture booksMaxwell, a creative (and hungry) young ninja, will inspire legions of nascent warriors with this tale of an epic snack-time quest — and sibling harmony. In Ninja!, Arree Chung’s humorous, vibrant illustrations and simple text achieve the right pacing for Maxwell’s singular mission: a plateful of chocolate chip cookies. With a confident “I AM A NINJA!” leap, he sneaks, creeps, tumbles, and climbs his way to the kitchen, where he steals his baby sister’s cookies and milk. When he’s caught, he is contrite, but he inducts baby sister into “the ways of the ninja” — and the book ends with the duo embarking on a new adventure together. Comic-style panels and full-page spreads rich with detail — both real and imagined — capture Maxwell’s over-the-top-ninja antics. (Holt, 3–6 years)

newgarden bow wows nightmare neighbors Off the wall picture booksBow-Wow’s Nightmare Neighbors is a fanciful wordless nighttime adventure perfect for sophisticated picture book readers. A stalwart canine sets out to retrieve his stolen doggy bed from the ornery ghost cats and kittens who live across the street in a haunted mansion complete with loose floor boards, secret passageways, and moving-eye portraits. Around every corner, it seems as though Bow-Wow may have found his doggy bed at last, but each time he’s mistaken. Mark Newgarden and Megan Montague Cash tell the story through comic-book panels, spookily gray-scale with splashes of vivid color that amp up the humor and suspense at just the right moments. A fresh and funny look at things that go bump in the night. (Roaring Brook/Porter, 3–6 years)

browne what if Off the wall picture booksWith its sophisticated visual humor, What If…? is Anthony Browne at his artistically weird and psychologically complex best. Worrywart Joe is going to his first birthday party, but he’s lost the invitation — so he and his Mom aren’t sure of the exact house. As they walk down the street, hoping that what they see through each house’s front window will reveal the party’s location, Joe’s worries are made manifest through the strange, surreal scenes they view. Just as he asks, “What if I don’t like the food?” they pass a house containing four Tweedledee and Tweedledum–like schoolboys sitting around a table laden with worms, eyeballs, snails, and a smiling soft-boiled egg. When Joe and his mom finally get to the last house on the block, the strange silhouettes reveal themselves to be…a very cheery children’s birthday party. (Candlewick, 3–6 years)

From the October 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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19. After-school activities

barnhart dazzling card tricks After school activitiesBarnhart, Norm Dazzling Card Tricks
Gr. 4–6   32 pp.  Capstone

Barnhart, Norm Marvelous Money Tricks
Gr. 4–6   32 pp.  Capstone

Edge Books: Magic Manuals series. Accessible step-by-step instructions, clear demonstrative photographs, and “what you need” sidebars teach readers to master simple but impressive magic tricks with cards or money. Tips for performing the tricks effectively and smoothly in front of an audience are worked into the narrative. These books will be appealing and useful for anyone interested in magic.  
Subjects: Games, magic, and riddles

bolte oil paints After school activitiesBolte, Mari Oil Paints
Gr. 4–6   32 pp.  Capstone

Bolte, Mari Watercolors
Gr. 4–6   32 pp.  Capstone

Snap Books: Paint It series. These useful books familiarize readers with two types of artists’ paints. There’s a bit of history (oil paints were first used in the 1300s), a little chemistry (watercolors contain pigments mixed with gum Arabic), information on surfaces and brushes, and much about techniques and effects. Step-by-step projects that are not overly complex will nevertheless challenge and satisfy dedicated art students. Reading list.
Subjects: Visual arts; Painting

brown little golden book sof jokes and riddles After school activitiesBrown, Peggy The Little Golden Book of Jokes and Riddles
Gr. K–3   24 pp.  Golden

Illustrated by David Sheldon. “Why did the girl throw the clock out the window? To see time fly!” These mostly familiar standards may be new to beginning readers, who will enjoy learning and sharing them. Humorous color illustrations fit the mood and match the subject.
Subjects: Games, magic, and riddles; Jokes

 

hamen how to analyze the films of the coen brothers After school activitiesHamen, Susan E. How to Analyze the Films of the Coen Brothers
Middle school, high school   112 pp.  ABDO

Hermansson, Casie How to Analyze the Films of Clint Eastwood
Middle school, high school   112 pp.  ABDO

Essential Critiques series. These volumes introduce cinematic criticism, provide summaries of the filmmakers’ famous works, and offer lightly annotated essays modeling the application of criticism through different approaches. Each book leads readers through key steps of analysis and encourages readers’ own critiques. Featuring the work of currently popular directors enlivens these suitable overviews of film interpretation and essay construction. Reading list, timeline, websites. Bib., glos., ind.
Subjects: Visual arts; Coen, Joel; Coen, Ethan; Eastwood, Clint; Writing; Motion pictures

kidd go After school activitiesKidd, Chip Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design
Middle school, high school   160 pp.  Workman

Kidd makes graphic design immediate and accessible to middle schoolers and up by posing questions and answering them in engaging ways. The first four chapters — “Form,” “Typography,” “Content,” “Concept” — tackle design essentials and some advanced ideas. The final chapter presents “10 Design Projects.” The book’s inside back cover provides resources including websites, museums, and design organizations.
Subjects: Visual arts

From the September 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

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20. Careers and community helpers

buckley the arts Careers and community helpersBuckley, A. M. The Arts
Middle school, high school   112 pp.  ABDO

Freese, Susan M. Fashion
Middle school, high school   112 pp.  ABDO

Hamen, Susan E. Engineering
Middle school, high school   112 pp.  ABDO

Lusted, Marcia Amidon Entertainment
Middle school, high school   112 pp.  ABDO

Inside the Industry series. Each book describes four careers; for example, Arts covers artist, dancer, photographer, and curator. Readers learn what each job entails (e.g., “What Is an Artist?”) and what they can do to prepare for these competitive professions (“Would You Make a Good Artist?”). The somewhat bland texts, accompanied by young-person-heavy stock photos, could be useful as general introductions to the title careers. Reading list, websites. Glos., ind.
Subjects: Occupations and Careers; Artists; Dance; Photography; Museums; Fashion; Clothing; Engineering; Performing arts

curtis animal helpers Careers and community helpersCurtis, Jennifer Keats Animal Helpers: Wildlife Rehabilitators
Gr. K–3   32 pp.  Sylvan Dell

Appealing close-up photos of wild animal orphans being fed and cared for by specially trained people show how injured or abandoned creatures can thrive with extra intervention. The goal is to reintroduce them into the wild once they are physically fit. Large photos without busy backgrounds and limited text target younger audiences. Appended activities include more detailed information about caring for injured wildlife.
Subjects: Occupations and careers; Wildlife rescue; Animals

goldish doctors to the rescue Careers and community helpersGoldish, Meish Doctors to the Rescue
Gr. 4–6   32 pp.  Bearport

Goldish, Meish Firefighters to the Rescue
Gr. 4–6   32 pp.  Bearport

White, Nancy Paramedics to the Rescue
Gr. 4–6   32 pp.  Bearport

White, Nancy Police Officers to the Rescue
Gr. 4–6    32 pp.  Bearport

Work of Heroes: First Responders in Action series. This well-organized series explores the education, specialized training, and daily responsibilities of the featured first responders. Photographs capture the action and enhance the accessible texts, which include details about routine as well as extraordinary incidents, notable rescues, and firsthand accounts. Rescue fans will find much to pore over in these engaging and age-appropriate volumes. Reading list, websites. Bib., glos., ind.
Subjects: Occupations and careers; Police officers; Doctors; Hospitals; Medicine; Firefighters

oxlade firefighters Careers and community helpersOxlade, Chris, and Thea Feldman Firefighters
Gr. K–3   32 pp.  Kingfisher/Macmillan

Kingfisher Readers series. Thirteen two-page chapters introduce newly independent readers to components of firefighters’ jobs, addressing procedural variations and lesser-known aspects such as service at airports and on “fire engines at sea.” Bright, action-filled stock photos are strategically positioned to illustrate new information and support in-text explanations of subject-specific terms (breathing apparatus, hydrants, nozzle). Fact boxes appear throughout. Glos., ind.
Subjects: Occupations and careers; Firefighters; Fire

rhatigan people you gotta meet before you grow up Careers and community helpersRhatigan, Joe People You Gotta Meet Before You Grow Up: Get to Know the Movers and Shakers, Heroes and Hot Shots in Your Hometown
Gr. 4–6
   128 pp.  Charlesbridge/Imagine

Each section in this guide introduces an everyday “difference-maker” and offers strategies for how to meet one locally along with questions to ask and websites to visit; interviews and mini profiles conclude some chapters. The subjects (judge, crafter, “someone from a different religion”) are a random assortment and the design is rather busy, but the energetic tone sets this title apart from other community-helper books. Ind.
Subjects: Occupations and careers; City and town life; Community helpers; Work

From the September 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

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21. Performing artists

cardillo just being audrey Performing artistsCardillo, Margaret Just Being Audrey
Gr. K–3   32 pp.  HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray

Illustrated by Julia Denos. From Audrey Hepburn’s childhood in Nazi-occupied Europe, to a film career, motherhood, and role as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, this picture book biography encapsulates Hepburn’s “certain something.” Cardillo’s prose is focused and elegant; Denos’s paintings perfectly depict the delicate beauty and iconic style of her subject. Author and illustrator notes detail the lasting influence of Hepburn’s achievements and charisma. Timeline. Bib.
Subjects: Individual biographies; Women—Biographies; Hepburn, Audrey; Women—Actors; Actors

cline ransome benny goodman and teddy wilson Performing artistsCline-Ransome, Lesa Benny Goodman & Teddy Wilson: Taking the Stage as the First Black-and-White Jazz Band in History
Gr. K–3   32 pp.  Holiday

Illustrated by James E. Ransome. Goodman grew up in Chicago, a working-class Jewish boy; Wilson lived in Tuskegee, Alabama, a middle-class African American boy. The story of how the two jazz musicians met and formed the Benny Goodman Trio (the “first interracial band to perform publicly”) is recounted in short bursts of text, almost like jazz riffs, accompanied by pencil and watercolor illustrations that capture distinctive moments. Timeline.
Subjects: Individual biographies; Wilson, Teddy; Goodman, Benny; Bands; Musicians; Music—Jazz; Race relations; Jews; African Americans

ko from iowa to broadway Performing artistsKo, Alex Alex Ko: From Iowa to Broadway, My Billy Elliot Story
Gr. 4–6   328 pp.  HarperCollins/Harper

Iowa native Alex Ko trained in gymnastics and competitive dance before focusing on ballet at his dying father’s insistence. Eventually, overcoming injury and financial struggle, Ko went on to star as Billy in Broadway’s Billy Elliot at the age of thirteen. Readers will find this look at the demanding process of making it onstage (and backstage) both insightful and inspiring.
Subjects: Individual biographies; Sports—Gymnastics; Iowa; Performing arts; Plays; Autobiographies; Theater; Dance

powell josephine Performing artistsPowell, Patricia Hruby Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker
Gr.  4–6   104 pp.  Chronicle

Illustrated by Christian Robinson. This distinguished biography conveys dancer Josephine Baker’s passion, exuberance, dignity, and eccentricity through words and pictures that nearly jump off the page. Powell doesn’t shy away from the challenges (including racism) Baker faced but emphasizes that Baker never let them overwhelm her joy in performing. Robinson’s highly stylized, boldly colored illustrations are at once sophisticated and inviting to young readers. Reading list.
Subjects: Individual biographies; Race relations; France; Women—Biographies; African Americans; Women—African Americans; Baker, Josephine; Dance; Women—Dancers; Entertainers; Women—Entertainers

robertson legends icons and rebels Performing artistsRobertson, Robbie, Jim Guerinot, Sebastian Robertson, and Jared Levine Legends, Icons & Rebels: Music That Changed the World
Middle school, high school   128 pp.  Tundra

In this oversize, weighty volume, music-industry-veteran authors offer collected anecdotal sketches, including personal memories, of twenty-seven music “risk-takers” such as Aretha Franklin, the Beatles, and Bob Dylan. Their meteoric careers, many touched by tragedy, are justly celebrated. A timeline of these artists’ first recordings (1925–1968) ends the book, which includes two CDs of sparkling audio quality with one iconic song by each artist.
Subjects: Collective biographies; Musicians; Music

From the September 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

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22. Disasters

goldsmith bombs over bikini DisastersGoldsmith, Connie Bombs over Bikini: The World’s First Nuclear Disaster
Middle school, high school   88 pp.  Twenty-First Century

This book offers a riveting tale of the aftermath of U.S. nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific. The tests themselves and the lives of the Marshall Islanders directly affected by the resulting radiation contamination are described in engrossing detail. Sidebars, quotes from primary sources, and period photographs supplement the informative and thought-provoking narrative. Reading list, websites. Bib., glos., ind.
Subjects: Modern history; Disasters; Marshall Islands; Atomic bomb; Nuclear weapons; Pacific

hopkinson titanic DisastersHopkinson, Deborah Titanic: Voices from the Disaster
Gr. 4–6   290 pp.  Scholastic

Hopkinson provides young readers with a basic introduction to the event without overdramatizing, drawing unwarranted conclusions, or prolonging the ordeal. Her “characters,” real survivors whose voices relate many of the subsequent events, include crew members as well as travelers in first, second, and third class. Appended material includes chapter notes, sources, archival photos, and short biographies of those mentioned. Timeline. Bib., glos., ind.
Subjects: Modern history; Titanic (Steamship); Disasters; Shipwrecks

rusch eruption DisastersRusch, Elizabeth Eruption!: Volcanoes and the Science of Saving Lives
Gr. 4–6   76 pp.  Houghton

Scientists in the Field series. Photographs by Tom Uhlman. This terrific series installment features the dedicated geologists of the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program, which provides technical expertise in eruption prediction. The portrayal of scientific investigation is exceptional: scientists build and monitor equipment, interview residents, and collect ash and rock samples. Photographs not only feature awe-inspiring shots of volcanoes but also depict human vulnerability to these natural disasters. Bib., glos., ind.
Subjects: Earth science; Natural disasters—volcanoes; Scientists

rustad hurricanes DisastersRustad, Martha E. H. Hurricanes
Gr. K–3   32 pp.  Capstone

Smithsonian Little Explorer series. Lots of photographs, diagrams, and charts support a brief, accessible text to introduce hurricanes, their behavior and characteristics, and the destruction they cause. A world map covers different hurricane seasons, and “famous” storms are briefly profiled. The back matter includes “Critical thinking” questions designed (“using the Common Core”) to encourage further exploration of the topic. Reading list. Glos., ind.
Subjects: Earth science; Natural disasters—hurricanes

sheinkin port chicago 50 DisastersSheinkin, Steve The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights
Middle school, high school   190 pp.  Roaring Brook

The Port Chicago 50 was a group of black navy recruits assigned the dangerous job of loading bombs onto battleships. When an (inevitable) explosion left hundreds dead, fifty men refused to go back to work, occasioning a trial for mutiny. An unusual entry point for the study of WWII and the nascent civil rights movement. Photographs are helpful, and documentation is thorough. Bib., ind.
Subjects: Modern history; United States Navy; Trials; Mutiny; California; African Americans; History, Modern—World War II; Sailors; Prejudices; Race relations; Civil rights

From the September 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

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23. All about animals

disiena chickens dont fly All about animalsDiSiena, Laura Lyn and Eliot, Hannah Chickens Don’t Fly: And Other Fun Facts
Gr. K–3
   32 pp.  Little Simon

DiSiena, Laura Lyn and Eliot, Hannah Hippos Can’t Swim: And Other Fun Facts
Gr. K–3
   32 pp.  Little Simon

Did You Know? series. Illustrated by Pete Oswald. Each volume presents select trivia about a variety of creatures. For example, the peregrine falcon is the fastest animal on earth, diving at two-hundred miles per hour (from Chickens); and ants take about 250 one-minute naps a day (from Hippos). While the cartoon illustrations make no attempt to be accurate, they add even more humor to these jocular, enjoyable collections.
Subjects: Animal behavior; Humorous stories

jenkins animal book All about animalsJenkins, Steve The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest — and Most Surprising — Animals on Earth
Gr. 4–6   208 pp.  Houghton

This thoughtful and coherent book begins with a survey of the animal kingdom, then covers “Family,” “Senses,” “Predators,” and “Defenses.” A section on “Animal Extremes” provides Guinness Book–type facts kids love, and the concluding section, “The Story of Life,” explores evolution. The paper-collage art throughout is taken from Jenkins’s many previous books; each image is recontextualized to serve the book’s purpose. Bib., glos., ind.
Subjects: Natural history; Animals

johnson Animal Planet Atlas of Animals All about animalsJohnson, Jinny Animal Planet Atlas of Animals
Gr. 4–6   128 pp.  Millbrook

Johnson, Jinny Animal Planet Wild World: An Encyclopedia of Animals
Gr. 4–6   132 pp.  Millbrook

These two different ways of organizing animals worldwide both begin with overviews of the animal kingdom; Atlas groups animals by continents and regions, Wild by five major types. Both books are lavish with photos, illustrations, and descriptive captions, and colored borders and headers keep things organized. Overlap is inevitable, but the writing is clear, intelligent, and unsensational. Atlas contains a glossary. Ind.
Subjects: Natural history; Encyclopedias; Animals

roop extreme survivors All about animalsRoop, Connie, and Roop, Peter Extreme Survivors
Gr. K–3
   32 pp.  Sterling

Stewart, Melissa World’s Fastest Animals
Gr. K–3
   32 pp.  Sterling

American Museum of Natural History Easy Readers series. From fastest runners and swimmers to deep-water and desert dwellers, these volumes present some extreme traits and habitats of animals ranging from the familiar (cheetahs, polar bears) to the unusual (giant tubeworms, microscopic water bears). The striking color photographs and astounding facts delivered via engaging prose (“It can grab an insect faster than you can blink your eyes”) will captivate beginning readers.
Subjects: Animals; Habitats; Animal behavior

ziefert does a bear wear boots All about animalsZiefert, Harriet Does a Bear Wear Boots?
Gr. K–3  
32 pp.  Blue Apple

Ziefert, Harriet Does a Beaver Sleep in a Bed?
Gr. K–3  
32 pp.  Blue Apple

Ziefert, Harriet Does a Camel Cook Spaghetti?
Gr. K–3  
32 pp.  Blue Apple

Ziefert, Harriet Does a Panda Go to School?
Gr. K–3  
32 pp.  Blue Apple

Ziefert, Harriet Does a Woodpecker Use a Hammer?
Gr. K–3  
32 pp.  Blue Apple

Think About series. Illustrated by Emily Bolam. These animal behavior/social studies hybrids follow a similar pattern. Silly animal questions (“Does a squirrel cook?”) and informative answers (“A polar bear sleeps on the snowy ground inside a den”) are followed by simple discussions of human customs. Bolam’s inviting illustrations make the most of the premise and reflect the text’s informal tone. Prompts for further investigation are appended.
Subjects: Clothing; Customs; Animals; Animal Behavior; Sleep; Cookery; Food; Schools; Tools

From the September 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

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24. Books mentioned in the September 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book

All about animals

Did You Know? series

DiSiena, Laura Lyn and Eliot, Hannah Chickens Don’t Fly: And Other Fun Facts
Illustrated by Pete Oswald
Gr. K–3
     32 pp.      Little Simon      2014
Trade ISBN 978-1-4424-9353-7
Paperback ISBN 978-1-4424-9326-1
E-book ISBN 978-1-4424-9327-8

DiSiena, Laura Lyn and Eliot, Hannah Hippos Can’t Swim: And Other Fun Facts
Illustrated by Pete Oswald
Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Little Simon     2014
Trade ISBN 978-1-4424-9352-0
Paperback ISBN 978-1-4424-9324-7
E-book ISBN 978-1-4424-9325-4

Jenkins, Steve The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest — and Most Surprising — Animals on Earth
Gr. 4–6      208 pp.      Houghton      2013
Trade ISBN 978-0-547-55799-1

Johnson, Jinny Animal Planet Atlas of Animals
Gr. 46      128 pp.      Millbrook      2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-4677-1327-6

Johnson, Jinny Animal Planet Wild World: An Encyclopedia of Animals
Gr. 46      132 pp.      Millbrook      2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-4677-1597-3

American Museum of Natural History Easy Readers series

Roop, Connie, and Roop, Peter Extreme Survivors
Gr. K-3
     32 pp.      Sterling      2014
Trade ISBN 978-1-4549-0631-5
Paperback ISBN 978-1-4027-7791-2

Stewart, Melissa World’s Fastest Animals
Gr. K-3
     32 pp.      Sterling      2014
Trade ISBN 978-1-4549-0633-9
Paperback ISBN 978-1-4027-7793-6

Think About series

Ziefert, Harriet Does a Bear Wear Boots?
Illustrated by Emily Bolam
Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Blue Apple     2014
Trade ISBN 978-1-60905-424-3

Ziefert, Harriet Does a Beaver Sleep in a Bed?
Illustrated by Emily Bolam
Gr. K–3     
32 pp.     Blue Apple     2014
Trade ISBN 978-1-60905-423-6

Ziefert, Harriet Does a Camel Cook Spaghetti?
Illustrated by Emily Bolam
Gr. K–3     
32 pp.     Blue Apple     2014
Trade ISBN 978-1-60905-422-9

Ziefert, Harriet Does a Panda Go to School?
Illustrated by Emily Bolam
Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Blue Apple     2014
Trade ISBN 978-1-60905-421-2

Ziefert, Harriet Does a Woodpecker Use a Hammer?
Illustrated by Emily Bolam
Gr. K–3     
32 pp.     Blue Apple     2014
Trade ISBN 978-1-60905-428-1

 

Disasters

Goldsmith, Connie Bombs over Bikini: The World’s First Nuclear Disaster
Middle school, high school     88 pp.     Twenty-First Century     2014
Library binding ISBN 978-1-4677-1612-3

Hopkinson, Deborah Titanic: Voices from the Disaster
Gr. 4–6     290 pp.      Scholastic      2012
Trade ISBN 978-0-545-11674-9

Rusch, Elizabeth Eruption!: Volcanoes and the Science of Saving Lives [Scientists in the Field series]
Photographs by Tom Uhlman
Gr. 4–6     76 pp.      Houghton      2013
Trade ISBN 978-0-547-50350-9

Rustad, Martha E. H. Hurricanes [Smithsonian Little Explorer series]
Gr. K-3     32 pp.      Capstone      2014
Library binding ISBN 978-1-4765-3932-4
Paperback ISBN 978-1-4765-5180-7

Sheinkin, Steve The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights
Middle school, high school     190 pp.     Roaring Brook     2014
Trade ISBN 978-1-59643-796-8

 

Performing artists

Cardillo, Margaret Just Being Audrey
Illustrated by Julia Denos
Gr. K–3     32 pp.     HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray     2011
Trade ISBN 978-0-06-185283-1

Cline-Ransome, Lesa Benny Goodman & Teddy Wilson: Taking the Stage as the First Black-and-White Jazz Band in History
Illustrated by James E. Ransome
Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Holiday     2014
Trade ISBN 978-0-8234-2362-0

Ko, Alex Alex Ko: From Iowa to Broadway, My Billy Elliot Story
Gr. 4–6     328 pp.     HarperCollins/Harper     2013
Trade ISBN 978-0-06-223601-2

Powell, Patricia Hruby Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker
Illustrated by Christian Robinson
Gr.  4–6      104 pp.      Chronicle      2014
Trade ISBN 978-1-4521-0314-3

Robertson, Robbie, Jim Guerinot, Sebastian Robertson, and Jared Levine Legends, Icons & Rebels: Music That Changed the World
Middle school, high school      128 pp.      Tundra         2013
Trade ISBN 978-1-77049-571-5

 

Careers and community helpers

Inside the Industry series

Buckley, A. M. The Arts
Middle school, high school     112 pp.     ABDO     2011
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61714-797-5

Freese, Susan M. Fashion
Middle school, high school     112 pp.     ABDO     2011
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61714-800-2

Hamen, Susan E. Engineering
Middle school, high school     112 pp.      ABDO     2011
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61714-798-2

Lusted, Marcia Amidon Entertainment
Middle school, high school       112 pp.     ABDO     2011
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61714-799-9

Curtis, Jennifer Keats Animal Helpers: Wildlife Rehabilitators
Gr. K–3      32 pp.      Sylvan Dell     2012
Trade ISBN 978-1-60718-671-7
Paperback ISBN 978-1-60718-672-4

Work of Heroes: First Responders in Action series

Goldish, Meish Doctors to the Rescue
Gr. 4–6     32 pp.     Bearport     2011
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61772-285-1

Goldish, Meish Firefighters to the Rescue
Gr. 4–6     32 pp.     Bearport     2011
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61772-284-4

White, Nancy Paramedics to the Rescue
Gr. 4–6     32 pp.     Bearport     2011
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61772-282-0

White, Nancy Police Officers to the Rescue
Gr. 4–6      32 pp.     Bearport     2011
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61772-283-7

Oxlade, Chris, and Thea Feldman [Kingfisher Readers series]
Gr. K–3     32 pp.      Kingfisher/Macmillan      2014
Trade ISBN 978-0-7534-7122-7
Paperback ISBN 978-0-7534-7123-4

Rhatigan, Joe People You Gotta Meet Before You Grow Up: Get to Know the Movers and Shakers, Heroes and Hot Shots in Your Hometown
Gr. 4–6      128 pp.      Charlesbridge/Imagine      2014
Trade ISBN 978-1-62354-004-3

 

After–school activities

Edge Books: Magic Manuals series

Barnhart, Norm Dazzling Card Tricks
Gr. 4–6      32 pp.      Capstone      2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-4765-0133-8

Barnhart, Norm Marvelous Money Tricks
Gr. 4–6        32 pp.      Capstone      2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-4765-0134-5

Snap Books: Paint It series

Bolte, Mari Oil Paints
Gr. 4–6      32 pp.      Capstone      2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-4765-3110-6

Bolte, Mari Watercolors
Gr. 4–6      32 pp.      Capstone      2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-4765-3108-3

Brown, Peggy The Little Golden Book of Jokes and Riddles
Illustrated by David Sheldon
Gr. K–3      24 pp.      Golden      2013
Trade ISBN 978-0-307-97916-2

Essential Critiques series

Hamen, Susan E. How to Analyze the Films of the Coen Brothers
Middle school, high school      112 pp.      ABDO    2012
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61783-454-7

Hermansson, Casie How to Analyze the Films of Clint Eastwood
Middle school, high school      112 pp.      ABDO      2012
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61783-453-0

Kidd, Chip Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design
Middle school, high school      160 pp.      Workman      2013
Trade ISBN 978-0-7611-7219-2

These titles were featured in the September 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

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25. Eerie places

A creepy space can go a long way in creating the tone for a scary story. These novels all transport readers to places that are likely to give them the willies.

lindelauf nine open arms Eerie placesA building is the main character in Benny Lindelauf’s Dutch import Nine Open Arms. A family of nine moves into the titular rundown brick house in 1930s Holland and tries to figure out its mysteries, including the tombstone in the cellar, a forbidden room, and the homeless man who moves into the hedge. Halfway through, the tale travels back to a doomed 1860s love story and starts to reveal the origins of the steeped-in-sadness Nine Open Arms. In a return to the main narrative, kindness, courage, and truth-telling partly redeem the house’s tragic past. This is a strange, somber, and oddly compelling narrative. (Enchanted Lion, 9–12 years)

milford greenglass house Eerie placesIn Kate Milford’s Greenglass House, protagonist Milo expects a quiet winter holiday week with his adoptive parents at the “smugglers’ hotel” they run. But then strange visitors begin to arrive, and a mysterious document Milo finds is stolen before he and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, can figure out what it means. Smugglers, folktales, stolen objects, adopted children, and ghosts each play a part in this eerie (but not scary) tale. Milford cunningly sets up clues and gradually reveals their importance, bringing readers to higher and higher levels of mystery. (Clarion, 9–12 years)

zafon marina Eerie placesIn Spanish import Marina, Carlos Ruiz Zafón takes readers to the outskirts of late-1970s Barcelona, where fifteen-year-old Oscar investigates what he thinks is an abandoned home and finds himself entangled — with its inhabitant Marina — in a series of events set in motion at the turn of the twentieth century. The quickly paced adventure involves an eccentric scientist and his quest to unravel the mystery of mortality through the reanimation of dead tissue, his doomed romance with a famous but damaged actress, and ultimately his descent into madness. Zafón weaves a twisted tapestry of gothic horror with frequent allusions to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. (Little, 10–14 years)

bachmann cabinet of curiosities Eerie placesFour “curators” — authors Stefan Bachmann, Katherine Catmull, Claire Legrand, and Emma Trevayne — travel to bizarre lands and send back objects of wonder and the often unearthly tales behind them in The Cabinet of Curiosities: 36 Tales Brief & Sinister. The table of contents lists the “rooms” and “drawers” of the Cabinet of Curiosities museum, each with a theme (cake, luck, tricks, flowers) and four or five tales to explore. The stories are remarkable both for their uniformly high quality and for their distinctness from one another; the abundant atmospherics, including occasional stark black-and-white illustrations by Alexander Jansson, provide a unifying sense of dread. (Greenwillow, 10–14 years)

From the October 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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