Book review: Trees, by Pamela Hickman, illustrated by Carolyn Gavin

Hickman, Pamela. Trees. Illustrated by Carolyn Gavin. (Nature All Around series.) Kids Can Press, 2019. 32 pgs. $17.99. ISBN 9781771388047. Ages 7 and up. P9Q8

This is a new addition to the Nature All Around series. It is a factual general introduction on trees. It moves from a wide view on types of trees and narrows through the pages on the scientific parts of various trees, plus processes of photosynthesis and respiration. It then moves into the different seasons and what happens to trees in each period, and even covers beginning tree watching and touches on endangered trees. Contains very complete basic information and a glossary in the back. The illustrations are a bit elementary for identification purposes, although attractive to look at.

VERDICT: This is an excellent basic introduction to trees, and I even learned a couple of interesting tree facts. It is well organized and would be a great learning tool. The one drawback I observed was the illustrations, which seemed too basic for the information provided. It would be difficult to actually ID trees and some parts through the illustrations. But it is a great starting book, and educators could step in and add more detailed photographs or a field trip to continue this discovery of trees.

April 2019 review by Lynne Wright.



Book review: From Here to There: The Story of How We Transport Ourselves and Everything Else, by HP Newquist

Newquist, HP. From Here to There: The Story of How We Transport Ourselves and Everything Else. Viking, 2017. $18.99. ISBN 9780451476456. 123 pgs. Ages 10+. P6Q8

This history of transportation and how human mobility has affected our history and development was written for the Smithsonian.  The first chapter begins, “Survival depends on moving, and for humans that begins with two legs and two feet.” The author looks at the earliest examples of footwear, and how the development of different kinds of shoes helped humans advance. Then we move on to snowshoes, skis, skates, and more. Subsequent chapters look at water travel, wagons, cars, trains, and air and space transportation. Each chapter has a different color scheme and specific graphic markers, and is supported by photographs and reproductions of art work found in the Smithsonian. I enjoyed the scope of the book- the topic is enormous, and the sections are very broad, but the author manages to organize the material in a way that keeps you interested. I really liked the inclusion of a lot of social history, like details about the bicycle changed the social behavior and public perception of women, and even how women dressed. There is a page of the author’s resources (mostly websites), and an index. It was voted one of the best STEM Books of 2018.

VERDICT: This book will be a good addition to public and school libraries. It may be a useful resource to supplement social studies and history classes, and is interesting enough that kids may pick it up just to browse.

May 2019 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: The Tornado Scientist: Seeing inside Severe Storms, by Mary Kay Carson, photography by Tom Uhlman

Carson, Mary Kay. The Tornado Scientist: Seeing inside Severe Storms. Photography by Tom Uhlman. (Scientists in the field series). Houghton. 2019. $18.99. 72p. ISBN 978-0-544-96582-9. Ages 11-14. P5Q5

Robin Tanamachi, meteorologist and radar expert, and her husband, Dan Dawson, are storm chasers, and Carson follows their adventures in the first decade of the 21st century as they tracked tornadoes through computers and on the road. Carson tells how they use equipment to spot them and then analyze size, ferocity, and other aspects of the deadly weather event; photographs show the people on the trail, their equipment, and the maps they use to teach others.

Verdict: The book has a dated feel: the last cited tornado was in 2011, and the major project described ended in 2010. Missing is any reference to climate change, and one photograph is repeated. The map of the two major U.S. tornado alleys is interesting.

April 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Destination: Space: Living on Other Planets, by Dave Williams and Loredana Cunti, illustrated by Theo Krynauw

Williams, Dave and Loredana Cunti. Destination: Space: Living on Other Planets. Illustrated by Theo Krynauw. (Dr. Dave, Astronaut series). Annick Press. 2019. 12.95. ISBN 9781773210575. 51 pages. Ages 7-12, P4Q7 

Could we actually live in outer space? This question is explored in Destination Space.

Canadian astronaut, Dave Williams, begins with an invitation to the reader: Dare to Dream, and lists several careers associated with space: astrobiologist, astronaut, astronomer, and astrophysicist. Each chapter digs into the possibilities for future space living. Each planet in our solar system is featured in a vignette containing a  Mission Log citing missions devoted to the planet, what was learned from the mission, a verdict as to whether or not life on that planet is possible and a picture. Next, the top spots for future space living are shown including two of Saturn’s moons, two of Jupiter’s moons, Mars and the Moon. Included is travel time, in years, to each site. The book brings up lot of interesting topics like BEAM, an inflatable habitat currently housed in the International Space Station that could be used as a base camp on the Moon, and using a 3-D printer to build a habitat on the moon. As the book progresses It jumps to many ideas; all interesting but a bit overwhelming in one sitting. The artwork and the pictures in the book are fantastic and do a very good job of representing diversity.

VERDICT: A great book for the budding space enthusiast; also good in the classroom when broken up into smaller chunks.

May 2019 review by Denyse Marsh.

Book review: Hack Your Back Yard: Discover a World of Outside Fun with Science Buddies

Ahrens, Niki. Hack Your Back Yard: Discover a World of Outside Fun with Science Buddies. (Science Buddies series). Lerner Publications, 2019. $8.99 (paperback). ISBN 9781541539150. 32p. Ages 7-11. P6Q6

Hack Your Back Yard entices the budding scientist with inquiry, observation and experimentation. It is filled with how-to experiments aimed to engage the reader as they digest new scientific ideas and conduct experiments using products found in and around a home environment. Readers are challenged with inquiry questions for each experiment. Clear photographs and step by step directions assist the reader to conduct experiments successfully. QR codes are embedded in the text to provide further study and scientific discoveries for 21st century learners.

Verdict: This book will be a good addition to any 2nd-5th grade classroom or home library. The one downfall is related to the safety features and the need for parent or adult supervision on some experiments.

April 2019 review by Marcy Doyle.

Book review: Beavers, by Rachel Poliquin, illustrated by Nicholas John Frith

Poliquin, Rachel.  Beavers. (Superpower Field Guide series). Illustrated by Nicholas John Frith. Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt Publishing Company, 2019. ISBN: 9780544949874. 96p. Gr. 4-8.  P6 Q7

Living on the edge of 18 acres of swamp, I thought I knew a lot about beavers, but this book taught me lots of new fun facts, like how beavers are considered keystone species (meaning the ecology of an area is dependent on their success.)  The spunky 50’s style illustrations would pull in reluctant readers and do a great job of emphasizing important points.  This book is the first in the “Superpower Field Guide” series and I would recommend that any elementary or middle school library include these in their collection. Contains glossary & references for further reading.  Genre: Nonfiction.

March 2019 review by NHS staff.

Book review: The Frog Book, by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Jenkins, Steve & Robin Page. The Frog Book. Houghton, 2019. $17.99. unp. ISBN 978-0-544-38760-7. Ages 6-10. P9Q9

With an ancestry of millions of years and more than 5,500 species, frogs can be found on every continent in both wet and dry areas with a variety of adaptations for “finding food, escaping danger, and finding a mate.” Subjects include the difference between frogs and toads, frogs’ parenting, “growing up,” their diet, and a comparison of poisonous and venomous frogs. Explanations finish with how the disappearance of frog species shows how climate change is destroying the planet. A two-page chart at the end of the book for all six dozen of the species provides the page number for the information, its length, diet, and region where it can be found.

Verdict: Jenkins’ colorful and detailed torn- and cut-paper collages on a white background greatly complement the text, and the layout is superb. Recommended for all libraries.

March 2019 review by Nel Ward.