Book review: Many: The Diversity of Life on Earth, by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Emily Sutton

Davies, Nicola. Many: The Diversity of Life on Earth. Illustrated by Emily Sutton. Candlewick Press, 2017. Unpaged. $15.99. ISBN 9780763694838. Ages 5-8. P8Q8

This book is a follow up to Tiny Creatures, The World of Microbes by Davies and Sutton. It is an accessible and engaging beginning science book that talks about the diversity of life on earth in clear, simple language that is appropriate for young readers. The author and artist help readers see the huge variety of creatures, as well as the interdependence between various living things. Other areas of focus are patterns in nature, conservation, and extinction of species. The watercolor illustrations have a folk art feeling to them and are very colorful and fun to look at.

VERDICT: I think this book will be a good addition to the children’s collection at my library, and I expect it to be popular with parents of young children.

December 2017 review by Carol Schramm.


Book review: Can an Aardvark Bark?, by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Stewart, Melissa. Can an Aardvark Bark? Il. by Steve Jenkins. Beach Lane, 2017. $17.99. unp. ISBN 978-1-4814-5852-8. Ages 3-7. P9Q9

Representational cut-and-torn-paper double-page collage depictions of animals highlight the noises—barks, grunts, squeals, whines, bellows, growls, and laughs—that animals use to communicate. The author asks a rhyming question about the sound and then explains other animals that make this sound. The last page asks readers to make the same noises, making this a fun, albeit noisy, read-aloud.

Verdict: Fun plus educational!

Summer 2017 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Just Like Us! series, by Bridget Heos, illustrated by David Clark

Bridget, Heos. Birds. Illustrated by David Clark. (Just Like Us! series) HMH Books, 2017. $14.99. ISBN 9780544570443. 32 pages. Ages 4-7. P6 Q7

Bridget, Heos. Ants. Illustrated by David Clark. (Just Like Us! series) HMH Books, 2017. $14.99. ISBN 9780544570436. 32 pages. Ages 4-7. P6 Q7

The Just Like Us! series are busy, fact-filled, humorous picture books combining color cartoon illustrations and photographs to introduce children to various animals.  Part of the fun is in comparing how the animals are both similar to humans and different from us. The books include glossaries and bibliographies.





Verdict: These engaging books will be fun in children’s libraries. Families will enjoy reading them together and they will be good classroom resources for teachers.

October 2017 review by Tami Harris.



Book review: If Sharks Disappeared, by Lily Williams

Williams, Lily. If Sharks Disappeared. Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing, 2017. ISBN 9781626724136. $17.99. UNP. P5 Q8

The World Wildlife Fund estimates that 150-200 species of plants and animals reach extinction every 24 hours. This extinction rate is about 1000 times higher than what is generally understood as a “natural” rate. Therefore, a book about the disappearance of such important creatures is quite timely. Because humans live on land and breathe air, it is hard to grasp the true impact that the extinction of sharks and other major sea predators would have on our survival. If Sharks Disappeared introduces basic principles like the food chain, evolution, and natural selection to explain the consequences of an unbalanced ecosystem. The young female character and her parents bring the abstract event of shark extinction closer to home, especially when she is shown gazing across an ocean clogged with toxic algae. The illustrations are friendly (the sharks look like they have smiling faces), not too scientific, and successfully present new scientific concepts. A glossary of terms and further information about sharks can be found after the main text of the book.

Verdict: If Sharks Disappeared is a great classroom resource to supplement various important lessons like climate change, cause and effect, evolution, etc.

September 2017 review by Lillian Curanzy.

Book review: The New Ocean: The Fate of Life in a Changing Sea, by Bryn Barnard

Barnard, Bryn. The New Ocean: The Fate of Life in a Changing Sea. Knopf, 2017. $18.99. unp. ISBN 978-0-375-87049-1. Ages 9-12. P6 Q9

Pollution, global warming, overfishing—these are all problems that are creating a “new ocean,” more similar to the simplicity of the past with the loss of many of its 230,000 species. Four pages about each of six different species—jellyfish, orcas, sea turtles, tuna, coral, and blue-green algae—detail their history, characteristics, and problems they face from the carelessness of humans. The two-page conclusion briefly describes five extinctions of the past with ways that young people can help reverse the tragedy.

Verdict: Although heavy in text, the narration sometimes uses generalities, for example with no specific information about the extinctions, that make the book more accessible to younger people. The full-page oil illustrations cross the fold for a more magnificent image, and the two double-page maps in the end papers show the areas of garbage and the ocean acidification during the past two decades. A thought-provoking wake-up call to the world of the future.

May/June 2017 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Connect with Electricity series

Connect with Electricity [Series]. Lerner, 2017. 40p. Ages 9-12. P7 Q8

The books in this series outline the workings of electrical components work. Each book has a table of contents, Solve It! Answer Key, glossary, bibliography, Further Information, and index. Additional resources at listed under the Connect with Electricity series provide a teacher guide with student handout and ways to extend understanding. Verdict: Students of all ages can learn about these concepts in science books definitely recommended for teachers and school libraries. Some books in the series:


Roland, James. How LEDs Work. $30.65. ISBN 9781512407808.

This informative book about LEDs explains how they were invented and work as well as the difference between the traditional light bulbs. Two extended understanding questions give possible answers in the Solve It, Answer Key at the end of the book. A suggested experiment demonstrates the difference between standard bulbs and LEDs. Excellent illustrations explain LEDs and the visible spectrum of light. The narrative provides a comprehensible explanation of these concepts.


Christensen, Victoria G. How Batteries Work. $30.65. ISBN 9781512407815.

This kid-friendly non-fiction book explaining batteries and how they work begins with the background of electricity and progresses through the scientific process and development of the battery through examples of the Mars Rovers and battery operated cars as well the history of the first voltaic pile as the first battery. Photographs, well labelled diagrams, and engaging “solve it” questions engage readers and help them understand. The book finishes with the research in self-driving cars. 

March 2017 reviews by Deborah Gwynn.

Book review: Glow: Animals with Their Own Night-Lights, by W.H. Beck

Beck, W.H. Glow: Animals with Their Own Night-Lights. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. $17.99. ISBN 9780544416666. Unp. Ages 3-12. P7 Q7

beck-glowGlow is a visually striking collection of images. Each featured organism has an element of bioluminescence. Each photo is set on a black page with bright white lettering. The story is quite brief; but, the author includes descriptions of each organism and why they glow which fleshes out the minimal narration. Instead of adding further information on the subjects within the main pages, the author attaches renderings of each organism along with their size and locale at the back of the book. Glow is a successfully visual  introduction to the world of bioluminescence for young readers. Even those who aren’t particularly interested in biology will enjoy learning about these strange creatures and why they glow.

September 2016 review by Lillian Curanzy.