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April 15, 2018 BOOKLIST
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Each January in Book Links, we publish a partner list to Booklist’s Books for Youth Editors’ Choice selections. “Lasting Connections” highlights our top 30 choices for the K–8 classroom, all published in the previous year and all selected for their natural connections across the curriculum and to the Common Core State and Next Generation Science Standards.
How Long Is a Whale? By Alison Limentani. Illus. by the author. Boxer, $14.95 (9781910716212). K–Gr. 3.
Beginning with 10 sea otters (which are as long as 9 yellowfin tuna), Limentani’s vibrantly colored block-print illustrations continue to count down, though 8 California sea lions, 7 leatherback sea turtles, and so on, all the way down to 1 humpback whale. That’s not the end, however: in a double-gatefold page, she reveals a blue whale, and the sheer size of the planet’s largest animal is awe-inspiringly clear in her stunning presentation. The intricate prints of sea creatures are beautifully matched with cool, saturated colors, and the appearance of a scuba diver adds a nice additional reference for scale. The final spread explains the author’s calculations, which are based on the average length of adult animals. The uncommonly good combination of animals, relative size, and light math makes this of great cross-curriculum use in classrooms.
Stack the Cats. By Susie Ghahremani. Illus. by the author. Abrams/Appleseed, $14.95 (9781419723490). PreS–K.
This sneaky counting lesson disguises itself with adorable piles of cats. These plump felines incrementally invade the two-page spreads, which are cheerfully colored in sea foam and orange. “One cat sleeps. Two cats play. Three cats? Stack!” Indeed they do. The mini kitty tower is all smiles until a fourth and fifth cat climb up, causing it to wobble. But with the arrival of a sixth cat, two stacks of 3 are possible, and all is well again. Ghahremani continues to add and stack with amusing results until she’s reached a clowder of 10, at which point kitties start to pair off and scamper away, allowing subtraction to enter the picture. There are a surprising number of opportunities here to work on math skills. As fun as it is clever, Ghahremani’s cat-infested concept book is a treat.
Braced. By Alyson Gerber. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $16.99 (9780545902144); e-book, $16.99 (9780545907637). Gr. 4–7.
Rachel’s life is going really well. She’s 12 and totally crushing it on the soccer field, and everyone agrees that the ridiculously cute Tate is within days of asking her to be official BF/GF. All of that comes to a crashing halt when her Boston specialist reveals she has scoliosis. In fact, the curvature of her spine is so extreme that she’ll have to wear a back brace—a heavy hulk of white padded plastic stretching from armpits to tail bone—for 23 hours a day. Her soccer game plummets, and it seems like everyone is whispering in the halls. Rachel’s first-person narration relays her story in a surprisingly intimate, beautifully earnest voice, likely attributable to Gerber herself suffering from scoliosis and wearing a fitted brace in her formative years. A welcoming, empathetic choice for classroom reading.
Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire. By Susan Tan. Illus. by Dana Wulfekotte. Roaring Brook, $16.99 (9781626725515). Gr. 3–5.
Eight-year-old Cilla Lee-Jenkins is destined for literary greatness. She is up against the clock to get her best-selling memoir written before the arrival of her new baby sister—aka the Blob—causes everyone in her family to forget about her. A few pages spent with this exuberant, guileless narrator are evidence that no one will be forgetting Cilla anytime soon. Prolonged baldness, a taste for snails, and the slings and arrows of friendship are all part of her joyful narrative. When Cilla talks about her burgeoning realization that she is a biracial child in a society that is trying to label her, and that there is distance within her own family between her Chinese grandparents and her Caucasian grandparents, her introspection on the matter will hearten readers looking to make connections with others not exactly like them.
A Greyhound, a Groundhog. By Emily Jenkins. Illus. by Chris Appelhans. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (9780553498059). PreS–K.
With impressive economy of language, Jenkins crafts an energetic, guileless story about the camaraderie between a greyhound and a groundhog, using a handful of words (round, ground, hog, dog) that she combines, splices, and rearranges on each page. On one spread, the groundhog watches as the greyhound chases its tail in a circle: “A groundhog, a greyhound, / a grey little / round hound.” This repetition is ideal for young readers and listeners, who will also be swept up by the abundant wordplay. As the two start to run in gleeful, dizzying circles, the text becomes jumbled into nonsensical phrases that pleasurably trip off the tongue. This simple story is elevated by Appelhans’ watercolor-and-pencil illustrations, which capture the dog and hog’s joie de vivre with dynamic streaks and swooshes. Ideal for language-related lessons and just-plain-fun read-alouds.
Lexie the Word Wrangler. By Rebecca Van Slyke. Illus. by Jessie Hartland. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen, $17.99 (9780399169571). K–Gr. 3.
The “best wrangler west of the Mississippi,” Lexie ties words together, turning butter and fly into butterfly. She grows a into age, sage, and sagebrush. She herds words into sentences, and sentences into stories. But one day, a missing d turns Lexie’s bandana into a banana. That night, a twinkling S-T-A-R turns into R-A-T-S. Yep, a word rustler is on the loose. The mischief gets sillier when the rascal turns the desert into a dessert, but he meets his match in Lexie, who finds better uses for his talents. Colorful language abounds in the clever, playful text, which will amuse kids whose work on reading has given them a heightened awareness of the written word. Teachers, meanwhile, will appreciate the references to compound words, anagrams, and other wordplay. Created in a style that perfectly suits the story’s droll tone.
Miguel’s Brave Knight: Young Cervantes and His Dream of Don Quixote. By Margarita Engle. Illus. by Raúl Colón. Peachtree, $17.95 (9781561458561). Gr. 3–6.
Fifteen brief poems introduce readers to the early life of Don Quixote author Miguel de Cervantes. Through themed verses, Engle emphasizes the stories told by Cervantes’ mother that sparked his imagination; the hunger his family experienced after Miguel’s father was sent to debtor’s prison; Miguel’s pleasure whenever he was able to attend school; and his daydreams about a brave, helpful knight that helped him to anticipate a better future. Engle’s poems are lyrical yet direct, each describing a single significant event. Colón’s pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations bring Engle’s words into sharp focus, helping readers to better appreciate the sixteenth-century Spanish setting. Author’s and illustrator’s notes (as well as historical and biographical information) further clarify Cervantes for the intended audience. This lightly fictionalized offering will encourage young students to learn more about the first modern novel.
Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor, and Loki. By Kevin Crossley-Holland. Illus. by Jeffrey Alan Love. Candlewick Studio, $27.99 (9780763695002). Gr. 7–10.
Carnegie Medal–winning Crossley-Holland’s imaginative retellings of these ancient stories are somber in tone and heroic in execution. They begin, logically, with the beginning of the world, and they end, tragically, with the death of the gods but with the hopeful hint of a new beginning. The principal players in these timeless tales are Odin, ruler of the gods; Thor, his mighty, hammer-wielding son; and the shape-shifting trickster god Loki. Crossley-Holland’s inspired text is straightforward and largely unadorned in a way that makes it timeless. Meanwhile, Love’s eye-popping expressionist illustrations, rendered in acrylics and ink, decorate almost every page, beautifully creating an often-sinister atmosphere that expands the tone of the text. Together, words and pictures work to memorable effect, doubtlessly inspiring their young readers to yell and cry. These myths, ever popular in schools, have seldom been better served.
Newbery medalist Alexander has come up with a fresh and joyful way to interest children in poetry. “A poem is a small but powerful thing,” he says in his thought-provoking preface, and in this beautiful book, along with his coauthors, poets Chris Colderly and Marjory Wentworth, Alexander offers a collection of 20 poems. The hook? All are written in tribute to well-known poets, such as Maya Angelou, E. E. Cummings, Sandra Cisneros, Robert Frost, Gwendolyn Brooks, and William Carlos Williams. Holmes takes collage work to a new level, with gloriously colored art that tells further stories within stories. Each illustration captures not just the feeling of the poem but wakes readers up to life’s excitements and small joys. Exemplary words and pictures make this a multicultural masterwork excellent for poetry units.
Before She Was Harriet. By Lesa Cline-Ransome. Illus. by James E. Ransome. Holiday, $17.95 (9780823420476). K–Gr. 3.
In reverse chronology, Harriet Tubman’s multifaceted accomplishments come to life through poetic text and vivid watercolor images. Suffragist, general, spy, nurse, Aunt Harriet, Moses, conductor, Minty, Araminta—each name she was called is briefly outlined in text that works on many levels. The poetic text and artistic presentation are simultaneously simple enough for young children to understand and sophisticated enough to inspire adults. Dramatic images may encourage students to investigate more about her life. Recalling Tubman’s association with the Underground Railroad, the Ransomes cleverly frame the story in a train journey. Page spreads depict her work for women’s rights, in the Civil War, and leading others to freedom. Taking her story all the way to childhood is an evocative way for young readers to understand how each stage of her life developed.
Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fights, and the Flaws That Affect Us Today. By Cynthia Levinson and Sanford Levinson. Peachtree, $19.95 (9781561459452). Gr. 7–10.
Lately, there’s been dismay that civics, government, and history have taken a backseat in classrooms. This smartly conceived book goes a long way toward reintroducing students to those subjects. After an informative introduction that dissects the Preamble and covers the leap from the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution, the Levinsons link both history and current events as they offer an illustrative group of examples that show where the Constitution got it right—and wrong. The nine chapters cover a wide range of topics, including bicameralism, presidential vetoes, gerrymandering, term limits, and voting rights. Each chapter begins with a controversial news event or court case, then describes the framers’ thinking on the topic. Although the font, charts, and well-written text make this appealing, it’s not always an easy read. It is, however, an important one.
Gorilla Dawn. By Gill Lewis. Illus. by Susan Meyer. Atheneum, $16.99 (9781481486576). Gr. 5–8.
Lewis shines a light on the mining of coltan, a mineral key to the production of cell phones, which is often excavated in places gorillas call home. Imara, kidnapped by rebels, is a child soldier with a group starting an illegal coltan mine in the Congo. She’s formed a powerful bond with a captured 18-month-old gorilla, Kitwana. Meanwhile, Bobo pursues the rebels in hopes of clearing the name of his father, a ranger accused of leading the rebels to Kitwana, who they intend to sell. Lewis lays out the complicated relationship between widespread poverty, opportunistic groups (including white business owners and corrupt government officials), and environmental threats. Suspenseful pacing keeps the pages turning, and the provocative questions raised about conservation, consumerism, and the global effects of widespread poverty will keep students thinking long after the last page.
The Legendary Miss Lena Horne. By Carole Boston Weatherford. Illus. by Elizabeth Zunon. Atheneum, $17.99 (9781481468251). Gr. 2–4.
Students may not know Lena Horne, but the captivating cover illustration of the singer will draw them into this exceptionally handsome book. Once inside, they will learn about both the life of Horne as well as the hardships that came with a show-biz career for African Americans in the 1930s, ’40s, and beyond. No matter how successful Horne’s career, she always dealt with segregation, humiliation, and, especially in Hollywood, roadblocks. She was a staunch civil rights advocate in the face of racism and blacklisting, an aspect of her life that is often overlooked. Weatherford’s informative yet succinct text is juxtaposed against a happily oversize picture-book format that allows enough room for Zunon’s impressive oil-paint-and-collage artwork. An author’s note and discography for future fans give the book a voice that will carry even farther.
Poverty and Hunger. By Louise Spilsbury. Illus. by Hanane Kai. Barron’s, $9.99 (9781438050195). K–Gr. 2.
Poverty affects a significant population of children, and this entry in the Children in Our World series aims to explain the complicated topic in a kid-friendly way. Alongside gentle illustrations of a diverse array of children, the text explains not only how poverty and hunger can affect people but also the wide array of circumstances that can lead to poverty, such as famine, natural disasters, war, global warming, low-paying jobs, and even systemic poverty. The simplified concepts, straightforward sentences, and illustrations make the tough topics easy to bear, as does the second half of the book, which focuses on charities that feed the hungry, build hospitals and schools, care for refugees, and offer other assistance to people in need. The resources list includes charitable organizations aimed at helping children make a difference in the fight against poverty and hunger.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality. By Jonah Winter. Illus. by Stacy Innerst. Abrams, $18.95 (9781419725593). Gr. 1–4.
This biography, cleverly framed as a court case, focuses primarily on empowering young readers. In his opening statement, Winter delivers an indictment of the world in which a young Ruth was raised: “Where women were not encouraged to achieve and aspire.” The book delves into the skills Ruth possessed that would make her a good lawyer, her successes in school, and the persecution she faced as a woman, a Jew, and a mother. Examples of the “outrageous nonsense Ruth endured” are presented as evidence, but through toughness, determination, and intelligence, Ruth persevered, paving the way for a new generation of women. Innerst’s digital gouache-and-ink illustrations are as matter-of-fact as the text, clearly offering up facts that showcase what Ruth faced throughout her life. A smart, sometimes biting biography that proves it’s never too early to start teaching kids about justice.
The Secret Project. By Jonah Winter. Illus. by Jeanette Winter. Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane, $17.99 (9781481469135). Gr. 1–3.
Though it’s notorious now, the Manhattan Project was veiled in the deepest secrecy while scientists researched and developed the atomic bomb, and it’s that confidentiality this somber picture book takes as its focus. Marvelous, flat vignette illustrations show residents merrily going about their daily lives, but renders scientists in shadowy grays and blacks. When the scientists, looking utterly shocked, blow up the bomb, a fiery mushroom cloud grows ever larger over several pages, and the book ends joltingly with a spread of featureless black, before a concluding author’s note offers additional information about the bomb and its ultimate effects. The quiet—and then abruptly explosive—tone cultivates both curiosity and unease, as if this is a secret we’d rather not know. Expect plenty of questions after sharing this with students, though it’s likely that’s precisely the point.
Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero. By Patricia McCormick. Illus. by Iacopo Bruno. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray, $17.99 (9780062292599). Gr. 2–4.
With every war comes stories of heroism, and often those heroes are animals. In this case, it’s a little sorrel mare used to haul heavy ammunition by U.S. soldiers during the Korean War. Though the marines doubted the little sorrel mare’s ability to handle the heavy loads, they dubbed her Private Reckless and began her training. Before long, she became a valuable soldier and was eventually promoted to sergeant, making her the only animal to hold military rank, and was granted two Purple Hearts at the end of the war. The Korean War is covered less frequently than other wars, and there’s plenty of fascinating information in this rousing picture book. If that weren’t enough, Bruno’s bold pencil illustrations range from endearing depictions of the inquisitive Reckless to somber battle scenes. An engaging slice of history.
This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World. By Matt Lamothe. Illus. by the author. Chronicle, $17.99 (9781452150185). K–Gr. 3.
Meet Romeo, Kei, Daphine, Oleg, Ananya, Kian, and Ribaldo, seven real children from Italy, Japan, Uganda, Russia, India, Iran, and Peru, whose lives are compared through detailed, painterly illustrations and succinct, descriptive text. The book follows each child through a single day, displaying what each is doing at a particular moment in neat, side-by-side illustrated panels. The instructive and personal result takes the ordinary—“This is where I live”; “This is what I eat for breakfast”—and renders it in a refreshingly unromanticized manner. The similarities and differences between the seven lives are both delicate and astonishing in their details, and readers will enjoy examining the images repeatedly to note the surprises they reveal. An author’s note, a glossary, a map, and photographs of the families round out the book with a nice personal touch.
When We Were Alone. By David A. Robertson. Illus. by Julie Flett. HighWater, $18.95 (9781553796732). K–Gr. 3.
A young girl helping her grandmother in the garden asks Nókum a series of questions: “Why do you wear so many colors?” “Why do you speak in Cree?” The answers relate to the years Nókum spent in residential school, where she was instructed to wear a drab uniform, forced to speak only English, and forbidden from spending time with family. As an adult, she remembers these injustices, but she chooses to respond by enjoying beautiful colors, wearing her hair long, speaking her native language, and spending time with her brother. Robertson’s lyrical prose evokes the not-so-distant past, when indigenous Canadian (and American) children were forcibly placed in boarding schools whose main goal was to eradicate their Native cultural ways. Flett’s mixed-media collage artwork echoes Robertson’s forthright text as she alternates between colorful contemporary spreads and more muted residential school scenes. An empowering and important story.
Beastly Brains: Exploring How Animals Think, Talk, and Feel. By Nancy F. Castaldo. HMH, $16.99 (9780544633353). Gr. 7–10.
With a menagerie of fascinating examples, Castaldo lays out the history of ideas about animal smarts before covering the myriad ways researchers evaluate intelligence. Each chapter highlights a component of intelligence, such as empathy, self-awareness, communication, and even planning for the future, many of which will surprise readers when attributed to animals. Moreover, the chapters build on each other; “mental time travel,” or the ability to distinguish between the present and the future, is key to solving problems with multiple steps. The main draw, of course, is the illuminating ways animals demonstrate intelligence. Castaldo’s lucid text is complemented by plenty of full-color photos, citizen science opportunities, and a thought-provoking conclusion about conservation. This eye-opening, well-structured volume will enlighten students to both the richness of the animal kingdom and the nature of intelligence.
Bees: A Honeyed History. By Piotr Socha. Illus. by the author. Abrams, $24.95 (9781419726156). Gr. 2–5.
This breezy, oversize history of the honey bee is a stunner. Don’t be fooled by the slightly cartoonish expressions on the insects’ faces; this volume is packed with factually sound information and scientifically accurate illustrations. Indeed, the poster-print-like illustrations steal the show, occupying almost the entirety of every two-page spread, save for the ribbon of text running along the bottom. Clear labels guide readers through this visual feast, while the text imparts salient facts in an approachable tone. This book is also admirable in its scope, which goes beyond the scientific to include the bee’s place in history and culture. Readers then get a glimpse of beekeeping around the world and the workings of man-made hives. A book both whimsical and comprehensive; Socha has created what is quite possibly the sweetest resource on honey bees around.
Fallingwater. By Marc Harshman and Anna Egan Smucker. Illus. by LeUyen Pham. Roaring Brook, $18.99 (9781596437180). Gr. 2–5.
This beautifully rendered picture book is a testimonial to the creative genius of Frank Lloyd Wright and his Fallingwater, an amazing structure built directly over a waterfall. The story is told in present tense as Wright takes months dreaming, imagining, and finally realizing his daring, unique project: “A house like no other, where sun can shine, where balconies fly, where falling water is heard in every room.” The meticulously accurate illustrations show events in muted earth tones that mirror the colors of the house, while Wright’s evolving architectural musings appear as sepia-colored backgrounds. The text effortlessly provides insights into Wright’s process and how his final results reflect their counterparts in nature. Like Fallingwater, a home that breathtakingly blends innovative architecture and its natural surroundings, this book seamlessly blends together a good story, lyrical language, and illuminating artwork.
Full of Fall. By April Pulley Sayre. Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane, $17.99 (9781481479844). PreS–Gr. 2.
“So long, summer. Green, goodbye!” begins this picture-book celebration of trees transforming during the fall. Close-up photos highlight the changing hues of leaves, while in a picture of the forest’s edge, color differences reveal the shapes of individual trees. With the same format and approach as its companion book, Best in Snow (2016), this large volume becomes another fitting showcase for Sayre’s exceptional color photographs. Not only are the striking pictures beautifully lit and composed but they also illustrate the ideas in the text with precision and grace. Sayre clearly respects her audience as well as her subject. The appended “Look Closer: Leaves” section offers clear, succinct information related to the text and introduces scientific vocabulary while commenting on how fall colors vary from place to place and year to year. Stunning illustrations illuminate this well-focused, useful presentation.
Grand Canyon. By Jason Chin. Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter, $19.99 (9781596439504). Gr. 2–5.
Chin’s exploration of the Grand Canyon takes readers on a virtual hiking tour from its oldest, deepest area (the Inner Gorge) to its youngest (Ponderosa Pine Forest). His stunning illustrations do double duty, offering snapshots of a father and daughter’s trek as well as myriad details in the page margins, such as a visual catalog of plants and animals that live in each featured region of the canyon; diagrams explaining how the canyon was formed; and spreads revealing what the canyon looked like millions, even billions, of years ago. Chin’s straightforward text seamlessly integrates concepts and scientific terms in engaging paragraphs full of surprising information. With vivid imagination, a crystal-clear grasp of the facts, and brilliant artwork, this is an illuminating resource for a wide range of learning styles.
How to Be an Elephant. By Katherine Roy. Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook/David Macaulay, $18.99 (9781626721784). Gr. 1–4.
Roy’s outstanding new offering allows readers to walk alongside the newest addition to an African elephant herd and learn just what it takes to be an elephant. Stylized watercolors and scientific diagrams mingle on the page as Roy reveals a baby female elephant’s journey to adulthood through a mixture of simple narrative and more detailed, scholarly text. Told through a series of “lessons,” the book dissects the simple act of walking; unlocks the secrets of the elephant’s trunk; and touches upon diet, communication, herd dynamics, cooling techniques, and charge attacks (first learned by playfully chasing birds). Roy also explains elephants’ importance as a keystone species, and in a heartfelt author’s note, she speaks to humanity’s impact on and responsibility toward this magnificent animal. An exceptional and arresting resource for the primary grades.
Lesser Spotted Animals: The Coolest Creatures You’ve Never Heard Of. By Martin Brown. Illus. by the author. David Fickling, $18.99 (9781338089349). Gr. 2–5.
This witty compendium dedicated to the animal kingdom’s unsung heroes is chock-full of unusual creatures and trivia. Check out the southern right whale dolphin, a sleek cetacean lacking a dorsal fin, or the hamster-like Speke’s pectinator. Brown’s write-up of each animal includes a tidy rundown of facts, and his flip, but still earnest, tone is a delight to read. His detailed, slightly cartoonish illustrations depict each animal with deeply expressive, chuckleworthy faces, and speech balloon asides pile on even more jokes. For all its levity, though, this entertaining volume never loses sight of the distressing realities facing these creatures—many are endangered, sometimes critically, and awareness is a huge part of conservation efforts. With a compulsively engaging tone, lighthearted artwork, and a meaningful kernel of education at its heart, this excellent book will entrance readers and spur discussion.
Older than Dirt: A Wild but True History of Earth. By Don Brown and Mike Perfit. Illus. by Don Brown. HMH, $18.99 (9780544805033). Gr. 5–8.
In 100 fact-crammed but surprisingly zippy pages, nonfiction graphic-novelist extraordinaire Brown covers 14 billion years of Earth’s development. From the big bang to our planet’s origin to landmass formation to the appearance of life, Brown and scientific consultant Perfit provide an astonishingly comprehensive overview and manage to humanize it with witty asides from the woodchuck and worm who serve as surrogate teacher and student, along with quick visits with important historical scientists. Brown’s art—loose, easy lines but clear, vivid representations—also strikes a necessary balance between friendly accessibility and accurate portrayal. The speed with which information is conveyed here doesn’t make it ideal for supporting a long-range science curriculum. But the comics’ accessibility makes this a good beginning research source for young students studying geology or Earth science.
Poison: Deadly Deeds, Perilous Professions, and Murderous Medicines. By Sarah Albee. Illus. by Karl Newsom Edwards. Crown, $17.99 (9781101932230). Gr. 5–8.
History, science, and social studies intermingle in Albee’s tantalizing account of poisons. Clearly stating that this is not a how-to guide, she swiftly moves through the eras of human history, from prehistory to modern times, not only highlighting popular poisons and poisoners but also the social conditions and level of scientific knowledge defining each age. Unsurprisingly, murderous royalty occupy many pages, but so do commoners, who were often victims of hazardous jobs (e.g., Radium Girls), adulterated food, poisonous medicines, and toxic dyes. Chapters are short and boast reader-friendly layouts with cartoon illustrations, archival photos and advertisements, and an array of boxed content. Although there are shocking and disgusting facts aplenty, Albee also discusses the rise of toxicology and forensic science and the much-needed emergence of food and drug regulation. Her light tone makes this morbid, well-researched study a sinister indulgence.
Two Truths and a Lie: It’s Alive! By Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson. Illus. by Lisa K. Weber. HarperCollins/Walden Pond, $17.99 (9780062418791). Gr. 4–7.
Considering the fresh attention being paid to teaching a skeptical approach to information evaluation, this series opener couldn’t be better timed. Inspired by a parlor game, the authors mix two facts about an aspect of the natural world (plants, animals, and even humans) with one untruth and invite readers to pick out the bogus entry from each trio. Each entry includes specific (or at least plausible) scientific details, names of actual researchers, and colorful illustrations. Each group of three also features sidebar definitions, challenges, projects to try, or thorny scientific issues to ponder. Readers can check their guesses at the back, where generous source notes for all the nonspurious content offered lead to further study. A brief but savvy guide to responsible research methods adds further luster to this crowd-pleaser.
The Way Downtown. By Inna Gertsberg. Illus. by Mike Lowery. Kids Can, $17.99 (9781771385527). K–Gr. 3.
In this oversize picture book of a bustling metropolis, some very busy people (an anthropologist, a young child, a spy, street performers, and a guide dog) take various kinds of public transportation to get to a shared destination. Readers follow along each trip, consulting bike paths, sidewalks, and airport, subway, train, bus, and ferry routes. The text provides a running commentary of where and why everyone is traveling, and the detailed illustrations incorporate arrows and balloon captions for vocabulary definitions, directional signposts, street signs and guides, and character comments—both informational and snarky. Almost every component is labeled, and graphic-novel-style panels and speech bubbles keep things moving forward. Perhaps too busy for preschoolers, this should be a hit with the early elementary crowd while providing engaging curriculum support for units on city life.
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