Disasters, Discoveries, and Dissent | History Series Nonfiction

History can be a bit intimidating to some students, but this season’s series cover a wide range of topics to pique their curiosities.


History can be a bit intimidating to some students, but this season’s series cover a wide range of topics to pique their curiosities. Marvels of ancient civilizations, famous disappearances and tragedies, who discovered important fossils and where they were found, and the ongoing story of civil rights are just a few of the topics readers can explore. Maps, charts, archival photos, and online resources support learning and further investigation for schoolwork or personal interest. Authors have made connections or comparisons between current events and those of the past to highlight the relevance of the material and have used a variety of formats to appeal to readers of all types.



Eason, Sarah. Bones in the Badlands: Albertosaurus Discovery. illus. by Diego Vaisberg. ISBN 9781636913346.
––––. Bones in the Cliff: T. Rex Discovery. illus. by Ludovic Salle. ISBN 9781636913322.
––––. Dinosaur Eater: SuperCroc Discovery. illus. by Diego Vaisberg. ISBN 9781636913339.
––––. An Egg Thief?: Oviraptor Discovery. illus. by Ludovic Salle. ISBN 9781636913360.
––––. A Nest of Bones: Maiasaura ­Discovery. illus. by Ludovic Salle. ISBN 9781636913353.
––––. Tiny Titans: Titanosaur Discovery. illus. by Diego Vaisberg. ISBN 9781636913377.
ea vol: 24p. (Fossils Uncovered!). Bearport/Bear Claw. Jan. 2022. Tr $28.50.
Gr 3-4 –A graphic novel format brings dinosaur discovery to life in this series. ­Major finds like Sue Hendrickson’s T. Rex or Jack Horner’s maiasaura are dramatized for readers. Scenes show the process of the dig, as well as the research and other events after the fossils were dug up. Text boxes provide the narrative while speech and thought bubbles help recreate the action. A separate section explains the time period in which the dinosaur lived and briefly profiles several other species from the same time period. In each book’s back matter the question “What Is Paleontology?” is answered along with photos of a paleontologist working in a lab and in the field. Factsurfer.com provides readers with a list of websites for further research and reading. VERDICT Will appeal to fans of dinosaurs and graphic novels.

Hansen, Grace. Dinosaur Graveyards in Africa. ISBN 9781098209445.
––––. Dinosaur Graveyards in Asia. ISBN 9781098209452.
––––. Dinosaur Graveyards in Australia. ISBN 9781098209469.
––––. Dinosaur Graveyards in Europe. ISBN 9781098209476.
––––. Dinosaur Graveyards in North America. ISBN 9781098209483.
––––. Dinosaur Graveyards in South America. ISBN 9781098209490.
ea vol: 24p. (Dinosaur Graveyards). Abdo/Abdo Kids. Jan. 2022. Tr $31.36.
Gr 1-2 –Each entry introduces readers to some of the dinosaurs found on a specific continent. Concept art and photos of models or fossils help readers visualize these ancient animals. Captions identify name, subgroup, and other details, such as length (“Nearly as long as two school buses”). Glossary terms appear in colored font for easy identification. Maps show the featured continent, or highlight a specific fossil deposit. All titles begin with the same introduction about when dinosaurs lived and how long fossils take to form. There is also a list of some major dinosaur groups in the back matter of each book. Codes provide access to games, crafts, and videos at Abdo Kids online. VERDICT A good introductory set for primary classrooms or to expand ­elementary library collections.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

Castrovilla, Selene. The Movement: 1960. ISBN 9781338769777.
––––. The Movement: 1963. ISBN 9781338769807.
––––. The Movement: 1965. ISBN 9781338769838.
Taylor, Susan. The Movement: 1957. ISBN 9781338769746.
Yomtov, Nel. The Movement: 1955. ISBN 9781338769715.
ea vol: 96p. (Exploring Civil Rights). Scholastic/Children’s Pr. Jan. 2022. Tr $32.
Gr 5-8 –Each of these titles focuses on pivotal events and key figures of the civil rights movement within a specific year. Plentiful photos show sit-ins, protesters, and celebrities like Chuck Berry and Jackie Robinson. Sidebars highlight connections such as media portrayals of prejudice in To Kill a Mockingbird or West Side Story. There is a special look at an event from 100 years earlier; for example, the Dred Scott case from 1857 is discussed in the 1957 book. Ties to international events such as apartheid in South Africa are also explored. A final section recaps the legacy of the year within civil rights history in general. Back matter includes timelines with thumbnail images and biographical features that introduce readers to individuals like John Lewis. VERDICT With a balance of local events and their relationship to national concerns, these books are an excellent resource for social studies classes.

Chandler, Matt. Daring Escape From Alcatraz. ISBN 9781663958747.
Cooley Peterson, Megan. Amelia Earhart’s Final Flight. ISBN 9781663958730.
––––. The Lost Roanoke Colony. ISBN 9781663958778.
Kim, Carol. Area 51 Alien and UFO Mysteries. ISBN 9781663958785.
––––. Disappearance of Skyjacker D.B. Cooper. ISBN 9781663958761.
Nahta Amin, Anita. The Mary Celeste Ghost Ship. ISBN 9781663958754.
ea vol: 32p. (History’s Mysteries). Capstone. Jan. 2022. Tr $29.32.
Gr 4-6 –Famous disappearances and intrigues from across the centuries fill the pages of this series. Whether readers are interested in the disappearance of the Roanoke Colony or the secrets of Area 51, pieces of evidence and possible outcomes surrounding each situation are discussed. Maps, illustrations, and photos of people, locations, and artifacts prevent the pages from being overly text-heavy and support the various theories discussed. Investigations over the years, such as Myth Busters reenacting the escape from Alcatraz or Robert Ballard’s search of Earhart’s missing plane, are included along with other historical information. A recap of the main theories and whether they are believed possible appears in the back matter along with the glossary and recommended reading. VERDICT Will appeal to those who enjoy mysteries and conspiracy theories.

Collins, Ailynn. Can You Survive the Great San Francisco Earthquake? ISBN 9781663958945.
––––. Can You Survive the Schoolchildren’s Blizzard? ISBN 9781663958969.
Gunderson, Jessica. Can You Survive the 1900 Galveston Hurricane? ISBN 9781663958938.
Otfinoski, Steven. Can You Survive the Johnstown Flood? ISBN 9781663958952.
ea vol: 112p. (You Choose: Disasters in History). Capstone. Jan. 2022. Tr $32.65.
Gr 4-6 –These interactive history adventures offer readers three different characters to follow through the disaster, making over a dozen choices to try and survive. Each character is based on actual records of survivors and victims of the original event, and those individuals are identified in the back matter. Illustrations and photos, some of them archival, emphasize the destruction and devastation of the disaster. Suggested reading and websites for further investigation are offered. Other extras include information on how earthquakes or hurricanes are rated, advances in weather forecasting, or the importance of Red Cross relief efforts. Besides the opportunity to explore each of the possible choices within the narrative, there are also a few additional scenarios suggested in “Other Paths to Consider.” VERDICT Would work well with a unit on natural disasters or as individual reading for history buffs.

Levy, Janey. The Achievements of Ancient Greece. ISBN 9781538265598.
––––. The Advances of Ancient Mesopotamia. ISBN 9781538265635.
––––. The Discoveries of Ancient China. ISBN 9781538265673.
––––. The Feats of Ancient Rome. ISBN 9781538265710.
––––. The Innovations of the Ancient Americas. ISBN 9781538265758.
––––. The Marvels of Ancient Egypt. ISBN 9781538265796.
ea vol: 32p. (That’s Ancient!). Rosen/Gareth Stevens. Jan. 2022. Tr $26.60.
Gr 4-6 –This series celebrates cultures from Mesopotamia to the Americas for all their achievements and inventions. Each title begins with an introduction to the civilization and its time period, and then discusses some famous figures, social conventions, and advances in technology of all sorts. Spreads are generally a page of text opposite a page of images, breaking the reading into manageable chunks. Photos of artwork and artifacts accompany the text, along with maps, sidebars, and additional “That’s Fascinating!” details. The various achievements mentioned are credited (where the inventor is known), and similar ideas or discoveries from other cultures are also noted. Readers interested in who invented the first alarm clock, seismograph, or breath mints will find plenty to hold their interest. VERDICT A helpful set for classes studying ancient civilizations or world history in general.

Lewis, Cicely. Resistance to Slavery. ISBN 9781728439068.
Smith, Elliott. Abolitionism. ISBN 9781728439099.
––––. Jim Crow. ISBN 9781728439075.
––––. The Slave Trade. ISBN 9781728439051.
––––. Slavery and Reconstruction. ISBN 9781728439105.
––––. Slavery and the Civil War. ISBN 9781728439082.
ea vol: 32p. (American Slavery and the Fight for Freedom (Read Woke ™ Books). Lerner. Jan. 2022. Tr $29.32.
Gr 4-8 –This series is part of the Read Woke Books imprint in partnership with Cicely Lewis, who wrote the introductory letter found in each book. The titles cover events and important figures from the beginning of slavery in America up through the Jim Crow era. A note encourages readers to view the photos and illustrations critically and additional reflection questions are scattered throughout the books. In “Primary Source Voices,” QR codes access recordings of formerly enslaved persons or other historical narratives, while the “Take Action” section offers virtual trips to national historic sites and museums as well as ideas for how to become politically active. There is also a Read Woke reading list in the back matter of each title. VERDICT An important purchase for those who want to broaden the perspectives in their ­American History collection.

Loh-Hagan, Virginia. Bearing Arms and Tragedy: 2011 Tucson Shooting and Gun Control. ISBN 9781534199521.
––––. Exploration and Explosion: Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster. ISBN 9781534199453.
––––. Friend Request: Invention of Facebook and Internet Privacy. ISBN 9781534199460.
––––. A Levee Broke: Hurricane Katrina and America’s Response. ISBN 9781534199484.
––––. Never Forget: September 11 and Terrorism in America. ISBN 9781534199477.
––––. Polar Vortex: Climate Change and Its Effects. ISBN 9781534199491.
––––. A Torch for Freedom: Building the Statue of Liberty. ISBN 9781534199514.
––––. We the People: Writing the Constitution. ISBN 9781534199507.
ea vol: 32p. (Behind the Curtain). Cherry Lake/45th Parallel Press. Jan. 2022. Tr $29.93.
Gr 4-8 –Reader’s theater scripts approach historical topics in a way that involves students as actors or audiences. Each book opens with historical background and introduces the characters before the drama begins. The skits themselves offer various viewpoints on topics like social media, gun control, or responses to disaster through fictionalized stories. Vocabulary terms are shown in colored font and defined in small text boxes on the page rather than in a separate glossary. Back matter draws connections to current events, challenges readers to argue a position on a topic using evidence to support their reasoning, and suggests further reading. “Spotlight” features related topics such as the NRA and their stance on gun control, or how astronauts participate in elections by voting from the ISS. VERDICT A unique way to bring historical topics to life for class discussion and study.

The information in all the titles is well supported with images, text boxes, and back matter, but a few series are sure to garner attention from students. Capstone’s “You Choose” books on famous disasters allow readers to immerse themselves in the events through the choices they make. Cherry Lake’s “Behind the Curtain” gets the whole class involved as they study the background material and act out the scripts about specific events. And Lerner’s “American Slavery and the Fight for Freedom” actually gives history a voice by providing access to recorded primary source narratives. Whichever series you choose, they all go beyond a dry narrative to help students understand and appreciate the past.

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