STEAMing Right Along | General Science Series Nonfiction

Whether the books focus on the improvement of sneaker design, coding a robot’s actions, or how to bend a soccer kick, publishers are working hard to make the information personally relevant and attractive.

With everything from social media to drones, this season’s titles provide a wide variety of topics and features to lure readers in and hold their attention. Access to additional content through QR codes and links enhances the learning experience and ties the text to the real world. Younger readers can explore infographics of the human body while older readers can learn how scientific phenomena affected famous events in history. Whether the books focus on the improvement of sneaker design, coding a robot’s actions, or how to bend a soccer kick, publishers are working hard to make the information personally relevant and attractive.



Anthony, William. Habitat Facts. ISBN 9781636912387.
––––. Plant Facts. ISBN 9781636912400.
––––. Weather and Season Facts. ISBN 9781636912417.
Dufresne, Emilie. Human Body Facts. ISBN 9781636912394.
ea vol: 24p. (Fact-o-graphics!). Bearport/Fusion. Aug. 2021. Tr. $26.99.
Gr 1-4 –1-2 Using colorful illustrations and inset photos, this series presents basic facts for early readers. A section on the five senses, for example, uses small photos of foods to highlight the five categories of taste. A general statement introduces each spread’s topic and text boxes provide additional information. Everything from seasons to microhabitats is shown, labeled, and explained. Readers learn that a baobab tree holds enough water for 650 baths or that Reykjavik has the longest day of any town on Earth. A table of contents and index make it easy to locate specific points of interest. Vocabulary words appear in bold print and are defined in the glossary. Each book also includes a section on extremes or record breakers, like the largest human feet or a tree that weighs as much as 15 African elephants. VERDICT Chunked text and abundant visuals make this series accessible to early readers.

Brundle, Joanna. Dinosaurs. ISBN 9781502661890.
––––. The Human Body. ISBN 9781502661937.
––––. Inventors and Inventions. ISBN 9781502661975.
––––. Rain Forests. ISBN 9781502662019.
ea vol: 32p. (Discover and Learn). Rosen/PowerKids. Aug. 2021. Tr. $28.50.
Gr 3-4 –Text in this series is conveniently chunked into small paragraphs, captions, and text boxes. Plentiful color photographs, diagrams, and illustrations offer additional information and support comprehension. Section headings for each spread appear in the table of contents, making it easy to locate specific topics of interest. Material in the books is organized in a way best suited to the subject—dinosaurs are grouped by type, while the rainforest is revealed by layer. Each book also offers particular points of interest. For example, Inventors and Inventions profiles several inventors from across the ages, while Human Body concludes with a section on record holders for longest hair, fingernails, and nose. Suggestions for further reading would have been welcome, but the books cover each topic in satisfactory depth for the intended age range. ­VERDICT A solid addition to collections and especially useful for intermediate grades.

Holmes, Kirsty. Fossils. ISBN 9781538270479.
––––. People. ISBN 9781538270516.
––––. Rocks. ISBN 9781538270554.
––––. Soil. ISBN 9781538270592.
ea vol: 32p. (Under Our Feet). Gareth Stevens. Aug. 2021. Tr. $26.60.
Gr 2-3 –Holmes makes sure to point out that there are amazing things above the Earth and on it, but each book draws attention to what lies below the surface. Everything from earthworms, diamonds, and the ruins of Pompeii are shown with captioned photos. A main block of text anchors each topic, while further details appear in text boxes and within the captions. Photos show flint arrowheads, Stonehenge, King Tut’s death mask, and other fascinating objects. Soil may sound like the least interesting of the titles, but dirt bike racing, the “Terracotta Army,” and mud volcanoes are sure to keep readers engaged. Each book ends with a quiz that will encourage students to test their new knowledge on each subject. VERDICT Full of entertaining facts to bring the subjects to life, this series will be both useful and popular.

Lindeen, Mary. Earth. ISBN 9781684508280.
––––. Push and Pull. ISBN 9781684508242.
––––. Seasons. ISBN 9781684508297.
––––. Solids and Liquids. ISBN 9781684508259.
––––. Where Animals Live. ISBN 9781684508266.
––––. Where Plants Live. ISBN 9781684508273.
ea vol: 32p. (Beginning-to-Read). Norwood House. Aug. 2021. Tr. $25.27.
Gr 2-3 –Identifying forces at work or sorting substances into solids and liquids are a few of the ideas covered in these books. Large scale illustrations dominate the pages, with a few sentences of text on each spread. “Did You Know?” text boxes offer additional facts such as, “A force is always needed to move an object.” Simple page layout makes these books easy to digest, which would be especially helpful with students who can be confused by a cluttered presentation. Back matter includes ideas for discussion and activities to send readers back to the text and also out to make real world connections. In Where Plants Live, for example, it suggests identifying what sort of area the child lives in and what types of plants grow there. ­VERDICT This series could be used as an introduction to a topic in class or for individual exploration by readers.

Szymanski, Jen. Coding. ISBN 9781338761917.
––––. Space Exploration. ISBN 9781338762396.
Towler, Paige. Building. ISBN 9781338762426.
––––. Tracking Animals. ISBN 9781338762037.
ea vol: 32p. (Real World Math). Scholastic/Children’s Press. Sept. 2021. Tr. $25.
K-Gr 2 –The books in this series focus on different fields of science and relate patterns, geometry, and other concepts to tasks within the various careers. Each title profiles individuals who use math on the job—astronomers, architects, wildlife biologists, and video game designers. Readers are encouraged to try ordering moon rocks by size or counting penguins by groups of ten to see how math applies to the real world. Putting the steps in order to program a robot, measuring craters on the moon, or tracking the distance traveled by animals are all activities that use math skills. Colorful photos of Chichen Itza, sea turtles, or a Mars rover make the books visually appealing. VERDICT Connections between the math concepts and the titular subject seems a bit forced at times, but the inclusion of women and people of color in the scientist profiles is a welcome representation.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

Ellenport, Craig. Hockey: Score with STEM! ISBN 9781636911786.
Gigliotti, Jim. Baseball: Score with STEM! ISBN 9781636911762.
Kelley, K. C. Basketball: Score with STEM! ISBN 9781636911809.
––––. Football: Score with STEM! ISBN 9781636911755.
––––. Soccer: Score with STEM! ISBN 9781636911779.
Labrecque, Ellen. Lacrosse: Score with STEM! ISBN 9781636911793.
ea vol: 32p. (Sports STEM). Bearport. Aug. 2021. Tr. $28.50.
Gr 4-6 –Want to show fans of athletics how STEM applies to their favorite activities? This series takes science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and shows them in action on the field, the court, or the rink. Readers will learn about the physics of pitching, the tech of sensors used to monitor performance, the ingenious ways engineers can convert playing fields from soccer to football use, or how geometry applies to goalies. The books are filled with captioned photos that capture the action and diagrams to illustrate concepts. Each title ends with a “Do the Math!” section that asks readers to calculate highest points-per-game, earned run average, and other stats. A glossary defines the terms found in bold print throughout the text. Recommended books for further reading and links to the Factsurfer website encourage exploration. VERDICT High ­interest ­titles that will update collections and ­satisfy sports enthusiasts.

Enz, Tammy. Science in King Tut’s Tomb. ISBN 9781496695758.
––––. Science on Shackleton’s Expedition. ISBN 9781496695741.
––––. Science on the Mayflower. ISBN 9781496695734.
––––. Science on the Oregon Trail. ISBN 9781496695420.
ea vol: 48p. (The Science of History). Capstone. Aug. 2021. Tr. $31.99.
Gr 4-6 –Looking at historical events through a science lens provides a unique viewpoint. Discussions include the effects of scientific principles and processes, as well as the technology used to overcome problems. Students will learn how ocean currents affected the Mayflower and the Antarctic expedition or why Egyptian priests and Oregon Trail travelers had to fight bacterial decay. Besides details on building materials, navigation tools, and waterproofing techniques, the text also explains how modern methods such as CT scans and DNA analysis are used to investigate historic sites. Plentiful maps, diagrams, photos of Howard Carter at Tut’s tomb or Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton’s crew on the ice, and other images support the text and give it visual interest. Suggested books and sites for additional investigation extend the learning. VERDICT An informative look at history and science that shows the connection between the two areas of knowledge.

Hoena, Blake. Cell Phones and Smartphones. illus. by Ceej Rowland. ISBN 9781541581494.
––––. The Electric Guitar. illus. by David Buisán. ISBN 9781541581470.
––––. Sneakers. illus. by Ceej Rowland. ISBN 9781541581487.
Tulien, Sean. Video Games. illus. by David Buisán. ISBN 9781541581500.
ea vol: 32p. (Amazing Inventions). Lerner/Graphic Universe. Aug. 2021. Tr. $27.99.
Gr 3-6 –Titles focus on objects familiar to readers and trace their invention and updates over the years. Current students have never lived in a world without these items and may be amazed at the various iterations that led to the current forms. Images show bulky mobile phones from the 1980s, the simplistic graphics of early video games, and other historical details. Innovations such as the waffle tread on Nike shoes for improved traction reinforce the continuous nature of the design process. Discussion of celebrity endorsements introduces famous faces and ties the inventions to popular culture. Source notes as well as suggestions for other books and websites will lead readers to additional information on each topic. VERDICT The graphic novel format and choice of high interest topics will keep these books in constant circulation.

Loh-Hagan, Virginia. Weird Science: Animals. ISBN 9781534187658.
––––. Weird Science: Food. ISBN 9781534187597.
––––. Weird Science: Medicine. ISBN 9781534187603.
––––. Weird Science: Military. ISBN 9781534187641.
––––. Weird Science: Movies. ISBN 9781534187634.
––––. Weird Science: Plants and Fungi. ISBN 9781534187627.
––––. Weird Science: Space. ISBN 9781534187610.
––––. Weird Science: The Human Body. ISBN 9781534187580.
ea vol: 32p. (How the Heck Does That Work?!). Cherry Lake. Aug. 2021. Tr. $29.93.
Gr 4-6 –The weird and unusual attracts science enthusiasts and even the uninterested. Books in this set feature large images of electric eels and carnivorous plants, as well as details about military parachutes and radio telescopes. Sidebars delve into related topics like the presence of dark matter in foods, scientist profiles, or species diversity in rainforests. Each title includes a “Test It Out” activity idea, such as bouncing sound waves to learn more about echolocation. Topics include animal camouflage, stop-motion photography, and diamond rain on Jupiter. Colored text highlights terms found in the glossary for easy reference. Whether readers are interested in animals or military hardware, there are plenty of topics to choose from in this series. VERDICT Great for reluctant readers and STEM buffs alike, while also useful for classroom science units.


Upper Middle School to High School

Anduri, Stefanie. Environment. ISBN 9781422245200.
––––. Music. ISBN 9781422245231.
Caissie, David. Sports. ISBN 9781422245262.
Dean, Mary. Cosmetics. ISBN 9781422245187.
––––. Fashion. ISBN 9781422245217.
––––. Smartphones. ISBN 9781422245248.
––––. Social Media. ISBN 9781422245255.
Havelka, Jacqueline. Automobiles. ISBN 9781422245170.
––––. Gaming. ISBN 9781422245224.
Stephens, Anderson. Drones. ISBN 9781422245194.
ea vol: 80p. (High-Interest STEAM). National Highlights. Sept. 2021. Tr. $34.60.
Gr 7 Up –Whether teens are into cars, fashion, or saving the environment, this series offers titles that appeal to a wide range of hobbies and interests. Each book breaks down the components of STEAM and shows how they apply to the subject. Words to understand are introduced before the main text, and sidebars offer additional information, like the job of a cosmetics chemist or Facebook science posts. Readers can explore Auto-Tune technology, how engineers create fingerprint scanning for smartphones, or the art of nature photography. QR codes offer access to videos related to each title, such as a TED Talk on body art in Cosmetics. Text-dependent questions send readers back into each section of the book to make connections, while suggested research projects offer further inquiry for each chapter. ­ VERDICT The real-world connections between STEAM and teen interests combined with strong comprehension support make this a solid purchase.

Strong series this fall use a variety of techniques to reach readers. A combination of infographics and photos clearly illustrates the concepts in Bearport/Fusion’s “Fact-o-graphics!” to make basics such as body systems easily understandable. Others take advantage of existing enthusiasms to show the allure of science by focusing on favorite pastimes in “Sports STEM” (Bearport), or the fascination of underground discoveries in “Under Our Feet” (Gareth Stevens). Lerner’s “Amazing Inventions” capitalizes on enjoyment of the graphic novel format and curiosity about ubiquitous items such as video games to showcase how the design process continues to improve on basic models. Readers can enjoy an amazing variety of subjects all within the umbrella of science.

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