Meaningful Pursuits: Careers & Skills | Series Nonfiction

Test pilot, video game designer, and humanitarian aid worker: the careers explored here go beyond the tried-and-true options, offering readers some dynamic new possibilities for future professions.

SMS1511CareerWhen children are asked what they want to be when they grow up, their answers generally include the usual suspects: teacher, astronaut, firefighter, president. While these are incredibly important jobs, they now have company, thanks in large part to the growing awareness of outside-the-box possibilities. Test pilot, video game designer, and humanitarian aid worker are just a few of the professions explored here, but what differentiates these series from others on the shelves is their emphasis on how the careers are meaningful to the communities they serve. Librarians, clear your shelves: the 300s are about to get bigger and better.


Avery, Sebastian. A Landscaper’s Tools. ISBN 9781499408997.

King, Aven. A Doctor’s Tools. ISBN 9781499408959.

McFadden, Jesse. A Construction Worker’s Tools. ISBN 9781499408904.

McKinney, Devon. A Firefighter’s Tools. ISBN 9781499408973.

Pressberg, Dava. A Teacher’s Tools. ISBN 9781499409048.

Strauss, Holden. A Chef’s Tools. ISBN 9781499408850.

ea vol: 24p. (Community Helpers and Their Tools). glossary. index. photos. websites. PowerKids. 2015. lib. ed. $23.60.

Gr 2-4 –With its clean, uncluttered design and vibrant photos, this series provides students with an informative look at those who serve the community. Emphasizing what these people wear and the physical tools they use, as well as the work environment, each book sheds light on the various aspects of the job while demonstrating its importance to the community. A white, blue, and yellow color scheme results in a crisp look, while vibrant full-page photo spreads afford readers an up-close look at professionals at work. Sidebars such as “Tool Time!” further explain images while building upon children’s existing knowledge. A visual recap of the tools is appended and all are clearly labeled. Although there is no additional content, students are directed to the publisher’s website for further information and resources. VERDICT A suitable supplemental purchase.

Murray, Julie. Doctors. ISBN 9781629709123; ISBN 9781629709734. LC 2014958398.

––––. Fire Fighters. ISBN 9781629709130; ISBN 9781629709741. LC 2014958405.

––––. Librarians. ISBN 9781629709147; ISBN 9781629709758. LC 2014958401.

––––. Mail Carriers. ISBN 9781629709154; ISBN 9781629709765. LC 2014958406.

––––. Police Officers. ISBN 9781629709161; ISBN 9781629709772. LC 2014958407.

––––. Teachers. ISBN 9781629709178; ISBN 9781629709789. LC 2014958402.

ea vol: 24p. (My Community: Jobs). glossary. index. photos. websites. ABDO Kids. 2015. lib. ed. $27.07. ebk. $27.07.

PreS-Gr 1 –Children will learn about important jobs performed by people in the community in this appealing series. Sentences of up to six words in length convey information about each profession, including what the job entails and the tools required. The text appears in large black type on a clean white background with a soothing pale green and yellow geometric design. This uncluttered layout allows beginning readers to focus on the words, not on the graphics. Crisp photos show the workers carrying out tasks, and those that include kids interacting with the professionals are relatable and believable. A visual glossary includes small, colorful images and a brief definition, and the opposite page identifies pictorially four of the workers’ tools. Additional material can be accessed by visiting the publisher’s website. VERDICT A solid choice for emergent readers curious about their community and the people within it.

Owen, Ruth. Asteroid Hunters. ISBN 9781910549360; ISBN 9781910549377.

––––. Exploring Distant Worlds as a Space Robot Engineer. ISBN 9781910549384; ISBN 9781910549391.

––––. The Wild World of a Zoo Vet. ISBN 9781910549346; ISBN 9781910549353.

––––. The Wonderful Worlds of a Video Game Designer. ISBN 9781910549322; ISBN 9781910549339.

ea vol: 32p. (Get to Work with Science and Technology). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Ruby Tuesday. 2015. lib. ed. $26.60. ebk. $39.93.

Gr 3-6 –Firsthand accounts from professionals in the field, dramatic situations that require problem-solving, and fascinating facts are at the heart of this engrossing series. These high-interest occupations will appeal to a wide audience, especially those students interested in pursuing a STEM-related career. Real-life scientists who use technology, analysis, and critical thinking to solve problems demonstrate on a larger scale the same techniques that students are learning in the classroom. Interesting details abound, and kids will be eager to learn more strange but true tidbits. (How do vets trim an elephant’s toenails? With saws and power sanders, of course.) Striking photos are complemented by geometric sidebars, and the white-print-on-black-background is fresh and sharp. VERDICT Readers will flock to this fun and informational series.

Schuh, Mari. Counting Money. ISBN 9781626172456.

––––. Earning Money. ISBN 9781626172463.

––––. Saving Money. ISBN 9781626172470.

––––. Spending Money. ISBN 9781626172487.

––––. Types of Money. ISBN 9781626172494.

ea vol: 24p. (Money Matters). ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Bellwether. 2015. lib. ed. $22.95.

K-Gr 3 –Introducing beginning readers to financial literacy, this set explains money, banking, and budgets with simple, straightforward sentences that kids will understand. Students learn about the hows but also, more importantly, about the whys: Why is it important to save money (Saving Money)? Why are there different types of money (Counting Money and Types of Money)? Wants and needs are addressed as well, and the distinction between the two are made explicit, thanks in large part to accompanying images of “wants”—a Frozen DVD, the Angry Birds app—and “needs”—school supplies, clothes. Crisp photos and backgrounds in bold hues are abundant and provide visual interest; similarly, the diverse cast of children featured in the photos are believable as they go about their tasks of counting change and window shopping. VERDICT An excellent addition to school and public library collections.

Schwartz, Heather E. Bank Wisely. ISBN 9781607537922. LC 2014033262.

––––. Earn Wisely. ISBN 9781607537939. LC 2014033281.

––––. Save Wisely. ISBN 9781607537946. LC 2014036517.

––––. Spend Wisely. ISBN 9781607537953. LC 2014037649.

ea vol: 32p. (Money Smarts). ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Amicus. 2015. lib. ed. $28.50.

Gr 1-3 –The books in this photo-illustrated series encourage elementary-age students to think wisely about money matters. Simple, declarative statements provide the bulk of the content yet manage to only fill about half the space on each page, leaving a great deal of white space; vivid multicolored borders and chapter endings presented in a bright, Seussian font pop against the white background and provide visual appeal. Sandwiched by boldly hued horizontal blocks, the full-page captioned photos are striking, and the diverse cast of subjects are authentic, allowing readers to see themselves running a lemonade stand or counting money. Simple Q&As interspersed throughout inspire critical thinking, as do built-in math problems that are solved in the narrative. VERDICT Solid additions that make financial literacy accessible for young readers.

Spilsbury, Louise. Emergency Medical Technician. ISBN 9781499408072.

––––. Firefighter. ISBN 9781499408034.

––––. Humanitarian Aid Worker. ISBN 9781499407990.

––––. Lifeguard. ISBN 9781499407952.

––––. Police Officer. ISBN 9781499407914.

––––. Search and Rescue Pilot. ISBN 9781499407877.

ea vol: 32p. (Careers That Count). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Powerkids. 2015. lib. ed. $26.25.

Gr 4-6 –This engaging series explores several gratifying yet dangerous careers and thrusts readers into the action from the outset. General job information, such as education and training requirements, physical characteristics, and equipment used, is interspersed with more specific data in sidebars—“A Typical Day,” “Careers That Count,” and “What Makes a Great…”—providing a balanced look at the risks and rewards associated with each profession. Complementing the text are dynamic color images of these highly skilled individuals in action, whether saving a struggling swimmer or helping refugees, reinforcing the message that these are the people who keep us safe. Graphic organizers, including a spread laying out the many steps needed to prepare for a meaningful career saving lives, will both inform and engage readers. VERDICT Put these titles on display—they won’t stay there long.

Middle to High School

Bailey, Diane. Biomedical Engineers! ISBN 9781422234204; ISBN 9781422284810.

Cassriel, Betsy R. Robot Builders! ISBN 9781422234266; ISBN 9781422284872.

Glenn, John. Civil Engineers! ISBN 9781422234211; ISBN 9781422284827.

Kelley, K.C. Astronauts! ISBN 9781422234181; ISBN 9781422284797.

––––. Marine Biologists! ISBN 9781422234259; ISBN 9781422284865.

Rich, Mari. Big-Animal Vets! ISBN 9781422234198; ISBN 9781422284803.

––––. Cyber Spy Hunters! ISBN 9781422234242; ISBN 9781422284858.

Sutinis, Beth. Crime Scene Techs! ISBN 9781422234235; ISBN 9781422284841.

Thompson, Clifford. Archaeologists! ISBN 9781422234174; ISBN 9781422284780.

––––. Climatologists! ISBN 9781422234228; ISBN 9781422284834.

ea vol: 48p. (Scientists in Action). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Mason Crest. 2015. lib. ed. $23.95. ebk. $26.95.

Gr 5-9 –This informative set immerses students in various STEM-related careers, both familiar and lesser-known. After a preliminary “Action!” chapter introduces readers to the field, each volume subsequently and thoroughly addresses educational requirements (“The Scientists and Their Science”), equipment (“Tools of the Trade”), and examples (“Tales from the Field” and “Scientists in the News”). Text-dependent questions and critical thinking activities conclude each chapter. The scientists are depicted as real-life superheroes, and their prowess is reflected in the graphics, which include comic book lettering and sidebars in the shape of speech bubbles. Although rich in content and design, the series is not without fault: a few incorrect examples—it was Louis Leakey, not Richard, whose illness resulted in his wife’s solo outing and subsequent discovery of a hominid skull fragment; the goldsmith in the Archimedes gold crown myth tried to pass silver off as gold, not “some of the gold off as silver”mar the set. VERDICT Despite a few blemishes, this is first-rate nonfiction for educational or recreational reading.

Beaton, Kathryn. Payday! ISBN 9781633625730; ISBN 9781633626638.

Brennan, Linda Crotta. Understanding Taxes. ISBN 9781633625778; ISBN 9781633626676.

Marsico, Katie. Investing: Making Your Money Work for You. ISBN 9781633625716; ISBN 9781633626614.

––––. Using Credit Wisely. ISBN 9781633625785; ISBN 9781633626683.

––––. What Is Money? ISBN 9781633625792; ISBN 9781633626690.

Minden, Cecilia. Giving Back. ISBN 9781633625709; ISBN 9781633626607.

––––. Living on a Budget. ISBN 9781633625723; ISBN 9781633626621.

––––. Saving for the Future. ISBN 9781633625747; ISBN 9781633626645.

––––. Smart Shopping. ISBN 9781633625754; ISBN 9781633626652.

––––. Starting Your Own Business. ISBN 9781633625761; ISBN 9781633626669.

ea vol: 32p. (Real World Math: Personal Finance). ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Cherry Lake. 2015. lib. ed. $20.95. pap. $9.95.

Gr 4-8 –Emphasizing financial literacy, this series makes complex ideas highly accessible to tween readers. Whether tackling the basics or teaching students how to make smart choices, each volume illustrates how to handle money wisely, then reinforces this idea with “Real World Math Challenge[s]” that test students’ understanding of the topic. Similarly, “Life and Career Skills” and “21st Century Content” sidebars encourage discussion and further consideration and provide solid financial advice. Photos feature a diverse cast of children and young adults, and Giving Back includes real-world examples of positive and uplifting organizations (Locks of Love, VolunteerMatch) and phenomena (2014’s ALS ice bucket challenge), which add authenticity. In-text vocabulary that is later included with pronunciation in the glossary appears in bold black font, and while the graphics are not remarkable, they also don’t distract from or overwhelm the information. VERDICT Seamlessly integrating real-world math and finance, this set is an excellent addition.

Bella, Laura La. Careers for Tech Girls in Video Game Development. ISBN 9781499461077.

Hagler, Gina. Careers for Tech Girls in Math. ISBN 9781499461015.

Hand, Carol. Careers for Tech Girls in Technology. ISBN 9781499460995.

Klein, Rebecca T. Careers for Tech Girls in Science. ISBN 9781499461039.

Lusted, Marcia Amidon. Careers for Tech Girls in Engineering. ISBN 9781499460971.

Niver, Heather Moore. Careers for Tech Girls in Computer Science. ISBN 9781499461053.

ea vol: 80p. (Tech Girls). bibliog. ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Rosen Young Adult. 2015. lib. ed. $34.25.

Gr 7 Up –This inspiring series encourages girls to pursue careers in STEM-related fields, and while it targets female readers, most of the advice and suggestions could be helpful for a male audience, too. The volumes stress the importance of beginning to pursue one’s interests at a young age and to find opportunities to continue learning, including joining clubs and attending summer camps. Each book covers the wide variety of job possibilities available as well as the education and training necessary to succeed in the profession, and tips such as building a portfolio, creating a resume or CV, and networking are offered. The stories of iconic role models, including Rachel Carson, Sally Ride, and Jane Goodall, as well as contemporary tech celebrities Mayim Bialik and Danica McKellar, appear in sidebars that are both empowering and authoritative, and the vast majority of photos feature a multicultural cast of women in science. A frank discussion of gender stereotypes and gender discrimination is disheartening but necessary. VERDICT An important addition for most science or career collections.

Buckley, James, Jr. Coaching & Scouting. ISBN 9781422232675; ISBN 9781422285251.

––––. Sports Media Relations. ISBN 9781422232699; ISBN 9781422285275.

Burgan, Michael. Health Careers in Sports. ISBN 9781422232682; ISBN 9781422285268.

––––. Working in College Sports. ISBN 9781422232743; ISBN 9781422285329.

Ellenport, Craig. Sports Agent. ISBN 9781422232705; ISBN 9781422285282.

Gigliotti, Jim. Sports Arena and Event Management. ISBN 9781422232668; ISBN 9781422285244.

Marini, Matt. Analytics: Sports Stats and More. ISBN 9781422232651; ISBN 9781422285237.

Peterson, Brian. Sports Marketing. ISBN 9781422232729; ISBN 9781422285305.

Walters, John. Sports Broadcasting. ISBN 9781422232712; ISBN 9781422285299.

––––. Sportswriting and Sports Photography. ISBN 9781422232736; ISBN 9781422285312.

ea vol: 64p. (Careers Off the Field). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Mason Crest. 2015. lib. ed. $23.95. ebk. $29.95.

Gr 7-10 –Exploring the abundance of nonathletic jobs available in professional, collegiate, and high school sports, this text-heavy series does an exemplary job preparing readers for careers off the field. Each volume contains four chapters—“Getting Started,” “Hard at Work,” Realities of the Workplace,” and “The Nitty-Gritty”—that deliver an honest, realistic perspective on the profession, including an eye-opening look at job opportunities. Text-dependent questions and suggestions for research projects extend the content. Emphasizing a strong background in writing and math, the books don’t shy away from asserting the importance of education and even offer examples of colleges where students can develop the skills they’ll need to pursue their sports-related careers. Contemporary real-world examples, such as how the hiring of Becky Hammon in 2014 as the assistant coach for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs was the first time a woman had filled in that role in any major pro sport, and interviews with individuals with years of experience in their fields provide not only currency and authority but inspiration for would-be sports professionals. While an all-encompassing “Series Glossary of Key Words” minimizes the job-specific vocabulary and lingo, it’s a minor detriment to this standout series. VERDICT Interesting and informative reads that will appeal to both sports enthusiasts and a general audience.

Burgan, Michael. Food Engineering: From Concept to Consumer. ISBN 9780531218983.

Otfinoski, Steven. High-Speed Trains: From Concept to Consumer. ISBN 9780531218990.

––––. Wind, Solar, and Geothermal Power: From Concept to Consumer. ISBN 9780531218976.

Yomtov, Nel. Internet Security: From Concept to Consumer. ISBN 9780531218969.

ea vol: 64p. (Calling All Innovators: A Career for You). chron. glossary. index. photos. websites. Children’s Pr. 2015. lib. ed. $30.

Gr 5-8 –Thorough, accurate, and engaging, these titles explore four unique STEM-related careers and convey their importance through engrossing text and striking photographs. Including rich historical context and fun nods to the past, such as the print ad for Tang circa 1966, the volumes focus on the current state of each innovative profession while considering where each may be headed in the years to come. What makes this series stand out is its currency. Students will learn about cutting-edge technology, from cotton candy–flavored green grapes to 3-D printers that create food. Interviews with professionals provide firsthand information, while sidebars such as “Career Stats” fill readers in on median annual salary, projected job growth, required education, and more. Both features succeed in presenting an honest look at the realities associated with the careers. Graphics appear on every page and present visuals that support the text, and a brief time line highlighting advancements in the field begins every chapter. Even the design of the table of contents feels fresh and is perfectly in line with the forward-thinking scientists at the heart of these innovative professions. VERDICT Delightful and dynamic additions.

Faust, Daniel. A Career as a CIA Agent. ISBN 9781499411119.

––––. A Career as an FBI Special Agent. ISBN 9781499411157.

Rapine, Dawn. A Career as a Border Patrol Agent. ISBN 9781499411096.

––––. A Career as a DEA Agent. ISBN 9781499411133.

Roby, Cynthia. A Career as an ATF Agent. ISBN 9781499411041.

Shea, Therese. A Career as a Secret Service Agent. ISBN 9781499411171.

ea vol: 32p. (Federal Forces: Careers as Federal Agents). glossary. index. photos. websites. Powerkids. 2015. lib. ed. $26.25.

Gr 5-8 –This thorough and well-crafted series introduces readers to the various exciting jobs available at the federal level and does not shy away from acknowledging the dangerous aspects of the jobs. In-depth coverage of duties, responsibilities, and training offers audiences a clear understanding of the dedication and courage necessary to work in these fields, and a section devoted to advising students on joining the profession includes details about the physical requirements and character traits necessary for consideration. Pairing facts with striking visuals, the books will appeal to reluctant readers as well as those exploring future career choices. A blue-and-black color scheme allows the white lettering and yellow captions and headings to stand out. Both color and black-and-white photographs provide historical perspective and put faces on the many individuals who have played a role in the field’s development. VERDICT This enjoyable and informative series will find welcome space in libraries.

Hamilton, John. Rodeo Clown. ISBN 9781624037580; ISBN 9781629695617. LC 2015930948.

––––. Test Pilot. ISBN 9781624037610; ISBN 9781629695648. LC 2015930954.

Hamilton, S.L. Astronaut. ISBN 9781624037566; ISBN 9781629695594. LC 2015930951.

––––. Daredevil. ISBN 9781624037573; ISBN 9781629695600. LC 2015930949.

––––. Search & Rescue. ISBN 9781624037597; ISBN 9781629695624. LC 2015930952.

––––. Stunt Performer. ISBN 9781624037603; ISBN 9781629695631. LC 2015930965.

ea vol: 32p. (Xtreme Jobs). glossary. index. photos. ABDO. 2015. lib. ed. $27.07. ebk. $27.07.

Gr 4-8 –This informative and attractive series includes eye-catching, full-page photos that immerse readers in the dangerous work of stunt performers, test pilots, and other death-defying professionals. Written in brief, easy-to-read blocks of text, the information highlights the skills, training, and safety precautions that individuals in these fields need to follow to succeed and survive. Dazzling spreads enhance the visual appeal, while small details, such as the white text, make the graphics pop. Additionally, sidebars scattered throughout the pages include fun and fascinating facts and trivia. Although these selections lack extras and aren’t that comprehensive, the allure of the set is the uncommon subject matter and vivid images, which will appeal to reluctant readers and those looking for action-packed career choices. VERDICT Students will eagerly pick up these entertaining volumes.

Harmon, Daniel E. Working as a Law Enforcement Officer in Your Community. ISBN 9781499461152.

Kamberg, Mary-Lane. Working as a Mechanic in Your Community. ISBN 9781499461138.

Kassnoff, David. Working as a Physical Therapist in Your Community. ISBN 9781499461091.

Lusted, Marcia Amidon. Working as a Plumber in Your Community. ISBN 9781499461190.

Martin, Bobi. Working as an Electrician in Your Community. ISBN 9781499461114.

Porterfield, Jason. Working as a Tattoo Artist in Your Community. ISBN 9781499461220.

Sunseri, Sophia Natasha. Working as a Teacher in Your Community. ISBN 9781499461176.

ea vol: 80p. (Careers in Your Community). bibliog. further reading. glossary. photos. websites. Rosen YA. 2015. lib. ed. $34.25.

Gr 7-10 –Concentrating on jobs both familiar and often-overlooked, this content-heavy series is filled with valuable advice and guidelines, as well as words of wisdom from seasoned professionals. Students learn about training, education, and licensure requirements, necessary characteristics (physical, mental, and personality) to do the job well, and career prospects. These titles provide readers with beneficial information to help determine whether the job is right for them. Individuals working in the field share their experience in informative sidebars, while in-text quotes from professionals detail potential challenges and rewards. Useful prep tips and recommendations—such as resources for job hunters, the importance of networking, and creating memorable resumes—remind teens that while hard skills are important, people skills matter just as much. VERDICT Libraries can’t go wrong with these welcome additions.

Loh-Hagan, Virginia. Acupuncturist. ISBN 9781634700306; ISBN 9781634700573.

––––. Ethical Hacker. ISBN 9781634700245; ISBN 9781634700511.

––––. Ghost Hunter. ISBN 9781634700283; ISBN 9781634700559.

––––. Mortician. ISBN 9781634700252; ISBN 9781634700528.

––––. Odor Tester. ISBN 9781634700269; ISBN 9781634700535.

––––. Parade Float Designer. ISBN 9781634700276; ISBN 9781634700542.

––––. Sound Effects Artist. ISBN 9781634700290; ISBN 9781634700566.

––––. Tattoo Artist. ISBN 9781634700313; ISBN 9781634700580.

ea vol: 32p. (Odd Jobs). ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Cherry Lake/45th Parallel. 2015. lib. ed. $20.95. pap. $9.95.

Gr 5-8 –The eight unusual jobs in this high-interest, low-complexity series are bound to draw the attention of readers. Sidebars containing professional lingo and quirky facts, such as how fishermen perform acupuncture on fish destined to become sushi, add amusing details, and recognizable pop culture references (the NBA’s Dwyane Wade, SyFy’s hit TV show Ghost Hunters) make the books even more relatable. Unfortunately, these elements are not enough to overcome the series’ many flaws. Short sentences three-to-five words in length make the text choppy, not only resulting in a lack of flow but also oversimplifying the subjects. Sentence fragments (“He works on live shows. So he can’t make mistakes.”), exaggeration (“Most Americans love baseball.”), errors, and missteps are scattered throughout the series; most egregious is a photo of German soldiers huddled around an Enigma machine during World War II with the caption “Ethical hackers can help win wars.” VERDICT Although the subjects are intriguing, the execution is flawed. Skip these.

Featuring inspiring stories of women who have made a difference in the STEM fields, Rosen YA’s empowering “Tech Girls” lets all readers know that a career in technology is possible if one is willing to put in the time, reach out to mentors, and build professional relationships with other like-minded individuals. Powerkids’s “Careers That Count” emphasizes how challenging yet rewarding these jobs can be and does so with riveting text and powerful images. The elementary crowd will gobble up Ruby Tuesday’s “Get to Work with Science and Technology,” which demonstrates the importance of roles such as asteroid hunter and zoo vets to the safety, health, and well-being of the people—and animals—around them as well as the satisfaction these professionals get from a job well done. The other series covered here would be suitable additions to the collection, except where noted.

Audrey Sumser, Kent State University at Tuscarawas, New Philadelphia, OH

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