The Natural World and Us | Natural Science Series Nonfiction

Focusing on what it means to experience the natural world, there has been a shift toward experiential learning and citizen science for younger people across the series selected.


Focusing on what it means to experience the natural world, there has been a shift toward experiential learning and citizen science for younger people across the series selected. There is a little something for everyone from the budding teen forager learning to spore print to the young gardener aspiring to botanical greatness with each seed. These titles are feasts for the eyes, full of beautiful photographs of the outdoor world, beckoning readers to stomp in the dirt of their backyards, travel to marvel at a great mountain, or breathe in the sweet pine scent on their walks home from school. It is this relationship between the green world, ourselves, and our cultures that will have readers excited about not only the environment in which they live, but also their particular part in its overlapping web of life.



Anthony, William. Design a Desert. ISBN 9781636919201.
––––. Make a Mountain Range. ISBN 9781636919218.
––––. Piece Together a Pole. ISBN 9781636919225.
––––. Renovate a River. ISBN 9781636919232.
ea vol: 24p. (How to Build Our World). Bearport/Fusion Books. Aug. 2022. Tr. $26.99.
K-Gr 2 –An easy-to-understand breakdown of ecosystems from the bottom up that teaches about how each component is integral to their respective environments. The art mixes illustrations and real photographs to show the elements at each stage of the building process with a partnership between the concrete images in the still photographs and conceptual ideas presented in the ­illustrations. Each ecosystem is built like a diorama with specific pieces such as species in focus one at a time and slowly layered in a way that respects the complexity of the environmental sciences without overwhelming students with minutiae. VERDICT This series puts the modeling clay of life science in the hands and minds of students looking for a spark of creation.

Griffin, Mary. Ancient Bristlecone Pines. ISBN 9781538386477.
––––. Carnivorous Pitcher Plants. ISBN 9781538386514.
––––. Kelp Forests. ISBN 9781538386552.
––––. Meat-Eating Venus Flytraps. ISBN 9781538386590.
––––. Prickly Desert Cacti. ISBN 9781538386675.
––––. Stinky Corpse Flowers. ISBN 9781538386637.
ea vol: 24p. (Fantastic Plants). Rosen/PowerKids. Aug. 2022. Tr. $$24.60.
Gr 2-4 –Thriving and terrifying plants are presented here for the excitement of young readers. These green wonders are, as promised, fantastic and unusual. They are fascinating additions to botanical curricula with lesser-known plants that help delve more into the world of plants. There is a change in perspective and expanded understanding around what ancient trees and even fruiting plants are like. The world of green life is not only trees and succulents, but also underwater forests made of kelp. Beyond the breakdowns of each species in focus, there is an overarching discussion across these titles about the role of each plant in its ecosystem and how time or climate have impacted them. VERDICT These are a fine addition to school libraries looking to bolster their botanical and climate science collections.

Jacobson, Bray. Denali. ISBN 9781538276716.
––––. The Everglades. ISBN 9781538276754.
––––. The Grand Canyon. ISBN 9781538276792.
––––. The Mississippi River. ISBN 9781538276839.
––––. Niagara Falls. ISBN 9781538276877.
––––. The Rocky Mountains. ISBN 9781538276914.
ea vol: 24p. (Wonderful Natural Wonders). Rosen/Gareth Stevens. Aug. 2022. Tr. $23.60.
Gr 2-4 –A thrilling introduction to the beautiful locales that North America has to offer from massive winding rivers to soaring mountain peaks. Pairing photographs of natural wonders across North America with illustrated maps to help ground geographic awareness, these titles help readers get excited about incredible places near and far. The inclusion of Indigenous justice issues like the naming of Denali brings some balance to this series that does have a heavy human focus. VERDICT These titles are must-haves for classrooms looking to build connections between the physical geography and environment of the landscapes around students.

Sazaklis, John. My Life as a Monarch ­Butterfly. illus. by Duc Nguyen. ISBN 9781666340426.
––––. My Life as a Narwhal. illus. by Bonnie Pang. ISBN 9781666340433.
––––. My Life as a Red-Eyed Tree Frog. illus. by Duc Nguyen. ISBN 9781666340440.
––––. My Life as a Sea Turtle. illus. by Bonnie Pang. ISBN 9781666340419.
ea vol: 32p. (My Life Cycle). Capstone/Picture Window. Aug. 2022. Tr. $25.32.
K-Gr 2 –Relying on the artwork and visuals to depict the life cycles, this series aims to excite young readers by borrowing the ­picture book style. Each title has an animal in focus that is followed through its life cycle in a realistic way with an ­occasional tinge of anthropomorphism used to build a connection to readers. Its softened color palette makes each page an artistic treat and the personal connections to the animals makes them valuable for young conservationists. VERDICT The perfect a­ddition to elementary classrooms looking to build science collections tied to animals from f­iction picture books in their natural settings.

Sterling, Charlie W. Apple. ISBN 9781636906904.
––––. Blueberry. ISBN 9781636906935.
––––. Corn. ISBN 9781636906966.
––––. Maple Tree. ISBN 9781636906997.
––––. Pumpkin. ISBN 9781636907024.
––––. Sunflower. ISBN 9781636907055.
––––. Tomato. ISBN 9781636907086.
––––. Watermelon. ISBN 9781636907116.
ea vol: illus. by Charlie W. Sterling. 16p. (See a Plant Grow!). Jump!/Tadpole Books. Aug. 2022. Tr. $25.65.
PreS-Gr 1 –Showing the transformative visuals from seed to flower to fruit, these reader styled titles seek to introduce early readers to the growth cycles of familiar plants using simple language and vibrant photographs. Vocabulary is presented at the front and back of each title with photographic clues to help budding readers expand reading comprehension with minimal assistance from adults. As part of a growing cadre of science-focused easy reader titles, these books can be used to connect fledgling readers with similar series for young children excited by the sciences. VERDICT Plants are a part of our everyday life from foods in our kitchen to trees in our parks and titles like this can excite young readers while deepening their knowledge of the world they live in.

Vallepur, Shalini. Autumn. ISBN 9781534541313.
––––. Spring. ISBN 9781534541351.
––––. Summer. ISBN 9781534541399.
––––. Winter. ISBN 9781534541436.
ea vol: illus. by Shalini Vallepur. 24p. (Seasons and You). Rosen/Greenhaven. Aug. 2022. Tr. $25.60.
K-Gr 2 –Books on the changing of the seasons often focus on crisp leaves or new spring buds, but this series does an excellent job of tying in the social and cultural aspects of those seasonal changes. There is a diverse depiction of children and families experiencing the hallmarks of each season across the globe within their regional, cultural context. Readers can see festivals from many belief systems reflected here in a very casual way that does not express a preference for one in particular. Vibrant photographs show BIPOC families anjoying the changes of season. VERDICT These are an excellent addition for storytimes in public libraries as well as kindergarten classrooms looking to add in more STEM concepts paired with the global cultural competencies of our world today.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

Debbink, Andrea. Birds of Prey. ISBN 9781532198809.
Hand, Carol. Snakes. ISBN 9781532198823.
Lane, Laura. Butterflies. ISBN 9781532198816.
Seigel, Rachel. Amphibians. ISBN 9781532198793.
ea vol: 112p. (Field Guides Set 3). ABDO/ABDO Reference. Sept. 2022. Tr. $44.21.
Gr 5-8 –Splashing real images of birds, bugs, and more for identification purposes, this collection of field guides is the fun out in the wilderness book for adventurous tweens to try. There is the expected information standard in guides like this such as species and differentiation markers, but there is also an element of fun in the mix, introducing sometimes scary creatures like turkey vultures. VERDICT These are indispensable for youth nature groups who frequently explore the outdoors and are also a welcome addition to middle school classrooms looking to learn more about the animals.

Regan, Lisa. Forest. ISBN 9781978530843.
––––. Garden. ISBN 9781978530881.
––––. Lakes and Ponds. ISBN 9781978530928.
––––. Seashore. ISBN 9781978530966.
ea vol: 32p. (The Great Outdoors). Enslow. Aug. 2022. Tr. $26.27.
Gr 3-5 –Learn more about wild and controlled outdoor spaces with these fun, infographic styled science introductions. There are mixed photographic examples of real spaces peppered with illustrations that tether each section together in a refreshing way. Alongside biology class fares like pollination breakdowns, there is also a starting guide to spore printing mushrooms for woodland foragers. VERDICT For readers looking to reconnect with nature or get to know it for the first time, these are detailed, enjoyable entries into greenspaces familiar and strange.

Experiencing and exploring the natural world is one of the key ways for children to connect to their environments. Indeed, it is suggested by experts to be a pivotal part of developing the empathy and connections necessary to avoid climate apathy and guilt when addressing the ever-present climate crises. That feeling of being rooted is really explored in the experiences from the selected series. And there is a bright patch of hopefulness this season as we see the light shining on BIPOC perspectives in various science fields from traditional foods breaking on the scene in “Fantastic Plants” (Rosen) to greater understanding of each other’s beliefs in “Seasons and You” (Rosen).

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