Think Like a Scientist: General Science | Series Nonfiction

Whether curious about how amber is created or what the difference is between a neutron and a neutrino, readers are asking questions, and publishers are answering them by offering a multitude of series that appeal to inquisitive minds.

SMS1511GenSciWhether curious about how amber is created or what the difference is between a neutron and a neutrino, readers are asking questions, and publishers are answering them by offering a multitude of series that appeal to inquisitive minds. Well-researched information, engaging writing styles, and visuals that extend the text are the benchmarks for this season’s strongest science entries, and fortunately, students, educators, and librarians will have many outstanding sets from which to choose.


Adamson, Thomas K. The Secrets of Jupiter. ISBN 9781491458648.

––––. The Secrets of Neptune. ISBN 9781 491458679.

––––. The Secrets of Uranus. ISBN 9781 491458693.

Berne, Emma Carlson. The Secrets of Earth. ISBN 9781491458631.

––––. The Secrets of Mercury. ISBN 9781 491458662.

––––. The Secrets of Venus. ISBN 9781 491458709.

Radomski, Kassandra. The Secrets of Mars. ISBN 9781491458655.

––––. The Secrets of Saturn. ISBN 9781 491458686.

ea vol: 32p. (Planets). further reading. glossary. illus. index. websites. Capstone. 2015. lib. ed. $31.32.

Gr 2-4 –A visually strong exploration of the eight planets in the solar system. Filled with “Fast Facts,” including the planet’s diameter, distance from the sun, number of moons, and other relevant details, as well as short, readable sentences, each volume supports Next Generation Science Standards. The inclusion of “Critical Thinking Using the Common Core” at the end of the book will appeal to educators, administrators, and parents and will provide students with an opportunity to articulate and analyze what they’ve read. Readers are also introduced to the people who study the planets in each book’s “Scientist Spotlight.” The images of the night sky are stunning, but while the artists’ illustrations of planetary scenes are beautiful, their inclusion weakens the authenticity. A minor error appears in The Secrets of Saturn, when the author claims that the “fastest winds on Earth occur during hurricanes,” when, in fact, it’s tornadoes that are responsible. VERDICT Although attractive, this series doesn’t improve on extant series.

Buchanan, Shelly C. Animal Senses. ISBN 9781480746787.

––––. Plant Reproduction. ISBN 9781 480746763.

Buchanan, Theodore. Circuits. ISBN 9781 480746824.

Conklin, Wendy. Earth’s Cycles. ISBN 9781 480746862.

––––. The Rock Cycle. ISBN 9781480746886.

Davies, Monika. Adaptations. ISBN 9781480746794.

Greathouse, Lisa. The Nutrient Cycle. ISBN 9781480746800.

Maloof, Torrey. Transferring Energy. ISBN 9781480746831.

Rice, Dona Herweck. We Are Here. ISBN 9781480746879.

––––. What a Scientist Sees. ISBN 9781 480746916.

Rice, William B. Our Resources. ISBN 9781 480746893.

––––. Producers and Consumers. ISBN 9781480746770.

––––. The Story of Fossil Fuels. ISBN 9781480746909.

Westrup, Hugh. Electricity. ISBN 9781 480746817.

Winterberg, Jenna. Light and Its Effects. ISBN 9781480746855.

––––. Sound Waves and Communication. ISBN 9781480746848.

ea vol: 32p. (Science Readers: Content and Literacy). glossary. index. photos. Teacher Created Materials. 2015. lib. ed. $8.99.

Gr 3-5 –The latest additions to this ongoing series deliver the same authoritative, comprehensive, and relevant information that educators have come to expect from the publisher. The high-interest subjects support inquiry-based learning and encourage readers to think critically about science, and they do so in an engaging way that holds students’ attention. Photos, illustrations, and diagrams keep children motivated, while features such as “Think Like a Scientist” and “Your Turn!” encourage learning through hands-on activities. What makes this series stand out, though, are the fascinating facts (“grizzly bears can smell a dead animal up to 20 kilometers…away!”) and the fabulous photos, such as the close-up view of a butterfly’s eye and rolled-up tongue. Smartly written, these innovative and imaginative volumes make learning fun. VERDICT First-rate nonfiction.

Cole, Taylor. Aquamarine. ISBN 9781 482428629.

Hayes, Amy. Garnets. ISBN 9781482428667.

Machajewski, Sarah. Pearls. ISBN 9781482428704.

Mahoney, Emily. Amethysts. ISBN 9781 482428582.

McAneney, Caitie. Topaz. ISBN 9781 482428742.

Rajczak, Michael. Amber. ISBN 9781 482428544.

ea vol: 24p. (Gems: Nature’s Jewels). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Gareth Stevens. 2015. lib. ed. $22.60.

Gr 2-4 –Vibrant images of raw and polished gems jump off the pages in this brief yet beautiful introduction to gemstones. Written in a conversational tone, the books cover how gems are created, where they can be found, and what makes them so valuable: basic facts for those beginning to pursue their interests in geology, mineralogy, and gemology. The green and white color scheme provides an aesthetically pleasing, soothing background. The selection, such as aquamarine and topaz, exposes children to less familiar gemstones, and the accompanying photos, particularly those depicting gems set in exquisite jewelry, enhance the text. Bold vocabulary words and fascinating sidebars (“Be a Gem Genius!”) contribute to the overall solidity of the series. VERDICT Striking visuals and interesting tidbits make this series a fine option for browsers and those completing assignments.

Deyoe, Aaron. Moons. ISBN 9781624037436; ISBN 9781629696775. LC 2015002058.

––––. Planets. ISBN 9781624037443; ISBN 9781629696782. LC 2015002059.

––––. Space Travel. ISBN 9781624037450; ISBN 9781629696799. LC 2015002060.

Doudna, Kelly. The Universe. ISBN 9781624037474; ISBN 9781629696812. LC 2015002062.

Kuskowski, Alex. Stargazing. ISBN 9781624037467; ISBN 9781629696805. LC 2015002211.

Salzmann, Mary Elizabeth. Astronauts. ISBN 9781624037429; ISBN 9781629696768. LC 2015002057.

ea vol: 24p. (Out of This World). glossary. photos. ABDO. 2015. lib. ed. $25.65. ebk. $25.65.

Gr 1-4 –Children will enjoy learning about the universe in this series. Packed with interesting facts and eye-catching images (the photos of astronauts sleeping in bags attached to the walls is a particularly fascinating addition), these slim books pack a lot of punch in just a few pages. The layout and design are remarkable and provide a variety of details that enhance the reading experience, such as the star charts in Stargazing. A brief reading comprehension quiz, questions to stimulate additional thought and consideration (“Think About It!”), and suggestions for how readers can get involved (“Try It Out!”) further strengthen this quality series. VERDICT Strong selections that will appeal to budding space enthusiasts.

Harris, Tim. Animal Kingdom. ISBN 9781502606198.

––––. Earth Science. ISBN 9781502606167.

––––. Life Science. ISBN 9781502606228.

––––. Physical Science. ISBN 9781502606259.

––––. Space Science. ISBN 9781502606136.

––––. Transportation Technology. ISBN 9781502606280.

ea vol: 32p. (Science Q&A). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Cavendish Square. 2015. lib. ed. $28.50.

Gr 4-6 –Though brief, each volume in this standout series is packed from cover to cover with valuable facts and fascinating images not found in most other books for this age group. Students will discover “Key Facts” about each topic as well as “General Information” in sidebars that complement the dense primary text. That being said, each subject is broken down into smaller subtopics (for instance, Life Science consists of six categories: “Science of Life,” “Human Body,” “Senses and Organs,” “Simple Creatures,” “Plant Life,” and “Ecology”), making the material easier to navigate and understand. Following each of these subcategories is a question-and-answer segment in which five to seven queries are asked and explained. The breathtaking photos of the natural world provide further information and are at times fun additions, too, such as the image of a woman reading a book while floating in the Dead Sea. VERDICT Highly recommended offerings.

Rompella, Natalie. Experiments in Light and Sound with Toys and Everyday Stuff. ISBN 9781491450338.

––––. Experiments in Material and Matter with Toys and Everyday Stuff. ISBN 9781491450345.

Sohn, Emily. Experiments in Earth Science and Weather with Toys and Everyday Stuff. ISBN 9781491450352.

––––. Experiments in Forces and Motion with Toys and Everyday Stuff. ISBN 9781491450321.

ea vol: 24p. (Fun Science). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Capstone. 2015. lib. ed. $24.65.

Gr 1-3 –Vibrant photos and straightforward language are the backbone of this series that introduces young readers to scientific experimentation. Using everyday objects, each activity takes readers through three to five steps in simple, clear sentences. While the experiments are relatively easy, students are advised to seek help from adults as a safety precaution. Pleasant graphics and images do not overwhelm the text, allowing readers to focus on the words, and sidebars define important vocabulary. Where this series suffers, however, is in its layout. Discussion of the science doesn’t follow each experiment; instead, readers are forced to turn to a “Why It Works” page at the back of the book. These explanations are brief (only one to two sentences) and provide just the barest of information. VERDICT A serviceable option for beginning scientists, though lacking in some ways.

Roumanis, Alexis. Dwarf Planets. ISBN 9781489633125; ISBN 9781489633132; ISBN 9781489633156.

––––. Earth. ISBN 9781489632807; ISBN 9781489632814; ISBN 9781489632838.

––––. Jupiter. ISBN 9781489632845; ISBN 9781489632852; ISBN 9781489632876.

––––. Mars. ISBN 9781489632883; ISBN 9781489632890; ISBN 9781489632913.

––––. Mercury. ISBN 9781489632920; ISBN 9781489632937; ISBN 9781489632951.

––––. Neptune. ISBN 9781489632968; ISBN 9781489632975; ISBN 9781489632999.

ea vol: 24p. (Planets). illus. Weigl. Jan. 2016. lib. ed. $27.13. pap. $12.95. ebk. $38.95.

K-Gr 2 –Our solar system remains a fascinating topic for children, and this innovative series will appeal to the youngest elementary school students. Simple, straightforward language and sentence structure will enable beginning readers to quickly digest and understand the material. Images of planets, stars, and other celestial bodies provide the background for the text and stand-alone spreads. These breathtaking photos and illustrations draw children into the book while making distant objects in space more accessible. A fact page at the end of each volume goes into greater detail. Designed for adults to support student learning, the material will also appeal to those who crave more information. “Key Words” includes sight words and content words as well as pages on which these terms appear; educators will most likely appreciate this feature. Some redundancy occurs—material on dwarf planets is repeated in each of the other five books—but kids will enjoy the series regardless. VERDICT A solid addition to the collection.

Middle to High School

Allen, John. The Importance of Atomic Theory. ISBN 9781601527868; ISBN 9781601527875.

––––. The Importance of Cell Theory. ISBN 9781601528889; ISBN 9781601528896.

Allman, Toney. The Importance of Germ Theory. ISBN 9781601528902; ISBN 9781601528919.

––––. The Importance of the Laws of Motion. ISBN 9781601528926; ISBN 9781601528933.

Currie, Stephen. The Importance of Evolution Theory. ISBN 9781601528964; ISBN 9781601528971.

Parks, Peggy. The Importance of Plate Tectonic Theory. ISBN 9781601528940; ISBN 9781601528957.

ea vol: 80p. (The Importance of Scientific Theory). chron. further reading. illus. index. notes. photos. websites. ReferencePoint. 2015. lib. ed. $28.95. ebk. $28.95.

Gr 8 Up –Tracing the evolution of six theories from their origins until present day, this well-researched series is packed with information that offers students a better understanding of the nature of science. Rich historical examples from key figures, many accompanied by quotes, illustrate the thinking behind the science while demonstrating the impact on both the discipline and society. Text-heavy, the books contain minimal images, but the ones that are present do their job well by illustrating, supporting, and making clear the material around them. Bright red “Words in Context” sidebars bring the glossary to the reader, flanking the text in which the vocabulary appears; unlike in similar titles, the in-text word does not appear in bold print. Source notes and a list of important people in the history of their fields are provided near the back of each volume, offering a wealth of resources should students choose to pursue further research. VERDICT A first-purchase consideration.

Bortz, Fred. Understanding Higgs Bosons. ISBN 9781502605504.

Fields, B.H & Fred Bortz. Understanding Electrons. ISBN 9781502605382.

––––. Understanding Neutrinos. ISBN 9781 502605405.

––––. Understanding Neutrons. ISBN 9781 502605429.

––––. Understanding Photons. ISBN 9781 502605443.

––––. Understanding Protons. ISBN 9781 502605467.

––––. Understanding Quarks. ISBN 9781 502605481.

ea vol: 64p. (Exploring the Subatomic World). further reading. glossary. illus. index. photos. websites. Cavendish Square. 2015. lib. ed. $34.21.

Gr 9 Up –This well-researched series explains the basic principles of subatomic particles in eight information-packed volumes. These text-heavy books aren’t for casual readers; instead, they are meant to supplement instruction on particle physics, nuclear physics, and quantum chemistry. Although the titles include an inordinate amount of names and dates, the material is thorough, albeit a bit dry, which is compounded by the black print-on-white page design. Images are used occasionally, and great pains were taken to include a variety of media. Black-and-white photos, oil paintings, illustrations, and copies of handwritten notes (such as Dmitri Mendeleyev’s handwritten periodic table from 1869) stand out and resonate with historical significance. Many of the accompanying captions, unfortunately, are lengthy (some more than five sentences long) and feel like paragraphs that the authors couldn’t fit in elsewhere. A list of museums and institutions students can visit appears at the end of the book. VERDICT Although comprehensive, the series appeals to a niche audience. Purchase if there is an existing interest in specialized science.

Bow, James. Earth’s Climate Change: Carbon Dioxide Overload. ISBN 9780778719786; ISBN 9780778720010; ISBN 9781427116284.

––––. Energy from Earth’s Core: Geothermal Energy. ISBN 9780778719793; ISBN 9780778720027; ISBN 9781427116291.

––––. Energy from the Sun: Solar Power. ISBN 9780778719823; ISBN 9780778720058; ISBN 9781427116321.

Dickmann, Nancy. Energy from Nuclear Fission: Splitting the Atom. ISBN 9780778719816; ISBN 9780778720041; ISBN 9781427116314.

––––. Fracking: Fracturing Rock to Reach Oil and Gas Underground. ISBN 9780778719847; ISBN 9780778720072; ISBN 9781427116345.

Kopp, Megan. Energy from Wind: Wind Farming. ISBN 9780778719830; ISBN 9780778720065; ISBN 9781427116338.

––––. Living in a Sustainable Way: Green Communities. ISBN 9780778720003; ISBN 9780778720089; ISBN 9781427116352.

Stuckey, Rachel. Energy from Living Things: Biomass Energy. ISBN 9780778719809; ISBN 9780778720034; ISBN 9781427116307.

ea vol: 32p. (Next Generation Energy). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Crabtree. 2015. lib. ed. $20.70. pap. $8.95. ebk. $31.05.

Gr 5-8 –Exploring natural and human-made energy sources, this comprehensive series examines the history, use, technology, and environmental issues associated with these resources, as well as alternatives and the outlook for the future. Enlightening without being preachy, the volumes emphasize the need for sustainable energy forms, incorporating balanced perspectives and up-to-date data to better inform readers on the advantages and disadvantages of each energy source. Sidebars such as “Rewind,” “The Energy Future: You Choose,” and “Fast Forward” offer in-depth analysis, specific historical examples, and ideas to stimulate critical thinking and discussion as well as current examples, facts, and statistics that enable students to come to their own conclusions. A simple hands-on activity at the end of the books helps readers understand the concepts in a more direct way. VERDICT A wealth of material makes this set a solid addition to science collections.

Gardner, Jane P. Animal Science. ISBN 9781422234051; ISBN 9781422284896.

––––. Car Science. ISBN 9781422234068; ISBN 9781422284902.

––––. Computer Science. ISBN 9781422234075; ISBN 9781422284919.

––––. Environmental Science. ISBN 9781422234082; ISBN 9781422284926.

––––. Fashion Science. ISBN 9781422234099; ISBN 9781422284933.

––––. Food Science. ISBN 9781422234105; ISBN 9781422284940.

––––. Health Science. ISBN 9781422234112; ISBN 9781422284957.

––––. Music Science. ISBN 9781422234129; ISBN 9781422284964.

––––. Photo Science. ISBN 9781422234136; ISBN 9781422284971.

––––. Sports Science. ISBN 9781422234143; ISBN 9781422284988.

––––. Travel Science. ISBN 9781422234150; ISBN 9781422284995.

ea vol: 48p. (Science 24/7). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Mason Crest. 2015. lib. ed. $20.95. ebk. $26.95.

Gr 5-8 –Using narrative nonfiction, this attractive series hooks readers from the outset by using realistic story lines and engaging dialogue to demonstrate how science plays a part in everyday life. The narratives are well written and generally plausible (for instance, kids learning about inheritance of traits by visiting a pet store and observing a litter of kittens) and feature diverse tweens, teens, and adults as characters. While the purpose is to explain the subjects in a more accessible way, students may be distracted by the knowledge displayed by many of the characters. The large blocks of text and the small font are overwhelming at times, but photos and useful sidebars help break up the narrative into manageable chunks. The inclusion of an activity-based exercise (“Try It Yourself”) at the end of each chapter further diversifies the content. Each volume ends with a clear, bite-size concept review that briefly reiterates the focus of each chapter. VERDICT Unique in its approach, this set stands out and would be a solid purchase to fill collection gaps.

Greve, Tom. Astronomers. ISBN 9781634304139; ISBN 9781634305136; ISBN 9781634306058.

––––. Botanists. ISBN 9781634304122; ISBN 9781634305129; ISBN 9781 634306041.

––––. Paleontologists. ISBN 9781634304115; ISBN 9781634305112; ISBN 9781 634306034.

Koontz, Robin. Entomologists. ISBN 9781 634304108; ISBN 9781634305105; ISBN 9781634306027.

––––. Marine Biologists. ISBN 9781 634304085; ISBN 9781634305082; ISBN 9781634306003.

––––. Volcanologists. ISBN 9781634304092; ISBN 9781634305099; ISBN 9781634306010.

ea vol: 48p. (Scientists in the Field). glossary. index. photos. websites. Rourke. 2015. Tr. $32.79. pap. $9.95. ebk. $24.95.

Gr 4-7 –Readers are taken into the field to experience the daily activities of professionals in different fields, along the way gaining a better grasp of each occupation and the science behind it. The authors don’t shy from details of on-the-job dangers, but the emphasis is really on the everyday tasks these scientists undertake, both exciting and mundane. Graphics including photos, charts, and diagrams enhance the text, and a time line conveys the advancements made in each profession. A section called “Before & After Reading Activities” is aimed at parents and educators: “Building Academic Vocabulary and Background Knowledge” allows adults to help kids consider what they already know about the topic and what they’d like to learn, while the “Comprehension and Extension Activity” tests understanding of the subject and suggests ways to pursue independent study. VERDICT Engaging and informative, this series will appeal to students exploring STEM careers and those with an interest in the natural world.

Hunter, Dru. How Do We Apply Science? ISBN 9781608185924.

––––. How Does It Work? ISBN 9781 608185931.

––––. What Is Out There? ISBN 9781 608185948.

––––. What Is the Reason? ISBN 9781 608185955.

––––. Where Do We Look for Life? ISBN 9781608185962.

––––. Why Do We Behave Like That? ISBN 9781608185979.

ea vol: 48p. (Think Like a Scientist). bibliog. glossary. index. photos. reprods. websites. Creative Education. 2015. lib. ed. $38.50.

Gr 5-8 –The scientific method and its use in the past, present, and future is at the heart of each volume in this dynamic series. Readers are taken on a journey through time to witness not only the inception of a field of study but also the events and people responsible for advancing the science. Attractive reproductions and photos appear on every other page and immerse readers in the histories of the subjects, while lasting cultural touchstones—Star Wars, Toy Story, and Avatar, among many others—serve as recognizable visual examples that support and illustrate the well-written and nicely organized text. The orange and charcoal gray color scheme has a clean, modern edge to it that is aesthetically appealing, and the graph paper covered in handwritten formulas that serves as the background for the table of contents page is eye-catching. VERDICT A wonderful addition.

Being curious and unafraid to ask questions are qualities that scientists through the ages have exhibited, and it is in this spirit of inquiry that the latest crop of science books excel. Blending well-researched information with stunning images, the strongest series encourage students to think like scientists when it comes to problem-solving, analysis, and research. True to its name, Creative Education’s “Think Like a Scientist” does just that by enabling readers to experience the evolution of the sciences to the present day while considering their implications for the future. Similarly, ReferencePoint’s “The Importance of Scientific Theory” explores the thought processes of the scientists behind the science. Younger readers can turn to Cavendish Square’s “Science Q&A” for titles that not only answer questions but also inspire additional investigation. Teacher Created Materials’ most recent addition to their ongoing “Science Readers” series doesn’t miss a beat with smartly written books that support inquiry-based learning. The other series, except where noted, would make useful additions for most collections.

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

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Fred Bortz

The list of titles for my new series (Exploring the Subatomic World, with titles beginning "Understanding") is missing one, Understanding the Large Hadron Collider by Fred Bortz. Please add it. Thank you.

Posted : Nov 30, 2015 11:42



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