Some Penguin Problems

When Kate learns that her class is going on a field trip to the aquarium, she is thrilled that she’ll get to see the penguin exhibit! The rockhopper penguins are her favorite. To prepare, Ms. Eberlin assigns the class a project: each student has to do a report about a different animal at the aquarium. Even though Kate gets assigned sea lions, she’s still thrilled to go. Kate, Birdie, and the rest of the class excitedly prepare for their projects until it’s finally Aquarium Day! But then a huge snowstorm threatens to ruin the class’s field trip. Will the snow and ice force the school to cancel the field trip?

When the teacher announces the field trip, she explains the need to have volunteers to chaperone. The lack of volunteers and the weather forecast drive much of the plot. However, Kate’s desire to report on penguins instead of sea lions also adds conflict, partly because Kate wants her classmate to switch topics with her. At times Kate seems like a know-it-all because she uses her knowledge of penguins to prove that she should be doing her report on them. However, in the end, Kate learns to appreciate sea lions and apologizes to her classmates.

The book’s short chapters all begin with definitions of science words such as statistics, sodium, and convection. Simple black and white illustrations appear every 1 to 3 pages. While the illustrations help break up the text, they will not help readers understand the plot or visualize the characters. The book concludes with a recipe to make chocolate-covered pretzels. The last pages of the book show Biberdorf’s other books, The Big Book of Experiments and The Awesome Book of Edible Experiments for Kids.

Some Penguin Problems is an entertaining book with a main character that isn’t perfect but strives to do what is right. In this book, Kate is presented with a dilemma, and in the end, decides to keep a promise even though it means giving up something she really wants. Plus, Kate’s story is packed full of science and animal facts. Biberdorf uses kid-friendly examples and explanations to explain how chemistry is used in everyone’s daily lives. The story also depicts healthy family relationships through Kate’s interactions with her brother and parents.

Science and animal-loving readers will enjoy Some Penguin Problems because of the relatable conflicts and the interesting facts. Through Kate’s experiences, readers will learn the importance of being able to adapt and change. Kate explains, “It was sometimes important to adapt. Even if some of the changes weren’t what you wanted.” Despite the book’s positive aspects, readers who are not interested in science might find the focus on science a little overwhelming. Readers who want to expand their science knowledge should also read the Girls Who Code Series by Stacia Deutsch.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • At the aquarium, the students see a blind sea lion that “had shrapnel in his eyes because he had been shot.”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Ty’s Travels: Lab Magic

Corey and Ty take an exciting trip to the museum, where they get to be scientists. First, they study bugs. Then, they study the wind. Ty is disappointed when he discovers that he is too little to do science experiments at the museum. But Ty doesn’t let that spoil his day.

Once Corey and Ty get home, Momma helps them set up a science experiment that is perfect for younger kids. Before they begin, Corey and Ty make sure they are safe by putting on a lab coat (Dad’s shirt), goggles, and gloves. With their parents’ help, Corey and Ty learn that they like being scientists.

Lab Magic is part of the My First I Can Read Series, which uses basic language, word repetition, and illustrations that are ideal for emergent readers. Each page has one to four simple sentences with large, brightly colored illustrations. The illustrations will introduce different types of science such as using test tubes or learning about butterflies. Plus, the pictures will help young readers understand the plot.

Young readers who are learning how to read will enjoy Lab Magic. The short sentences and large illustrations make the story accessible to emergent readers. Like the other books in Ty’s Travels Series, Lab Magic shows Ty’s two-parent family in a positive light. Readers will enjoy learning about Ty’s adventure and all of the different ways science can be studied. For more science fun, check out Cece Loves Science by Kimberly Derting & Shelli R. Johannes.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

The Great Escape

What do magnetic slime, a secret code, and the periodic table have in common? They’re all part of the science-themed escape room that Kate’s science teacher puts on for their class. Will Kate and her friends be able to use their science know-how to crack the code before time runs out?

The Great Escape begins with conflicts that everyone can relate to: friendship drama, arguing with a classmate, and competition. Kate and her class are broken up into groups in order to complete a science project. The group that wins gets to show the whole school how to make a pumpkin vomit. Kate is determined that her group will win, but when Kate and another classmate get into a tug-of-war over pliers, both groups are forced to stay after school and complete an escape room which will require everyone to work together.

The escape room involves helping the legendary scientist, Rosalind Franklin, who was “a science superhero who used X-rays to take images of DNA.” As Kate and the other kids try to solve the escape room’s mystery, they learn about Rosalind Franklin and other chemistry facts. The kids also learn the importance of working together. Even though the kids rely on science to escape the room, there is enough dialogue and spooky situations to keep the story entertaining.

The short chapters all begin with definitions of science words such as deoxyribonucleic acid, condenser, and double helix. Simple black and white illustrations appear every 1 to 3 pages. While the illustrations help break up the text, they will not help readers understand the plot or visualize the characters. The book ends with instructions on how to make magnetic slime. The book includes some other experiments, but there are no instructions on how to perform those experiments. Even though The Great Escape is the second book in the series, each book can be read as a stand-alone.

The second installment of the Kate the Chemist Series focuses less on science and more on peer relationships, which makes the story interesting. The arguing between the girl’s group and the boy’s group is realistic and relatable, and the fall theme gives the story a hint of spooky suspense. The Great Escape will appeal to a large range of readers, not just those interested in science. If you’re looking for a book that may spark readers’ interest in science, The Great Escape would be a good choice.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • Kate’s mother takes Tylenol for a headache.

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

The Apple Orchard Riddle

Mr. Tiffin’s class is going on another field trip. The class is excited to go to an apple orchard and learn all about apples. The kids will see how apples are harvested, how apples are turned into cider, and how apples are turned into pies and cakes. Mr. Tiffin even shows the class all the different varieties of apples. During the field trip, the class is challenged to find the answer to a riddle: “Show me a little red house with no windows and no door, but with a star inside.”

Each book in Mr. Tiffin’s Classroom Series focuses on a different student. This story focuses on Tara, who likes to daydream and isn’t “good at tests.” Even though Tara is the focus of the story, she doesn’t have a conflict. Without a conflict, the story is flat and lacks suspense. In addition, one of the students is a little snarky.

Each page has large illustrations that show a diverse group of children. Each page has 1 to 6 sentences and almost every page shows an illustration of a different aspect of an apple farm. Even though The Apple Orchard Riddle is a picture book, the story is intended to be read aloud to a child, rather than for the child to read it for the first time independently. The end of the story contains a list of apple orchard facts.

As students work to discover the answer to the riddle, they look at a tractor, a barn, and an apple peeler. However, the answer to the riddle is obvious from the start. Throughout the field trip, Tara spends a lot of time thinking instead of participating in the other activities. In the end, she discovers the riddle’s answer. Unfortunately, Tara’s situation doesn’t correspond with apples and the story doesn’t have a life lesson.

The Apple Orchard Riddle isn’t as interesting as other books in Mr. Tiffin’s Classroom Series. However, readers will enjoy seeing the different parts of an apple farm. In addition, Tara’s tendency to spend time thinking and daydreaming is showed in a positive light. Mr. Tiffin’s Classroom Series allows readers to explore and learn about different places from the comfort of their homes.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Rocket Says Clean Up!

When Rocket goes on vacation to see her grandparents, they spend the day at the beach. Rocket discovers that plastic is taking over the ocean. When Rocket finds a baby turtle wrapped up in plastic, she’s determined to do something. Rocket wants everyone to take action! Rocket’s passion to make the beach a safer place for wildlife inspires the people around her. Together, can they entice the sea creatures to return?

Rocket’s desire to clean up the beach is inspiring and highlights the need for a community to come together to pick up the trash. The illustrations show an explosion of plastic all over the sand, in the water, and wrapped around a tiny turtle. Even though some of the illustrations are humorous, the story still focuses on how trash can be dangerous to sea life. The story even shows how trash can be repurposed to make art. The conclusion has a happy ending which shows the sea turtle being released back into the ocean.

Rocket is a relatable character who isn’t afraid to speak up about the dangers of trash. With the help of her grandparents, Rocket brings a community together and makes the beach trash-free. In Rocket Says Look Up, the story and lesson were completely integrated. However, in Rocket Says Clean Up, the message takes center stage at the expense of a well-developed plot. Despite this, readers will enjoy the story, which ends with a list of ways that readers can reduce waste.

Rocket Says Clean Up is an engaging picture book with bright illustrations that are full of fun details. For example, Rocket buries her brother in sand and then builds a sandcastle on top of him. The people at the beach are a diverse group that includes people from different races as well as different body types. The large cast of people in the illustrations helps reinforce the concept that it takes a community to clean up a beach.

Even though Rocket Says Clean Up is a picture book, the story is intended to be read aloud to a child, rather than for a child to read it for the first time independently. Most pages contain 1-4 sentences, but some of the sentences are complex. Rocket gives a few interesting facts about where trash comes from, and how it hurts animals. These interesting facts appear in quote boxes and begin with, “Did you know. . .”

Rocket, who is African American, looks up to Imani Wilmot, who created the first female surf competition in Jamaica. Rocket’s experiences will encourage readers to learn more about protecting the ocean. The bright, fun illustrations will capture readers’ attention, and Rocket’s enthusiasm will keep readers interested until the last page. Readers who would like to learn more about the ocean should add Shark Lady by Jess Keating and Shawn Loves Sharks by Curtis Manley to their reading list.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

The Great Shark Escape

Mrs. Frizzle is teaching her students about ocean life, and her students must complete a report about an ocean creature. Arnold isn’t too happy about the assignment because ocean creatures can be dangerous. When Mrs. Frizzle announces a field trip to an aquarium, Arnold is relieved that the class will not be doing anything daring. But when the class arrives at the aquarium, they discover it had to close because of a flood.

Despite this, Mrs. Frizzle is determined to teach the students about the ocean, so the magic school bus takes the class into the ocean. They end up face-to-face with all kinds of sharks, from great whites to goblin sharks. Then, when things get scary and the class is really swimming in trouble, you’d never guess who helps the class make the great shark escape!

The Great Shark Escape is an exciting story with plenty of suspense. Arnold tells the story and his dislike of danger adds some humor. Black and white illustrations appear every 1 to 3 pages. The illustrations show Mrs. Frizzle’s students, who are a diverse group, under the sea, which will help readers understand the plot. In addition, a sketch of each shark allows the readers to see the differences between each shark.

Shark-loving kids will enjoy a trip into the open ocean to learn all about sharks. Throughout the story, Mrs. Fizzle’s students’ reports appear on notebook paper. Each section is about one paragraph long and contains information about specific sharks as well as general shark information. Readers will learn about a huge variety of ocean life including the whale shark, the great white shark, the angel shark, the goblin shark, and the hammerhead shark. Even though all of the shark information is interesting, some readers may have a hard time jumping from the story to the shark facts and back.

The high-interest topic and the fun format of The Great Shark Escape will appeal to readers. While Arnold’s narration shows his fear of sharks, in the end, Arnold’s bravery allows him to save the class. The Great Shark Escape uses an entertaining story to teach about sharks. Because each book in The Magic School Bus focuses on different topics, readers will never get bored with the series. Shark-loving readers can learn more about sharks by reading Shark Lady by Jess Keating.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • The magic school bus narrowly avoids getting eaten by a shark.

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • The magic school bus transforms into a helicopter and then a submarine. “Not only was the sub going down deep, it was shrinking and so were we! Now the sub was only two feet long.”

Spiritual Content

  • None

Charlotte the Scientist Finds a Cure

A mysterious malady has swept through the forest, making the woodland creatures sick. Luckily, Charlotte the Scientist is on the case! She’s determined to find a cure using science. But the grownups don’t take her work seriously, and examining animals of all shapes and sizes with upset tummies can be, well. . . challenging.

In the second installment of the Charlotte the Scientist Series, Charlotte’s big bunny family gets even larger when Grandpa moves in. Grandpa helps and encourages Charlotte in her scientific endeavors. When the forest animals get sick, Charlotte is determined to discover the cause. When the adults begin examining patients, they tell Charlotte, “Run along, little one. This is grown-up work.” Charlotte is discouraged, but when she thinks back to her grandpa’s words, they give her the courage to continue looking for a cure. In the end, “Charlotte realized she didn’t need to be the oldest or smartest. She had stopped the sickness, cured the carrots, and saved the forest!”

Charlotte the Scientist Finds a Cure moves away from Charlotte’s family life and shows how Charlotte makes a difference in her community. The story’s illustrations bring the forest to life by using bright colors. Charlotte’s large family and a host of forest animals crowd the scenes, which brim with activity. However, Charlotte is easy to recognize because she always has a white lab coat. Even though the story focuses on a serious topic, many of the illustrations are humorous.

The forest animals’ illnesses help incorporate the scientific method and introduce scientific vocabulary. In addition, to discover the cause of the sickness Charlotte collects and analyzes data. This is how she finds the “funky forest fungi” that is making everyone sick. Charlotte also cures the carrots, conducts a clinical trial, and is able to “mend the malady.” While it’s unrealistic that one scientist could accomplish all of that, Charlotte’s activities allow her to be the story’s hero.

Even though Charlotte the Scientist Finds a Cure is a picture book, readers will need an adult to read the story to them. The story is packed full of alliteration that makes reading aloud fun. Each page has 1 to 4 sentences, but younger readers may have difficultly understanding some of the scientific vocabulary. In the back of the book, readers will find a glossary of scientific words. While the solution to the forest animals’ “malady” is complex, it gives the story many topics that parents or teachers could discuss.

Charlotte the Scientist Finds a Cure uses humor and a determined bunny to teach readers about illnesses and the process that takes place to find a cure. While the plot is ambitious, young readers will be enthralled with Charlotte and her world. Charlotte the Scientist Finds a Cure would be an excellent addition to your library, whether you’re looking for a fun book to read to your children or you want a book that is a springboard to teaching about illness.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

Iggy Peck and the Mysterious Mansion

Iggy Peck is an architect at his very core: when he’s not making houses out of food, his head is up in the clouds, dreaming of design. So he’s totally blown away when Ada Twist’s Aunt Bernice inherits an old house from ice-cream mogul Herbert Sherbert that is filled with countless rooms from all his favorite architectural periods. But something’s not quite right . . .

Everyone says the house is haunted, and it seems that a number of priceless antiques—which were supposed to help Aunt Bernice pay for the house’s upkeep—have gone missing. If they can’t find those antiques, Aunt Bernice might lose the house forever. It will take all of Iggy’s knowledge of architecture and the help of the other Questioneers—Rosie Revere, Ada Twist, and Sofia Valdez—to solve the mystery and find the treasure!

Iggy Peck and the Mysterious Mansion builds suspense because it has just the right amount of spooky, scary, and strange events. All of the events are eventually solved in a logical way. Iggy and his friends do some sleuthing, but they also research the Mysterious Mansion’s history and Iggy uses his knowledge of architecture to help solve the mystery.

The majority of the story focuses on the Mysterious Mansion’s history. Iggy discovers that two people who lived in the mansion died from the Spanish Flu. “People can still die from the flu, but it’s not as common because scientists invented new medicines and vaccines. People used to die of all kinds of diseases like measles and flu. Vaccines changed that.”

In addition, the spooky story also has humor. For instance, when Mrs. Bernice Twist inherits the mansion, the letter reads, “The Law Offices of Yabba, Dabba & Dew are not responsible for the actions of ghosts or anything that causes shivers, nightmares, heebie-jeebies, or worse. Especially worse.”

Most of the pages have large black, white, and green illustrations that will help readers envision the characters as well as understand the story’s plot. Other illustrations show drawings from Iggy’s notebook. However, younger readers may struggle with the story’s advanced vocabulary and the architectural lingo. However, the story’s use of imagery, onomatopoeia, and alliteration make Iggy Peck and the Mysterious Mansion a fun story to read aloud. The story ends with information about art nouveau and art deco, information about “Weird, Wonderful, and Wonderfully Weird Cats,” and a recipe to make ice cream.

Readers familiar with The Questioneers Series will enjoy seeing the same cast of characters. Iggy and his friends are curious, resourceful, and able to think outside the box. Unfortunately, the conclusion has several events that are unbelievable. Despite this, readers will enjoy the mystery, the friendship, and the illustrations.  If you’re looking for another series that has smart, curious characters, check out the Ellie Engineer Series by Jackson Pearce and the Jada Jones Series by Kelly Starling Lyons.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • Aunt Bernice, Ada, and Iggy try to open the mansion’s door when “the boards of the porch began to rise and fall like piano keys. A wave rolled from one end of the porch to the other and back again. . . Suddenly, the board beneath Aunt Bernice’s left foot rose up and sent her tumbling.” When they jump off the porch, the motion stops.

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • The town folks believe that the Sherbert House is haunted by Herbert Sherbert and his wife. When Iggy stumbles upon the mansion, he thinks, “There were darker tales of a woman whose cries could be heard late at night if you dared to get close enough to the house to listen. They said the ghosts were looking for something—or someone!”
  • The Mansion begins to play music and then “the shutters of the Great Hall window slammed shut. Almost as quickly, they flew open again. The shutter opened and shut in rhythm with the music.”

Spiritual Content

  • None

Charlotte the Scientist Is Squished

Charlotte is a serious scientist. She solves important problems by following the scientific method. She has all the right equipment: protective glasses, a lab coat, a clipboard, and a magnifying glass. But Charlotte has a problem: she needs more room.

Charlotte has so many brothers and sisters (she is a rabbit, after all) that she is too squished to work on her experiments! Can she use science to solve her problem?

Charlotte introduces readers to her 13 brothers and sisters and to the five steps of the scientific method. Charlotte’s dilemma comes to life in bright, humorous, full-colored illustrations. Even though each page is packed with adorable bunnies, Charlotte is easy to recognize because she always has on her safety glasses. Readers will enjoy counting all of Charlotte’s siblings, who are a bit rambunctious.

Charlotte decides to use the scientific method to answer her question: How can I get some space around here? Readers will giggle as Charlotte conducts her experiments and feel joy when Charlotte finds peace and quiet on the moon. Once there, she discovers that being alone is lonely. But Charlotte’s solution to her loneliness brings the story to a sweet conclusion.

Charlotte the Scientist is Squished will entertain and delight young readers who will want to read the book over and over. Charlotte has a relatable conflict and is a determined, funny main character. The story uses humor to introduce readers to the scientific method. However, this science-based book also is a story about her family, who can be annoying but also bring joy to Charlotte.

Each page of the picture book has 1 to 4 sentences. Because some of the sentences and vocabulary are complex, young readers will need an adult to read Charlotte the Scientist Is Squished to them. The end of the book explains how Charlotte followed the scientific method to solve her problem.

Charlotte the Scientist Is Squished is a wonderfully illustrated picture book that young readers will love. Adults will appreciate the story’s educational value. Another amazing picture book readers will enjoy is Mars Needs Moms by Berkeley Breathed. Both stories use humor to show the importance of family.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

Cece Loves Science: Push and Pull

Ms. Curie wants her class to conduct an experiment. The class is going to learn about forces that move objects in different ways. Cece is extra excited because her dog, Einstein, is going to be part of the experiment. Cece is partnered with three of her classmates, including her friend Isaac.

Ms. Curie gives each group supplies that include a toy dump truck, a marble, dominoes and doggie treats. The group works together until they find the best way to use all of their supplies. Einstein helps too! After trying different things, the kids build a contraption that gives Einstein a doggie treat.

Push and Pull introduces the concept of force and motion in a child-friendly way that is easy to understand. The story uses several examples and also gives examples of how readers can have fun with push and pull. The end of the book has a four-word glossary. Push and Pull is intended for independent readers who are ready for complex plots and challenging vocabulary. Each page has 2 to 6 short sentences which makes it accessible to young readers.

Push and Pull introduces science in an engaging way. Cece and her group work together and everyone contributes. Readers will love Einstein, who also shows how push and pull work. Each page has large, brightly colored illustrations that show the science experiment in action. By the end of the book, readers will be ready to try an experiment of their own.

With lots of examples and positive classroom behavior Push and Pull would make an excellent pick for any beginning reader. The Cece Loves Science Series will encourage readers to be curious about their world. Those looking for more science related fun should add the Jada Jones Series by Kelly Starling Lyons to their reading list.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

See You in the Cosmos

Alex is a brilliant eleven-year-old, fascinated by space and astronomy. He has been working on building a rocket to launch his “Golden iPod” into space. After working at a local gas station sorting magazines in Rockview, Colorado, he saves enough money to attend SHARF, a rocket festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

On the way to SHARF, Alex meets Zeb who is an author that frequently meditates and has taken a vow of silence. By using a chalkboard to communicate, Zeb becomes friends with Alex and accompanies him to the rocket festival. On the day of the rocket launches, Alex’s rocket does not end up in space but crashes into the ground. While crying in disappointment, Alex is comforted by a fellow attendee who encourages Alex by telling him how his team went through many failures before finally succeeding. Alex learns, “Right now is the most important moment – how they react to failure. They could either let it stop them or they could redouble their efforts, figure out what went wrong, and fix their mistakes so they can make the next try a success.”

From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like. But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly absent brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.

See You in the Cosmos is a heartbreaking and touching story of a child following his dreams and his unconditional love for his family. The story is told as a transcript of the recordings Alex makes on his “Golden iPod,” which he is determined to launch into space someday so extraterrestrials will know what life on Earth is like. The reader is given an opportunity to look at the world through the eyes of an eleven-year-old, which provides a new perspective on life’s challenging issues.

The novel follows Alex as he learns to cope with difficult family situations as a young child with a limited view of the world. Upon returning from his adventure, his mother gets diagnosed with schizophrenia, and Child Protective Services gets involved to determine Alex’s future. The reader forms an emotional connection to Alex, feeling empathy for the experiences Alex is facing while providing the reader a deeper understanding of how children interpret life’s events.

See You in the Cosmos provides an innovative story that will pull at the hearts of readers of all ages. Younger readers may miss the deeper meanings behind Alex’s journey. However, since this book is told from the perspective of an eleven-year-old boy, this novel could serve as a new way for children to learn to cope with difficult situations in life or help children understand situations that others, such as classmates, might be going through. This book will teach readers how to be themselves, what it means to be brave, and how to follow your big dreams.

 Sexual Content

  • Alex records the story of how his parents met saying, “They went to the top of Mount Sam on the tramway and when they got up there they looked out over all of Rockview and up at the stars and that’s when they have their first kiss.”
  • Alex’s half-sister, Terra, tells him about a guy she is seeing. Alex asks her if she French-kissed him, and she responds, “Yes. We French-kissed.”
  • Terra and Zed’s roommate, Nathaniel, were alone in Nathaniel’s bedroom and Alex sneaks in with his iPod saying, “I thought maybe they were French-kissing and I thought you guys might want to know what that sounds like.”
  • Alex asks Terra what being in love means asking, “Is it wanting to French-kiss somebody?”

Violence

  • Steve has a crush on Terra, and when he sees Terra and Nathaniel alone together, he punches Nathaniel. Terra says, “Oh god, he’s bleed–.”
  • While climbing up a roof, Alex falls off the ladder and is impaled on a fence. Terra records on the iPod saying, “Just hearing his voice– I kept seeing him hanging over that fence.”
  • Ronnie tells Alex the truth about their father. “Deep down he was selfish and abusive.” Alex responds, “Did he hit Mom with a hockey stick like Benji’s dad hit his mom?”
  • Later in the conversation, Ronnie says, “Dad never hit Mom, at least that I know of. He never hit me either but he came really close once. . . He started yelling and undoing his belt and Mom was trying to shield me. . . Just ‘cause he never hit us doesn’t mean he wasn’t abusive in other ways.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • Terra explains why she did not attend college. She says, “Why go hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt when you’re competing against other people on an artificial standard or even worse, drinking and partying away four years of your life only to come out with a piece of paper that isn’t worth sh–.”
  • Terra, Zed, and Zed’s two roommates all drink beer and vodka. Alex says, “I don’t know how you guys can drink that stuff because I tried a sip of one of Benji’s dad’s beers once and it was so gross.”
  • Alex reflects on a party. Alex stayed in his room all night but he had to use the restroom, and he ran into a girl drinking from a red cup. He asked her what she was drinking and she responded, “Coke and vodka.”

Language

  • Alex occasionally says “bleep” where individuals would normally curse in a sentence. For example, when he is at SHARF and sees the Southwest High-Altitude Rock Festival Banner and registration desk, he says, “HOLY bleep!”
  • Terra and Alex discuss swear words, and Alex says, “One time in school, Justin Peterson who’s on the basketball team and his locker’s next to mine asked me, Do you even know any swear words? And I said, Of course, I do, DUH! and then I told him all the swear words and I said sometimes Benji and I even combine them into sentences like, Bleep the bleep bleep who bleeped on my bleep bleep bleeping bleeper.”
  • Alex speaks into his recording saying, “Venice Beach was so huge, guys. I could see it even as we were driving up, and I said, Son of a beach! B-E-A-C-H.”
  • Steve gets into an argument with Terra and yells, “You think I’m an idiot, don’t you? Well maybe I AM. Maybe it takes an IDIOT like me to tell Alex here how things work in the real world. An IDIOT who’s not just going to feed him a bunch of false hopes!”
  • After the argument, Terra tells Alex, “Steve’s a jerk.”

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

by Paige Smith

 

 

 

 

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin

When young Temple was diagnosed with autism, no one expected her to talk. Some people told Temple’s mother that, “Her brain’s not quite right. You must send her away.” But Temple’s mother never gave up on her. A special teacher helped Temple learn to speak and encouraged her by saying that Temple was “different, not less.”

School was difficult for Temple, and her mother sent her to live on her aunt’s ranch. Temple loved the animals and finally felt like she was fitting in. “Fitting in on a farm was less stress since the pigs didn’t care if your hair was a mess.” Temple loved cows and she wanted to make farms better.

While many believed that Temple would “never be normal,” others saw Temple’s potential. One of her teachers told her, “When you find what your good at, like science—you’ll soar.” Because of the encouragement of others, Temple was able to go to college and became one of the most powerful voices in modern science.

Temple’s inspiring life story shows how Temple’s autism helped her connect with animals and find her life’s work. The Girl Who Thought in Pictures explains autism in a kid-friendly manner and shows how Temple’s thinking allowed her to connect with animals in a special way, helping her invent groundbreaking improvements for farms around the globe. The book ends with a biography, fun facts, a timeline, and even a note from Temple herself.

Each page of the picture book has 2 to 4 rhyming lines. Some of the words have added emphasis and they appear in all capitals. Each page uses colorful illustrations that bring Temple’s world to life. In addition, some of the pictures contain thought bubbles so readers can understand Temple’s thinking process and her inventions. Even though The Girl Who Thought in Pictures is a picture book, the story is intended to be read aloud to a child, rather than for the child to read it for the first time independently.

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures should be read by every child because it will help them become more empathetic towards others. For those who feel different, the story will help them realize that they are not alone and that they too can accomplish great things. In addition, the story will help children understand the behaviors of autistic children. But best of all, Temple’s story reinforces the idea that the things that make people different are the things that make them unique. The Girl Who Thought in Pictures shows that with hard work and dedication, everyone can make a positive impact on the world.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • At school, “Kids taunted and chased her [Temple] all over the yard.” Then one day, Temple “snapped” and “threw a book at a kid and was kicked out of school!”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Click’d #1

Allie Navarro can’t wait to show her best friends the app she built at CodeGirls summer camp. Click’d pairs users based on common interests and sends them on a fun (and occasionally rule-breaking) scavenger hunt to find each other. And it’s a hit. By the second day of school, everyone is talking about Click’d.

Watching her app go viral is amazing. Leaderboards are filling up! Everyone’s making new friends. And with all the data Allie is collecting, she has an even better shot at beating her archenemy, Nathan, at the upcoming youth coding competition.

But when Allie discovers a glitch that threatens to expose everyone’s secrets, she has to figure out how to make things right, even if that means sharing the computer lab with Nathan. Can Allie fix her app, stop it from doing any more damage, and win back the friends it hurt-all before she steps on stage to present Click’d to the judges?

Click’d is an engaging story that mixes coding, middle-school drama, and competition between Allie and her archenemy. Readers will relate to Allie who loves the positive attention she gets because others love playing her game, Click’d. The glitch in her code highlights Allie’s desire to win the completion versus her desire to do the right thing—shut the app down until she can fix the code. Throughout her experiences, Allie learns important lessons about friendship including that “clicking” with people in real life is always the most important thing.

In the end, Allie does the right thing—she shuts Click’d down and withdraws from the competition. Even though this makes Allie feel like a failure, the adults in her life—her parents, her coding teacher, and the principal—let Allie know that they are proud of her because of her dedication and hard work. Allie’s coding teacher tells her, “I am so proud of you. . . For building your app. For working all week to fix it. For being here in the pavilion. I’ve never been so proud of one of my students.” The story reinforces the idea that mistakes are nothing to be ashamed of.

Click’d will inspire middle school readers to be brave enough to try new things, whether it be talking to a classmate, going to a camp, or joining a competition. The story has the perfect amount of friendship drama, internal conflict, and crushes. The conclusion has a few unexpected twists and a sweet, hopeful ending. Click’d is the perfect book for middle school readers not only because of the engaging plot but also because the story reinforces the importance of forgiveness and being open to making new friends. Readers who love books about smart girls who can code should add Emmy in the Key of Code by Aimee Lucido to their reading list.

Sexual Content

  • Click’d posted a screenshot of a private conversation, where Emma talked about her crush. When the picture is circulated around school, Emma is upset because “People keep making kiss noises at me.”

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • “Oh my God” is used as an exclamation four times. For example, when Maddie tries Click’d, she says, “Oh My God, this is so insanely fun.”
  • When people start making fun of Emma, Allie says that the people are jerks.
  • Darn is used once.

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

The Doctor With An Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath

When Patricia Bath was little, she loved playing with boys and doing everything her big brother did. A girl coming of age during the Civil Rights Movement, Patricia, who was African American, was determined to be a doctor even though most were men. The only nearby high school was only for white kids, but this didn’t stop Patricia from graduating high school and going on to college.

While at college, Patricia meets unfair restrictions, but she is determined to help blind people. During her time as a doctor, she teaches others about the eye and starts an eye doctor training program. Patricia eventually develops a laser probe that “fixed the eyeballs of patients all over the globe.”

Patricia didn’t let racism, sexism, or poverty get in the way of her goal. Her story will inspire readers to reach for their dreams. The story ends with this thought: “So, if helping the world seems too hard, you are wrong. If some say you can’t do it, don’t listen. Be STRONG. Like Patricia, stay FOCUSED. Push FORWARD. Shine BRIGHT. . . And you’ll find all your dreams will be well within SIGHT!”

Each page of the picture book has 2 to 4 rhyming lines. Some of the words have added emphasis and appear in all caps. Each page uses colorful illustrations to bring Patricia’s world to life. Some illustrations show how Patricia faced discrimination. Even though The Doctor With An Eye for Eyes is a picture book, the story is intended to be read aloud to a child, rather than for the child to read it for the first time independently.

The Doctor With An Eye for Eyes should be read by every child because it will help them understand the importance of perseverance and education. The story shows how Patricia used her knowledge to teach others and make a positive impact on the world. Because of Patricia, “those without sight for years (like fifteen or twenty or THIRTY more years), they could finally SEE!”

The Doctor With An Eye for Eyes shows how Patricia overcame many obstacles before she reached her goal. However, one of Patricia’s greatest accomplishments was to open the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness. “She CREATED a place. . . A place to bring HOPE to the whole human race. Its motto is this: Rich or poor, black or white, healthy vision’s important. It’s everyone’s right.”

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Emmy in the Key of Code

Twelve-year-old Emmy is the only one in her family who can’t make music to save her life. And now that her dad’s symphony job has uprooted her to a new city and school, everything seems even more off-key than usual.

Until a computer class changes her tune and Emmy discovers that her coding skills can really sing. Now life is starting to seem a little more upbeat, especially when computer wiz Abigail is around to share tips and tricks with. But can Emmy hold on to her newfound confidence with bad news and big secrets just around the corner? Or will her new life come to a screeching halt?

In Emmy in the Key of Code, Emmy’s uncertainty and her desire to belong takes center stage. Unlike her musically gifted parents, Emmy is fearful of being on stage and her singing isn’t beautiful. Even though Emmy loves music, she knows her voice isn’t stage-worthy. To make matters worse, Emmy moves to San Francisco, which is completely different than Wisconsin. Her clothes are all wrong, she’s unable to talk to others, and she goes through each school day alone. She doesn’t feel like she belongs anywhere.

Emmy’s mother is an opera singer and her father plays the piano. Their musical influence on Emmy comes across both in her love of music as well as her speech. For example, Emmy describes her computer teacher as follows: “The teacher crescendos in / with a smile painted candy-apple red. / A color so joyful / so allegro / so dolce and vivace / that it spills into the rest of her face. . .” In addition, Emmy refers to musical pieces such as Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Readers who are unfamiliar with the musical terminology may become frustrated.

Emmy’s computer class and her teacher Ms. Delaney have a huge impact on Emmy’s life. To show this connection, some of the lines use coding symbols such as brackets, colons, and quotation marks. To make the coding vocabulary understandable, some pages explain what the code means. To highlight the JavaScript, the words are typed in a lighter font. Emmy also explains coding by comparing it to music.

Emmy’s story is told in a combination of poetry, JavaScript, music, and narrative. Like Emmy’s emotions, some of the text’s words appear broken up, jumbled, faded, and with other graphic elements that help convey Emmy’s emotions. Emmy, who is extremely likable, has a relatable conflict of a new town and not fitting in. In the end, Emmy and her friend Abagail both learn the importance of being “a girl who today / made the decision / to listen to what she loves.”

Readers will relate to Emmy’s desire for friendship and belonging. Lucido’s beautiful writing comes alive and teaches that programming is for everyone. In the end, Emmy discovers that her love of music and coding can blend to make something truly beautiful. Readers who love books about smart girls who can code should add Click’d by Tamara Ireland Stone to their reading list.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • Jerk is used three times. For example, Abigail asks why Francis is “such a jerk all the time.”
  • Abigail’s friends meet her outside of the computer class. One girl says, “I hate thinking of you in a class / with all these weirdos.”
  • A student asks Mrs. Delaney, “Why did you leave your fancy job / to come teach idiots / like me: }”

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Absolute Hero

A crowded new school and a crazy class schedule are enough to make Izzy dizzy.  It may be the first day of sixth grade, but as long as best friends Allie Einstein and Charlie Darwin are by her side, Izzy knows it’ll all be okay. But first–day jitters take an icy turn when Izzy’s old pal Marie Curie comes back to town and gives her former friends the cold shoulder. The problems pile up when the school’s air conditioning goes on the fritz. The temperature suddenly drops to what feels like the coldest possible, and the adults don’t seem to have a clue how to thaw out the school.

Cold temperatures and a frigid friendship? Izzy has had enough of feeling like an absolute zero. She rallies the girls to use their brainpower and science smarts to tackle the school’s chilly mystery—and hopefully fix a certain frozen friendship along the way. Will the girls succeed and become the absolute heroes of Atom Middle School?

As the girls try to discover why the air conditioner is malfunctioning, they use the scientific method, which appears as illustrations that look like binder paper. When the girls are checking out the air condition unit on the roof, the door closes and Izzy uses a hose to repel from the two-story building. When the girls tell Allie’s grandmother about their adventure, she says, “Well behaved women rarely make history. You girls go ahead and be subversive. Just be careful, too.”

The characters are a racially diverse group, who have different family dynamics. Charlie has two veterinarian moms, and she loves to eat healthy, homegrown food. Allie lives with her grandmother because her archaeologist mother works a lot. Izzy seeks out her grandfather who helps her solve problems. The S.M.A.R.T Squad is made of confident girls, who love science and are not afraid of being smart. The girls are likable because they are quirky and imperfect.

Another positive aspect of the story is that the girls are able to solve the mystery of the too-cool school, yet they keep their success a secret. Instead of being braggarts, the girls are confident enough that they don’t need to tell the whole world of their good deeds.

Valarie Tripp, the author of several American Girl stories, writes a fun story with science-loving characters. Even though the story shows smart girls using science, the science facts never feel like a lecture. Instead, the science seamlessly blends into the story’s events. The end of the book includes short biographies of the scientist that the characters are named after as well as two pages that explain some great women scientists.

With themes of friendship, science, and solving problems, Izzy Newton and the S.M.A.R.T. Squad: Absolute Hero will appeal to a wide variety of readers. Black and white illustrations, which appear every 4 to 6 pages, show the girls’ unique personalities. Girls who want to read other stories with smart girls should check out the Girls Who Code Series by  Stacia Deutsch and Ellie, Engineer by Jackson Pearce.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • Charlie tells Izzy, “Your brothers are total eye candy.”

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Cece Loves Science and Adventure

Cece and her Adventure Girl group are going on a camping trip. Cece has packed everything including the marshmallows. Her friends, Caroline and Daisy, help set up a tent. Once that is complete, Cece’s mom and the three friends go on a nature hike. They see all sorts of interesting things like a twisty oak tree and a fork in the path. Cece uses her camera to take lots of pictures.

A sudden rainstorm surprises the girls, but they’re prepared. They make a shelter out of their rain ponchos. When Cece’s mom loses her cellphone signal, the girls use the pictures that Cece took to make a map. Soon they are back at camp! The Adventure Girls are excited that they earned their camping pin.

Cece wants to make sure she is extra prepared for the camping trip, so she uses two lists—Adventure Girls Camping Checklist and Cece’s Camping Checklist. As the girls go on their adventure, they also use a list to make sure they are able to earn their camping pin. While on the camping trip, the girls have fun and have to use math to build a tent, figure out how far away a storm is, and find out how far they are from their camp.

Several times, Cece thinks about what her teacher, Ms. Curie, has taught her in class. While the story has some scientific facts, the lessons seem rushed and have little detail. For example, when a storm approaches, Cece thinks about the different types of clouds, which are identified in a thought bubble. The story quickly moves on, without teaching more about clouds. In addition, Cece and her friends are able to use pictures to create a map back to their campsite, which is unrealistic.

While the story’s plot is not as well developed as the first book in the series, younger readers will enjoy seeing Cece and her friends work together to solve problems. While the science is kid-friendly, younger readers will need help reading the text-heavy pages because of the complex sentence structure and difficult vocabulary such as Mississippi, cumulus, and gnome.

Cece Loves Science and Adventure uses an easy-to-understand format and brightly colored, full-page illustrations to engage students. Several of the illustrations show the math problems that the girls are trying to figure out. The illustrations highlight the characters’ facial expressions which helps readers understand their emotions. The story ends with a STEM Pin Worksheet that shows how the camping trip meet the requirements to earn a STEM Adventure Girl pin. A two-page glossary appears at the back of the book.

The Cece Loves Science Series introduces young readers to science in a fun and educational way. Each story makes science fun and shows the importance of working together. With supportive adults, a diverse group of characters, and an adorable dog, Cece Loves Science and Adventure will entertain and educate readers.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

Dragons vs. Unicorns

Kate the Chemist is a ten-year-old science problem solver. There’s no problem Kate can’t fix. When her best friend, Birdie, is cast as the lead unicorn in their school’s musical, Dragons vs. Unicorns, and Kate is chosen to be the assistant director, they agree this is going to be the best musical EVER! Kate is a natural assistant director; like all good scientists, she’s smart and organized, but she also comes up with great ideas. But when everything starts going wrong with the musical and Kate realizes someone is sabotaging the show, will her special science sleuthing skills help save the day—and the show?

Dragons vs. Unicorns blends chemistry with a drama production. The story is told from Kate’s point of view, which allows readers to understand Kate’s emotions as well as her love of chemistry. While Kate has interests besides chemistry, she compares everything to science, which may frustrate readers who don’t love science.

Readers who were expecting a book about dragons and unicorns will be disappointed because the mythological creatures never appear in the book. Instead, some of the characters will be dragons or unicorns in the school play. However, the play allows Kate to use science to make it appear as if the dragons are breathing fire. The story focuses on science and also incorporates life lessons about getting along with others and the importance of listening. At one point, Kate’s best friend is honest with her and tells her, “you do get stuck in your own head and don’t pay attention to what’s going on around you.”

The short chapters all begin with definitions of science words such as thermal shocks, vapor, and protocol. Simple black and white illustrations appear every 1 to 3 pages. While the illustrations help break up the text, they will not help readers understand the plot or visualize the characters. The book ends with instructions on how to make unicorn glue. Even though the book includes some other experiments, Biberdorf warns readers not to perform them without adult supervision.

Readers who love all things science will enjoy Dragons vs. Unicorns. However, readers who are not interested in science might find the focus on science a little overwhelming. Dragons vs. Unicorns highlights the importance of trying new things and listening to others. However, the only character that is developed is Kate. The story would have benefited from having Kate interact with her peers more.  Dragons vs. Unicorns is an entertaining book that will get readers thinking about how science is used in their daily lives. Readers who would like to mix a little fantasy and science will also enjoy the Zoey and Sassafras Series by Asia Citro.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • “Holy jeans” is used as an exclamation one time.

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

Newton’s Rainbow: The Revolutionary Discoveries of a Young Scientist

Famed for his supposed encounter with a falling apple that inspired his theory of gravity, Isaac Newton (1642–1727) grew from a quiet and curious boy into one of the most influential scientists of all time. Newton’s Rainbow tells the story of young Isaac—always reading, questioning, observing, and inventing—and how he eventually made his way to Cambridge University, where he studied the work of earlier scientists and began building on their accomplishments.

When a bubonic plague outbreak interrupted his formal schooling in 1665, he made discoveries that illuminated the mysteries of gravity, motion, and even rainbows—giving mankind a new understanding of the natural world that changed science forever.

While most people recognize Isaac Newton’s name, they do not know how extraordinary his discoveries were. Newton’s Rainbow details many of Newton’s experiments, including when he made a mouse-powered mill. “Isaac attached a string to a mouse’s tail and put the mouse on a treadmill. When he tugged on the string, the mouse ran.” Readers who love science will be intrigued by Newton’s experiments.

Newton studied many great men who came before him including Aristotle, Plato, Johannes Kepler, and Galileo Galilei. The book includes a one-paragraph biography of both Galileo and Kepler. As Newton studied these great men, he also conducted experiments to prove or disprove a hypothesis. While the story of an apple falling on Newton’s head was not true, Newton was able to develop the theory of gravitation. He also developed calculus and his theories became the basics for modern physics.

Newton’s Rainbow is a picture book that has large full-colored illustrations that show Newton’s activities and experiments. However, the book will need to be read by an adult because of the text-heavy pages and the difficult vocabulary. Some difficult words, such as philosophy and chamber pot, are defined in the text. While the book does an excellent job of explaining Newton’s impact on today’s world, Newton’s Rainbow may not appeal to young readers. However, the book would be an excellent resource for a research paper.

Newton’s Rainbow will help readers understand Newton’s contributions to math and science. Readers who love science should add Newton’s Rainbow to their must-read list. However, highly active children may find it difficult to sit through a reading of the book. To introduce young readers to science, parents should read these books to their children: Questioneers Collection by Andrea Beaty and the Zoey and Sassafras series by Asia Citro.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • At school, Newton was often bullied. But then, “he beat up the school bully in a fight—even though the bully was much bigger.”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • Newton lived with an apothecary, who made medicines. “One required the patient to drink a mixture of mint, the bitter herb wormwood, and three hundred headless millipedes ‘well beaten with ale.’”
  • While at Cambridge, Isaac’s first roommate “liked to go to pubs and parties throughout the night.”

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Cece Loves Science

Cece loves to ask questions which is one reason she is so excited when her teacher, Ms. Curie, assigns a science project. Cece and her best friend Isaac both love zoology, so they decide to find out if dogs eat vegetables, and Cece’s dog Einstein will be the perfect test subject.

Cece and Isaac give Einstein different vegetables, but he refuses to eat them, even when they are covered with ketchup and bacon. Then Cece gets a great idea! Einstein loves bananas. Would Einstein eat vegetables if she made a vegetable and banana smoothie?

Both Cece’s parents and teacher encourage Cece to ask questions and then investigate to discover the answer. While in school, Ms. Curie introduces four famous scientists as well as different types of science. When Ms. Curie assigns the science project, Cece and Isaac use the scientific method which includes brainstorming, observing, and experimenting with different variables. The two friends use Ms. Curie’s Science Project Worksheet to document their experiment. The project worksheet appears throughout the story, which helps readers understand Cece and Isaac’s process.

Cece Loves Science introduces young readers to the scientific method in an easy-to-understand format. The brightly colored, full-page illustrations show Cece and Isaac in action. The illustrations highlight the characters’ facial expressions which helps readers understand their emotions. Readers will laugh at Einstein’s antics as he tries to avoid eating vegetables. The story’s text and illustrations expertly combine into an engaging format that will capture readers’ attention.

Even though Cece Loves Science is educational, the information is integrated into the story’s plot and never feels like a school lesson. While the science is kid-friendly, younger readers will need help reading the text-heavy pages because of the complex sentence structure and difficult vocabulary such as interpret, investigate and guarantee. Even though Cece Loves Science has more text than the average picture book, the fun science project will keep readers interested until the very end.

The supportive adults, diverse characters, and fun experiments make Cece Loves Science a must-read book. A two-page glossary appears at the back of the book. The glossary explains the scientists introduced in the story as well as defines science words. Cece’s curiosity is contagious, and her story will spark reader’s interest in science. After reading Cece Loves Science readers will be eager to try an experiment of their own. For more science fun, readers should check out the Ada Twist Series by Andrea Beaty, which includes both picture books and chapter books.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Mae Jemison: Awesome Astronaut

The Woman in Science Series introduces readers to Mae Jemison, who is a doctor, scientist, and astronaut. Born in 1956, Mae broke gender and racial stereotypesm because when Mae was young, science was considered man’s work. Despite this, Mae was determined to be a scientist. Watching the Gemini space mission and Star Trek encouraged Mae to dream big. On Star Trek, “the crew came from all over the world. Mae liked that Lieutenant Uhura was a woman from Africa. Uhura helped Mae believe she could someday travel to space, too.”

Mae’s curiosity caused her to spend a lot of time in the library reading. She also conducted her own science experiments. Mae’s parents encouraged her to keep experimenting and keep learning. Mae knew she wanted to know more about science, but she also wanted to learn more about her culture, so she studied both chemical engineering and African-American studies.

Mae continued to work hard and eventually became a doctor. She served in a refugee camp, joined the Peace Corps, and became the first African American woman to be accepted into the NASA training program. Eventually, Mae spent eight days on the space shuttle Endeavour. Mae also founded her own company, the Jemison Group, which seeks to encourage a love of science. “Mae Jemison hopes her work will take some of the mystery out of science for children of color and all girls. Anyone can be a scientist, Jemison says. All it takes is curiosity.”

 Mae Jemison: Awesome Astronaut shows how curiosity and hard work allowed Mae to become an astronaut. However, it’s Mae’s dedication to helping others that really shines. Her story is told using simple vocabulary, short paragraphs, and pictures of Mae in action. Fourteen vocabulary words are bolded in the text and defined in the glossary at the end of the book. The book ends with a timeline of Mae’s life and an experiment for readers to try.

Mae Jemison: Awesome Astronaut isn’t just for readers who want to be an astronaut. Her story will motivate everyone to reach for the sky and make their dreams come true. Mae’s story highlights how hard work and knowledge combined to help her reach her goals. Even today, Mae continues to help others find their love of science. Mae Jemison: Awesome Astronaut is an easy-to-read biography that everyone should read. Not only does it chronicle Mae’s life, but it also shows the importance of serving others.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Rocket Says Look Up!

Rocket is a stargazer and an aspiring astronaut. She’s excited because a meteor shower will be visible tonight. She makes flyers to invite everyone in the neighborhood to see the meteor shower. Rocket also wants her big brother, Jamal, to see it but he’s always looking at his phone. Rocket’s enthusiasm brings neighbors and family together for a memorable sighting.

Rocket’s enthusiasm for space is catching, and young readers will be excited to enter Rocket’s world. Rocket’s imagination shines through as she makes a ship to the stars out of a box and presents her fliers to her cat and stuffed animals. While all of Rocket’s play is fun, she also is learning to defy gravity (swing) and capture rare and exotic life-forms (a butterfly). Rocket’s love of space is intertwined with her family life and the drama of annoying her older brother. Rocket is a loveable character who will teach readers the importance of having big dreams.

Rocket Says Look Up! is an engaging picture book with bright illustrations that are full of fun details. For example, Rocket’s cat wears a spacesuit that matches Rocket’s. Her brother Jamal often has funny facial expressions, but mostly he stares at his phone until he sees the meteor shower. Seeing Jamal’s face light up adds to the wonder of the meteor shower. When Rocket’s neighbors show up to watch the meteor shower, they are a diverse group of people. The story highlights how one little girl has the ability to bring her neighborhood together.

Even though Rocket Says Look Up! is a picture book, the story is intended to be read aloud to a child, rather than for a child to read it for the first time independently. Most pages contain 1-4 sentences, but some of the sentences are complex. Rocket gives interesting facts about “The Amazing Phoenix Meteor Shower.” These interesting facts appear in quote boxes and begin with, “Did you know. . .”

Rocket, who is African American, looks up to Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space. Rocket’s enthusiasm will encourage readers to learn more about space and about Mae Jamison. Rocket Says Look Up! blends amazing illustrations with an engaging story that teaches fun facts about space. Space-loving readers who want more factual information about space should add Mae Among The Stars by Roda Ahmed and the Mousetronaut Series by Mark Kelly to their must-read list.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

All About Stephen Hawking

From an early age, Stephen Hawkings dreamed of making the study of the universe accessible to everyone. Diagnosed with ALS at the age of twenty-one, he overcame the challenges of ALS to become an expert on black holes and the origin of the universe.

Stephen realized his boyhood dream of educating people about the universe. While his disease broke down his body, Hawkings’ mind remained strong. He advanced our knowledge of black holes by discovering Hawking radiation, the energy emitted by black holes. Speaking through a computer, Hawkings continued trying to help people understand the universe around them. Stephen has also dedicated his life to several causes such as making buildings accessible to wheelchairs.

All About Stephen Hawkings begins with how Stephen’s parents met and how World War II affected their lives. The story takes a winding road that often quickly switches topics, and includes Stephen’s personal life, his goals, his accomplishments, and information on his wife, Jane. The many topics covered in the story may cause some confusion.

Stephen’s story comes alive both through the text as well as black and white illustrations. The simple illustrations appear every one to three pages. Both the oversized text and the frequent illustrations will appeal to readers. The text explains the meaning of some of the more difficult vocabulary words and there is also a glossary of terms at the end of the book. It also contains a timeline of both Stephen’s life and of world events.

All About Stephen Hawkings would be a great book to use for research about Stephen Hawkings’ life. Anyone who is interested in science will also enjoy the book. The quickly changing topics and the difficult vocabulary make the book best for strong readers. All About Stephen Hawkings will encourage readers to follow their dreams.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • At one point, some people thought that “Stephen’s wife, Elaine, was hurting Stephen.” One of Stephen’s children called the police. “The police asked Stephen’s nurses how he was getting hurt. . . [Elaine] was accused of breaking one of the bones in his arm, cutting him on the cheek, and leaving him out in the hot sun for so long that he got heat stroke and a sunburn.”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • The book occasionally mentions someone going to church. For example, Stephen’s wife “continued to go to church on Sundays, though Stephen wouldn’t go with her.”

Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13

You’ve likely heard of the historic Apollo 13 mission. But do you know about the mathematical genius who made sure that Apollo 13 returned home safely?

As a child, Katherine Johnson loved to count. She counted the steps to the road, the number of dishes and spoons she washed in the kitchen sink—everything! Boundless, curious, and excited by calculations, young Katherine longed to know as much as possible about math and about the universe.

From Katherine’s early beginnings as a gifted student to her heroic accomplishments as a prominent mathematician at NASA, Counting on Katherine is the story of a groundbreaking American woman who not only calculated the course of the moon landing but saved lives and made enormous contributions to history.

In a time when women could not find jobs as research mathematicians, Katherine took a job as a teacher. However, the “space race” gave Katherine and other women an opportunity to work at NASA. Because of Katherine’s accuracy and strong leadership skills, astronaut John Glenn and others relied on Katherine’s mathematical calculations. Counting on Katherine explains how Katherine Johnson helped determine a spaceship’s trajectory. Katherine’s life shows that with hard work and determination, dreams do come true.

Counting on Katherine’s realistic illustrations add beauty and emotion to the story. The artwork also portrays how Katherine’s life was filled with mathematics. The artwork also helps explain how mathematics is essential to space travel. The story shows how “sending a rocket ship into space is like throwing a ball in the air.” Through both text and illustrations, Katherine’s advanced mathematic equations become understandable to younger readers.

Counting on Katherine explains many of the difficulties that Katherine had to overcome, including segregation and the belief that women could only do “tasks that men thought were boring and unimportant.” Even though Counting on Katherine is a picture book, the story has wide appeal for all readers. Counting on Katherine only has 1-6 sentences per page, but younger readers will need help with the story’s advanced sentence structure and vocabulary. Readers who want to read additional inspiring space stories should read Mousetronaut by astronaut Mark Kell and Mae Among The Stars, a picture book that was inspired by the story of Mae Jemison, the first African American in space.

Sexual Content

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Violence

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 Drugs and Alcohol

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Language

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Supernatural

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Spiritual Content

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