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Our Latest Reviews

Women in the Old West (A True Book)
With nary a saloon girl in sight, this True Book: Women’s History in the U.S. series (5 titles) selection sets the scene of America’s Old West much more honestly than many texts, pointing out the theft of Indigenous Peoples’ land and culture inherent to westward expansion, as well as the presence of enslaved people and Black settlers endeavoring to escape the racism rampant east of the Mississippi river. Only after this does it shift its focus to the women who traveled west, many seeking greater freedom and independence. Some benefits extended to white women included careers in teaching and, in some territories, the ability to vote. The text also reveals how the Homestead Act of 1862 allowed U.S. citizens, regardless of race or gender, to become landowners. Some of the enterprising women readers will meet include Mary Fields (African American U.S. postal worker), businesswoman Nellie Cashman, Susanna Madora Salter (first female mayor in the U.S.), and Lyda Conley (first Indigenous woman to become a lawyer). The context provided by this well-designed and accessible history elevates it above others. — Julia Smith

Booklist Starred Review, October 2020

Other titles in this series include The Founding Mothers of the United States, Women in the Civil Rights Movement, Women and the Right to Vote, Women in World War II (A True Book: Women in U.S. History)

Mummies and Murder (XBooks: Strange)
The attention-grabbing title and small trim size of this book—not to mention the serene bogmummy cover image—guarantee that it will circulate under its own steam. Part of the high interest XBooks: Strange series (4 titles), it opens with the sensational 1950 discovery of Tollund Man in a bog in Denmark and poses the primary questions that the book will tackle, effectively hooking readers before they even get to the table of contents. The main text is divided into four short chapters that describe the scientists’ investigation into whether Tollund Man was murdered (he was found with a rope around his neck) and the basic information they learned about him upon close study, illustrated with gruesomely enticing mummy photos and painted scenes imagining Tollund Man's fate. The book offers frequent asides about how bogs preserve bodies, plus additional mummy examples. The text is always engaging and balanced, and a concluding XFiles section offers rich back matter, most excitingly, a chart of mummies discovered across cultures. An excellent and informative choice that kids will love. — Julia Smith

Booklist Starred Review, April 2020

Other titles in this series include Lost City, Tracking Bigfoot, and UFO Landing (XBooks: Strange)

The Supreme Court: Why It Matters to You (A True Book)
In only 48 pages, and with a large, easy-to-read typeface, this entry in the new Why it Matters to you series (6 titles) does a fine job of explaining how the court works, what kinds of cases it takes, and discusses how justices are chosen and what they do. This also has a look at some topics not often covered, e.g. should there be cameras in the court, and brings relevance to readers by highlighting several cases that impacted young people, including those on censorship or students with disabilities.To its credit, the book also makes a point of noting that, of the court's 114 justices,108 have been white men. The open format with plenty of color photographs makes this an excellent choice for students and may pick up a few browsers.

- Booklist, October 2019

Other titles in this series include The Bill of Rights, Elections, The Presidency, The U.S. Congress, and The U.S. Constitution (A True Book: Why It Matters)

Rookie National Parks
Young armchair adventurers will get a pleasant introduction to a few of America’s national parks in these installments in the Rookie National Parks series (4 new titles). Each slim volume focuses on the variety of climates or geography within a park, its wildlife and native plants, and unusual features; a map-based problem and an identification quiz wrap things up, along with a brief visual glossary. A cartoon fox, Ranger Red Fox, provides context for the photos, and inset boxes offer additional facts. Cuyahoga Valley emphasizes the Ohio park’s rail system, towpath, and canal, along with the river’s historical importance to the local economy. In Everglades, readers will learn about the distinctive environments found in the swampy park as well as the rich variety of animals inhabiting it. Joshua Tree highlights the rare tree the park is named for; the various groups of people who lived in the area, including Native Americans, ranchers, and miners; and the rocky, desert landscape. Volcanoes are central to the information in Mount Rainier, and this title emphasizes what effect volcanic activity has had on the landscape, such as rock columns and ice caves. The eye-catching full-color photos and inviting, brief sentences give this easy, accessible appeal for beginning readers, and the broad scope of information, though not comprehensive, should lead young readers down interesting paths, perhaps literally.

- Booklist, November 2018

Titles in this review include Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Everglades National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, and Mount Rainier National Park (Rookie National Parks)

Wind Power: Sailboats, Windmills and Wind Turbines (A True Book)
This breezy introduction into wind power is part of the True Book: Alternative Energy series (4 titles). It gives readers a clear, succinct overview of the history and development of wind power, from early sailboats and windmills to modern turbines and wind farms. It also explains the basic science behind pressure systems and kinetic energy, and describes how wind power is harnessed run a machine directly or after being converted into electricity. Typical True Book features reliably appear here, such as an opening true-or-false question, a time line, a graphics-rich recap, and a page of “True Statistics.” Likewise, a double-page spread lays out the pros and cons of this resource in numbered lists, encouraging readers to form their own opinions. The mix of well-chosen illustrations (archival images, color photos, and diagrams) clarify the concepts being presented and include interesting trivia in their captions. A sure way to energize classroom learning and discussion.

- STARRED REVIEW Booklist, October 2018

Other titles in this series include Geothermal Energy, Water Power, and Solar Power (A True Book: Alternative Energy)

Built for Speed (Rookie Star –
Extraordinary Animals)
The pithy text of this entry in the Rookie Star: Extraordinary Animals series (4 titles) flows almost as fast as the animals it describes. Herrington covers several different types of speed, including “Fastest Fliers and Swimmers,” “Fastest Runners and Jumpers,” and “Fastest Attackers.” Each spread presents a different animal, occasionally featuring a second critter that moves similarly in a sidebar. Familiar creatures, such as cheetahs and chameleons, zip through the pages, but some unexpected animals (sailfish, Brazilian free tailed bats) make appearances as well. Thanks to a well-edited mix of introductory, general, and specific information, the text never becomes choppy. The excellent nature photos, like the text, are focused and dramatic, and captions often add interesting information. This book provides readers with the excitement of both speed and learning.

- Booklist, October 2018

Other titles in this series includeAmazing Migrations, Cool Camouflage, and Powerful Predators

Nature's Children (Updated Editions)
An updated take on “Nature’s Children” with new authors, new text, and, with just a few exceptions, different photographs. In each book, a “Fact File” spread introduces the animal group, leading into a cogent, well-organized treatment of physical features, behavior, and life cycles. A balanced combination of general content and specific examples works effectively, with data relevant to individual species clearly noted. Later chapters touch on history and related species. All of these animals are vulnerable or threatened; a closing chapter looks at survival challenges and includes examples of recent and current rescue efforts. Most photographs are single images, about a full page in size, which complement the text well, sometimes expanding the information with captions. VERDICT: First-rate animal profiles for upper grade elementary students.

- School Library Journal, Series Made Simple, April 2018

Titles in this series include Elephants, Great White Sharks, Orangutans, Polar Bears, Porpoises, Rhinoceroses, Sea Turtles, and Tigers

A True Book - My United States
Take a trip through the U.S. with these cheerful texts that highlight the appealing and special qualities of each state. The books mix short chapters of straightforward, informative text with bright, busy pages of special features throughout the volume as well as in the back matter. Connecticut highlights the state’s role as part of the New England region, along with its unique local government traditions. Nevada aptly contrasts the state’s wilderness areas with the urban experience of Las Vegas. Oklahoma weaves together aspects of the state’s history throughout the book, including the strong Native American presence in Oklahoma. Washington, D.C. goes beyond the usual focus on the federal government to explore the area’s natural features as well as the city’s history. Each book’s chapters focus on the state’s (or district’s) land and wildlife, government at various levels, history, and notable cultural institutions. Native peoples are mentioned in the history section although often only in passing. Large captioned photographs of key locations and people illustrate nearly every page. Each book also includes a variety of graphic features, from maps to a time line, a population graph, and a diagram showing the state’s electoral votes. These books in the True Book: My United States series are ideal for beginning research or just learning more about the country.

- Booklist, July 2018

Titles in this review include Connecticut, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Washington D.C.