Category Archives: Grade K-3

Model It!

Model It! (Science Sleuths series) by Robin Johnson, Crabtree Books, 2015. ISBN: 9780778715412. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.


This is a good introduction to what models in science are and how they can be used to understand things. For example dinosaurs are extinct, but fossils and bones that have been found, allow scientists to create scale models or even computer images to help us understand how they looked and function. The book expands upon this to show how modeling allows us to predict weather, changes in animal and insect populations as well as help students understand how the human body works. Each section includes questions to stimulate young readers so they can understand better how scientific modeling can help them learn. The content is solid and not too complex for lower grades and includes directions for building a diorama as well as links to websites that offer more in depth information and examples of modeling. This is a book worthy of consideration for schools and libraries where such material is outdated or lacking.


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Filed under Grade K-3, Nonfiction

Clothing in Different Places

Clothing in Different Places by Adrianna Morganelli, Crabtree Publishing, 2015. ISBN: 9780778720102. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.


Like many Crabtree books, this is divided into several two page chapters: Our global community, Sharing a need, hot weather, cold weather, school clothes, work clothes, traditional clothing, materials and notes to educators. Readers are introduced to the idea that clothing around the world varies greatly in material, utility, style and color with examples of animal skins, alpaca hair fiber and head garb designed to protect breathing in harsh deserts. From there, the book explains the differences between clothing in terms of customs, then by how the body needs different fabric, thickness and climate conditions, particularly in extreme heat and cold. Different influences in school clothes around the world are touched upon, such as the prevalence of green and white in Burma and how some Chinese students are allowed to help design their own uniforms. Differences in work clothing is touched upon and some of the more colorful costumes like wedding outfits in India and Korea are shown along with festive garb like kilts and traditional Native American clothing. While interesting and well illustrated, this is a very basic introductory work.

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Filed under Grade K-3, Nonfiction

Cultural Traditions in Jamaica

Cultural Traditions in Jamaica, by Lynn Peppas, Crabtree Publishing, 2015. ISBN: 9780778780625. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.


This very colorful book is both enlightening and fun to read. I had almost no awareness of Jamaican culture or holiday traditions save for a superficial knowledge of Reggae and Rastafarianism. That changed pretty fast when I read this book. It will captivate young readers with its illustrations and descriptions of holidays and celebrations they’ve never heard of. I came away impressed with the richness and variety of celebrations. Young readers will, I expect, have a similar experience and in the process, gain an appreciation for how closely history, culture and ethnic diversity have come together on this Caribbean island to preserve important aspects of history and custom.

Certain snippets will catch individual readers attention; things like a holiday that changed name and date, one that is quite recent and what is left overnight in water on another holiday to help predict the future. This is a good book for libraries interested in expanding awareness of how varied our world is to add.

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Filed under Grade K-3, Nonfiction

Animals That Live in Social Groups

Animals That Live in Social Groups by Bobbi Kalman, Crabtree Publishing, 2016. ISBN: 9780778727873. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.


Like many of the books Bobbi Kalman writes, this is information rich and easy to understand. She introduces younger readers to the concept of social groups by listing some of the names given to specific collections of animals—A mob of meerkats, a cotery of prairie dogs, etc. She differentiates between nuclear families and larger groups, then shows five groups of birds, insects and animals, challenging readers to match each with the name assigned to the group.

Specific groups of social animals and birds are covered in subsequent sections, beginning with elephants, then wolves, dolphins, penguins, lions, various species of apes, lemurs. meerkats and prairie dogs. Each group’s size, cohesion, fidelity and communication is covered, accompanied by well laid out photos. At the end is a two page section that encourages readers to reflect on how the information about animal groups relates to human social structure.

This is a good introductory work that will fit well in both school and public libraries where it can serve as a gateway to more complex and in depth material.

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Filed under Grade 4-6, Grade K-3, Nonfiction

Cultural Traditions in Iran

Cultural Traditions in Iran by Lynn Peppas, Crabtree Publishing, 2015. ISBN: 9780778780618. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.


This book is part of a series introducing youngsters to celebrations, festivals and holidays in other countries. Given the political turmoil that has beset Iran, particularly events in the two years since the book was published, it is hard to measure whether cultural celebrations have been impacted and, if so, to what extent. Having said that, the author has provided a colorful and information rich look at celebrations in a country that youngsters in America (and other countries) may know little or nothing about. Festivals like Sizdah Bedar is an example. Falling 13 days after New Year, it is also called Nature Day. Families are encouraged to spend the day outside as well as use it to get rid of bad luck. Religious holidays like Ramadan and Ashura are covered in detail, with differences between how Shia and Sunni Muslims celebrate them noted. One that may strike American youngsters as unusual is Oil Nationalization Day. Overall it’s a well done and interesting look at festivals and celebrations in a country that remains a mystery to many in our country.

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Filed under Grade K-3, Nonfiction

Lost and Found Cat: The true story of Kunkush’s incredible journey

Lost and Found Cat: The true story of Kunkush’s incredible journey by Doug Kuntz and Amy Shrodes, illustrated by Sue Cornelison, 2017. ISBN: 9781524715472. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.


This is a true story that is so amazing it will strike many readers as being too incredible to be true. After her husband dies in Mosul, Iraq, Sura pays a smuggler to spirit her and her five children out of the country. The family can’t imagine leaving their per cat Kunkush behind.

Getting a family of five safely out of a war-torn land would be difficult enough, but add in a white cat in a battered carrier and you have quite a challenge, especially when crossing the Mediterranean Sea in a rubber boat. Everything works until the carrier breaks and the cat runs off. What happens after this tragedy to reunite Kunkush and his family makes for an extremely emotional story. It’s one pet lovers will relate to and is a tale that will bring home what love and dangerous living conditions are in extremely vivid ways for young readers. The illustrations are striking in their color and richness. An excellent choice for any public or school library.

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Filed under Grade 4-6, Grade K-3

88 Instruments

88 Instruments by Chris Barton, illustrated by Louis Thomas, Alfred A. Knopf, 2016. ISBN: 9780553538144. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.


When a boy is faced with choosing only one instrument to play, it’s a daunting task, especially in a shop where there are 88 instruments to choose from. The story takes little readers through the choices by having the main character play (or try to play) each, with appropriate accompanying expressions on his parents’ faces. Does he go loud? Does he go small and simple? Should he tweet, slide or bang? The illustrations do a ‘bang up’ job of showcasing his dilemma. When he makes his choice, it seems like a perfect one. Youngsters will laugh along as the book is read. It’s a great option for story hour or as an introduction to a music or singing session.

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Filed under Grade K-3, Preschool

Ocean Engineering and Designing for the Deep Sea

Ocean Engineering and Designing For the Deep Sea, by Rebecca Sjonger, Crabtree Publishing, 2016. ISBN: 9780778775362. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.


This is another good entry in the Crabtree Engineering series. It starts with the same introduction-the eight steps engineers use to move from problem identification through hypotheses to possible solutions and testing them. When it comes to the ocean, the challenges are unique and significant. With trenches that lie up to 36,000 feet below sea level, any vessel that goes there must withstand pressure equal to holding up 50 aircraft. Other factors including salinity, bacteria and fouling by marine organisms further complicate solutions. All of these challenges as well as the solutions and research benefits are covered in the text. Any youngster interested in the oceans will immerse themselves in this well done book.

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Filed under Grade 4-6, Grade K-3, Nonfiction

Step Forward With Gratitude

Step Forward With Gratitude by Shannon Welbourn, Crabtree Publishing Company (August 25, 2016). ISBN: 9780778727842. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.


It’s unfortunate that we live in a world where helpful feelings and behaviors are foreign concepts for some, but unless you’re taught healthy behaviors and how to recognize, practice and use healthy emotions, you’re often left out of good experiences and the positive results from being aware of how others feel and what they do in small ways to make our life better.

This book introduces youngsters to the concepts of gratitude and mindfulness, explaining each in ways children can easily relate to. It uses singer Taylor Swift and the way she likes and respects her fans as a great example of how gratitude can be practiced every day. In addition, the book takes kids through how gratitude can often resolve arguments, shorten bad moods and diminish anger. It also introduces readers to how the concept of Pay It Forward Day came about, when it is and how they can become involved. I was very pleased to find that the slogan “an attitude of gratitude” was noted, because it’s one I try to practice as a mantra on a daily basis. This is part of a set covering different emotions and is the first one of them I’ve had a chance to read. If the rest are similar, then the whole set is well worth adding to a library.

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Filed under Grade K-3, Nonfiction

Islands Inside and Out

Islands Inside and Out by Megan Kopp, Crabtree Publishing, 2015. ISBN: 9780778714972. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.


I’m quite impressed by this book for several reasons. First, it goes into excellent detail about not only the differences in island ecologies, but details their development, species uniqueness and what species are found only there as well as what threats exist. The variety of statistics offered are easily understood. This is not only a great book to enhance and support curriculum, but one to stimulate and feed youngsters’ curiosity so them will grow more interested in science and ecology. It’s an excellent choice for school and public library collections.

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Filed under Grade K-3, Nonfiction