Summertime is an excellent time of year to explore the riches of non-fiction and to continue the process of reinvigorating the mind and stimulating the soul.  The following books are perfect for ages nine through adult, unless otherwise indicated.

Under the Milky Way, by Frane Lessac, showcases celebrations during the evening under the stars in North America.  Different regions are highlighted with glorious illustrative renditions, done in gouache, that reflect a colorful folk-art style filling the pages completely with vibrant color.  Every open page will surely encourage the reader to pour over the many details found in this picture book.  The first open page shows youngsters in Salem, Massachusetts enjoying an evening trick-or-treating in a variety of costumes.  Another open page shows an evening at the fair in Toronto, Canada with kids and adults enjoying ice cream cones, sodas and more.  Ms. Lessac has an added activity that all can enjoy – locating her dog that she painted on every open page.  This book is perfect for all ages.  Be sure to check out Under the Southern Cross, by the same author, which has a similar format only this time including cities located at the bottom part of the world.

Fearless Felines: 30 True Tales of Courageous Cats, by Kimberlie Hamilton, is a collection of heroic cat stories that occurred throughout history.  One story is about a cat named Mrs. Chippy, who was aboard the historic ship, Endurance, that navigated to Antarctica as the original craft to attempt sailing to the bottom of the world (with Shackleton at the helm).  When times became extremely difficult after their ship was stuck by being surrounded with ice, Mrs. Chippy soothed the crew with cuddling and purring.  The tales are short (one page) and colorful illustrations of each cat make this an interesting and delightful quick read for bedtime. This book is perfect for all ages.

Letting Go! An Activity Book for Young People Who Need Support Through Experiences of Loss, Change, Disappointment and Grief, by Dr. Sharie Coombes, and illustrated with easy to follow activities by Ellie O’Shea, could be a nice way to deal with all that is going on in the world and in this country.  Perhaps children are alarmed at having to wear masks going into public buildings and now most likely schools, along with all the troubling riots, etc.  This book could serve as a nice relief.  The author, a child and family psychotherapist, includes puzzles to cut apart and put back together, coloring encouraging signs to paint on stones and land art of gluing nature onto a picture.  The paperback book is made to color inside or cut up as desired.

Crow Smarts: Inside the Brain of the World’s Brightest Bird, by Pamela S. Turner, photographs by Andy Comins, and art by Guido De Filippo, is part of the outstanding series Scientists in the Field and interestingly documents these black birds that seem normal and even annoying with their loud cries.  You read about the astonishing tasks that these brilliant birds accomplish again and again.  Some of these amazing feats, by these medium-sized birds, include making tools out of the nearby forest and their ingenious way of obtaining food.  There is much to learn and read about in this unique book – some of which is how small the crow’s brain is with the abilities conveyed.  The photos are beautiful and rich with color and more information is found at the back of the book.

The Chemistry of Cola: Discover and Learn with 21 Experiments, by Dr. Jamie Gallagher, is full of information and activities to learn from and experiment with this carbonated drink.  Chemistry can be a daunting world but after working the stimulating experiments in this book, you may discover the true scientist inside of you.  You will learn how chemistry is actually a branch of science that deals with the building blocks of matter and how they connect with each other.  You will discover many things working with just a can of cola.  For instance, one can contains six different chemical elements with billions of atoms and molecules. The chapters are broken into six sections and include the chemical makeup, food chemistry and solutions. You will learn how carbonation fizzes and why the component of ice can create a surprising material.  The directions are laid out simply and are easy to follow with excellent diagrams of explanations!  Be sure to also check out another book published at the same time and by the same publisher: The Biology of Bananas: Discover and Learn with 22 Experiments, by Katie Steckles.  There is a safety notice on both books stating that all experiments should be done in the accompaniment of an adult.

Bear Grylls Epic Climbs: Discover How Five of the Most Difficult Mountains were Conquered showcases mountaineering climbs with vivid photography and maps displaying locales and trail directions. The chapters cover the following arduous climbs in compelling detail:  the Eiger, Mount Everest, K2, Denali and The Matterhorn.  There’s also a chapter on Bear Grylls and how at 23, he became the youngest British mountaineer to climb Mount Everest.  This chapter truly shows the motivation of mountaineers and why they climb.  The book is well written and kid friendly making it an interesting read for all.  The information on gear and techniques, as well as a glossary at the back of the book, is exceptional.  Be sure to check out Bear Grylls’s other new book also recently published: Epic Expeditions: Discover Five of the Most Amazing Adventures and Treks in History.