Category Archives: Children’s Nonfiction


Where does our food come from? What role do farms play? What’s it like to be a farmer? In this book with beautiful illustrations from Ginnie Hsu, readers will follow a small-scale, organic farm throughout the year to discover how the farmer produces fresh, tasty food for us all in a sustainable and natural way.

Published in the US and UK from Quarto Kids.

Download the reader’s guide


California Reading Association Eureka Nonfiction Silver Honor


“Colorful and intimate.” Midwest Book Review

“This engagingly illustrated guide to all sorts of farms and the things that live and grow on them has a Richard Scarry “busytown” kind of vibe. It tallies fruits that grow in orchards, and vegetables that can be harvested in spring or later in the summer. It also offers in-depth look at tractors, varietals of corn and pumpkin, and ways to manage pests without chemicals–plus scads of info about honeybees and other pollinators. If your child wasn’t interested in being a farmer before she reads this book, she will be afterwards.” Lela Nargi, Sierra Club Magazine

“An engaging resource that will appeal to a variety of elementary audiences, plant lovers, and farm machinery alike.” Sara Jurek, School Library Journal


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DK Life Stories – ADA LOVELACE

Did you know that Ada was one of the first computer scientists? Or that at the age of 13 she illustrated plans for a flying machine?

Packed with facts, photos, illustrations, and more, DK Life Stories – ADA LOVELACE – will take you beyond the basics to find out about this amazing STEM woman.

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Back From The Brink: Saving Animals From Extinction

How could capturing the last wild California condors help save them? Why are some states planning to cull populations of the gray wolf, despite this species only recently making it off the endangered list? How did a decision made during the Civil War to use alligator skin for cheap boots nearly drive the animal to extinction? 

Back from the Brink answers these questions and more as it delves into the threats to seven species, and the scientific and political efforts to coax them back from the brink of extinction. This rich, informational look at the problem of extinction has a hopeful tone: all of these animals’ numbers are now on the rise. 

On shelves now!

Order from Houghton Mifflin directly or your favorite indie bookstore.  

Awards and Honors:

Eureka Nonfiction Book Awards – CA Reading Assoc. – Silver Honor

Nerdy Book Club – Long Form Nonfiction 

Green Earth Book Award Shortlist

2019 Dorothy Canfield Fisher VT Book Award

Sigurd F. Olsen Best Nature Book Award Honorable Mention 2018


*”[Castaldo] offers solid, meaningful suggestions for young readers […] including many, many learning opportunities: things to watch and read, organizations to investigate, websites and parks to explore. Challenging but important reading for the intended audience.”–Kirkus, STARRED review

“An intimate and optimistic look at humans’ ability to protect the planet’s biodiversity.”–Publishers Weekly

*”Readers will be moved by Castaldo’s appreciation for these animals.”–Booklist, STARRED review

“Overall, I thought this was a great book to help students understand how species conservation has worked for these species, and the hard work involved in conserving a species.  Hearing these stories may help budding conservationists envision a future where they could do the same.” — EcoLitBooks 

“At a moment in history when the Endangered Species Act is under siege, Back from the Brink kindles interest and commitment towards preserving animal diversity in the natural world. Castaldo describes how many different factors have pushed seven species towards extinction and illustrates what has been done to reverse this trend. A complex web of circumstances: climate, geography, predators, food, and politics hold these animals’ lives in the balance. Creative thinking on the part of scientists and environmental activists has resulted in solutions that will surprise (and delight) readers young and old. Remarkable photographs taken by the author herself accompany these compelling stories.–CJ” — NerdyBookClub – Nerdie for Long Form Nonfiction 














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Beastly Brains: Exploring How Animals Think, Talk, and Feel

In BEASTLY BRAINS, Castaldo delves into the minds of animals and explores animal empathy, communication, tool use, and social societies through interviews and historical anecdotes. Researchers from Charles Darwin to Jane Goodall have spent years analyzing the minds of animals, and today’s science is revolutionizing old theories and uncovering surprising similarities to our own minds. Humans are not alone in our ability to think about ourselves, make plans, help each other, or even participate in deception. You’ll think differently about the animals on this planet — maybe it’s their world and we’re just living in it. 

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 

Download a readers guide for your class. 


Top 10 Sci-Tech Books for Youth: 2017, Booklist Online 

Bank Street Best Books of the Year – STEM 12- 14 years 

SCBWI Crystal Kite Award 2018 for New York State


* “This eye-opening, cogent, and well-structured volume will enlighten students to both the richness of the animal kingdom and the nature of intelligence itself.”
— Booklist, STARRED review

“Castaldo (The Story of Seeds) presents a thought-provoking look at the minds and perceptions of animals, as well as the way human understanding of the subject has evolved…”
—Publishers Weekly

“The information is conveyed in an enticing way that is sure to spark the interest of aspiring naturalists and researchers… A fascinating take on animal science for tween and teen zoologists.”
— School Library Journal

Read my interview with the NonHuman Rights Project 






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The Story of Seeds



Something as small as a seed can have a worldwide impact. Did you know there are top-secret seed vaults hidden throughout the world? And once a seed disappears, that’s it—it’s gone forever? With the growth of genetically modified foods, the use of many seeds is dwindling—of 80,000 edible plants, only about 150 are being cultivated. With a global cast of men and women, scientists and laypeople, and photographic documentation, Nancy Castaldo chronicles where our food comes from, and more importantly, where it is going as she digs deeper into the importance of seeds in our world. This empowering book also calls young adult readers to action with suggestions as to how they can preserve the variety of one of our most valuable food sources through simple everyday actions. Readers of Michael Pollen will enjoy the depth and fascinatingly intricate social economy of seeds.

Houghton Mifflin  ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780544320239

 Download Curriculum Guide

Lists and Awards:


“A terrific, engrossing resource.”   – *Booklist starred review

“Championing seeds as one of our planet’s most precious and vulnerable resources, Castaldo delivers a sobering global status report—and a call to action.”  “Well-crafted and inspiring.”  – Kirkus

“Castaldo breaks down threats like climate change and disease, while providing a greater sense of interconnectivity in nature and within world communities.” – Publishers Weekly

“As compelling and complex as any novel, The Story of Seeds is one of the most important books for young readers to be written in years. Every student, teacher, and parent ought to read this book—and then follow the author’s call to action. A must-have addition to every home and classroom library.” – Lauris White Reyes Blog

“This eye-opening book on science and politics of agriculture serves as a wake-up call to readers about the facility of something many of us take for granted: our plant-based food supply. Castaldo clearly lays out a case for the importance of plant diversity (“Seeds equal life”), presenting engaging scientific and historical information…” – Horn Book Magazine



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The Race Around the World

Do you have what it takes to race around the world? When Nellie Bly read Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, she had an amazing idea. What if she traveled around the world in real life, and did it in less than eighty days? In 1889, people doubted it could be done – especially by a woman. But with one small bag and a sturdy coat, Nellie set out anyway. Soon the whole world was rooting for her. Could she make it back in time? Nellie Cover

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Mission Polar Bear Rescue

Meet the awesome wild polar bear. Mission: Polar Bear Rescue is full of fun facts, field reports, and hands-on rescue activities and challenges.

Polar Bear cover

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Sniffer Dogs: How Dogs (And Their Noses) Save the World









Anyone who has ever spent time with a dog knows that dogs love sniffing!

They sniff out hidden food, dirty socks, and the visitor who comes to the door.  But some dogs work with police officers, soldiers, and even scientists to put their “sniffers” to work.  Sniffer dogs make use of the amazing biology behind their noses to protect people from bombs, catch criminals smuggling drugs, or help researchers locate a hard-to-find snail in a forest.

     A dog’s nose is so sensitive that if a human could see as well as a dog could smell, we would be able to see the small letters on an eye chart from four (four!) miles away.  Is it any wonder then that dogs can be trained to find missing people in piles of rubble or a certain flower blooming amongst hundreds or thousands of other smells?

In Sniffer Dogs you will meet many dogs and their handlers and learn all about their jobs. Some of these dogs are raised from birth to detect blood sugar levels in their owners.  Others are rescued from animal shelters and their boisterous personalities help make them excellent sniffer dogs. Featuring a balance between science and social science, SNIFFER DOGS will appeal to dog lovers and science lovers alike.

From HMH Books for Young Readers –  Order Now   ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780544088931

Now also in paperback!

Lists and Awards:

**National Science Teachers Association 2015 Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12 

  • SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for New York
  • Maine State Library Cream of the Crop List
  • Bank Street Best Books of the Year 2015
  • NYC Reads 365 – 5th grade list


“An exemplary presentation of information in a lively, engaging way—readers will be left feeling awe for their canine companions and enthusiasm for their abilities.”  *Kirkus – STARRED review

“Superb coverage of the canine contribution to rescue and safety in both text and illustration, Castaldo’s book presents both the dogs and their trainers and handlers in roles involving world peril and individual handicap.” VOYA Magazine

“A well-organized, thoughtfully written title that celebrates the achievements of these great dogs.” – School Library Journal

“This fascinating account will leave young readers feeling wonder and gratitude for the gifts of the canine set.” Wall Street Journal

“The adventurous element of search and rescue and military duty adds an edge to draw readers unnoticed by (or unwilling to be caught with) mere cute puppies.” – Bulletin

“Castaldo’s excellent research and lively writing along with great dog photos make this a book kids will love, and they won’t even suspect they are learning.” San Francisco Book Review

“This is a perfectly executed nonfiction book, from its appealing subject right down to its useful appendix with bibliography of books and articles, listings of web sites, places to visit, “Ways to Get Involved,” and a useful glossary. For serious dog fanciers, research report writers, and almost any school or public library, Sniffer Dogs: How Dogs (and Their Noses) Save the World is definitely “Best in Show.” BooksForKidsBlog

“Finally, a title that combines all of these aspects—hook, subject, relatable elements, and design—is Nancy Castaldo’s Sniffer Dogs: How Dogs (and Their Noses) Save the World (HMH, 2014). School Library Journal  – Selecting and Promoting Nonfiction in Your Library 


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DesertsKids are wild about deserts! These 50-plus games, activities, and experiments are an enormous amount of fun whether you live near the Mohave Desert in California, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada or near the New Jersey turnpike. Every continent boasts deserts and young children will enjoy exploring the various types found around the world-from the hot and dry to the coastal, semiarid, and even polar. They will love learning about this strange and often misunderstood environment that is home to camels, rattlesnakes, and kangaroos, vast sand dunes, ancient cacti, and quicksand. Kids will be delighted to find out all the creative ways plants and animals have adapted to survive the beautiful but harsh desert environment.

Reviews and Awards:

“Whether the topic is Mongolian gerbils or the “People of the Veil”, DESERTS provides a wonderful introduction to the world’s deserts in a stimulating context that will both educate and excite the target six- to nine-ear olds, their parents, and their teachers.” Science Books & Films, Sept/Oct 2004

Science Books and Films – Best Books For Children 2004

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RainforestsNorth America boasts a surprising number of rainforests, including El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico, Olympic National Forest in Washington State, Chugah and Tonga National Forests in Alaska, and the forests in Hawaii. Rainforests: An Activity Guide takes kids through the common layers of the rainforest, from the forest floor to above the enclosed canopy, and introduces them to plants, animals, and people around the world, including those from the temperate rainforests of North America to the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America. Activities include making a West African yam festival gourd rattle, building a model of an Alaskan totem pole, and creating a Javanese Wayang-kuilt, or shadow puppet. Kids are encouraged to make a difference and become active supporters of the rainforests no matter where they live.

Reviews and Awards:

Science Books And Films – Best Books For Children 2003

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River Wild

River WildKids will delight in learning about the formation of rivers, the water cycle, and the variety of habitats that exist along the length of a river in this introduction to the precious natural resource of rivers. All major rivers that run through the United States, Canada, and Mexico are discussed in regional chapters, including the Chattahoochee, Colorado, Columbia, Hudson, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Rio Grande, and St. Lawrence Rivers as well as many others. Kids will discover how rivers have shaped our history and learn of the issues that are currently facing these important waterways. More than 30 fun-filled activities including Build Your Own Dam, Huckleberry Finn Log Raft, Salmon Trap Game, and Settling Sediment are provided. Sidebars on river keepers around the country, and a complete resource section listing books, videos, and websites complete this activity guide.

Reviews and Awards:

“An indispensable resource for every educator” —NSTA Recommends

“Good source of information and projects.” —Booklist

“Engaging.” —Science News

“A journey of discovery.” —Curriculum Review

“New tool for learning.” —The Sacramento Bee

“This activity guide awakens curiosity, and enriches the lives of readers by expanding their views of rivers.” —Rebecca Johnson, Watershed Educator, Hudson River

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Leap Into Space

Leap Into SpaceLeap Into Space and learn the interconnectivity of the universe through intriguing experiments, comic illustrations, amazing facts, spectacular photos of space, and ideas for things to do. Leap Into Space is packed with fantastic things to think about, unusual experiments to try, and the key to opening the door to a limitless future.

Leap Into Space on YouTube:

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Keeping Our Earth Green

KeepingOurEarthGreen-coverKeeping Our Earth Green provides readers with over 100 hands-on ways to help save the Earth. Discover facts about pollution, global warming, biofuels, and much more. Try experiments at home or in a classroom. Read about the cool things being done to help our planet. Discover Earth Heroes – real people who have made a difference. Take action!

Reviews and Awards:

“Keeping our Earth Green by Nancy F. Castaldo sends a very important message we should teach and pass on to our children as future stewards of our planet. Castaldo, an environmental educator and member of the Sierra Club’s National Education Committee, talks about environmental issues in a fun and engaging way for child education.”—The Parenting Magazine

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