While younger children can understand what happened to Anne Frank, the subtleties of this book’s haunting photographs will make more sense to older readers. One of the most chilling images is toward the end of the book; it is an image of Otto Frank, Anne’s father, standing alone in the attic the family lived in while in hiding before it was opened to the public in 1960. He was the only member of his family to survive the Nazi concentration camps and this won’t be lost on the students as they conclude this excellent biography of a girl who they might recognize as someone as someone they could have known or been friends with—she had an older sister, a family she loved, a boy she liked, and lots of dreams and hopes she never lived to see become reality.
One of my favorite books from this past year in children’s literature, and for many reasons; Nelson did an amazing job on this book and R. Gregory Christie’s illustrations only add to a great piece of literature. *read from this book*
Black Elk is a unique historical figure, not only when speaking in terms of Native American culture, but in the broader aspect of American history. The “vision” he had when he was 9 during a bought of illness set before him a path of hopeful leadership; it was a path that he fought to fulfill but ultimately saw destroyed. This is a somber, sobering book that puts perspective on American westward expansion—I have never seen a biography of a Native American quite like this. The artwork, paired with the first person narrative, is quite stunning and sets this book apart from other literature like it.
Daring, unconventional, intelligent—Nellie Bly was a globetrotting journalist who wrote stories about Americans fought for their rights. Bly was certainly the kind of woman who didn’t bend to societal pressures and act like the “typical” woman of the day—she broke every stereotype and made a name for herself as a whipsmart journalist who didn’t back down from any story. But she had her personal issues as well, and Macy doesn’t shy away from the topic of Bly’s husband, 40 yrs. her senior, or the money troubles her family had when she was younger.
A little known fact: when the situation was uncomfortable, awkward, or even downright dire, President Abraham Lincoln didn’t make excuses or small talk to diffuse a potential political bomb—he used humor and wit. It isn’t the kind of humor you and I are used to. For example, when speaking about slavery, Lincoln once said, “Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.” Lincoln was indeed a clever and brilliant man, and students may only see him as our 16 th President. This book might help younger students get a grasp of just how intelligent and witty Abraham Lincoln, the man, was.
James Matthew Barrie, or J.M. Barrie as most people know him as, gave the world the boy who wouldn’t grow up—Peter Pan. What Jane Yolen and Steve Adams have captured in this brilliant book is how Barrie overcame struggles during childhood and his adult life to become the man who gave the world Peter Pan; it’s a fascinating tale, one that children will not only be interested in, but that might also provide inspiration for children who are trying to deal with difficult issues in their own lives. Barrie was a small man in stature, but he gave the world a huge literary figure that is still very important today and children will understand that.
From the product description: Plowing a potato field in 1920, a 14-year-old farm boy from Idaho saw in the parallel rows of overturned earth a way to “make pictures fly through the air.” This boy was not a magician; he was a scientific genius and just eight years later he made his brainstorm in the potato field a reality by transmitting the world’s first television image. Philo Farnsworth was a young boy with a big dream—he wanted to do what the scientists and engineers of his time hadn’t yet accomplished. This is a truly amazing story, one that your students will greatly enjoy, I certainly did.
Houblon’s A World of Colors is a fun, inviting book that will engage kids not only in the book but also in their own environment. Easily adaptable into lesson plans on colors, art, or the world (locations, people, etc.), it’s a great tool to use to generate discussion and ideas for projects, whether its art or writing.
I will fully admit to being a huge fan of Steve Jenkins’ work; I actually had to stop myself from putting more than two of his books on the list for today. I didn’t think that author bias was a good idea for the sake of variety, but I do think that Jenkins is a rare tour de force—a non-fiction author/illustrator that delivers prime material and astounding artwork with each book. That being said, his newest offering, Bones , is certainly not a letdown. Kids will love seeing different skeletons and individual bones, both from humans and animals, and learning facts about them—did you know, for example, that a giraffe’s neck is a long as a man is tall, but giraffes and humans have the same number of neck bones, seven. It’s cool facts like that that will have kids pouncing on this book.
As much as I loved Bones , I think I like this book from Jenkins even better. On How To Clean A Hippopotamus , Jenkins paired with his wife, Robin Page, and together they wrote about some pretty strange symbiotic relationships found in the wild. Now, I read every book you’ll see in this presentation and a whole bunch more that I had on a list as potential books when trying to put this all together, and this was one of the few that I read more than once. You really learn from this book, and several times I caught myself saying “Really? They do that? No way!” or something akin to that. And I’m a grownup—imagine how fascinating this would be to a kid!
This book is on the list of outstanding nonfiction for the reasons you see on the screen, but if that wasn’t enough, there’s a little story to go with it. I’ve used during a program we have here at the library called Marvelous Mondays, which is for ages 5 and up and focuses on nonfiction books and topics. We encourage kids in this program to explore their world—so we talk about all kinds of cool things. One of the programs was on bees and flowers, how bees pollinate flowers and trees, how they make honey, etc., and I read this book to the kids that came to the program that evening. They liked the book so much that I was asked to read it again—when I said I couldn’t, I was asked why, and that’s when I told them we had some games to play where we were going to pretend to be bees and learn how bees pollinate flowers and do a bee dance and make a craft. (Explain bee dance, bee wiggles when it finds nectar) Well, the book was forgotten when I said we were going to do a bee dance and showed them how to do it—so as long as you don’t do a bee dance, you may get asked to read this book a couple of times.
Also known as the “night parrot”, the kakapo is truly a strange and wondrous bird. It is, as its nickname would suggest, mostly nocturnal, weighs around 9 pounds, is mostly bright green with greyish-gold whiskers on its face and has feathers that smell like honey, and has been hunted, both by humans and natural predators, into near extinction. Without question one of my favorite books this year, Kakapo Rescue is an amazing book.
And continuing on with Nic Bishop, here is one of his standalone titles. Bishop has been on the children’s nonfiction scene for a while and I wanted to highlight one of his books because the quality of information paired with the absolutely gorgeous photographs make for great books that kids will want to look at on their own, share with a friend, or use for a school project. These books can also be read to an entire class, and sharing Nic Bishop’s photographs is always fun with a group—I’ve done it before and it’s amazing to see kids so enthralled by what they’re seeing. Plus, once their eyes are open, their ears are open too.
This book, due to George’s powerful writing and Minor’s beautiful artwork, will put the history of the buffalo and its struggle for survival into sobering perspective, more so than any textbook might be capable of. While a work of nonfiction, The Buffalo Are Back does blend in a bit of fiction, but it is simply for the sake of artistic metaphor and imagery and doesn’t affect the story whatsoever (the image of a lark landing on a six foot blade of grass is mentioned a few times, for example). I really enjoyed this book and could see it being shared with a class or group and being thoroughly appreciated.
This is a fascinating book about a fascinating man doing fascinating research-Tyrone Hayes, a less than stellar student with a ton of potential, was mentored by a very serious science professor in college, turned his life and career around, and is now an expert on frogs and the affects of the poison atrazine on his beloved amphibians. Tyrone is surrounded by the crew he lovingly calls his “Frog Squad”, a group of college students who spend their days pouncing on frogs in ponds, puddles, and swamps to study and doing lab work for Tyrone. Kids will easily view Tyrone as a pretty cool guy with a pretty cool job, and he didn’t have it handed to him because of social status or wealth—he worked hard for it, earned his place, and now he’s a well-respected member of the science community.
The Salmon Bears is a truly interesting read—I had never heard of the Great Bear Rainforest and after I was finished with this book, I realized I had learned so much not only about the forest itself, but about its biggest inhabitants, the bears. The writing in this book is enthralling and McAllister’s photographs only add to the mystery and little bit of magic contained within the Great Bear Rainforest.
This book is hard to categorize but for good reason—everything about it, poetry, photography, facts—is just stellar. Personally, I would use this book in the nonfiction program my coworker Melanie and I do here at the library called Marvelous Mondays, but I’m not sure if I’d use it in a poetry program or in a program about animals. But whatever my choice, this book would fit--*read from this book*
If you can’t judge a book by its cover (even though I did with The Monsterologist ), can you judge it by its title? Dark Emperor And Other Poems of the Night —the title’s namesake is the owl, a night hunter who silently watches over the forest and swoops down on his prey. I think it’s a pretty great title for the book and gives readers an idea of what to expect even before they open the book; when they do start to read, what’ll they find is a really great collection of poems about what you might find if you go exploring the woods at night.
I love children’s poetry—all of it. From the simple to the complex, children’s poets speak truths without ego or pompousness, and whether the poetry is sad or joyful or just downright silly, it’s as honest as honest can get. Children’s poets speak to children and to the child in all of us, so it’s no surprise that poetry like what you’ll find in Poetrees is both beautiful and inspiring…and fun if you can take the time to enjoy the rhyme in front of you on the page. *read*
The Monsterologist is one of those books I picked up without knowing anything about it—I picked it up because of the cover. I know, don’t judge a book by its cover but it looks pretty cool! By the time I was done I realized that Bobbi Katz and Adam McCauley had created something incredibly clever—monster poems that appeal to more than just the kids that like spooky stuff. These poems are funny and fun to read out loud, and you don’t have to particularly like oooky spooky stories to enjoy the appeal of The Monsterologisti You just have to be willing to laugh.
A neighbor planet close enough to explore with robots but too far away to send a human being, its conditions too inhospitable for any kind of life to flourish, and yet—two rovers, the first ever robots on Mars, find evidence of water on this dusty red planet. What does this mean? Had there been life on Mars at some point in the past, and could there be life again on Mars, even if we’re the ones to put it there? All of this is fascinating and perplexing and Alexandra Siy’s book Cars on Mars presents these questions in a format that’s easy to understand for kids in grades 5 and up but yet challenging enough to make them think. This is a fun book to read, especially for the kid that’s enthralled by the possibility of what could be out there.
And we’re going from the last book and kids who really like outer space and exploration to kids who really dig music. A lot of us know someone like that, and a love of music often starts at an early age. Music speaks to children, even before they can speak themselves, so it’s not strange at all to read stories about children who, at age 6 or 7, are playing violin concertos or singing opera. But most of the talented musicians we know who would be drawn to this book are simply looking for some kind of advice or inspiration—the author, Crossingham, gives both in boatloads. I’m not musically inclined at all but I love listening to music, I love how my favorite songs can make me feel better even after a horrible day, and I really enjoyed reading this book. Consider this book also not only for the musician kids you know, but for the kids who might just be finding their interest, or who have yet to find it but need a push—you never know who they might be.
“ Their order was simple. A doughnut and coffee with cream on the side.” This phrase you’ll read again and again in Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down , and along with other food metaphors and repeated phrases, is how Andrea Pinkney creates such an elegant portrait of a struggle for equal treatment through peaceful means. I was fascinated by this book and I think students will be too; it’s the perfect fusion of true story and illustration.
Anne Frank: Her Life In Words and Pictures By Menno Metselaar <ul><li>Unique biography on well-known figure </li></ul><ul><li>Features many unpublished photographs; photographs are accompanied by diary entries </li></ul><ul><li>Excellent biography for older elementary school students (grades 5 and up) packed with details about Anne’s life before, during, and after her capture by the Nazis </li></ul><ul><li>Also recommend to students who enjoy diary type literature </li></ul>
Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, U.S. Marshall By Vaunda Micheaux Nelson; Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie <ul><li>2010 Coretta Scott King Author Award Winner </li></ul><ul><li>Has many elements to capture the attention of students grades 3-6 who may not “cotton to” nonfiction: colorful vernacular of the Wild West, great artwork, an engaging hero, and the story reads like a picture book, not a biography </li></ul><ul><li>Nelson heavily researched the life of Reeves; while Bad News looks and reads like fiction, it is thoroughly cited and can be used by students for reports </li></ul><ul><li>Publisher’s website offers additional classroom resources, including a discussion guide </li></ul>
Black Elk’s Vision: A Lakota Story By S.D. Nelson <ul><li>Excellent biography written in first-person, present tense </li></ul><ul><li>Historically accurate with a unique perspective on an important figure in Native American history </li></ul><ul><li>Author provides extensive bibliography, source notes, and personal note </li></ul><ul><li>Perfect for students seeking information on a historical figure for a research project or give to the student interested in history </li></ul>
Bylines: A Photobiography of Nellie Bly By Sue Macy <ul><li>Fascinating look at a historical figure who isn’t often brought up in classrooms </li></ul><ul><li>Macy’s book thoroughly portrays Bly’s “stunt journalism” and her perseverance in a male-dominated field </li></ul><ul><li>Provides plenty of photos and other visual aids to accompany text on the 4 th -6 th grade reading level </li></ul><ul><li>Macy provides a fantastic index with every supporting “character” mentioned in the book </li></ul>
Lincoln Tells A Joke: How Laughter Saved The President (And The Country) By Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer; Illustrated by Stacy Innerst <ul><li>Great book to share out loud with a group of younger students (grades 1-4)—the text shows a lighter side of Lincoln that many students would be unaware of </li></ul><ul><li>Innerst’s illustrations add to the unique humor and zest of this book </li></ul><ul><li>Krull and Brewer gathered the quotes used from collections of Lincoln’s jokes and clever sayings, which were mostly compiled posthumously (many of them eyewitness accounts); a source list is included </li></ul>
Lost Boy: The Story of the Man Who Created Peter Pan By Jane Yolen; Illustrated by Steve Adams <ul><li>Yolen and Adams capture J.M. Barrie’s vast imagination and sense of adventure in this excellent biography aimed at children grades 3-5 </li></ul><ul><li>Yolen focuses as much on Barrie’s childhood (the good and bad) as she does his adult life, which is important because it shows how what he experienced as a child shaped what he did as an adult </li></ul><ul><li>Adams’ illustrations portray Barrie’s unstoppable spirit and are paired with a quote carefully chosen from one of Barrie’s literary works </li></ul><ul><li>End notes include a list of Barrie’s writings and the actresses who have played Peter Pan </li></ul>
The Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of Philo Farnsworth By Kathleen Krull; Illustrated by Greg Couch <ul><li>Capture the attention of 2-5 th graders with the story of Philo Farnsworth—kids can’t imagine a world without television. Tell them the story of the boy who invented it. </li></ul><ul><li>Krull focuses on Farnsworth’s dream to become an inventor, doesn’t mention his struggles and depression later on in life except in the afterword </li></ul><ul><li>Couch’s beautiful illustrations accompany this well-written biography meant to inspire and inform </li></ul>
A World of Colors: Seeing Colors in A New Way By Marie Houblon <ul><li>An inviting book that asks children grades K-3 to find colors in the world around them </li></ul><ul><li>Takes color beyond the “normal” and includes black, brown, gray and white and explains each of them </li></ul><ul><li>The photos in the book for each color are not discussed in detail (each photo may have an exotic location, person, or thing in it) and allows for open dialogue between you and your students </li></ul><ul><li>A variety of shades of colors are also displayed, which is typically not seen in color books </li></ul>
Bones: Skeletons and How They Work By Steve Jenkins <ul><li>Jenkins’ (a Caldecott Honor Award Winner) distinctive artwork style makes bones come to life in this entertaining take on skeletal systems </li></ul><ul><li>Aimed at the 3 rd -6 th grade levels, the text is fluid and fun </li></ul><ul><li>Includes many life-size representations of skeletons (including a small python) </li></ul><ul><li>End notes include interesting tidbits on a variety of bone topics (human and non-human) </li></ul>
How To Clean A Hippopotamus: A Look At Unusual Animal Partnerships By Steve Jenkins and Robin Page <ul><li>Formatted in block comic book style, this book introduces symbiosis to kids at grade levels K-3 </li></ul><ul><li>Husband and wife team Jenkins and Page showcase some of the more unknown pairings, like the goby and blind shrimp, or the coyote and badger </li></ul><ul><li>Like with Bones and other Jenkins books, the artwork is stunning and paired with engaging, accessible text that encourages learning and pleasure reading </li></ul>
In The Trees, Honeybees! By Lori Mortensen; Illustrated by Cris Arbo <ul><li>A great read-aloud suited for grades PreK-3 </li></ul><ul><li>Almost picture book in presentation, Mortensen’s text is simple and inviting (coupled with interesting facts about bees at the bottom of each page) while Arbo’s highly detailed illustrations are truly incredible </li></ul><ul><li>End notes offer great information on the lives and importance of bees along with resources </li></ul>
Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot By Sy Montgomery; Photographs by Nic Bishop <ul><li>One of the strangest, most amazing birds ever found, the kakapo will certainly be a source of wonder for students once they discover it with the help of Montgomery’s superb book </li></ul><ul><li>Written with older students (grades 5 and up) in mind, this book details Montgomery and Bishop’s ten days with New Zealand’s National Kakapo Recovery Team, a group that works to restore the very limited kakapo population (current count is 122 of these beautiful birds) </li></ul><ul><li>This is a riveting book--filled with stunning photographs that accompany a story that is an emotional rollercoaster </li></ul><ul><li>Montgomery provides facts and history on the kakapo and then launches into the journey she and Bishop had while in New Zealand, observing rescue group members trying to save kakapo eggs and babies, being chased by a “famous” kakapo named Sirocco, and exploring Codfish Island (sometimes in gale force wind and rain), where the kakapo live </li></ul>
Nic Bishop Marsupials By Nic Bishop <ul><li>Bishop adds to his repertoire of engaging nonfiction titles with Marsupials </li></ul><ul><li>Filled with photographs of high quality that Bishop is known for (and that kids grades 2-5 will react to with open mouths and big eyes), Bishop adds facts, details, and fun information about each animal in straightforward language </li></ul><ul><li>Bishop also includes info on how he took each photo (most of the animals are nocturnal) and a handy index and glossary </li></ul>
The Buffalo Are Back By Jean Craighead George; Illustrated by Wendell Minor <ul><li>George blends nonfiction with a touch of fiction to tell the story of the history of buffalo on the American plains to kids grade levels 2-5 </li></ul><ul><li>George’s eloquent writing and Minor’s evocative watercolor paintings will transport kids to a different time and place, especially if the book is read aloud </li></ul><ul><li>George does not gloss over how the buffalo and the plains were almost obliterated by hunters, Westward expansion, and the American government </li></ul><ul><li>End notes list a few sources and several places that kids can visit to see buffalo in their natural habitat </li></ul>
The Frog Scientist By Pamela S. Turner; Photographs by Andy Comins <ul><li>An enthusiastic, inspiring look at a scientist and his work, presented with gorgeous photographs and straightforward storytelling </li></ul><ul><li>Tyrone Hayes, whose potential as a student was recognized and turned into a career by a professor who didn’t give up on him, is now “The Frog Scientist”, studying the effects of the chemical atrazine on amphibians </li></ul><ul><li>Give this book to a budding scientist or a kid that needs a little inspiration; Tyrone’s passion for his job and his crew (“The Frog Squad”) is evident throughout the book and is uplifting to read about; grades 5 and up </li></ul>
The Salmon Bears: Giants of the Great Bear Rainforest By Ian McAllister and Nicholas Read; Photographs by Ian McAllister <ul><li>A look at a lesser-known habitat presented in conversational text with fantastic photographs </li></ul><ul><li>Extensive data is presented on the different bears, their diets, habitat, family life (especially the bond between mother and cub) </li></ul><ul><li>Young researchers will find info on the Spirit Bears (white-furred black bears) especially fascinating </li></ul><ul><li>A great choice for school reports and browsers; ideal for grades 5 and up </li></ul>
Where Else in the Wild? More Camouflaged Creatures Concealed…and Revealed Poems by David M. Schwartz and Yael Schy; Photographs by Dwight Kuhn <ul><li>Follow-up to Where in the Wild? , this collaboration of poetry, facts, and photography is wholly unique and superbly constructed </li></ul><ul><li>Each two-page spread contains a poem about the camouflaged creature in the facing photograph; if you then lift the page with the photograph, you can read facts about the hidden animal/insect </li></ul><ul><li>Excellent for individual use or read-alouds with grades 2-5 </li></ul>
Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night By Joyce Sidman; Illustrated by Rick Allen <ul><li>Sidman (Caldecott Honor winner) combines compelling poetry, Allen’s stunning artwork and science for a knockout combination, grades 3-6 </li></ul><ul><li>Opposite page illustrations highlight Sidman’s vivid poetry; the poems are a mix of structures and don’t always rhyme, allowing students to be introduced to various poetic forms </li></ul><ul><li>Facts about each life form are placed on the page opposite the poem, giving kids a chance to explore further and/or do research </li></ul><ul><li>A glossary is provided with all the scientific vocabulary covered in the book </li></ul>
Poetrees By Douglas Florian <ul><li>Eloquent and enjoyable wordplay from a well-known children’s poet based around the magnificence and importance of trees </li></ul><ul><li>Each poem is printed on a two-page spread with artwork of the tree or tree part described </li></ul><ul><li>Florian’s poetry is graceful and full of excellent vocabulary-building words, great for reading aloud and group activities in grades 3-6 </li></ul><ul><li>Includes a “Glossatree” in the back and an Author’s Note with resources </li></ul>
The Monsterologist By Bobbi Katz; Illustrated by Adam McCauley <ul><li>Designed to look like a scrapbook, this “volume” of monster poems will have kids giggling with delight as they read about trolls, vampires, goblins, and more </li></ul><ul><li>Katz’s rhymes are spectacular in form and the poems range from subtlety funny to downright hysterical (try reading the “Suds Surfing Sock Eater” without smiling) </li></ul><ul><li>McCauley’s illustrations are also a sight to behold and pull together the entire collection </li></ul><ul><li>Perfect for poetry enthusiasts and beginners, monster-story lovers, and those looking for a good laugh in grades 3-6 </li></ul>
Cars on Mars: Roving the Red Planet By Alexandra Siy <ul><li>Follows the journey of Spirit and Opportunity , the two rovers on Mars </li></ul><ul><li>Designed to only last 90 days, both rovers have been slowly working, gathering samples and collecting data, for over 5 years </li></ul><ul><li>The book is full of black and white photographic images of Mars and artistic renderings of the rovers and what the planet might look like in real life; also includes photos taken of the rovers and all their gear while on Earth with excellent details mapped out for curious students </li></ul><ul><li>Siy takes readers on a fantastic journey to a planet that holds a lot of interest for current and future space explorers </li></ul>
Learn to Speak Music: A Guide to Creating, Performing and Promoting Your Own Songs By John Crossingham; Illustrated by Jeff Kulak <ul><li>For the music lover or the true enthusiast looking for advice on how to write and create music </li></ul><ul><li>The author is a music professional who starts the book with simple lessons (beat, rhythm, melody, etc) and gradually steps up the advice as the book goes on </li></ul><ul><li>Crossingham has an easy, conversational tone to his writing that never feels forced or demanding, but rather encouraging, which is important for any kid </li></ul>
Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down By Andrea Pinkney; Illustrated by Brian Pinkney <ul><li>Pinkney uses powerful metaphors and repetitious phrasing to describe the focus of her book : in 1960, four African-American college students sat down at a N.C. Woolworth’s lunch counter that was for “whites only” and were refused service; they went back every day and were treated exactly the same way </li></ul><ul><li>Students grades 3-6 will understand what these young men (the Greensboro Four) were trying to accomplish through peaceful protests because of Pinkney’s effective word choices </li></ul><ul><li>Brian Pinkney’s illustrations also make a potent statement with mixes of thick and thin lines and patches of color </li></ul><ul><li>Civil rights timeline and update on what happened after the book ends are provided </li></ul>