Monday, October 27, 2014
Friday, October 24, 2014
by Katherine Roy
David Macaulay Studio (Roaring Brook Press), 2014
The reviewer borrowed a copy of the book from her school library.
The shark section gets a lot of traffic in my elementary school library. Many young readers are fascinated by the creatures, so I was excited when I heard about Neighborhood Sharks at a Macmillan preview over the summer. Neighborhood Sharks is not your typical, informational book about sharks. The book focuses on great white sharks that live near the Farallon Islands near San Francisco and includes bold illustrations instead of photographs. The text alternates between narrative and expository writing. After introducing readers to a shark stalking its prey, Roy describes the special features that aid sharks in their search for food: teeth, jaws, sense of smell and more. One page explains how the design of a shark's body is ideal for swiftly swimming though the water. The concept is reinforced in a diagram that compares the body of a shark to the design of a jet plane.
Roy's writing style is engaging and the book packed full of important information about great whites. The complex vocabulary, science concepts and illustrations of seals being eaten make this a book for older elementary school readers (grades two and up). Back matter includes an author's note, list of sources, recommended books and sites, and a map.
Visit Katherine Roy's blog for more information about Neighborhood Sharks.
Monday, October 20, 2014
Written and photographed by Suzi Eszterhas
Frances Lincoln Children's Books. 2014
Preschool to Grade 2
I received these titles from the publisher.
I was excited to see this new series about wild animals and how they grow in their natural habitat for a younger audience. Each book, in the Eyes on the Wild series, begins with the moment the animals is born and follows it until they are grown, ready to be on their own. The book concludes with a one page list of animal facts where it includes a few brief sentences explaining why the animal is endangered and a website for more information. There is no bibliography.
Eszterhas, a well-known wildlife photographer for National Geographic Kids, Ranger Rick, and Your Big Back Yard, fills the books with beautiful color photos. Each picture, some filling the page, perfectly mirrors what she describes in the text.
These books will be useful for the yearly unit on wild animals for primary grade students in my community.
For a list of other titles in the series, visit the author's website.
Friday, October 17, 2014
Author-illustrator Molly Bang has now written four books about the sun’s life-sustaining role in our world. She began with My Light that explained the sun’s role in creating electricity. Partnering with MIT professor Penny Chisholm, the two wrote Living Sunlight: how plants bring the Earth to life and Ocean Sunlight: how tiny plants feed the seas. Living Sunlight is about how the sun gives us life through photosynthesis, the most important process on Earth and how that process connects all of life. Ocean Sunlight explains how phytoplankton, tiny sunlight-fueled plants feed all life in the seas.
Bang's illustrations are colorful and fill every inch of the page. They mirror precisely what is being explained in the text. The best part of the book is the author notes. Six pages further explain what is being discussed in the book.
Monday, October 13, 2014
Take any dog, any dog, for a walk along a sidewalk or in a park, and you won’t be walking much—you’ll be standing there holding a leash while the dog sniffs at every bush and every lamppost.
Friday, October 10, 2014
by Mia Posada
Millbrook Press, 2014
The reviewer received a copy of the book from the publisher.
Young readers will enjoy learning about animals tracks in this engaging science picture books. The writing style alternates between descriptive poems and expository paragraphs as readers try to guess the animals based on the tracks and the clues in the text.
"A saw-toothed swimmer left this trail,
dragging its flat, paddle-shaped tail.
Its family works as a busy team,
piling sticks to build a dam in the stream."
Upon turning the page, readers see an illustration of the animal in its habitat along with information about the animal.
"Beavers have five toes. Their hind feet are webbed to help them swim."
The soft, earth tones and textures in the water color and mixed media collage illustrations make this a book readers will want to revisit, and the tracks are illustrated in actual size. The book contains tracks from animals that live in different habitats including black bears, kangaroos, and hippos. Back matter includes tips for looking for animal tracks and a list of related books and websites.
Pair Who Was Here? with Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow by Joyce Sidman or What in the Wild? by David M. Schwartz.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Monday, October 6, 2014
Friday, October 3, 2014
Monday, September 29, 2014
The publisher sent me a copy of this book.
Friday, September 26, 2014
by Katheryn Russell-Brown
illustrated by Frank Morrison
Lee & Low Books, 2014
The reviewer received a copy of the book from the publisher.
"Spread the word! Little Melba Doretta Liston was something special."
The first line of this picture book biography announces to readers that they are about to meet an amazing individual. Melba Liston was greatly influenced by jazz music she heard as a child growing up in Kansas City in the 1920s. When her mother bought her a trombone, Melba was hooked. She taught herself to play the trombone relying on her "keen ears" later joining the Melodic Dots, a music club at her high school in Los Angeles in the 1940s.
Katheryn Russell-Brown's engaging narrative style incorporates the sounds of jazz music. Readers will enjoy following Liston's rise from a young girl who loved listening to music to a renowned jazz musician composing, arranging and performing across the country. The author writes about the racism and sexism Liston faced in way that young readers will understand.
"Still, Melba was lonely. She was the only woman in the band. Some of the men were cruel. Others acted as if she wasn't there. Melba let the music in her head keep her company."
Morrison's curved, earth-toned illustrations capture the feeling of the music as well as Liston's strength and determination. The final two-page spread of the story is beautiful. Liston performs on stage, alone, playing her trombone to a sold out audience.
Little Melba and her Big Trombone would make an excellent read aloud for a range of ages. Be sure to play Liston's music for readers. An afterword provides readers with more details about Liston's life and music. Additional back matter includes a discography and list of sources. Pair Little Melba and Her Big Trombone with Jazz Age Josephine by Jonah Winter, When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan, and Duke Ellington by Andrea Davis Pinkney.
Visit the Lee & Low blog to see a playlist of jazz tunes recommended by Frank Morrison.
Monday, September 22, 2014
by Russell Freedman
Holiday House. 2014
Grades 9 thru 12
To write this review, I borrowed a copy of this book from my local public library.
Friday, September 19, 2014
Have you seen the new nonfiction blog in town? The Nonfiction Minute is a project from the creators of Interesting Nonfiction for Kids. The blog features high interest articles and essays written by various nonfiction authors. There's also a page that provides educators with ideas for how to use the articles with students. Be sure to read Pamela S. Turner's post Why Crows Peck Eyeballs.
Betsy Bird recently tackled the issue of invented dialogue in children's biographies. Here's the post if you missed it. Be sure to scroll down and read the comments below the post.
Tanya Lee Stone wrote a guest post for School Library Journal's Consider the Source column where she explores the issue of what happens when authors blur the lines between fiction and nonfiction. These are issues Louise and I often discuss when evaluating nonfiction for children. Where did the author find the information? Are source notes provided for dialogue? How do we, as readers, know if it is true? Lots of food for thought about children's books, how we define nonfiction and how authors research and present information in nonfiction books.
The 2014 Longlists for National Book Awards were announced this week, and two of the books in the young people's literature category are nonfiction. The Port Chicago 50 and Brown Girl Dreaming both made the longlist this year.
Alyson Beecher at Kid Lit Frenzy has written a series of blog posts to help classroom teachers build nonfiction collections. This has been an invaluable series for both educators and librarians who are looking to beef up their nonfiction sections. Here are Alyson's suggestions for books about marine life.
Monday, September 15, 2014
Friday, September 12, 2014
by Laurie Ann Thompson
Simon Pulse/Beyond Words, 2014
The reviewers received copies of the book from Blue Slip Media.
Teens interested in making a difference in their communities (or even across the globe) will find Be a Changemaker inspiring and practical. Thompson has created an in-depth, step-by-step guide of how to identify a problem, develop a plan, form a team, and work towards a goal. Thompson shows kids how they can use technology and social media as tools to help meet their goals including Kickstarter, Prezi, and Google Drive. Stories of actual community projects and charities started by kids and teenagers are included in each chapter providing readers real life examples and ideas.
I enjoyed the inspirational quotes at the beginning of each chapter. I think teens who are interested in creating an organization or project to help others will find this book really helpful. Thompson breaks it down into smaller, manageable steps while helping teens stay focused on their goals. My favorite parts of the book were the stories about kids who have helped others. I was impressed by the work of Jessica Markowitz and her organization, Richard's Rwanda. The group began by organizing bake sales and fund raisers to support the education of girls in Rwanda.
I found this "how-to handbook" very useful. Thompson uses simple, direct language to explain how to take something you are passionate about and turn it into a reality. Readers will learn how to take that first spark of an idea and create a business plan to launching your idea to the world. I liked how in each chapter Thompson profiles some youth-led social organizations. For example, Project ORANGS is a new venture of two girls from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Their idea was to convince the Girl Scouts of America to switch to deforestation-free and socially responsible sources of palm oil, a main ingredient in their cookies. I wish we could have seen some photos of the the teens and their projects.
Teen Librarian's Toolbox will have a free downloadable workshop guide for libraries and classrooms in late October. Visit Laurie Ann Thompson's website for more details.
Be sure to visit the other stops on the blog tour!
Monday, September 8, 2014
by Melissa Stewart and Nancy Chesley
Stenhouse Publishers, 2014
The reviewer received a copy of the book from the publisher.
Educator, Nancy Chesley, and nonfiction author, Melissa Stewart, have teamed up to create Perfect Pairs, a professional resource for K-2 teachers. The book includes 22 life science lesson plans organized by grade and concept. Each lesson is inquiry-based and begins with an "I wonder" statement for students to think about and respond to in their science journals.
I wonder how a rain forest is different from a desert.
I wonder how animals protect themselves from predators.
The lessons are structured around a three-step "Investigative Process."
1) Engaging students
2) Exploring with students
3) Encouraging students to draw conclusions.
Fiction and nonfiction picture books are paired in each lesson to help young students grasp specific science concepts. For example, the lesson about how animals protect themselves pairs Swimmy by Leo Lionni with What Do When Something Wants to Eat You? by Steve Jenkins. The picture books selected by Stewart and Chesley could also serve as mentor texts for young writers.
Perfect Pairs provides teachers with meaningful ways to use literature and inquiry to engage students in life science concepts. This is a resource that primary teachers should have on their shelves. The "Bibliography of Picture Books" located in the back of the book will be helpful to librarians and teachers looking to beef up their science collections. Librarians, order Perfect Pairs for your library's professional resource collection. The teachers in your school or community will thank you!
Friday, September 5, 2014
Monday, September 1, 2014
edited by Jon Scieszka
illustrated by Brian Floca
Walden Pond Press, 2014
On shelves: Sept. 16, 2014
Grades 4 and up
The reviewer received an advanced copy of the book from the publisher.
Author, Jon Scieszka, has dedicated his life to inspiring boys to read, and he's succeeding. Not only did he serve as the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. He also created the popular Guys Read website, and he publishes a Guys Read anthology series. The latest addition to the Guys Read library is a real treat for middle grade readers (both boys and girls). In Guys Read: True Stories, Scieszka has compiled outrageous, amazing, and sometimes scary, informational stories from ten authors including Steve Sheinkin, Sy Montgomery, Candace Fleming, and Jim Murphy.
Readers will feel what it's like to be stranded in the Sahara Desert with Captain James Riley, study tarantulas in French Guiana, and learn about the sometimes painful history of dental care. Fans of Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales will appreciate Hale's graphic novel vignette about pioneer Hugh Glass set in 1823. There are also science poems by Douglas Florian, a memoir about growing up in Vietnam by Thanhha Lai, and a biography of Muddy Waters by Elizabeth Partridge. Each chapter begins with an illustration by Brian Floca and ends with a bibliography of sources.
The beautiful thing about Guys Read True Stories is that it's going to make everyone happy. History and science buffs will love these unbelievable (yet true) stories, reluctant readers won't be able to put it down, and teachers can use the book as a mentor text for writing or as an exciting read aloud. The most difficult aspect is deciding where to shelve it in the library. Do you put it in the series section with the other Guys Read books, shelve it with short stories (800s), or place it in general knowledge in nonfiction with the "survey" books? The answer is to put it on display and watch it get scooped up by the readers in your library.
Saturday, August 30, 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Zest Books. 2014
The publisher sent me a copy of the book to review.
We are pleased to take part in the
Sticky Fingers: DIY Duct Tape Projects
summer blog tour.