Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Best Nonfiction Books of 2016

In past years Louise and I have worked together to create our list of favorite nonfiction books, but this year Louise could not help select the best books of of the year. She is serving on a book award committee and is unable to publicly review or write about books in 2016. I worked solo on this list and made my selections based on books I have read over the past year. Reviews are linked in the list below. There are some titles on the list that I have not yet reviewed on the blog. Look for reviews of several of these books in upcoming weeks.

I'm pleased to announce that Louise will return to blogging and reviewing for The Nonfiction Detectives in February. At that time I will pass the baton; Louise will run the blog solo in 2017 while I serve on a book award committee until 2018.

2016 Best Nonfiction Books for Children


by Gail Jarrow
Calkins Creek

by Maria Gianferrari and Bigram Ibatoulline
Roaring Brook Press

by Pamela S. Turner and Andy Comins
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann
Roaring Brook Press

by Sy Montgomery and Keith Ellenbogen
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

by Nancy F. Castaldo
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

by Chris Barton and Don Tate

History & Biography

by Rich Wallace and Sandra Neil Wallace
Calkins Creek

March Book 3
by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell
Top Shelf Productions

A Poem for Peter
by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson
Viking Books for Young Readers

by Javaka Steptoe
Little, Brown and Company

by Pamela S. Turner and Gareth Hinds

by Shana Corey and Red Nose Studio 
Schwartz & Wade

Some Writer: The Story of E.B. White
by Melissa Sweet
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers

We Will Not Be Silent
by Russell Freedman
Clarion Books


by Ashley Bryan
Atheneum Books for Young Readers

by Roxanne Orgill and Francis Vallejo

by Carole Boston Weatherford and Jeffrey Boston Weatherford
Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Monday, December 12, 2016

Giant Squid

Giant Squid 
by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann
Roaring Brook Press, 2016
Grades K-5

This descriptive, narrative nonfiction text will grip readers from the first page. The engaging text couple with magnificent close-up, oil illustrations capture the mystery and beauty of the elusive giant squid.

"With writhing arms
     and ghostly, lidless eyes
       they glide;
           some large as buses, 
              some weighing a ton. 
So big, yet rarely seen.
Instead, they are rarely glimpsed"

Near the end of the book fold-out pages illustrate the full body of giant squid. By the next page, the squid has vanished. A diagram provides readers with information about the squid's body and survival techniques. Don't miss the author's note and list of online sources in the back matter. Read aloud Giant Squid as an example of science writing; it's both poetic and informative.

Visit the author's website to download a science guide.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Ada's Ideas

Ada's Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World's First Computer Programmer 
Fiona Robinson
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2016
Grades 2-5

This week millions of children will take part in Hour of Code as part of Computer Science in Education Week. Teachers and librarians who are looking for books on the topic of computer science should pick up a copy of Ada's Ideas. This picture book biography traces the life of Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer.

Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, grew up in the 19th century and had an excellent education and a proper upbringing thanks to her mother. Fiona Robinson shares the many influences in Lovelace's life including the creativity she in inherited from her father, the love of math that came from her mother, and her idea for loops and sequences in computer programming that Lovelace modeled after looms in factories she toured. Readers will appreciate the watercolor illustrations Robinson cut and mounted at different depths which make the illustrations appear 3D. Ada's Ideas could be read aloud to upper elementary students who are learning about loops and sequences in computer programming. Lovelace's work and life demonstrate to readers that computer science is a marriage between art and STEM.