Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Friday, September 21, 2018

A few short reviews on some new titles…

Astronaut/Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact
By Jennifer Swanson
National Geographic Kids. 2018

Swanson takes readers on an amazing adventure to show the similarities between outer space and our oceans. The book explains the training one needs for both environments. In addition to the engaging narrative, there are sidebars with tips on the different expertise needed for each location and some fun, hands-on science experiments that augment the text.  Color photos are plentiful, enhancing the text. Back matter includes a glossary and index.

“Astronauts and Aquanauts share the same passion – to set off on a quest to learn more and to better ourselves.” Fabien Cousteau 

Plantopedia: a Celebration of Nature’s Greatest Show-Offs
By Adrienne Barman
Wide Eyed Editions, an imprint of The Quarto Group. 2018

This visual encyclopedia celebrates the plants that grow here on Earth. The author states, “Without plants, people wouldn’t exist - they provide us with food, and the materials we need to make things like plastic, clothes, and houses. They even clean the air, giving us the oxygen we need to breathe. Sadly, many plants are under threat from farming, road building, pollution, and climate change.”

The book is divided into fifty short chapters with headings like: The air fresheners; The big eaters; The prickly; The healers; and The imposters, to name a few. Being a visual learner, this book hits a high note with me. The illustrations, created digitally, are colorful with a comical tone. Each plant is well-captioned and includes a brief explanation on the characteristic that puts it in that category. In the chapter on ‘The Giants’, we learn that the “Kapok tree can grow to 200 feet tall – the height of a 20 story building, and, that the Oregon Maple leaves can be as big as 12 inches – the length of a ruler.”

Back matter includes an appendix of leaf shapes, glossary, and index.

The Girl with a Mind for Math: the story of Raye Montague
Written by Julia Finley Mosca; Illustrated by Daniel Rieley
Innovation Press. 2018

Told in verse, this picture book biography tells the story of Raye Montague (1935-), an African American engineer who designed the first ship by computer. Another hidden figure, Montague was a brilliant mathematician who, for many years, did not receive credit for her many accomplishments.

“Life should’ve been swell,/yet that wasn’t the case./Her boss treated her poorly/because of her race./ MANY people, like him,/tried to make her feel small./Raye just held her head high,/and she OUTWORKED them all.

Back matter includes an author’s note with more information on the life and accomplishments of Raye Montague, bibliography of articles, books, videos/film, and websites. In the acknowledgment, Mosca shares that she interviewed Montague and many of the photos came from Montague’s personal collection.  

To write this post, the books were borrowed from my local public library.

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