Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Thursday, June 30, 2022

New Nonfiction Seen at the ALA Annual Conference


I recently attended the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. I spent some my free time visiting the exhibit hall for in search of upcoming or recently released nonfiction titles. I had my phone handy and snapped photos of nonfiction that caught my attention.

Here are some titles I spotted in the exhibit halls and at publisher events.

Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement
by Angela Joy
illustrated by Janelle Washington
Roaring Brook Press
Expected Publication Date: August 9, 2022

Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults
by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Zest Books/Lerner
Publication Date: Nov. 1, 2022

I Could Not Do Otherwise: The Remarkable Life of Dr. Mary Edwards Walker
Sara Latta
Zest Books/Lerner
Expected Publication Date: Oct. 4, 2022

    The Lady and the Octopus: How Jeanne Villepreux-Power Invented Aquariums and Revolutionized Marine Biology
by Danna Staaf
Carolrhoda Books/Lerner
Publication Date: Oct. 4, 2022

Troublemakers In Trousers: Women and What They Wore to Get It Done
by Sarah Albee
Publication Date: July 22, 2022

Curve & Flow: The Elegant Vision of L.A. Architect Paul R. Williams
by Andrea J. Loney
illustrated by Keith Mallett
Alfred A. Knopf Books
Expected Publication Date: Sept. 20, 2022

Hanged!: Mary Surratt and the Plot to Assassinate Abraham Lincoln
by Sarah Miller
Random House Studio
Expected Publication Date: Nov. 8, 2022

We Have a Dream: Meet 20 Young Indigenous People and People of Color Protecting the Planet
by Dr. Mya-Rose Craif
illustrated by Sabrena Khadija
Harry N. Abrams
Published April 12, 2022

Building an Orchestra of Hope
by Carmen Oliver
illustrated by Luisa Uribe
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: Oct. 25, 2022

Peace is a Chain Reaction: How World War II Japanese Balloon Bombs Brought People of Two Nations Together
by Tanya Lee Stone
Candlewick Press
Publication Date: Sept. 13, 2022

Underground Fire: Hope, Sacrifice, and Courage in the Cherry Mine Disaster
by Sally M. Walker
Candlewick Press
Expected Publication Date: Oct. 11, 2022

Better Than We Found It: Conversations to Help Save the World
by Frederick Joseph and Porsche Joseph
Candlewick Press
Published January 1, 2022

Out of this World: Star Studded Haiku
by Sally M. Walker
illustrated by Matthew Trueman
Candlewick Press
Published April 12, 2022

Cher Ami: Based on the World War I Legend of the Fearless Pigeon
by Melisande Potter
illustrated by Giselle Potter
Christy Ottaviano Books
Published May 31, 2022

by Nell Cross Beckerman
illustrated by Kalen Chock
Orchard Books
Publication Date: Oct. 4, 2022

American Murderer: The Parasite That Haunted the South
by Gail Jarrow
Calkins Creek 
Expected Publication Date: Sept. 1, 2022

Dazzlin' Dolly: The Songwriting, Hit-Singing, Guitar-Picking Dolly Parton
by Suzanne Slade
illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham
Calkins Creek 
Expected Publication Date: Sept. 20, 2022

Road Trip!: Camping With the Four Vagabonds: Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and John Burroughs
by Claudia Friddell
illustrated by Jeremy Holmes
Calkins Creek 
Expected Publication Date: Aug. 16, 2022

Jack Knight's Brave Flight: How One Gutsy Pilot Saved the U.S. Air Mail Service
by Jill Esbaum
illustrated by Stacy Innerst
Astra Publishing House
Published March 29, 2022

To the Front!: Clara Barton Braves the Battle of Antietam
by Claudia Friddell
illustrated by Christopher Cyr
Calkins Creek
Published March 1, 2022

Life in Hot Water: Wildlife at the Bottom of the Ocean
by Mary Batten
illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez
Published June 21, 2022

The Tide Pool Waits
by Candace Fleming
illustrated by Amy Hevron
Neal Porter Books
Published April 1, 2022

A Seed Grows
by Antoinette Portis
Neal Porter Books
Published June 21, 2022

The Universe in You: A Microscopic Journey
by Jason Chin
Neal Porter Books
Expected Publication Date: Oct. 18, 2022

One Million Trees: A True Story
by Kristen Balouch
Margaret Ferguson Books
Published March 1, 2022

Call Him Jack: The Story of Jackie Robinson, Black Freedom Fighter
by Yohuru Williams and Michael G. Long 
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Expected Publication Date: Sept. 20, 2022

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Beautiful Useful Things by Beth Kephart & Melodie Stacey


Beautiful Useful Things: What William Morris Made
Beth Kephart & Melodie Stacey
Cameron Kids, a division of Abrams. 2022

In this beautifully crafted book with lyrical text, readers will discover William Morris, an English man who loved beautiful things. Taking inspiration from the world around him, Morris believed all things crafted by hand were special. Best known for his colorful wallpapers and textiles, Morris also was a painter, poet, an environmentalist, and activist.

Morris was born in 1834. Possessing a rich imagination, Morris drew inspiration from nature. He felt you honored beauty by making items yourself. One at a time. He found items mass produced in factories to be ordinary and cheap. 

“One thing looking just like the next thing.” 

As an environmentalist, he saw the damage to nature as “the skies filled with smoke, the rivers polluted, and the forests thinned.”

Throughout his life, despite the proliferation of mass-produced items, Morris continued to create wallpaper, tapestries, rugs, stained glass, poetry, and, eventually he crafted books, one at a time.

Morris died in 1896.

The book includes a short author and illustrator’s note, and a list of sources used. 

Every time one buys local, you are honoring what Morris held dear. 

Share this book if you do story time at the Farmers’ Market. All the elements combine to make this picture book biography a memorable reading experience.

To learn more about William Morris and his lasting influence, click here to visit the William Morris Society website.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

The Sweetest Scoop by Lisa Robinson

The Sweetest Scoop: Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Revolution                      Words by Lisa Robinson; Pictures by Stacy Innerst
Abrams Books for Young Readers. 2022

What better title to review to celebrate the beginning of summer than a book about Ice Cream! And, not just any ice cream either. Robinson has crafted a mouth-watering narrative of the legendary Ben & Jerry, those hardworking, groovy guys who, together, created some of the best tasting, wackiest named flavors. 

Heather Kelly's illustrations, rendered in watercolor, ink and Photoshop, are playful. Just like the ice cream, the full page pictures are colorful and lend a sense of movement. 

Robinson emphasizes the partner's social activism and their goal of using locally sourced ingredients to make their ice cream, and their interest in making sure their packaging was environmentally friendly.  

An author's note gives a bit more depth on Ben & Jerry's commitment to social and environmental justice.  I was surprised to learn they sold their company in 2000 to Unilever, a multinational food corporation. 

Also included in a timeline and source notes.

The perfect book to curl up with on a hot summer day. Just before heading to the ice cream shop!

Saturday, June 18, 2022

New Nonfiction- June 2022


A Seed Grows
by Antoinette Portis
Neal Porter Books

Dolly: The Story of Dolly Parton and Her Big Dream
by Robyn H. McGrath
illustrated by Ellen Surrey
Christy Ottaviano Books

Gaudi: Architect of Imagination
by Susan B. Katz
illustrated by Linda Schwalbe
NorthSouth Books

My Name Is Jason. Mine Too.: Our Story. Our Way.
by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin

Because of You, John Lewis
by Andrea Davis Pinkney
illustrated by Keith Henry Brown
Scholastic Press

by Michelle Cusolito
illustrated by Nicole Wong

Hope Is an Arrow: The Story of Lebanese American Poet Kahlil Gibran
by Cory McCarthy
illustrated by Ekua Holmes

Friday, June 17, 2022

Blast Off! by Suzanne Slade


Blast Off! How Mary Sherman Morgan Fueled America into Space
Written by Suzanne Slade; Illustrated by Sally Wern Comport
Calkins Creek. An Imprint of Astra Books for Young Readers. 2022

Suzanne Slade has written many excellent books about space and women in STEM. Here, in her latest picture book biography, she shares the life of Mary Sherman Morgan, the woman who developed the fuel that launch the first U.S. satellite into space!

Born November 4, 1921 in Ray, North Dakota, Mary was expected to stay home and help with chores on the family farm. “All day long she fed chickens, milked cows, and cleaned the creamer.” 

At age 8, the sheriff and social services came and took Mary to school. It was the law!

She went to college, but after two years had to drop out for lack of money. During World War 2, Mary lands a job in a factory that works with chemicals that created powerful energy explosions. It was here her love for chemistry really took hold. While working at North American Aviation in California, she developed the rocket fuel hydyne. After several tests, on January 31, 1958, Juno I rocket would take off and launch the first American satellite into space.

Comport’s illustrations, a hybrid of collage, digital collage, primes drawings on vellum, and digital paint, are bright and capture the sites and emotions being mentioned in the text. 

An author’s note with more about Mary, timeline, selected bibliography round out this engaging biography that is perfect for readers curious about space, and ideal for those wanting to know more about women who did not let the educational and work discrimination stop them from pursuing what they loved. 

Click here to watch the book trailer.

Monday, June 13, 2022

We Have a Dream written by Dr. Mya-Rose Craig


We Have a Dream: Meet 30 Young Indigenous People and People of Color Protecting the Planet
Written by Dr. Mya-Rose Craig; Illustrated by Sabrina Khadija
Abrams. 2022

All too frequently, the voices of the people whose lives have been adversely affected by climate change are underrepresented in the environmental movement. Environmentalist and race activist, Dr. Mya-Rose Craig, is working to change that. In, We Have a Dream, readers meet 30 Indigenous people and people of color from all over the world who work to address the affects climate change is bringing to their communities. 

Each entry includes the persons’ ethnicity, when they were born, and what started their path to activism, how the changing climate is affecting their home, and the dream they hope to accomplish. The second part of the two-page spread is a drawing done digitally by Sabrina Khadija, a Sierra Leonean American illustrator. Khadija illustrations are bright, colorful, simple drawings shows smiling individuals.

From water conservation, deforestation to indigenous rights, these powerful voices share their dream…

A dream for climate justice.

A dream for a healthy planet.

A dream for a fairer world, for all.

These young advocates are an inspiration. Their passion and commitment will resonate with readers who, like them, are looking for ways to make the world a better place for all. Let’s hope their voices will continue to be heard.

Click here to watch a 6-minute video of Dr. Craig speaking about this important book.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Breaking Through the Clouds Written by Sandra Nickel


Breaking Through the Clouds: the sometimes turbulent life of Meteorologist Joanne Simpson
Written by Sandra Nickel; Illustrated by Helena Perez Garcia
Abrams. 2022

As I am writing this review, I see stratus clouds. They are close to the ground and completely cover the sky but do not produce rain. 

What kind of clouds are out your window right now? 

In this picture book biography, readers discover the life of Joanne Simpson, the first woman to receive a doctorate in meteorology. Joanne’s lifelong work, the study of clouds, led her to make a cloud model. The first of its kind. The model is used to make the weather predictions we depend on today. 

Joanne Simpson was born in Boston, Mass on March 23, 1923. Left on her own to explore the world, Joanne sailed solo at age ten and received her pilot’s license at age sixteen. During World War 2, she taught weather to officers going to war. When the war ended, Joanne was out of a job. Yet, she had fallen in love with the science of weather and wanted to become a doctor of meteorology and study clouds.

“When the men at the university heard Joanne’s plans, they laughed. Clouds were only currents of air filled with tiny beads of water, no more important than steam lifting off their coffee.” 

An even though no one would support her dream, stubborn Joanne taught herself about clouds, calculus, and studied the works of others. She went to Woods Hole in Cape Cod and, well, you’ll have to read the book to find out more about Joanne’s exciting life. 

Garcia’s illustrations, rendered in gouache, incorporate blue into every one. They are warm and show a very determined Joanne going through her life.

An author’s note, timeline, and selected bibliography is also included.

A great addition to your biography section and books on weather.

Click here to visit the Abrams site for more information about Breaking Through the Clouds.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Diving Deep by Michelle Cusolito


Diving Deep: Using Machines to Explore the Ocean
by Michelle Cusolito; Illustrations by Nicole Wong
Charlesbridge. 2022

This delightful informational picture book explores the different machines and equipment people use to explore the ocean.

“From snorkeling to free diving, scuba, submarines, and Challenger Deep.”

The text is poetic and set in white on Wong’s full-page, beautifully illustrated pictures created digitally on an iPad using Procreate. 

What drives humans to dive into the sea and sink deeper than the last inkling of light?

We are wired for wonder.

We delight in discovery.

For some, 

danger is the draw.

Other chase the thrill

of an unseen seascape—

to confront unknown

and push the limits of exploration.”

The double-page spreads includes a brief statement of how the tool is used, along with a scientific explanation of the machine or equipment being shown in the illustration. 

The book ends with possibilities: “Today, we explore a lush landscape deep below Antarctic ice. Tomorrow we may unlock more secrets of life on Earth.”

An author’s note, a note about measurements, glossary, and additional resources is included. 

A beautiful, inspiring book to spark questions for all level of readers.

Pair this with Cusolito and Wong's companion book, Flying Deep: Climb Inside Deep-Sea Submersible ALVIN.

Friday, June 3, 2022

Honeybee Rescue by Loree Griffin Burns


Honeybee Rescue: a Backyard Drama 
by Loree Griffin Burns; Photograhs by Ellen Harasimowicz
Charlesbridge. 2022

Loree Griffin Burns latest is an exciting, true story of a honeybee rescue. Told simply, the mix of action and science blends together perfectly like a peanut butter and honey sandwich. 

The tale begins one summer day when Mr. Connery noticed a buzzing was coming from his rickety old barn. When he looked inside, he noticed a colony of honeybees had moved in. As a beekeeper, Mr. Connery knew the old barn was so full of holes and leaks, if the bees remained there they would not survive the winter. 

Who do you call when honeybees need rescuing? Mr. Nelson, a beekeeper who specializes in removing hives from dangerous places. 

The rest of this page-turner of a book will keep even the most reluctant listener enthralled. 

Harasimowicz’s photographs could tell the story on their own. The color photos capture lots of emotion, action, and the beauty of keeping bees.

The book includes an interview with Mr. Nelson, glossary, author's note, sources, and further reading.

Click here to visit the publishers page for more information and resources.

A must-have for all libraries, school and public. A great resource for students, even in high school, who are curious about the ins and outs of beekeeping. 

I loved this book because a few years ago I had a swarm of honeybees set up a hive in my rickety, leaky garage. I called our local honeybee rescuer and within a few days the bees were safely in their new home. A very happy ending.