Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, November 28, 2022

Mr. McCloskey's Marvelous Mallards: the Making of Make Way for Ducklings by Emma Bland Smith

 Mr. McCloskey's Marvelous Mallards: the Making of Make Way For Ducklings
By Emma Bland Smith;
Illustrations by Becca Stadtlander
Calkins Creek. An Imprint of Astra Books for Young Readers. 2022

Make Way for Ducklings received a 'starred' review from Kirkus in 1941 and went on to win the prestigious Randolph Caldecott Medal in 1942. What made the book so special? The illustrations. 

Bland shares the story of just how McCloskey, a perfectionist when it came to his art, spent six years trying to get the story just right. The idea of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard looking for a safe place to raise their ducklings was captivating. But, what could he do to make the ducks on the page good enough? 

What else was there to do but draw from real life? And how would he do that? By keep real live ducklings for months in his New York City apartment. 

"You can't draw ducks unless you live with them." Robert McCloskey

The story celebrates the commitment McCloskey had to making his beloved story, a favorite for generations. 

The book includes a word from Jane McCloskey (Robert's daughter), and author's note, a explanation on who was May Massee (McCloskey's editor at Viking Press), a list of book written and illustrated by McCloskey, a bibliography, and a timeline of important dates in the life and career of Robert McCloskey.

A fun book to hand to parents, both those who grew up hearing the story and to those who will read Make Way For Ducklings for the first time. 

Friday, November 25, 2022

Nonfiction News- November 2022


Orbis Pictus Award

The 2023 Orbis Pictus Awards for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children were announced at the NCTE Annual Conference last week. 

2023 Orbis Pictus Winner

Blue: A History of the Color as Deep as the Sea and as Wide as the Sky
by Nan Ekua Brew-Hammond
illustrated by Daniel Minter

Honor Book

Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement
by Angela Joy
illustrated by Janelle Washington

Honor Book

Fighting for Yes!: The Story of Disability Rights Activist Judith Heumann
by Maryann Cocca-Leffler
illustrated by Vivien Mildenberger

Honor Book

Hardcourt: Stories from 75 Years of the National Basketball Association
by Fred Bowen
illustrated by James E. Ransome

 Honor Book

Seen and Unseen 
by Elizabeth Partridge
illustrated by Lauren Tamaki

                 Mock Awards and Sibert Smackdown

This is the time of year when mock book award programs are in full swing. Melissa Stewart recently revealed the list of Sibert Smackdown titles. Stewart has selected 12 nonfiction picture books for students in grades 3-8. Educators will find resources on the Sibert Smackdown post including a worksheet for evaluating the titles.

Anderson's Book Shop has also published its list of Mock Sibert titles published in 2022.

Best of 2022 Book Lists

It's also the time of year when reviewers, journals and blogs post their lists of best books and favorite books of the year. Here are a few lists of nonfiction books we've seen so far.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

She Sang for India

She Sang for India: How M.S. Subbulakshmi Used Her Voice for Change
by Suma Subramaniam
illustrated by Shreya Gupta
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2022

Young readers will find inspiration from the story of M.S. Subbulakshmi in the picture book biography, She Sang for India.
Kunjamma had a gift for singing from an early age, but the traditions of early 20th century India prevented her from singing in public.

After singing at school, Kunjamma was offered a recording deal and soon became known as Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi. Author Suma Subramaniam traces the rise of Subbulakshmi as a singer and activist in an engaging expository style. The story has references to songs in Hindi, Tamil and Sanskrit. 

Shreya Gupta's gorgeous illustrations are at times colorful and bold when Subbalakshmi is on stage singing or performing at festivals. The palette shifts to darker colors for serious events such as the partition of India and Pakistan divide and the assassination of Gandhi.

The book ends on an uplifting note when Subbulakshmi was invited to sing at the United Nations. As the first singer from India to perform for the U.N., Subbulakshmi spread her message of peace for the world. A timeline in the back matter will help children place the events in time. 

Monday, November 21, 2022

Crash From Outer Space: Unraveling the Mystery of Flying Saucers, Alien Beings, and Roswell by Candace Fleming

Crash from Outer Space: Unraveling the Mystery of Flying Saucers, Alien Beings, and Roswell
By Candace Fleming
Scholastic Focus. An Imprint of Scholastic, Inc. 2022

Did an alien space craft really crash in Roswell, New Mexico on a hot, stormy night on June13, 1947? Some claim they saw alien bodies strewn across the ground. Readers are asked to put on their thinking caps as award-winning author, Candace Fleming investigates whether the crash actually happened or whether the US government has been covering up evidence in a massive conspiracy. 

We meet a cast of interesting characters as Fleming examines all the evidence presented. 

Was the crash real?
Can we trust eyewitness accounts?
Was it Russian spies, secret military technology that crashed in the New Mexican desert that night?
Has the United States government been covering up the evidence all these years?

You must read this thrilling exploration, loaded with photos and illustrations, about one of the most electrifying mysteries in modern history. 

What really happened in Roswell, New Mexico on June 13, 1947.

Well-researched, the book includes an author's note, bibliography of primary and secondary sources, source notes, photo and illustration credits. 

Friday, November 18, 2022

Cover Reveal- Men of the 65th: The Borinqueneers of the Korean War

 We are excited to reveal the cover of an upcoming nonfiction book by Talia Aikens-Nuñez.
Men of the 65th: The Borinqueneers of the Korean War will be published by Lerner in the spring of 2023. This historical account of the largest mass court martial of the Korean War will appeal to middle grade and young adult readers.


Monday, November 14, 2022

Hanged! Mary Surratt & the Plot to Assassinate Abraham Lincoln by Sarah Miller

Hanged! Mary Surratt & the Plot to Assassinate Abraham Lincoln
Sarah Miller
Random House Studio. 2022

In her latest title, accomplished nonfiction author, Sarah Miller (The Borden Murders, The Miracle & Tragedy of the Dionne Quintuplets, Violet & Daisy) investigates a question that is still debated over 150 years later: Did Mary Surratt commit treason by aiding and abetting John Wilkes Booth in his conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln, or, was Mary a mere victim of coincidence? 

Mary Surratt owned a boardinghouse in downtown Washington, D.C. The boardinghouse was one of the locations where John Wilkes Booth and his allies, including Mary's own son, are known to have met to discuss Lincoln's assassination.  Using primary and secondary sources, this thought-provoking narrative is a real page-turner.  

The author includes lots of black & white historical photographs, an epilogue, author's note, bibliography on her sources, and several pages of sources for quotes.

Hand this to history buffs, homeschooling families studying the Civil War, those who love a good mystery, and anyone, from kids to adults, who just want a really good book to read. I must admit, from the moment I started reading I could not put the book down.

Friday, November 4, 2022

New Nonfiction- November 2022

Hanged! Mary Surratt and the Plot to Assassinate Abraham Lincoln
by Sarah Miller
Random House

Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults
by Robin Wall Kimmerer
adapted by Monique Gray Smith
illustrated by Nicole Neidhardt
Zest Books

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
Adapted for Young Readers
by Isabel Wilkerson
Delacorte Press

Notes from a Sickbed 
by Tessa Brunton
Graphic Universe

Buildings That Breathe: Greening the World's Cities
by Nancy F. Castaldo
Twenty-First Century Books

Nic Bishop Elephants
by Nic Bishop
Scholastic Press

Wild Animals of the World
by Dieter Braun
Flying Eye Books

by Martin Jenkins
illustrated by Jenni Desmond
Candlewick Press

The Universe in You: A Microscopic Journey
Jason Chin
Neal Porter Books

A Song for the Unsung: Bayard Rustin, the Man Behind the 1963 March on Washington
by Carole Boston Weatherford and Rob Sanders
illustrated by Byron McCray
Henry Holt and Co.

Mr. McCloskey's Marvelous Mallards:
The Making of Make Way for Ducklings
by Emma Bland Smith
illustrated by Becca Stadtlander
Calkins Creek

She Sang for India: How M.S. Subbulakshmi Used Her Voice for Change
by Suma Subramaniam
illustrated by Shreya Gupta
Farrar Straus Giroux

Not Done Yet: Shirley Chisholm's Fight for Change
by Tameka Fryer Brown
illustrated by Nina Crews
Millbrook Press

A Land of Books: Dreams of Young Mexican Word Painters
by Duncan Tonatiuh
Abrams Books for Young Readers

Of Walden Pond: Henry David Thoreau, Frederic Tudor, and the Pond Between Them
by Lesa Cline-Ransome
illustrated by Ashley Benham-Yazdani
Holiday House

Elephants Remember: A True Story
by Jennifer O'Connell
Tilbury House

The First Notes: The Story of DO, RE, MI
by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers