Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, March 27, 2023

Emperor Of The Ice: How a Changing Climate Affects a Penguin Colony by Nicola Davies

Emperor of the Ice: How a Changing Climate Affects a Penguin Colony
By Nicola Davies; 
Illustrated by Catherine Rayner
Candlewick Press. 2023

Because of our dependence on fossil fuels - coal, oil, and gas, our climate is changing. Oceans are warming, glacier ice is melting, and winds are stronger. Storms are fierce. Davies, a  zoologist and award winning author of many science books for children, turns her attention to the Emperor Penguin.

As the northern hemisphere start enjoying the beginnings of spring, in the Southern Hemisphere, April means fall. 

"Most animals are heading north to avoid the coming winter and the ring of frozen ocean that grows with every passing day."

Not the Emperor Penguin. They need the cold sea ice to have their babies. 

Since Emperor Penguins breed in remote areas, on ice that form in the ocean, and at the coldest time of the year, the only way to observe them is by satellites. 

Catherine Rayner's mixed media illustrations cover every page. They show the penguins life cycle. Readers will feel the cold as they watch the male penguin huddled, hungry, protecting the egg while the female is off hunting for fish. She needs to be well-fed in order to feed her baby.

The tone is a mixture of joyous and sobering as the impact climate change is having on our weather and how this negatively impacts this population. 

Davies includes short paragraphs that explains how climate change is impacting the Emperor Penguin, defines What Is Climate Change, and suggestions on what people can do to help.

A valuable informational picture book. Perfect for STEM displays or a read aloud for Earth Day. 

Monday, March 20, 2023

Pitch Perfect and Persistent! The Musical Debut of Amy Cheney Beach by Caitlin DeLems; Alison Jay

Pitch Perfect and Persistent! : The Musical Debut of Amy Cheney Beach.
Caitlin DeLems; Illustrated by Alison Jay
Calkins Creek. An Imprint of Astra Books for Young Readers. 2023

Amy Cheney Beach was a musical prodigy. Born in West Henniker, New Hampshire on September 5, 1867, Amy showed her musical gifts at an early age. At age two, Amy was able to sing an anthem from start to finish. “No mistakes.” Despite her mother’s strong religious beliefs to deny her musical interest in playing the piano, Amy would grow up to be recognized as the first female composer in America. Many of her pieces were performed by the Boston Symphony. 

Yet, society frowned upon middle class women having a career. Did that stop Amy? No!  By age sixteen, Amy performed at Boston Music Hall. 

“She performed two major works - Moscheles’s Concerto in G Minor, Chopin’s Rondo in E-flat Major. ALL from memory.” 

Beach would go on to spend her life composing full-time and limited public recitals. A frequent visitor to the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, upon her death, Amy directed her royalties to be given to this now famous artist colony. 

The partnership of DeLems words and Jay’s signature illustrations, done with Alkyd paint (a quick-drying oil paint) with crackle varnish, brings this inspiring, musical biography to life.

Peppered throughout the narrative, in italics, are quotes from Amy Cheney Beach.

Included is an author’s note, timeline, musical glossary, and further reading. 

I have been a huge fan of Alison Jay’s art throughout the years and was tickled to see her work in this charming picture book biography. 

Click here to watch a film from Vermont Public on the life and music of  Amy Cheney Beach. Her music is moving and beautiful. 

Monday, March 13, 2023

How Birds Sleep Written by David Obuchowski; Illustrated by Sarah Pedry

How Birds Sleep
Written by David Obuchowski;
Illustrated by Sarah Pedry
mineditionus. An Imprint of Astra Books for Young Readers. 2023

“It’s dusk. Unless you’re an owl, it’s time to get ready for sleep. As the sun goes down, birds all over the world are preparing for a good night’s rest. 

So how do birds sleep anyway?” 

This lyrical informational picture book is a perfect companion for any reader, regardless of age, who has ever wondered how do birds sleep? From Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor, United States) to Vernal Hanging Parrot (Loriculus vernal, Thailand); From the United States to Australia, husband and wife team, Obuchowski and Pedry, offers interesting facts of more than twenty bird species from around the world.

Each entry includes information on sleeping arrangements, name of bird with its Latin name and location. 

“The Willow Ptarmigan (Lagopus lagoons, Canada) sleeps in a snowbank to keep warm and hidden.” 

Paired with the accessible text are the gorgeous illustrations by Pedry done by hand in layers using charcoal, ink, and gouache. They are delicious  - luminescent - and perfectly reflect what is being explained in the text. 

Included are two questions (So What is Sleep Anyway? Are Birds Losing Sleep Over Climate Change?) as an opportunity to open up a discussion with students. An author’s note explaining how the author’s came up with the idea for this book. 

Now that Spring is just days away, and birds are migrating back to their nesting grounds, this book is perfect to share all ages. A jumping off place to spark conversations on the importance of preserving natural habitats. 

Friday, March 3, 2023

New Nonfiction- March 2023


The Monkey Trials: John Scopes and the Battle Over Teaching Evolution
by Anita Sanchez

Nearer My Freedom: The Interesting Life of Olaudah Equiano by Himself
by Monica Edinger and Lesley Young
Zest Books

Colin Kaepernick: Change the Game
by Colin Kaepernick and Eve L. Ewing
illustrated by Orlando Caicedo

In Limbo
by Deb JJ Lee
First Second

Rising Class: How Three First Generation College Students Conquered Their First Year
by Jennifer Miller
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Supermoms!: Animal Heroes
by Heather Lange and Jamie Harper
Candlewick Press

illustrated by Rob Dunlavey
Random House Studio

edited by Lindsay H. Metcalf, Keila V. Dawson and Jeanette Bradley
Charlesbridge Publishing

Hidden Creature Features 
by Jane Park
Lerner Publishing

Never Give Up: Dr. Kati Karik├│ and the Race for the Future of Vaccines
by Debbie Dadey
illustrated by Juliana Oakley
Millbrook Press

Finding Family: The Duckling Raised by Loons
by Laurie Purdie Salas
illustrated by Alexandria Neonakis
Millbrook Press

The Story of the Saxophone
by Lesa Cline-Ransome
illustrated by James E. Ransome
Holiday House

Pitch Perfect and Persistent!: The Musical Debut of Amy Cheney Beach
by Caitlin DeLems
illustrated by Allison Jay
Calkins Creek

Josephine and Her Dishwashing Machine
by Kate Hannigan
illustrated by Sarah Green
Calkins Creek

Making More: How Life Begins
by Katherine Roy
Norton Young Readers
by Katherine Roy

Science Comics: The Periodic Table of Elements
by Jon Chad
First Second

by Rebecca Donnelly
illustrated by John Hendrix

The Day the River Caught Fire
by Barry Wittenstein
illustrated by Jessie Hartland
Simon & Schuster

How Birds Sleep 
by David Obuchowski
illustrated by Sarah Pedry

Galápagos: Islands of Change
by Leslie Bulion
illustrated by Becca Stadtlander
Peachtree Publishing