Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction

Intermediate Nonfiction to love!

I’ve got some great middle grade nonfiction here, if you’re shopping for your back-to-school carts. My library kids tend to be nonfiction readers, so I’m always looking for fun, interesting books for them, and I think these will fit the bill nicely. Take a look, see what appeals to you!

What a Wonderful Phrase: A collection of amazing idioms from around the world, by Nicola Edwards & Many Montoya, (Sept. 2021, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 9781684642991

Ages 7-10

This collection of phrases and idioms from all over the world is a great little resource. Kids will easily recognize some phrases, like “buttering a person up”, and “raining cats and dogs”, but will they know where “seeing a peacock dance in the jungle” comes from? How about “peeing in your shoes will only keep you warm for a little while”? The origins of these phrases are interesting and amusing, and this little collection contains explanations, a phrase in its native language and phonetic pronunciations, and colorful illustrations. There’s no cow on the ice here (Swedish for “no rush”), but consider this one for your quirky readers who enjoy playing with language. What a Wonderful Phrase is a companion to What a Wonderful Word (2018).

 

Is There Life on Your Nose? Meet the Microbes, by Christian Borstlap, (Sept. 2021, Prestel Junior), $17.95, ISBN: 9783791374970

Ages 6-10

This is going to be huge with my library kids. Microbes make up every part of our day-to-day life, and this book is all about those microbes and where they live: on your nose, in boiling water or the arid desert, even underground. Filled with fun facts and entertaining illustrations, Is There Life on Your Nose? is all about microbes: how they breed, how they contribute to our lives (we wouldn’t have pickles, cheese, or bread without them!), how they can generate clean energy, and even how they can make us sick, in the form of viruses. It’s a great introduction to a timely subject, explained with humor and smart facts that will help kids understand – especially now – those little, microscopic creatures we share our world with. Are you doing STEM activities again, either in-person or virtually? Pair a reading of this with some of these experiments from Go Science Girls – I’m thinking of the hand-washing one in particular for my kiddos!

 

The Weather Pop-Up Book, by Maike Biederstadt/Illustrated by Michael Prestel, (Sept. 2021, Prestel Junior), $25, ISBN: 9783791373935

Ages 7-10

Just because kids are getting older doesn’t mean they can’t appreciate a good pop-up book! This book on weather is a great way to communicate the power of weather and the devastating influence of climate change. Spreads on storms, rain, tornadoes, heat, and snow fold out into 3-D landscapes, with paragraphs on each weather phenomenon. The opening spread explains “why weather is the way it is”, and the final spread on climate change explains how it affects weather, and what we can expect as weather patterns are further affected. A good addition to your reference section – if you’re putting this into circulation, it may wear out pretty quickly, but it will be a popular choice.

 

Explore! America’s National Parks, by Krista Langlois/Illustrated by Hannah Bailey, (June 2021, Kane Miller), $18.99, ISBN: 9781684641932

Ages 7-12

Who’s up for a road trip? This voyage through America’s 61 National Parks will have readers ready to pack their backpacks and head out with this book as their guide. Beautifully illustrated, laid out by geographic region (West Coast, Alaska, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Central, East, and Tropics), and with a strong message of environmental respect and care, this is a treasure trove. United States maps highlight each region and its parks; a descriptive paragraph on states covered and activities to discover entices readers to turn the pages and dive in. Fact files give the statistics for each park, including size, state, founding date, and one fun fact; ranger tips help readers plan for a safe and exciting visit. Want to help scientists estimate how many bears live in Denali? Want to learn where the best place is to listen for the Mexican spotted owl? You’ll find all the answers in here. Armchair explorers and travelers, natural world fans, anyone who loves NatGeo books. Need a program idea? Take virtual tours through each of the parks using this book as your guide.

The Book of Labyrinths and Mazes, by Silke Vry/Illustrated by Finn Dean, (Sept. 2021, Prestel Junior), $19.95, ISBN: 9783791374741
Ages 7-10
Part activity book, part reference guide, this book on mazes and labyrinths will send puzzle fans over the moon. Organized into four sections: I Think I’m Going Crazy! explains the differences between a maze and a labyrinth, how detours can lead us to our goals, and mazes and labyrinths within our bodies and our lives; Winding Paths as Far as the Eye Can See spotlights famous labyrinths from history; To The Center, Please! looks at the journey to the center of a labyrinth – and how to get back out, and Strange Paths! leads readers to mazes all around the world. From Theseus and the Minotaur’s labyrinth of legend to the quiet contemplation of walking a labyrinth in n nature, beautifully illustrated spreads include mazes and activities for readers to complete and ideas to mull over. A guide to solving mazes will help readers before they wander into a maze (hey, Fall’s coming… corn mazes!). Back matter includes more information about famous labyrinths worldwide and a glossary. Great for reference collections. History fans and brain buster fans will devour this one.
Posted in Intermediate, Non-Fiction, picture books

Take a month-by-month tour through the hemispheres with North & South

North and South: A Tale of Two Hemispheres, by Sandra Morris, (July 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536204599
Ages 5-8
Month by month, Sandra Morris takes readers through the habitats and animals that live in the North and South hemispheres. In January, a Scottish Ptarmigan and Mountain Hare camouflage themselves to stay safe from hungry predators; meanwhile, in Northern Australia, a Green Tree Python, also camouflaged to blend with her surroundings, guards and warms her eggs by coiling herself around them. Side by side, readers can see how animals across each hemisphere adapt to their habitats with engaging factual writing. Watercolor and salt artwork makes each spread an attractive reading experience. Maps on each spread help place readers in each habitat, and an overview of the seasons across each hemisphere will delight readers when they realize that one animal’s summer is another’s cold winter. Conservation status color codes also call attention to the dangers our plants and animals face all over the world. Profiles on 25 animals across both hemispheres give readers a natural world tour they’ll never forget, and copious back matter includes a glossary, index, and extra information for further reading. Endpapers feature a world map, labeled with animals profiled in the book. An essential desk reference for young and emerging readers, conservationists, and animal lovers.
North and South: A Tale of Two Hemispheres has a starred review from School Library Journal.
Posted in Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction

Join The Bug Club!

The Bug Club, by Elise Gravel, (Aug. 2021, Drawn & Quarterly), $17.95, ISBN: 9781770464155

Ages 6-10

I adore Elise Gravel’s graphic novels. Her latest, The Bug Club, is part autobiography, part STEM study; just like her Mushroom Fan Club (2018). We learn that Elise Gravel has always been fascinated by bugs, and, using her friendly, cartoon style, presents a wide range of fascinating and adorable bugs for readers to enjoy with her. It’s a good introduction to etymology; she gives an overview of invertebrates and what makes them members of that club; she illustrates wing shapes, antenna shapes, provides an overview of life cycles, and offers illustrations of baby vs. adult types of bugs, like wasps, ladybugs, and dragonflies. We even get profiles on some of her favorite bugs, with full-page illustrations and a brief discussion of tardigrades, dung beetles, and others. Loaded with fun facts, Ms. Gravel encourages kids to use their imaginations and think about bugs as cool aliens. Her writing is easy to read, easy to understand, and makes the science of bug-watching just plain fun. Great for young readers, you can go over colors, count numbers of bugs, wings, eyes, horns, or legs. Get creative! Encourage your own kiddos to start their own nature journals (you know I love my nature journals) and sketch pictures of the bugs they may discover in books or in the park (remember; take only pictures, leave only footprints).

Visit Elise Gravel’s page on Drawn and Quarterly for more about her graphic novels; visit Elise Gravel’s webpage for fun activities and downloadables for your kiddos and your libraries and classrooms.

Posted in Early Reader, Non-Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

¡Más libros en español: peces y insectos! / More books in Spanish: Fish and Insects!

When I got back to my library just under two months ago, I discovered some bookmail waiting for me: two books in Spanish, courtesy of Peachtree Publishing! They’ve been wonderful about keeping me updated on their bilingual and Spanish nonfiction books, and I’ve loved the “About…” series they’ve sent me so far, so I wanted to make sure I gave these two books the love they deserve (and a place on my Spanish collection shelves).

Sobre los peces, by Cathryn Sill/Illustrated by John Sill, (Feb. 2020, Peachtree Publishers), $8.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-154-6

Ages 3-7

Great early reader nonfiction. Sobre los peces is entirely in Spanish, and offers readers a look at the basics of fish: where they live, how they adapt to their environment, what they eat, how they reproduce. The text is written in easy-to-read, easy-to-understand, simple sentences, and each spread includes colorful, realistic paintings of different fish throughout. The text is presented in bold, black font against a white background, not competing for the reader’s attention; each painting includes the name of the fish, to increase understanding and forward the fact that there are a LOT of fish out there! Back matter includes more information about each spread: did you know that tropical fish are usually more vibrantly colored than fish from cold waters? It helps them camouflage better in their surroundings! A glossary and bibliography offer more resources for curious readers.

Peachtree includes a link to a free, downloadable Teacher’s Guide for the whole series. The guide is in English, but pair with some Spanish-language information like this page on National Geographic España, this story on sharks from TeachersPayTeachers creator, The Storyteller’s Corner, and this graphic organizer from TeachersPayTeachers creator Dual Language, Dual Fun.

 

Sobre los insectos, by Cathryn Sill/Illustrated by John Sill, (Feb. 2020, Peachtree Publishers), $8.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-155-3

Ages 3-7

More great books in translation from Peachtree! About Insects is translated entirely into Spanish, with easy-to-read, easy-to-understand sentences introducing readers to the basics about insects: how many legs they have (it’s 6, not 8!), their hard exoskeletons, how they change forms as they get older, what they eat and how they eat, and how they are helpful to us humans (and how some are just plain pests). Colorful paintings by John Sill are realistic and detailed, making a naturalist out of every reader; the environments are textured, often lush, and there’s always something to draw your eye, from the movement of water as a trout jumps to catch a fleeing mayfly to the shadowy leaves in the background as a katydid leaps. Details on each painting, a glossary, and bibliography make up the back matter.

While the Teacher’s Guide is currently available in English, you can find more information about insects at National Geographic España, and there are copious free resources on TeachersPayTeachers, including a reader about The Hungry Insects from The Spanglish Senorita, bilingual bug bingo from onlinefreespanish, and a  counting sheet from The Spanish Amigo.

Thanks again, Peachtree!

Posted in Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

Unforgotten: The Wild Life of Dian Fossey remembers a conservationist icon

Unforgotten : The Wild Life of Dian Fossey and Her Relentless Quest to Save Mountain Gorillas, by Anita Silvey, (June 2021, National Geographic Kids), $18.99, ISBN: 9781426371851
Ages 8-12
Primatologist, conservationist, and advocate for mountain gorillas, Dian Fossey, brought to the screen by Sigourney Weaver in the 1988 film Gorillas in the Mist, is introduced to new audiences with Unforgotten: The Wild Life of Dian Fossey and Her Relentless Quest to Save Mountain Gorillas. Companion to Anita Silvey’s books on Jane Goodall (Untamed) and Biruté Mary Galdikas (Undaunted), Unforgotten is a testament to Dian Fossey’s life advocating for mountain gorillas and fighting against the poachers who would slaughter them. The book touches on Dian’s special connection to the gorillas, with gorgeous photos featuring Dian with them, cuddling and carrying orphaned babies and interacting with guides and children, all in her quest to educate everyone around her about the amazing creatures we share the planet with. The book discusses her murder and the work that continues to this day, in her name. Colorful maps and profiles on apes that Dian befriended, like Uncle Bert and Poppy, run throughout the book, as do callouts and spreads on the lives of mountain gorillas. Back matter on Dian’s legacy and her gorilla fund, a gorilla scrapbook with photos and biographies of the gorillas she lived with, and a timeline of Dian Fossey’s life will give readers an understanding and, hopefully, a love for the world Dian Fossey fought to protect. An excellent biography and book on conservationism.
Unforgotten has a starred review from Shelf Awareness. Read more about Dian Fossey’s Gorilla Fund here, and at the Gorilla Fund.
Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Read a book, hug the Earth, it’s Earth Day!

Some more books to love our Big Blue Dot by…

The House of Grass and Sky, Mary Lyn Ray/Illustrated by E. B. Goodale (April 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536200973

Ages 4-8

The touching story of a house that wants to be a home will appeal to little ones and their grownups alike. Once, the house “smelled of sunshine and new lumber”, and a family filled its days and nights with love and laughter. Families came and families went, but the house always waited, knowing a new family was on the way. Until there wasn’t. The house quietly waited, and bit by bit, nature claimed the area. Lonely, the house keeps its vigil… and is rewarded when a new family moves in, reclaiming the home, filling it with love, laughter, and family once again. It’s a gentle, moving story of memory, nature, and embracing renewal. The mixed media illustrations make the home as much a character of the story as the people in it. One spread shows the house standing alone, among shadows of memories: someone playing ball, a child with a wagon; someone on a tree swing. Mary Lyn Ray’s prose makes the house become real with sentences like, “The house learned about babies being born and babies growing up. It learned about bedtime stories and birthday parties.” Endpapers display an older wallpaper, giving a nice feel to the story. Just a beautiful, touching book that makes you want to find an old house and fill it with the love you have to give. Think about all the ways you can show your home love: plant some new plants, even if you live in an apartment. Repurpose old t-shirts and make them into throw pillows or quilts. There are so many things you can do!

Peppa Pig and the Earth Day Adventure, by Candlewick Press, (March 2021, Candlewick Press), $12.99, ISBN’: 9781536218985
Ages 2-5
It’s a new Peppa PigI! Today is Earth Day, and Peppa and her family are off to the Botanical Gardens once they finish sorting the recycling and composting. They get into Roger, the electric car, and head off for a fun day of learning how bees and flowers work together, see a Venus flytrap eat a fly, and play in the children’s garden! The kids in my library system love Peppa Pig, and this book will circulate like wildfire. Visit Peppa Pig’s website for Peppa news and activities.
The Forest : A Poster Book to Understand Everything about the World, by Emmanuelle Grundmann/Illustrated by Gal Weizman (March 2021, Schiffer Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 9780764360992
Ages 5-8
It’s a poster book! It’s a giant fold-out book! It’s both! Unfold each page to read a new piece of information about the forest, and enjoy a seek and find that continues on each section. The book opens up into a giant poster that spans more than 2 feet! Great for a science club/Discovery Club program, kids will love watching you unfold page by page as you read about ants, frogs, badgers, and more forest friends.
The Sea: A Poster Book to Understand Everything about the World, by Véronique Sarano/Illustrated by Anine Bösenberg & Loris F. Alessandria (March 2021, Schiffer Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 9780764361005
Ages 5-8
The companion to The Forest, The Sea is another panoramic poster book. Seek and find fish and urchins and learn about underwater cliffs, and underwater life like plankton, krill, dolphins, and sperm whales. The poster unfolds into a giant underwater scene, seek and finds leading the way with a turn of the page. Great for science programs, and keep at least one copy in your Reference section while you put one in circ – it may get beaten up, despite the sturdy pages. The Panoramic series is a fun way to explore the world!
Posted in Fiction, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction, Tween Reads

Earth Day essentials!

Earth Day is getting closer, friends! I’ve got more fun to celebrate Earth Day every day!

Earth: 100 Piece Puzzle (Featuring Photography from the Archives at NASA), (April 2021, Chronicle Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9781797202723

Ages 6+

This is a slight deviation from books, but how can you go wrong with an Earth-shaped puzzle of the Earth, using a NASA photo? The puzzle is a nice size, at 2 1/2 feet in diameter; pieces are large and sturdy, as is the storage container. It’s a beautiful shot of Earth from space that will delight you as it comes together. This puzzle is a companion to Chronicle’s Moon and Mars puzzles, for anyone interested in building their own universe. A fun, hands-on way to support astronomy and science learners! My Kiddo and I have been trying to put it together for a few weeks now, and it’s coming along; I’ll have to post the finished product.

 

Bruno the Beekeeper: A Honey Primer, by Aneta Frantiska Holasová, (March 2021, Candlewick Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9781536214611

Ages 7-10

Bruno is a beekeeping bear, having inherited his grandfather’s apiary. Together with his human Grandma, he spends his time caring for the bees and harvesting their honey in this introduction to beekeeping and the life cycle of bees. Organized into seasons, with warm, honey-colored illustrations, readers learn the different types of bees and their functions within the hive; parasites and predators to watch out for, and they watch Bruno as he goes about the business of cleaning and preparing the hives for the next year. Side notes about Grandma’s part in the beekeeping: helping Bruno prepare the hives, making beeswax candles, and delicious gingerbread cookies with the harvested honey! A lovely book about beekeeping and bees for the season, with a gingerbread cookie recipe and an index. Display with Katherine Pryor’s Bea’s Bees, Maribeth Boelts’s Kaia and the Bees, Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann’s award-winning Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera, and Alison Formento’s These Bees Count! for a nice bee-related display.

 

And coming soon…

The Wild World Handbook: How Adventurers, Artists, Scientists – and You – Can Protect Earth’s Habitats, by Andrea Debbink/Illustrated by Asia Orlando, (May 2021, Quirk Books), $19.99, ISBN: 9781683692461

Ages 8-12

The first in a new middle grade series, this volume of The Wild World Handbook focuses on habitats. Organized into nine habitats, from mountains to grasslands, the handbook includes biographical profiles on outdoor scientists, artists, and activists; DIY crafts to give kids a hands-on learning experience and understanding of their world, natural wonders to be found in each habitat, and ways kids can take part in being stewards for the planet. Plan an expedition to the Himalayas or visit an underwater world; make a desert or rainforest biome or learn to press flowers and plants. This is another program-in-a-book treasure for us librarians, and a beautiful, full-color guidebook to earth advocacy for kids. Just in time to get the kids out and about for summer, make sure to display with the upcoming Outdoor School series from Macmillan and Odd Dot.

Posted in Early Reader, Non-Fiction, Preschool Reads

Two nonfiction titles get updates ¡en español!

Peachtree Publishing has been rolling out more Spanish-language and bilingual children’s titles. They’ve started translating their Stanley the Hamster series into Spanish this year, and I just received early copies of two of their nonfiction titles, coming in 2021. I’m so excited to talk them up!

Sobre los anfibios: Una guía para niños, by Cathryn Sill/Ilustraciones de John Sill, (Feb. 2021, Peachtree Publishing), $8.99, ISBN: 9781682632307

Ages 4-6

The first up is About Reptiles: A Guide for Children, a 2016 titles by Cathryn Sill and John Sill. Great reading, perfect for pre-k and emerging Kindergarten readers, this book is illustrated in full color, with incredibly detailed pictures of salamanders, frogs, and toads. Each page has a brief sentence in Spanish that introduces readers to different aspects of amphibians: “Los anfibios tienen la piel suave y húmeda” (“Amphibians have smooth, moist skin”); “La mayoría de los anfibios pasa parte de su vida en el agua y parte en la tierra” (“Most amphibians spend part of their lives in water and part on land”). The text goes on to describe how they are born; life cycles; appearance; predators and defense mechanisms; habitat, and eating habits. A word about protecting their habitats is a nice opportunity to talk about the environment and habitat protection. Each page includes the name of a featured amphibian and maps to a numbered series of photos in the back matter, which provides more information for more confident readers, and parents/caregivers/educators who want to provide a deeper dive into a lesson. A glossary, web sources, and additional books provide a nice go-to for readers who want to learn more.

There is a teacher’s guide available via the publisher’s website; it’s currently in English, but I know they are developing materials in Spanish and will update as I learn more.

 

Sobre los reptiles: Una guía para niños, by Cathryn Sill/Ilustraciones de John Sill, (Feb. 2021, Peachtree Publishing), $8.99, ISBN: 9781682632314

Ages 4-6

About Reptiles: A Guide for Children, also by Cathryn Sill and John Sill, provides the same easy text and lifelike animal illustrations. The translation is flawless, and communicates the important, basic properties of reptiles for kids: “Algunos repitles están cubiertos de placas duras como huesos” (“Some reptiles are covered in hard plates like bones”); “Los reptiles tienen las patas cortas o simplemente no tienen patas” (“Reptiles have short legs or simply no legs”); “Se muevan reptando o nadando” (“They move by crawling or swimming”). There’s more to work with here; reptiles can include snakes, tortoises and turtles, lizards, and crocodiles, which can live on land, in water, or move between both. Great, fast facts, easy reading, and further information available makes this series a huge relief for my easy nonfiction collection.

There’s a real need for Spanish-language nonfiction in my library’s community, and these books fit the bill. I love having easy picture book nonfiction available that can be used in a Discovery/STEM club readaloud, a storytime (come on, you know you want to read this along with Jump Frog, Jump!), even using flannels to let readers discover the natural world. With an $8.99 price tag for these softcovers, this is an affordable way to add series nonfiction to my Spanish collection. I’m thrilled that Peachtree is working on expanding their Spanish language collection: there are other bilingual editions at the end of the books, letting readers know what other titles are coming.

Posted in Non-Fiction, Tween Reads

Where’s the Coolest Stuff on Earth? In this book.

The Coolest Stuff on Earth: A Closer Look at the Weird, Wild, and Wonderful, by Brenda Scott Royce, (Nov. 2020, National Geographic Kids), $19.99, ISBN: 978-1426338588

Ages 8-13

More fantastic facts and photos from NatGeo Kids! Kids can take an armchair world tour with The Coolest Stuff on Earth. Organized into nine areas, kids can learn through stories, photos, infographics, Q&A with expert, and maps: Magnificent Marvels looks at world wonders, where readers can dive into the Secrets of Stonehenge. Travel Unraveled is all about the wacky and wild sites worldwide, and Extraordinary Animals profiles everything from dolphin language to what happens when animals hibernate. History’s Mysteries looks at ancient Pompeii through to California’s Golden Gate Bridge, and Shocking Science offers info about astronauts and technology. Peculiar Planet is all about the natural world, and Spectacular Sports shows readers the science of physical movement. Money Decoded features the secrets of the U.S. $1 bill, and Epic Extremes – one of the most popular reading areas for my library’s kids – is all about the coolest, most extreme stuff going, like deep-ocean robotics and giant sequoia forests. Back matter includes a full index.

The NatGeo books are always popular for a reason. Great gift idea, essential collection development, all around fun. Display and booktalk with Atlas Obscura: Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid, by Dylan Thuras and Rosemary Mosco/Illustrated by Joy Ang.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

The Blue Giant needs your help to save the oceans!

The Blue Giant, by Katie Cottle, (June 2020 Pavilion), $16.95, ISBN: 9781843654452

Ages 3-7

A young girl named Meera and her mother head to the beach to have a relaxing day, when a large, friendly, blue giant emerges from the water. He’s made up of water and sea life, and he tells them that he needs their help! Meera and her mom put on their scuba gear and head underwater, where the giant swirls around, showing them all the pollution underwater: bottles, plastic bags, fast food containers, it’s just a mess! Meera and Mom immediately start pitching in, but they realize this is too big a job for just two people: once back on land, Meera and Mom recruit others, who also recruit others, to clean up the beaches. Like the book says, “…when everybody helps out… even the biggest messes can be fixed!” A note at the end offers ways to reduce single-plastic usage, including easy ways for kids to help out, like taking a canvas bag to the store or carrying a reusable water bottle.

This is a companion to Katie Cottle’s 2019 book, The Green Giant, and examines a different area of pollution this time; where The Green Giant looks at deforestation and destruction of green spaces, The Blue Giant pleads the case for our waters, which are horrifically polluted, primarily by single-use plastics.

The illustrations are primarily rendered in shades of blue, with sweeping underwaterscapes that show incredible levels of junk floating around. A particularly moving panel shows the Blue Giant swirling around Meera and her mother, stirring up a whirlwind of garbage to surround them. Keep both this book and The Green Giant together for natural-world storytimes and Earth Day storytimes, activism and social justice storytimes.