What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Posts

(tagged with 'NonFiction')

Recent Comments

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Tag

In the past 7 days

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: NonFiction, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 1,912
1. An Age of License: Review Haiku

A perfect last-minute
gift for your favorite
post-college wanderer.

An Age of License: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley. Fantagraphics, 2014, 189 pages.

0 Comments on An Age of License: Review Haiku as of 12/17/2014 7:06:00 AM
Add a Comment
2. Because They Marched

I am a Cybils second round judge. I am currently reading the all the nominated books in a fun "armchair readalong" way with the first round judges. My reviews and opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the work of the committee.

Because They Marched: The People's Campaign for Voting Rights That Changed America Russell Freedman

This title looks at the Selma voting rights Marches, culminating in the Selma to Montgomery march. It talks about Jim Crow, and the importance of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. I greatly appreciated the epilogue that looks at how key provisions have recently been struck down, and what the means.
I am a huge Freedman fan and he consistently creates books that are beautiful and informative.

This one, however, falls short of expectations. For one, I’m not sure what Holiday House was thinking, but I’m used to Freedman’s books being printed on a heavy gloss paper and this one’s not. I’m surprised by how big of a difference this makes, but it does.

It does retain that classic Freedman style of lots of large photographs, but all the text is black-on-white and some of the more beautiful design that we’ve come to expect is missing.

Now that would be ok if the text was amazing, but it’s not. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s perfectly serviceable, but I’m used to finding his writing engrossing even when he’s covering topics I know well.

There is nothing wrong with this book per se, but there’s also not a lot right with it when you compare it to his other works, or even better treatments on the same subject (it’s going to be really hard to find a book on Selma that’s better than Marching for Freedom)

Overall, a resounding “meh” which is disappointing for someone like Freedman.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on Because They Marched as of 12/16/2014 10:24:00 AM
Add a Comment
3. Sharks ahoy: fun with sharks for 1st & 2nd graders -- giving books & toys for lasting fun (ages 5-8)

There's no doubt about it: sharks are cool--especially great white sharks. They're fast, they're strong and they're big. Here are three books that spark a little kid's imagination and weave in fascinating facts. Combine them with a toy shark, and you're all set to go.

Fly Guy Presents: Sharks
by Tedd Arnold
Scholastic, 2014
Your local library
ages 5-8
Buzz and Fly Guy are two hugely popular characters with our beginning readers--so I was very excited to see this new blend of nonfiction and cartoons. In this book, Buzz visits his local aquarium and his best friend Fly Guy comes along.
"A shark uses its sharp teeth to rip prey. Then the shark swallows the meat whole--without even chewing." -- already an Emerson favorite!
My students love the combination of cartoon characters and dialog with clear nonfiction facts and color photographs. When the text explains that sharks don’t have any bones, and their cartilage helps them turn quickly, Fly Guy wonders, “NO BONEZ?”--adding just the right humor for young kids. Throughout, the sentences are short and clear, just right to read with kindergarteners or for 2nd graders to read by themselves.

Stink and the Shark Sleepover
by Megan McDonald
illustrated by Peter Reynolds
Candlewick, 2014
Google books preview
Your local library
ages 6-9
Stink and the Shark Sleepover also combines humor and facts, but this time with a longer chapter book that's great to read aloud with young kids. Our students love the whole Stink series--Judy Moody's little brother who has his own series. You really don't need to read the series in order, especially if you're reading it aloud together.

Stink’s parents win tickets for a family sleep over at the local aquarium, and Stink is thrilled! Right away, he runs up to get all his things to bring.
"What's all this junk?" Judy asked.
"It's for the sleepover. There's my shark sleeping bag and Leroy my stuffed tiger shark that I use for a pillow sometimes and my Big Mouth Book of Sharks."
"Is that all?" Judy teased.
"Oh. Yeah. I can't forget to wear my shark-tooth necklace... Check it out. Shark slippers."
"Check it out. Shark slippers."
Stink loves the sea-creature scavenger hunt, the jellyfish light show, and the sharks with their razor-sharp teeth. But will he and his friends really be able to fall asleep after hearing creepy stories?

McDonald clearly loves the science aspect and intersperses this fun story with high-interest facts. Reynold's illustrations help kids create those "movies in our minds" that help all readers--especially ones new to chapter books--build a sense of the story.
Safari Ltd. plastic shark
Melissa and Doug plush shark

Combine either of these with a toy shark, and you'll create hours of fun. I think 1st and 2nd graders would like either a realistic plastic shark or a soft stuffed animal shark. Check these out:

The review copies came from our school library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

0 Comments on Sharks ahoy: fun with sharks for 1st & 2nd graders -- giving books & toys for lasting fun (ages 5-8) as of 12/16/2014 8:30:00 AM
Add a Comment
4. A CHILDREN'S GUIDE TO ARCTIC BIRDS by Mia Pelletier, illustrated by Danny Christopher

When my daughter was in college, one of the elective courses she took was about birds. It contrasted with the readings she was doing in philosophy and history. For years we'd talked about philosophy and history. Talking about birds, however, was new. She learned a lot of fascinating information that she passed on to me.

I was reminded of that as I read A Children's Guide to Arctic Birds, written by Mia Pelletier and illustrated by Danny Christopher. Here's the cover:

And here's a page from inside:

See that gorgeous art? That's one of the strong points of this nonfiction book, but so are the facts provided about birds.

The information provided for each of the twelve birds is shared in these categories: Where to Look, What they Eat, Listen for, Nest, Egg, Chick, and During the Winter. Very useful for people in the arctic, but useful, too, for kids who are doing bird studies anywhere. And the endcovers! Gorgeous! One in the front depicts eggs for each of the birds inside, and, the one in the back shows them, in scale, flying in silhouette. The twelve, from smallest to largest are: snow bunting, red phalarope, rock ptarmigan, thick-billed murre, arctic tern, long-tailed duck, common eider, red-throated loon, gyrfalcon, snowy owl, raven, and, tundra swan. In addition to double-paged spreads about each bird, there are stand-alone pages about feathers, bills, and feet.

Of particular interest to AICL is that the Inuktitut word (a dialect spoken by the Inuit people) for each bird is included on each page, just beneath the English name for the bird. Here's a look at the page above:

I love seeing Native languages in children's books! I would have liked to see another category that addresses how the bird is viewed amongst the Inuit people, or a stand-alone page about the language and people, but I do like and recommend A Children's Guide to Arctic Birds. It is a 2014 nonfiction title from Inhabit Media. 

0 Comments on A CHILDREN'S GUIDE TO ARCTIC BIRDS by Mia Pelletier, illustrated by Danny Christopher as of 12/14/2014 12:58:00 PM
Add a Comment
5. The Environmental Book Club

Not every page of Earth-friendly Buildings, Bridges and More by Etta Kaner with illustrations by Stephen MacEachern contains Earth-friendly content. Nonetheless, this is quite a marvelous book about the work that goes into building a variety of structures and how many of them are being built greener.

Though this is a nonfiction work, the basic premise is that an imaginary girl has been traveling with her engineer parents, and we are reading her scrapbook. She is one enthusiastic kid. Among the things I liked about Earth-friendly B, B and M:

  • While there is certainly content related to large buildings being made more green, there's also material about designing buildings to withstand earthquakes and storms. It's as if technology is working with Earth, not against it.
  • It gives readers a good idea of the number of people, the variety of engineers, for instance, necessary just for the planning of a big construction project. This is important because it helps to explain why building takes so long and is so expensive.
  • Technology has had a bad rap for many years now. The 1950's were filled with movies about science gone amock. I've read that The China Syndrome was a turning point in how science was perceived by the public in the '70s, that technology would lead to very bad things. First some guy is messing around with creating life, and the next thing you know, dinosaurs are coming back and eating people. But in Earth-friendly Buildings, Bridges and More, technology is portrayed as a good thing. Mom, Dad, an uncle, and a cousin are all engineers, all involved in creating or fixing things. Even if you're not a fan of tech, this is different.
The stereotype about environmental living involves natural fibers, whole grains, and funny light bulbs. But it takes technology to make real environmental progress, to find ways to heat and cool enormous buildings, for instance. Earth-friendly Buildings, Bridges and More can help young people recognize that.

0 Comments on The Environmental Book Club as of 12/11/2014 10:10:00 PM
Add a Comment
6. Writing Competition: Essays about the Weather: Creative Nonfiction

Deadline: April 13, 2015

For an upcoming issue, Creative Nonfiction is seeking new essays about THE WEATHER. We're not just making idle chit-chat; the weather affects us all, and talking about the weather is a fundamental human experience. Now, as we confront our changing climate, talking about the weather may be more important than ever.

Send us your true stories—personal, historical, reported—about fog, drought, flooding, tornado-chasing, blizzards, hurricanes, hail the size of golfballs, or whatever's happening where you are. We're looking for well-crafted essays that will change the way we see the world around us.

Essays must be vivid and dramatic; they should combine a strong and compelling narrative with an informative or reflective element and reach beyond a strictly personal experience for some universal or deeper meaning. We're looking for well-written prose, rich with detail and a distinctive voice; all essays must tell true stories and be factually accurate.

A note about fact-checking: Essays accepted for publication in Creative Nonfiction undergo a rigorous fact-checking process. To the extent your essay draws on research and/or reportage (and it should, at least to some degree), CNF editors will ask you to send documentation of your sources and to help with the fact-checking process. We do not require that citations be submitted with essays, but you may find it helpful to keep a file of your essay that includes footnotes and/or a bibliography.

Creative Nonfiction editors will award $1,000 for Best Essay and $500 for runner-up. All essays will be considered for publication in a special "Weather" issue of the magazine.

Guidelines: Essays must be previously unpublished and no longer than 4,000 words. There is a $20 reading fee, or $25 to include a 4-issue subscription to Creative Nonfiction (US addresses only). If you're already a subscriber, you may use this option to extend your current subscription or give your new subscription as a gift. Multiple entries are welcome ($20/essay) as are entries from outside the United States (though due to shipping costs we cannot offer the subscription deal). All proceeds will go to prize pools and printing costs.

You may submit essays online or by regular mail:

By regular mail
Postmark deadline April 13, 2015.
Please send manuscript, accompanied by cover letter with complete contact information including the title of the essay and word count; SASE or email for response; and payment to:

Creative Nonfiction
5501 Walnut Street, Suite 202
Pittsburgh, PA 15232

Deadline to upload files: 11:59 pm EST April 13, 2015
To submit, please go here.

Add a Comment
7. Citizen

Earlier this year I read and very much enjoyed Claudia Rankine’s book Don’t Let Me Be Lonely. Rankine is a poet whose poetry is written in prose. It has taken me a while to figure this out and I am not certain why. I am used to seeing a prose poem now and then in a poetry collection but an entire book of prose poetry? It puts me off balance. I think it probably does many people because I remember back in college a favorite professor scoffing at the idea that there could even be such a thing as a prose poem.

In the case of Rankine’s newest book of poetry, Citizen: An American Lyric, one is thrown off balance just looking at the cover: stark white with a black fabric thing of some kind. Looking closely the black fabric thing is the hood part of a hoodie. The hoodie became a national conversation piece when Trayvon Martin was shot and murdered by George Zimmerman in 2012. Once past the unsettling cover, comes the prose poetry illustrated with the occasional photograph or illustration.

The poems are about being black in a racist country. They are all written in second person which I can imagine inspires a community feeling for a black reader. For this white reader the “you” pulled me in and forced me to see the world from a different perspective. Sometimes it was uncomfortable. Most of the time I was sad, heartbroken even, and angry over the injustice:

The man at the cash register wants to know if you think your card will work. If this is his routine, he didn’t use it on the friend who went before you. As she picks up her bag, she looks to see what you will say. She says nothing. You want her to say something — both as witness and as friend. She is not you; her silence says so.

The racism in the poems is most often of the every day sort, the small things that happen all the time whether on purpose or through ignorance, the kinds of things that a person privileged with white skin never has to think about.

On the train the woman standing makes you understand there are no seats available. And, in fact, there is one. Is the woman getting off at the next stop? No, she would rather stand all the way to Union Station.

The space next to the man is the pause in a conversation you are suddenly rushing to fill. You step quickly over the woman’s fear, a fear she shares. You let her have it.

The man doesn’t acknowledge you as you sit down because the man knows more about the unoccupied seat than you do.

While most of the poems deal with the every day, there are others that take on more publicized racism. I very much liked the series of poems about Serena and Venus Williams, beautiful women (I love their muscles!) and amazing tennis players who have been the victims on racism both on and off the court. There is also a series of poems described as situation scripts for video in collaboration with Rankine’s husband John Lucas. You can see one of these videos, “Stop and Frisk” as well as a video or Rankine reading one of her other poems from Citizen in a PBS article about Rankine and her poetry. Several of the scripts are about the violent deaths of black men, but also about other things like Hurricane Katrina and last summer’s World Cup.

The poems are short and powerful. The writing lyrical and beautiful. This is a timely book. An important book. It is a book I think people of all colors should read, but especially those of us who are white. As a woman I know what it is like to be part of an oppressed group. As a white woman I have privilege that black women do not have. I vaguely know this but haven’t spent much time thinking about it. I haven’t had to, that’s what privilege gets me. But ever since reading Citizen I have been thinking about it. It’s an eye opening book that will be sticking with me for a long time to come.

Every day your mouth opens and receives the kiss the world offers, which seals you shut though you are feeling sick to your stomach about the beginning of the feeling that was born from understanding and now stumbles around in you — the go-along-to-get-along tongue pushing your tongue aside. Yes, and your mouth is full up and the feeling is still tottering —

Filed under: Books, Nonfiction, Poetry, Reviews Tagged: Claudia Rankine

Add a Comment
8. The Plantagenets

The Plantagenets. Dan Jones. 2013. Viking. 560 pages. [Source: Library]

I enjoyed reading this overview of British history. The book examines the reigns of a handful of Plantagenet kings: Henry II, Richard I, John, Henry III, Edward I, Edward II, Edward III, and Richard II. It spans several centuries: 1120-1399. It also overlaps a bit with French history.

The book opens with "The White Ship." It's a dramatic way to start a book. Henry I, the son of William the Conqueror, loses his son and heir in a shipwreck. Henry I has two dozen illegitimate children--give or take one or two. But his only legitimate child is a daughter, Matilda. He remarries hoping presumably to have another child--a son, a new heir. But that is not to be. He marries the widowed Matilda off--it was anything but a love match--and she starts having children of her own, many of them sons. He leaves his kingdom to his daughter, supposedly everyone has sworn their allegiance to her, but, in reality, she's never in a position to reign as queen. Her cousin, Stephen, reigns instead. War follows, naturally. It is not a short war, a quick and decisive war. It is a here and there, on-and-off again war where the people suffer for the family squabble most. Eventually, an agreement of sorts is reached, Stephen will pass the crown to Matilda's son, Henry II. He is the first Plantagenet king. Henry II, if you remember, is married to Eleanor of Aquitaine, the former French queen as well. They have many children together...

The book follows the reigns of each king. It goes into detail with politics and economics. It goes into detail with the struggles of each king. Their strengths and weaknesses, their battles. Sometimes these battles are with the church; sometimes these battles are with the French; sometimes these battles are with the Irish or the Welsh or the Scottish; sometimes these battles are with their own flesh and blood, their family; sometimes these battles are with their own countrymen, the barons, the nobility, or even the peasants. No one king has it all. No one king has a perfect, problem-free reign. It wouldn't necessarily be fair or right to sort the kings into two groups of "good" and "bad." Some kings had a reputation of being horrible, and yet they didn't do anything over and above what other kings before them or after them did. Writers of all centuries can label kings this or that, but, that is because historians can be biased. (Some are openly biased. Some not so much.)

As for the details about each king, what can I say? It's an overview, a detailed overview, to be sure. Some readers may be more of an expert and find fault with statements here and there throughout the book. They may spot myths presented as fact. But I certainly can't be among them. I don't know enough about each and every king.

I found the book to be interesting. Some chapters were more fascinating than others. Some chapters even seemed a bit confusing. But I kept reading.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on The Plantagenets as of 12/8/2014 2:21:00 PM
Add a Comment
9. Writing with Style

I finished two books this weekend and began reading two new books. Reviews of the two I finished forthcoming this week. Today, one of the books I started reading, The Sense of Style: the thinking person’s guide to writing in the 21st century by Steven Pinker. Yet another style manual you say? I know, I know, I said the same. But it is Steven Pinker, cognitive scientist, linguist and author of The Language Instinct and other books. So I thought, let’s see what he has to say.

I’ve only read the introduction and even if the rest of the book ends up being a big stinkeroo (and it might because flipping through I see the dreaded sentence diagramming), I will like him for the intro. Why? Because he is a descriptivist. He praises the ever changingness of language, pooh-poohs the old straightjacket grammarians who tried to force English into nonsensical constructions based on Latin grammar, and he pokes gentle fun at the monumnet that is Strunk and White. What’s not to like about that?

He says wonderful things like:

Style manuals that are innocent of linguistics also are crippled in dealing with the aspect of writing that evokes the most emotions: correct and incorrect usage. Many style manuals treat traditional rules of usage the way fundamentalists treat the Ten Commandments: as damnation. But skeptics and freethinkers who probe the history of these rules have found that they belong to an oral tradition of folklore and myth.

The reason a good writer wants to know about grammar rules is so she knows when and how to break them to best effect.

To those who complain that the internet and Twitter and texting is ruining language, he thumbs his nose. Pinker quotes people going back as far as 1478 complaining about how the English language is going to the dogs; these young people today who can’t spell or use punctuation, blah, blah , blah. Century after century it is a recurring refrain. He even notes that according to the scholar Richard Lloyd-Jones, “some of the clay tablets deciphered from ancient Sumerian include complaints about the deteriorating writing skills of the young.” Oh that made me laugh!

Pinker on writing might just turn out to be fun. He’s off to a good start at any rate. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Filed under: Books, In Progress, Nonfiction Tagged: Steven Pinker

Add a Comment
10. The Human Body app review

Last week’s edition of Nonfiction Notes offered several recommended books about medicine and the human body (plus books on social change, how things work, indigenous cultures, and geography/cartography). Another resource, TinyBop’s The Human Body app, introduces the human body and its systems through exploratory play.

Begin by selecting from four child avatars. The app’s main page then shows your avatar in silhouette; a pull-out toolbar along the left side offers icon representing the body’s systems: nervous, skeletal, respiratory, circulatory, digestive, and muscular. Tap on a single icon to see an individual system in place in the child’s body, or select multiple icons to see systems working in tandem. Clear diagrams and sound-effect-enhanced animations present the systems in an approachable (often humorous) way.

 The Human Body app review

the nervous, skeletal, respiratory, circulatory, and digestive systems

Tapping a system icon brings up several sub-icons (e.g., the nervous system menu offers brain, eye, nose, and ear options), allowing you to zoom in on its specific features. Select the brain icon to see its structure in more detail, then tap on the labeled lobes to see representations of their functions (for example, tapping on the cerebral cortex prompts a math equation to pop up). Move a slider bar to view the surfaces of systems’ organs, their cross-sections, or a combination of the two.

 The Human Body app review

the brain’s surface (left) and cross-section (right), with the cerebral cortex highlighted

The app also models cause and effect in relation to body systems. Tap an icon of legs at the bottom right and the child avatar goes from standing to a run, illustrating various organs’ response to exertion. “Tickle” the child with a feather to see neurological pathways in action, “feed” him or her a variety of foods to witness digestion (including burps and farts), play sounds and watch how the ear drum vibrates, or use the device’s camera function to simulate vision — and those are just a few of the many interactive opportunities to try.

 The Human Body app review

the digestive system — and a selection of foods to “digest”

Since the app is available in a huge range of languages, body part labels are the only text — download the free accompanying Human Body Handbook PDF for information about the systems of the body as well as tips for using the app. A settings icon in the sidebar allows you to turn labels and sound effects on/off and to change the language.

Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 7.0 or later); $2.99. Immune system and urogenital system add-ons must be purchased individually ($0.99 each).

share save 171 16 The Human Body app review

The post The Human Body app review appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on The Human Body app review as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
11. Go There: Lessons In Writing From Dear Old Dad

Andrew_Maraniss3_horz (1)BY ANDREW MARANISS

People assume that when your father is a Pulitzer Prize–winning, bestselling author, he must have helped you a lot with your first book.

For a while, I thought he might, too.

I’d email first drafts of my chapters for “Strong Inside” to my mom and dad, and I soon discovered why the messages I’d get back only contained suggestions from my mother: my father understood from the very beginning that I’d feel a whole lot better about my book if I knew I did it without major input from him.

Which isn’t to say that he had no influence. His fingerprints are all over it, but more in the sense of lifelong lessons on reporting and writing: avoid clichés and unnecessary words; find the universal in the particular; do the reporting.

Growing up, the people who came to visit our house for dinner or picnics were mostly journalists—I’d sit around on the periphery of the conversations and listen to the joy everyone took in describing great lead paragraphs, or scooping the competition. (I also remember the time Bob Woodward brought my sister and I some 45-RPM records, including “Safety Dance,” and the time Sarah and I tried to trick John Feinstein into eating a dog biscuit). Growing up in the home of a Washington Post journalist meant reading a great newspaper every morning—and reading great writing is the best way to learn to write. (Another childhood memory: Each morning, I’d spread the Post out on the dining room table, read the sports section first, and our family sheepdog, Maggie, would hop up on the table, park her body on top of the rest of the paper, and then lap up the milk from my cereal bowl when I was nearly done. Wow.)

Y1726Feeling as through your creativity well is running a little dry? With The Write-Brain Workbook and Take 10 for Writers, you’ll get the words flowing again in no time! Over 1,000 combined exercises help you get into the habit of writing—and enjoy it! You’ll learn how to celebrate your own writing accomplishments; discover your own unique writing process; build momentum in your writing and overcome writer’s block. Regardless of genre, you’ll unleash your own writing passion with this Creative Writing Collection.


My father did not become a published author until after I graduated from college, but one of the lessons I’ve picked up from him in this later stage of his writing career is the concept of “go there.” For him, that meant traveling to Vietnam for one book, moving to Green Bay, Wisconsin, for the winter for another, and flying to Kenya, Indonesia, Hawaii and Kansas for his bio of Barack Obama.

In my case, going there meant two things: seeing my adopted hometown of Nashville through the eyes of my subject, Perry Wallace, and trying to travel back in time to the 1960s in as many ways as possible. On the time-travel side, I set my satellite radio to the 1960s channel and spent my 45-minute commutes to my “day job” listening to the songs Wallace and his contemporaries would have heard while he was making history as the first African American basketball player in the Southeastern Conference. I watched movies from the period, and read books about the Sixties that had nothing to do with Wallace’s story but shed light on the culture of the times in interesting ways (in addition to my dad’s many books that are set in the decade, one of my favorites was Mark Harris’ book, Pictures at a Revolution, on the five  movies nominated for Oscars in 1967).

It was seeing Nashville through Perry Wallace’s eyes that produced the most valuable anecdotes for the book. I’ll forever remember the afternoon we spent driving around the town he left 44 years ago. He showed me the houses he grew up in, the parks he played in, the schools he attended. Driving past one house, he saw an old friend sitting on the front porch and jumped out of the car to say hello. Driving past a street corner in a now-fashionable part of town, he explained that in 1955, standing on that same corner, he had been stunned by a carload of white teenagers who pointed a gun out their window at him, pointing it, pointing it, pointing it, as the car slowly made its way around the corner. And as we drove past a baseball field, he asked me to stop the car. We got out, and he pointed to a thicket of rocks and trees behind the outfield fence. “See that rock?” he asked. “That’s where I sat and meditated over my decision whether to go to Vanderbilt.”

Suddenly I was standing next to Perry Wallace in the present, but also sitting next to him on that rock in 1966.

“Go there” indeed. Thank you, Dad.

MarannisNewCoverRGBAndrew Maraniss is the author of the new biography, Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South. His father, David Maraniss, is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist for Washington Post and the author of 10 books.

Follow Andrew Maraniss on Twitter @trublu24 and at his website, andrewmaraniss.com.

Add a Comment
12. Review of The Right Word

bryant right word Review of The Right Wordstar2 Review of The Right WordThe Right Word:
Roget and His Thesaurus

by Jen Bryant; illus. by Melissa Sweet
Primary    Eerdmans    48 pp.
9/14    978-0-8028-5385-1    $17.50

Apt language and ingenious imagery combine to tell the life story of Peter Mark Roget, creator of the thesaurus. A solitary, though not unhappy, child, Roget spends his time keeping lists and ordering the natural and cultural wonders he finds in abundance. He studies to become a doctor, teaches, joins academic societies, raises a family, and continues to capture and classify the universe, eventually publishing his Thesaurus, a catalog of concepts ordered by ideas, in 1852. Bryant’s linear telling follows Peter closely, expressing his curiosity, sensitivity, and populist spirit in language that is both decorous and warm. Clever book design and visionary illustration add layers of meaning, as images come together in careful sequence. On the cover a cacophony of iconographic ideas explodes from the pages of a book. The opening endpapers arrange these same concepts in a vertical collage that recalls spines on a bookshelf. The title spread features the letters of the alphabet as stacked blocks, as a child manages them, and from there the pages grow in complexity, as Roget himself grows up. Sweet embellishes her own gentle watercolors with all manner of clippings and realia, corralling the pictures into order according to concept, number, or color. A timeline and detailed author and illustrator notes follow the narrative, with suggested additional resources and a facsimile page of Roget’s first, handwritten book of lists. And the closing endpapers, with the comprehensive classification scheme of the first thesaurus, fully realize the opening organizational promise.

From the November/December 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

share save 171 16 Review of The Right Word

The post Review of The Right Word appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of The Right Word as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment

This book is non-fiction, and was originally self-published, because the filmmaker Nick Gray was so convinced this was a story we should know. Nonfiction what we usually review on the blog, but though this particular tale is about two real boys,... Read the rest of this post

0 Comments on TURNING PAGES: ESCAPE FROM TIBET, by NICK GRAY, with Laura Scandiffio as of 12/3/2014 10:29:00 AM
Add a Comment
14. Findus, Food and Fun; a calendar based natural craft book for families

Although there’s something of a holiday / celebration at the end of this month to enjoy first (!), I’m already thinking about next year, planning projects, drawing dreams and envisaging adventures, not least of all here on Playing by the book (do let me know if there’s something you’d particularly love to see here in 2015).

9781907359347-430x600This forward and full-of-hope looking at the future, with plans for play and learning, is also found in the latest offering (in English) for fans of two of my very favourite book characters: Findus, Food and Fun – Seasonal crafts and nature activities is a calendar of craftiness from my long term Swedish sweethearts, Findus and Pettson, or rather from their creator, Sven Nordqvist, assisted by Eva-Lena Larsson, Kennert Daniels and translator Nathan Large.

Findus is a cheeky, cheerful cat on the ramshackle farm owned by grumpy but loveable Pettson. Stories of their life together are full of mishaps, mysterious little creatures called muckles, kindness and compassion. The illustrations are scrumptious, drawn with delicious humour and attention to detail. I don’t think there is another series of books which I’ve dedicated so much time to on Playing by the book. Perhaps that alone tells you how wonderful I think these books are and how much I want to press them into the palms of everyone and anyone who stumbles upon my blog.

This latest book isn’t a story book, but rather a compilation of crafts and activities very much in the spirit of Findus and Pettson, with lots of outdoor exploration, tinkering, making, pottering, discovering and being resourceful. The crafts are themed by calendar month and richly illustrated with Findus, Pettson, chickens and muckles getting involved and trying out the projects at hand. The choice of crafts is wide ranging and includes the unusual; from propagating succulents, to using ants to dye bluebells, to making your own weather station to weaving a rug, there’s a mixture play and exploration driven by interacting with the natural world and/or being inspired by the farmstead on which Findus and Pettson live.

An interior detail from Findus, Food and Fun.

An interior detail from Findus, Food and Fun.

I suspect many readers will come to this wonderful book because they are already solid fans of Nordqvist’s lovely world where problems are solved with kindness. cooperation and respect. However, if you’ve not met Findus and Pettson before there’s still an enormous amount to enjoy in this book; the crafts are quirky, sometimes a little bit crazy, and ideal for anyone who wants to encourage natural play and exploration.

The first project my girls chose to try was making necklaces out of dried beans; first you have to soak them overnight and then you can thread them onto thread (as the book advises, dental floss is good because it is extra smooth and slidey). One packet of mixed dried beans meant for soup were sorted into bowls and left to soak:


Next morning the girls were intrigued to see how the beans had changed, and were soon up and running with threading them into necklaces.

Compare this with the photo above!

Compare this with the photo above!

With lots of opportunities for learning about science, plant life and even maths (via patterns on the necklaces), this project – like so many in the book – could be used for more structured learning, as well being simply an enjoyable experience. These lovely chains of beads could be used as alternative Christmas decorations too – perhaps alongside popcorn strings.


Whilst making our necklaces we listened to:

  • Black Bean Soup by David Soul
  • Beans In My Ears by Serendipity Singers
  • Oats and Beans and Barley – there are loads of versions, but I like this one for its melodeon

  • Findus, Food and Fun: Seasonal crafts and nature activities is so packed with activities I won’t suggest any more here, other than to also point you to another craft book from the same publisher, Making Woodland Crafts by Patrick Harrison, a trainer of Forest School leaders. Many of the activities in this book are ones I can imagine Findus, Pettson and kids and families who love the outdoors relishing.

    What nature crafts have you enjoyed recently? When did you last take a book outdoors to read under (or up) a tree?

    Don’t forget to leave me a comment if you’ve any ideas / suggestions about how you’d like Playing by the book to develop in 2015 :-)

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of Findus, Food and Fun: Seasonal crafts and nature activities from the publisher.

    3 Comments on Findus, Food and Fun; a calendar based natural craft book for families, last added: 12/3/2014
    Display Comments Add a Comment
    15. Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California's Farallon Islands, by Katherine Roy (ages 7-11) -- absolutely terrific, gripping nonfiction!!

    Did you know the world’s largest wild population of great white sharks lives just 30 miles from San Francisco? How about that white sharks are the world's largest predatory fish, growing up to 21 feet long? Sharks **fascinate** my students and Neighborhood Sharks, by Katherine Roy, is absolutely terrific. They can't get enough of this new book!
    Neighborhood Sharks
    Hunting the Great Whites of California's Farallon Islands
    by Katherine Roy
    David Macaulay Studio / Macmillan, 2014
    Your local library
    ages 7-11
    *best new book*
    Katherine Roy, as both illustrator and author, combines compelling paintings with informative text to explain how these predators are able to hunt down their perfect prey so effectively. She focuses on the shark’s streamlined body, warmed blood, excellent vision, endless teeth and projectile jaws--providing clear scientific information while hooking readers with dramatic, vibrant paintings.

    What I loved best reading this with both 2nd graders and 5th graders is how different students can access the wide range of information she provides.  Younger students listened to some of the text, but really examined the illustrations and thought about them. They loved this drawing comparing the shark's body to an airplane (see below) -- and together we talked about different things that help sharks swim so quickly.
    from Neighborhood Sharks, by Katherine Roy
    As teachers, we call this visual literacy--helping students understand diagrams, gaining information from illustrations--an essential skill, especially for nonfiction. Illustrators talk about how they're layering the information, both in the visuals and the text. But really, the kids are just soaking up knowledge, fascinated by how sharks hunt, eat and grow.

    In Neighborhood Sharks, Roy not only shares information about sharks, but she also helps kids think about the scientists who study the sharks. She spent four days at sea with them, observing them, learning about their work studying these powerful animals, making sure that all her facts were correct -- so she could really give readers the feeling that you are there swimming with the sharks.
    Katherine Roy, out on the water with the Farallon shark team
    Are you as fascinated by this as my students and I are? Check out Katherine Roy's blog -- I especially loved reading about her inspiration for adventure and seeing some of the drawings progress. I will be interviewing Katherine for Parents Press in January and can't wait to share more of our conversation. Until then, go find a copy of this book!

    The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, Macmillan Books. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

    ©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

    0 Comments on Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California's Farallon Islands, by Katherine Roy (ages 7-11) -- absolutely terrific, gripping nonfiction!! as of 12/1/2014 3:50:00 AM
    Add a Comment
    16. Unspeakable Things

    I got myself on the hold list for Laurie Penny’s Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution because of what Ana wrote about it. And like Ana all I want to say over and over again is “my heart needed these words.” The thing is, I didn’t know I needed these words until I started reading the book. But within the first few sentences I was hooked:

    This is not a fairy tale.

    This is a story about how sex and money and power put fences around our fantasies. This is a story about how gender polices our dreams. Throughout human history, the most important political battles have been fought on the territory of the imagination, and what stories we allow ourselves to tell depend on what we can imagine.

    Unspeakable Things is unapologetically feminist. It is angry and it is not sorry for being angry either because there is a lot to be angry about.

    Broken up into five essays that examine gender from different angles, the book is personal — Penny writes of spending time in a mental institution when she was 17 and anorexic — but also broader, historical, systemic, economic. This patriarchal neoliberal capitalist system we live in has damaged us all but especially women and GLBT folks and really anyone who doesn’t fit into prescribed gender roles.

    In the chapter “Fucked-Up Girls” Penny looks at the female body and the ways in which it policed and controlled, the damage such policing does to the psyche of girls and women. In “Lost Boys” we see how patriarchy damages boys and men, makes them promises that are never delivered, and how these failed promises intensifies and promotes hatred of women. “Anticlimax” is about sex, sexual desire, sexual objectification, rape and reproduction. “Cybersexism” is about the promise of the internet to be a place free from sexism and how that has failed spectacularly. If you have been following the horror that is Gamergate over the last few months you will understand just how very ugly it is online. The book concludes with “Love and Lies,” a chapter about the load of bull we’ve been served up about love and romance. I actually thought this final chapter was the weakest. Nonetheless, it was still good and hard hitting.

    One of the things I really liked about this book was how Penny doesn’t tone down her language, doesn’t worry about hurting anyone’s feelings, refuses to be a nice girl bland feminist who talks about problems but in such way that they can be dismissed as somehow happening somewhere else to someone else. She does acknowledge that all men aren’t rapists or woman haters but this does not let them off the hook:

    What we don’t say is: of course not all men hate women. But culture hates women, and men who grow up in a sexist culture have a tendency to do and say sexist things, often without meaning to. We aren’t judging you for who you are, but that doesn’t mean we’re not asking you to change your behaviour. What you feel about women in your heart is of less immediate importance than how you treat them on a daily basis. You can be the gentlest, sweetest man in the world and still benefit from sexism, still hesitate to speak up when you see women hurt or discriminated against. That’s how oppression works.

    What I loved about this book and why, like Ana, I want to say over and over, “my heart needed these words,” is because I feel like I have been recharged. I am reminded of how I felt in my early twenties when feminism found me in a college literature class and I was so very angry about how I had been lied to (girls can do anything!) and how I would challenge men on their sexist comments and behavior. And over the ensuing years that spark dwindled under the onslaught of every day sexism.

    The spark was revived for a while when I worked for a feminist nonprofit that no longer exists. Recently, between Mala Yousafzai winning the Nobel Peace Prize, things in my personal life, horrible news stories of domestic violence and rape, and gamergate, I’ve been feeling stirred up, grumpy, and sometimes just straight up pissed off. Unspeakable Things came along and relit the spark. It reminded me I am not alone in being pissed off; not alone in wanting to change the way things work. I’m finding my twenty-something courage again. It’s dulled by life and a thick crust of cynicism, but it’s in there.

    In an Afterword Penny writes:

    If we want to escape the straightjacket of gender under neoliberalism, we must stop trying so hard to hold ourselves and others up to impossible standards, standards we didn’t set ourselves. We have to resist the schooled inner voice telling us to be good girls, tough boys, perfect women, strong men. If we are to realize a greater collective humanity, we must learn to see one another as human beings first.

    Unspeakable Things is a potentially incendiary book. It is dangerous. I highly recommend it.

    Filed under: Books, Essays, Feminism, Nonfiction, Reviews Tagged: Laurie Penny

    Add a Comment
    17. Call for Essays on Becoming a Teacher: In Fact Books

    Becoming a Teacher 

    Deadline: March 9, 2015 

    For a new anthology, In Fact Books is seeking true stories exploring and reflecting on the process of becoming a teacher. 

    Education is a hotly-contested subject, but too often the voices of teachers themselves are left out of the discussion. This fall, approximately 3.5 million full-time teachers headed into classrooms in the United States. What motivates them to enter, and to stay in, this demanding profession, and how are their daily lives affected by ongoing changes in the education system? "Becoming a Teacher" will present readers with the world of education from the perspective of elementary and secondary school teachers, recalling and reflecting on the most salient moments of their careers.

    We're looking for stories that, collectively, represent a wide variety of teachers and teaching experiences--in public or private or religious or charter schools, in cities or suburbs or rural areas, with typically-developing students or those with special needs, at home or internationally. Stories should combine a strong and compelling narrative with an informative or reflective element, reaching beyond a strictly personal experience for some universal or deeper meaning. 

    We're looking for well-written prose, rich with detail and a distinctive voice; writing should be evocative, vivid, and dramatic. All essays must tell true stories and be factually accurate. Everything we publish goes through a rigorous fact-checking process; editors may ask for sources and citations.

    Guidelines: Essays must be previously unpublished and no longer than 4,500 words. Multiple submissions are welcome, as are entries from outside the United States.

    You may submit essays online or by regular mail:

    By regular mail

    Postmark deadline March 9, 2015
    Please send your manuscript; a cover letter with complete contact information, including the title of the essay and word count; and an SASE or email address for response to: 

    In Fact Books
    c/o Creative Nonfiction Foundation
    Attn: Becoming a Teacher
    5501 Walnut Street, Suite 202
    Pittsburgh, PA 15232

    Deadline to upload files: 11:59 pm EST March 9, 2015
    To submit online, go here.

    Add a Comment
    18. Nonfiction Picture Books

    What's involved in writing and getting published a nonfiction picture book? 


    0 Comments on Nonfiction Picture Books as of 11/30/2014 1:14:00 PM
    Add a Comment
    19. Call for Submissions: pacificReview: Vivarium

    pacificREVIEW 2015: Vivarium


    Submission Period: October 1st 2014 – February 28th 2015

    A vivarium (Latin for "place of life") is an area for keeping and raising animals or plants for observation or research. Often, a portion of the ecosystem for a particular species is simulated on a smaller scale, a microcosm with controls for environmental conditions.

    We, as human beings, create vivariums for both ourselves and other species. In these environments of our own design (zoos, shopping malls, universities, cathedrals, etc.), we breathe simulation, observe phenomena both natural and unnatural, speak in symbols, and cypher our dreams. We are inhabitants of our creations, thriving in the flux between the abstract and the absolute. The newest issue of the pacificREVIEW seeks dynamic work that speaks to this theme and interrogates the ever-blurring line between "real" and "unreal" settings.

    Add a Comment
    20. Nonfiction

    Do nonfiction books always have to have a story arc? 


    0 Comments on Nonfiction as of 11/21/2014 1:42:00 PM
    Add a Comment
    21. What If? Review Haiku

    The perfect gift for
    your favorite nerd. Plus,
    the robot apocalypse.

    What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe. HMH, 2014, 320 pages.

    0 Comments on What If? Review Haiku as of 11/24/2014 7:36:00 AM
    Add a Comment
    22. GUs & Me - a review

    Richards, Keith. 2014. Gus & Me: The Story of my Granddad and my First Guitar. Hachette Audio.

    Keith Richards, the rough-edged, raspy-voiced, Rolling Stones guitarist, is hardly the man that comes to mind for a picture book writer and narrator, but then again, who better to tell the story of his first guitar?

    Richards wins the listener over immediately with his folksy, working class Estuary English accent (think dropped h's and "intrusive" r's) and unmistakable fondness for his topics - his first guitar and his beloved Granddad, Gus. It was the musically talented Gus who introduced a young Keith Richards to the guitar, teaching him how to 'old it, and suggesting the classical Malagueña(r) as the pinnacle of guitar mastery.

    I have yet to see the print version of this story, but I don't believe it could surpass the audio book.  A story with music at its heart needs music to be understood. Richards plays bits from Malagueña in appropriate spots throughout the story, and during a visit to a music shop in London, we hear Steve Jordan on drums.  Once, the listener even hears a little chuckle - not musical, but surprisingly sincere.  Richards collaborated with other authors, but this is obviously his story, and he delights in telling it.

    (Run time: about 7 minutes)

    My review of Gus & Me for AudioFile Magazine appears here with a small excerpt.  Take a listen!

    Visit the Nonfiction Monday Blog, "rounding up the best nonfiction for children and teens."

    0 Comments on GUs & Me - a review as of 11/24/2014 7:50:00 AM
    Add a Comment
    23. The Man Who Invented Christmas (2008)

    The Man Who Invented Christmas. Les Standiford. 2008. Crown. 241 pages. [Source: Library]

    Different readers will have different expectations when they see the full title of this one: The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits.

    The focus is not so much on Christmas, as it is on Charles Dickens: his private and public life, his writing career, his inspirations, his fears and worries, his relationship with his publishers. The focus isn't solely on A Christmas Carol. Yes, this work gets discussed in detail. But the same can be said of many of Dickens' novels. The book, despite the title, focuses on Dickens' career as a writer or novelist. This book mentions and in some cases discusses most of Dickens' published works. Not just his books published BEFORE A Christmas Carol, but his whole career.

    A Christmas Carol gets special treatment in this one, perhaps, not because it has a Christmas theme, but, because it is a significant to his career. Before A Christmas Carol, he'd had a few really big bestsellers. But. He'd also experienced some failures. His last three books were disappointing to his fans. They didn't sell as well. The critics didn't like them. His publishers were discouraged and worried. Dickens needed his next book to be something wonderful, something that would sell, something that would be loved by one and all. He needed a success: a feel-good success, something to give him confidence and something to give his publishers confidence in him again, and a financial success, something to get him out of debt, something to pay his bills.

    The secondary focus of this one is not Christmas. Readers might expect it to be related to Christmas, the history of Christmas, its invention, or reinvention. But. Something gets more time and attention than Christmas. And that is the writing and/or publishing industry. The book gives readers a history lesson in publishing. How books were written, illustrated, printed, published, sold. Not just what went on BEFORE it was published, but also what typically happened next. How novels were adapted to the stage by others, by many others. How little control--if any--that the publisher and author had over their books, their stories, their characters and plots. Plays could do justice, at times, to the books they were based upon. But they could also be absolutely dreadful. The lack of copyright laws or international copyright laws. How publishers in other countries could steal entire books, republish them, not paying the author anything at all. The book even has a chapter or two on fan fiction. Not that he calls it fan fiction. But he writes of how other writers could "borrow" characters and give them further adventures and publish them.

    Does the book talk about Christmas at all? Yes. It does. It tells of two extremes: those in the past who celebrated Christmas too wildly, too wantonly, and those in the past who refused to celebrate it all, who would have it be illegal. Either extreme seems a bit hard to believe, perhaps, for modern readers. The book tells of traditions. Some traditions being somewhat established before A Christmas Carol, and other traditions becoming more established by being described in A Christmas Carol. What I probably found most interesting was his mention of how traditionally it was goose served for the Christmas feast UNTIL the publishing of A Christmas Carol. When Scrooge buys a turkey to give to Bob Cratchit and his family, it seems he inspired his readers to change their traditions. Turkeys becoming more and more popular.

    For readers interested in the life and death of Charles Dickens, his whole career, this one has some appeal. It provides plenty of details about his books and the publishing industry, how he was received by the public.

    For readers looking for a quick, feel-good holiday read, this one may prove to be a chore to get through.

    I liked it well enough. I've read a good many of his novels. I have some interest in his life. It worked for me. It was packed with plenty of information.

    © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

    0 Comments on The Man Who Invented Christmas (2008) as of 11/24/2014 4:30:00 PM
    Add a Comment
    24. Books mentioned in the November 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book

    Social change

    Captured History series

    Burgan, Michael Tank Man: How a Photograph Defined China’s Protest Movement
    Gr. 4–6     64 pp.     Capstone/Compass Point     2014
    Library binding ISBN 978-0-7565-4731-8
    Paperback ISBN 978-0-7565-4787-5

    Nardo, Don Hitler in Paris: How a Photograph Shocked a World at War
    Gr. 4–6   64 pp.     Capstone/Compass Point     2014
    Library binding ISBN 978-0-7565-4733-2
    Paperback ISBN 978-0-7565-4789-9

    Cooper, Ilene A Woman in the House (and Senate): How Women Came to the United States Congress, Broke Down Barriers, and Changed the Country
    Illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley
    Gr. 46    144 pp.    Abrams     2014
    Trade ISBN 978-1-4197-1036-0

    Kuklin, Susan Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out
    High school     182 pp.     Candlewick     2014
    Trade ISBN 978-0-7636-5611-9

    Levy, Debbie We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song
    Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
    Gr. K–3      32 pp.     Disney/Jump     2013
    Trade ISBN 978-1-4231-1954-8

    Runstedler, Nancy Pay It Forward Kids: Small Acts, Big Change
    Gr. 46     64 pp.     Fitzhenry     2013
    Trade ISBN 978-1-55455-301-3


    How things work

    Lightning Bolt Books: How Flight Works series

    Boothroyd, Jennifer How Do Hang Gliders Work?
    Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Lerner     2013
    Library binding ISBN 978-0-7613-8970-5

    Boothroyd, Jennifer How Do Helicopters Work?
    Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Lerner     2013
    Library binding ISBN 978-0-7613-8966-8

    Boothroyd, Jennifer How Do Parachutes Work?
    Gr. K–3     32 pp.      Lerner     2013
    Library binding ISBN 978-0-7613-8968-2

    Silverman, Buffy How Do Hot Air Balloons Work?
    Gr. K–3     32 pp.      Lerner     2013
    Library binding ISBN 978-0-7613-8969-9

    Silverman, Buffy How Do Jets Work?
    Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Lerner     2013
    Library binding ISBN 978-0-7613-8967-5

    Silverman, Buffy How Do Space Vehicles Work?
    Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Lerner     2013
    Library binding ISBN 978-0-7613-8971-2

    Enz, Tammy The Amazing Story of Cell Phone Technology: Max Axiom STEM Adventures [Graphic Library: STEM Adventures series]
    Illustrated by Pop Art Properties
    Gr. 4–6     32 pp.     Capstone     2013
    Library binding ISBN 978-1-4765-0137-6
    Paperback ISBN 978-1-4765-3457-2

    Blazers: See How It’s Made series

    Hammelef, Danielle S. Building an Airplane
    Gr. 4–6     32 pp.     Capstone     2014
    Library binding ISBN 978-1-4765-3978-2
    Paperback ISBN 978-1-4765-5118-0

    Omoth, Tyler Building a Motorcycle
    Gr. 4–6      32 pp.     Capstone     2014
    Library binding ISBN 978-1-4765-3977-5
    Paperback ISBN 978-1-4765-5117-3

    Macaulay, David Toilet: How It Works [My Readers series]
    With Sheila Keenan
    Gr. K–3    32 pp.     Square Fish/David Macaulay Studio     2013
    Trade ISBN 978-1-59643-779-1
    Paperback ISBN 978-1-59643-780-7

    How Does My Home Work? series

    Oxlade, Chris Heating
    Gr. K–3     24 pp.     Heinemann     2012
    Library binding ISBN 978-1-4329-6564-8
    Paperback ISBN 978-1-43296569-3

    Oxlade, Chris Water
    Gr. K–3      24 pp.    Heinemann     2012
    Library binding ISBN 978-1-4329-6567-9
    Paperback ISBN 978-1-4329-6572-3


    Indigenous cultures

    Bruchac, James and Bruchac, Joseph Rabbit’s Snow Dance: A Traditional Iroquois Story
    Illustrated by Jeff Newman
    Gr. K–3
         32 pp.     Dial     2012
    Trade ISBN 978-0-8037-3270-4

    Charleyboy, Lisa, and Leatherdale, Mary Beth, Editors Dreaming in Indian: Contemporary Native American Voices
    Middle school, high school
         130 pp.     Annick     2014
    Trade ISBN 978-1-55451-687-2

    Ellis, Deborah Looks like Daylight: Voices of Indigenous Kids
    Middle school, high school    253 pp.     Groundwood (House of Anansi Press)     2013
    Trade ISBN 978-1-55498-120-5

    McLaughlin, Timothy P. Walking on Earth & Touching the Sky: Poetry and Prose by Lakota Youth at Red Cloud Indian School
    Illustrated by S. D. Nelson
    Gr. 4–6     80 pp.     Abrams     2012
    Trade ISBN 978-1-4197-0179-5

    Ray, Deborah Kogan Paiute Princess: The Story of Sarah Winnemucca
    Gr. 4–6     48 pp.     Farrar/Foster     2012
    Trade ISBN 978-0-374-39897-2


    Geography and maps

    Map Smart series

    Brasch, Nicolas Community Maps
    Gr. 4–6     32 pp.     Smart Apple     2012
    Library binding ISBN 978-1-59920-413-0

    Brasch, Nicolas Country Maps
    Gr. 4–6     32 pp.     Smart Apple     2012
    Library binding ISBN 978-1-59920-414-7

    Brasch, Nicolas Land and Sea Maps
    Gr. 4–6     32 pp.     Smart Apple     2012
    Library binding ISBN 978-1-59920-415-4

    Brasch, Nicolas World Maps
    Gr. 4–6     32 pp.     Smart Apple     2012
    Library binding ISBN 978-1-59920-416-1

    Pebble Books: My World series

    Cane, Ella Countries in My World
    Gr. K–3     24 pp.     Capstone     2013
    Library binding ISBN 978-1-4765-3122-9
    Paperback ISBN 978-1-4765-3464-0

    Cane, Ella Neighborhoods in My World
    Gr. K–3     24 pp.     Capstone     2013
    Library binding ISBN 978-1-4765-3119-9
    Paperback ISBN 978-1-4765-3461-9

    Cane, Ella States in My World
    Gr. K–3      24 pp.     Capstone     2013
    Library binding ISBN 978-1-4765-3121-2
    Paperback ISBN 978-1-4765-3463-3

    Kralovansky, Susan What Would You Do with an Atlas? [Super SandCastle: Library Resources series]
    Gr. K–3     32 pp.     ABDO     2013
    Library binding ISBN 978-1-61783-606-0

    Mizielinska, Aleksandra Maps
    Illustrated by Daniel Mizielinski
    Gr. 4–6     110 pp.     Candlewick/Big Picture     2013
    Trade ISBN 978-0-7636-6896-9

    Walker, Sally M. Boundaries: How the Mason-Dixon Line Settled a Family Feud & Divided a Nation
    High school     202 pp.     Candlewick     2014
    Trade ISBN 978-0-7636-5612-6


    Medicine and the human body

    Arnold, Caroline Too Hot? Too Cold?: Keeping Body Temperature Just Right
    Illustrated by Annie Patterson
    Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Charlesbridge     2013
    Trade ISBN 978-1-58059-276-6
    Paperback ISBN 978-1-58089-277-3

    Super Simple Body series

    Halvorson, Karin Inside the Ears
    Gr. K–3     32 pp.     ABDO     2013
    Library binding ISBN 978-1-61783-610-7

    Halvorson, Karin Inside the Eyes
    Gr. K–3      32 pp.     ABDO     2013
    Library binding ISBN 978-1-61783-611-4

    Halvorson, Karin Inside the Heart
    Gr. K–3      32 pp.     ABDO     2013
    Library binding ISBN 978-1-61783-612-1

    Halvorson, Karin Inside the Lungs
    Gr. K–3      32 pp.     ABDO     2013
    Library binding ISBN 978-1-61783-613-8

    Jarrow, Gail Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat
    Middle school, high school   192 pp.     Boyds/Calkins (Boyds Mills Press)     2014
    Trade ISBN 978-1-59078-732-8

    Murphy, Jim and Blank, Alison Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure
    Gr. 4–6     149 pp.     Clarion     2012
    Trade ISBN 978-0-618-53574-3

    Ziefert, Harriet You Can’t See Your Bones with Binoculars!: A Book About Your 206 Bones
    Illustrated by Amanda Haley
    Gr. K–3     32 pp.     Blue Apple     2014
    Trade ISBN 978-1-60905-417-5

    Ziefert, Harriet You Can’t Taste a Pickle with Your Ear!: A Book About Your 5 Senses
    Illustrated by Amanda Haley
    Gr. K–3
         32 pp.     Blue Apple     2014
    Trade ISBN 978-1-60905-418-2

    These titles were featured in the November 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

    share save 171 16 Books mentioned in the November 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book

    The post Books mentioned in the November 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book appeared first on The Horn Book.

    0 Comments on Books mentioned in the November 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book as of 1/1/1900
    Add a Comment
    25. Do we care about children’s non-fiction?

    One of my goals for 2014 was to review more non-fiction books for children. So far this year I’ve written 85 pieces on the blog, and 12 have been about non-fiction. Given that non-fiction makes up about 15% of high street children’s book sales in the UK, it seems appropriate that almost the same percentage of my reviews have been about non-fiction titles.


    As I’ve increased the number of non-fiction books I’ve reviewed, I’ve had to think about slightly different issues from those which concern me when reviewing fiction/picture books:

  • Given how few children’s non-fiction books are reviewed, what responsibilities do I have to authors/illustrators and publishers of non-fiction?
  • How much does accuracy matter? To you? To me?
  • What do readers (you!) actually want from a non-fiction review and how does this differ from a review of a piece of fiction?

  • Sales of children’s non-fiction in the UK are booming; so far this year about 36% more children’s non-fiction titles have been sold on the high street as compared to last year. Several new imprints either dedicated to non-fiction or with non-fiction as a strong strand have launched in the last 18 months. Usborne – which is almost synonymous with children’s non-fiction here in the UK – has seen its profits jump this year, up 26% on last year.

    All this seems like great news for children’s non-fiction.


    Children’s non fiction rarely gets reviewed. Whether we’re talking about reviews in mainstream media, or by book bloggers, reviews of non-fiction for children and young people are few and far between generally speaking. Approximately 2% of the reviews of books for children and young people on the Guardian website in the last year were about non-fiction. Another broadsheet managed a 6% review rate. Look around the UK Child/YA bookblogging scene and you’ll see similar low levels of reviews.

    Why is this?

    One reviewer for a broadsheet told me that she just “doesn’t have time” to review non-fiction. I don’t know about you, but ‘time’ in my world ultimately often corresponds to ‘level of interest’. Another highly regarded mainstream media children’s book reviewer told me that for non-fiction to even get a look in, it had to be exceptional and innovative. I don’t think many reviewers of fiction only review novels or picture books which are ground-breaking. I’d argue that plenty of ‘good-enough’ (fiction) books for children and young people get review space. Is the bar set differently for children’s non-fiction?


    Perhaps another barrier to reviewing non-fiction books is our concerns as reviewers about being able to assess the accuracy of the books in question.

    In reviewing non-fiction titles I sadly come across errors far more often than I ever thought I would. And I have not once seen these errors mentioned in other reviews of the same books. Indeed, some of these books end up on award shortlists (I’ve seen this twice this year, on two different shortlists) and in eminent ‘Pick of the year’ lists. Is there a culture of silence surrounding mentioning errors? Is it that reviewers are not picking up on errors? Is it that reviewers are fearful of souring relations with authors, illustrators and publishers? Are we swayed more by looks than by content? Do we just find it easier to avoid non-fiction reviews altogether because then we don’t have to consider issues of accuracy?

    Accuracy of content really matters to me. When I review a non-fiction title I always fact check at least three randomly chosen facts from the book. Yes, this isn’t much, but it often gives me a rough and ready handle on the book. If with just three fact checks I can find an error…. what does that do to my trust in the rest of the book?

    Perhaps there’s a bigger question to ask here: Does factual accuracy actually matter?

    I firmly believe that children’s non-fiction is especially important in the age of Google; anyone can post anything on the net without it being checked whereas published books go through a system of checking, hopefully ensuring factual accuracy. But if books turn out not to be reliable, what advantages do they have over the internet? Maybe none, and yet I believe the physical book format is so important for encouraging quiet contemplation rather than quick-fix consumption, the sort of contemplation that is necessary for deeper understanding and the embedding of information. (When arguing for books over googling, I’d also highlight the attention authors pay to ‘readability’ of non-fiction books i.e. creating a pleasant reading experience. Books really can and do offer something different and potentially much better than at bunch a best of loosely curated articles online.)

    But, stepping back a moment, maybe factual accuracy just isn’t that important. One parent on twitter admitted to me that whilst accuracy was nice, it wasn’t as important as a book being inspirational and grabbing the child’s attention -that if a non-fiction book got her child excited about the topic in hand, factual errors wouldn’t stop her from buying it.

    I personally can’t accept this, at least when it comes to recommending books myself via my blog. I think we do a disservice to our children, and to everyone involved in creating children’s non-fiction if we throw our hands up and say “never mind” when it comes to errors. What do you think?

    I’ve read some thought provoking pieces this year about what to consider when reviewing non-fiction titles, for example this discussion of invented dialogue in picture book biographies and this one about accuracy in illustration in non-fiction titles, both by the inimitable Betsy Bird.


    Apart from general stances re factual accuracy, I’ve also learned that there are huge variations in the fact checking process for non-fiction books (in the UK). All the NF authors I’ve spoken to are proud of their rigorous fact checking. Some authors provide fully referenced texts, even if the references don’t make it into the final book. Some publishers never ask for referenced texts. Some publishers will employ a consultant or even two to fact check, as well as a literacy expert where appropriate. But this isn’t always the case. One prolific non-fiction author told me “accuracy is almost entirely in the hands of the author“; “Children’s non-fiction is in such a parlous state that some books don’t even have an editor.”

    Through talking extensively with NF authors and publishers I’m convinced they they are all dedicated to creating accurate, informative, enjoyable books, so why have I gone on so long about errors? Because I worry that silence about them – in reviews – and the processes by which they end up in print suggest that as a children’s book-buying, book-reading public we seriously undervalue children’s non-fiction.

    We undervalue them in terms of publishing time and resources devoted to them:

    Of course in a time of austerity we’re all subject to constraints, but from what I’ve learned this past year about children’s non-fiction, publishers’ time and budgets are being squeezed ever more tightly. There’s lots of pressure on getting books out there, sometimes without all the due care and attention they deserve. Yes, as a parent (and a reviewer) I want to see exciting, imaginative non-fiction, but style shouldn’t win out over substance.

    We undervalue them in terms of public recognition of non-fiction authors:

    Non-fiction authors are the cinderellas of the book world. Sometimes it can even be hard to find out who the author was of a non-fiction book, with their name not appearing on the cover but hidden inside in small print. Non-fiction reviews are nearly always subject driven rather than author driven and non-fiction author events are proportionally far less common than fiction author events. If you’re not persuaded by my argument that we generally hold non-fiction authors in low regard just test yourself: How many children’s non-fiction authors can you name? And how many fiction authors?

    We undervalue them in terms of how much non-fiction authors are paid for the work they do:

    Typically such an author earns a flat fee of around £1000 per book (though offers of much less are not infrequent), and receives no % of any sales. I understand that this is significantly less that the typical advance paid to picture book authors (typically 1-4k), who also receive 3-5 % royalties from all sales.

    All this tells me that we don’t really value children’s non-fiction.


    So here’s my call to arms:

    Yes, let’s celebrate children’s non-fiction, the authors and the publishers who help bring adventures in the real world into the lives of our children and teenagers.

    Yes, let’s create lots more brilliant non-fiction books for children and young people, recognising that for many non-fiction is their preferred reading of choice. I’m definitely all for more creative approaches to non-fiction and a move away from the look-and-learn style fact books of old, but let’s not cut corners just for the sake of good looks. If you want to create great books you need great authors and illustrators who have been given the time, money and wider support necessary.

    Yes, let’s review more non-fiction for children and young people, but let’s not be afraid of reading it closely, reviewing it honestly, and starting debates about it.

    Yes, let’s get more great non-fiction into the hands of children and young people. What non-fiction will you be buying for presents this year?

    My thanks to all who discussed non-fiction reviewing, publishing, and related issues with me including Damyanti Patel, @ExploraBox1, Sue Cowley, Jonathan Emmett, @childledchaos, Polly Faber, Ian Manley, Cath Senker, Ali Baker, Brian Williams, Isabel Thomas, Ami Segna, Moira Butterfield, Charlotte Guillain, Stewart Ross, Brian Williams, Sean Callery and Nicola Davies. Thank you too to all who chose to remain anonymous. Of course, all opinions here are my own and do not necessarily represent those held by the authors, publishers, reviewers, or parents I spoke to.

    Whilst I’ve been somewhat critical in this post, just for the record, let me state how much I do value everyone working in the field of children’s non-fiction. All the industry insiders I have spoken to, from authors to publishers, are full of passion for non-fiction. They are all 100% committed to producing excellent non-fiction. My commitment to the field is hopefully demonstrated by the fact that for all of the month of November I’ve been co-ordinating an initiative which celebrates non-fiction for children and young people, National Non-Fiction November. You can find out more about the various events which have been held, and the articles many different people have contributed here, here, here and here, or by using the hashtag #NNFN on twitter.

    UPDATE: Whilst I did of course endeavour to have accurate facts in this post, one NF author has since contacted me to say that in their experience, rates for writing a non-fiction book are more like £1200 to £2200. The figure I quote above (£1000) was originally supplied by two different NF authors. If more NF authors would like to (anonymously) share their rates with me, then I could provide a more accurate picture.

    3 Comments on Do we care about children’s non-fiction?, last added: 11/27/2014
    Display Comments Add a Comment

    View Next 25 Posts