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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: NonFiction, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. #664 – Book-O-Beards (Wearable Books) by Lemke & Lentz

Book-O-Beardsx

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Book-O-Beards

Series: Wearable Books
Written by Donald Lemke
Illustrated by Bob Lentz
Capstone Young Readers        2/01/2015
9778-1-62370-183-3
12 pages         Size: 8” x 8”      Age 1 to 6
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“Fun interactive board book that children and adults can wear like masks, allowing for make-believe games and hilarious snapshot moments! With catchy rhymes, colorful illustrations, and interactive dialogue, everyone will enjoy this laugh-pout-load read-along.” [catalog]
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New for 2015, Book-O-Beards allows young children to become a lumberjack—TIMBER!—a pirate—ARRRG!—a cowboy—YEEHAW!—a sailor—ANCHORS AWEIGH!—a police officer—You’re under ARREST!—or Santa—HO, HO, HO! The Book-O-Beards helps young children role-play different  personas as they try these full-spread, fully bushy beards. Read the rhyming text, and then try one on..

9781623701833_Int01

“This orange beard
is softer than fur. I
In a deep voice
shout out, ‘TIMBER!’”

While the Book-O-Beards will appeal more to young boys, girls can certainly use this imaginative interactive board book. Made of heavy cardboard, the Book-O-Beards will stand-up to many hours of play. Young children love to play make-believe. The Wearable Books series lets kids try on teeth, hats, masks, and beards, all the while producing giggles. The love of reading can begin with one spark from these unusual dual-fun books.


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BOOK-O-BEARDS (A WEARABLE BOOK). Text copyright © 2015 by Donald Lemke. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Bob Lentz. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Capstone Young Readers, an imprint of Capstone, North Manakato, MN.
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Purchase Book-O-Beards at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryCapstone.
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Learn more about Book-O-Beards HERE.
Meet the author, Donald Lemke, at his bio box:  http://www.capstonepub.com/library/authors/lemke-donald/
Meet the illustrator, Bob Lentz, at his website:
Find more interactive fun at the Capstone website:  http://www.capstonepub.com/

Capstone Young Readers is a Capstone Imprint.

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Also available in the Wearable Books series.

maskshatsteeth

 

 

 

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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 5stars, Board Books, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Library Donated Books, NonFiction, Series Tagged: beards, Bob Lentz, Book-O-Beards, Capstone Young Readers, Donald Lemke, hats, imaginative play, interactive books, masks teeth, Wearable Books

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2. #662 – How to Read a Story by Kate Messner & Mark Siegel

cover amx

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How to Read a Story
top book of 2015 general
Written by Kate Messner
Illustrated by Mark Siegel
Chronicle Books           5/5/2015
978-1-4521-1233-6
32 pages          Age 4 to 8

 

“STEP 1: Find a Story.
“STEP 2: Find a Reading Buddy.
“STEP 3: Find a Cozy Reading Spot.

“Kate Messner and Mark Siegel brilliantly chronicle the process of becoming a reader, from choosing a book and finding someone with whom to share it to guessing what will happen and—finally—coming to The End. How to Read a Story playfully and movingly illustrates the idea that the reader who discovers the love of reading finds, at the end, the beginning.” [book jacket]

Review

Early readers will love this short primer on how to read a picture book. A young boy sits among dozens of books trying to find the perfect one. If you look closely, you will see the dog is laying on what will become the final choice: The Princess, the Dragon, and the Robot. I love little details that ask the reader to pay close attention.

How to Read a Story_Int_Step 1

Step 4 says to look at the cover and try to decipher what the story will be about. Step 5 is the most exciting step as you finally crack the cover, turn to page 1, and begin reading.

“Once upon a time . . .”

I love this book. From the cover on, How to Read a Story is a perfect primer on reading a picture book—the start of a love of reading. One important point: talking like the characters, whether a powerful mouse or a hungry knight, using character voices will increase a reader and listener’s enjoyment of the story. The author uses different fonts to emphasize these changing voices.

The ink and watercolor illustrations are cute and really add to the instructions as they draw you into How to Read a Story. Young kids—and parents—will love the young boy and his reading partner curling up in a soft over-stuffed chair reading and listening, until step 8, when they take a break to predict what might happen next in The Princess, the Dragon, and the Robot. Stiegel illustrates each possibility in a talk-bubble.

“Will the princess tame the dragon?
“Will the robot marry the princess?
“Will the dragon eat them all for lunch?”

How to Read a Story_Int_Step 2

During Step 2, everyone—except the dog—had better things to do than read to the young boy; by the end of his reading aloud, they are all interested in the end. Each of the ten important steps helps teach the wonderment of reading to young children. How to Read a Story looks fantastic and its text is important for all to learn. Once you have read a picture book—following the steps—there is one-step left:

“When the book is over say, ‘The End.’
“And then . . . start all over again.”

HOW TO READ A STORY. Text copyright © 2015 by Kate Messner. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Mark Siegel. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.


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Purchase at How to Read a Story AmazonB&NBook DepositoryChronicle Books.
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Learn more about How to Read a Story HERE.
Meet the author, Kate Messner, at her website:  http://www.katemessner.com/
Meet the illustrator, Mark Siegel, at his website:  https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/mark-siegel
Find more picture books at the Chronicle Books website:  http://www.chroniclebooks.com/
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fcc

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, NonFiction, Picture Book, Reluctant Readers, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: Chronicle Books, How to Read a Story, Kate Messner, Mark Siegel, Reading, writing

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3. #663 – How to Read a Story by Kate Messner & Mark Siegel

cover amx

x

How to Read a Story
top book of 2015 general
Written by Kate Messner
Illustrated by Mark Siegel
Chronicle Books           5/5/2015
978-1-4521-1233-6
32 pages          Age 4 to 8

“STEP 1: Find a Story.
“STEP 2: Find a Reading Buddy.
“STEP 3: Find a Cozy Reading Spot.

“Kate Messner and Mark Siegel brilliantly chronicle the process of becoming a reader, from choosing a book and finding someone with whom to share it to guessing what will happen and—finally—coming to The End. How to Read a Story playfully and movingly illustrates the idea that the reader who discovers the love of reading finds, at the end, the beginning.” [book jacket]

Review

Early readers will love this short primer on how to read a picture book. A young boy sits among dozens of books trying to find the perfect one. If you look closely, you will see the dog is laying on what will become the final choice: The Princess, the Dragon, and the Robot. I love little details that ask the reader to pay close attention.

How to Read a Story_Int_Step 1

Step 4 says to look at the cover and try to decipher what the story will be about. Step 5 is the most exciting step as you finally crack the cover, turn to page 1, and begin reading.

“Once upon a time . . .”

I love this book. From the cover on, How to Read a Story is a perfect primer on reading a picture book—the start of a love of reading. One important point: talking like the characters, whether a powerful mouse or a hungry knight, using character voices will increase a reader and listener’s enjoyment of the story. The author uses different fonts to emphasize these changing voices.

The ink and watercolor illustrations are cute and really add to the instructions as they draw you into How to Read a Story. Young kids—and parents—will love the young boy and his reading partner curling up in a soft over-stuffed chair reading and listening, until step 8, when they take a break to predict what might happen next in The Princess, the Dragon, and the Robot. Stiegel illustrates each possibility in a talk-bubble.

“Will the princess tame the dragon?
“Will the robot marry the princess?
“Will the dragon eat them all for lunch?”

How to Read a Story_Int_Step 2

During Step 2, everyone—except the dog—had better things to do than read to the young boy; by the end of his reading aloud, they are all interested in the end. Each of the ten important steps helps teach the wonderment of reading to young children. How to Read a Story looks fantastic and its text is important for all to learn. Once you have read a picture book—following the steps—there is one-step left:

“When the book is over say, ‘The End.’
“And then . . . start all over again.”

HOW TO READ A STORY. Text copyright © 2015 by Kate Messner. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Mark Siegel. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.


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Purchase at How to Read a Story AmazonB&NBook DepositoryChronicle Books.
x
Learn more about How to Read a Story HERE.
Meet the author, Kate Messner, at her website:  http://www.katemessner.com/
Meet the illustrator, Mark Siegel, at his website:  https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/mark-siegel
Find more picture books at the Chronicle Books website:  http://www.chroniclebooks.com/
x
fcc

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, NonFiction, Picture Book, Reluctant Readers, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: Chronicle Books, How to Read a Story, Kate Messner, Mark Siegel, Reading, writing

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4. YUM: Your Ultimate Manual for Nutrition

YUM: Your Ultimate Manual for Good Nutrition. Daina Kalnins. 2008. Lobster Press. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]

YUM is an informative nonfiction read for upper elementary and middle grade students. Its focus is on teaching young people the basics of nutrition, on how to be more aware of what they're putting in their bodies.  It is not a diet book, a how to lose weight book. If nothing else, the book will teach readers HOW to read food labels and basic definitions of key terms. 

In the first chapter, the focus is on macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats, and protein.  In the second chapter, the focus is on micronutrients: Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Calcium, Iron, Zinc, Potassium, and Sodium. In the third chapter, the focus is on how the body digests food. In the fourth chapter, the author provides sample menus and recipes for breakfast, lunch, supper, and morning and afternoon snacks. In the fifth chapter, the practical advice continues on how to make changes and establish good habits. This last chapter covers a little bit of everything: food safety (how long to keep food, how to tell if food has gone bad, etc), grocery shopping, eating out, etc.

The book is written for kids and with kids in mind. The advice is specifically for what growing, active children need to be eating to be healthy.

Nutrition books can become dated quickly, this one isn't as up-to-date as I'd like. But it still has some good, basic information.  One thing that makes it continue to be relevant is how reader-friendly it is.

My favorite chapter is probably the one on micronutrients. I loved learning what each nutrient does in the body, and which foods you should eat to get that nutrient.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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5. How to Create Interactive Timelines

If you're looking for an awesome online report option for biographies or nonfiction texts, you'll love Hstry.co. Hstry is a site where students can create cool looking, interactive timelines with text, images, videos, and embedded quizzes. 

These are really good looking timelines! If you don't believe me, check out this sample on World War I, or this one about the History of Immigration in theUnited States. And your students can create timelines that look just as good.

In my case, however, I didn't want a timeline. My sixth graders had just read nonfiction books of choice, with topics as varied as fashion, venomous animals, and accidental inventions. I needed a venue that would permit them to show off their topic's most interesting facts. So in my case, my students used the site to create linear collages rather than timelines. The video below (which I created and hosted for free at Screencast-O-Matic) walks you through one of those projects.




I spent a good deal of time modeling the process of creating a Hstry timeline in class (and you'll need to do the same), but some students were still somewhat fuzzy on all the steps even after I finished. Plus, three students were absent the day I modeled the how-to. So I created the following video which walks students through the process. Note: do not make a video when all you have for audio production is a dollar store microphone. The project sheet to which the video refers is here if you care to see it.



One downside to this site is that (at present) students cannot publicly share their projects. So in my class we did mini field trips. Students logged in and set up their projects on their screens. I then randomly distributed our class name cards, and students went and visited the Hstry project belonging to the classmate whose name appeared on the card. While visiting, my students provided feedback via a form I created. After two visits, all students were allowed to return to their projects, read the feedback form, and then make corrections as needed. Following these revisions, we conducted two more staged visits, and then students were permitted to visit as they chose or return to their own laptop to improve their work.

Sample Applications for the Classroom:

  • Create a timeline of historical events.
  • Create a biographical timeline.
  • Embed multiple videos, each with its own quiz.
  • Do what my students did, and use it as a linear collage for a nonfiction book.
  • Create your own timeline (as a teacher) to provide students with needed historical context they need before a new unit. 
Notes and Caveats:

  • Again, student timelines are not publicly visibly (yet), and may never be, so plan accordingly.
  • Check-off sheets like the one I created are key to help students manage the content they're adding.
  • Looking for other creative, tech-oriented ways to create book reports? Check out these 23 iPad Alternatives to the Book Report.
  • No, I did not really read the book about chickens, but I did spend summers running a farm at camp, so I know my way around a chicken coop.

0 Comments on How to Create Interactive Timelines as of 1/1/1900
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6. Review of the Day: Tricky Vic by Greg Pizzoli

Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower
By Greg Pizzoli
Viking (an imprint of Penguin Group USA)
$17.99
ISBN: 978-0-670-01652-5
Ages 8-11
On shelves now

I was listening to a favorite podcast of mine the other day when the panelists began discussing the difference between heist films and con man films.  A heist film is one where the entire movie is a build-up to a great and fabulous heist.  Ocean’s 11 and that sort of thing.  In the children’s book world this would be The Great Greene Heist.  A con man film is different.  There you have a single individual, and not necessarily a heroic one either.  Catch Me If You Can is a con man film.  And on the children’s book side?  Honestly, we don’t have a lot of them.  Maybe Pickle by Kim Baker but that’s a stretch.  It really wasn’t until I laid eyes on Greg Pizzoli’s Tricky Vic that I could appreciate what I had been missing all these years.  Told with a relaxed easygoing style, Pizzoli takes one of the world’s most notorious individuals in the con game, and refuses to humanize him.  Here we see a character that was larger than life.  Makes sense that he’d try to sell a structure that was in many ways his equal.

In 1890 he was born Robert Miller, but that didn’t last.  Names came and went and by the time he was an adult, Miller was a professional gambler turned con artist.  His preferred method of payment was gambling on transatlantic ocean liners but then along came WWI and Miller, now calling himself Count Victor Lustig, needed a new occupation.  Through a little low level trickery he got the blessing of Al Capone and then set about bilking the easy rich.  But his greatest feat, and the one that would put him down in the history books, was his successful con of “selling” the Eiffel Tower to prospective buyers.  Though in time he was eventually caught and jailed (in Alcatraz, no less), Vic’s odd life shines a spotlight on those individuals willing to get ahead on our own greed and misplaced hope.  Backmatter includes an Author’s Note, Glossary, Selected Sources, and a note on the art.

Every great picture book biography finds something about an individual that is interesting to child readers.  In The Boy Who Loved Math it was Paul Erdos’s sheer enthusiasm and childlike goofiness.  In The Noisy Paintbox it was Kandinsky’s ability to translate sound to sight and back again.  And in Tricky Vic it’s shamelessness.  Kids don’t often encounter, in any form, adults that unapologetically do wrong.  Vic ultimately pays for his crimes, and in many ways that’s the only way you can get away with what Pizzoli is doing here.  You see, the trouble with con man storylines is that they’re just too much fun.  You can’t help but root for Vic when he pulls the old Romanian Money Box scheme or when he cons the great Al Capone himself.  Really one of the few objections I’ve heard lobbed against the book is a question as to whether or not kids will have any interest in an obscure two-bit criminal.  But like all great nonfiction authors for kids, Pizzoli knows that children’s biographies do not begin and end with Amelia Earhart and Abraham Lincoln.  Sometimes kids appreciate far more the biographies of the people who didn’t go about with halos hovering around their ears.  There’s room on our shelves for the baddies.

Now when Greg Pizzoli debuted with his picture book The Watermelon Seed two years ago, there was nothing to indicate to me that he had any inclination to go the nonfiction route.  “The Watermelon Seed” utilizes a three-color print job and distinctly retro aesthetic.  That aesthetic remains intact in Tricky Vic but Pizzoli but the technique has been cranked up to eleven.  In “A Note About the Art in This Book” at the back, Pizzoli says that the illustrations seen here were “created using pencil, ink, rubber stamps, halftone photographs, silkscreen, Zipatone, and Photoshop.” The end result is a book that straddles the line between those picture books actually concocted in the 1930s and a distinctly contemporary creation.

Dig a little deeper and Pizzoli’s illustration choices go beyond mere novelty.  The choice to render Vic’s head as a thumbprint has so many different uses.  With a mere change in tone or color, Pizzoli can render his personality and character different from one page to the next.  This chameleon of a man couldn’t ask for better representation.  But much of the success of the book lies in how it tackles the question of Vic as a bad person.  Pizzoli’s choice to make Vic expressionless throughout the book is key to this.  Because kids aren’t exactly reading about a role model, it’s important that Vic never look like he’s having too much fun.  Remove his mouth and eyes and voila!  An instant blank slate on which to project your storyline.  Let the facts speak for themselves.

And speaking of facts, in no time in our nation’s history have picture book biographies for children fallen under as much scrutiny as they do today.  Time was the D’Aulaires could write varying fictional accounts of everyone from Pocahontas to Abraham Lincoln and win Caldecotts for their efforts.  These days, the debate rages around how much an author is allowed to do and the crux of that debate centers on made up dialogue.  I am firmly of the opinion that made up dialogue is unnecessary in a children’s book biography.  However, when handled creatively, there are exceptions to every rule.  And “Tricky Vic” is, if nothing else, vastly creative.  If you read the book the actual text is all factual.  There is some mucking about with the timeline of one of the major events in Vic’s life, but Pizzoli comes clean about that in his Author’s Note in the back, and I give a lot of credit to folks who fess up plainly.  Getting back to the text, look a little closer and you’ll see that there is some made up dialogue but Pizzoli keeps it at a minimum and gives it its own separate space.  Little speech balloons between the characters will occasionally crop up at the bottom of the pages.  The feeling is that these are interstitial fictional bits that simply support the rest of the text.  A reader doesn’t walk away from them thinking that they’re strict representations of the past.  They are, instead, a little colorful complement to the text to give it a lighter bouncier feel.

I recently conducted a Salon in my library on children’s nonfiction picture book illustration and historical accuracy.  During the course of the talk we discussed Vincent Kirsch’s work on Gingerbread for Liberty and the times when a bouncier, more light-hearted feel to the illustrations best fit the text.  In Tricky Vic Pizzoli isn’t going for a meticulous reconstruction of past events in his art.  He’s going for something with a historical feel, but with fun built in as well.  The design elements are what really step things up a notch.  I also loved the factual sidebars that complemented the text but never dominate.  As kids read they encounter sections talking about Prohibition, The Tower’s Critics (the folks who hated it from the get-go, that is), the Hotel de Crillon, Counterfeiting, and Alcatraz.  The end result is as dynamic as it is informative.

I wonder vaguely if this book will receive any challenges from concerned parents living in the mistaken belief that Pizzoli has penned a How To manual for little budding criminals.  As I mentioned before, the line between celebrating your biographical picture book subject and simply reporting on their life is thin.  The beauty of Tricky Vic, I think, is that his life is just as wild and weird as any fictional character.  There is value in showing kids the fools of the past.  I don’t think anyone will walk away from this thinking Vic had it all figured out, but I do think a fair number of them might want to follow-up on Pizzoli’s Selected Sources for a little independent reading of their own.  And if this book encourages just one kid to rethink their attitude towards nonfiction, then this title has earned its place in the world.  The gorgeous art and great writing are just gravy.  For one.  For all.  Un-forgettable.

On shelves now.

Source: Final copy sent from publisher for review.

Like This? Then Try:

Other Blog Reviews: 100 Scope Notes

Professional Reviews: The New York Times

Interviews: Greg Pizzoli discusses his technique at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

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1 Comments on Review of the Day: Tricky Vic by Greg Pizzoli, last added: 3/26/2015
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7. Books vs the Internet when it comes to children’s non-fiction

Many of you will be familiar with the scenario: your child comes home from school with instructions to research a topic for homework and the question then arises, how and where is this research to be done? More often than not, the school will tell your child to “use the internet”, but as we all know, simply googling something can turn up results that might be:

  • unwanted (those not easily offended could try looking online for a picture of Prince Albert (Queen Victoria’s consort) and you’ll see what I mean; I use this example because it is exactly what happened to a friend’s child),
  • indigestible (imagine a 6 year old wanting to learn about solar eclipses, and trying to make sense of the relevant Wikipedia entry),
  • or simply inaccurate because information can be placed online without any editorial process (take a look at some of the articles on MMR inoculation in the US, for example).
  • For all these reasons (and a few more), I prefer to encourage my kids to use books for their research; books can be selected so that I know they have been written with language my children can access, and they have been through a long editorial process to ensure accuracy. No children’s book on Prince Albert would ever include some of the images thrown up by Google.

    However, I was very interested to learn that Dorling Kindersley, renowned for their quality non-fiction books both for adults and children, recently launched a free, safe website for children (particularly 7-11 year olds), and also their parents and teachers: http://www.dkfindout.com/

    Screen shot 2014-11-04 at 13.03.34

    Drawing on Dorling Kindersley’s stunning image library and the wide range of content from its books’ backlist, DK FindOut! is full of potential.

    Screen shot 2014-11-04 at 13.05.15

    DK FindOut! is clean and beautiful, in a way that does make doing your homework a little bit more appealing.

    Screen shot 2014-11-04 at 15.11.46

    The website also offers some ways into knowledge, understanding and sparking curiosity which books can’t: it contains videos, it is fully accessible on all mobile devices and so is instantly available without any planning, and it makes adding visual content to homework projects very easy.

    We’ve used it quite a lot in the past month to support homework and my youngest finds the site easy to navigate and enjoys being on it.

    DKwebsite

    But we’ve not stopped using books…

    DKreferencebook

    Indeed, I personally still prefer to encourage my child to use books for her homework, not least because they are easier to share together, to sit around and discuss as we look at pictures or read text. Whilst the website is free, so too is a visit to the library. Whilst the website is in theory accessible anywhere any time, that’s dependent on your internet connection and any downtime on the site (it is still in beta mode and we have experienced a couple of occasions when, for example, the search function wasn’t available). A book on the other hand, either one you own or have borrowed from the library, is far more reliably accessible. It is not reliant on battery power or happy servers.

    http://www.dkfindout.com/ is, however, an exciting development. We’ve found it a useful place to start our research and I think lots of families and schools will find it interesting and helpful. The website will continue to grow over the course of the coming months. There are already some teachers’ lesson plans available, and there will be a special area for parents later in the year. As more and more content is added I’m sure we’ll be returning to use DK FindOut! again and again. I hope it heralds a new era in visually stunning, factually reliable, child-friendly websites.

    3 Comments on Books vs the Internet when it comes to children’s non-fiction, last added: 3/26/2015
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    8. A Great and Glorious Adventure

    A Great and Glorious Adventure: The Hundred Years War and the Birth of Renaissance England. Gordon Corrigan. 2013/2014. Pegasus. 320 pages. [Source: Library]

    A Great and Glorious Adventure was a sometimes fascinating read on the Hundred Years war. (Did England have a rightful claim to France? to rule certain domains in France? to the whole country? Corrigan explains why so many monarchs thought they did.)

    The opening chapters fill readers in on British History from William the Conqueror to Edward III. However, most of the book focuses on the reigns of Edward III, Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V. (The author has his favorites.)

    I would say a love for British history is an absolute must for this one. That isn't to say that every history lover will love this one. Yes, it's about history, but it's more military history, war, and battles. (So much detail is given for so many different battles and/or conflicts.)

    So the book is about England's ongoing conflicts with France, Scotland, and Wales over several centuries. Readers also learn a little bit about the Black Death. (But only a little bit).

    It is sometimes fascinating. I won't lie. There were chapters I enjoyed. But it is sometimes less than fascinating. There were chapters I just didn't enjoy all that much.

    If you enjoy reading about the War of Roses, and would like a better, stronger foundation for understanding it, then this one would be worth reading.



    © 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    9. #659 – Peace is an Offering by Annette LeBox & Stephanie Graegin

    9780803740914_medium_Peace_is_an_Offering

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    Peace is an Offering

    Written by Annette LeBox
    Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
    Dial Books for Young Readers         3/10/2015
    978-0-8037-4091-4
    40 pages          Age 3 to 5

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    “Peace is an offering.
    A muffin or a peach.
    A birthday invitation.
    A trip to the beach.

    “Follow these neighborhood children as they find love in everyday things—in sunlight shining through leaves and cookies shared with friends—and learn that peace is all around, if you just look for it.”

    Review

    Peace is an Offering contains a strong message about what the abstract concept of peace means for the young (and old): helping one another, being kind, joining together, and enjoying all aspects of life with respect to your family, friends, and neighbors. Peace does not need to be overcomplicated or forced. Peace is the accumulation of all the small, meaningful acts we do each day.

    “Will you stay with me?
    Will you be my friend?
    Will you listen to my story
    till the very end?”

    The children in this large neighborhood, make, find, and (most importantly), show kindness to each other every day in simple heartfelt ways. The poem is beautifully written and illustrated. Children will easily understand each deftly visualized line or verse of the poem. Multicultural children interact with each other, families spend time together, and friends stay close.

    peace is an offering 1

    What is not to love about Peace is an Offering? Nothing, though the spread alluding to 911 seems unnecessary. The verse feels out of place, as does the illustration, which deviates from the light, airy, everyday life depicted on the other spreads (see two examples here). but for those who lost a loved one or friend, the spread may provide comfort. Peace is an Offering is a gratifying read; uplifting and inspiring young and old alike. The author finishes the poem by offering advice to children.

    So offer a cookie,
    Walk away from a fight.
    Comfort a friend
    Through the long, dark night.

    I loved every aspect of every spread. The poetry speaks to the heart. Pencil and watercolor illustrations have those details I rave about. Simply said, Peace is an Offering is a joy to read.

    PEACE IS AN OFFERING. Text copyright © 2015 by Annette LeBox. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Stephanie Graegin. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Penguin Random House, NY.
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    Purchase Peace is an Offering at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryPenguin Random House.
    Learn more about Peace is an Offering HERE.

    Meet the author, Annette LeBox, at her website:  http://annettelebox.com/
    Meet the illustrator, Stephanie Graegin, at her website:  http://graegin.com/
    Find more picture books at Dial Books for Young Readers website:  http://www.penguin.com/meet/publishers/dialbooksforyoungreaders/

    Dial Books for Young Readers is an imprint of Penguin Random House.  http://www.penguin.com/children/

    Last Chance! VOTE for YOUR FAVORITE BEST BOOK for 2014 HERE.

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    Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

    Last Chance! VOTE for YOUR FAVORITE BEST BOOK for 2014 HERE.


    Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, NonFiction, Picture Book, Poetry Tagged: acceptance, Annette LeBox, Dial Books for Young Readers, family, friends, love, multicultural, peace, Peace is an Offering, Penguin Random House, relationships, Stephanie Graegin

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    10. The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch - a review

    Barton, Chris. 2015. The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.  Illustrated by Don Tate.

    The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch is a nonfiction picture book for school-age readers and listeners.  More than just an inspirational story of a former slave who becomes a landholder, judge, and United States Congressman, it is a story that focuses on the great possibilities presented during the period of Reconstruction.

    "In 1868 the U.S. government appointed a young Yankee general as a governor of Mississippi.  The whites who had been in charge were swept out of office.  By river and by railroad, John Roy traveled to Jackson to hand Governor Ames a list of names to fill those positions in Natchez.  After John Roy spoke grandly of each man's merits, the governor added another name to the list: John Roy Lynch, Justice of the Peace.

    Justice. Peace. Black people saw reason to believe that these were now available to them.  Just twenty-one, John Roy doubted that he could meet all those expectations. But he dove in and learned the law as fast as he could."

    Sadly, the reason that John Roy Lynch's story is amazing to today's reader is because the opportunities that abounded during  Reconstruction dried up and disappeared as quickly as they had come. The period of hope and optimism for African Americans in the years from 1865 to 1877, gets scant attention today. The life of John Roy Lynch is an excellent lens through which to view Reconstruction.

    To make sometimes difficult scenes accessible to younger readers, Don Tate employs a self-described, "naive ... even whimsical" style.  It works well with the sepia-tinged hues that help to set the time frame.

    The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch is a powerful, historical reminder of what was, what might have been, and what is.

    A Timeline, Historical Note, Author's Note, Illustrator's Note, For Further Reading, and maps round out the book.

    Advance Reader Copy provided by








    A reminder: Today is Nonfiction Monday.

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    11. Books to encourage family adventures outdoors

    Ever wanted to be a little more adventurous with your family? To take on the role of intrepid outdoor explorers? To feel inspired to leave the cosy comforts and instantly gratifying screens indoors for the wind in your hair and the sun on your face?

    100 Family Adventures by Tim, Kerry, Amy and Ella Meek and Wild Adventures by Mick Manning and Brita Granström might be just the books to encourage you -and crucially your children – to wrap up warm and head for the great outdoors.

    outdooradventurebooks

    Both books offer up a banquet of ideas for family activities and explorations outdoors ranging from building dens with branches and leaves to sleeping outdoors without a tent, from fishing for your supper to foraging for food from hedgerows, from flying kites to learning to kayak.

    The Meek Family have taken a year off from their regular jobs and schools to spend 12 months adventuring around the UK in a camper van (you can follow their journey on their blog). 100 Family Adventures is their first book and draws upon their experience of making a conscious effort to spend more time outdoors as a family. As well as 100 activities, there are jokes, tips and facts contributed by the entire family, including the children.

    In Wild Adventures, Mick Manning and Brita Granström also draw upon the outdoor play and activities they enjoy with their four children, and whilst there is some overlap in the projects suggested in the two books, the approach taken in each is quite different.

    Making and sleeping in a homemade shelter: 100 Family Adventures

    Making and sleeping in a homemade shelter: 100 Family Adventures

    Shelters: Wild Adventures

    Shelters: Wild Adventures

    100 Family Adventures is full of photos of the Meek family and their friends doing the activities suggested, whilst Wild Adventures is richly hand illustrated in pencil and watercolour, giving it a hand-made feel rather than something rather sleek and glossy. Whilst photos are “evidence” that the activities suggested can genuinely be done by children and families, Granström’s illustrations show a different truth; that the great outdoors can be enjoyed by any child, not just white able-bodied children.

    Sometimes when I read activity or craft books my reading is aspirational; it’s about daydreaming a life in different circumstances. Sometimes, however, I want something with the messiness that is more familiar from my family life. For me, 100 Family Adventures falls into the former category. The adventures they suggest are all amazing, but quite a lot of them require expensive equipment, relatively long distance travel and some serious planning (for example skiing, sailing, kayaking and even some of the camping adventures they suggest e.g. winter camping). Wild Adventures, on the other hand, is much more “domestic” in scale. Although the projects are designed for engaging with a wilder outdoors than that simply found in your back garden, they are not about extreme adventuring. Having said that, 100 Family Adventures is partly about going out of your comfort zone and extending yourself and your family and so it’s not surprising that some of the ideas require more money, time and preparation.

    Tracking and casting animal footprints: 100 Family Adventures

    Tracking and casting animal footprints: 100 Family Adventures

    Making plaster casts of animal tracks: Wild Adventures

    Making plaster casts of animal tracks: Wild Adventures

    Whilst Wild Adventures is perhaps the book I would choose for my own family, I really like the physical properties of 100 Family Adventures. It has been produced in a chunky format with a flexi-hardcover, making it easy to bung in a rucksack and take on adventures outdoors. Manning and Granström’s lovely book on the other hand is currently only available in hardback with a dust jacket, making it more suitable for reading indoors.

    Having listened with interest to what translator and editor Daniel Hahn had to say recently about the value of opinion alongside fact in a day an age of easily found information, I’ve been thinking a lot in the past few days about my reviews and the balance between fact and opinion. These two books, both from the same publisher, on essentially the same topic have reminded me that different styles of books suit different people and that I should remain aware of this when reviewing books. Something I read may be just the sort of thing my family will love, but I shouldn’t forget that other families may like different things. So whilst Wild Adventures is my book of choice today, do look out both and see which suits you and your family… and then let me know which of the two YOU prefer!

    Inspired by Wild Adventures we took to the seaside last month and made faces out of objects we found along the shoreline.

    beach1

    beach2

    beach5

    There really is nothing like having your own family adventure outdoors.

    beach3

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    12. Celebrating Women's History Month with Leontyne Price & Mahalia Jackson (ages 5-9)

    We celebrate Women's History Month each year, reading picture book biographies, investigating women through online sources and talking about women in our community. I'm happy to share today two new picture book biographies of inspiring African American singers, gospel singer Mahalia Jackson and opera singer Leontyne Price.
    Mahalia Jackson
    Walking with Kings and Queens
    by Nina Nolan
    illustrated by John Holyfield
    Amistad / HarperCollins, 2015
    Your local library
    Amazon
    ages 5-9
    Nolan introduces young readers to Mahalia Jackson, putting her life, passion and achievements in context. Right from the beginning, readers understand that music meant everything to Mahalia. I just love this opening spread:
    "People might say little Mahalia Jackson was born with nothing, but she had something all right. A voice that was bigger than she was."
    Although she was surrounded by all types of music in New Orleans and Chicago, Mahalia found comfort singing in church--especially given the hard times she experienced as a child. Nolan especially emphasizes Jackson's determination to pursue her singing and stay true to herself and her passion for gospel.
    "Mahalia sang for as many people as she could. She knew gospel lifted people up. And when you know something like that, you've got to tell it to the world."
    This is an important addition to our collection of picture book biographies. Pair this with Andrea Davis Pinkney's Martin and Mahalia: His Words, Her Song.
    Leontyne Price:
    Voice of a Century
    by Carole Boston Weatherford
    illustrated by Raul Colón
    Knopf / Random House, 2015
    Your local library
    Amazon
    ages 5-9
    I adore the beauty and strength in this new biography of opera singer Leontyne Price. Weatherford clearly introduces Price's life, showing how difficult it was for her to pursue singing as a career. Leontyne's family supported her passion for music: "Their song of encouragement rose above the color line." But it was Marian Anderson, the African American opera singer who gave a famous performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1939, who truly inspired Price.
    "Singing along to her daddy James's records and listening to the Metropolitan Opera's Saturday-afternoon radio broadcasts...
    Art songs and arias, shaping a brown girl's dreams."
    Weatherford's language is poetic and beautiful, yet always simple enough for young students to understand.
    "Leontyne was never more majestic than as Aida, playing the part she was born to sing... Standing on Marian's shoulders, Leontyne gave the crowd goose bumps. The song of her soul soared on the breath of her ancestors."
    Raul Colón's soft watercolor illustrations capture Price's grace and grandeur, while still feeling personal. An inspiring combination of text and artwork that draws children to it right away.

    Mahalia Jackson illustrations ©2015 by John Holyfield; used with permission from HarperCollins. Leontyne Price illustrations ©2015 by Raul Colón; used with permission from Random House. The review copies were kindly sent by the publishers. 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.

    ©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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    13. #657 – We’re the Center of the Universe!: Science’s Biggest Mistakes About Astronomy and Physics Series: Science Gets It Wrong by Christine Zuchora-Walske

    cover

     

     

    We’re the Center of the Universe!: Science’s Biggest Mistakes About Astronomy and Physics

    Series:  Science Gets It Wrong
    Written by Christine Zuchora-Walske
    Lerner Publishing Group         9/1/2014
    978-1-4677-3663-3
    32 pages          Age 9 to 12
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    “The universe circles around Earth.
    Creatures live on the Sun.
    You can tell the future by looking at the Stars.

    At one time, science supported wild notions like these! But later studies proved these ideas were nonsense. Discover science’s biggest mistakes and oddest assumptions about physics and astronomy, and see how scientific thought changes over time.”

    Review

    Why is Pluto no longer a planet? What makes waves ebb and flow as they do? How did the universe begin? We’re the Center of the Universe will answer these questions and many more in this truly fascinating read. Even non-science buffs will find We’re the Center of the Universe interesting.

    We’re the Center of the Universe packs a wild punch. Kids can learn about some of the greatest thinkers and scientists throughout history, and how their thoughts and postulates—once considered true—are now terribly off base. The physical sciences change with time. New information and tools improve research. New scientists bring new ideas. We’re the Center of the Universe will have kids laughing—and thinking—about the beliefs people once held, but as the author states,

    “. . . in the future, people might think our scientific ideas are pretty goofy too!”

    I loved the book and found it difficult to put down. Well-written and well-researched, kids will be drawn into to this primer on the misconceptions regarding our world and universe, specifically in the areas of physics and astronomy. The illustrations and photographs are fantastic and teachers can quickly incorporate We’re the Center of the Universe into the Common Core requirements.  

    1sp

    Ms. Christine Zuchora-Walske knows how to write non-fiction for children. We’re the Center of the Universe is not a dry textbook, but rather a great adjunct text, a quick reference, and a fun read. In the resources section, she thoughtfully summarizes each book and website so readers can quickly find more information about whatever sparked their interest.

    From ancient times to modern times, science continues to change and, sometimes, old ideas and thoughts are simply funny or just odd. Kids will find much to laugh about and learn inside the covers of We’re the Center of the Universe.
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    WE’RE THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE! : SCIENCE’S BIGGEST MISTAKES ABOUT ASTRONOMY AND PHYSICS (SCIENCE GETS IT WRONG). Text copyright © 2014 by Christine Zuchora-Walske. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Lerner Publishing Group, Minneapolis, MN.
    x
    Learn more about We’re the Center of the Universe! HERE.
    Purchase We’re the Center of the Universe! at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryLerner Publishing Group.

    Meet the author, Christine Zuchora-Walske at her Lerner bio:  https://www.lernerbooks.com/contacts/987/Christine-Zuchora-Walske
    View  Christine Zuchora-Walske’s linkedin page:  https://www.linkedin.com/pub/christine-zuchora-walske/5/998/847
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SevenCsEditorial
    Find more from the Science Gets it Wrong series at the Lerner Publishing website:  https://www.lernerbooks.com/

    DON’T FORGET to VOTE for YOUR FAVORITE BEST BOOK for 2014 HERE.

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    Last Chance! VOTE for YOUR FAVORITE BEST BOOK for 2014 HERE.


    Filed under: 4stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, NonFiction, Series Tagged: astronomy for kids, Christine Zuchora-Walske, Lerner Publishing Group, physics for kids, scientific misconceptions, We're the Center of the Universe!: Science's Biggest Mistakes About Astronomy and Physics (Science Gets It Wrong)

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    14. But, Then, I Like Art Museums

    Meet Me at the Art Museum by David Goldin is one of the easiest to take instructive picture books I can recall reading in quite some time. It uses the old night-at-the-museum situation with a docent's name tag giving a ticket stub an after-hours tour.

    This thing gets really simplistic, going so far as to explain what a coat check room is and that there are signs all over the place telling you what to do. But, you know, it's a picture book. It's for kids who presumably have never been into a museum. When I go to a museum, I like to go to the coat check first thing.

    What a curator does, what a conservator does, what an archivist does, what a historical artifact is...I love this stuff. I also loved the reproductions of artwork sprinkled throughout the book. On page 14 you'll see A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte by Georges-Pierre Seurat or, as one of my kids once told me, A Picture of a Woman Walking Her Monkey. I don't know why I'm so fond of that work.

    Meet Me at the Art Museum would be a fine addition for libraries, schools...and museum bookstores!

    0 Comments on But, Then, I Like Art Museums as of 3/18/2015 11:06:00 PM
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    15. Review of I, Fly

    heos_i flyI, Fly: The Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are
    by Bridget Heos; illus. by Jennifer Plecas
    Primary   Holt   40 pp.
    3/15   978-0-8050-9469-5   $17.99   g

    An adorable fly — googly-eyed, fuzzy-bodied, and with a winning smile, as portrayed in Plecas’s funny but informative cartoon illustrations — makes a compelling argument for why he should be the science-class representative for insect life cycles instead of the overexposed, annoyingly perfect butterfly. He pleads his case in front of a skeptical classroom audience, who grill the fly about his more unsavory habits (garbage-eating, disease-spreading). Eventually convinced that “Flies rule!” the students capture the fly for scientific study, and he quickly changes his tune, pleading for his release. Heos cleverly skewers the classic elements of the typical animal book — the insect life cycle is told through a sappy reminiscence, and the point-by-point comparisons to butterflies and mosquitoes highlight just what makes an insect an insect. Those educators also weary of the primary-science butterfly bias will find this take on insects refreshing, amusing, and scientifically accurate. Appended with a glossary, select bibliography, and list of experts (presumably consulted).

    From the March/April 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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    16. Determined (2014)

    Determined. A. Avraham Perlmutter. 2014. Mascherato Publishing. 172 pages. [Source: Review copy]

    For anyone with an interest in World War II and/or the Holocaust, you should consider reading the memoir Determined by A. Avraham Perlmutter. I am always eager to read more, so, I was happy to receive a copy of this for review.

    The first third of the memoir focuses on the war itself. On his experience as a Jew during World War II trying to survive. Readers also learn about his family, his background, his childhood, Hitler's rise to power, etc. Everything readers need to know and understand to appreciate his personal story.

    The final two-thirds of the memoir focus on his life AFTER the war sharing his experiences in Europe, in Israel, and finally the United States. This section focuses more on moving on with his life and establishing himself. Readers see him as a survivor, a soldier, a student, a husband, a father, and an engineer. The story of his life is so much more than just a surviving-the-war story.

    The book includes plenty of photographs and documents to supplement the story.

    I'm glad I read this one.
    © 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    17. Devil at My Heels (2004)

    Devil at My Heels. Louis Zamperini and David Rensin. 1956/2004. Harper Perennial. 292 pages. [Source: Library]

    I loved reading Unbroken. As soon as I found out that Louis Zamperini had written an autobiography, I NEEDED to read it. I hoped that it would be equally compelling and just as fascinating. It was. It really was. I honestly don't know if I could pick which one was "better." His story is worth reading no matter the book you choose.

    Devil At My Heels is Zamperini's autobiography. In this book, readers learn about his growing up, his delinquent years, how his brother persuaded him to try running track, his early races and training days, how running 'saved' his life and put him on the right track, his 1936 Olympic experience, his college years, his joining the army air force, his war experiences, his surviving a horrible plane crash, how he survived almost fifty days at sea in a raft, his 'resue' from sea by the Japanese, his time in a Japanese POW camp, his return to the U.S, his popularity, his inner struggles, his marriage, his conversion experiences, his days as a speaker, how it was 'easy' for him to forgive the Japanese, how he tried to meet all his former prison guards, etc.

    This one fascinates from cover to cover. I liked hearing the story in his own words. Both books are packed with detail, but, the focus isn't always in the same places.


    © 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    18. Rockin' the Boat

    Rockin' the Boat: 50 Iconic Revolutionaries - From Joan of Arc to Malcom X Jeff Fleischer

    Woo-hoo! I'm back on Zest's Rockin' Blog Tour.

    Much like Members Only: Secret Societies, Sects, and Cults Exposed! this new offering by Zest is a little more text-y than previous similar titles, and is a more YA-friendly trim size.

    In this one, Fleischer looks at 50 iconic revolutionaries (in case you couldn't figure that out from the subtitle) with a brief introduction to their life, any context you need to know about what they were rebelling against, and what their revolution was. Most also have a pull-out box or two about the lasting legacy of their rebellion or how history and/or pop culture has changed their story (such as the real story of William Wallace vs. Braveheart)

    Arranged in chronological order, the first part is pretty heavy on the anti-Romans (Hannibal! Boudica! Cleopatra!) Sam Adams, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson are here, as are Metacom, Tecumseh, Geronimo, Sitting Bull, and Liliukalani. Other Americans include Daniel Shays, John Brown, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Emma Goldman, Cesar Chavez, Malcom X and Marting Luter King, Jr. (If I counted correctly, 19 are Americans or were rebelling against something in the US, or doing it in what would become the US.)

    It's not all white guys, and it's not all winners, which is a serious win. I also like while they are all certainly political revolutionaries, it's a nice blend between reformers and those who went to war. I would have liked to see more outside of the Americas and Europe, especially some less-known names. I mean some of these Americans are a bit obscure (Mary Harris Jones), and some of the early European ones definitely are (Vercingetroix, Arminus, Owain Glyndwr) but most of the ones south of the US aren't (Che, Castro, Simon Bolivar, Pancho Villa) And the ones that are further afield are pretty well known (Mao Zedong, Gandhi, Ho Chi Minh, Ataturk, Nelson Mandela). The one exception is New Zealand, where we get Hone Heke and Kate Sheppard.

    It's a great introduction to some serious empire building and tearing down (as much as there is a lot of focus on the anti-Romans--8 out of 50, it also really shows the sweep of the Roman Empire, as well as its definite limits.) As well as major political movements, which still very much shape our world today.

    While it's an easy one to dip in and out of, I recommend reading it in order, as many of the revolutions build on each other, or reference each other, so the context from a previous chapter is often useful, which is why the chronological order works so well here. Everything's only 3-5 pages, but it covers enough so people know what went down and why. IT's also short enough you think "oh, I can read just one more" and then you end up finishing the book in one session. (NOT THAT DID THAT. *whistles while looking innocent*) This is a great one for a wide range of readers and I really really really wish it had been around in 2012 when the National History Day theme was "Revolution, Reaction, and Reform". So many teens didn't know where to even start picking one-- I would have loved to be able to have them leaf through this book for inspiration!

    Another fun and engaging, but still wildly informative, one from Zest.



    Book Provided by... Zest, for blog tour inclusion

    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.

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    19. The Last Jews in Berlin

    The Last Jews in Berlin. Leonard Gross. 1982/2015. Open Road Media. 343 pages. [Source: Review copy]

    The Last Jews in Berlin was a good read. It was oh-so-close to being a great read every now and then. What I loved about this one were the personal stories. These stories were the heart of the book. Readers get to meet dozens of people and follow their stories. As you can imagine, these stories can be intense.

    Instead of telling each person's story one at a time, one after the other, the book takes a more chronological approach. The book is told in alternating viewpoints. Is this for the best? On the one hand, I can see why this approach makes it more difficult for readers to follow individuals, to keep track of each person's story. Just when you get good and attached to a certain person's narrative, it changes. It takes a page or two perhaps before you reconnect with the next narrator and get invested in that unfolding story. On the other hand, telling the story like this sets a certain tone, increases tension and suspense, and avoids repetition. So I can see why it makes sense. The method of storytelling didn't bother me.

    Probably the one thing I learned from reading this is that there were Jews working with the Nazis and turning other Jews in. That there were Jews betraying one another trying to survive. One simply didn't know who to trust.

    At the same time, the book shares stories of people who were trustworthy, people who were willing to risk their own lives to help Jews. Life was hard for everyone: but some were willing to share their food and open up their homes at great risk. The book did show that not every person supported the Nazis and their philosophy. There were people who disagreed and were willing to do the right thing.

    It's an emotional book, very intense in places.
    © 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    20. Writing Nonfiction Using Fiction Techniques

    People understand that it takes creativity to write fiction.  But many don’t understand that it also takes creativity to write nonfiction.   As a nonfiction author I write true stories-but they are still stories.  When teaching students or teachers how to write nonfiction, I explain it like this: 

    I don’t create the facts,
    I use the facts creatively. 

    Nonfiction is based on facts found in primary source documents.  How an author uses those facts is what makes the difference between text that reads like a novel or a textbook.  The creative part of writing nonfiction is finding a way to keep the reader turning pages to see what happens next-and at the same time telling the story accurately.  To accomplish this goal, I use fiction techniques such as dialogue, sensory details, foreshadowing, pacing and all the rest. 

    Let’s look at just one fiction technique I use in nonfiction books:  dialogue.  In my books, the dialogue comes from direct quotes from documented primary sources.  Teachers, students and readers can go to source notes in the back matter to see exactly where the quote was found. 

    I’m often asked, how do I know
    when to use a direct quote,
    and when not to? 
     
    I use a direct quote to accomplish one of three things:

    1. To show characterization
    2. To increase tension
    3. To have greater impact


    Below are a few examples from my books that demonstration how I used quotes as dialogue.  

     


    To show characterization:


    In one chapter of Fourth Down and Inches: Concussions and Football’s Make-or-Break Moment (Carolrhoda) I’m making the point about how football has become part of the American culture.  In this example, I quote Kevin Turner because it shows characterization of a passionate football player.   

    “Kevin Turner, a former NFL player, still remembers the excitement of his high school football days. He recalls, “When I woke up on game day. I couldn’t wait until it was time for the kickoff. Wearing my jersey to school on game day was a big part of the experience. At game time, when I ran out on the field and heard the announcer call my name in the starting lineup, it was a rush, like nothing else. It was like having Christmas sixteen times a year. My parents were proud of me. Nearly everyone in our small town was cheering in the stands and spontaneously reacting to what happened on the fields. It was magical.”

    


    To increase tension:


    In this scene from Something Out of Nothing: Marie Curie and Radium (FSG), I am showing this famous scientist at a difficult moment in her life.  At the same time Curie was planning to build the Radium Institute, the shed where she and her late husband, Pierre, discovered radium was going to be torn down.   I quoted Marie Curie’s own words about how she felt about visiting the shed for the last time.   

    “I made my last pilgrimage there, alas, alone.  On the blackboard there was still the writing of him who had been the soul of the place; the humble refuge for his research was all impregnated with his memory.  The cruel reality seemed some bad dream; I almost expected to see the tall figure appear, and to hear the sound of the familiar voice.”


     


    To have greater impact:

    Varian Fry, an American journalist, volunteered to go to Marseilles, France, in 1940 to rescue refugees from the Nazis.  This scene from In Defiance of Hitler: The Secret Mission of Varian Fry (FSG), is about the moment he arrives in the city.  Fry wrote about this moment, so I chose to quote the entire segment exactly as he wrote it because his own words had greater impact than if I had paraphrased what happened.   

    “’Aha, an American,’ he said in a gravel-rough voice.
    “Yes,” I said, trying to keep my voice calm.
    “Marseilles is like your New York City at rush hour, eh?”  he said, smiling. 
    I smiled back.  “Quite a mob,” I said. 
    “Refugees.  Pouring down from the north,” he said.  “We would like to pour them back.  But the Boches [Germans] have occupied Paris.  So the refugees all run to Marseille to hide, or maybe sneak across the border.  But they won’t escape.  Sooner of later we arrest all the illegal ones.”  He smiled again. 
    “Too bad for them,” I said.
    “Too bad for them; too bad for us!”  He gave me my passport.  Enjoy your stay in our country,” he said.  “But why you visit us at this unsettled time, I don’t know.”
    His eyes narrowed, and I thought he looked at me suspiciously.  But as I went out through the gate, I decided it was my imagination.  He knew nothing of the lists in my pockets, nor did he know I had come to smuggle out of France the people whose names were on those lists.”

    



    All three at once:

    Many times, one quote like the example below accomplishes all three goals of characterization, tension and greater impact at the same time.  The following section from The Many Faces of George Washington: Remaking a Presidential Icon (Carolrhoda) shows Washington in the days leading up to the historic crossing of the Delaware.  
      
    “The Continental Army was in real trouble. At the beginning of the war, most soldiers had enlisted for short periods of time. Now that things were going badly, they left as soon as their enlistment commitment expired. At the beginning of December 1776, about half of Washington’s men went home.  He knew that the enlistment for many more would expire at the end of the month. General Washington had to do something fast to raise the moral of his men, or he would soon have no army to lead. David Ackerson, one of his commanders, recalled seeing General Washington at this time saying, “he was standing near a small camp-fire, evidently lost in thought and making no effort to keep warm . . . His mouth was his strong feature, the lips being always tightly compressed. That day they were compressed so tightly as to be painful to look at.”


     
    When writing nonfiction, when you use quotes and how you use them makes all the difference. 

    Carla Killough McClafferty

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    21. Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees, by Franck Prévot (ages 7-12)

    Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her work helping women throughout Africa planting trees to improve the environment and their quality of life. As we celebrate Women's History Month, I am excited to share this new picture book about her struggles and accomplishments with my students.
    Wangari Maathai
    The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees
    by Franck Prévot
    illustrated by Aurélia Fronty
    Charlesbridge, 2015
    Your local library
    Amazon
    ages 7-12
    *best new book*
    Maathai's political activism shines through in this biography, in her determination to reverse environmental damage caused by large, colonial plantations and empower local villagers--especially women--to improve their local conditions. Prévot begins by introducing young readers to Maathai's legacy:
    "It's almost as if Wangari Maathai is still alive, since the trees she planted still grow. Those who care about the earth as Wangari did can almost hear her speaking... Wangari encouraged many village women. She dug holes with them in the red soil--holes in which to plant hope for today and forests for tomorrow."
    As Prévot tells Maathai's story, he emphasizes how her childhood and her education shaped Wangari, especially, in a time when very few African women went to school or learned to read.
    "When Wangari planted a large-leafed ebony tree or an African tulip tree, she was reminded of her own roots."
    This biography allows students to develop a deeper understanding of the political, economic and social structures Maathai stood up against. I love being able to share with students the value of reading more than one book on a subject, seeing how different authors draw out different details. I would start by reading Seeds of Change, by Jen Cullerton Johnson, and watching a short video. If you build background knowledge, students can then dig into statements such as this:
    "The government officials who built their fortunes by razing forests try to stop Wangari. Who is this woman who confronts them with a confident voice in a country where women are supposed to listen and lower their eyes in men's presence?"
    The illustrations are striking and stylized, lush and vibrant. I especially noticed how Fronty varies the rich, saturated background colors on each spread, adding to the emotions. Just look how bold and strong the red is below--and notice how it contrasts to the cool greens and blues above:
    "Wangari believes confident women have an important role to play in their families, their villages, and on the entire African continent."
    This is truly an outstanding picture book biography. Prévot finishes with a detailed timeline of Maathai's life, illustrated with several photographs. This background material is both easy to access, written in short chunks, but also detailed to give a rich picture of her struggles and achievements.
    From the backmatter -- timeline, informaiton about Kenya today, the damage caused by deforestation
    Illustrations ©2011 by Aurelia Fronty; originally published in France. Used with permission from Charlesbridge. The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher. 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.

    ©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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    22. Members Only: Secret Societies, Sects, and Cults--Exposed

    I'm super excited that Zest asked me to be part of their Rockin' Blog Tour and let me have 2 dates and 2 books to talk about! As frequent readers, and anyone who's heard me present about nonfiction knows, I love Zest's work.

    Members Only: Secret Societies, Sects, and Cults Exposed! Julie Tibbott

    So, I was expecting this to be along the lines of previous Zest titles such as Scandalous!: 50 Shocking Events You Should Know About (So You Can Impress Your Friends), Historical Heartthrobs: 50 Timeless Crushes-From Cleopatra to Camus, and The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions From Pop Culture That You Should Know About...Before It's Too Late, but about secret societies and shady groups.

    In essence, it is, but it's a little more text-y and has a different trim size-- 9 by 6 inches instead of 6 inches square. I'm a big fan of YA nonfiction having a more standard trim size, so YAY for trim size.

    Tibbott introduces us to 22 different secret or exclusive groups, giving their history, what they do, and what's secret about them (if anything). (And here's where I mean it's a bit more texty--it's slightly longer, but covers fewer things than the previous books, with bigger pages. Also, the design has fewer pull-out boxes.) It's a great introduction to groups--some of which teens will have heard of, some of which they'll probably hear of at some point, and some of which they may never come across again.

    The format is a great one for browsing, or just dipping in and out of. They're arranged in alphabetical order, which makes for a few jarring transitions-- Branch Davidians go to Club 33 (a super exclusive dining room club at Disneyland) or the Society for Creative Anachronism leading into the Symbionese Liberation Army (which also just gives a good sense of the wide range of groups covered.) After each group, there's also a few pages of further information--usually a brief introduction to several other similar groups, or an interview with someone involved in the group (including a young Freemason.) I also appreciate that, when appropriate, she offers hotlines and other places for help if you or someone you know is effected by a similar group or related issues (such as hazing or cult membership.)

    Now, I'm an educated adult, so I knew about several of the groups (Skull and Bones, Freemasons, Know-Nothings, SCA, SLA) and there were more that I had heard of, but didn't know a lot about (La Santa Muerte--Shapeshifted now makes more sense--Thuggees, The Hellfire Club) and some I had never heard of before (The Bilderberg Group, Club 33, The Machine). So, something for everyone.

    Like Zest's other titles, it's a great introduction to some really big movements or ideas, done in a way that will appeal to a wide range of readers. It's a perfect book for extremely reluctant readers, and your more hardcore readers will also love it--and then come back wanting to know more about certain groups.

    Also, bonus for Arrested Development fans-- The Magic Castle is covered, which gives some great background to Gob and the Gothic Castle and Magician's Alliance. So we all have "Final Countdown" in our heads now, right? Good.

    Come back on Friday for my review of Rockin' the Boat: 50 Iconic Revolutionaries - From Joan of Arc to Malcom X and in the meantime, check out the rest of the tour.


    Book Provided by... the publisher, for Blog Tour inclusion.

    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.

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    23. Call the Midwife (2002)

    Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times. Jennifer Worth. 2002/2009. Penguin. 340 pages. [Source: Library]

    I have now read all three of Jennifer Worth's memoirs. Yes, I read the first book in the series last because that's how the library fated it. This actually worked out okay because I was familiar enough with the television adaptation. First, I want to mention that I loved, loved, loved, LOVED the tv show. Did I enjoy the books as much, did I enjoy them equally well? Probably not. I loved the show more, I did. I'll be honest about that from the start.

    But did I enjoy the books? Yes. I definitely did. But was the first book my favorite? I can't say that it was. There were things I liked/loved about all three books. And. There were things I didn't quite like about all three books.

    What didn't I enjoy? Well. In this first book, for example, there are several chapters where the focus is on prostitution, the focus shifts in the narrative because Jenny Lee has met a pregnant prostitute, Mary, who's trying to escape her pimp and find somewhere (relatively) safe to keep her baby. As you might expect, it's a dark, ugly, nightmarish world she's describing. I don't fault her for being realistic and matter of fact. But the amount of detail involved in the telling is a bit much at times. I think it could have been retold with a little less detail and still conveyed the same impact.

    What did I enjoy? Well, there was plenty to enjoy! Most of the chapters were enjoyable enough. Many of these chapters have been adapted as episodes for the show--though not all, I believe. And in some cases, the book presents a much fuller picture.

    As far as the trilogy goes, there is in some ways a lot less focus on romance when compared to the adaptation. (Jane's romance being an exception in the second book.) But the trilogy is worth reading, maybe not for ALL fans, but for many fans. (I will say that the book is more graphic in description than the tv show.)

    © 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    24. Mould breaking non-fiction: Nature’s Day

    Natures_Day_CVR-360x359Spring has sprung in our neck of the woods and it’s putting a big smile on my face! The afternoons and weekends where we just want to be outside have begun, and we’ve a sumptuous book to inspire us to look with new season’s eyes at the growth and activity all around us in the garden, parks and streets nearby; Nature’s Day written by Kay Maguire, illustrated by Danielle Kroll.

    This chocolate-box of a book takes 8 different outdoor locations and follows them from Spring through to Winter (in the Northern hemisphere), watching changes in nature as plants and wildlife go through their seasonal cycles. Like a spotter’s guide, pages are packed with incredibly pretty illustrations, with short text dotted all around introducing readers to different sights and sounds relating to the highlighted flora and fauna.

    As the very first sentence of this charming book reminds us, nature is indeed everywhere – not just in remote countryside; the locations chosen tend to be those created by humans, such as the vegetable patch, the farm, the orchard and the street. These are settings which many children may have access to nearby (as opposed to looking at nature in wild landscapes relatively untouched by human activity), making this book accessible and meaningful to families even in urban settings.

    30-1920x960

    You can enjoy the book chronologically, comparing each location at the same time of year or you can dip in and out, enjoying each section as a stand-alone. The stylized handwriting font used in places may make it a little more of a challenge to new readers to enjoy on their own, but it adds to the “hand made” feeling this book has, from its cloth cover to its design reminiscent of a flower press, full of individually chosen treasures.

    Natures-Day-4-1920x960

    One of a new breed of children’s non-fiction books which are not only informative but also utterly gorgeous to look at, making them appeal to readers who might otherwise claim to be less interested in “fact books”, Nature’s Day breaks the mould and seduces its readers.

    Natures-Day-3-1920x960

    Inspired by the book’s design and focus on the changing seasons I designed a card for my girls to make, using pressed flowers and a rotating wheel.

    cardtemplate

    Using the template above (you can download the two pieces here and here, ready to print onto A4), I cut out a window and side slot in a piece of folded A4 card. For each card I also cut out one wheel. The kids then glued pressed flowers onto the outside of the card (a collage with pictures of flowers/plants cut from magazines or catalogues would also work well).

    flowers3

    flowers2

    Whilst the glue dried, the girls drew a picture for each season on the quarters of the wheel, and when that was completed, I used a split pin (paper fastener) to attach the wheel to the inside of the card, so that it could rotate round the whole year.

    flowers4

    I don’t often make product specific recommendations, but my girls are using these pencils which they’ve recently discovered and really, really love. They have coloured rubbers and a place to write your name on each pencil, as well as being really bright colours which easily leave good strong marks.

    flowers1

    I don’t know about you, but I think this card design could make a great mother’s/father’s day card – perhaps with some inscription like “I love you all year round” inside :-)

    Whilst making our cards we listened to:

  • Springtime: It’s My Favorite by Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs
  • Summer Song by Joe McDermott
  • Falling by Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights
  • Another Good Year by Lori Henriques
  • Other activities which would go well with reading Nature’s Day include:

  • Collecting twigs to use in a “trees through the season” painting activity, as inspired by this idea from KCEdventures.
  • Using pinecones and wool to create your own wood through the seasons, using this idea from Project Kid.
  • Going on a nature treasure hunt, with sticky sandwich boards to collect your finds on, just as we did here.
  • What are you going to do today to get out into nature? :-) Which books will you be taking with you as you go outside and explore?

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher

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    25. #655 – Bigfoot is Missing by J. Patrick Lewis and Kenn Nesbitt & MinaLima

    bigfoot cover

     

     

    Bigfoot is Missing!

    J. Patrick Lewis and Kenn Nesbitt (Children’s Poet Laureates, past and present)
    Illustrated by MinaLima (Miraphora Mina & Eduardo Lima)
    Chronicle Books          4/1/2015
    978-1-4521-1895-6
    40 pages      Ages 7+

     

    “What beast stalks the dim northern forests?
    What horror tunnels under the sands of the desert?
    What monster lies in wait beneath murky lake water?

    “Bigfoot, the Mongolian Death Worm, the Loch Ness Monster—these and many more creatures lurk within these pages. Are they animals yet discovered? Are they figments of imagination? Only eerie whispers and sinister rumors give us hints at the truth.

    “Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis (2011-2013) and Children’s Poet Laureate Kenn Nesbitt (2013-2015) team up to offer a tour of the creatures of shadowy myth and fearsome legend—the enticing, the humorous, and the strange.”

    bigfoot-is-missing_int_bigfoot

    Review

    “CRYPTOZOOLOGY is the study of hidden animals, or those whose real existence has not yet been proven.”

    Have you ever wondered about Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, or any other cryptid? If so, then this interesting picture book is for you, regardless of age. Is this nonfiction or fiction? That will depend on whether you believe any of these extremely unusual creatures are real, or from the imagination.

    bigfoot-is-missing_int_loch-ness-monster

    I do love the layout of the book. Reading feels like a world tour of the odd. You must look everywhere to find the poems: missing posters, park signs, classified ads, and on plastic bottles stuck in the mud of a swamp. Immediately, you will realize an ingenious poet—uh, two ingenious poets—wrote Bigfoot is Missing .

    Kids will enjoy this book, especially if they like the weird and unusual. The illustrations are colorful renderings of the cryptid’s home, be it park, ocean, or roaming the United States. Despite the subject matter, not a single scary page or poem exists in this kid-friendly picture book. Bigfoot is Missing  is a great choice for April Poetry Month. For those unsure what to believe, the authors included a short descriptive history of each creature.  Chronicle Books offers a teacher’s guide, in line with several common core areas.*

    bigfoot-is-missing_int_chupacabra

    BIGFOOT IS MISSING. Text copyright © 2015 by J. Patrick Lewis and Kenn Nesbitt. Illustrations copyright (2015) by MinaLima. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

    Purchase Bigfoot is Missing at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryChronicle Books.
    Learn more about Bigfoot is Missing HERE. (check it out!)
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    Meet the former Children’s Poet Laureate, J. Patrick Lewis, at his website:  http://www.jpatricklewis.com/
    Meet the current Children’s Poet Laureate, Kenn Nesbitt, at his website:  http://www.poetry4kids.com/
    Meet the illustrators, MinaLima, at their website:  http://www.minalima.com/
    Find more picture books that are wonderful at the Chronicle Books website:  http://www.chroniclebooks.com/
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    *“Correlates to Common Core Speaking and Listening Standards: Comprehension and Collaboration, 2-5.2; Presentation of  Knowledge and Ideas, 2-5.4, 2-5.5; Reading Standards for Literature: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas, 2-5.7” (from Chronicle Books Poetry Picture Books teacher’s guide)
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    Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


    Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Library Donated Books, NonFiction, Poetry, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: Chronicle Books, cryptids, cryptozoology, forlklore, J. Patrick Lewis, Kenn Nesbitt, MinaLima, monsters

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