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1. Recommended Narrative Nonfiction: Young Adult

bausum_stonewallBausum, Ann Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights
120 pp. Viking 2015. ISBN 978-0-670-01679-2
Bausum begins with a detailed, nuanced exposition of the June 1969 Stonewall riots as a galvanizing moment for the gay rights movement, then traces the movement’s evolution (in a somewhat more cursory way) for the second half of the book. Bausum’s narrative integrity makes her conclusions about the persecution and resilience of the LGBTQ community all the more powerful. Bib., ind.
Subjects: Homosexuality; Activism

Superman Versus the Klu Klux KlanBowers, Rick Superman Versus the Ku Klux Klan: The True Story of How the Iconic Superhero Battled the Men of Hate
160 pp. National Geographic 2012. ISBN 978-1-4263-0915-1
LE ISBN 978-1-4263-0916-8
In 1946, the producers of the Superman radio show deployed their character’s popularity in a campaign against bigotry. Bowers explains how he dug through myths, examined original archives, and reached tentative conclusions about what most likely happened and why. A complex history of organizations guided by both ideology and profit, people both well-meaning and flawed, and shifts in popular sentiment. Bib., ind.
Subjects: Visual Arts; Cartoons and comics; Ku Klux Klan; History, American; Heroes; Race relations; Prejudices; Radio

fleischman_eyes wide openFleischman, Paul Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines
204 pp. Candlewick 2014. ISBN 978-0-7636-7102-0
PE ISBN 978-0-7636-7545-5 Ebook ISBN 978-0-7636-7407-6
A wake-up call about the environmental crisis, the book homes in on five “key fronts” — population, consumption, energy, food, and climate — and explores historical and sociological contexts. Fleischman writes urgently, conversationally, and inspirationally, in a flow of ideas that can be dizzying. Yet none of the concepts is dumbed-down. A refreshingly opinionated approach to informed action. Reading list, websites. Bib., glos., ind.
Subjects: Pollution and Conservation; Global warming

fleming_family-romanovFleming, Candace The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia
287 pp. Random/Schwartz & Wade 2014. ISBN 978-0-375-86782-8
LE ISBN 978-0-375-96782-5 Ebook ISBN 978-0-375-89864-8
Fleming has outdone herself with this riveting work of narrative nonfiction. Her focus here is not just the Romanovs, but the Revolutionary leaders and common people as well. The epic, sweeping narrative seamlessly incorporates scholarly authority, primary sources, appropriate historical speculation, and a keen eye for the most telling details. Two sixteen-page inserts contain numerous captioned photographs. Map, genealogy, and source notes included. Bib., ind.
Subjects: Europe; Romanov, House of; Nicholas II; Soviet Union; Biographies; Russia; Kings, queens, and rulers; Russian Revolution

The Boys Who Challenged HitlerHoose, Phillip The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club
   198 pp. Farrar 2015. ISBN 978-0-374-30022-7
When Hitler invaded Denmark, teenaged Knud Pedersen (with his brother and some mates) used civil disobedience to pester the Nazis, inspiring a larger-scale Danish revolt. Hoose brilliantly weaves Pedersen’s own words into the larger narrative of wartime Denmark, showing how the astonishing bravery of ordinary Danish teens started something extraordinary. An outstanding addition to the WWII canon. Bib., ind. Websites.
Subjects: World War II; Denmark; Righteous Gentiles; Activism; Nazism

mcclafferty_fourth down and inchesMcClafferty, Carla Killough Fourth Down and Inches: Concussions and Football’s Make-or-Break Moment
96 pp. Carolrhoda 2013. ISBN 978-1-4677-1067-1
McClafferty’s informative and useful book focuses on football to discuss the serious but historically trivialized condition of concussion. Starting with football’s beginnings, McClafferty details the game’s early casualties; the controversy over its growing presence as a college sport; and how it became entrenched in American culture. She then goes on to cover the neuroscience behind head trauma and the increased awareness of the dangers. Reading list. Bib., ind.
Subjects: Sports; Sports—Football; Human body—Brain

mitchell_freedom summer murders_170x227Mitchell, Don The Freedom Summer Murders
256 pp. Scholastic 2014. ISBN 978-0-545-47725-3
Ebook ISBN 978-0-545-63393-2
The murders of three young civil rights workers — James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner — are the focus of Mitchell’s absorbing book. He conducted interviews with friends and family members of the men, and provides a fascinating biographical sketch of each, along with a thorough account of the police investigation. This compelling book will grab you from its opening paragraphs and won’t let go. Bib., ind.
Subjects: Government, Economics, and Education; African Americans; Race relations; Civil rights; Murder; History, American; Activism

pinkney_rhythm ridePinkney, Andrea Davis Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip Through the Motown Sound
166 pp. Roaring Brook 2015. ISBN 978-1-59643-973-3
As related by an irrepressible narrator called “the Groove,” this history of Motown smartly places the company and its hit records in the context of (mostly) 1960s America — and has a great time doing so. While the tone is generally peppy, the book gives due attention to the racism the company and its artists faced. An excellent discography and many photographs are included. Reading list, timeline. Ind.
Subjects: Music; African Americans; History—American

sheinkin_most dangerousSheinkin, Steve Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War
361 pp. Roaring Brook 2015. ISBN 978-1-59643-952-8
With the timing and prowess of a writer of thrillers, Sheinkin takes on a spectacularly complex story — Daniel Ellsberg’s evolution from “cold warrior” to antiwar activist, and why and how he leaked the Pentagon Papers — and makes it comprehensible for teens. Sheinkin has an unparalleled gift for synthesizing story and bringing American history to life. Judiciously placed archival photographs appear throughout.
Subjects: History, Modern—Vietnam War; Crime; Government; Biographies; Ellsberg, Daniel

Courage Has No ColorStone, Tanya Lee Courage Has No Color, the True Story of the Triple Nickles: America’s First Black Paratroopers
148 pp. Candlewick 2013. ISBN 978-0-7636-5117-6
The World War II–era 555th Parachute Infantry Company, nicknamed the Triple Nickles, didn’t actually fight anywhere, as white soldiers didn’t want to fight alongside black soldiers. The book’s focus is wide: there are sections on segregation and stereotypes, Japanese American internment camps, Japanese balloon bombs, the Battle of the Bulge, and Operation Firefly, brought to life with archival photographs and Stone’s always clear prose. Timeline. Bib., ind.
Subjects: North America; Race relations; African Americans; Armed forces; Flight; Soldiers; History, Modern—World War II

From the August 2015 issue of What Makes a Good…?

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2. Recommended Narrative Nonfiction: Intermediate

bartoletti_terrible typhoid maryBartoletti, Susan Campbell Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America
   230 pp. Houghton 2015. ISBN 978-0-544-31367-5
What was it like to be a servant, an immigrant, a woman in the early twentieth century? Bartoletti weaves the answers into the beginning of “Typhoid Mary” Mallon’s story — using Mary as a lens to view a wider swath of American society — then covers epidemiologist George Soper’s cat-and-mouse game of tracking Mary down. Excellent nonfiction with a novelistic trim size and narrative. Timeline. Bib., ind.
Subjects: Medicine, Human Body, and Diseases; New York (State); Diseases—Typhoid fever

Skull in the RockBerger, Lee R., and Aronson, Marc The Skull in the Rock: How a Scientist, a Boy, and Google Earth Opened a New Window on Human Origins
   64 pp. National Geographic 2012. ISBN 978-1-4263-1010-2
LE ISBN 978-1-4263-1053-9
Paleontologist Berger and son Matthew’s recent find gave scientists a nearly intact skeleton from a new species, Australopithecus sediba. Detailed accounts of advances in the field and the supporting technology are intertwined with the story of Berger’s not-always-straightforward career path. The book is enhanced by illustrative material, including photographs and striking facial reconstructions of these ancient ancestors. Reading list, websites. Glos., ind.
Subjects: Science—Prehistoric Life; Paleontology; Archaeology; Evolution; South Africa; Fossils; Anthropology

brown_drowned cityBrown, Don Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans
   96 pp. Houghton 2015. ISBN 978-0-544-15777-4
A comic-book format delivers the full force of Hurricane Katrina and its impact on New Orleans. When the storm hits the city, Brown hits readers with the consequences: flooding, fear, desperation, death, and frustration. Meticulously documented facts and quotes from victims caption the commanding art. If a book’s power were measured like a hurricane’s, this would be a category five. Bib.
Subjects: Natural disasters—Hurricanes; Disasters; New Orleans (LA); Graphic novels

freedman_angel islandFreedman, Russell Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain
81 pp. Clarion 2014. ISBN 978-0-547-90378-1
Chinese poems translated by Evans Chan. Freedman’s slender volume on the history and importance of California’s Angel Island Immigration Station — the portal for Asian immigration to the U.S. — covers a lot of ground. He weaves a clear and straightforward narrative history with abundant quotations, excerpts from diaries and wall poems, and archival photographs. This is a clearly written account of a lesser-known side of American immigration history. Bib., ind.
Subjects: North America; Asian Americans; Angel Island (CA); Immigration; San Francisco (CA); Chinese Americans

Invincible MicrobesMurphy, Jim and Blank, Alison  Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure
149 pp. Clarion 2012. ISBN 978-0-618-53574-3
Tuberculosis has been a medical scourge through much of human history, and new drug-resistant strains keep the threat of a pandemic always on the horizon. This book brings young readers up to speed with a scientific explanation of the microbe as well as medical and social histories of the disease. Despite disparate elements, the information comes together cohesively for an engaging read. Illustrations and photographs are included. Bib., ind.
Subjects: Medicine, Human Body, and Disease; Diseases—Tuberculosis; Microbiology; Epidemics

Heart and SoulNelson, Kadir Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans
   108 pp. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray 2011. ISBN 978-0-06-173074-0
The unnamed narrator of this graceful and personalized overview of African American history provides a sweeping account that covers history from the Colonial era to the present day. Each page of text is accompanied by a magnificent oil painting, forty-seven in all, including six dramatic double-page spreads. The illustrations, combined with the narrative, give a sense of intimacy. A tour de force. Timeline. Bib., ind.
Subjects: History—North America; African Americans; Slavery; History, American

silvey_untamedSilvey, Anita Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall
   96 pp. National Geographic 2015. ISBN 978-1-4263-1518-3
Foreword by Jane Goodall. This accessible account of Goodall’s life explores her nontraditional entry to scientific fieldwork; the attention from the National Geographic Society that made her famous; her work ethic and innovative scientific methods; her efforts to reform the use of chimpanzees in research laboratories; and current technological advances in primate research. Silvey accompanies her main narrative with informative text boxes and vivid photographs. Map, timeline. Bib., ind.
Goodall, Jane; Animals—Chimpanzees; Scientists; Women—Scientists; Women—Biographies; Animal behavior

From the August 2015 issue of What Makes a Good…?

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3. Recommended Narrative Nonfiction: Picture Books

applegate_ivanApplegate, Katherine Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla
40 pp. Clarion 2014. ISBN 978-0-544-25230-1
Illustrated by G. Brian Karas. Applegate introduces picture-book readers to the true story that inspired her Newbery-winning The One and Only Ivan. In poetic prose she describes gorilla Ivan’s early life in Africa; his dramatic capture; his time on display in a shopping mall; and his transition to the Atlanta Zoo. Karas’s mixed-media illustrations — in his warm and unaffected style — are at once straightforward and provocative.
Subjects: Mammals; Animals—Gorillas; Zoos; Shopping malls

bang_buried-sunlight_170x209Bang, Molly and Chisholm, Penny Buried Sunlight: How Fossil Fuels Have Changed the Earth
48 pp. Scholastic/Blue Sky 2014. ISBN 978-0-545-57785-4
Illustrated by Molly Bang. Bang and Chisholm explain the production and consumption of fossil fuels, along with the consequences of all that energy use: climate change. The sun serves as narrator describing the relationship between photosynthesis (plants) and respiration (animals) and energy; a slight imbalance produces fossil fuels. Bang’s illustrations brilliantly represent the chemistry: bright yellow dots of energy against a deep-blue background hover over their producers.
Subjects: Earth Science; Energy; Astronomy—Sun; Global warming; Fossil fuels

bryant_right-word_170x231Bryant, Jen The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus
48 pp. Eerdmans 2014. ISBN 978-0-8028-5385-1
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Apt language and ingenious imagery combine to tell the life story of Peter Mark Roget, creator of the thesaurus. Bryant’s linear telling follows Peter closely, expressing his curiosity, sensitivity, and populist spirit in language both decorous and warm. Clever book design and visionary illustration add layers of meaning. Sweet embellishes her own gentle watercolors with all manner of clippings and realia. Reading list, timeline. Bib.
Subjects: Individual Biographies; Language—Vocabulary; Great Britain; Roget, Peter Mark; Books and reading

george_ galápagos georgeGeorge, Jean Craighead Galápagos George
40 pp. HarperCollins/Harper 2014. ISBN 978-0-06-028793-1
Illustrated by Wendell Minor. The author asks readers to extrapolate from the life cycle of a single female Galápagos tortoise, Giantess George, to the development of the species as a whole. She and other tortoises are swept away to different islands in a storm; over thousands of years, they evolve into different subspecies. Minor’s painterly illustrations showcase the changing setting and the magnificence of the tortoises. Reading list, timeline, websites. Glos.
Subjects: Reptiles and Amphibians; Galápagos Islands; Animals—Tortoises; Evolution

heos_iflyHeos, Bridget. I, Fly: The Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are
   40 pp. Holt 2015. ISBN 978-0-8050-9469-5
A fly argues why he should be the science-class representative for insect life cycles instead of the overexposed butterfly. A skeptical class grills him about unsavory habits (garbage-eating, disease-spreading). Eventually convinced that “Flies rule!,” they capture the fly for study, and he changes his tune. Cleverly skewering elements of the typical animal book, this take on insects is refreshing, amusing, and scientifically accurate. Bib., glos.
Subjects: Animals—Flies; Life cycles; Science—Insects and Invertebrates

mattick_finding winnieMattick, Lindsay Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear
   56 pp. Little, Brown 2015. ISBN 978-0-316-32490-8
Illustrated by Sophie Blackall. A boy’s mother tells him the story of his great-great-grandfather, owner of a baby bear named Winnie, and the circumstances that led to another boy, Christopher Robin Milne, befriending Winnie — inspiring that boy’s father to write some children’s tales. Mattick, the storytelling mother in this book, embellishes her family’s history with evocative, playful language, matched by the period warmth of Blackall’s carefully composed images.
Subjects: Animals—Bears; Milne, A. A.; Family—Mother and son; Toys; Authors; Biographies

petricic_my family tree and mePetričić, Dušan My Family Tree and Me
   24 pp. Kids Can 2015. ISBN 978-1-77138-049-2
Reading from front to middle, we meet the narrator’s paternal line through five generations. From back to middle are portraits of the maternal line. And in a glorious middle double-page spread we see the whole extended family and can trace and invent individual stories. Petričić’s gift for caricature is used joyfully in this celebration of ancestry, showing one family’s variations and particular beauty.
Subjects: Social Sciences—Families, Children, and Sexuality; Genealogy

Separate Is Never EqualTonatiuh, Duncan Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation
40 pp. Abrams 2014. ISBN 978-1-4197-1054-4
In 1947 the Mendez family fought for — and won — the desegregation of schools in California. Tonatiuh uses a child’s viewpoint to succinctly capture the segregated reality of Mexican Americans. The straightforward narrative is well matched with illustrations in Tonatiuh’s signature style, their two-dimensional perspective reminiscent of the Mixtec codex but collaged with paper, wood, etc. to provide textural variation. An author’s note with photos is appended. Bib., glos., ind.
Subjects: Government, Economics, and Education; Schools; Hispanic Americans; Civil rights; Mendez, Sylvia

From the August 2015 issue of What Makes a Good…?

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4. Picturing fantasy

Funny, action-packed, thought-provoking (and sometimes all of the above), these three graphic novels and one…well, what do you call Brian Selznick’s books? take readers on fantastic adventures.

selznick_marvelsBrian Selznick defined his own format with The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck. He pushes the envelope even further in The Marvels. Black-and-white drawings (over four hundred pages’ worth) wordlessly tell the story of a storm, a shipwreck, and a rescue in a theater. In the text narrative that follows, a boy named Joseph runs away from boarding school to his uncle Albert’s house in London, a place that feels strangely from another time. Selznick is a unique and masterful storyteller, and his story-inside-a-story unfolds an emotional narrative that will leave readers marveling. (Scholastic, 10–12 years)

mccoola_baba yaga's assistantIn Marika McCoola’s Baba Yaga’s Assistant, Masha answers a help-wanted ad to become assistant to the mortar-and-pestle-riding, child-eating folkloric character. To win the position, she must creatively accomplish challenges set forth by Baba Yaga. Masha draws on lessons learned through her grandmother’s stories and her own inherited magical ability, uncovering her family’s complex connection to the witch along the way. Illustrator Emily Carroll‘s vividly colored digital art establishes setting and tone. Comprised of short chapters, this graphic novel shines in its pacing, harmony of image and text, and use of flashbacks to advance plot. (Candlewick, 12–14 years)

watson_princess decomposia and count spatulaWith her hypochondriac father taken to his bed, capable Princess Decomposia of the Underworld — star of Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula — is running the show…and running herself ragged. A baker named Count Spatula joins the castle staff, and his nourishing food and supportive demeanor help the princess get through her hectic days. When the king has him fired, the princess must decide whether to stand up to her father. Andi Watson’s unique and funny graphic novelpopulated by friendly creatures of the night — has a decidedly supernatural twist, but at its core is a relatable tale of self-actualization and blossoming romance. (Roaring Brook/First Second, 12–14 years)

stevenson_nimonaBallister Blackheart — ex-knight and current supervillain — is focused on the destruction of the Institute of Law Enforcement and Heroics. He also wouldn’t mind getting even with Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin, a knight-school acquaintance who shot off Blackheart’s right arm. Just as Blackheart’s plans are coming to fruition, plucky young shapeshifter Nimona shows up on his doorstep claiming to be his new sidekick. Set in a medieval-type kingdom mixed with futuristic science, Noelle Stevenson’s webcomic-turned-graphic-novel Nimona entertainingly tweaks both the science-fiction and fantasy genres. Nimona herself is beautifully flawed and refreshingly unstereotypical. (HarperTeen, 11–15 years)

From the August 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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5. Easy reading

With summer coming to a close and school peeking its head around the corner, children can get into the swing of things with the following titles about kid-friendly subjects, from dance and princesses to raccoons and robots.

shea_ballet catIt’s that age-old childhood dilemma: “What do you want to play today?” In Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret, pals Ballet Cat and Sparkles the Pony struggle to find an activity upon which they can agree. Ballet Cat only wants to dance. Long-suffering Sparkles admits, “Sometimes I don’t want to play ballet!” Bob Shea’s first easy reader contains an economy of both words and art with deceptively simple yet exuberant illustrations — and it’s funny to boot. Frog and Toad, Henry and Mudge, Gerald and Piggie: make room. (Disney/Hyperion, 5–8 years)

hatke_little robotA lonely little girl, star of Ben Hatke’s mostly wordless graphic novel Little Robot, finds a tool belt along with a mysterious box in the woods. Inside is an adorably uncoordinated robot, just the right height and temperament to be a companion. Unfortunately for the two of them, the warehouse notices that unit 00012 is missing, and a large, menacing robot is sent to reclaim it. Unframed panel illustrations give an expansive quality to this lively, entertaining book. Well-plotted and -paced, this engaging story of loneliness, bravery, and friendship builds to a satisfying (and sweet) conclusion. (Roaring Brook/First Second, 5–8 years)

dicamillo_francine poulet meets the ghost raccoonIn Kate DiCamillo‘s Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Raccoon, animal control officer Francine takes a call about an unusual, shimmery (and possibly talking) raccoon on a house roof. The wacky plot comes smartly together with humorous insights bolstered by Chris Van Dusen’s lively illustrations. Familiar characters lead the story to its climax on Deckawoo Drive, resulting in the raccoon’s capture, the restoration of Francine’s self-esteem — and lots of toast. For new chapter-book readers looking for a bit more of a challenge, this second entry in Mercy Watson spinoff series Tales from Deckawoo Drive continues to explore the neighborhood and all its fascinating and comical local characters. (Candlewick, 5–8 years)

potter_piper green and the fairy treeAuthor Ellen Potter puts her own stamp on the spunky-quirky-stubborn girl story in Piper Green and the Fairy Tree. Piper, resident of Peek-a-Boo Island, Maine, is about to start second grade. Her new teacher looks (and walks—swish!) like a princess, so Piper assumes she’ll have a tinkly voice and won’t mind about the monkey-face earmuffs Piper always wears; but Ms. Arabella does not live up to expectations, and soon Piper is in trouble. Very brief chapters and frequent illustrations by Qin Leng swiftly advance the story, as does Piper’s — yes — spunky, quirky, stubborn first-person narration. (Knopf, 5–8 years)

From the August 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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6. Poetry and pictures

Poetry appears in many forms in these four illustrated books: one collection of old favorites, two books that present original poetry in both Spanish and English, and one biography of an enslaved man who became a poet.

yoon_beastly verseJooHee Yoon’s sixteen selections of poems about animals in Beastly Verse include the usual suspects from Nash, Blake, Belloc, and other favorite poets, but the pictures are the collection’s highlight. Belloc’s yak, for example, is a big red scribbly beast planted firmly in a snowy mountain landscape. The book is big and square and sturdy, with thick off-white paper contrasting with the embellishment Yoon pours onto each animal and scene via overlays of three primary colors. But as eye-catching as the pictures are, the artist knows to pay attention to the poems and reflect their moods. (Enchanted Lion, 3–6 years)

paschkis_flutter and humWritten first in Spanish then translated into English by author-illustrator Julie Paschkis, each poem in Flutter & Hum: Animal Poems / Aleteo y Zumbido: Poemas de Animales is intricately connected to its corresponding painting, with additional, thematic words found throughout the pictures. The colors and line-work in the gouache illustrations vary according to the subject: the playful dog is all bright colors and curving, bouncy balls, while the crow is dark with sharp edges and straight lines. Readers will find themselves carefully studying every little detail of the pictures while being charmed by the poems. (Holt, 3–6 years)

argueta_salsaJorge Argueta creates a mouth-watering musical recipe in Salsa: Un poema para cocinar. As a boy and his family prepare their weekly salsa roja, the child’s imagination runs wild. Ingredients become musical instruments—an onion is a maraca, tomatoes are bongos and kettledrums. Argueta’s use of onomatopoeia and detailed descriptions play on the various senses to convey the sounds, flavors, and feelings coming together as the boy’s family dances, sings, and cooks. Duncan Tonatiuh‘s illustrations, rendered primarily in greens and reds, complement the two types of salsa mentioned in the poem. A message of love and family creating something special shines through. (Groundwood, 4–7 years)

tate_poetPoet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate is the story of a man who taught himself to read and compose poetry, and who lived as a slave until age sixty-six. When George Moses Horton finds an audience at the University of North Carolina, where he sells fruits and vegetables on weekends, he becomes a paid poet, delivering love poems aloud and finally learning to write from a professor’s wife. Tate’s gouache, ink, and pencil illustrations are as straightforward as his text, but still pack an emotional punch. Young readers may need an adult to explain the historical context, but this is a compelling story for any age, by turns sad and uplifting. (Peachtree, 4–7 years)

From the August 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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7. This is my life

Memoirs capture moments in time, those events that are formative or emblematic or otherwise meaningful for their subjects. Surprising, intimate, cathartic — Brown Girl Dreaming, El Deafo, Becoming Maria (see Randy Ribay’s interview with Sonia Manzano), the new books below, and these recommended by the Horn Book Guide, for example — memoirs offer glimpses into the larger picture of a life.

gantos_trouble in meFourteen-year-old Jack Gantos was a “drifty kid who was lost at sea…easily led off course.” Bored with his own life, he tried to be somebody else and fell into the orbit of juvenile delinquent neighbor Gary Pagoda. In The Trouble in Me, Gantos effectively narrates his own story, reviewing portions of his life to identify what led him to abandon his “better self” in favor of later becoming a drug smuggler who ended up in a federal penitentiary. As explained in the afterword, this volume acts as a preface to Hole in My Life, and readers who read both will experience the full arc of Jack’s wild behavior, severe consequences, and, ultimately, redemption. (Farrar, 14 years and up)

jimenez_taking holdIn Taking Hold: From Migrant Childhood to Columbia University — the fourth volume of Francisco Jiménez’s memoir series (starting with The Circuit) — the author delivers a moving account of his graduate school years at Columbia University during the turbulent 1960s, paying particular attention to those friends and mentors who helped shape his intellectual pursuits and academic career path. He also relates his courtship and marriage to his college sweetheart, Laura, and the birth of their two children. Throughout it all, Jiménez never forgets his beginnings as the child of migrant farm workers, frequently alluding to and briefly recapitulating events from earlier volumes. His ingratiating storytelling—who else could make these years of adulthood such a compelling read for teens?—makes us root for him to succeed. (Houghton, 14 years and up)

engle_enchanted airAuthor and poet Margarita Engle explores her own past in Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir, a collection of emotionally rich memory poems. The daughter of a Don Quixote–obsessed American artist of Ukrainian Jewish descent and a beautiful homesick Cuban émigrée, Engle describes joyful visits to her mother’s homeland as a child. She then vividly contrasts the smoggy air of sprawling Los Angeles with the enchanted air of that small, magical-seeming island, and at first going between the two cultures is fairly seamless. But then there’s the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and suddenly all is different. Engle’s personal reverie gives young readers an intimate view of a complicated time and life. (Atheneum, 12–16 years)

From the August 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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8. Lives and times

The settings of these narrative nonfiction titles span decades and geography — from WWII Denmark to contemporary Malawi — but the issues they explore are incredibly timely.

kamkwamba_boy who harnessed the windWhen heavy rains, then drought, devastated his country of Malawi and the corrupt government didn’t respond, young William Kamkwamba used his scientific ingenuity to help people in need. His windmill made from “bottle-cap washers, rusted tractor parts, and [an] old bicycle frame” was a success; soon William dreamed of conquering darkness, pumping water to the villages, and fighting hunger. Cowritten with Bryan Mealer, Kamkwamba’s The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Young Readers Edition (illustrated by Anna Hymas) is inspiring — a well-told true tale of one young man’s passion for science making his world better. (Dial, 9–12 years)

The Boys Who Challenged HitlerPhillip Hoose introduces readers to a little-known resistance movement in The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club. When Hitler invaded Denmark, teenaged Knud Pedersen (with his brother Jens and some mates) decided that “If the adults would not act, we would.” First using civil disobedience then employing increasingly dangerous acts of sabotage against the country’s Nazi occupiers, the group inspired widespread Danish revolt. Hoose brilliantly weaves Pederson’s own words into the larger narrative of wartime Denmark, showing how the astonishing bravery of a few ordinary Danish teens started something extraordinary. A 2015 Boston Globe–Horn Book Nonfiction Honor Book and an outstanding addition to the WWII canon. (Farrar, 11–15 years)

lewis_march bk 2Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin’s March: Book Two picks up where the previous volume left off in relating Lewis’s personal experiences of the civil rights movement. Dramatic descriptions, along with Nate Powell’s vivid black-and-white illustrations, relate direct action campaigns in Nashville (sit-ins at fast-food restaurants and cafeterias, “stand-ins” at a segregated movie theater), Freedom Rides into the “heart of the beast” in the Deep South, and the 1963 March on Washington, where Lewis spoke alongside Dr. King. Among the many excellent volumes available on the subject of civil rights this is a standout, the graphic format a perfect vehicle for delivering the one-two punch of powerful words and images. (Top Shelf Productions, 11–15 years)

blumenthal_tommyIn Tommy: The Gun That Changed America, Karen Blumenthal traces the history of the Thompson submachine gun (a.k.a. the Tommy gun) and its times. After the Spanish-American War, Army officer John Thompson believed that America needed a lightweight, automatic rifle. The Army did not share his opinion, so Thompson left the service and developed his own weapon, completed with superior bad timing on Armistice Day in 1918. Without a ready military market, the Tommy gun wound up in the hands of crooks and bootleggers. Blumenthal shows the complexity of gun culture then and now with thorough research and impeccable documentation. (Roaring Brook, 11–15 years)

From the June 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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9. Hoppy for Poppy

Perfect for Father’s Day read-alouds, these picture books show a variety of dads—from those on lily pads to those in eucalyptus forests, from fantasy kingdoms to suburban parks—raising, teaching, and loving their children.

stein_tad and dadIn David Ezra Stein’s Tad and Dad, little frog Tad loves his father so much that he can hardly bear to be away from him, even at night. Kids will chuckle at Tad’s energetic bedtime antics; parents will laugh with grim identification when Tad starts to swim and grow but still crowds onto Dad’s lily pad to sleep. Stein uses color to great effect in this little book that is both a celebration of the father-child relationship and a good-night book that will hold up to repeat readings. (Penguin/Paulsen, 2–5 years)

miura_big princessIn The Big Princess by Taro Miura (a companion to The Tiny King), a childless king finds a bug-size princess in the castle gardens. His and the queen’s love for her grows daily, but, worrisomely, so does the princess. How to stop her from physically outgrowing the castle (and hence the family)? Miura’s digital collages feature improbably harmonizing elements: brightly colored, blocky geometric shapes coexist with photography, while characters whose faces assume Hello Kitty–like blankness nevertheless live out emotional scenes. (Candlewick, 3–6 years)

waber_ask meBernard Waber‘s Ask Me gives an idyllic view of an ambling, chatting father-and-daughter pair. But there’s more to their walk than meets the eye; the queries and responses they share capture the kind of give-and-take that gradually refines a small child’s language. “Ask me what I like.” “What do you like?”…”I like bugs.” “Insects?” “No, bugs.” With spare, informal colored-pencil lines; welcoming white space; and an eye for color, action, and witty detail, Suzy Lee depicts the two figures in a landscape littered with bright autumn leaves. This outing might inspire young listeners to form their own questions or can help tuck in a toddler with a sweet good night. (Houghton, 3–6 years)

saxby_emuClaire Saxby’s nonfiction picture book Emu relates the life cycle and habits of those birds through the story of a male emu who raises his young in an Australian eucalyptus forest (with this species, the female departs after egg-laying). Graham Byrne’s spiky digital illustrations perfectly display the emu’s hairlike feathering and their awkward-looking flightless movement. Each double-page spread includes the main narrative, in slightly larger type, along with additional statistics and facts about emus in a smaller, more casual font. (Candlewick, 5–8 years)

From the June 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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10. Listen, laugh, and learn

Some stories can be at their funniest — and most poignant — when read aloud. The following audiobooks, recommended for intermediate and middle-school listeners, offer lots of laughs and lots to learn.

perkins_nuts to you audioLynne Rae Perkins’s Nuts to You tells the wacky story of a trio of industrious young squirrels saving their respective colonies from the impending danger of human deforestation. What’s lost in the absence of Perkins’s quirky, digressive illustrations is made up for in Jessica Almasy’s all-in, over-the-top performance. Making the most of the sensory descriptions, comical dialogue, and tangled action, she maximizes this classic-feeling animal fantasy’s considerable entertainments and adds weight to the deeper environmental message. (Recorded Books, 8–11 years)

graff_absolutely almost audioAlbie, star of Lisa Graff’s Absolutely Almost, is not having a good fifth-grade year at his new school. His best friend from his old school, Erlan, is distracted by being on reality TV, and Betsy, his only real new friend, isn’t speaking to him. But there are spots of brightness, including Albie’s punning math club teacher, his free-spirited babysitter Calista, and, of course, doughnuts. Noah Galvin’s narration is engaging and earnest, reflecting Albie’s naiveté and his heart in equal measure. The quick pace pulls readers along to the hopeful, satisfying conclusion. (Recorded Books, 8–11 years)

gantos_key that swallowed joey pigza audioWith his depressed mother in the hospital and his ne’er-do-well father out of the picture — but lurking — Joey becomes “man of the house.” The unexpected arrival of Olivia, “the meanest blind girl in the world,” helps lessen the load, but Joey must still prove himself to himself in order to move beyond his wired-kid past. Narrated by author Jack Gantos, The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza is the fifth (and final) Joey Pigza story, and there’s nuance and emotion at every turn. It’s a satisfying sendoff for a uniquely imperfect kid in a very imperfect family. (Listening Library, 9–12 years)

holm_fourteenth goldfish audiobookOn its surface, The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm delights as a comic tale of a middle-school girl coming to terms with her grandfather’s fountain-of-youth breakthrough, which has turned him into a teenager. As the plot bounces along, however, subtle character development and substantial inquiry add layers of meaning, posing important questions about bioethics and family responsibility. Georgette Perna’s frothy narration enhances the novel’s lighter elements, keeping the pace brisk and humorously reflecting the adolescent cadence of the dialogue; when the novel’s deeper revelations surface, they are that much more surprising and reverberant. (Listening Library, 10–14 years)

From the June 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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11. In summer

Anna and Kristoff. Olaf and Sven. Pablo and Alicia. The following books for young independent readers feature unlikely pairs palling around in the big city, the ‘burbs…and contemporary Norway. (Is that close to Arendelle? It is!)

spiegelman_lost in nycAt the start of Nadja Spiegelman’s lively graphic-novel picture book Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure, new-kid Pablo’s class is taking the subway to the Empire State Building. When self-described “lone wolf” Pablo hops the (wrong) train, his good-natured class-trip partner, Alicia, gamely tags along. Illustrator Sergio García Sánchez’s detailed images, from every perspective and filled with trains, stations, people, streets, skyscrapers, and maps, vividly convey the children’s travels below and above ground. The book is also available in a Spanish edition, Perdidos en NYC. (TOON, 5–8 years)

mckay_lulu and the hamster in the nightIn Lulu and the Hamster in the Night (the sixth episode in the animal-loving seven-year-old’s adventures by Hilary McKay), Lulu acquires an underappreciated pet hamster named Ratty. An impending overnight visit with her best friend/cousin Mellie to their grandmother Nan’s house complicates things: Lulu and Mellie decide to smuggle Ratty along. The plot’s “oh, no” foreshadowing and humorous details, along with frequent spot art by Priscilla Lamont, keep the action moving at a spirited pace. (Whitman, 5–8 years)

parr_adventures with wafflesAdventures with Waffles by Maria Parr, set in contemporary Norway over the course of one eventful year, features adventures both big and small, madcap and poignant. Young narrator Trille’s best friend is his next-door neighbor, Lena, almost nine, perhaps best described as a more-realistic Pippi Longstocking: fierce, fearless, daring, hilariously blunt. With Lena’s penchant for thrill-seeking, their small close-knit community of Mathildewick Cove provides all the excitement they need, whether they are attempting to reenact Noah’s ark on Uncle Tor’s fishing boat (mayhem ensues) or advertising for a dad for Lena (“Must be nice and like boiled cabbage”). (Candlewick, 6–9 years)

springstubb_cody and the fountain of happinessCody — star of Tricia Springstubb’s Cody and the Fountain of Happiness — thinks the first day of summer vacation is the most beautiful thing in the world. With Mom pursuing a promotion in the shoe department at work; Dad, a trucker, on the road part of the week; and older brother Wyatt starting at “doctor camp,” alternate plans are needed. Enter babysitter Payton Underwood (object of Wyatt’s crush), along with a new younger friend named Spencer, his cat MewMew, and his feisty grandma GG. Cody’s lively voice and keen observational skills build an involving story line out of the seeming banality of a vacation spent at home. Stylish spot illustrations by Eliza Wheeler suggest a diverse cast in this suburban setting. (Candlewick, 6–9 years)

From the June 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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12. Updated Earth Day reading

The books recommended below were reviewed by The Horn Book Magazine. Grade levels are only suggestions; the individual child is the real criterion.

 

Picture books

Suggested grade level listed with each entry

The Promise written by Nicola Davies, illus. by Laura Carlin (Candlewick)
A girl, “mean and hard” as the city she lives in, survives by stealing. When one of her targets says she may keep the bag she’s taken if she promises to plant what’s in it, the girl commits herself to a lifetime of planting to transform bleak city landscapes. Grade level: 1–3. 48 pages.

Two Little Birds by Mary Newell DePalma (Eerdmans)
Two adorable bird siblings (based on the orchard oriole of North and Central America) hatch and begin their first year of life. Simple sentences explain the birds’ actions and underscore the instincts that drive each behavior. Grade level: PS. 40 pages.

Sophie Scott Goes South by Alison Lester (Houghton)
On an Antarctic adventure with her boat captain father, Sophie spots penguins, seals, and whales; one night she’s dazzled by the southern lights. Sophie’s scrapbook-style journal is written in a conversational style with appealing childlike art. Grade level: K–3. 40 pages.

Picture a Tree by Barbara Reid (Whitman)
“There is more than one way to picture a tree.” A series of vibrant Plasticine compositions focus readers’ attention on the shapes, colors, and textures of trees; parallel to these tree portraits are interlinked human stories. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.

Subway Story by Julia Sarcone-Roach (Knopf)
Retired subway car Jessie is dismantled and dumped into the ocean, where she happily resides as an artificial reef, home to myriad sea animals. The theme of reuse and recycling emerges naturally from a fine tale. Grade level: K–3. 40 pages.

 

Younger fiction

Suggested grade level for each entry: 1–3

Emmaline and the Bunny by Katherine Hannigan (Greenwillow)
The mayor of Neatasapin bullies everyone into inordinate tidiness and forbids all things wild. After lonely Emmaline befriends a wild bunny, she enlists her parents to invite wildlife back into the community. 101 pages.

Just Grace Goes Green by Charise Mericle Harper (Houghton)
In Grace’s fourth book, the third grader and her classmates are passionate about going green. While sneaking in information about recycling and reusing, Harper knows how to keep the story moving: amusing lists and sketches will keep her fans entertained. 178 pages.

 

Intermediate fiction

Suggested grade level for each entry: 4–6

The One and Only Ivan written by Katherine Applegate; illus. by Patricia Castelao (HarperCollins/Harper)
In this 2013 Newbery Award winner, Ivan is a gorilla who lives in a circus mall. When a new baby elephant arrives, Ivan taps into his creative side to help them both escape their restrictive environment. 307 pages.

Crunch by Leslie Connor (HarperCollins/Tegen)
When a severe fuel shortage strands their parents, the five Marriss children hold down the fort — and the family’s bike business. With fewer cars on the highway, the now-growing shop is about to overrun the kids’ abilities. Connor’s narrative ambles pleasantly along. 330 pages.

Toby Alone written by Timothée de Fombelle; illus. by François Place (Candlewick)
The world of the Tree, a society of miniature people, is threatened when a gangland boss/evil property developer grabs power. It’s up to thirteen-year-old Toby to save his parents, the Tree, and the day. 384 pages.

Blue Mountain by Martine Leavitt (Farrar/Ferguson)
Mankind encroaches upon the bighorn sheep’s habitat; wolf and puma feed on their dwindling herd. Biggest lamb Tuk must save the herd by finding a way west to “blue mountain,” a place he sees in visions and may not be real. 163 pages.

Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French (Abrams/Amulet)
Julian caught up in the conflict between his uncle and Robin, who is trying to protect a redwood forest from Uncle Sibley’s voracious investment company. French works in many facts about redwoods without losing the story’s focus on its characters. 355 pages.

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen (Knopf)
Wahoo Cray’s pop, a well-known South Florida animal wrangler, can’t work after an injury, so a lucrative offer seems like a godsend. Expedition Survival!, a TV program featuring a bumbling, egomaniacal star, wants to use their backyard zoo and faux Everglades pond. 290 pages.

 

Older fiction

Suggested grade level for each entry: 7 and up

H2O by Virginia Bergin (Sourcebooks/Fire)
Years after an asteroid almost collides with Earth, dust from the asteroid infects water molecules with an alien virus that kills humans on contact. Alone and thirsty, teen Ruby Morris holds tightly to the unlikely hope that her father is still alive. 331 pages.

Breathe by Sarah Crossan (Greenwillow)
In an environmentally ravaged world with four percent oxygen in the air, people live inside glass domes (and pay for air) or struggle to survive outside. Privileged Quinn, his poorer friend Bea, and rebel Alina travel outside of the dome and are stranded there. 373 pages.

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne (Feiwel)
Environmental disasters including a devastating hailstorm, an earthquake, and a chemical spill lead to a school bus of kids (teens and younger) seeking refuge in a superstore — with abundant resources and no adult supervision. Sequel: Monument 14: Sky on Fire. 296 pages.

The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd (Holiday)
London teen Laura chronicles in biting journal entries the first year of Britain’s new, stringent carbon rationing points system. She balances big-picture fears (blackouts, riots) with everyday issues of crushes and friends, and her punk band. Sequel: The Carbon Diaries 2017. 330 pages.

Endangered by Eliot Schrefer (Scholastic)
When Sophie, fourteen, visits her Congolese mother’s animal sanctuary, she becomes attached to a baby bonobo. When the political situation destabilizes dangerously and she’s scheduled to be airlifted back to Miami, she can’t bear to leave him behind. Companion book: Threatened. 264 pages.

My Chemical Mountain by Corina Vacco (Delacorte)
Jason and his friends roam the industrial zone near their neighborhood, swim in the toxic creek, and ride their dirt bikes around a landfill they call Chemical Mountain. This thought-provoking modern-day dystopian novel is plausible and action-packed. 186 pages.

 

Nonfiction

Suggested grade level listed with each entry

It’s Our Garden: From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garden written by George Ancona; photos by the author (Candlewick)
Full-color photographs and no-nonsense prose (perfect for new readers) chronicle a year in the life of an elementary school garden; students compost soil, water plants, raise butterflies, and sample edible delights. Grade level: K–3. 48 pages.

Buried Sunlight: How Fossil Fuels Have Changed the Earth by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm; illus. by Molly Bang (Scholastic/Blue Sky)
Bang and Chisholm explain the production and consumption of fossil fuels, along with the consequences: climate change. The sun narrates the relationship between photosynthesis/respiration and energy; a slight imbalance produces fossil fuels. Grade level: K–3. 48 pages.

Beetle Busters: A Rogue Insect and the People Who Track It [Scientists in the Field] by Loree Griffin Burns; photos by Ellen Harasimowicz (Houghton)
The Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), an invasive species, threatens “the entire northeastern hardwood forest.” In Worcester, Massachusetts, scientists hypothesize that destroying all of Worcester’s infected trees — i.e., the ALB habitat — will eradicate the beetle. Grade level: 4–6. 64 pages.

Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard written by Loree Griffin Burns; photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz (Holt)
Detailed accounts and handsome color photography introduce four scientific projects — studying monarch butterflies, birds, ladybugs, and frogs — which enlist regular people in data collection. Grade level: 4–6. 80 pages.

Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate (Candlewick)
In this introduction to birdwatching, the author/illustrator and birds (portrayed in cartoons with speech balloons) poke fun at themselves and one another while teaching basic bird identification: color, shapes, behaviors, songs, habitat, range, and migration. Grade level: 4–6. 64 pages.

The Bat Scientists [Scientists in the Field series] written by Mary Kay Carson; photographs by Tom Uhlman (Houghton)
With deft description and careful explanation, Carson profiles Bat Conservation International (BCI) as it researches the misunderstood title creatures. Clear text debunks “Batty Myths” while highlighting BCI’s conservation efforts. Grade level: 4–6. 80 pages.

Island: A Story of the Galápagos by Jason Chin (Roaring Brook/Porter)
Witness the six-million-year evolution of the Galápagos, from “birth” through “childhood” to “old age” and beyond. Gorgeous illustrations include sweeping double-page spreads and panels arranged to show dynamic changes. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.

Redwoods by Jason Chin (Roaring Brook/Flash Point/Porter)
In a fantastical visual narrative paired with a straightforward nonfiction text, a young boy waiting for the subway finds an abandoned book about redwood trees. He finds himself in a redwood forest, learning all manner of things about them. Grade level: K–3. 40 pages.

The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge [Magic School Bus series] written by Joanna Cole; illus. by Bruce Degen (Scholastic)
Ms. Frizzle’s class gathers information for a play about climate change. Cole and Degen are straightforward about the seriousness of global warming but focusing on day-to-day changes individuals can make. Throughout, humor keeps readers engaged. Grade level K–3. 40 pages.

Earth in the Hot Seat: Bulletins from a Warming World by Marfé Ferguson Delano (National Geographic)
Beginning with examples of changes seen by scientists, this well-written narrative then moves to thorough explanations of the underlying science and explores the ecological consequences of climate change. Grade level: 4–6. 64 pages.

In the Rainforest [Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science] by Kate Duke (Harper)
This tour through the rainforest describes the special features of the area and defines unfamiliar vocabulary. Cheerful mixed-media illustrations show visiting children climbing trees (with ropes and clamps), journaling, and exploring the ecosystem. Grade level: K–3. 40 pages.

Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines by Paul Fleishman (Candlewick)
A wake-up call about the environmental crisis, this book homes in on five “key fronts” — population, consumption, energy, food, and climate — and explores historical and sociological contexts. A refreshingly opinionated approach to informed action. Grade level: 7 and up. 204 pages.

Wild Horse Scientists [Scientists in the Field series] by Kay Frydenborg (Houghton)
Researchers are attempting to control the horse population on Assateague Island by developing a contraceptive vaccine that limits mares to a single foal per lifetime. Relevant and clear color photographs show both horses and scientists in situ. Grade level: 4–6. 80 pages.

The Buffalo Are Back by Jean Craighead George; illus. by Wendell Minor (Dutton)
This compact ecodrama documents the buffalo’s slaughter to decimate the Native Americans and open the prairie to settlers, then turns to the reversal: the discovery, instigated by President Theodore Roosevelt, of three hundred remaining wild buffalo. Grade level K–3. 32 pages.

Galápagos George by Jean Craighead George; illus. by Wendell Minor (HarperCollins/Harper)
The life cycle of a single female Galápagos tortoise, Giantess George, is extrapolated to the development of the entire species. She and other tortoises are transported to different islands in a storm; over thousands of years, they evolve into different subspecies. Grade level K–3. 40 pages.

Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 by Phillip Hoose (Farrar)
One rufa red knot known as “Moonbird” has flown some 325,000 miles in his lifetime. Lucid, graceful prose (with glorious photographs) details the birds’ characteristics, profiles scientists and activist kids, and explores long-term prospects for survival. Grade level: 4–6. 148 pages.

The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever written by H. Joseph Hopkins; illus. by Jill McElmurry (Simon/Beach Lane)
Kate Sessions, the first woman to graduate from Berkeley with a science degree, was responsible for populating San Diego’s Balboa Park with lush, green trees, just in time for the Panama-California Exposition in 1915. Grade level K–3. 32 pages.

Can We Save the Tiger? written by Martin Jenkins; illus. by Vicky White (Candlewick)
This volume provides a gracefully organized overview of several endangered species. Jenkins’s narrative voice is engagingly informal. White’s pencil and oil paint illustrations fill the large pages. A stunningly beautiful book as well as an eloquent appeal. Grade level K–3. 56 pages.

The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest — and Most Surprising — Animals on Earth by Steve Jenkins (Houghton)
This thoughtful book begins with a survey of the animal kingdom, then covers “Family,” “Senses,” “Predators,” and “Defenses.” The paper-collage art is taken from Jenkins’s previous work, each image recontextualized to serve the book’s purpose. Grade level: 4–6. 208 pages.

Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World written by Laurie Lawlor; illus. by Laura Beingessner (Holiday)
From the naturalist’s early fascination with wildlife to her determination to finish her landmark work, Silent Spring, before her death, this accessible account folds a commendable amount of significant information into picture book format. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.

Puffling Patrol by Ted and Betsy Lewin (Lee & Low)
On Iceland’s Heimaey island, children take part in a generations-old fledgling puffin search-and-rescue tradition. As they tour the island with researchers, the Lewins capture the beauty of the landscape and the awkwardly amusing appeal of the birds. Grade level: K–3. 56 pages.

The Manatee Scientists: Saving Vulnerable Species [Scientists in the Field series] by Peter Lourie (Houghton)
Scientists Fernando Rosas (Brazil), John Reynolds (Florida), and Lucy Keith (West Africa) investigate manatees in the wild and in captivity. The text and photographs capture the science and politics of animal conservation and the scientists’ dedication. Grade level: 4–6. 80 pages.

The Polar Bear Scientists [Scientists in the Field series] by Peter Lourie (Houghton)
Lourie takes us to Alaska to observe biologists researching a subpopulation of polar bears, then to the lab where the data is processed and stored. Crisp photographs capture the animals and the equipment needed to do research in such extreme conditions. Grade level: 4–6. 80 pages.

The Chiru of High Tibet: A True Story by Jacqueline Briggs Martin; illus. by Linda Wingerter (Houghton)
The antelope-like chiru of northern Tibet were hunted nearly to extinction for their soft wool. Wildlife champion George Schaller hoped to save the chiru by protecting their birthing ground — but first he had to find it. Grade level: K–3. 40 pages.

Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa’s Fastest Cats [Scientists in the Field] by Sy Montgomery; photos by Nic Bishop (Houghton)
Journal-style text and striking photographs introduce Laurie Marker and her team of conservationists at the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia. Of special interest is Tiger Lily, a cheetah who has spent her life at the CCF as an “ambassador.” Grade level: 4–6. 79 pages.

Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot [Scientists in the Field] by Sy Montgomery; photos by Nic Bishop (Houghton)
Montgomery and Bishop trek to Codfish Island off New Zealand’s coast to bring us a marvelous account of the efforts of naturalists to save the kakapo. In-depth descriptions and glorious photographs cover all aspects of the conservation effort. Grade level: 4–6. 74 pages.

The Tapir Scientist: Saving South America’s Largest Mammal [Scientists in the Field] by Sy Montgomery; photos by Nic Bishop (Houghton)
In the Pantanal wetlands of Brazil, scientist Patricia Medici and her team study the lowland tapir. Montgomery’s dramatic account of tracking the elusive animals is interspersed with scientific information about tapir species. Grade level: 4–6. 74 pages.

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A. Nivola (Farrar/Foster)
Earle’s intimate knowledge of the creatures she’s spent over half a century observing permeates this biography illustrated with exquisite watercolors. An author’s note explains why we all need to help curtail the threats of overfishing, climate change, oil spills, and pollutants. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.

Leopard & Silkie: One Boy’s Quest to Save the Seal Pups written by Brenda Peterson; photographs by Robin Lindsey (Holt/Ottaviano)
The Seal Sitters is a Pacific Northwest watch group that educates human beachgoers and protects harbor seals when they come ashore to give birth to and care for their young. Newborn seal Leopard is fortunate to have “kid volunteer” Miles on the case. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.

Celebritrees: Historic and Famous Trees of the World written by Margi Preus; illus. by Rebecca Gibbon (Holt/Ottaviano)
This gallery of impressive trees offers substantive information on what makes each specimen unique. Friendly folk art–style paintings bustle with life, including birds and squirrels in the branches and people in the shade. Conservation tips are appended. Grade level: K–3. 40 pages.

Plant a Pocket of Prairie written by Phyllis Root; illus. by Betsy Bowen (University of Minnesota)
There’s not a lot of prairie left in the U.S.; this book encourages readers to reverse this trend by planting native plants in their own backyards and watching what animals are attracted by each plant species. Grade level: K–3. 40 pages.

Parrots over Puerto Rico written by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore; illus. by Susan L. Roth (Lee & Low)
This gorgeously illustrated history of the endangered Puerto Rican parrot underscores the consequences of human populations on animal species. With stunning paper-and-fabric artwork, the book is laid out vertically to give a sense of height. Grade level: K–3. 48 pages.

Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands by Katherine Roy (Roaring Brook/Macaulay)
This account of great white sharks off the Northern California coast examines fascinating details about the predator. The main narrative describes a shark hunting; information-rich sections tell more about shark biology and about the scientists who study them. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.

Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out! written by April Pulley Sayre; illus. by Annie Patterson (Charlesbridge)
Very few sea turtles survive to adulthood. This turtle is one of the fortunate ones, thanks to the volunteers who protect turtle nests and hatchlings. Readers will be drawn in by Turtle’s newborn awkwardness, captured by softly colored realistic illustrations. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.

Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives by Lola M. Schaefer; illus. by Christopher Silas Neal (Chronicle)
The concept of quantity is examined in the context of animal lives. Schaefer presents the number of times an animal “performs one behavior” in its lifetime, from the single egg sac spun by a spider, up to the thousand babies carried by a male seahorse. Grade level: PS, K–3. 40 pages.

Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature written by Joyce Sidman; illus. by Beth Krommes (Houghton)
Scratchboard illustrations, vividly depicting spirals in nature, suffuse every page with color, shape, and movement. Each spread offers a treasure trove of details that will captivate the youngest readers. The simple text is powerful and poetic. Grade level: PS. 40 pages.

Dolphins by Seymour Simon (HarperCollins/Collins)
Simon draws readers beyond initial captivation with dolphins’ appearance and intelligence into deeper discussions of species, life cycles, and social organization. Vivid full-page photographs are well-matched to the text. A note on conservation is appended. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.

Global Warming by Seymour Simon (HarperCollins/Collins)
With straightforward prose, Simon leads novices through such tricky concepts as greenhouse gases and the differences between daily weather and long-term climate change. The book ends with the reassurance that we can help reverse the rate of change. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.

No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young; illus. by Nicole Wong (Charlesbridge)
Stewart and Young explain where chocolate comes from: working backward from cocoa beans (dried and processed by humans) to cocoa pods (from cocoa flowers pollinated by midges) to monkeys dropping cocoa seeds on the rainforest floor. Full-bleed ink and watercolor illustrations show each step along the way. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.

The Sea Turtle Scientist [Scientists in the Field] by Stephen R. Swinburne (Houghton)
The Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) studies the sea turtles in the Caribbean and works for their preservation. This series entry follows Dr. Kimberly Stewart, a.k.a. the “turtle lady,” who lives and works with WIDECAST on the island of St. Kitts. Grade level: 4–6. 65 pages.

Project Seahorse [Scientists in the Field series] written by Pamela S. Turner,; photographs by Scott Tuason
Readers follow conservation group Project Seahorse in its efforts to preserve seahorses, coastal reefs, and the fishing-based livelihood of Handumon, in the Philippines. Interspersed are details about seahorses, portrayed beautifully in underwater photography. Grade level: 4–6. 57 pages.

Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story by Thomas F. Yezerski (Farrar)
This ecological history of Meadowlands of New Jersey captures the complex relationship between humans and the environment. Each double-page-spread illustration is bordered by tiny images with a wealth of taxonomical information (and sly humor). Grade level: K–3. 40 pages.

Secrets of the Garden: Food Chains and the Food Web in Our Backyard written by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld; illus. by Priscilla Lamont (Knopf) 
Alice and her family have a plot of land upon which they grow edible plants, raise chickens, and enjoy their interactions with the variety of living things in their backyard ecosystem. Grade level: K–3. 40 pages.

 

Poetry

In the Wild by David Elliott; illus. by Holly Meade (Candlewick)
Full-spread woodcut and watercolor art captures both the essences and habitats of fourteen worldwide animals: a jaguar prowling the jungle floor, a polar bear immersed in a blue-green sea, etc. Deftly composed verses include paradoxes and wry thoughts. Companion books: In the Sea and On the Wing. Grade level: PS. 32 pages.

UnBEElievables: Honeybee Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian (Simon/Beach Lane)
Florian evokes the world of bees with repetitive patterning that cleverly references honeycombs, flowers, and the bees themselves. His humorous rhythmic verse, too, echoes bee behavior. A paragraph of more straightforward facts elucidates each spread. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.

All the Water in the World written by George Ella Lyon; illus. by Katherine Tillotson (Atheneum/Jackson)
Lyon celebrates the essence of life itself in a lyrical poem about the water cycle. In sweeping, digitally rendered art resembling watercolor and collage, Tillotson creates luxuriant ocean swirls and pelting streaks of rain. Grade level: K–3. 40 pages.

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13. Life, death, and football

Gritty and intense but also full of heart and hope, each of these four YA novels stars a teenage boy facing some of life’s most serious challenges.

smith_alex crowAndrew Smith follows his 2014 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award–winning Grasshopper Jungle with the similarly multilayered, ambitious novel The Alex Crow. Fifteen-year-old war refugee Ariel lived through the bombing of his village by hiding in a broken refrigerator. Ariel’s emotionally raw account of his year surviving various atrocities alternates with an often darkly funny account of his six-week stint at the disciplinary Camp Merrie-Seymour for Boys, which he attends with his American adoptive brother Max. Two other story lines converge with Ariel’s: that of a deranged man’s U-Haul road trip and of the ship Alex Crow‘s ill-fated nineteenth-century Arctic voyage. The multiple narratives and original sci-fi elements are anchored by strong prose and a distinct teenage-boy sensibility. (Penguin/Dutton, 14 years and up)

reynolds_boy-in-the-black-suitHigh-school senior Matt, the eponymous Boy in the Black Suit, is mourning the mother who died just before the book begins and the long on-the-wagon father who has returned to drink. At his funeral-parlor job he looks for “the person hurting the most,” hoping that his or her expression of grief will help him deal with his own. While all this sounds like heavy problem-novel territory, it isn’t. Just as in his previous novel When I Was the Greatest, Jason Reynolds writes about urban African American kids in a way, warm and empathetic, the late Walter Dean Myers would have applauded. (Atheneum, 14 years and up)

gardner_deadIknowIn The Dead I Know, another mortuary-set story, Aaron Rowe begins his first job at JKB Funerals. A young man of few words, Aaron takes to his work readily, assembling the coffins and washing the hearse, which helps him temporarily escape the disturbing events at home in the caravan park. After tragedy strikes, he is finally able to accept desperately needed help from the funeral home’s proprietors, who reach out to him through their own pain and loss. Moments of warmth and humor lighten the psychological suspense and frank depiction of death in Scot Gardner’s engrossing novel. (Houghton, 14 years and up)

lynch_hit countFreshman football player Arlo Brodie, star of Hit Count, sets his future goals: varsity linebacker by sophomore year, then college ball for a Division One team, then the pros. Arlo works out like a fiend, gets in super shape, makes varsity, and plays like a man possessed. An alarmingly high hit count, or number of hard blows to the head, forces the coach to bench him, but by that point, the adulation, the workouts, and the thrill of sanctioned combat have become Arlo’s drug, and he’s addicted. Chris Lynch’s unflinching examination of the price of athletic power, with plenty of bone-crunching play-by-play action, is both thought-provoking and formidable. (Algonquin, 14 years and up)

From the April 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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14. Fearless females

From an aspiring journalist to an up-and-coming roller derby grrl, the determined and curious female protagonists of these intermediate and middle-school books are ready to take on the world.

springstubb_moonpenny islandIn Tricia Springstubb’s Moonpenny Island, the titular tiny Ohio vacation spot is lousy with fossils — specifically, of trilobites from the Cambrian period. Sixth-grade townie Flor becomes fascinated with trilobites’ eyes after learning they were “among the very first creatures” to develop them. Flor herself is, in some ways, as sightless as early trilobites, for she misses much of what’s going on in her family and in her interconnected island community. Flor’s growing awareness of those around her results in a unique protagonist who, like a fossil, creates an imprint that remains after her story is finished. (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, 9–12 years)

birdsall_penderwicks in springJeanne Birdsall‘s fourth Penderwicks book, The Penderwicks in Spring, focuses on Batty, now ten and the “senior member of the younger Penderwick siblings.” To raise money for singing lessons, she starts a neighborhood odd-jobs business. There’s a lot of melancholy here: dog-walking sadly reminds Batty of her dear departed Hound, and she suffers benign neglect from one big sister (Rosalind is temporarily boy-crazy) and hurtful words from another. On the plus side, stepbrother Ben (seven) and half-sister Lydia (two), in their cheering-up efforts, emerge as formidable Penderwicks themselves, and Batty rewardingly finds her voice at her climactic Grand Eleventh Birthday Concert. (Knopf, 9–12 years)

vaught_footer davis probably is crazyAt the start of Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy by Susan Vaught, eleven-year-old Footer Davis’s mother, who has bipolar disorder, is admitted to a psychiatric hospital after shooting off an elephant rifle in their backyard. To distract herself from her mother’s worsening condition, budding journalist Footer (with aspiring-detective best friend Peavine) investigates a dramatic unsolved local crime. Footer’s lively narrative voice and irreverent sense of humor add levity to the heavy subject matter. Like its heroine, the book itself is compelling, offbeat, and fearless. (Simon/Wiseman, 9–12 years)

jamieson_roller girlWhen her best friend Nicole starts harping on about ballet, fashion, and dating, twelve-year-old Astrid, star of Victoria Jamieson’s graphic novel Roller Girl, is left behind (read: not interested). She’s behind on the roller derby track, too, where she has signed up for summer boot camp even though she can’t skate five seconds without disaster. Astrid faces the challenges of derby as well as tweendom, and when the time comes for her big end-of-summer bout, “Asteroid” is brimming with confidence and ready to roll. Readers will identify with Astrid’s journey to find her authentic self. Have this book at the ready for Telgemeier fans racing to find something new. (Dial, 9–12 years)

From the April 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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15. The early bird

After a long, hard winter, spring has finally returned. With it come our little feathered friends — and picture books about them.

konnecke_you can do it, bertIn Ole Könnecke’s humorous, cheering picture book You Can Do It, Bert!, a small red bird walks out to the end of a slender tree branch, trepidation written all over his face. “This is Bert. It’s his big day.” A brief, direct-address text follows Bert as he flaps his wings, checks his environment, and looks like he’s about to take a running start…but no, not yet. Simple shapes and minimal detail keep readers’ attention squarely on the (in)action — with a surprise twist! (Gecko, 2–5 years)

cronin_smickWith just a few words but a bounty of playfulness, Doreen Cronin introduces preschoolers (and early readers) to good-natured, droopy-eared dog Smick! During a game of fetch between dog and offstage narrator (“Stick?”), Smick is distracted by a “Cluck!” and discovers: chick. All ends in joyful friendship: “Sidekick… / Sidechick. / Side lick! ick.” Digital art by Juana Medina mostly consists of simple black lines against expansive white space that communicate Smick’s constant motion and boundless energy. (Viking, 2–5 years)

yolen_you nest here with meJane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple’s You Nest Here with Me incorporates real-life information about birds into a comforting bedtime picture book. A mother reads to her daughter (from a book called…You Nest Here with Me) about the different places birds can make their nests — “Pigeons nest on concrete ledges, / Catbirds nest in greening hedges…” The reassuring refrain is “You nest here with me.” Melissa Sweet’s watercolor, gouache, and mixed-media illustrations are both lovely and accurate in their depictions of the avian creatures and their habitats. (Boyds Mills, 2–5 years)

paschkis_p. zonka lays an eggA hen named P. Zonka is dismissed by the other chickens as a dreamer; she’s more concerned with flowers, clouds, and the colors of the sky than with laying eggs. Cajoled into trying it, P. Zonka finally succeeds, but her egg surprises everyone. Julie Paschkis’s P. Zonka Lays an Egg gives one possible (and humorous) explanation behind the tradition of those beautiful Ukrainian pysanky. Her watercolors, filled with repeated patterns and a beautiful use of black outlines, seem to pop off the pages. (Peachtree, 4–7 years)

From the April 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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16. Versatile verse

National Poetry Month (better known as April) celebrates a form that can be used in myriad ways to explore any topic imaginable. Here are two collections of poems with themes in common, and two books that use poetry to help tell a larger story.

wardlaw_won ton and chopstickA kitty named Won Ton makes his second appearance in Lee Wardlaw’s Won Ton and Chopstick: A Cat and Dog Tale Told in Haiku. Won Ton’s first-person haiku narrate his adjustment to the arrival of a new puppy. At first things do not go well — “Ears perk. Fur prickles. / Belly low, I creep…peek…FREEZE! / My eyes full of Doom.” — but eventually the two find common ground in their mutual love of their little-boy owner. The interrelated haiku together create a story of gradual friendship, but each can also stand alone, capturing Won Ton’s quintessential felineness (“Nap, play, bathe, nap, eat, repeat.”). Eugene Yelchin’s graphite and gouache illustrations contrast the sleek gray cat with the roly-poly brown puppy; pastel backgrounds highlight the pets’ expressive faces and body language. (Holt, 5–8 years)

mcnamara_poem in your pocketElinor, star of the picture book A Poem in Your Pocket, initially feels confident in her poetry-writing ability, but her firm grasp of terms like simile and metaphor doesn’t mean she can write great poetry herself. She gets more and more worried as the class prepares for a visit by a famous poet. Author Margaret McNamara slyly works in a lot of information about poetry while keeping the focus on Elinor’s dilemma. Examples of poetry the kids come up with may inspire young readers to attempt their own writing, especially since G. Brian Karas’s gouache, acrylic, and pencil pictures make the diverse group of classmates look like they’re having a great time. (Random/Schwartz & Wade, 5–8 years)

brown_hypnotize a tigerCalef Brown’s collection Hypnotize a Tiger: Poems About Just About Everything ends with an invitation to write your own poetry, but the whole book is such an invitation. Brown takes several kids’-book conventions — such as the celebration of the outlier, weird animals, and complaints about school — and gives them fresh energy. He even infuses the yucky-foods trope with original twists (the Loofah Torte is particularly startling). From the bottom margin, a peanut gallery of creatures much given to puns comment on the poems and offer their own. Black-and-white drawings add to the jauntiness and the welcoming, joyous mood. (Holt/Ottaviano, 7–10 years)

janczko_death of the hatIn their fourth collaboration, The Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects, selector Paul B. Janeczko and illustrator Chris Raschka offer readers fifty poems whose origins range from the early Middle Ages to the postmodern and contemporary eras. The poems are unified by a common theme — each is about an object — and organized chronologically. Raschka’s soft, impressionistic watercolors showcase each poem, visually encouraging readers to keep reading. Expect variety in the selections, from old favorites such as “My Shadow” by Robert Louis Stevenson to “Grainfield” by Ibn ‘Iyād to Pablo Neruda’s “Ode to a Stamp Album.” (Candlewick, 7–10 years)

From the April 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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17. Bad company

Conspiracy theory or everyday life? These new YA novels — three thrillers and one dark comedy — star teen protagonists finding their places in worlds manipulated by not-so-scrupulous corporations.

myers_on a clear dayWalter Dean Myers’s posthumously published On a Clear Day takes place in 2035. The Central Eight (C-8) companies rule everything, enriching themselves while the rest of society suffers. Millions are starving, schools have closed, and everyone seems to ignore the collateral damage caused by the seductive “marvelous gadgets” the companies sell. Hope lies in small bands of resistance such as the one joined by sixteen-year-old math whiz Dahlia Grillo. Dahlia is an appealing protagonist in a troubling world not far removed from our own. (Crown, 14 years and up)

bacigalupi_doubt factoryMoses Cruz, leader of a diverse group of orphan teens, has targeted Alix Banks in order to destroy his real objective: her father, whose PR firm defends harmful products sold by Fortune 500 companies. Moses shatters Alix’s sheltered, privileged existence — stalking and kidnapping her — in hopes that she’ll help expose her father’s corruption. In his compelling thriller The Doubt Factory, Paolo Bacigalupi excels at creating two fully rounded narrators: Alix, who transforms from naive rich-girl to activist, and Moses, enigmatic, dangerous, yet somehow likable. (Little, Brown, 14 years and up)

rubin_denton little's death dateIn seventeen-year-old Denton’s world, AstroThanatoGenetics makes it possible — and the U.S. government makes it mandatory — to know the date of a person’s death at the time of their birth. On the morning of his funeral, Denton wakes up in his best friend’s sister’s bed, unsure of whether he’s cheated on his girlfriend. He then spends his deathdate (also the day of his senior prom) wondering how he’ll go — and there are plenty of possibilities. Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin has dark humor in spades, plus fully developed relationships and a mystery that will keep pages turning. (Knopf, 14 years and up)

lippert-martin_tabula rasaIn Kristen Lippert-Martin’s Tabula Rasa, Sarah is one of several young patients in a remote state-of-the-art hospital, living in isolation while doctors surgically remove their memories. Before her final treatment can be completed — and after Sarah has taken a covertly delivered pill that may release her damaged memories — soldiers attack the hospital, killing patients and doctors alike. Sarah taps into a forgotten cache of strength, agility, and tactical instinct to evade the intruders, but to escape the hospital she must ally herself with friendly-but-cagey hacker Thomas. Mysteries stack upon mysteries in this gripping, multifaceted thriller. (Egmont, 12–16 years)

From the February 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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18. ABC, easy as 123

Who says ABC books are just for babies? Why can’t you mix up some colors using just your finger, no paint? The following concept books defy conventions — and expectations.

tullet_mix it upIn Mix It Up!, Hervé Tullet follows the same format as in his hugely entertaining Press Here, but this time the play is focused on colors and what happens when you mix them. Children are directed to press on color splotches or to shake or tilt the book to make the colors “mix” or “run.” Turn the pages to see the results. For example, “If you rub the two colors [red and blue] together really hard…then what happens?” (Page-turn: purple!) Lots of fun, with no messy cleanup. (Chronicle/Handprint, 2–5 years)

carter_b is for boxThat bright, friendly cube from David A. Carter’s The Happy Little Yellow Box: A Pop-Up Book of Opposites is back in B Is for Box: The Happy Little Yellow Box. This time it’s taking a trip through the alphabet, encouraging children to use pull-tabs, lift-the-flaps, and other interactive features every step of the way. The white text and chalklike drawings on black backgrounds introduce multiple upper- and lowercase letters per page. The bold color contrasts and carefully engineered surprises make for a high-energy alphabet book. (Little Simon, 2–5 years)

jeffers_once-upon-an-alphabetEach letter of the alphabet gets its own little four-page story in Oliver Jeffers’s Once Upon an Alphabet. The tales are clever, silly, and thought-provoking; some of them overlap, with characters making their way in and out of one another’s stories. Jeffers’s loose-lined illustrations include lots of visual humor that will appeal to older children who already know their ABCs but can still appreciate a good alphabet book. (Philomel, 5–8 years)

ramstein_before afterThe wordless Before After by Anne-Margot Ramstein and Matthias Arégui presents before-and-after sequences: night to day, acorn to oak tree, etc. As the book progresses, some of the sequences become longer (sheep to wool to knitting to sweater), as simple transitions make way for more complex or philosophical ones. Clean, subdued-palette digital illustrations help pave the way for thoughtful discussion. (Candlewick, 5–8 years)

From the February 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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19. Domestic animals

goldish science dogs Domestic animalsGoldish, Meish Science Dogs
Gr. 4–6    
32 pp.     Bearport

Goldish, Meish Shelter Dogs
Gr. 4–6    
32 pp.      Bearport

Dog Heroes series. These series entries introduce two types of “dog heroes”: in Science, dogs are studied to aid beneficial scientific discoveries and innovations; Shelter discusses how unwanted dogs can go on to do remarkable things for humans after they’re adopted. The volumes are accessible, with numerous photographs and interesting personal anecdotes rounding out the texts. Reading list, websites. Bib., glos., ind.
Subjects: Domestic Animals; Pets; Animals—Dogs; Animal shelters; Scientists; Science

green inheritance of traits Domestic animalsGreen, Jen Inheritance of Traits: Why Is My Dog Bigger Than Your Dog?
Gr. 4–6    
32 pp.     Raintree

Show Me Sciences series. In a successful series entry, Green walks us through the “Ultimate Pet Show,” describing how dogs, cats, and horses evolved from the wild and are bred to encourage the emergence of certain traits in each species’ breeds. Explanations are clear, specific, and supported by simple diagrams and engaging photos of our animal companions. Reading list, websites. Glos., ind.
Subjects: Domestic Animals; Genetics; Animals—Horses; Animals—Cats; Animals—Dogs; Pets

johnson guinea pig Domestic animalsJohnson, Jinny Guinea Pig
Gr. K–3
     24 pp.     Smart Apple

Johnson, Jinny Hamster and Gerbil
Gr. K–3
     24 pp.     Smart Apple

Johnson, Jinny Kitten
Gr. K–3
     24 pp.     Smart Apple

Johnson, Jinny Puppy
Gr. K–3
     24 pp.     Smart Apple

Johnson, Jinny Rabbit
Gr. K–3
     24 pp.     Smart Apple

My New Pet series. Young children learn what it takes to care for a new pet. Large print and a combination of photos and drawings of familiar critters present the responsibilities — providing food, water, a place for sleeping and play, gentle handling, regular attention, and veterinary care. The books are narrated simply in the first-person voice of a child; a few notes for parents wrap things up. Glos., ind.
Subjects: Domestic Animals; Animals—Dogs; Animals—Rabbits; Animals—Cats; Animals—Guinea pigs; Animals—Hamsters; Animals—Gerbils; Pets

spiotta dimare draft horses Domestic animalsSpiotta-DiMare, Loren Draft Horses: Horses That Work
Gr. 4–6    
48 pp.     Enslow/Elementary

Spiotta-DiMare, Loren Performing Horses: Horses That Entertain
Gr. 4–6    
48 pp.     Enslow/Elementary

Spiotta-DiMare, Loren Police Horses: Horses That Protect
Gr. 4–6    
48 pp.     Enslow/Elementary

Spiotta-DiMare, Loren Therapy Horses: Horses That Heal
Gr. 4–6    
48 pp.     Enslow/Elementary

Horses That Help with the American Humane Association series. Examining horses that work as performers, with police, pulling plows and wagons, and in therapeutic environments, these volumes address the history of horses doing such work, breeds, training, the work itself, and horse retirement. The conversational writing, plentiful examples, and occasional references to the author’s own horse keep things engaging. Photos and “Fast Fact” sidebars enliven the design. Reading list, websites. Glos., ind.
Subjects: Domestic Animals; Animals—Horses; Police officers

stiefel chickens on the family farm Domestic animalsStiefel, Chana Chickens on the Family Farm
Gr. K–3     24 pp.     Enslow

Stiefel, Chana Cows on the Family Farm
Gr. K–3      24 pp.     Enslow

Stiefel, Chana Goats on the Family Farm
Gr. K–3     24 pp.     Enslow

Stiefel, Chana Pigs on the Family Farm
Gr. K–3     24 pp.     Enslow

Stiefel, Chana Sheep on the Family Farm
Gr. K–3     24 pp.     Enslow

Stiefel, Chana Turkeys on the Family Farm
Gr. K–3      24 pp.      Enslow

Animals on the Family Farm series. One family’s farm is the setting for these six simple books about domestic animals. In each volume, a conversational text and colorful photos briefly cover basics: what the animal eats, where it lives (coop, pen, etc.), differences between males and females (size, coloring), care of young, and what it’s raised for (eggs, cheese, meat). Reading list, websites. Glos., ind.
Subjects: Domestic Animals; Farms and farm life; Animals–Chickens; Animals—Cows; Animals—Goats; Animals—Pigs; Animals—Sheep; Animals—Turkeys

From the October 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

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20. Cookery

barlow noodlemania CookeryBarlow, Melissa Noodlemania!: 50 Playful Pasta Recipes
Gr. 46     112 pp.     Quirk Books

Illustrated by Alison Oliver. Sections named for pasta shapes (“Twisted & Twirly,” “Wheels & Whatever”) contain recipes that use common ingredients and simple techniques with the usual caveat about grown-up help. Appetizing full-color photos show final products. Pasta trivia, creative cooking tips, and “fun facts” are scattered throughout. A chart suggesting substitutions, such as ravioli instead of tortellini, is a clever addition. Ind.
Subjects: Cookery and Nutrition; Food

elton starting from scratch CookeryElton, Sarah Starting from Scratch: What You Should Know About Food and Cooking
Middle school, high school      96 pp.     Owlkids

Illustrated by Jeff Kulak. Although this book includes some recipes, it’s not a cookbook. Elton explores why we cook, how our senses contribute to food preferences, how culture and history affect food choices, and more. The lively prose is accompanied by stylized illustrations, charts, activities, and other graphics. A “guide to flavor pairing” and a measurement conversion chart are appended. Ind.
Subjects: Cookery and Nutrition; Food

lapenta fall shakes to harvest bakes CookeryLaPenta, Marilyn Fall Shakes to Harvest Bakes
Gr. K3     24 pp.     Bearport

LaPenta, Marilyn Spring Spreads to “Nutty” Breads
Gr. K3     24 pp.     Bearport

LaPenta, Marilyn Summer Sips to “Chill” Dips
Gr. K3     24 pp.     Bearport

LaPenta, Marilyn Winter Punches to Nut Crunches
Gr. K3     24 pp.     Bearport

Yummy Tummy Recipes: Seasons series. Corny titles and static illustrations aside, these cookbooks are something fresh for kids. With seasonal ingredients — pumpkin and cranberry for fall, peach and melon for summer, etc. — they offer enticing and healthy dishes that are perfect for holiday celebrations and generally enjoying each season. Sidebars present health tips, and directions are simple to follow and relatively concise. Reading list. Bib., glos., ind.
Subjects: Cookery and Nutrition; Seasons—Autumn; Seasons—Summer; Seasons—Spring; Seasons—Winter; Food; Bakers and baking

wagner cool backyard grilling CookeryWagner, Lisa Cool Backyard Grilling: Beyond the Basics for Kids Who Cook
Gr. 46     32 pp.     ABDO

Wagner, Lisa Cool Best-Ever Brunches: Beyond the Basics for Kids Who Cook
Gr. 46     32 pp.     ABDO

Wagner, Lisa Cool Cooking Up Chili: Beyond the Basics for Kids Who Cook
Gr. 46     32 pp.     ABDO

Wagner, Lisa Cool Game Day Parties: Beyond the Basics for Kids Who Cook
Gr. 46     32 pp.     ABDO

Checkerboard How-To Library: Cool Young Chefs series. Each volume emphasizes characteristics of being a good cook (efficiency, creativity, organization, etc.); introduces a cooking technique and safety guidelines; and includes nine not-too-difficult, kid-appealing recipes—caramelized onion dip, black bean chili, breakfast bakes, kebabs, and more—with variations. Clear step-by-step directions include helpful color photos. There is some boilerplate repetition across the useful, accessible series. Glos., ind.
Subjects: Cookery and Nutrition; Food

walton lets bake a cake CookeryWalton, Ruth Let’s Bake a Cake
Gr. K3     32 pp.     Sea to Sea

Let’s Find Out series. Beginning with a birthday cake baked at Grandma’s (recipe appended), this book explores the origin and processing of the ingredients: sugar, butter, eggs, wheat, and chocolate. Walton generally makes sound choices about coverage for these broad topics, along with occasional advocacy for organic, fair-trade products. Collage-style illustrations and captioned photos help clarify the wide-ranging (and haphazardly organized) subjects. Glos., ind.
Subjects: Cookery and Nutrition; Bakers and baking

From the October 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

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21. Big ideas

adler things that float and things that dont Big ideasAdler, David A. Things That Float and Things That Don’t
Gr. K3        32 pp.      Holiday

Illustrated by Anna Raff. Adler expertly teaches the concept of density, moving beyond classic floating and sinking experiments to a carefully constructed lesson that helps young thinkers appreciate both scientific explanations and practices. The concepts are kept simple and age appropriate, without shying away from the more abstract dimensions of science. Cartoonlike illustrations portray two children and their curious dog happily doing science.
Subjects: Physics and Chemistry; Water; Vehicles—Boats and boating

andregg seven billion and counting Big ideasAndregg, Michael M. Seven Billion and Counting: The Crisis in Global Population Growth
Middle school, high school   
88 pp.    Twenty-First Century

This book is chock-full of sobering statistics on human population growth. Andregg explains demographic basics, then how numbers are affected by the interplay of politics, religion, depletion of natural resources, poverty, education, and access to health care such as birth control. Photos and graphs extend the rich, thought-provoking text. Reading list, websites. Bib., glos., ind.
Subjects: Social Issues; Population

ross shapes in math science and nature Big ideasRoss, Catherine Sheldrick Shapes in Math, Science and Nature: Squares, Triangles and Circles
Gr. 46     192 pp.     Kids Can

Illustrated by Bill Slavin. Upper-elementary math fans (and teachers) will enjoy the many hands-on activities in this compilation of Ross and Slavin’s three earlier books about squares, triangles, and circles—and their related solid shapes. Numerous details (historical, architectural, geographical, etc.) are woven in among the projects and games—some of which are quite challenging (e.g., making a sundial). Chapters include diagrams and cartoonlike illustrations. Glos., ind.
Subjects: Mathematics; Mathematics—Geometry

schaefer lifetime Big ideasSchaefer, Lola M. Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives
Gr. K–3     40 pp.     Chronicle

Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal. The concept of quantity is cleverly examined in the context of animal lives. Schaefer presents the number of times an animal “performs one behavior” in its lifetime, starting with the single egg sac spun by a spider, up to the thousand babies carried by a male seahorse. Bold and beautifully composed, Neal’s retro illustrations contain the actual number of items mentioned. Supplemental information is appended.
Subjects: Natural History; Animals; Biology

zoehfeld secrets of the seasons Big ideasZoehfeld, Kathleen Weidner Secrets of the Seasons: Orbiting the Sun in Our Backyard
Gr. K—3        40 pp.      Knopf

Illustrated by Priscilla Lamont. Alice and friends from Secrets of the Garden return to enjoy her nature-filled backyard. This time, she learns to notice and welcome differences in weather, plants, and animal life in each of the four seasons of the temperate northern hemisphere. Throughout, airy pen and watercolor illustrations make the appeal of nature accessible to even the youngest readers.
Subjects: Earth Science; Astronomy—Sun; Seasons; Nature

From the October 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

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22. Books mentioned in the October 2014 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book

Unexplained phenomena

Extraterrestrial Life series

Allman, Toney Are Extraterrestrials a Threat to Humankind?
Middle school, high school     80 pp.     ReferencePoint     2011
Library binding ISBN 978-1-60152-170-5

Kallen, Stuart A. The Search for Extraterrestrial Life
Middle school, high school     80 pp.     ReferencePoint     2011
Library binding ISBN 978-1-60152-171-2

Marcovitz, Hal Aliens in Pop Culture
Middle school, high school     80 pp.     ReferencePoint     2011
Library binding ISBN 978-1-60152-154-5

Netzley, Patricia D. Alien Encounters
Middle school, high school     80 pp.     ReferencePoint     2011
Library binding ISBN 978-1-60152-169-9

 Whiting, Jim UFOs
Middle school, high school     80 pp.     ReferencePoint     2011
Library binding ISBN 978-1-60152-172-9

Arnosky, Jim Monster Hunt: Exploring Mysterious Creatures with Jim Arnosky
Gr. 4–6     32 pp.     Hyperion     2011
Trade ISBN 978-1-4231-3028-4

Everett, J. H. and Scott-Waters, Marilyn Haunted Histories: Creepy Castles, Dark Dungeons, and Powerful Palaces
Gr. 4–6     146 pp.     Holt/Ottaviano     2012
Trade ISBN 978-0-8050-8971-4

Halls, Kelly Milner Alien Investigation: Searching for the Truth About UFOs and Aliens
Gr. 4–6     64 pp.     Millbrook     2012
Library binding ISBN 978-0-7613-6204-3

Unsolved Mysteries series

Pelleschi, Andrea Crop Circles
Middle school, high school     112 pp.     ABDO     2012
Library binding ISBN     978-1-61783-300-7

 Zuchora-Walske, Christine The Bermuda Triangle
Middle school, high school     112 pp.     ABDO     2012
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61783-298-7

Memoir

Earl, Esther This Star Won’t Go Out: The Life & Words of Esther Grace Earl
With Lori Earl and Wayne Earl
Middle school, high school     240 pp.     Dutton     2014
Trade ISBN 978-0-525-42636-3

Ehlert, Lois The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life
Gr. K–3     72 pp.     Simon/Beach Lane     2014
Trade ISBN 978-1-4424-3571-1

Kehret, Peg Animals Welcome: A Life of Reading, Writing, and Rescue
Gr. 46     175 pp.     Dutton     2012
Trade ISBN 978-0-525-42399-7

K’naan  When I Get Older: The Story Behind Wavin’ Flag 
With Sol Guy; illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez
Gr. K3     32 pp.     Tundra     2012
Trade ISBN 978-1-77049-302-5

Leyson, Leon, Harran, Marilyn J. and Leyson, Elisabeth B. The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible…on Schindler’s List
Gr. 46     232 pp.     Atheneum     2013
Trade ISBN 978-1-4424-9781-8 

 

Domestic Animals

Dog Heroes series

Goldish, Meish Science Dogs
Gr. 4–6    32 pp.     Bearport     2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61772-887-7

Goldish, Meish Shelter Dogs
Gr. 4–6    32 pp.     Bearport     2013
Library binding 978-1-61772-886-0

Green, Jen Inheritance of Traits: Why Is My Dog Bigger Than Your Dog? [Show Me Sciences series]
Gr. 4–6    32 pp.     Raintree     2014
Library binding ISBN 978-1-4329-8747-3
Paperback ISBN 978-1-4329-8754-1

My New Pet series

Johnson, Jinny Guinea Pig
Gr. K3    24 pp.     Smart Apple     2014
Library binding ISBN 978-1-62588-029-1

Johnson, Jinny Hamster and Gerbil
Gr. K3   24 pp.     Smart Apple     2014
Library binding ISBN 978-1-62588-030-7

Johnson, Jinny Kitten
Gr. K3    24 pp.     Smart Apple     2014
Library binding ISBN 978-1-62588-026-0

Johnson, Jinny Puppy
Gr. K3    24 pp.     Smart Apple    2014
Library binding ISBN 978-1-62588-027-7

Johnson, Jinny Rabbit
Gr. K3    24 pp.     Smart Apple     2014
Library binding ISBN 978-1-62588-028-4

Horses That Help with the American Humane Association series

Spiotta-DiMare, Loren Draft Horses: Horses That Work
Gr. K–3    
48 pp.     Enslow/Elementary     2014
LE ISBN 978-0-7660-4220-9

Spiotta-DiMare, Loren Performing Horses: Horses That Entertain
Gr. K–3     48 pp.     Enslow/Elementary     2014
LE ISBN 978-0-7660-4219-3

Spiotta-DiMare, Loren Police Horses: Horses That Protect
Gr. K–3     48 pp.     Enslow/Elementary     2014
LE ISBN 978-0-7660-4218-6

Spiotta-DiMare, Loren Therapy Horses: Horses That Heal
Gr. K–3     48 pp.     Enslow/Elementary     2014
LE ISBN 978-0-7660-4217-9

Animals on the Family Farm series

Stiefel, Chana Chickens on the Family Farm
24 pp. Enslow 2013
LE ISBN 978-0-7660-4204-9

Stiefel, Chana Cows on the Family Farm
24 pp. Enslow 2013. LE ISBN 978-0-7660-4205-6

Stiefel, Chana Goats on the Family Farm
24 pp. Enslow 2013. LE ISBN 978-0-7660-4206-3

Stiefel, Chana Pigs on the Family Farm
24 pp. Enslow 2013. LE ISBN 978-0-7660-4208-7

Stiefel, Chana Sheep on the Family Farm
24 pp. Enslow 2013. LE ISBN 978-0-7660-4209-4

Stiefel, Chana Turkeys on the Family Farm
24 pp. Enslow 2013. LE ISBN 978-0-7660-4207-0

 

Big ideas

Adler, David A. Things That Float and Things That Don’t
Illustrated by Anna Raff
Gr. K3        32 pp.      Holiday     2013
Trade ISBN 978-0-8234-2862-5

Andregg, Michael M. Seven Billion and Counting: The Crisis in Global Population Growth
Middle school, high school   
88 pp.    Twenty-First Century     2014
Library Binding ISBN 978-0-7613-6715-4

Ross, Catherine Sheldrick Shapes in Math, Science and Nature: Squares, Triangles and Circles
Gr. 46     192 pp.     Kids Can      2014
Illustrated by Bill Slavin
Library binding ISBN 978-1-77138-124-6

Schaefer, Lola M. Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives
Gr. K–3     40 pp.     Chronicle     2013
Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
Trade ISBN 978-1-4521-0714-1

Zoehfeld, Kathleen Weidner Secrets of the Seasons: Orbiting the Sun in Our Backyard
Illustrated by Priscilla Lamont
Gr. K—3        40 pp.      Knopf (Random House Children’s Books)     2014
Trade ISBN 978-0-517-70994-8
Library binding ISBN 978-0-517-70995-5

Cookery

Barlow, Melissa Noodlemania!: 50 Playful Pasta Recipes
Illustrated by Alison Oliver
Gr. 46     112 pp.     Quirk Books     2013
Paperback ISBN 978-1-59474-617-8

Elton, Sarah Starting from Scratch: What You Should Know About Food and Cooking
Illustrated by Jeff Kulak
Middle school, high school      96 pp.     Owlkids      2014
Trade ISBN 978-1-926973-96-8

Yummy Tummy Recipes: Seasons series

LaPenta, Marilyn Fall Shakes to Harvest Bakes
Gr. K3     24 pp.     Bearport      2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61772-742-9

LaPenta, Marilyn Spring Spreads to “Nutty” Breads
Gr. K3     24 pp.     Bearport      2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61772-744-3

LaPenta, Marilyn Summer Sips to “Chill” Dips
Gr. K3     24 pp.     Bearport      2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61772-741-2

LaPenta, Marilyn Winter Punches to Nut Crunches
Gr. K3     24 pp.     Bearport      2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-61772-743-6

Checkerboard How-To Library: Cool Young Chefs series

Wagner, Lisa Cool Backyard Grilling: Beyond the Basics for Kids Who Cook
Gr. 46     32 pp.     ABDO      2014
Library binding ISBN 978-1-62403-085-7

Wagner, Lisa Cool Best-Ever Brunches: Beyond the Basics for Kids Who Cook
Gr. 46     32 pp.     ABDO      2014
Library binding ISBN 978-1-62403-086-4

Wagner, Lisa Cool Cooking Up Chili: Beyond the Basics for Kids Who Cook
Gr. 46     32 pp.     ABDO      2014
Library binding ISBN 978-1-62403-087-1

Wagner, Lisa Cool Game Day Parties: Beyond the Basics for Kids Who Cook
Gr. 46     32 pp.     ABDO      2014
Library binding ISBN 978-1-62403-088-8

Walton, Ruth Let’s Bake a Cake [Let's Find Out series]
Gr. K3     32 pp.     Sea to Sea      2013
Library binding ISBN 978-1-59771-386-3

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

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23. Board Book Roundup: Fall 2014 Edition

This column is part of a series of recommended board book roundups, formerly published twice a year, now published every season. You can find the previous installments here. Don’t miss Viki Ash’s primer “What Makes a Good Board Book?” from the March/April 2010 Horn Book Magazine.

baker 123peas boardbk2 Board Book Roundup: Fall 2014 Edition1-2-3 Peas
by Keith Baker
Little Simon     36 pp.
5/14     978-1-4424-9928-7     $7.99
“Five peas painting— / brush, brush, brush, / Six peas traveling— / rush, rush, rush.” In this follow-up to Baker’s LMNO Peas, the peas row, splash, build, nap, and more, on and around large-size numerals from one to ten, then skip counting by tens to one hundred. The rhyming text bounces along as the spring-green peas frolic in the lively illustrations. The smaller trim size means much of the art’s amusing details are harder to see, but the colorful pages and fun-to-read-aloud rhymes will delight small listeners.

horacek time4bed boardbk Board Book Roundup: Fall 2014 EditionTime for Bed: Flip-Flap Fun
by Petr Horáček
Candlewick     16 pp.
9/14     978-0-7636-6779-5     $7.99
First it’s “time to play.” Then, after putting “away my toys,” it’s “time for supper.” A little boy’s recognizable end-of-the-day routine plays out in Horáček’s simple, comforting text and boldly colored illustrations. The thick graduated pages make it easy for small hands to interact with the book. After a bath, teeth brushing, and a story, the final page-turn shows the narrator for the first time, tucked into bed and gently reminding listeners that it’s “time to say good night.”

laden peekazoo boardbk Board Book Roundup: Fall 2014 EditionPeek-a-Zoo
by Nina Laden
Chronicle     24 pp.
3/14     978-1-4521-1175-9     $6.99
If a board book could be a considered a cult classic, Laden’s Peek-a Who? (2000) would be one. In this animal-themed follow-up (in a small format perfect for little hands), the pattern is the same. “Peek a” on the left-hand page faces what looks like a linocut design; a die-cut hole hints at what’s revealed on the following spread. “Mew!” accompanies a tiger; “Bamboo!” captions an image of a panda munching on its favorite food. A kangaroo and a cockatoo are also featured, as well as the cute creature reflected in the mirror on the final page: “You, too!” For babies and toddlers, this trick never grows old.

carle pandabear boardbk Board Book Roundup: Fall 2014 EditionPanda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?
by Bill Martin Jr; illus. by Eric Carle
Holt     28 pp.
8/14     978-08050-9950-8     $12.99
This lap-size board book’s rhyming text follows the familiar pattern of the author/illustrator team’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear. A panda, water buffalo, spider monkey, whooping crane, and six other endangered species parade across the pages; at the end, a dreaming child sees all ten animals “wild and free.” Carle’s striking, brilliantly colored illustrations are as eye-catching as always, making this ideal for use with groups.

mckee elmer boardbkjpg Board Book Roundup: Fall 2014 EditionElmer
by David McKee
HarperFestival      32 pp.
8/14     978-0-06-232405-4     $7.99
Available in a board-book edition for the first time, Elmer has been everyone’s favorite patchwork elephant for twenty-five years. Though the other elephants in the herd love his jokes and games, Elmer wonders if they’re laughing at him because he looks different. He tries to blend in by covering up his colorful hide, but he can’t disguise what’s really special about him. The message about accepting yourself and celebrating differences isn’t likely to interest babies; older toddlers, however, will welcome Elmer into their herd.

mcphail babypigpigtalks boardbk Board Book Roundup: Fall 2014 EditionBaby Pig Pig Talks
by David McPhail
Charlesbridge     14 pp.
8/14     978-1-58089-597-2     $6.95

 

 

mcphail babypigpigwalks boardbk Board Book Roundup: Fall 2014 EditionBaby Pig Pig Walks
by David McPhail
Charlesbridge     14 pp.
8/14      978-1-58089-596-5     $6.95

Baby Pig Pig (Pig Pig Returns) reaches two developmental milestones in these original board books. In Talks, mother pig names everything they see during a stroller walk: “Snake. Taxi. Tricycle.” Baby Pig Pig repeats after her, sort of: “Hissa. Honka. Dinga.” An overly friendly dog gets him talking — “Mama!” In Walks, Baby Pig Pig wants to explore the world beyond his playpen. After some wobbly steps, he climbs out and heads off “…down the hallway…toward the kitchen” and right into his mother’s welcoming arms. The small adventures have just enough tension to keep little walkers and talkers enthralled.

sayre rahrah boardbk Board Book Roundup: Fall 2014 EditionRah, Rah, Radishes!: A Vegetable Chant
by April Pulley Sayre
Little Simon      34 pp.
7/14     978-1-4424-9927-0     $7.99
“Oh boy, bok choy! / Brussels sprout. / Broccoli. Cauliflower. / Shout it out!” Kids may not want to eat their greens, but they’ll dig right in to this colorful feast for the eyes and ears. Sayre’s energetic rhymes are accompanied by appetizing photos of a variety of veggies, many of which may be unfamiliar to small children. Bring this book along on your next trip to the farmers’ market and see how many vegetables you can find. Who knows? Maybe it will inspire some taste testing!

stiles todayimgoingtowear boardbk Board Book Roundup: Fall 2014 EditionToday I’m Going to Wear…
by Dan Stiles
POW!     18 pp.
10/14     978-1-57687-718-0     $9.95
“Today I think I’m going to wear a yellow ribbon in my hair.” In a pleasantly rhyming text, a little girl describes her hand-picked outfit, which includes a polka-dot cowboy hat, a too-small coat, “in case of sun, a parasol,” mittens, and rain boots. Stiles’s vibrant graphic illustrations are hard to resist; their hip, retro vibe will appeal to grownups and young kids alike.

wells drduck boardbook  Board Book Roundup: Fall 2014 EditionA Visit to Dr. Duck
by Rosemary Wells
Candlewick     30 pp.
8/14     978-0-7636-7229-4     7.99
Little guinea pig Felix eats too many “chocolate blimpies” and doesn’t feel well the next day. His mama tries chamomile tea and fresh air; finally, she takes him to see Dr. Duck. Originally published in hardcover as Felix Feels Better (2000), this edition’s title change puts the focus on going to the doctor — and Felix’s nervousness about the experience will resonate with young listeners. Wells’s comforting tone and warm illustrations will reassure toddler and preschool patients.

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24. Around the world

Reading can take children on journeys outside of their everyday realms. The following stories — some humorous, some tender — allow independent readers to spend time with characters from all over the globe.

nye turtle of oman Around the worldWhen Naomi Shihab Nye’s The Turtle of Oman opens, Aref and his mother are preparing to leave their home in Muscat, Oman, to join his father in Michigan, where they’ll live temporarily while Aref’s parents attend graduate school. Though unhappy about the move, Aref is thrilled to spend his last few days in Oman going on adventures with Sidi, his grandfather. The setting is so affectionately portrayed, with descriptions of colorful sights, mouth-watering tastes, and friendly interactions with fellow countrymen, that even when Aref is ready to say goodbye, readers may not be. Nye’s story, with spot art by Betsy Peterschmidt, is both quiet and exhilarating. (Greenwillow, 7–10 years)

tak mikis and the donkey Around the worldPhilip Hopman’s illustrations set the stage on the island of Corfu in Bibi Dumon Tak’s Mikis and the Donkey (translated from the Dutch). Mikis befriends Tsaki, his grandfather’s new donkey, and advocates successfully for Tsaki’s welfare. There’s a lovely simplicity to this affecting portrait of a close-knit Greek community, where a teacher’s boyfriend can give her class motorbike rides to general contentment. The generous number of loosely drawn illustrations capture windswept landscapes and village life with equal aplomb. (Eerdmans, 6–8 years)

lagercrantz my heart is laughing Around the worldFirst grader Dani, of My Happy Life, returns in Rose Lagercrantz’s My Heart is Laughing (translated from the Swedish). Classmates Mickey and Vicky both like the same boy, Cushion, and they ostracize Dani because Cushion likes her. When they start sneakily pinching Dani’s arm at the lunch table, she fights back, inadvertently causing a food fight and getting herself into trouble. Eva Eriksson’s line drawings brilliantly portray facial expressions and body language — Cushion’s tentative approach to Dani; her teacher’s big, solid, comforting hand enclosing her shoulder. Salty and sweet, this is umami for the emerging reader. (Gecko, 6–8 years)

lloyd murilla gorilla and the hammock problem Around the worldThe titular primate in Jennifer Lloyd’s Murilla Gorilla and the Hammock Problem lives in the rainforest of an unnamed African country. Okapi (an indigenous central African mammal) hires Murilla to figure out who put a hole in the hammock she’s selling. This accessible book is easy to read without looking babyish, and the mystery is easy to solve without being too obvious. Jacqui Lee draws with muted tones, highlighting Murilla’s pink cheeks and prehensile feet and Okapi’s gray-striped legs and arms. (Simply Read, 6–8 years)

From the November 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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25. 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

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