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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

Come One Come All: The Year In Nonfiction

Friends, This Is Our Turn: The Year in Nonfiction

What did you love — and since we are content people, why?

What did you not love — why?

Our focus is younger readers, but if you saw something in adult books, online, other media that made you think about the books we do, tell us. What was this year in nonfiction for good, for ill, for reflection, for inspiration?

I saw a few trends worth discussing: book making and book design. From the -ology books to the new Barry Denenberg Christopher Bing Lincoln Shot book-making is replacing book-design. That is, every inch of the book is part of the story of the book. Some of this is fiction, or historical fiction, some aims at more traditional nonfiction. But this is clearly a trend that will continue.

Book and web — as I discussed here, web trailers, blog tours, Vicki Cobb’s home movie and video conf website, Loree’s site that shows her research, authors are exploring how to surround the print books with web expressions and enhancements. 

Voice: When the awards are given out I hope Kadir Nelson’s personal tone and angle of vision in We Are the Ship gets as much attention as his art. Many of us cannot draw, but we can bring similar passion and explicit point of view to our books. 

So, friends — give us your view: what was this year in nonfiction?


  1. Tricia (Miss Rumphius) says:

    I am unabashedly crazy for NIC BISHOP FROGS. The photos are fabulous and the writing is engaging and ordered in such a sensible way. It is my favorite science book of the year.

    As for history, I was quite taken with a number of books, but my favorite was Dennis Brindell Fradin” DUEL!: BURR AND HAMILTON’S DEADLY WAR OF WORDS. As familiar as I am with the story, I still learned something new. My son (who’s nearly 8) has read it repeatedly. The illustrations are beautiful and Fradin does a terrific job of highlighting the rivalry between the two men and really gets the emotions of readers rolling on the way to the climax.

  2. I agree with We Are the Ship, although I wasn’t crazy about the design–my eyes had trouble tracking the wide blocks of text.

    I really liked What To Do About Alice? by Barbara Kerley. I thought she did an amazing job of describing Alice Roosevelt in a very few words–less than 1500–and in a very appealing way. The illustrations were also great, and enabled her to make some sly jokes.

  3. Marc Aronson says:

    Tricia’s description is going to get me to run out and get Duel for my 8 year old. I did not love all of the art in We Are the Ship, but I taken with the voice.

  4. DEBRA HANSON says:

    One of my very favorites of the year was your book, Race. I think every young adult (and every adult) should read it and discuss it with others. The topic is more relevant than ever, and your treatment of the birth of the concept of race is fascinating!

  5. My nonfiction favorites include WE ARE THE SHIP by Kadir Nelson, THE LINCOLNS by Candace Fleming, and THE WAY WE WORK by David Macaulay.

  6. Susan Thomsen says:

    My favorite? The United Tweets of American, by Hudson Talbott. Very funny book about the state birds. (I first heard about it from Tricia!)

  7. Susan Thomsen says:

    There’s a typo in my response, above. The correct title is “The United Tweets of America.”

  8. At the top of my list are “We Are the Ship,” “Nic Bishop’s Frogs,” and “Ain’t Nothing But a Man.” Also “Women Daredevils” by Cummins: great booktalk potential! Plus “The Trouble Begins at 8″ by Fleischman and “Knucklehead” by Scieszka, both very appealing biographies.