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Nonfiction Monday

Nonfiction Monday Nonfiction Mondayis a celebration of nonfiction children’s books. Kidlitosphere Bloggers with nonfiction posts will be featured here today as we host. Keep checking back & clicking Read More throughout the day as the links grow. As you make your lists for the New Year, be sure to include these nonfiction books and the blogs. 

"This is a stunning book which makes a historical event accessible to younger readers. It just might inspire some to become astronauts." What book is blogger MsMac talking about today? Check out Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 on the blog Check It Out by Jone Rush MacCulloch.

The Wild About Nature blog has a review of Flying Eagle, a picture book written by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen. "Set at dusk in Africa’s beautiful Serengeti National Park, Bardhan-Quallen’s rhythmic terse verse text follows him on his long tireless flight." If you haven’t visited publisher Charlesbridge’s site yet, you are missing their extra material which is very helpful for school librarians. I particularly like their simple info: This book is good for your brain because:  Nature, Poetry, Survival, Predator/Prey Relationships.

Abby (the) Librarian has written about The Frog Scientist today and suggests this may be a possible Sibert recipient. She writes "The symbiosis between the text and the photos is really well done, drawing the reader in from the first page. It’s the first thing I noticed when I opened the book and I knew I was in for a treat." Be sure to check out her blog and the book trailer link. 

Blast off into space the 3-D way at Lori Calabrese Writes! with a review of 3-D Explorer Solar System by Silver Dolphin Books. Lori writes "Our solar system consists of the sun and everything that travels through space around it, including eight planets, several smaller dwarf planets, and over a hundred moons. It’s all covered in this spectacular 3-D tour– Solar System: A Journey to the Planets and Beyond (3-D Explorer)"

Kate Coombs (Book Aunt) post spotlights Don Brown’s picture book biographies. I appreciate her insights into buying  books for "literal-minded sorts [who] prefer nonfiction." While reviewing Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein and other Don Brown biographies, Kate writes: 

…"the author’s choice of subjects and the way he tells these true stories will make his books an asset to your school or home library. Relatively speaking, there just aren’t enough picture books out there for young nonfiction aficionados, although the science side of things has improved markedly in the last decade or so. For the budding student of history and history makers, Don Brown’s biographies further fill that gap."

To end the year with a spot of fun, Wendie’s Wanderings is featuring Spot the Plot, a Riddle Book of Book Riddles by J. Patrick Lewis. Very fun, Wendie, and I’m sure librarians everywhere will be riddling these with students and each other. 

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan at Bookends Blog are writing about The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder by Mark Cassino with Jon Nelson. I was intrigued by their conversation:

"When snow comes in down in large amounts as it often does where we live, it is easy to forget how amazing each snowflakes it. Cassino and Nelson help us remember and they do an unusual thing with this book. They take a rather technical subject and make it “crystal” clear for really young readers and still retain a tangible sense of wonder."

Snow is on the mind of Dr. Patricia M. Stohr-Hunt, too. On her blog The Miss Rumphius Effect, she is sharing two titles today, Snowflake Bentley and The Story of Snow. In Nashville all I could do was dream of Christmas’ past with snow. Then I called my parents to check how many feet and feet of snow they had in Northwest Iowa and I was reminded why I like the south again.

Ami Segna of Three Turtles and Their Pet Librarian reviews one of the Sleeping Bear Press alphabet titles K is for Kabuki by Gloria Whelan and Jenny Nolan. Freaky enjoyed the "combination of "old" Japan (emperors and origami), things we Westerners think are new (manga), and the fairly modern (bullet trains and hybrid cars)."

Roberta Gibson at Wrapped In Foil examines the use of torn paper collage illustrations in children’s nonfiction books. Are torn paper collage illustrations useful or are they confusing and lacking scientific details? Read and form your opinion.

Readers know I welcome a little controversy because it keeps my mind stimulated. I’m still learning, gathering facts, forming opinions, gathering more facts, changing my opinion, seeking more facts, discussing facts with others, … Aren’t you? When I opened a recent box of review books from Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, I was delighted to see they’d sent group 2 of the Global Hot Spots series including Burma (Myanmar), Colombia, Cuba, North Korea, Tibet, and Zimbabwe.

The first title I had to read was Cuba by Paul Mason. I recall the controversy other titles on Cuba caused particularly in Florida schools and those populated by Cuban-refugee descendants. Would this series walk the tightrope between providing information and opinions in only 32 pages? The publisher suggests the series is interesting to grades 4 and up. I’d place these in middle schools due to the more sophisticated design and large amount of information that is presented but not synthesized or analyzed. 

The titles do not tell you what opinion to form. They attempt to provide information about the "story behind the headlines" and focus questions in the back matter section Find Out More.  Despite the name of that section, it does not provide a bibliography of additional reading titles. There are no lists of websites with information which would have to include disclaimers. 

Speaking of disclaimers, there is an interesting note on the verso of the title page: "This publication represents the opinions and views of the author based on Paul Mason’s personal experience, knowledge, and research. The information in this book serves as a general guide only. The author and publisher have used their best efforts in preparing this book and disclaim liability rising directly and indirectly from the use and application of this book."

I’ll have to write follow-up posts with more information about each country though because balancing a tightrope walk of political correctness does not give you room to share personal interpretations. This is where the connection between fiction and nonfiction can be tightened. I have students from these countries and they deserve more resouces. 

I need to order the group 1 titles I missed last fall: Afghanistan, The Indian Subcontinent, Iran, Iraq, Israel and Palestine, and Sudan.  The MC website shows a discount for group 1 titles for only $9.65 each and group 2 titles for only $12.99 instead of the list price $18.56. There are so few titles that address these controversial countries that I consider this series a vital part of a middle school collection. Bring on the discussion. I’m off to read all the rest of this group and see if I change my mind.

If you have written a nonfiction post today to include, you can email me (best option) or you can leave the URL in the comments section. Just remember to leave off the http:// because the comments machinery rejects it.


  1. We are blogging about The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder by Mark Cassino with Jon Nelson. Thank you for hosting.

    Lynn Rutan
    Bookends @:

  2. What do you do when you sense errors of omission rather than commission? I am finding some areas that concern me in my controversy titles. There are some misspellings of people’s names, but even more a false conveyance in one title. I am still researching.