Thanks to Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at her blog, Kidlit Frenzy.Come read to discover everyone's recent non-fiction picture books.
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I read a few different kinds of n-f book this week, all of value, some I really loved.
A good introduction to the Grand Canyon for younger children, perhaps some who are studying important geographical sites in the U.S. It introduces the beauty of the vistas, the flora and fauna of the canyon, and people who visit. The story is told by a young girl who rides a donkey to the bottom, sinking into a starry moonlit night when she finally arrives. The text is limited, and in rhyme, but even with the spare wording, quite a bit is introduced, will call for further research. My favorite image is toward the end: "We reach the bottom, look back up./We've dropped into a rocky cup!" And looking up, the walls surround with a starry sky at the top. Wolff illustrations are big and bold with black outlining, quite realistic, yet a little dreamy too. If you look carefully you can see that she has added extra information within the scene. Scanlan has included a note about a personal experience in the canyon, and a glossary of important terms. The endpapers show a map of the canyon.
It's the season for collecting leaves and hopefully learning to identify them, and the main parts of identification too. This is a fabulous book for all of that. At first it looks like a sweet little book about a young girl collecting pretty leaves, but she begins talking about a leaf book, and manages to share a lot about leaves. Monica Wellington's ideas of illustration are using simple shapes with bright colors, and she fills rounded circles of trees with shapes every time a new tree is shown. There is a focus on fall in this book, and the leaves shown are in their fall colors. Each page also has a short paragraph with specific information about identification and/or about a tree itself. One page at the back shares how to start a leaf book, how to make leaf rubbings and leaf prints, a wonderful addition.
I'm not surprised how beautiful this book is, because it's by Lita Judge. She has arranged the book in small sections, starting with A baby is born, then The baby is hungry, all the way to the final one, The baby learns. After lovely double page watercolors of one animal with the title, additional animals are shown and facts given. Twenty-six animals are shown just the way the text tells. For instance, in the section about protection in the early days (or weeks), a mother panda is painted cuddling her cub close in her arms, keeping predators away. And in The Baby grows strong through play, lion cubs pull a father's tale in a fun tug-of-war, and mountain goat "kids" play "King of the Rock". There is additional information in the back about each animal, a glossary and more resources. If young children are studying animals, and humans, too, this is the perfect book to learn all the ways important in nurturing. I need to add that my favorite illustration inside and on the cover is the mother and giraffe. Yet, the illustrations are so enticing, everyone will love the looking and the learning about each and every animal.