Friday, February 9, 2018


Thanks to Cathy Mere, Mandy Robek and Julie Balen, we have the pleasure of seeing favorites from many others! You can discover all about the history, the how and the where to post HERE!

             Non-fiction picture books help us all learn about the world in order to navigate it. From people and places, from prose and poetry, these books can include the history of the peoples of the world who educate and inspire. Among so many that I first listed, here are the ten I chose. They are both very recent and much older, yet to me they all have a message for us about our world. I've put the link for the longer reviews on Goodreads at the beginning of each summary.

 Here are my past posts. I love re-reading them, reminding me of books loved in the past, some I own and re-visit. 

2013    2014    2015    2016    2017

The Way To Start A Day is this --

Go outside
and face the east
and greet the sun
with some kind of blessing
or chant
or song
that you made yourself
and keep
for early morning.

         From a beloved author whose books I used over and over again, a book I've shared more than once, The Way To Start A Day by Byrd Baylor. She shows the parts of her day in the southwest, with a strong, yet subtle, invitation to find your own way to start your day in your country. 

Nature is an important part of my life, was an important part of my teaching. I had the privilege at my school to travel often and to wonderful places all over with my students. Even as we went to cities, we remained committed to learning about the nature in them, too. One will commit to caring for a thing when one both loves it and knows it well enough to love it even more.

            I adore it, not least because it's about one of my favorite topics, the moon! I've done moon journaling with students before, observed it, wrote about it, created art and wrote poetry inspired by it. Oh, how I wish I'd had this book to enhance our learning! 

            What a gorgeous, fascinating, and beautiful picture book Katherine Roy has created. She states that her fascination with elephants began with a stuffed one in her earliest years, and continued. She's researched and spent time on safari through several African countries (there's a map), consulted countless resources, including those interested in saving this species, and illustrated the book with both scientific diagrams (like the 'many-tooled trunk) and poignant 'family' pictures of a herd and a baby growing up.
             It’s an inspiring story by Jacqueline Briggs Martin (Snowflake Bentley, Farmer Will Allen and The Growing Table, among others) of a man named Mike who moves to some land and discovers that where he wanted to restore a cornfield back to a prairie, he was told there had been a creek. Through years of work, he searched and found it, and Brook Creek is born again.

         Loree Griffin Burns begins the story with a young child reading with his mother. Immediately intriguing, the reader is not introduced to the volcanic eruption that spawned this new island near Iceland, but to the scientist/child who became an expert on it, especially about its insects. His name is Erling Ólafsson and when he was fourteen, a volcano nearby erupted and an island emerged. That island is eventually named Surtsey. Burns explains the background of the name and also shares that she will include Icelandic names and their pronunciations occasionally. Surtsey comes from the volcano's name, Surtur, the Icelandic God of Fire, thus "Surtur's Island". 

                Through passion, people learn to persist. They have questions about so much because it’s fascinating. They find ways around obstacles. If this doesn’t work, then this! This story shows that was the path of Eugenie Clark, the woman scientist who broke barriers in science and in knowledge about sharks because she was so in love with this subject and the question of its stereotypes.
                 "Little water, a sweet, tender and strong song." This is one example, in English, of this beautiful book, also in Spanish and Nahuat, a tri-lingual ode to a drop of water. It is not deemed non-fiction by the library, yet it shows in splashing, swirling, beautifully-colored illustrations by Felipe Ugalde Alcántara about the water cycle, pages that demand further research and learning.
           If you live in an area with four seasons, you will appreciate that it can be 70 plus degrees one day, and then wake to 30 degrees and snowing. Kenard Pak has written and illustrated a poetic book about this very thing. The transformation page by page in his book is fabulous. The narrator says "hello" to a variety of things, like leaves and deer, setting sun and North Star, then lets each one tell what is happening in this seasonal change.
           It seems fitting to share a book that focuses on one person who loved nature and animals around him, and how that impacted his life.  I feel fortunate to have found The Story of E.B. White, a Boy, a Mouse and a Spider so quickly. I've read quite a few longer biographies of White in my life, but celebrate this one, too, for it will please younger readers very much. It also may become a bridge for teachers to use to introduce his story to their readers ready for his books, or to students ready to study nature's wonders. 
             And the final book must be the one that celebrates the diversity of life. I always thought it was wonderful to introduce my students to the idea of scientific identification, learning how the "Many" animals ended in the specific classification that each one did. I remember one time talking about ants, learning there are about 12,000 species of them on earth. Wow! This book introduces that concept so beautifully, beginning with one - girl, two - flower, three - ant, then MANY!

           "Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair." Khalil Gibran


  1. This is a gorgeous list - a few here are also favourites of mine - including Laura's book about the moon which inspired my post! I want to get my hands on this new title by Nicola Davies. It is at the top of my wish list!

    1. Thanks, Carrie, yes Laura's book is one I'll love forever! I'll be over to see what you have that was inspired by it!

  2. I definitely want to find The Way to Start a Day! You have a lot of my favorites on your list. These lists are always tough because there are so many good ones, it’s hard to narrow it down to just ten!

    1. Byrd Baylor's book are wonderful, Jana. I hope you can find it, too and some of her others! Yes, the list is such a challenge. It's like we need to do one, then another the next day! Thanks!

  3. Your list has some I've read - Creekfinding, If You Were the Moon, Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter, - one that's in my ''waiting to be read" basket - A Boy, A Mouse, and A Spider - and others that I want to request from the library. Thanks for sharing this delightful list of books about our world. And the Byrd Baylor poem and the Kahlil Gibran quote too!

    1. Hurrah, more books to share! Thanks,Ramona. The words from Byrd Baylor are the beginning of that book, FYI. And I was happy to find the Gibran quote, so nice. Enjoy the E.B. White book, so pretty.

  4. Great Colorado minds must think alike, because I have HOW TO BE AN ELEPHANT and IF YOU WERE THE MOON on my list too! CREEKFINDING and AGUA, AGUITA , and GOODBYE AUTUMN are all new to me. I definitely need to check those out. They all sound terrific!

    1. Thanks, Carol, so glad we share those amazing titles! I'll look for your list!

  5. Linda, I enjoyed your collection. I am thinking If You Were the Moon and How to Be an Elephant need to make it into my classroom. My parents are taking a trip to Iceland and I gave them this book for Christmas. It's beautiful.

  6. Lovely narrative accompanying the texts. Creekfinding interests me greatly. Will search it out. Thanks:)

    1. Thanks, Mary Ann. Creekfinding is a beautiful book and fascinating story. Enjoy!


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