Archive for Nonfiction

A Place for Turtles

Written by Melissa Stewart

Illustrated by Higgins Bond

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Beautifully painted and poetic, this picture book is part of “A Place For” series that follows different animals. In this case, Stewart and Bond focus on the eleven different species of turtles and they make the book work on several levels. It can be a read aloud for children who haven’t yet reached the fourth grade reading level, and it can be a resource for older children researching environmental issues.

At the top of each spread Stewart writes about a threat turtles are facing. Some turtles, for example, cannot make nests because invasive plants change their habitat. The facing page has the solution: “When people find ways to control new plants, turtles can live and grow.” The solution is very important because otherwise this becomes another depressing problem book. With the solution, the book empowers the readers.

If this were all Stewart wrote, it would be a short, albeit, pretty book. And for a kindergarten class, the top section might be all one reads  — students would soon join in on the refrain: “turtles can live and grow.” But each spread also has a short sidebar highlighting specific species from different parts of the continental United States.  Stewart explains how the Western Pond Turtle was near extinction, but with managed care, is coming back. She also tells about loggerheads, who died in fishing nets, but are doing better since Congress required fishing nets to have a turtle excluder device.

This type of specific information will work well for early-elementary reports. More specifics cover the front and back flyleaves, where each turtle’s habitat is shown in a colorful map. With that kind of information, parents and teachers could devise reading activities, asking, for example, which turtle lives close to us? The book closes with “Turtle Tidbits,” showing the bone and shell structure, as well as a bibliography and list of more resources.

Other Resources

Visit Melissa Stewart’s website: www.melissa-stewart.com

Visit Higgins Bond’s website: www.higginsbond.com

For another story of rescuing turtles look at the Smithsonian:

http://news.neaq.org/2010/04/smithsonian-look-at-sea-turtles.html

  • Place for TurtlesTitle: A Place for Turtles
  • Author: Melissa Stewart
  • Illustrator: Higgins Bond
  • Publisher: Peachtree Publishers
  • Reviewer: Amy S. Hansen
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-693-2
  • Genre: nonfiction: science, nature

 

 

 

Deadly Bloody Battles

Written by Madeline Donaldson

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Deadly Bloody Battles by Madeline Donaldson is aimed at the fourth grade reading level and up. It covers twelve of history’s deadliest battles including: Thermopylae and Salamis, Battle of Watling Street, Battle of Baghdad, Taking Down Tenochtitlan, Battle of Saratoga, Battle of Borodino, Battle of Antietam, Verdun and the Somme, Battle of Stalingrad, and the Battle of the Bulge.

Each spread provides key details and facts, as well as pictures, photos, and art that represent the battles mentioned above in some unique manner. Readers will feel planted in each battle as if they were transported back in time to witness the facts and bloody gore for themselves. Donaldson also provides an index, as well as a detailed list of sources and websites for readers to dig more deeply for further information. Deadly Bloody Battles will appeal most to fourth grade boys and up and will likely inspire imaginative play. What better way to reinforce the facts as kids act out what they have just learned? Be sure to keep sharp, pointy objects out of reach.

Deadly Bloody Battles is part of the series called Shock Zone: Deadly and Dangerous. Other books in this series are: Deadly Adorable Animals, Deadly Venomous Animals, Deadly Danger Zones, Deadly High-Risk Zones, and Deadly Hard-Hitting Sports. Teachers and librarians would be remiss not to include Deadly Bloody Battles in their nonfiction titles of their library. Parents with active boys with inquiring minds, Deadly Bloody Battles could be the book that turns your child into a more active reader.

  • Deadly Bloody BattlesTitle: Deadly Bloody Battles
  • Author: Madeline Donaldson
  • Publisher: Lerner
  • Reviewer: Annemarie O’Brien
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-4677-0601-8
  • Genre: nonfiction, history

Captain John Smith’s Big and Beautiful Bay

Written by Rebecca C. Jones
Illustrated by Linda Shute

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Beautiful illustrations, interesting callouts, excellent paper and getup make this a book an upper elementary and middle school reader would like to read again and again.

Captain John Smith was not like the other people who came over from the old land. They were in search of gold, so they could return to England rich men. Captain Smith was not interested in wealth gathering; he wanted to learn about the people, the crops and the animals of the New World. He explored the lands and woods around the river. The sparkling waters of the Chesapeake Bay beckoned, and finally he set off with a crew of fourteen, in a well provisioned shallop, to explore the bay.

Many adventures befell the crew. They weathered storms and extreme hunger; some people welcomed them, others tried to scare them away. But the lands were richly wooded; the skies teemed with birds, and the oceans were so filled with fish that John Smith said one could walk across the bay on their backs.

Captain Smith and his crew kept extensive journals. This story is based on those journals and is historically accurate. The back matter encourages young readers to go directly to the source material — telling them that the Captain was a lousy speller!

He was, however, an excellent map maker. So accurate are his maps that they were used for navigation for the next 300 years. As accurate as the maps are the illustrations in the book, especially the callouts that portray marine life. They provide information, made all the more memorable by the occasional flash of humor, and can provide hours of reading activities. This is a beautifully produced book.

John Smith returned to England, but never forget the rich and beautiful Chesapeake Bay.

Additional Information:

http://www.chesapeakebay.net/discover/bayhistory/johnsmith

Chesapeake Bay: http://www.smithtrail.net/the-chesapeake/

Interactive Game: Captain John Smith: http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/games/interactiveadventures/john-smith/

  • Captain John SmithTitle: Captain John Smith’s Big and Beautiful Bay
  • Author: Rebecca C. Jones
  • Illustrator: Linda Shute
  • Publisher: Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
  • Reviewer: Anjali Amit
  • Hardback: 32 pages
  • ISBN: 9780764338694
  • Genre: Picture Book/ Non-Fiction
  • Lexile Score: 920

Wild Discoveries: Wacky New Animals

Written by Heather L. Montgomery

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Wild Discoveries: Wacky New Animals, written by Heather L. Montgomery, is one of the best science books I have ever read that offers budding scientists and animal lovers at the fourth grade reading level a look at a topic that is not often discussed: wacky new animals! Did you know that scientists have identified almost one million different animals on earth and that there may be as many as six million animals still waiting to be discovered?

Discoveries are happening every day at the rate of two per hour. In Wacky Animals Montgomery reveals those discoveries from a wide range of habitats such as: rain forests, oceans, islands, mountains, as well as wacky places such as a truck stop, a toxic-waste dump, and even a New York City park! Scientists are not the only ones making discoveries. Kids can find new species, too! Who knows? Maybe you will be the next person to discover a new species.

Montgomery weaves in fun facts, as well as colorful photos on every spread that are sure to appeal to kids at the 4th grade reading level. She begins with a concise Discovery 101 lesson to ground budding scientists on some key facts and terminology and then highlights how new discoveries are named. She groups a collection of recent animal discoveries by habitat and has also thrown in a couple of new non-animal discoveries because they were simply too cool to leave out. On each animal spread she provides the “scientific name” and the species’ “role in nature”. She closes with information on how kids can become active in making new discoveries, as well as an easy to read glossary.

Kids are sure to love this book and Montgomery’s approach in making the information lively and engaging. Be sure to include this in your library of books.

 

  • Wild DiscoveriesTitle: Wild Discoveries: Wacky New Animals
  • Author: Heather L. Montgomery
  • Illustrator: Assortment of photo credits from various photographers
  • Publisher: Scholastic
  • Reviewer: Annemarie O’Brien
  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-545-47767-3
  • Genre: Science, nonfiction
  • Lexile Score: IG840

Yummy Soup and Salad Recipes

Written by Jennifer S. Larson
Illustrated by Brie Cohen

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Ready to cook? This book shows how! Recipes include Wonton Soup, Chili, Corn Chowder, Cucumber Soup, a fruit dessert soup, Salad Rollups, Taco Salad and others. The photographs are so mouth-watering that anyone will want to get in the kitchen and start cooking. The recipes use fresh ingredients and, even though there is an allergy alert in the opening, the recipes are mostly free of those allergy foods. The author developed these recipes with her boys, so they are plenty kid-friendly.

Even the youngest cook can follow the diagrams and recipes. The safety tips and advice about cooking are smart without talking down. There are definitions about everything a young cook needs to know: a informational graphic of cooking tools, a section of how-to diagrams of cooking techniques, and a glossary of special ingredients in case a young reader doesn’t know something like bok choy or egg roll skins. There is an index and a section of other reading and websites. A solid recommendation for those “how-to” units, especially if the literacy activity is to make or do the thing described in the book.

The publisher has an additional recipe and other downloads on their website with a log-in: https://www.lernerbooks.com/products/t/11663/9780761366331/yummy-soup-and-salad-recipes. The series has several other titles.

  • Yummy Soup and SaladTITLE: Yummy Soup and Salad Recipes
  • AUTHOR: Jennifer S. Larson
  • ILLUSTRATOR: Brie Cohen
  • PUBLISHER: Millbrook/Lerner, 2013
  • REVIEWER: Risa Brown
  • EDITION: Hardcover, 32 p.
  • ISBN: 978-0-7613-6633-1
  • GENRE: How-to,  Cooking
  • LEXILE: 870

Something to Prove: The Great Satchel Paige vs. Rookie Joe DiMaggio

Written by Robert Skead
Illustrated by Floyd Cooper

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Imagine being a rookie baseball player and the coaches put you up against the best pitcher in the sport. That actually happened in 1936. Joe DiMaggio was a hot-shot player who wanted to be in the New York Yankees. To see if he was ready for the big leagues, the owners decided to test him. They asked him to play on a team called Dick Bartell’s All Stars, a team that would go where ever they could set up a game. They also called the Satchel Paige All Stars, a team of African Americans who could not play in the all-white National Baseball League. Joe DiMaggio, a rookie who hadn’t even been hired, going up again Satchel Paige, perhaps the best pitcher of all time, had to be scary for the young man especially as the hype around the game grew. Paige’s very first pitch hit DiMaggio and was meant to undermine his confidence. For much of the game, the score was tied. DiMaggio really wanted to hit one of those pitches. In the tenth inning, with a runner on first, DiMaggio’s savvy playing and base hit allowed the runner to score and won the game.

Great story for boys. The message here is to keep your confidence no matter how much the odds are against you. Boys can’t hear this too much and it is all the more powerful because “sports” is a language they understand. This is an inspiring class read aloud. For top readers, this would make an excellent script for a DIY audio book or PowerPoint presentation as a literacy activity. It could be used as part of a biography or history unit, even an example of sports stories in a genre unit. The illustrations are muted and create a sense of a by-gone era by award winning illustrator Floyd Cooper.

There are activities on the publisher’s website with a log-in: https://www.lernerbooks.com/products/t/11693/9780761366195/something-to-prove. The author has baseball related activities on his website: http://www.robertskead.com/funstuff.php.

  • Something to ProveTITLE: Something to Prove: The Great Satchel Paige vs. Rookie Joe DiMaggio
  • AUTHOR: Robert Skead
  • ILLUSTRATOR: Floyd Cooper
  • PUBLISHER: Carolrhoda, 2013
  • REVIEWER: Risa Brown
  • EDITION: Hardcover, 32 p.
  • ISBN: 978-0-7613-6619-5
  • GENRE: Sports
  • LEXILE: 890

Only the Mountains Do Not Move

Written and photographed by Jan Reynolds

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What is it like to grow up in a culture that is radically different than your own? Children are fascinated by other ways of life, and introducing them to books and other representations of different cultures at a young age is a vital way to broaden their worldview and make them more accepting of other ways of life.

In Only the Mountains Do Not Move, author and photographer Jan Reynolds provides a vivid glimpse in the culture of the Maasai tribe of East Africa. Reynolds introduces readers to several members of the tribe and describes what their typical days are like. The Maasai are nomads whose life revolves around grazing cattle. However, as the amount of grazing land shrinks and the landscape becomes more barren, these people have been forced to change their way of life in order to survive. Reynolds looks not only at the people of the Maasai and their lives, but also at how their environment is changing and how they are also changing in order to keep their traditions alive.

I think Only the Mountains Do Not Move is a good choice for a fourth grade library. Although the reading level is likely to be above the average fourth grade student, the topic is fascinating and the photos are eye-catching. These elements make this a great book for a classroom read aloud. Reynolds does a wonderful job of bringing the Maasai people to life and showing the value of their culture. The book is sprinkled with Maasai proverbs, which could lead to an interesting classroom project or creative reading worksheets. A glossary, pronunciation guide, and source notes add to the value of the book. There is even a link to a website where students can connect with Maasai children and help build schools for them! Although the comprehension level of this book is advanced for fourth graders, the beautiful presentation, excellent writing, and appealing message make it a great addition to a classroom library.

  • Only the MountainsTitle: Only the Mountains Do Not Move
  • Author and photographer:  Jan Reynolds
  • Publisher: Lee & Low Books, 2011
  • Hardback: 40 pages
  • ISBN 978-1-60060-844-5
  • Genre: Social Studies, World Cultures
  • Lexile: 990L

A Rock Is Lively

Written by Diana Hutts Aston
Illustrated by Sylvia Long

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How is a rock lively? Until this book was published, it wasn’t clear how that was possible.But Aston finds a way. She makes rocks lyrical, almost poetic. Rocks are lively when they are molten or when they are part of a lively setting. They are mixed up because they are made from a recipe of many materials, like a cake. They are galactic because they can be parts of meteors, comets, or asteroids. They are as old as the earth. They can be as huge as a mountain or as tiny as a grain of sand. » Read more

The Forever Forest: Kids Save a Tropical Treasure

Written and illustrated by Kristin Joy Pratt-Serafini

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A young girl from Sweden helps her grade school class raise funds to save a forest in Costa Rica. Years later, she returns to the rainforest with her son. Peter, Anna’s son, is fascinated by the rainforest and all of the life within it. As they spend time with their hosts and explore the forest, Peter and the readers learn about the animals that live in this habitat. » Read more

Extreme Earth

Written by Seymour Simon

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What is the hottest place on Earth? What is the coldest place on Earth? How tall is the world’s highest waterfall? This book contains the answers to these questions. It also answers questions about more record breaking places on Earth!

Readers are invited to join the author on a journey around the world to explore remote regions, extreme climate and unbelievable destinations.Extreme Earth offers an informative look at our incredible, awe inspiring world. The book is full of fun, interesting facts that will engage the reader. Each page is beautifully illustrated with actual pictures of the locations mentioned. » Read more

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