Archive for Non-fiction

It’s snowing! Snuggle up and read a book, about snow!

In honor of the epic snowstorm burying my corner of the world (and pretty much all of the Eastern United States) I am reposting this list from February 9th, 2013.

 

The Mole Sisters and the Way HomeWayHome

Picture Book

Ages 2-5

By Roslyn Schwartz

32 pages

Annick Press

2003

 

The Mole Sisters are two of my favorite characters in children’s books. They’re sweet, funny, playful and irresistibly adorable. See my review of the whole series here.

The sisters are headed home when it starts to snow. And snow. And snow. Making their way through the drifts, they are diverted into a wonderful, magical cave, where they add themselves to some prehistoric cave paintings.

Not to fret, the sisters make it home safely and warm themselves by a cozy fire.

 

The Snowy Day SnowyDay-001

Picture Book

Ages 2-6

by Ezra Jack Keats

32 pages

Viking

1962

1963 Caldecott Medal Winner

 

This timeless classic is a simple story about a young boy as he plays and experiments with the snow that has covered his world overnight. Follow the boy in his trademark red suit as he experiences the wonder and possibility of freshly fallen snow.

An interesting and important note: The Snowy Day was the very first full-color picture book to feature a black child protagonist.

 

Tracks in the Snow Tracks-001

Picture Book

Ages 2-6

by Wong Herbert Yee

32 pages

Square Fish

Reprint 2007

 

A young girl heads out into the snow when she notices some mysterious tracks. As she follows the prints over a bridge, across a pond, through some woods and right back to her home she realizes that the footprints are hers from the day before. She settles in at home for some cookies and tea.

Tracks in the Snow celebrates one of the best parts about playing in the snow, coming back to a warm house for some delicious treats.

 

Over and Under the Snow OverUnderSnw

Picture Book

Ages 2-6

by Kate Messner

Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

44 pages

Chronicle

2011

 

While out cross-country skiing, a young girl and her father discuss the world of activity under the snow. There’s voles running through tunnels, frogs sleeping in the mud and black bears hibernating.

Simple cut paper illustrations perfectly highlight the contrast between the frozen white world above and the living earthen world below.

For those that are curious, the back of the book offers facts about all the animals and their winter activities. Interestingly, the area between the packed snow and the ground is called the subnivean zone.

 

Red Sled RedSled

Picture Book

Ages 2-6

by Lita Judge

40 pages

Atheneum

2011

 

Pure joy fills this mostly wordless picture book. The only text is reserved for the sound effects made by the happy animals and their new-found toy.

A small red sled has been left outside and various woodland creatures take turns going for rides, until the owner of the sled finally returns.

 

The Happy Day HappyDay-001

Picture Book

Ages 2-6

by Ruth Krauss

Illustrated by Marc Simont

36 pages

HarperCollins

1949

1950 Caldecott Honor Book

 

Though technically a book about spring, the book begins under the cover of snow with all the animals sleeping. Soon they are waking up and sniffing. What is it they smell?

They emerge from their burrows and start running and sniffing. They stop, and laugh, and dance! There, in the midst of all the snow and white and cold, a burst of color appears in the form of a beautiful yellow flower.

The delicious, buttery yellow of the flower is the only bit of color in an otherwise black and white picture book.

 

Bear Has a Story to TellBear Has Story to Tell - Cover

Picture Book

Ages 2-6

By Philip C. Stead

Illustrated by Erin E. Stead

32 pages

Roaring Brook Press

2012

 

This is not only one of my favorite books from 2012 but it’s also turning out to be one of my favorite picture books of all time. See my full review here.

 

Stella, Queen of the Snow stella-queen-of-the-snow

Picture Book

Ages 2-8

by Marie Louise-Gay

32 pages

Groundwood Books

2000

 

Gay’s watercolor illustrations are active, unrestrained and bursting with color.

It’s Sam’s first snowstorm! He and his big sister Stella head outside to play and explore. Sam, ever full of questions, wants to know what snowmen eat and how many snowflakes are in a snowball. Stella, the helpful big sister, always responds with clever and ever so slightly true answers.

 

Snow SnowC

Picture Book

Ages 2-8

By Uri Shulevitz

36 pages

FSG

1998

1999 Caldecott Honor Book

 

One of my favorite picture books ever! See my full review here.

 

Snow PDsnow

Picture Book

Ages 3-8

By P.D. Eastman and Roy McKie

61 pages

Random House

1962

 

“Snow is good for making tracks…And making pictures with your backs.”

A simple story, told in rhyme, joyfully relating some of the many pleasures of snow. P.D. Eastman is also the author of Go, Dog. Go!, Are You My Mother? and many other Cat in the Hat Beginner Books.

 

Is That You, Winter?IsThatYouWinter

Picture Book

Ages 3-8

By Stephen Gammel

32 pages

Silver Whistle/Harcourt Brace

1997

 

Gammel’s incredible illustrations make this a stand-out picture book. Colorful washes in every shade of blue are soon obscured by blowing white snow that seems to drip from the page.

Old Man Winter has woken up in a bad mood; he hates going to work. He jumps in his truck, flies through the sky, and spreads the ice and snow all morning long.

As he heads home for lunch, he falls into the deep snow and is rescued by a little girl.

“You make it snow for me,” the young girl tells him. Reminded that his work does have a positive influence in the world, Old Man Winter’s mood shifts and he’s happy again.

She picks him up to make sure he’s ok and readers learn that Old Man Winter is a small, wooden doll.

 

It’s Snowing ItsSnowing

Picture Book

Ages 3-8

By Olivier Dunrea

32 pages

Square Fish

2002

 

Just before publishing the magic that is Gossie (see my review here), Dunrea created It’s Snowing.

Baby is fast asleep when mama sees snowflakes falling outside. She wakes baby and bundles him up. The two go outside to see, touch, taste and smell the snow, and share some of the magic and natural beauty life has to offer.

 

The Snowman thesnowman

Picture Book

Ages 3-9

by Raymond Briggs

32 pages

Dragonfly Books

1986

 

In this wordless picture book, a young boy wakes up to a snowy day and heads outside to build a snowman. Later that night, when the boy cannot sleep, he heads outside to find the snowman has come to life. The two have a night filled with adventure.

Beautifully soft watercolor panels fill this book with the frosty feeling of snow and cold.

 

The Mitten The Mitten-001

Picture Book

Ages 3-9

by Jan Brett

32 pages

Putnam

1989

 

When a young boy asks his grandmother to knit him white mittens, she warns him that they will be hard to find if he drops them in the snow. As he goes out to play in the snow he immediately drops one of his new white mittens. Before long it becomes a cozy home to some woodland creatures seeking shelter.

 

Brave Irene brave-irene-1

Picture Book

Ages 3-9

By William Steig

32 pages

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

1986

 

Young Irene braves the wind, cold and blowing snow in this story of perseverance.

The dressmaker has finished the duchess’s gown for tonight’s ball but is not feeling well enough to deliver it. Though a big snowstorm is brewing, the dressmaker’s daughter Irene offers to bring the dress to the palace. Her mother is concerned but cannot make the trip herself and, reluctantly, allows her daughter to leave.

It’s tough going, but Irene is tougher and she completes her task despite the difficulties she faces on the way.

By the beloved author and illustrator of Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, the 1970 Caldecott Medal Winner.

 

Poppleton in Winter PoppletonInWinter-001

Early Reader

Ages 4-8

by Cynthia Rylant

Illustrated by Mark Teague

48 pages

Blue Sky Press

2001

 

In the first chapter of this early reader, Poppleton and his new friend Patrick (a bird) make a fence out of icicles.

Next, Poppleton makes a clay bust of his good friend Cherry Sue.

In the final chapter Poppleton has forgotten his own birthday, but his friends have not. They all surprise Poppleton with home-baked goodies and a nighttime sleigh ride.

See my review of Poppleton here.

 

Katy and the Big Snow Katy_and_the_Big_Snow

Picture Book

Ages 4-9

By Virgina Lee Burton

40 pages

Houghton Mifflin

1973

 

By the author and illustrator of the notable classics Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (1939) and The Little House (1943 Caldecott Medal Winner).

Katy the red crawler tractor was a bulldozer in summer and a snowplow in winter. When a blizzard hits her hometown, all the people are depending on Katy to save the day, and she relishes the opportunity to show that she can do just that.

 

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening StoppingByWoods-001

Picture Book

Ages 4 and up

By Robert Frost

Illustrated by Susan Jeffers

32 pages

Dutton Juvenile

Originally published in 1978

Revised edition 2001

 

Susan Jeffers beautiful illustrations of frosty New England scenes perfectly complement this famous wintry poem by Robert Frost. Capturing the silent beauty of a snowy night, her art offers answers to some of the questions raised in this well-known poem.

 

For readers interested in the science of snow, a few Non-fiction options.

 

The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder StoryofSnow

Non-Fiction

Ages 4-10

By Mark Cassino

36 pages

Chronicle

2009

 

This excellent non-fiction picture book features illustrations as well as photographs of snowflakes and answers the questions about where snow comes from and how it’s formed.

 

Snowflakes in Photographssnowflakes-in-photographs-001

Non-fiction

By W.A. Bentley

Ages 5 and up

80 pages

Dover

2000

 

This book features over eight hundred and fifty photographs of snowflakes taken by American photographer W.A. Bentley (1865-1931) during a fifty year period.

Though it’s common knowledge now that no two snowflakes are alike, this was not the case when Bently began his ambitious project. In 1865 he attached a bellows camera to a compound microscope and photographed what he referred to as “tiny miracles of beauty.”

It is because of his work that we can know of and experience the wonder, magic and uniqueness contained in each miniature frozen sculpture.

(See also Snowflake Bentley, the 1999 Caldecott Winner, by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Mary Azarian.)

 

The Secret Life of a Snowflake: An Up-Close Look at the Art and Science of Snowflakes

Non-FictionSecret LifeofSnowflake

Ages 8 and up

by Kenneth Libbrecht

48 pages

Voyageur Press

2010

 

The title says it all. Full of extraordinary photographs and detailed information about the cycle of a snowflake, this book is written by a scientist who studies snowflakes.

The universal love that children have for snow can be harnessed and redirected to foster a fascination for the fate of small frozen bits of water, crystals, and other scientific wonders.

Comments (5) »

Island: A Story of the Galapagos by Jason Chin: A non-fiction delight.

Island

Island: A Story of the Galapagos

Non-Fiction Picture Book

Ages 4-10

By Jason Chin

36 pages

Roaring Brook Press

2012

 

 

Jason Chin (another Books of Wonder alum) is an unsurpassed master of presenting non-fiction to picture book fans. His first book in the genre, Redwoods (2009), followed a young boy who discovers a book about the Redwood forest and soon finds himself walking amongst the woody giants. Coral Reefs, published in 2011, is about a young girl in the New York City Public Library who soon finds the library, and the city, transformed into a marine adventure.

Chin carefully researches his subject matter and adeptly translates the information for his intended audience. Coupling his straightforward, informative text with his exquisite and detailed art, he creates compelling and beautiful books—no small feat when dealing with non-fiction, just take a look at some of the other options in your local library.

Island1

Island: A Story of the Galapagos reads like a biography of the islands, beginning six million years ago, and is told in five short parts. It began with a volcano that had been growing in the ocean for millions of years. Finally erupting, it created the landmass that would eventually become home to a unique variety of plants and animals; first it would lay barren for many, many years.

Island2

The island’s first bit of life arrived on the waves—a mangrove tree seed, from a nearby island, took root and began to grow. From that modest beginning, an ecosystem gradually began to flourish. Sea birds and marine iguanas followed the arrival of vegetation. More and more life forms followed, and over the course of millions of years the animals adapted to their new, and ever-changing environment. Finches on the island evolved to have larger beaks so that they could open larger seeds; seagulls began to hunt at night and evolved to have larger eyes.

Island3

All the while the island had been slowly sinking, and after nearly six million years it eventually disappeared under the ocean.

Island4

But the other islands of the Galapagos (there’s fifteen now) inherited the descendents of the plants and animals from the sunken land mass. The plants and animals—many of them endemic species, meaning: unique to this specific location—have once again adapted to their new environment. And like the other island, these will eventually sink into the sea as well.

DSC01993

The book’s epilogue shows Charles Darwin’s ship, the HMS Beagle, arriving on the shores of the Galapagos. The last four pages of the book give further information on Charles Darwin, natural selection, endemic species and the amazing islands of the book’s title. Chin’s full color pages highlight the beauty of the island and the sea surrounding it; he utilizes small pieces of panel art throughout which succinctly illustrate the processes of change on the island.

Island: A Story of the Galapagos will be a delight to any child interested in biology, geology or the history of the natural world.

 

View the book!

IndieBound / Powell’s / Amazon

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Happy World Penguin Day! Here’s ten books to celebrate with.

Earlier today I discovered that it’s World Penguin Day. Though I had no idea such a day existed, I happen to love penguins. The penguin room at the Central Park Zoo is one of my favorite places in New York City.

So, in honor of this sacred day and my love for these utterly delightful creatures, I present ten of my favorite books featuring penguins.

 

Your Personal PenguinPersonalPenguin

Board Book

Ages Birth to 4

By Sandra Boynton

24 pages

Workman

2006

 

I’ve mentioned before, and can’t stress enough, how much I adore Sandra Boynton; her books—full of humorous stories, adorable characters, and warm, fuzzy feelings—are perfect for babies and toddlers. Her straightforward text and instantly recognizable, simple art is utterly appealing and completely irresistible.

In this heartwarming story, a darling little penguin is attempting to endear himself to an initially confused, eventually amenable, hippopotamus.

“Now, lots of other penguins seem to be fine in a universe of nothing but ice. But if I could be yours, and you could be mine, our cozy little world would be twice as nice. I want to be Your Personal Penguin.”

Who could truly resist such an offer?

View on Amazon

 

A Penguin StoryPenguinStory

Picture Book

Ages 2-6

By Antoinette Portis

40 pages

HarperCollins

2008

 

As with Portis’s other books (Not a Box and Not a Stick), she uses limited colors and produces beautifully austere, perfectly textured art.

Edna is a small and inquisitive penguin. She’s surrounded by white—the ice and snow, black—the night, and blue—the sky and the water. When she goes searching for more color, she finds an orange tent.

She brings some of her penguin friends to check it out and one of the human researchers inhabiting the tent gives Edna an orange glove. She dons it as a hat and wonders what other colors the world might have to offer.

View on Amazon

 

Penguin and Pinecone: A Friendship StoryPenguin&Pinecone

Picture Book

Ages 2-6

By Salina Yoon

40 pages

Walker

2012

 

Yoon’s bold, cartoon-y illustrations and sparse text combine to produce an endearing story of friendship and patience.

When Penguin found Pinecone he didn’t know what it was but it seemed like it was cold, so he knit a scarf for it. Grandpa explains to Penguin that pinecones live in forests, not in the snow.

Penguin is sad but he must do what’s best for Pinecone, and he returns him to the forest. Later, when Penguin comes back to visit his friend, he discovers that Pinecone has grown, and so has Penguin’s love for Pinecone.

View the book trailer!

View on Amazon

 

Lost and Found Lost&Found

Picture Book

Ages 2-7

By Oliver Jeffers

32 pages

Philomel

2005

 

Oliver Jeffers’s, This Moose Belongs to Me (2012) was a NYTimes Bestseller. His soft, calming art is crisp and expressive.

“Once there was a boy who found a penguin at his door.”

The boy, thinking the penguin is lost, sets out to find out where this quiet bird belongs. He learns that penguins live at the South Pole; the boy and the bird make the trip together.

Once at their destination the boy learns his new friend wasn’t lost at all, just lonely, and the two friends decide to stick together.

View on Amazon

 

Tacky the PenguinTackythePenguin

Picture Book

Ages 3-8

By Helen Lester

Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger

32 pages

Sandpiper

1990

 

This pair has created some wonderful books together; Tacky the Penguin was one of my favorite books to sell. Lester’s stories are touching and funny and Munsinger’s art is whimsical and vibrant.

Tacky is not like the other penguins. They wear bowties, he wears a Hawaiian shirt; they are quiet and polite, Tacky is loud and graceless. But it’s Tacky’s odd behavior that scares off a pack of hunters and saves them all.

View on Amazon

 

The Emperor Lays an Eggemperorlaysanegg

Non-fiction

Picture Book

Ages 4-8

By Brenda Z. Guiberson

Illustrated by Joan Paley

32 pages

Owelet

2004

 

Clear text and luscious collage art take us through a year in the life of Emperor penguins—their harsh environment, their family dynamic and their eating habits.

After the mother lays the egg, the father must carefully roll the egg onto his feet and keep it warm. Once the egg hatches, both parents must work diligently to feed the chick and keep it safe and warm. The chick will make its first swim during the short summer, then the whole family must fatten up for the approaching winter.

This informative non-fiction book is also a beautiful storybook.

View on Amazon

 

If You Were a PenguinIfYouWereAPenguin

Picture Book

Ages 4-9

By Florence Minor

Illustrated by Wendell Minor

32 Pages

Katherine Tegen Books

2008

 

With playful, rhyming text and lush, detailed art, this husband and wife team takes readers on a journey through some of the fun activities a penguin experiences—diving, swimming, and sliding on the ice, to name a few.

There’s also a visual key to the ten different species of penguins found in this book and resources for learning more about penguins.

View on Amazon

 

One Cool FriendOneCoolFriend

Picture Book

Ages 4-9

By Toni Buzzeo

Illustrated by David Small

32 pages

Dial

2012

 

Small’s clean, loose line drawings and restricted palette bring Buzzeo’s spare and quirky text to life.

Young Eliot visits the zoo with his father and decides to bring one of the penguins home with him! His father—easily distracted and often otherwise engaged—doesn’t seem to notice the new resident at his house, or so readers are lead to believe.

View on Amazon

 

The Adventures of Marco and PoloDSC01831

Picture Book

Ages 4-10

By Dieter Wiesmuller

40 pages

Walker

2000

Out of print

 

Stunningly beautiful, sumptuous paintings cover every page of this over-sized picture book.

Polo Penguin and Marco Monkey meet when Marco’s cruise ship arrives in Antarctica. Marco is amazed at all the icy sites Polo introduces him to; he’s also amazed at how cold he is.

When Marco says he must go home Polo decides to travel with him since he’s eager to learn all about Marco’s home. The lush, green world is very different from his icy blue environs, and so, so hot!

The two friends would like to be together but realize they must each return to their own home; now they each have a pen pal.

View on Amazon

 

And Tango Makes ThreeTango

Picture Book

Ages 4-10

By Justin Richardson

and Peter Parnell

Illustrated by Henry Cole

32 pages

Simon & Schuster

2005

 

This beautiful book is based on a true story about an unorthodox family at the Central Park Zoo. Soft, realistic watercolors adorn this uplifting and sweet story.

While all the other mated penguins are tending to their newly laid eggs, Roy and Silo—two male penguins—find a rock to care for together. The zookeeper notices their activities and trades the rock for a penguin egg in need of nurturing.

The two take turns caring for the fragile egg and before long their daughter Tango is born.

View on Amazon

 

Mr. Popper’s PenguinsMrPoppersPenguins

Middle Reader

Ages 5-12

By Richard & Florence Atwater

Illustrated by Robert Lawson

140 pages

Originally published: 1938

Reprint edition: Little, Brown

1992

 

This fantastically ridiculous story—and 1939 Newbury Honor book— was illustrated by the extremely talented Robert Lawson (The Story of Ferdinand). 

Mr. Popper wishes he’d seen more of the world before he married Mrs. Popper. He spends his spare time reading and daydreaming about Arctic explorers. Then one of those explorers sends him a penguin in response to a fan letter!

When that penguin gets lonely, the Poppers acquire another lonely penguin to be his mate; eventually the pair produces ten more penguins. And that’s when Mr. Popper starts touring the “Popper’s Performing Penguins, First Time on Any Stage, Direct from the South Pole” show.

And hilarity ensues.

This is not only an excellent read-aloud book for the whole family, but also an enjoyable (and quick) book for any reader who loves to laugh.

View on Amazon

Comments (11) »

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