Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Picture Book Non-fiction

Once again, I thought I'd review some non-fiction picture books I've read recently. Perhaps I should make this separate from Picture Book Saturday permanently (I have reviewed some non-fiction on those posts). I'll have to think about it.

Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing, All-Brother Baseball Team
By Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Steven Salerno
Published 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
I think I've mentioned my love of baseball before, so when I saw this book on our new book cart, I couldn't resist giving it a quick read. For the true baseball fan (which includes a lot of children), this is a fascinating look at a little-known fact of baseball: before the modern era of baseball, there were a number of teams comprised solely, or at least mostly, of brothers. This book tells the story of the Acerra family, 12 brothers who played together for the longest length of time of any all-brother ball team. This was a fun and uplifting story filled with baseball trivia. The illustrations are very evocative of the time period as well. I enjoyed this one.

Dream Something Big: The Story of the Watts Towers
By Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Susan L. Roth
Published 2011 by Dial
I picked this up just for the heck of it and I have to admit that I didn't really enjoy it all that much. I'm unfamiliar with the Watts Towers, so that might have something to do with it. The story of the man who built the towers is told through the eyes of a young neighbor. I just didn't find much in the story to engage me - I never got all that interested. I like the illustrations; they have a childlike quality that it appealing here. And I appreciate the back matter - further information about the artist, bibliography, and instructions on how to build your own towers. I think this could be incorporated into a program for the grade-school crowd.

The Beetle Book
By Steve Jenkins
Published 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Some bizarre fascination compelled me to pull this book off the shelf and read through it, though I felt creeped out and icky the whole time. I am definitely not a bug person and the beetles in this book were no exception. However, Jenkins is basically a master of juvenile non-fiction and his books are always a welcome addition to the collection. Here, Jenkins focuses on beetles, a high-interest subject for a lot of kids. As always, I learned a few things I didn't know (some beetles can sense fire from like 20 miles away, and there is a beetle species called the longicorn that had a huge antenna and looks like a unicorn beetle). I love his illustrations and there is plenty of back matter. Full of facts, this is a great new book.

Bird Talk: What Birds are Saying and Why
By Lita Judge
Published 2012 by Roaring Brook Press
Another thing I've admitted here on the blog is my terror of birds. So it was with a mix of trepidation and determination that I approached this book (perhaps I was trying to "know my enemy"). What I discovered is an excellent book about the variety of communications among birds and what they all mean. This is a great book to teach about adaptations and evolution, as well as about many different kinds of birds. The illustrations are large and bold and the text is informative and entertaining as well. This would be a great book for any kid interested in our winged friends.

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