Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California's Fallaron Islands
By Katherine Roy
Published 2014 by David Macaulay Studio
So, I don't think it's a big secret that shark books are exceedingly popular among young people. With a cover like this one, this book is sure to be popular. I loved it - I'm a big fan of non-fiction picture books in general, and this one is very well done. It's told in an interesting mix of narrative and straight out fact and I think it works really well, with the facts elucidating the narrative bits. I really like that this book brings sharks home to readers - literally. It's all about the sharks who live just near the Californian coast. Terrifying to some readers, exhilarating to others. To top it all off, the illustrations are absolutely stunning - they resemble photos enough to make sure you don't miss the realism but they are lovely enough to forget that you are watching a shark devour its prey. Awesome - or should I say, JAWsome?
By Mia Posada
Published 2014 by Millbrook Press
I think learning about animal tracks is a fanatic phase that many children go through, imagining themselves traipsing through the wild in pursuit of some awesome creature. This book will help them on their way, by introducing a variety of animals and their tracks. I liked that the book highlighted animals in all kinds of environments, as well as showcased familiar and less common animals. I think this book is a great example of non-fiction you could use in storytime - each track is introduced in a way that invites readers to guess which animal is belongs to. The facts are easy to understand and clear, so I definitely think this could be incorporated in a storytime. The illustrations are lovely as well. I enjoyed this one.
By Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
Published 2014 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Jenkins' books are almost always a hit with young readers and it's not difficult to see why. He (and his collaborators) usually pick unique and fascinating subjects and then present them in extremely eye-catching and easily understandable ways. This book is no exception. It's exactly what it sounds like: a question is presented to a particular animal about some aspect of their appearance and the animal explains why they look that way. Once again, the animals range from the familiar to the more unusual (how many books feature axolotls?) and the book is richer for this diversity. I love the animals staring straight out of the page - it really makes you feel like you could have a conversation with them. Another one I loved.
By Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus, illustrated by Evan Turk
Published 2014 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
I feel a bit like I'm on my own island when it comes to this one. It had been getting tons of positive buzz and reviews, so I looked forward to picking it up for myself. When it finally arrived at my library, I read it immediately. And was underwhelmed. I really appreciate that this is a personal story about one of the most famous men in the world - you don't really get a lot of those and even less geared toward children. But it felt a bit of a put-upon that this was his most angry moment. Maybe I'm just a much angrier person, but it was hard to believe. Additionally, I was not a fan of the illustration style but, again, I seem to be alone in that opinion. Just not my favorite.