Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Four “finally found” titles

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! 

NFPB 2014This week I want to share four titles that have nothing in common beyond their nonfiction status except that all four of them are books I have been dying to read and have, finally, FOUND!

If you haven’t discovered these titles yet, I pass on high recommendations! These are must reads.

Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Cindy Trumbore and Susan L. Roth (published in 2013) Winner of the 2014 Sibert Medal

My local bookstore seemed to always be out of copies of this beautiful title but I finally found it at my local public library. Now I see not only why this was an award winning title, but also why so many raved about how amazing it is! Susan L. Roth‘s collage images are stunning and I love the alternate orientation of the book – it is shared vertically rather than horizontally. But, it is, of course, the story that is so important. So often when we hear about animals on the brink of extinction, there is no happy ending story to share. Here, we have a story of hope and promise. Through much hard work the endangered parrots of Puerto Rico are once again flying through the treetops. Both captive bred parrots and wild flocks are being supported by the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program.

This book has many extras in the final pages to support further learning:

  • an extensive Afterward with full colour photographs of the different birds discussed in this book and more information about the recovery program.
  • a timeline of important dates
  • a list of the author’s sources

 Parrots over Puerto Rico  NonFiction Picture Book Wednesday: Four "finally found" titles

Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson (published in 2013)

This cover has been staring at me from various book lists and blogs and finally, just recently, my requested copy arrived from the library! I immediately included it on this list of Swoon Worthy Nonfiction titles because the illustrations beautifully narrate a story all their own. Brief and lyrical text tells the story of Mandela’s life and his determination to see his people live in a free South Africa where apartheid was abolished. Kadir Nelson‘s back pages flush out details of the story he shared. A book guaranteed to get students talking about Mandela, his inspiration and his leadership.

Nelson Mandela NonFiction Picture Book Wednesday: Four "finally found" titles

Dream Something Big: The Story of the Watts Towers by Dianna Hutts Aston with collages by Susan L. Roth (published in 2011)

This book recently came onto my radar. This was a title by Dianna Aston that I didn’t know and art by Susan L. Roth? I had to find it. Luckily our public library had a copy for me to request! I knew nothing of this story of Simon Rodia (called Uncle Sam) and his big dream that resulted in the spectacular Watts Towers (up to 100 feet high in parts) in Los Angeles. Absolutely stunning folk art that you can’t imagine until you see it. More information can be found on this website. It’s worth taking a peek to see what the towers actually look like.

The end pages include close up photographs of tower sections. There is also an author’s note that gives more details about Simon Rodia and his work. Building these towers took thirty-four years and was done completely alone without even a ladder or any drawings/plans. There is also a step by step guide to creating your own Watts Towers for children to try.

Dream Something Big NonFiction Picture Book Wednesday: Four "finally found" titles

Can We Save the Tiger? written by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Vicky White (published in 2011)

Ape by this author/illustrator team is one of my all time favourite nonfiction read alouds. Next year, I am looping my Grade 2/3/4 class into a Grade 3/4 class and will have many of the same students. Students expressed a lot of curiosity and interest about endangered animals and threats to animal populations which is related to the habitat and communities strand of the Grade 4 Science curriculum.

This book by Jenkins and White introduces students to a huge variety of endangered and extinct animals. With some creatures, like the tiger, more details are provided about the animal including reasons for its vulnerable status. Definite themes come through about why certain populations are threatened: lack of space, destruction of habitat, invasive non-native predators, climate change and exposure to medicine administered to another species. Again, there is hope. Stories are shared of animals that were close to extinction and now have healthy populations – like the American bison. There is an index in the back and a list of online resources to find out more about what animals are endangered and what organizations exist that are trying to protect them.

This is a title I will be purchasing for our class collection.

Can we Save the Tiger? NonFiction Picture Book Wednesday: Four "finally found" titles

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2014. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 87/65 complete! If I were counting (and I am), I would announce that that is 22 books over my goal and it’s still July!

This week, I have had some wonderful conversations via twitter with Alyson Beecher who blogs at Kid Lit Frenzy and author Melissa Stewart about sharing nonfiction with our students. This inspired me to write a series of posts sharing my passion for nonfiction books. The first two of three posts are complete and linked here if you haven’t had a chance to check them out. I would love any feedback from this #nfpb2014 community who shares such #NFbooklove!

Teaching with a passion for nonfiction picture books:

Part 1: Everywhere you look . . . let there be nonfiction!

Part 2: The importance of the nonfiction read aloud

Coming soon: Part 3: Interacting with nonfiction: getting students reading, thinking and talking together


16 thoughts on “Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Four “finally found” titles

  1. I loved Parrots the first time I saw it. It seemed so original!
    The Tiger one is new to me, I put it on hold at the library! I wish my library had Ape. 😦 Always a bummer when you can’t find something!

  2. Love Parrots Over Puerto Rico and Kadir Nelson’s books are always so wonderful. I’ll need to find the other two, Carrie. I found Ape from you & now this Can We Save The Tiger? Looks terrific! Also love those NFPB articles, looking for that next one!

  3. Thanks for sharing these lovely books, Carrie! I love the works of Kadir Nelson. Can We Save the Tiger? looks great! =)

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