Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Penguin Day – A Family Story

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Penguin Day - A Family Story

I have been waiting three years for this book to be published. Three years ago I had the honour of introducing Nic Bishop at the Western Washington Children’s Literature Conference. He entertained the audience for a good hour telling tales of his world travels as a photographer, author and photo journalist. He has done some pretty incredible and often highly amusing things to get some of his photographs. At the end of his talk, he spoke about Rockhopper penguins and his travels to the Falkland Islands to photograph these mighty little penguins.

I remember him making a joke about these penguins writing their own hairstylist guide. They do have some pretty fantastic yellow fur stretching out from their “eyebrows”! He also spoke about penguin porpoising and penguin showers (both depicted in the book). What stuck with me though was his story of how the Rockhopper penguins are able to swim in rough, violent waters, how colonies make nests 100 feet up the sides of rocks where their nests are and how the penguin population is on rapid decline since commercial fishing was established in the area.

I was so excited to see Penguin Day: A Family Story by Nic Bishop (Scholastic Press 2017) at the bookstore the other day. This title allows us to follow a penguin family through a typical day. Mama penguin heads out to fish for food. The photograph of penguins diving underwater to ride the waves is amazing! Father penguin stays back to guard the chick. When he is distracted, we learn about dangers like the sea birds that attempt to make off with a penguin chick that is not being watched.

This title has simple text with engaging full colour photographs. Back matter includes more detailed information in the author’s note. Recommended for classroom libraries K-5.

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2017. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

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Nonfiction 10 for 10 2017: Dive Down Deep

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2017: Dive Down Deep

This year for nonfiction 10 for 10, I invite you to dive into the ocean and explore the wonders of ocean life and ocean exploration.

Thank you to Cathy Mere from Reflect and RefineMandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning  and Julie Balen of Write at the Edge for hosting this meme. Click here to read all of the top ten lists shared.

This is my fifth year participating in this meme.

In the first year of #nf10for10 I shared favourite nonfiction titles – many that I have used with my class over the last few years in a variety of ways.

In the second year, I chose to focus on nonfiction picture book biographies that feature inspiring women.

In my third year, I shared nonfiction titles that allow us to think about something from a completely new or different perspective.

Last year I featured titles that allowed readers to travel the world.

Nonfiction 10 for 10

Dive Down Deep! Head into the water! 

Down Down Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the sea by Steve Jenkins

How can we not be intrigued at the idea that we may only have encountered half of the large animals living in the sea?

 Nonfiction 10 for 10 2017: Dive Down Deep

Coral Reefs by Jason Chin

In this title, being lost in a book means getting lost in a completely different world – in this case the magical world of coral reefs.

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2017: Dive Down Deep

Some amazing creatures:

Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands by Katherine Roy 

A mixture of gorgeously painted illustrations, detailed relevant diagrams and the story of how the great whites hunt in the Farallon Islands so successfully. This book illustrates how sharks are perfectly adept hunters, at the top of the food chain.

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2017: Dive Down Deep

Giant Squid written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann

Such a book. I love the images, the rhythm of the text and the mystery of the still not known that is conveyed.

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2017: Dive Down Deep

The Blue Whale by Jenni Desmond

An incredible read aloud for children who love to be amazed by nature. I loved the illustration of the blue whale’s mouth with 50 people standing in its lower jaw!

The Blue Whale Nonfiction 10 for 10 2017: Dive Down Deep

Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue written by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Wendell Minor

A beautiful, lyrical story with stunning paintings by Wendell Minor. Follow this real life rescue of a humpback whale.

Trapped! A Whale's Rescue Nonfiction 10 for 10 2017: Dive Down Deep

See What a Seal Can Do written by Chris Butterworth and illustrated by Kate Nelms

The reader is invited into the world of seals. Learn all about gray seals – how they move, how they hunt and how their body is perfectly suited to their ocean home.

See What A Seal Can Do Nonfiction 10 for 10 2017: Dive Down Deep

Celebrating the study of the ocean and ocean life:

Swimming with Sharks: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark by Heather Lang and illustrated by Jodi Solano

“Sharks are magnificent and misunderstood!” This was Clark’s message to the world. Sharks need our respect and our protection.

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2017: Dive Down Deep

Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor written by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Raúl Colón

I love when nonfiction is the perfect blend of incredible story and breathtaking pictures – increases the wonder factor exponentially!

Nonfiction 10 for 10 2017: Dive Down Deep

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A Nivola 

The depiction of Earle’s curious childhood in the water, descriptions of moments in her life that truly shaped and changed her, beautiful and enticing illustrations and this very important message: “You can’t care if you don’t know.”

Life in the Ocean Nonfiction 10 for 10 2017: Dive Down Deep

What are your favourite books about the ocean?

 

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Swimming with Sharks

Imagine being called the “Shark Lady” . . .

I can’t! My fear is too great to wrap my head around being calm enough, focussed enough and determined enough to dedicate my life to both studying and swimming with sharks.

Sharks!

With all of those teeth and those great big jaws.

Sharks!

Yet, reading this book allowed me to start to consider sharks from Eugenie Clark’s perspective.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Swimming with Sharks

I learned that sharks are many things – even, as Clark saw them – remarkable.

In Swimming with Sharks: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark by Heather Lang and illustrated by Jodi Solano (2016 Albert Whitman & Company) sharks are described as timid, sophisticated and clever.

Clark herself was remarkable: a persistent student – curious, dedicated and inspired by her subject. Clark was able to train sharks to press an underwater bell and then swim somewhere else to retrieve a food reward. She dove with sharks, swimming with them and noting all kinds of discoveries about their habits and behaviour. She was determined to learn about sharks so she could address people’s fears. Help us change our minds. See sharks in new ways.

“Sharks are magnificent and misunderstood!” This was Clark’s message to the world. Sharks need our respect and our protection.

In the back matter, Lang points out that Eugenie Clark was still swimming with sharks into her nineties. She published over 175 articles about fish in her lifetime and made 72 submersible dives.

I particularly appreciate biographies that feature passionate scientists asking questions and doing work that transforms and enhances our current understanding of a subject. Eugenie Clark was such a scientist. Her life’s work is absolutely inspiring.

A fascinating biography ideal for young naturalists. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2017. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

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Thank you to Tracie Schneider for providing a copy of this beautiful book for review

Nonfiction favourites from 2016

While I haven’t read my usual numbers of nonfiction titles this year, I have read enough to have some clear favourites. Here are my top ten of 2016 (published in 2016)

Looking for some incredible nonfiction? I highly recommend all of these. In fact I own all but two of these titles and plan to remedy that soon. All of these books are titles I can see multiple reasons to use over and over in a classroom. A real reason to celebrate them here.

Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet

An incredible title with layer upon layer of stories and illustrations about a beloved author for so many. This is a longer picture book biography (176 pages) perfect for both adults and students.

some Writer!

Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois written by Amy Novesky and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

Simply beautiful. I featured this book here

Cloth Lullaby

Dorothea’s Eyes by Barb Rosenstock with illustrations by Gérard DuBois

I look forward to sharing this fantastic biography of photographer Dorothea Lange with my students later in the year. I plan also to share these photos she took in a Japanese Internment camp.

Dorothea's Eyes

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe

The art in this book is beyond, beyond. Absolutely stunning. An incredible biography made accessible to children. I particularly appreciated the back matter here. Information on Motifs and symbolism in Basquiat’s work is something I will certainly share with students when we explore this book. Steptoe’s author’s note is very important too.

radiant-child-the-story-of-young-artist-jean-michel-basquiat

Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay written by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

There are so many reasons to share this story with children. It is a story of hope, of change, of perseverance, of the power of music and the beauty of community. A story of transformation.

adas-violin

Tooth by Tooth: Comparing Fangs, Tusks, and Chompers written by Sara Levine and illustrated by T.S. Spookytooth

“What kind of animal would you be if your teeth were long enough to stick out of your mouth, even when it was closed?” This is one of many questions posed in this informative and engaging book. Students love to guess and check and this title allows for a lot of that. I highlighted this book here

Tooth by Tooth 1

The Polar Bear by Jenni Desmond

The ideal blend of mesmerizing art and story that informs and prompts more questions. I plan to use this title with other books on polar bears and videos about the shrinking ice in the Arctic seas.

the-polar-bear

Pink is for Blobfish: Discovering the World’s Perfectly Pink Animals written by Jess Keating with illustrations by David DeGrand

I featured this book here (lots of ideas for how to use in the classroom). This book has been a huge hit in my classroom and we have gone on to become fans of Animals for Smart People videos. You will never think the same about pink again.

Blobfish

Best in Snow by April Pulley Sayre

The photographs, the lyrical language . . . absolutely captivating.

best-in-snow

Animals by the Numbers by Steve Jenkins

As always – such interesting information. All communicated via infographics? Perfect.

animals-by-the-numbers

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2016. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

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Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Last year when I taught a Grade 2 & 3 class, I made a list of titles I might initially share to grow curiosity, introduce new concepts and spread the love of nonfiction picture books.

This year I am teaching Grade 4 & 5 in a new-to-me school and again, I have been going through my shelves thinking about first read alouds. At this point, I am less concerned about content and thinking more about exposing students to a variety of nonfiction titles so that their ideas about nonfiction picture books can grow. I want to also introduce them to a variety of genres, prolific authors and nonfiction series so that they can plan some of their future independent reading. In all of this reading, I want there to be room for questions, laughter and much discussion. Here are ten titles that I have placed in a pile to possibly share in our first month together.

Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa’s Fastest Cats written by Sy Montgomery with photographs by Nic Bishop

Kids love cheetahs. But what is the story of their endangered status and what is being done about it? That is the story that this title showcases – in particular the story of  Laurie Marker and the work she does at theCheetah Conservation Fund (CCF)‘s African headquarters in Nambia. This is a Scientist in the Field title – a series ideal for young scientists, naturalists and kids with questions.

 Chasing Cheetahs Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Dorothea’s Eyes by Barb Rosenstock with illustrations by Gérard DuBois

Nonfiction picture book biographies are some of my favourite titles to share. They are full of information and inspiration. I think this fantastic biography of photographer Dorothea Lange will generate interest in other biographies.

Dorothea's Eyes Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

How to Swallow a Pig: Step-by-Step Advice from the Animal Kingdom by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

This title is particularly interesting because of the “how to” aspect. Of course it is also a great model for instructional writing. Additional information is always rich in Jenkins/Page titles. Jenkins and Page have collaborated on multiple nonfiction titles. All have huge kid appeal.

How to Swallow a Pig Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Tooth by Tooth: Comparing Fangs, Tusks, and Chompers written by Sara Levine and illustrated by T.S. Spookytooth

“What kind of animal would you be if your teeth were long enough to stick out of your mouth, even when it was closed?” This is one of many questions posed in this informative and engaging book. Students love to guess and check and this title allows for a lot of that.

Tooth by Tooth Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

What if you had Animal Ears!? written by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Howard McWilliam

This series is lots of fun. It gets kids talking and asking questions. They can later read more of the series on their own or with a buddy. Markle writes lots of great nonfiction. Win. Win. Win to share this one.

What if you had Animal ears?Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Pink is for Blobfish: Discovering the World’s Perfectly Pink Animals written by Jess Keating with illustrations by David DeGrand

Just the cover captures interest but you need to open the book for the full impact. Lots of weird and interesting = perfect for curious minds. Jess Keating also writes middle grade novels – some are sitting on my book shelf and I predict they will be very popular after we share this title. And then there are the videos on her Youtube channel: Animals for Smart People

Pink is for Blobfish Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Feathers Not Just for Flying written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen

Such a beautifully written and organized book – almost like a nature journal or a scrap book.  Perfect as an interactive read aloud experience.Allows the reader to consider and learn about many uses for feathers. Melissa Stewart has written many nonfiction titles in my collection. Students will know her by name by year’s end (or sooner).

 Feathers Not Just for Flying Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh

Nonfiction picture books introduce us to situations, history and struggles we may no nothing or little about. Such an important story about a family’s fight for their children’s equal education.

Separate is Never Equal Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

I, Fly The Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are written by Bridget Heos and illustrated by Jennifer Plecas

We can laugh a lot as we learn. This book showcases this perfectly!

I, Fly Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors poems by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beckie Prange 

Poet and artist celebrate nature’s successes. Who has been around for a long time and continues to thrive? Introduced in order of their evolutionary arrival, read poems and facts about such creatures as the squirrel, ants, geckos and diatoms. Fascinating and a lyrical experience all at once. Blending of art, poetry and nonfiction. I love to share nonfiction poetry and hope this is a form of writing that we will explore this year in Writer’s Workshop.

Ubiquitous-Celebrating-Natures-Survivors Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: First read alouds in a Grade 4 & 5 classroom

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2016. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

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Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Tooth by Tooth

Recently, we went to dinner at my husband’s parents. My son had just been to the orthodontist. My father in law had just had dental surgery. I had just visited the bookstore that afternoon on route to dinner and I was thrilled to see that the latest Sara Levine book I had ordered had arrived. Of course, while waiting for dinner to finish cooking, I had to read this book aloud to my family. Of course! It was a meant to be moment – a must read book about teeth while we all had teeth on the brain. Achy teeth and bruised mouths, some of us. This book was the perfect distraction.

Because don’t you just want to know answers to some questions like these:

  • What would you be if your top canine teeth grew almost all the way down to your feet?
  • What kind of animal would you be if your teeth were long enough to stick out of your mouth, even when it was closed?
  • What kind of mammal would you be if you had really tall molars?

I am not going to tell you any of these answers! Go! Get the book! Some of these questions are challenging to figure out. This title is a fantastic resource in the elementary classroom: a fun and interactive read aloud with interesting guess and find out questions/answers. My entire family from the teenagers to the over eighty crowd was completely engaged!

Tooth by Tooth: Comparing Fangs, Tusks, and Chompers written by Sara Levine and illustrated by T.S. Spookytooth (Millbrook Press (Lerner) 2016)

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Tooth by Tooth

Learn about the different kinds of teeth you have in your mouth: incisors, canines and molars. Quick, think fast – how many molars do you have? Now count them. Were you right? (Your answer should fall in the 8-20 range depending on your age) Find out how other mammals use their teeth and why they are different sizes and shapes. How are human teeth similar and different compared to other mammals? How do the teeth of herbivores, omnivores and carnivores differ?

Information in the final pages includes further reading, a detailed glossary and more about mammal teeth.

Ideal for K-7 students as a read aloud (for K-3) or read alone (Grades 4-7) .

I also highly recommend bringing it along to share at dinner parties. . . even if nobody has recently been to the dentist! 🙂

Levine and Spookytooth also collaborated on Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2016. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

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Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: One Day on our Blue Planet . . . In the Antarctic

If you shouldn’t fall in love with a book by its cover . . . how about its end pages? Because these are truly stunning! The front pages feature all of the animals you might find above the ice in Antarctica and the final end pages reveal many of the creatures who live below the Antarctic waters.

One Day on our Blue Planet . . . In the Antarctic by Ella Bailey (Flying Eye Books 2016)

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: One Day on our Blue Planet . . . In the Antarctic

Wander (or waddle) through the day of an Adélie penguin chick in her Antarctic home. Through the story of her day we are introduced to elements of the Antarctic landscape, penguin habits, their predators and the creatures who share their home.

Perfect for younger listeners, this is a beautiful read aloud to introduce children to the continent of Antarctica and it is sure to spark further reading and research. This would also be a wonderful mentor text for older readers to share their research on an animal as a “day in the life” format.

This book begs you to consider art projects. It is stunning on every page. Like all Flying Eye Books, the pages are high quality and the colour palette, so attractive.

Pair this title with these titles about Antarctica:

Sophie Scott Goes South by Alison Lester (published in 2012)

 Sophie Scott Goes South  There's a Book for That

Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill, a stunning Flying Eye book published in 2014.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: There's a Book for That

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2016. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

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