Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Some recent reads

It’s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday! 

NFPB 2014

While I am still in the middle of many nonfiction books, I am sharing a few recent reads here. These titles are heading into my classroom and I can’t wait for the right opportunity to share each of these engaging reads! I think each one of them needs to be part of the classroom or school library collection. So many rich learning opportunities . . .

The Same Moment Around the World by Clotilde Perrin (published 2014)

Simply – this book depicts a day in the life of the world. More complexly, it is a day in the world – all over the world – one page for each hour, beginning at 6 a.m. in Dakar, Senegal. Hour by hour, we see children in various places doing regular everyday things. But the settings are exotic and mysterious because so many may not be known to us. Children learn about time zones and gather a more complete understanding of what it means when we say that on the other side of the world people are going to sleep just as we are waking up. I am partial to books with interesting shapes – love that this title is tall and rectangular. Fantastic fold out map in the back to explore all of the places mentioned in the book.

 At the Same Moment Around the World #nfpb2014 There's a Book for That

How Big Were Dinosaurs? by Lita Judge (published 2013)

Lita Judge’s illustrations are so rich. They inform. They amuse. And they delight. Each dinosaur featured here is drawn next to something that children already know to allow them to imagine the exact size of the dinosaur. For example, the velociraptor was only the size of a modern day dog. A leaellynasaura? Two feet tall and wintered near the South Pole. Not all dinosaurs were towering huge “monsters”! But some sure were gigantic!

How Big Were Dinosaurs? #nfpb2014 There's a Book for That

Feathers Not Just for Flying written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen (published 2014)

I am very excited to share this as a read aloud. So excited that I just read it to my family over dinner – it needed an audience! More specifically, I needed some people to help me guess: what else could feathers be used for besides flight? We had a great time listing what we knew around the table and then reading to find out how many we got and how many we missed! Gorgeous illustrations – feels like you could pluck some of these feathers right off of the page. My daughter made a comment part way through about Stewart’s writing style.

“Each time, she gives an example to explain it more. I completely understand all of the different ways the feathers are used!”

Feathers Not Just for Flying #nfpb2014 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 2014! Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction titles.

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 50/65 complete!

Last Night’s Story

You know a book is an ideal read aloud when the reactions to it are as amusing as the story itself. Last night I read my children (8 years old x 2) Lulu and the Brontosaurus written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Lane Smith. They easily could have read this book themselves but this book shines as a shared read aloud experience.

Judith Viorst writes books where characters have a very appealing voice – connectable, frank, amusing. In this book, it is not the main character Lulu that has the powerful voice (although her screeches are pretty loud) but rather the narrator, Viorst herself. As author of the book, she has taken certain liberties – yes, she knows that Lulu, a human girl couldn’t possibly go out into the forest to find a dinosaur (especially a brontosaurus that technically didn’t even ever exist as it has been renamed the apatosarus) but this is her story, so that’s just how it is going to be. Lulu decides that she wants a brontosaurus and when her parents refuse to give in (a rarity in and of itself) to her tantrums and pleas, she marches into the forest, with her small suitcase to find one herself.

Accompanying her are her Don’t mess with me attitude and her theme song:

I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna, gonna get A bronto-bronto-bronto Brontosaurua for a pet. I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna, gonna get A bronto-bronto-bronto Brontosaurua for a pet.

I got it! A brontosaurus!

Lulu faces down huge snakes, ferocious tigers and grumpy bears. She is a girl on a mission. She is going to find a brontosaurus. She trudges on, frequently singing her song until sleep overtakes her. After hearing this song about three times, my children leaped out of bed, grabbed board games off the shelf as make shift suitcases and marched around the room chanting “I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna, gonna get A bronto-bronto-bronto Brontosaurua for a pet. . . ” Maybe not the best book to be reading before bed? More inspiring than calming!

When Lulu awakes, it is to a tree trunk with toes. A brontosaurus! The answer to her dreams. But it turns out, actually not! This brontosaurus is not going to take no for an answer to his dream – He wants Lulu for his pet! Pages and pages pass. He is not changing his mind. Lulu has no choice – she runs away! She makes her way back through the forest, encountering those very same creatures she challenged along the way. Something in Lulu seems to have changed. She has new strategies. Gift giving. Complimenting. Saying please! Lulu?! I won’t give any more of the story away. It’s hard to tell it to its end anyway because there are actually three endings to choose from. Depending on your style and your story ending needs. (We were unanimous – ending three got our vote) Very considerate of Ms. Viorst!

Lulu encountered a snake

Lane Smith, is the author/illustrator or illustrator of many books. His art is unique. Quirky. Odd. Eerie. Hilarious. In this book, the drawings are done in pencil on pastel paper. Amazing shading. So much mood conveyed without a hint of colour. We loved Lulu in her stripy dress, her persnickety pout, her sleek little bob. . . This book is a visual treat, strangely shaped – long and narrow and polka dotted new chapter pages. Never too much text on a page. A book you want to own. And treasure.

When the book ended (at 113 pages, we were able to finish it in one sitting) My children were completely energized! “Awesome,” cried my daughter. “That book was all about friendship, good manners and how you don’t always get what you want.” “And Foo on you! ” squealed my son. (You will have to read the book to find out why this is absolutely hilarious to an eight year old!)

Love this book! Reading books by Judith Viorst is always a delightful experience.