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!

nfpb2016logo

Monday July 25th, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. My classroom is certainly not full of children and I have repacked many books so that floors can be waxed and shelves can be gathered. So it also looks like it is not full of books! This is what the stack of classroom collection titles looked like when I left them a week ago. Tomorrow I head in to put my read aloud titles (fiction and nonfiction) away in another area of the room where there are shelves and cupboards. Another stack of books in that area awaits me!!

Monday July 25th, 2016 #IMWAYR

And here is my reading spot last week – out on the balcony with my morning coffee on Pender Island. Just beautiful.

Monday July 25th, 2016 #IMWAYR

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.

IMWAYR 2015

On the Blog:

We spent the last week away and so not much blogging has happened. I did manage a few posts since my last #IMWAYR:

Still processing my move in this Slice of Life: Giving away the Guilt

A “listen along” review of Ah-Choo! written by Lana Wayne Koeler and Gloria G. Adams

Books I enjoyed:

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

I was lucky to have been passed an ARC of this lovely little title when I introduced Melissa Sweet in Bellingham in the spring at the Western Washington Children’s Literature Conference. I saved it (well, there was much peeking) until we went away this summer so I could read it in one sitting. It is fantastically good which, if you read the book is over the top wordy to just say what should be said in plain English: Go buy this book when it is released (October 4th, 2016) and then pass it on to everyone you know to read. That’s how good. As usual, Sweet knocked me over with her detailed illustrations and precisely chosen quotes and text.

Some Writer! Monday July 25th, 2016 #IMWAYR

Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere by Julie T. Lamana

I have wanted to read this book for a while but avoided it because I was afraid of the stress of experiencing this natural disaster through a young character’s experience. There were some difficult scenes, made especially hard because connecting to the characters happens quickly. A really well done title.

Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere Monday July 25th, 2016 #IMWAYR

Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit 

This is more of a YA novel even though the young main character of Anna begins the book at eleven years old. This book is philosophical and dark. Full of the challenges, violence  and absurdities of war but wrapped up in the story of only a few characters. As they travel over land, the reader travels in their heads. Such an introspective title. I quite enjoyed it.

Anna and the Swallow Man Monday July 25th, 2016 #IMWAYR

Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand

This book is part fairy tale, part fantasy, part sadness, part mystery. Except not really. It might not be any of those things. It is a story of Finley Hart and one summer where she is sent to live with her extended family she doesn’t know. Captivating. Captured an endless summer feeling – with being at a home with cousins and grandparents and new found friends. Although, there are darker elements. Can see this being a fantastic book club title. Highly recommended.

Some Kind of Happiness Monday July 25th, 2016 #IMWAYR

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Yes, really, as good as all of the raving. I fell hard for this story of Peter, Pax and Vola. Beautiful, emotional and raw. I had to keep reminding myself to breathe.

Pax-Sara-Pennypacker Monday July 25th, 2016 #IMWAYR

Some picture books:

Ah-Choo! is written by Lana Wayne Koeler and Gloria G. Adams with illustrations by Ken Min

I shared more details in my post a week or so ago. See link above.

 Ah-Choo! Monday July 25th, 2016 #IMWAYR

Mary Had a Little Glam by Tammi Sauer with illustrations by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

I love how this title celebrates style but also honours the joy of play. Especially wonderful? The characters are beautifully diverse! I loved the illustrations.  Even though this title plays with the Mary Had a Little lamb rhyme, it is the celebration of children that stands out to me here. I can see little ones adoring this book and wanting to hear it multiple times!

Mary Had a Little Glam Monday July 25th, 2016 #IMWAYR

Rain Fish by Lois Ehlert

Of course this inspires all kinds of imagining about potential art projects with found objects. for this reason, this title is relevant right into high school even though the story would best be shared during a story time session.

Rain Fish Monday July 25th, 2016 #IMWAYR

Dig In! by Cindy Jenson-Elliot with illustrations by Mary Peterson

Who doesn’t want to literally lay their hands in the dirt after experiencing this book? Perfect for a classroom of primary students to launch a gardening unit. Introduces the concept that there is much happening in the soil (insects, worms, seeds, etc. )

Dig In! Monday July 25th, 2016 #IMWAYR

 

Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 28/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 191/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 20/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 27/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 25/50 books read

Up next? I am reading  Mexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Peña

Monday April 11th, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week This week I am celebrating the Frog and Toad love! These girls are getting everyone in our class excited about reading Frog and Toad titles! The power of a reading community!

Monday April 11th, 2016 Monday April 11th, 2016

For our #classroombookaday, The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School led the way. Who wouldn’t want hair like this?

Monday April 11th, 2016

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.

IMWAYR 2015

On the blog:

Monday by Numbers for a Slice of Life

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

Must Read in 2016: Spring Update

Books I enjoyed:

Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer

Simply the perfect mentor text for poetry writing. Enough said.

Daniel Finds a Poem Monday April 11th, 2016

The Night Gardener by the Fan brothers 

This is just a wow title. It has so much of what I love in a picture book – some surprises, a intergenerational connection, a sense of wonder, lots of creativity . . . Divine.

The Night Gardener Monday April 11th, 2016

I’m New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien

What a wonderful title to communicate all of the confusion and nervous feelings of a student new to a classroom community from another country.

I'm New Here

Listen to Our World written by Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson and illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Melissa Sweet’s illustrations are as usual, beautiful. Lyrical, poetic, repetitive text showcasing different animal habitats. Page orientation changes making this a wonderful read aloud.

Listen to Our World

One Day on our Blue Planet . . . In the Antarctic by Ella Bailey

I featured this lovely little book this week for nonfiction picture book Wednesday.

. . . in the Antarctic

 Written and Drawn by Henrietta by Liniers

What a fantastic Toon tale! ideal for Writer’s Workshop!

Written and Drawn by Henrietta

 When I am Happiest by Rose Lagercrantz and Eva Eriksson

The third young novel in this series. Exploring friendship, family and strong emotions.

When I am happiest

Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 14/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 107/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 12/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 16/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 13/50 books read

Up next? I  am almost finished Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys Our family read aloud is Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Riding through an artist’s life – a celebration of Melissa Sweet

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

When you read stories with children you know that everything in a book matters. Everything. Each word. Each image. The end pages. The book jacket. Every tiny detail. Children notice and question everything. They remind us that it is more than words that tell a story. The story becomes alive via their interactions. Reading to children is a joy.

Illustrator and author Melissa Sweet is all about each tiny detail. And lots and lots of joy. We immersed ourselves in Melissa Sweet‘s world a while back for an illustrator study and I had the pleasure of introducing Melissa (with help from my little artists) when she spoke in Bellingham at the Western Washington Children’s Literature Conference.

This post celebrates that wonderful week and the introduction that was the result.

From my introduction:

Melissa Sweet is Melissa Sweet for all day of every day. In my Grade 2/3 class in Vancouver BC, we waded and splashed through her world for one full week of learning and inspiration.

  • We made some art
  • We looked at some things from new perspectives
  • We did some research
  • We fell in love with graph paper
  • And of course, we read some beautifully, beautifully detailed picture books

In a 2010 interview with Julie Danielson from the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, Melissa Sweet indicated that she would love any job that involved a bicycle. You will see a bit of a homage to the bicycle here. All bicycles are original pieces inspired by a sketch by Melissa.

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

During the week we read or reread many titles illustrated or written and illustrated by Melissa Sweet.

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

Inspired by the pencil characters in Little Red Writing, we drew some of our own.

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for ThatRiding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

 

 

 

 

 

Melissa Sweet #sol16

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

We wrote and illustrated our own Night poems Melissa Sweet style. This illustration is from the book Firefly July:

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

And our work:

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

 

 

These look stunning mounted on a double bulletin board display.

 

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for ThatRiding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

We read that Melissa fears anything to do with a ladder and decided to think about why.

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

We thought that maybe she should rethink this fear and look at ladders from some new perspectives. Can you spot the ladder in each picture?

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

And I am sure she never thought of this one:

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for ThatWhen my students from last year heard I was doing an illustrator study on Melissa Sweet, they wanted to participate. Last year The Right Word was part of our Mock Caldecott and they were fascinated by Melissa’s work. They drew all of the bicycles and helped make a number of green things. In Little Red Writing, there were scraps and scraps of red things collected in a basket.

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

We read that Melissa was maybe not so great at relaxing and so thought we would make her some green things to help her feel calm.

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

Some things I expected.

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

Some I didn’t

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

Some were maybe not so calming!

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

 Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

I brought them all along (108 green things at last count) and gifted them to Melissa so she could relax during her presentation 🙂

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

If this post weren’t already a million images long, I would share some of the wonderful in Melissa’s presentation. But it is, so I won’t. I leave you with just these words from her:

“The act of drawing is thinking and remembering”

Sounds a lot like the act of writing. Of telling stories. This telling was a visual feast to celebrate the incredible Melissa Sweet!

Riding through an artist's life - a celebration of Melissa Sweet There's a Book for That

Bad Irony: Slice of Life

I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge to write and publish a post every day in March. This is day #26

Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.

This is also a celebration post.

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.

celebrate-link-up

Monday February 22nd, 2016

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share a reading photo of the week. That has grown to a few reading photos from the week . . . This week they are everywhere!

I love this moment during Reading Workshop where a student got comfortable to read some Bink and Gollie!

Monday February 22nd, 2016 There's a Book for That

The amazing Adam Lehrhaupt (author of Warning: Do Not Open this Book and Please, Open This Book!)sent us a box of goodies after I shared with him how much we loved his books. We didn’t open the box right away because it didn’t come with instructions! Should we open it? Keep it closed? We spent some time talking about this! But wow, were we excited when we made our decision! We were particularly pleased to not find any bruised bananas!
Monday February 22nd, 2016 There's a Book for That

Our #classroombookaday titles this week were wonderful!

Monday February 22nd, 2016 There's a Book for That

Writing about this favourite: Donovan’s Big Day

Monday February 22nd, 2016 There's a Book for That

Tea Party Rules was a huge hit! A great story for predictions and lots of smiling!

Monday February 22nd, 2016 There's a Book for That

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.

IMWAYR 2015

On the blog:

My 3rd Slice of Life: The kid on the piano

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: B is for Bear

Nonfiction 10 for 10: Travel the World

Books I enjoyed:

Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems selected by Paul B. Janeczko and illustrated by Melissa Sweet

This book was very much a visual sensation. Sweet’s illustrations perfectly complemented a series of perfect poems to let us travel through the seasons. I got this book from the library but think I need to have my own copy so it is extra convenient that I will be going to see Melissa Sweet in Bellingham next week and can buy this book and get it signed!

Firefly July Monday February 22nd, 2016 There's a Book for That

We worked on our own Night poems with art inspired by Melissa Sweet

Monday February 22nd, 2016 There's a Book for That

Take Away the A written by Michaël Escoffier and illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo

I love that with all of the ABC titles out there, there is still so much room for originality! I giggled my way though this one. It is quite delightful!

Take Away the A Monday February 22nd, 2016 There's a Book for That

Awesome is Everywhere by Neil Pasricha

Absolutely awesome and completely interactive. It reminded me of Steve Jenkin‘s Looking Down and Tullet‘s Press Here. A title to be experienced (best read aloud!)

Awesome is Everywhere Monday February 22nd, 2016 There's a Book for That

This may be the number one fan of this book!

Monday February 22nd, 2016 There's a Book for That

My Cousin Momo by Zachariah OHora

I really appreciate Ohora‘s illustrations – they have a wonderfully nostalgic feel to them. This title is all about appreciating someone for exactly who they are and it is really charming.

My Cousin Momo Monday February 22nd, 2016 There's a Book for That

B is for Bear: A Natural Alphabet by Hannah Viano

I featured this title in my nonfiction post this week.

B is for Bear Monday February 22nd, 2016 There's a Book for That

The Story Blanket written by Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz and illustrated by Elena Odriozola

This is a wonderful story of community and generosity. Babba Zarrah tells the children of her village imaginative stories as they sit on her story blanket. When she notices that a child has a need that only the yarn from her blanket can fix, she begins to knit together both kind gestures and stories. Will her blanket disappear? What then?

The Story Blanket Monday February 22nd, 2016 There's a Book for That

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten

This novel has won numerous awards including being a Schneider Family Book Award winner this year. Adam meets Robyn at an OCD support group for teens. A simple love story with every kind of complication going. Adam navigates first love, his own OCD, a clingy little step brother and a Mom with her own issues s well as small doses of regular teenage issues. Adam is a special character and he offers us a candid glimpse into the life of someone dealing with obsessive compulsive disorder. A must read YA novel.

theunlikelyheroofroom13b Monday February 22nd, 2016 There's a Book for That

Reading Progress updates:

2016 Chapter Book Challenge: 7/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 53/400 books read

#MustReadin2016: 5/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 11/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2015: 8/50 books read

Up next? I am reading The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin and continue reading All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely with my family.

The Mock Sibert 2015 Award Winner

Mock Sibert The Mock Sibert 2015 Award Winner

We are days away from learning which nonfiction book will be awarded the actual Sibert Award for 2015 but today is the day where we learn – here, on Kid Lit Fenzy and on Unleashing Readers which title won our Mock Sibert Award!

And . . .

THE WINNER IS . . . .

 The Right Word The Mock Sibert 2015 Award Winner

The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Such a spectacular choice!

Now we must wait until Monday to find out if the Sibert committee agrees.

We are also happy to announce our giveaway winner. Congratulations to Cathy Ballou Mealey who has chosen Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey written by Loree Griffin Burns with photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz  (one of our Mock Sibert titles) as her prize.

It was so much fun discussing and celebrating the fantastic nonfiction titles of 2014 with Alyson and Kellee. Hosting the Mock Sibert allowed us to highlight our favourites. Check out our original Mock Sibert choices here if you missed them:

On Kid Lit Frenzy

On There’s a Book for That

On Unleashing Readers

Thank you to all who participated! We cannot wait to see who wins on Monday!

Mock Sibert: 2015 The top picks by There’s a Book for That, Kid Lit Frenzy and Unleashing Readers

Mock Sibert Mock Sibert: 2015 The top picks by There's a Book for That, Kid Lit Frenzy and Unleashing Readers

Over the past three years, Alyson (of Kid Lit Frenzy) has hosted, and Kellee (of Unleashing Readers) and I have participated in a book challenge pushing ourselves to read more nonfiction picture books. Since we read many of the best nonfiction picture books published each year, in 2014 we decided to start hosting a Mock Sibert Award.

The Sibert Award is given annually to the most distinguished informational book published during the preceding year. Although the Sibert Award is not just for picture books, we are going to focus on the nonfiction picture books we feel would be honored or win this year. To be honored/win the Sibert Award, the book must include these important elements and qualities:

  • Excellent, engaging, and distinctive use of language.
  • Excellent, engaging, and distinctive visual presentation.
  • Appropriate organization and documentation.
  • Clear, accurate, and stimulating presentation of facts, concepts, and ideas.
  • Appropriate style of presentation for subject and for intended audience.
  • Supportive features (index, table of contents, maps, timelines, etc).
  • Respectful and of interest to children.

After reviewing the qualities and elements needed to win the Sibert Award, I chose these five titles as my Mock Sibert Finalists. On February 2nd when the winners are announced, I am hoping some of these picks will be on the list!

This was not an easy task! There were many nonfiction titles I treasured in 2014.

Check out Kid Lit Frenzy and Unleashing Readers to see what Alyson and Kellee chose as their picks.

In making my final choices, I thought carefully about which titles would be particularly appealing to young readers – which books would inspire wonder, would be engaging and easy to navigate?  Each of these titles stands out to me as ideal nonfiction reading for children.

Listed in order of publishing date

Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey written by Loree Griffin Burns with photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz (March 2014)

This is one of the last nonfiction titles I read in 2014 and the first nonfiction read aloud I brought in to share with my class in January. I love what one child said very early on in our reading: “This book gives us questions but lets us find the answers.” The most special thing about this title is that it answers a question that few children might have imagined: How exactly do butterflies get to live exhibits in the north? Many children have been to Science Centres and Natural History Museums that might house live exhibits. Where do those butterflies come from? How do they get there? This title tells that story. It describes how the important work on a butterfly farm in Costa Rica allows the farm workers to collect and ship butterfly pupae around the world, while at the same time, respecting and protecting the forest around the farm. A pupa, it turns out, is the perfect package! Incredible photographs of the butterflies at all stages of life are included, as well as photographs of El Bosque Nuevo, the butterfly farm featured in this book.

Not only was this an amazing story, but the learning continues in the final pages of the book. More information is provided about insects and their life cycles and additional details on insect words are explained. There is a detailed glossary, suggestions for further reading and stunning end pages with more photographs of both various pupae and also adult butterflies. Of particular interest to children? A section on helpful hints if you do get to visit a live butterfly exhibit.

 Handle with Care Mock Sibert: 2015 The top picks by There's a Book for That, Kid Lit Frenzy and Unleashing Readers

Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa’s Fastest Cats written by Sy Montgomery with photographs by Nic Bishop (April 2014)

I adore reading Scientist in the Field titles in general but have a special affinity for titles by Montgomery and Bishop. Their relationship with each other, the connection they form with the scientist, the prose, the photographs – all lend themselves to such incredible and engaging stories. I purchased this title as soon as it was published. Cheetahs are so frequently “nominated” by children as a favourite animal. 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 the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF)‘s African headquarters in Nambia. This title is a wonderful blend of information about conservation efforts, facts about cheetahs, the story of the science behind the research and most delightful – an introduction to the various cheetah ambassadors who live at CCF in Nambia. The rescues, the orphaned babies, the rehabilitation, the releases back to the wild – such stories pull the reader strong and fast into the important work of the CCF.

Perfect for older readers, this title would also make a great read aloud for younger students who are learning about endangered animals and efforts being made to protect them. The final chapter of the book actually features the story of Marker’s visits to Rogate Primary School to speak to school children about the work of the Cheetah Conservation Fund and how farmers and cheetahs can coexist in Nambia.

 Chasing Cheetahs Mock Sibert: 2015 The top picks by There's a Book for That, Kid Lit Frenzy and Unleashing Readers

The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet (September 2014)

This book is like a piece of art. Layer upon layer of history, personal story, word joy and fascinating details – this is how a biography should arrive: all wrapped up to be peeled away piece by piece. Of course it is fitting that the man who imagined the thesaurus was enamoured by lists, language and the perfect word for each occasion. Enchanted by words and compelled to share, Roget dedicated his life to sharing knowledge and his passion for words.

This book is rich in supportive details beyond all of the creative collage elements shared by Sweet and the interesting text and lists by Bryant. I love the two page spread entitled: List of Principal Events. This is a timeline of important events in history happening at the same time as key events in Peter Mark Roget‘s life. What a wonderful way to show children that our personal histories are influenced and shaped by the world we live in. Author and illustrator notes are also full of additional reading pleasure!

The Right Word Mock Sibert: 2015 The top picks by There's a Book for That, Kid Lit Frenzy and Unleashing Readers

Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands by Katherine Roy (September 2014)

I know how popular shark books are with children. I often buy books about sharks. I seldom read them. It’s fear factor avoidance. I freely admit that I think sharks are one of the most truly terrifying creatures. But this book captivated me. Its mixture of gorgeously painted illustrations, detailed relevant diagrams and the story of how the great whites who hunt in the Farallon Islands hunt so successfully, kept me reading and interested to the final pages. This book illustrates how sharks are perfectly adept hunters, at the top of the food chain. Katherine Roy shares specific information about body shape and function, the heat exchange system that gives the shark a warmer brain, its vision, its teeth and those projectile jaws. Against its prey, the shark clearly has many advantages. It is built to be an “absolute predator.”

The factual pages are embedded within a story of shark migration and hunting habits. I can see children studying the diagrams carefully in order to understand exactly why the shark is such a perfect killer. The paintings in this story don’t shy away from depicting the realities of the hunt: swirling waters, a stream of red, jaws full of teeth . . . Images that allow children to feel like they are getting a close up look at the hunt but not so gruesome to make anyone want to hide their eyes. Strangely, I think these paintings are superior to photographs in the sense that they pull the reader in rather than turn anyone away.

 Neigborhood Sharks Mock Sibert: 2015 The top picks by There's a Book for That, Kid Lit Frenzy and Unleashing Readers

Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen (November 2014)

My childhood was all about snow. Living now on the milder West Coast, I often think about those long winter seasons of snow covered ground that seemed to be endless. Snow days here are all about a fleeting time. Snow balls, snow men and the swish of seldom worn snow pants racing up the toboggan hill before it all melts away. But what about the animals who must survive long winters where snow is not a novelty but a part of life? Is the snow a burden? A hardship? How do they survive? How do they adapt to the long winter months? These are questions that children will find answers to in this stunning collection of poems, lino cut prints and informative paragraphs.

The poems are beautiful and convey details and images that simple text might not. Sidman’s words invite all of our senses into the visualization process. She writes of squishy damp leaf litter where springtails (snow fleas) live, of the ripped chips and thrashing twigs of the beaver’s lodge, and how the baby moose shrugs off the cold and sneezes at the wind. Lured by these images, the reader wants to know more. The descriptive paragraphs about each creature and detailed glossary provide lots of additional information. Allen’s prints layer colour and texture and suggest movement in their details. So appealing!

 Winter Bees Mock Sibert: 2015 The top picks by There's a Book for That, Kid Lit Frenzy and Unleashing Readers

After checking out these titles I have featured and Alyson and Kellee’s choices, which book do you think should win the Sibert?

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