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 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 Picture Book Wednesday: Nonfiction in 2017

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Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday begins again! I am so excited to be participating in this challenge!

Link to host Alyson Beecher‘s blog Kid Lit Frenzy to read about all of the nonfiction titles being shared. This year the image for the challenge was created by Sarah S. Brannen.  I think it’s pretty perfect!

I am setting a goal to read at least 50 new-to-me nonfiction picture books this year. While I may not be reading as many books as usual, I plan to be utilizing many of the books I have read and loved so much in the past. Often I ended up purchasing titles and wasn’t able to use all of them in the classroom because of teaching a younger grade. I have read numerous favourite titles in depth with my new Grade 4 and 5 classroom and continue to be impressed with the learning that happens and the future learning that is inspired.

The perfect example? Tomorrow I will be sharing Giant Squid written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann (2016) as part of my Mock Caldecott unit.

giant-squid

It is one of 12 titles I chose this year. The nonfiction titles are on the list were intentional. Not only are these beautifully illustrated books but they are books that remind us that learning engages us on so many levels. Nonfiction picture books inform. They make us question and wonder. The visuals add another level of learning – giving us closeups, revealing aspects of an animal or place that a photograph just might not capture.

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I am especially excited to share Giant Squid because it not only provides us with questions, it leaves us with questions. We learn that there is much not yet known about these deep sea giants. Getting all of the answers can be satisfying. Realizing that there are answers not yet known plants a quest for knowledge in our students that we consistently hope for them. We want them stopping to be awed. Shaking their heads. Protesting – “But. . . ” “How come. . . ?” “Why . . . ?” Being driven to go learn more.

I know this book will lead to research. Looking for images. For videos. For more . . .

Beautiful books like this one are introductions. First access points. The beginning of lots of learning ahead.

I am excited about another year being committed to reading nonfiction picture books! I benefit just as much as my students!