Elephant Man by Mariangela Di Fiore and Hilde Hodnefjeld (Annick Press 2015) is a difficult picture book for older children about an obscure deformed man in history, one that was famous in his own way but tragically alone. Continue Reading
I really loved reading the juvenile nonfiction book Ten Rivers that Shaped the World when I reviewed it earlier this year. It seemed to be a history of the world as captured through the rivers of the world! So I was excited to see Ten Ships that Rocked the World by Gillian Richardson (Annick Press, August 2015) added to the “Ten” series as well.
I did not love this one quite as much but I still really enjoyed it. Ten Ships has a different feel to it, partly because, as the title indicated, it focuses on a different “ten” from the history of the world, it is written by a different author, and it about things that influenced the world, not necessarily shaped it. The ships that were highlighted were almost all foreign to me, so by reading the book I felt I was learning much that I had been unfamiliar with: ships and eras and countries that made a difference even though I did not know about them. Continue Reading
A Rock is Lively by Dianna Hutts Aston and illustrated by Sylvia Long (Chronicle Books, 2012) is a lovely illustrated book about rocks. I never thought of rocks as alive or lively and yet, Ms Aston has a good argument for it.
In an elegant cursive font, the text tells us that rocks “bubble” (with an illustration of molten rock), for example. The cursive font on each page gives a simple statement of what the rock is or does, and a print font gives details to expand upon the idea. Thus, “A rock is mixed up” discusses how different minerals are a part of each rock. I loved the contrasts given for rocks. They are “galactic” and “old” and both “huge” and “tiny.” The rock cycle “A rock is recycled” is also illustrated in the text, and the ways humans use rocks (“useful” and “creative”) also appear as headlines.
In addition to the educational value found on each page of the text, A Rock is Lively provides stunning watercolor images of the rocks discussed, with layer details and labels so the true rock enthusiast can know just what rock the illustrator captured. I’m most in love with the page “A rock is surprising” because it shows the gorgeous insides of geodes. The jewels sparkle on the page, and I almost feel like I’m looking at the true rocks themselves.
I must admit that I know very little about rocks. That’s why this book was so impressive to me. By capturing the essence of rocks in both a picture book simple headline and in the facts in the margins, the young reader and the older reader alike can learn and enjoy rocks as they may never have before. I felt I’ve learned as I read and reread the book, and the gorgeous illustrations have also let me feel like I’ve walked through an art museum of nature.
The Queen’s Shadow by Cybele Young (Kids Can Press, March 2015) is a most unusual picture book for older readers about how animals see. It is difficult to identify as a fiction or a nonfiction, simply because it has elements of both!
In The Queen’s Shadow, a motley gathering of animal friends have gathered at the queen’s home for a party. After a lightning flash, the queen has found that her shadow is missing! Using clues about how the various animals at the party see, the detective is able to eliminate the animals that certainly could not have seen what has happened.Continue Reading