I have been reading a number of picture books that are either non-fiction or nearly that! Sometimes the best ways to learn about something are through a fun story. These books fill that need.
Daisylocks by Marianne Berkes and illustrated by Cathy Morrison (Sylvan Dell, 2014) is a beautifully illustrated book about a daisy seed trying to find a place to grow that is “just right.” At first, as a child is planting her in the ground, she does not think it is right so she asks the wind to take her elsewhere. A hot desert; a cold, treeless plain; the top of a mountain; a tropical rainforest; a wetland; and a sandy beach are all not right for her. Some are too hot. Some are too cold. Some have ground that is too hard and others have ground that is too loose. There is not enough sunlight or not enough rain. Only being planted in the ground and carefully cultivated is Daisylocks going to bloom. I loved the gorgeous, realistic paintings in this book; I also loved the parallel to Goldilocks. The last pages of the books provide overviews and quizes for educational extension of the text into a school setting.
Some Bugs by Andrea DiTerlizzi and illustrated by Brendan Wenzel (Beach Lane Books, 2014) is a simple rhyme for young kids about different kinds of bugs. Paired with the rhyme are collage-like illustrations created with “everything imaginable.” (See the note on the last page.) Crayon, pencils, watercolor, and collage make our backyard world in to a multi-colored wonderland. The simple rhymes and the inviting, colorful illustrations make this a masterpiece book. Bugs have never been this cute! The last page spread labels the bugs that appeared in the book.
Everyone Prays: Celebrating Faith Around the World by Alex York Lumbard and illustrated by Alireza Sadeghian (Wisdom Tales, 2014) shows people from religions around the world praying. Simple drawings are accompanied by a very basic text that describes how people from different religions pray: heads covered or not, singing and dancing or not, with water or not. The illustrations truly do illustrate people from all of the world, of all faiths. The last page of the book gives factual information about some of the religions mentioned. While the text is not all that engaging, combined with the drawings this is a fascinating peek into religions of the world for the youngest readers. Digital review copy from the publisher.
The Pullman Porter: An American Journey by Vanita Oelschlager and illustrated by Mike Blanc (Vanita Books, May 2014) captures the history of the former slaves who became the porters on the Pullman train cars. Rich acrylic paintings add a sense of awe to the text. The book shares the duties of a Pullman porter, as well as how and why former slaves were asked to serve on Pullman train cars. It was not an easy task to be a Pullman porter, and Ms Oelschlager provides lots of information as to how Pullman porters’ experiences and understandings added to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Digital review copy from the publisher.
What nonfiction picture books have you read lately? What do you think makes a nonfiction picture book most engaging?