RovingFiddlehead KidLit

Nonfiction Picture Books Challenge

September 17, 2014

Time to catch up on sharing nonfiction picture book reading over the last few months. As usual, historical biographies and nature books dominated my choices.

Bird lovers and more will enjoy Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart. Stewart highlights the many accomplishments of bird feathers from providing shade and warmth to more obscure dissolving bristle feathers of the American bittern or the forklift behavior of the lovebird’s tail feathers. A great introduction to the tools of bird life with well-executed illustrations by Sarah S. Brannen.

feathers not just for flying

Mumbet’s Declaration of Independence by Gretchen Woelfle is the inspiring picture book biography of a slave woman who successfully challenged the writers of the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780. Using information drawn from the autobiography of her lawyer’s (Theodore Sedgwick) daughter, Woelfle gives a glimpse into Elizabeth Freeman’s difficult life as a slave as well as her groundbreaking fight for freedom. Alix Delinois deftly illustrates the strength of Mumbet’s convictions and character with the bold strokes and vibrant colours.

Mumbet's Declaration of Independence

I’ve been meaning to read Cokie Roberts’ Founding Mothers (original adult version) since it first came out in 2004. This summer, I cheated and read the children’s adaptation, a Cliff’s Notes version if you will. A decent roundup of both well-known spouses like Martha Washington and women who impacted history independent of the men in their lives such as Deborah Sampson.

founding mothers

Malcolm Little by sheds light on the childhood of Malcolm X. The strong family foundations and the role that racial hatred played in destroying his loving family.

Malcolm Little

Butterfly farming in Costa Rica is handled beautifully in Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey by Loree Griffith Burns. By presenting an unique angle to both farming and butterflies’ stages of growth through gorgeous photographs and clear text, this book will have every child wanting to raise a butterfly. Highly recommended.

handle with care

For lots of nonfiction picture book ideas, head over to KidLit Frenzy every Wednesday for the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge posts. This week’s roundup is here.


Nonfiction Picture Book March Reads

March 26, 2014

I really enjoyed and learned a lot reading Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons by Sara Levine and illustrated by T. S. Spookytooth. The combination of comparisons and questions is an effective method of teaching children about bones. I had no idea that giraffe’s and humans have the same number of vertebrae, but I’m sure I’ll never forget.

Bone by Bone

Music lovers will be fascinated by Hey, Charleston! The True Story of the Jenkins Orphanage Band by Anne  Rockwell with illustrations by Colin Bootman. An interesting story about an inspiring leader, Reverend Daniel Joseph Jenkins, the orphanage he created and the impact its band had on music and dance in America and Europe.

hey charleston

The Secrets of Stonehenge by Nick Manning and Brita Granstrom sheds light on both the creation of Stonehenge and life among prehistoric peoples. A nice swath of anthropology and archaeology in very readable form with charming illustrations.

Secrets of Stonehenge

For lots of nonfiction picture book ideas, head over to KidLit Frenzy every Wednesday for the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge posts. This week’s roundup is here.



Nonfiction Picture Book January Reads

January 29, 2014

A STEM theme ran through my nonfiction picture book January reads: biographies of two scientists, Kate Sessions and Albert Einstein, as well as two bird books covering parrots and godwits.

Parrots Over Puerto Rico

Parrots over Puerto Rico by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbure, collages by Susan L. Roth

Roth and Trumbure chronicle the demise of the Puerto Rican parrot along with the island’s history.From flocks of thousands covering the skies to only twenty-four parrots in 1967, people swung into action in 1968 to save their unique birds with the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program. The book tracks the ups and downs of the program making it clear how slow and difficult bird recovery programs are. The distinctive blue flight feathers of the Puerto Rican parrot are easy to spot in the gorgeous and intricate collages even as they become rarer as the years pass and will leave children longing for a chance to see this brilliant birds in person. The ALA Youth Media Awards agree that this book is awesome, granting it the 2013 Sibert Medal for most distinguished informational book for children.

Long Long Journey

The Long, Long Journey: The Godwit’s Amazing Migration by Sandra Markle, illustrations by Mia Posada

Four months after they are born, godwits fly non-stop from Alaska to New Zealand (7270 miles!). Sandra Markle tracks a young female godwit from birth to her arrival in New Zealand. Four months of preparation culminate in an eight-day journey. For heightened appreciation of this amazing feat, challenge kids to flap their arms as long as they can before beginning this book!

Tree Lady

The Tree Lady: The True Story of  How One Tree-loving Woman Changed a City Forever by H. Joseph Hopkins, illustrated by Jill McElmurry.

Tree Lady is a delightful biography of Kate Sessions, the lady who brought trees to San Diego. Long thought a city destined to a barren desertscape, with her deep knowledge and love of trees she introduced numerous drought-resistant varieties to the city, in particular Balboa Park. The refrain “But Kate did” is repeated on almost each page of the book as Hopkins stresses how Kate viewed the world differently and was thus able to achieve much that others thought impossible breaking barriers for women, cities and trees. An inspirational biography for any child, but especially budding scientists.

On A Beam Of Light

On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne, pictures by Vladimir Radunsky.

Berne’s work is not so much a biography as insight into the way Albert Einstein’s mind worked accompanied by anecdotes from his life. Radunsky’s illustrations are perfect companions to the experimental nature of Einstein’s thinking. A good book for parents as well as children as it can remind us of the importance of daydreaming in a child’s life.

For lots of nonfiction picture book ideas, head over to KidLit Frenzy every Wednesday for the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge posts. This week’s roundup is here.



Flannel Friday: Travel Flannel Folder

January 24, 2014

I don’t have a direct Valentine’s Day connection today, but rather a flannelboard resource that can be used any time of the year.This clever flannel board made from a pocket folder comes from BillyBear4Kids. It’s great for car travel, but also a nice way to provide each child in a classroom or storytime with a flannelboard, small and also easy to hand out and store since the pieces fit in the pocket. And, most importantly for me, easy to pack when carrying flannels overseas! The particular elephant flannels in the photo can be found in this older post.

Travel Flannelboard

Find­ing Flan­nel Friday

This week’s Flan­nel Fri­day host is Mel’s Desk. You can also find past and future roundups and lots more infor­ma­tion about Flan­nel Fri­day at the Flan­nel Fri­day web­site. For a visual round-up of all post­ings, check out Flan­nel Fri­day on Pin­ter­est.

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2014

January 8, 2014

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2014

I’ve set my kidlit and yalit reading goals low (50 books on GoodReads for 2014), but I still can’t resist joining KidLit Frenzy’s Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge again. I’m only going to commit myself to one book a month and now that I’m no longer reading review journals regularly will definitely be gleaning ideas from the other participants with much loftier goals. Despite my low-level participation, I’m jazzed nonetheless to stay somewhat involved in #kidlit. Alison hosts a roundup on Wednesdays so head on over to KidLit Frenzy for the first roundup of the year.