Two excellent 2014 books begin this year’s nonfiction picture books reading. A historical biography and one STEM title.
Dare the Wind: The Record-Breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud by Tracy Fern, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully
As a young girl, Ellen Prentiss’ father taught her to “have the caution to read the sea, as well as the courage to dare the wind.” Ellen did not put aside her navigational skills upon her marriage to sea captain Perkins Creesy. Instead they were formidable partners who sailed multiple trips to China. The lessons from her father and a willingness to use the latest information, led her to navigate the fastest clipper from New York to San Francisco in 1851 as part of the Gold Rush.
From racing fishing fleets across Massachusetts Bay to the opportunity to win a bonus and bragging rights on the trip to San Francisco, Ellen’s competitive spirit was vital. Her skills and spirit provide the basis for an inspiring biography.
Eye to Eye: How Animals See the World by Steve Jenkins
Steve Jenkins continues his streak of well-illustrated information-rich nonfiction. While the intended audience is children, what adult doesn’t learn something from each of his books? This time the focus is on sight, its evolution and current state for a wide variety of animals. For each animal, Jenkins has a close-up illustration of its eyes and a full-body drawing. Among the fascinating tidbits:
- bullfrogs don’t see things that aren’t moving and will starve to death with a motionless fly in front of it!
- each tarsier eyeball is bigger than its brain
- the mantis shrimp has the most highly developed eyes in the animal kingdom
The book also made we wonder what kind of vision enhancement might be introduced to humans through technology. Will tech like Google Glass expand to give humans a wider-range of vision or the ability to see ultraviolet light?
For more nonfiction picture book suggestions, visit the roundup on KidLit Frenzy.