Sunday, May 22, 2011

Welcome Nonfiction Monday!

Welcome to another fabulous Nonfiction Monday. I am thrilled to host this weekly event today. Each week, children's book lovers from around the internet gather together to share their favorite nonfiction books and resources. I have loved these weekly events as a way to keep me energized for reading non-fiction, and as a way to discover new, interesting books to share with my students and children. I am not naturally drawn to nonfiction, but once I discover a book that piques my curiosity, I'm drawn in and love getting lost in discovering new worlds, new information, new ways of explaining things to children.

Today, I will share a favorite nonfiction book, and then share links to reviews from blogs around the Kidlitosphere. If you have a review to share, leave a comment below or email me. Please make sure to leave a specific link to your post (not just the general blog link). I'll update throughout the day, so be sure to check back later as well!

Not Your Typical Book About the EnvironmentOur students are very interested in the environment, but they also want to know what they can do to make a difference. At our school, we've been having monthly "Make a Difference" days this year, which the kids have found very motivating. A book I've found fascinating is Elin Kelsey's Not Your Typical Book About the Environment, which explores environmental topics with a real slant to how kids can make decisions that affect the environment. I especially like the upbeat tone - Kelsey's message emphasizes positive things each of us can do.
Not Your Typical Book About the Environment
by Elin Kelsey
illustrated by Clayton Hanmer
Toranto, Ontario: OWLkids, 2010
ages 10 - 15
available on Amazon and at your local library
winner of the 2011 Green Earth Book Award, nonfiction
With a combination of fun illustrations, cartoons, and an inviting, optimistic tone, this book will draw in kids who want to know more about how they can help the environment. Elin Kelsey explores topics that are close to kids' immediate world and helps them understand how global complexities are involved in decisions we make. She looks at fashion, food, technology and new energy sources.

I especially liked the way she tackles complex issues and puts them in terms kids can relate to. A cotton t-shirt is made from naturally grown cotton, but it takes 25 bathtubs of water to grow the cotton that goes into one t-shirt. Synthetic fabrics are made using oil and petroleum products, but producers are using recycled plastic bottles to make polyester fleece jackets. Kelsey handles these complex issues without being preachy or one-sided. She encourages kids to think about the many factors that impact the environment.

Kids especially like the witty, lively cartoons, with titles such as "How sea otters are connected to fish sticks" and "How video games and cell phones are connected to gorillas". Head over to illustrator Clayton Hanmer's site to see some of his lively, eye-catching illustrations.

Not Your Typical Book About the Environment was awarded the 2011 Green Earth Book Award for Nonfiction book. This new award is "the nation’s first, annual award for authors and illustrators whose books best raise awareness of environmental stewardship, and the beauty of our natural world and the responsibility that we have to protect it."

I would recommend this book as a read-aloud to 4th and 5th grade students, and as an excellent resource in middle school and even high school libraries. While the pictures might seem on the young side, the concepts and complexities and humor will engage young teens.

Nonfiction Monday links from around the web:

One quick question: I'm sharing some of the covers from books people are writing about. I love seeing the covers, but I cannot fit all of the covers in. I'd love feedback if you think this is a good addition to a round-up like this.

Early morning posts:

When Bob Met Woody: The Story of the Young Bob Dylan
At Picture Book of the Day, Anasastia Suen shares When Bob Met Woody: The story of the young Bob Dylan, by Gary Golio (Author) and Marc Burckhardt (Illustrator). As part of the blog tour for this lovely book, she has three questions for author Gary Golio. I'm looking forward to each stop on this blog tour.

Urban Roosts: Where Birds Nest in the CityWelcome, Erica at Storied Cities! This is her first time sharing at Nonfiction Monday. This week, she's exploring picture books that feature Pale Male, NYC's resident red-tail hawk. She's starting off by sharing Urban Roosts, a non-fiction introduction to how and where birds choose to make their nests in urban environments.

Today, Ms. Yingling shares about The Candy Bomber, which I loved reading. A wonderful example of narrative nonfiction, this book really drew me in. Head over to Ms. Yingling Reads to find out more!

Odd Ball: Hilarious, Unusual, & Bizarre Baseball MomentsAt the fabulous Charlotte's Library, you'll get a laugh reading about Odd Ball: Hilarious, Unusual and Bizarre Baseball Moments. Students at my school love books that make you want turn to your friend and say, "Did you know ..." This looks like a great choice to lure young kids into summer reading!

Amy at Hope is the Word, takes an interesting look at books that help with graphing and measuring. She reviews several books, including Loreen Leedy's The Great Graph Contest. This is an interesting, important topic, so head over to read more.

Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War HeroAt the funny and insightful Fuse #8, Betsy reviews Nurse, Soldier, Spy: the story of Sarah Edmonds, a civil war hero. I've been thinking about this book for a while, and it's great to read Betsy's review. Now it's going to the top of my TBR pile. As Betsy says, "It’s got war. It’s got guts. It’s got heroism. And it’s got a woman that boys and girls alike will find fascinating."

To Market, to MarketThe wonderful Abby the Librarian shares To Market, To Market, by Nikki McClure. If you have fun bringing your children to farmer's markets, you'll definitely enjoy this picture book. As Abby says, "It will inspire kids and families to ask about where their food comes from and how it got to their table."

Midmorning treats
Grab a refill on your coffee, and take a look. There's lots of wonderful books to share!

Gold! Gold from the American River!: January 24, 1848: The Day the Gold Rush Began (Actual Times)Over at RovingFiddleHead, Andrea is sharing a great new book: Gold! Gold from the American River: January 24, 1848: The Day the Gold Rush Began, by Don Brown. As Andrea writes, "nice simple introduction that captures both the fever and the hardships of this fascinating and pivotal piece of American history." Especially in California, teachers and parents are always looking for ways to introduce this pivotal time in our state's history.

At the Jean Little Library, Jennifer is sharing Polar Bear, Shrinking Ice, by Stephen Person. She recommends this book for the way it combines both information about polar bears and on global warming.

Wild About Nature has an interview with Meet the Planets author, John McGranaghan. It's a lovely chance to find out where John's ideas for nonfiction come from, what the hardest part of the writing process are for him, and some of the strangest facts he's encountered during his research.

Vulture ViewOver at Simply Science, Shirley is sharing a wonderful book Vulture View by April Pulley Sayre and Steve Jenkins. Shirley loves this poetic look at nature's best scavengers, and writes that it is "perfect way to introduce scavengers in the food chain, recycling within nature, and adaptations by these birds to live eating their bacteria laden food."

At Nonfiction Book Blast, Loree Griffin Burns writes about All Nonfiction, All the Time. I adore this essay, as she talks about how much she wants to share with adult and children friends alike "the astonishing, breathtaking, and unforgettable books" she loves to read that just happen to be nonfiction. Definitely stop by, leave a comment about your favorites, and get excited about the Nonfiction Book Blast event at ALA this year. Hooray!

Orb Weavers: Hungry Spinners (Arachnid World)Today at Wrapped In Foil, Roberta is taking a look at Sandra Markle's book Orb Weavers as a tie-in for the Spiders In Space project. "Did you hear about the spiders that went into space last week on the Space Shuttle Endeavor?" I certainly haven't, and can't wait to learn more!

If you're in a celebratory or reflective mood, head over to Books, Dogs and Frogs (don't you just love the name of this blog!) to read about Obama's Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters. As Sarah writes, "Part inspiration, part biography, part poem, part patriotic paean, like many books for children, this struggles with classification." I couldn't agree more, but it is a lovely book, especially as Father's Day approaches.

The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the ChimpsTrue Tales & A Cherry On Top features The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with Chimps, the new picture book by Jeanette Winter. Jeanne, I love the way you write about how important it is to connect to the child within each of us. I am definitely looking forward to reading this book.

EggsDefinitely stop by The Miss Rumphius Effect, where Tricia takes a look at Eggs, written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Emma Stevenson. This looks like a fascinating book on how eggs help embryos grow, different types of eggs, and the conditions they need to survive and thrive.

National Geographic Kids Everything Big Cats: Pictures to Purr About and Info to Make You Roar!Heidi at the Geo Librarian shares about several books on big cats. I know this is a very popular topic in our library, and readers will be excited to read many of the books she's recommending. I'm especially interested in the National Geographic Kids: Everything Big Cats. Kids will love that dramatic cover! And I've found that National Geographic Kids publishes books written in a very engaging way for elementary school students.

The Black Death (Pivotal Moments in History)Over at Book Scoops, Holly has reviewed The Black Death: Pivotal Moments in History by Diane Zahler. We loved Zahler's Thirteenth Princess, and want to read her newest, A True Princess. What fun to find out she's also written nonfiction. I definitely know some history lovers who will be fascinated by the gruesome cover! It gives me the creeps, just looking at it!

The Look Book: 50 Iconic Beauties and How to Achieve Their Signature StylesLori Calabrese Writes eyes The Look Book: 50 Iconic Beauties and How to Achieve Their Signature Styles. Many teens and tweens will love looking through this fascinating book! As Lori says, "What I love about this book is that it's almost a history of iconic looks that range from Farrah Fawcett's hair to Kate Winslet's no-makeup makeup." Thank you for this recommendation!

Today, the lovely Doret at TheHappyNappyBookseller shares Women Heroes of World War II by Kathryn J. Atwood. This is a book she discovered through the amazing event  Kidlit Celebrates Women's History Month. I have long admired Doret's taste, and know this will be a winner. As she writes, "The text is fact filled and engaging. I was easily drawn the stories of these brave women."

Father Abraham: Lincoln and His SonsSpeaking of Kidlit Celebrates Women's History Month, Margo Tannenbaum at The Fourth Musketeer, one of the cofounders and organizers of this amazing event, shares a review of a new Lincoln biography for young people: Father Abraham: Lincoln and his Sons, by Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer.

Afternoon snack:
It's certainly past my snack time, so I'm grabbing a cookie and taking a look at more amazing recommendations! What a fantastic collection we have today, plus several first time contributors. Make sure you stop by to say hello to them.

Carol at Rasco from RIF is writing about Before They Were Famous: How Seven Artists Got Their Start, by Bob Raczka. This looks just fascinating. As Carol explains, "this is another piece of the “world of art” puzzle Raczka has produced, and like many of his art books for children, this one has pertinent information that will be of interest to many ages."

Janet Squires has written about Hot Diggity Dog, by Adrienne Silver and Elwood H. Smith.  I definitely enjoyed Janet's humorous review: "The book is stuffed with fun facts and plump with humor."

Queen of the FallsCath in the Hat looks at Queen of the Falls by Chris Van Allsburg. I'm intrigued by this book, and especially like Cath's review, as she writes, "Truly, the reader feels as if he or she is inside the barrel right along with Taylor."

Bug ButtsAt Bookends, Lynn and Cindy have a great book called Bug Butts, by Dawn Cusick. Fun and informing! Yes, this will definitely appeal to the young boys in my library, especially with it's combination of humor, the "eww" factor, and cool science information. A great find!
Pierre the Penguin
Welcome to another first time Nonfiction Monday writer: Rebecca at the Joy of Literacy has shared the great story of Pierre the Penguin, by Jean Marzollo, illustrated by Laura Regan. I adore this story as well. As Rebecca writes, this is "a true story about a penguin that lives at the California Academy of Sciences, a fabulous museum in San Francisco that houses an entire colony of African Penguins." This is a fun choice for sharing about a real-world solution to a problem the penguin keepers couldn't figure out. Thank you for sharing, Rebecca! (yes, isn't it fun meeting local people online!)

And another first time Nonfiction Monday writer! Alice at Supratentorial wrote about two books on Galileo: Starry Messenger by Peter Sis, and Galileo’s Journal by Jeanne Pettenat. I find Starry Messenger inspiring, and am looking forward to checking out Galileo's Journal.Welcome to our celebration, Alice! We are all looking forward to reading more of your finds.

(WORLD WAR II BY CHRISP, PETER)World War II: Fighting for Freedom, 1939-1945: The Story of the Conflict That Changed the World[Hardcover] ON 01-Oct-2010And at ProseandKahn (don't you love that name!!), Brenda is reviewing World War II: Fighting for Freedom, by Peter Chrisp. This sounds like a great choice to update a school's general World War II holdings. I loved how Brenda talked about how important it is to draw middle school students in, giving them a broad overview with lots of compelling photographs or illustrations, and invite them to read more deeply once they're interested in the subject.

More after dinner! Check back later this evening for a final roundup. In the  meantime, browse these great links to see what people have been sharing! If you find any links that aren't working, please do let me know.

The review copy of Not Your Typical Book About the Environment was kindly sent by OWLkids Publishers. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion will go to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2011 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books.


  1. This is my first time joining Nonfiction Monday! I posted today about Urban Roosts because all this week I am also going to be looking at books about NYC's Red Tailed Hawk, Pale Male.

    Thanks, Erica

  2. I posted today about Tunnell's Candy Bomber at

  3. I have a review of Odd Ball (a book of baseball fun) at

    Thanks for rounding up today!

  4. I don't have a Nonfiction Monday post today (went to see Pirates: On Stranger Tides instead), but am stopping by to read the posts. I like that Not your Typical Book about the Environment takes on the tough questions about seemingly "green" products that may not be produced in a green manner.

  5. I wrote about some books about graphs and measuring:

    Thanks for hosting!

  6. Today, I've got a review of To Market, To Market by Nikki McClure.

    Thanks for hosting!

  7. I reviewed Gold, Gold on the American River! at

    Thanks for hosting!


  9. Wild About Nature has an interview with Meet the Planets author, John McGranaghan.

    Thanks for hosting this week!

  10. Thanks for hosting. Your environment book looks great. Today at SimplyScience I have Vulture View by April Pulley Sayre.

  11. At Nonfiction Book Blast, Loree Griffin Burns writes about All Nonfiction, All the Time.
    (I'm sending the posts on NF Mondays for Book Blast.)

  12. Today at Wrapped In Foil, I am taking a look at Sandra Markle's book Orb Weavers as a tie-in for the Spiders In Space project

  13. I've got a review of Barak Obama's kid's book Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters at my blog,

  14. Thanks for hosting today. I'm intrigued by the slant of the Not Your Typical Book about the Environment, especially for older readers -- I'll check that out. And welcome, Erica at Storied Cities!

    True Tales & A Cherry On Top features THE WATCHER - JANE GOODALL'S LIFE WITH THE CHIMPS, the new picture book by Jeanette Winter.

  15. I like your book selection. I'll have to look for that at my library.
    I've had a busy non-fiction month on my blog, especially featuring some excellent picture book biographies on scientists, mathematicians, inventors, and naturalists. And two middle school books by Susan Campbell Bartoletti and Jean Fritz.

  16. Hi Mary Ann!
    I'm in today with a review of the Marilyn Singer book EGGS.

    Thanks for hosting this shindig!

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Thanks for hosting. I've reviewed several books about big cats at

  19. I enjoyed your review! I love the pictures and I think it's a great idea to post them with links. Even if you can't fit all of the covers in. It definitely lures me into reading more and more. Not that I have any problems with that- at all.

    Today I reviewed The Black Death-Pivotal Moments in History by Diane Zahler. Here's my link:

    Thanks for hosting!

  20. Sounds like a great book, Mary Ann!

    At Lori Calabrese Writes!, I review The Look Book.

    Happy Monday everyone!

  21. Hey Mary Ann -

    I am in with Women Heroes of World War II by Kathryn J. Atwood.

    I love the cover of Urban Roosts, I'll check that out first

    Thanks for giving all these NF reviews a home.

  22. Hi, today I have a review of a new Lincoln biography for young people: Father Abraham: Lincoln and his Sons, by Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer.

    Here's the link:

  23. Thanks for hosting.
    My selection is "Hot diggity dog: the history of the hot dog" written by Adrienne Sylver and illustrated by Elwood H. Smith.

  24. Thanks for hosting! My two cents--I love the addition of the covers.

    My post this week is a review of Queen of the Falls by Chris Van Allsburg.

  25. Thanks for hosting. At Bookends we have a great book called Bug Butts Dawn Cusick. Fun and informing!

    Lynn Rutan

  26. Thanks for hosting! I'm excited to join you all for the first time!

    I reviewed Pierre the Penguin by Jean Marzollo, and great non-fiction read aloud for the K-1 crowd.

    I also love the book you chose. I could see my 4th-5th grade students really enjoying that book. They love learning about caring for the environment.

  27. ps. I just read on your sidebar that you are at Emerson in Berkeley- I'm a reading specialist at an Aspire charter school in East Oakland. I LOVE the BUSD has kept their libraries/librarians...I think we are the verge of losing our librarian at my school (budget cuts). Also, I did my student teaching at Washington in BUSD-- I was really impressed by their librarian.

  28. First time participating. I"m excited to go back and look through all the links. What a treasure trove!

    I wrote about two books about Galileo.

  29. Sorry to be so late! I tried to get this post done before I had to leave for my #3 son's college graduation, but it was not to be. I reviewed Fighting for Freedom:

    Thanks for hosting.


  30. I really like that you posted the book covers along with the links. What a great list this time around!

  31. Wow, that is a very detailed reviews. I agree with Janelle, covers instantly register the image or the book making it easier to identify in the stores.