I’ve been reviewing books for around 15 years here at Imagination Soup as well as Brightly and Colorado Parent magazine. This is the MOST EXCEPTIONAL group of new nonfiction books I’ve ever seen at one time.
These nonfiction picture books about animals and nature are absolutely incredible, with impressive writing, gorgeous illustrations, and fabulous topics. You might notice that I’ve starred almost all of these as my favorites. Truly, they are all that good.
So grab a cup of coffee and your book shopping or library list. You’re going to want to order these books as soon as possible for your homes, classrooms, and libraries.
New Animal & Nature Nonfiction Books
100 First Words Nature by Edward Underwood
In this oversized sturdy board book, graphic illustrations plus large words teach readers nouns in the garden, seaside, woods, forest, jungle, cold, and seasons. Each page includes a few flaps to lift for a surprise illustration and word.
Animal Atlas Pop Up Book by Ingela P. Arrenius
ANIMALS / POP UP BOOKS
Each two page spread shows a continent (or two) and some of the animals that live there with a pop up and a lift-the flap with a factoid behind the flap. Africa has a pop-up elephant and a lift-the-flap hippo, for example. Bold, graphic art is simple and appealing for young learners.
The Sky is Not the Limit by Jérémie Decalf
Voyager 2 writes about his experience from creation to exploration in the first person. Voyager 2 gets loaded on a rocket, released, and journeys to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Sparse language and dark space backgrounds create a dramatic impact–and it’s so cool.
Supermoms! by Heather Lang and Jamie Harper, illustrated by Jamie Harper
Did you know animals are moms, too? And they make safe, comfy homes like the groundhogs and red-knobbed hornbill. They’re creative with transportation — just look at a wolf spider mom carrying her spiderlings on her back or an American alligator carrying her hatchlings in her mouth. Fascinating facts about animal supermoms are paired with engaging comic-style illustrations.
ABC Animals! An Alphabet Adventure from Anteater to Zebra by Stephen F. Majsak
ANIMALS / ALPHABET
On sturdy board pages, oversized, full-color photographs show impressive animals from A to Z. The rhyming text moves readers through the book of camels and ducks; meerkats and newts; sea lions and tortoises, perfect for toddlers and preschoolers who are learning about animals and the alphabet.
Lights On! Glow-in-the-Dark Deep Ocean Creatures by Donna B. McKinney, illustrated by Daneilla Ferretti
Turn the book sideways to see the ocean from the sky and surface to the dark deeper waters. You’ll read about the ocean creatures who live where no sunlight reaches, like the pocket shark, Atolla jellyfish, and male fireworms. Kids will also love the interactive lift-the-flaps on each page that share more factual information! Lovely writing with onomatopoeia, lyrical verse, and vivid description makes this a beautiful and informative nonfiction text about the fascinating bioluminescent world of the ocean deep.
Nobody Likes Frogs A Book of Toadily Fun Facts by Barbaar Davis-Pyles, illustrated by Liz Wong
Grumpy Turtle isn’t a fan of frogs, which he explains to the reader. The narrator tries to explain the frog facts to Turtle. For example, when Turtle complains about the frog’s lacking ballet skills, the narrator shares that frogs aren’t trying to do ballet, they’re leaping to catch food and to escape from being food! Need a nonfiction read aloud? Read this humorous, skillfully informative book all about frogs next!
We Are Starlings Inside the Mesmerizing Magic of a Murmuration by Robert Furrow and Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Marc Martin
Narrated from the point of view of “we”…we are part of the starling flock. When it gets cold, we take to the sky. We are joined by more. We are hundreds, thousands, millions of us flying together, making a murmuring sound, becoming a murmuration. The flock flies together, escaping predators; the flock swirls, dances, and lands…plop! Then, the starlings feed and roost together. Gorgeous watercolor illustrators capture the dark starling bodies against a red, yellow, blue, and orange sky. The creators of We are Starlings capture the magical essence of these enchanting birds.
Whale Fall Exploring an Ocean-Floor Ecosystem by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Rob Dunlavey
OCEAN ANIMAL LIFE
Do you know about a whale fall and the about the creatures who feed on a whale’s carcass? Stewart shares the process as as a sequential, lyrical story starting when the whale dies and continuing with scavengers arriving to eat different parts. “Sleeper sharks smell the whale, too, but they swim slowly through the frigid water. When they arrive, they feast on skin and blubber.” The whale, in its death becomes food for other creatures—even its bones—for about 50 years, until every trace of the whale is gone. It’s pretty amazing!
Shall We Dance? by Robin Page
You’ll love these creatures who high-step and tap off the pages with vivid verbs, informational facts, and colorful illustrations. “Turtles tickle… Eagles cartwheel… Crabs wave.” Each page features a creature and its strut, spin, or shimmy, plus an informational paragraph. Fun, exciting, and fact-filled!
How Birds Sleep by David Obuchowski, illustrated by Sarah Pedry
Read about 20 different birds and where they sleep. From the Black-legged Kittiwake who sleeps on the choppy waves of the ocean to the Sandhill crane who sleeps on one leg while others in the flock watch for predators, this is a fascinating book about interesting birds and their sleeping habits. Add to that beautiful blue-colored illustrations, and you’ll feel cozy and sleepy while reading about these sleeping birds.
Search for a Giant Squid: Pick Your Path by Amy Seto Forrester & Andy Chou Musser
CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE / OCEAN ANIMALS
I love this choose your own adventure format and so will kids. Join an expedition on a dive to the deepest ocean depths to search for a giant squid. Choose which pilot to be, the submersible you’ll use, and the dive site, and then start your adventure. What will you discover? What will you do with mechanical problems or bad weather?
As Night Falls Creatures That Go Wild After Dark by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Felicita Sala
Playful and exuberant, see which animals are awake at night. And then, learn about who eats what…Spiders eat goby fish; bumblebee bats eat spiders; racer snakes eat bats… Nimble weasels sneak and snatch, golden jackals pounce and crunch, and tigers eat what they want- all the other animals! Napoli relates these nocturnal wild animals to you– just like when you want to prowl around your room or jump on pillows at night. Sala’s expressive, playful illustrations capture the personalities of the animals and kids.
Cicada Symphony by Sue Fliess, illustrated by Gareth Lucas
From their beginnings as nymphs below ground, this exciting adventure shows the cicada life cycle and I love it! Large text shares a narrative story: “To the surface, up they go. No one tells them. They just know. Gripping tight for one last change. Split. Pop! Wriggle. Looking strange.” Smaller text with informational facts peppers the pages, too. “Cicadas can be as noisy as a lawnmower, motorcycle, or chainsaw.” This impressive book will appeal to all readers and parents.
Cool Green Amazing, Remarkable Trees by Lulu Delacre
Abuelo shares with his granddaughter why he’s in awe of trees…how ancient redwoods tower above humans as the world’s biggest clean air machine; how an Ahuehuete is home to a symphony of birds and bees; or how the baobab shrinks and swells while warding off grazers with poison needles and leaves. You’ll learn about incredibly cool trees in poetic verse and colorful illustrations, then again in the detailed backmatter. After reading this book, you’ll want to tour the world to visit these impressive trees.
Zap! Clap! Boom! The Story of a Thunderstorm by Laur Purdie Salas, illustrated by Elly MacKay
In rhyme, this book describes a thunderstorm from beginning to end. It starts with warm air rising to the cooler air in the sky and the heavy black clouds forming. Then, zap! clap! boom!– the thunder and lightning and rain arrive. When the storm is over, the earth is sparkling and fresh. I love everything about this book except the illustration showing kids dancing in the rain directly after the page of lightning and thunder –and right before another page with lightning and thunder. It’s picky, but I wish that illustration were before the dangerous lightning.
Wings, Waves & Webs Patterns in Nature by Robin Mitchell Cranfield
NATURE / SHAPES / PATTERNS
What shapes are in nature? Spots on ladybugs and feathers, lines (stripes) on skunks, spirals on snails and spider webs, and more! Large illustrations with minimal text share the patterns you can find in nature.
The Secret Life of Bugs and Other Little Critters by Emmanuelle Figueras, illustrated by Alexander Vidal
Wait until you peek inside this book and see the laser cuts of leaves on trees, bee hives, and spider webs! The book shares interesting information about bugs like ants, butterflies, damselflies, spiders, and bees.
How Old is a Whale? Animal Life Spans from the Mayfly to the Immortal Jellyfish by Lily Murray, illustrated by Jesse Hodgson
Beginning with the mayfly, whose life spans 3 minutes to 24 hours, and ending with the immortal jellyfish whose life span is forever unless it’s eaten, you’re going to be fascinated with the facts in this life span book. So prepare to be astounded and surprised — because you’ll learn that the trapdoor spider lives for 20 to 40 YEARS! I mean, what!? And that the Orange Roughy fish lives over 100 years. Holy moly. Each animal gets its own two-page spread with information about their life and a muted illustration in earth tones. Love it! (The text is fairly difficult, so I’d recommend this for strong middle-grade readers.)