New Nonfiction Books, April 2021
Joey: A Baby Koala and His Mother by Nic Bishop
I adore that this book is PERFECT for new readers — with simple text that tells a little story about a hungry baby Koala. Gorgeous photographs and design! “He tries to wake her. He scratches her ear. He climbs on her head. But Mom is not ready to wake up.”
Except Antarctica! by Todd Sturgell
A stoic narrator begins by sharing information about turtles until…the turtle, who doesn’t live in Antarctica, sets off for Antarctica, making the narrator very irked. Soon, the turtle is joined by other animals also NOT found in Antarctica. Hilarity ensues with an increasingly exasperated narrator and bothered turtle who does not want any traveling companions which include a dung beetle, owl, snake, bee, mouse, and frog. Several pages of back matter explain more information about each animal and the continent of Antarctica.
Plants Fight Back by Lisa J. Amstutz, illustrated by Rebecca Evans
What a well-done, fascinating book! On each two-page spread, clever rhymes show how plants protect themselves and more non-rhyming text explains and elaborates on that information. For example, “Some plants deliver a peppery punch to mammals who might try to much them for lunch. // Rabbits like to teat most garden plants. But they don’t touch chili peppers! That’s because chili seeds taste very hot to mammals. The hot seeds don’t bother birds.”
The Elephants Come Home: A True Story of Seven Elephants, Two People, and One Extraordinary Friendship by Kim Tomsic, illustrated by Hadley Hooper
A heartfelt story about the bond between two humans and a herd of elephants… Francoise and Lawrence are a kind couple who invite a herd of angry elephants to live on their wildlife preserve. Lawrence knows that the elephants feel scared. He is so devoted to gaining their trust that he camps near them and tells them stories at night. Soon the elephants are happy and trusting and Lawrence allows them to explore the entirety of Thula Thula. The herd settles about 12 hours away, visiting the couple every few years. Their special connection is never more evident than when Lawrence dies. The entire herd walks and walks to the house, keeping Francoise company and they return every year on the anniversary of Lawrence’s death.
The Tale of the Mandarin Duck by Bette Middler, photographs by Michiko Katukani
Based on real events, this is a wise fable about the city of New York whose once-thriving community stops looking at each other and starts looking down at their phones. Until…a beautiful, colorful duck arrives in Central Park. The duck attracts many curious people who, inspired by one girl, start to look with their two eyes — not their phones. Even after the duck leaves, the city remembers the lesson they learn–to look at the world with their own two eyes and they will see the beauty all around them.
If Animals Built Your House by Bill Wise, illustrated by Rebecca Evans
Super creative! This picture book helps kids relate and remember animal homes by putting themselves in the different animal home structures. “If a satin bowerbird built your house, you’d have the fanciest place on the block. // This bird is the ultimate artist of the animal kingdom. Hope you like blue — it’s the satin blower bird’s favorite color…” Illustrations show the animal homes big enough to house a group of kids.
Cougar Crossing: How Hollywood’s Celebrity Cougar Helped Build a Bridge for City Wildlife by Meeg Pincus, illustrated by Alexander Vidal
Fantastic writing tells the story of a cougar, P-22, trapped inside the city of Los Angeles in a large park. Along with the pages of the narrative is a conversation between two wildlife biologists who explain more about P22’s story and the fundraising to build a bridge for wildlife to safely use to expand their territory. Earthy-toned, dark illustrations capture the nocturnal cougar’s life and impact on the city’s policies.
Butterfly for a King: Saving Hawaii’s Kamehameha Butterflies by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore
Unique collage illustrations pair with an inspiring story about helping Hawaii’s endangered Kamehameha butterfly. First we learn the history of the Hawaiian islands and the special butterfly that lived there. In the present day, we watch as students ask lawmakers to protect the butterfly that becomes the state insect. Then, more people, citizen scientists, help the butterfly thrive again with experiments, new habitats, and protection.
Grandfather Bowhead, Tell Me a Story by Aviaq Johnston, illustrated by Tamara Campeau
There’s such a sweetness in the relationship between the little bowhead whale and his Grandfather. The little whale asks questions about his grandfather’s life which always ends with the grandfather sharing his love and joy in watching the little one, Arvaaq grow, play, jump, and sing. “Grandfather Bowhead, tell me a story of all the joyful animals you have met. / Little Arvaaq, I’ve met dancing seals who entertained us all, but they do not compare to the joy of watching you swim in the waves.”
My Little Book Manatees by Hope Irvin Marston, illustrated by Stephanie Mirocha
Perfect for early elementary-age readers, read all about the life of a mother and baby manatee as he grows with his birth, behavior, food, and problems with pollution and speed boats. Vivid verbs and lots of sounds words throughout make this extra engaging. “Munch! Her huge teeth looked like crinkle-cut french fries. She chewed very fast. Every day she chomped down one hundred pounds of plants.” Very well-done!
My Little Book Bald Eagles by Hope Irvin Marston, illustrated by Stephanie Mirocha
Learn about a bald eagle’s beginning as an egg and growing to adulthood. Easy-to-comprehend with vivid verbs and engaging illustrations. “At six weeks the eaglets were nearly as tall as their parents. They trudged around their huge next. They flapped their wings in the wind. They hopped and wiggled and stretched.”
Do You Know Where the Animals Live? by Peter Wohlleben
This book is organized around questions about animals. For every question, find the answers in a two-page spread of photographs and text. Lovely layouts with full-color photographs, quizzes, at-home applications, and interesting and informative information make this is a unique but worthy animal tome that will appeal to most readers. Questions include: Can animals survive on plants alone? Do animals dream? Why do elephants stomp their feet?
Mars: Earthlings Welcome by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Stevie Lewis
Mars is a planet with a big personality. In first-person narration, Mars shares all its many features that are much better than Earth. Like two moons and 37 more minutes in a day! It’s funny, entertaining, and very informative. I would love to use this in a writing class to teach voice, point of view, and even organization.
What Is a River? by Monika Vaicenaviciene
Beautiful writing and illustrations — this is an ode to a river that will engage readers from the first page as the grandma explains to the child about rivers. “A river is a thread… it embroiders our world with beautiful patterns. It connects people and places, past and present. It stitches stories together.” In addition to the metaphorical, sensory language, you’ll also read factual information. It’s so full of inspiration and information, it’s a must-read nonfiction book that will enchant even the most reluctant of readers. The only thing I’m not sure about is the typeface which is a part-cursive handwriting font…and some kids can’t read cursive.
Bruno the Beekeeper: A Honey Primer by Aneta Frantiska Holasova
Excellent. This brown and golden illustrated treasuring gives readers important bee-related information with lots of picture support about bees, life cycles, beekeepers, flowers, beekeeping through the seasons, harvesting, and so much more, all following Bruno’s journey of learning from his grandma about beekeeping. It’s an essential children’s guide to everything bee-related.
One Boy’s Choice by Sueli Menezes, illustrated by Annika Siems
An indigenous boy travels with his granddad on a river in the Amazon to catch fish and learns a valuable conservation lesson. The boy watches the water and dreams of coming home with a big fish. He learns that he needs to throw back the biggest fish because he’s carrying children in his mouth. He releases the fish so the river will continue to be populated with fish. Gorgeous illustrations throughout.
Wild Outside Around the World with Survivorman by Les Stroud illustrations by Andres P. Barr
Les Stroud recounts exciting personal adventure stories of exploration and survival in all sorts of places around the world. Fascinating stories are accompanied by photos, illustrations, maps, and informational insets. I couldn’t put this book down and HIGHLY recommend it.
How to Go Anywhere (And Not Get Lost): A Guide to Navigation for Young Adventurers by Hans Aschim, illustrated by Andres Lozano
FANTASTIC! Engaging informational writing guides readers through the history of navigation to the development of more precision, new technology, and better maps. Illustrated activities throughout the book will help readers apply their new knowledge. for example, “Make Your Own Stick Chart” helps you make an ancient system of mapping the ocean and “Visualizing Declination” shows you the difference magnetic declination can make. Use this all year long in your homeschool or science classroom or throughout the summer as you spend time in nature.
Alba and the Ocean Cleanup by Lara Hawthorne
Alba is a little fish who on one birthday, discovers that the ocean floor below her reef is no longer full of beautiful objects but instead, it’s full of garbage. Even worse, she gets stuck inside a plastic bottle. Luckily, a girl finds her and rescues her from inside the bottle. The girl, Kaia, asks other humans to help her clean up the polluted water so Alba’s home can be beautiful again. Colorful, engaging illustrations.
Spin a Scarf of Sunshine by Dawn Casey, illustrated by Stila Lim
An oversized book with pleasing illustrations tell a sweet story of sustainable living and traditional crafts...Nari cares for her own little lamb who grows into a fine sheep. Papa cuts the sheep’s fleece and Nari spins it into yarn. During the autumn evenings, Nari sits with her family and knits a scarf for winter. As time passes, Nari’s scarf grows ragged and Nari adds the scarf to the compost heap. When the compost is ready, Nari digs it into the earth and it helps the plants grow just right for another little lamb.