Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge - Watch out for Water!

Alyson Beecher over at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts a Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge and has a roundup every Wednesday. I love the encouragement to explore more nonfiction. My plan is to read at least 100 nonfiction picture books this year. So far, I've read 69 this year.

Both of the books I read this week were reviewed and recommended by Nonfiction Picture Book reviewers so I knew they were going to be good.

by Chris Barton/illustrated by Don Tate

Summary from author's site: A cool idea with a big splash! You know the Super Soaker. It's one of the top twenty toys of all time. And it was an accidental discovery that brought it into being. Trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the iconic toy. A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity were present in Lonnie Johnson's early life. Growing up in a house full of siblings, Lonnie demonstrated persistence and a passion for problem solving that became the cornerstone of his career as an engineer and his work with NASA. But it is Lonnie's invention of the Super Soaker water gun that has made the most memorable splash in popular culture.

My thoughts: This book is a celebration of creativity. It's also a challenge to our typical idea of what a scientist looks like. First off, we don't see many African Americans in young non-fiction relating to science. We also don't necessarily see them carrying around toys. This is sure to intrigue young readers. Scientists are often seen as old white men in lab coats in labs and may not look too exciting. This book lets readers know there is more than one kind of scientist out there. Readers get to see the young Lonnie Johnson already learning, experimenting and imagining his future. I loved this one and can't wait to see how students respond to this great book.

Summary from author's website: When the Great Blondin announced that he was going to walk from America to Canada across the Niagara River on a rope more than eleven hundred feet long and just three inches wide, hanging one hundred and sixty feet above the raging waters, people came from everywhere. Some came to watch him cross. Some came to watch him fall. Some thought he wouldn't show up at all.

But he did show up. And he did walk across the river. And then he did something amazing- he did it again! And again. And again.

Matt Tavares's gorgeous, riveting account of one of the daredevils of Niagara Falls is sure to be as enthralling to readers as the original feat must have been to those spectators on the cliffs more than one hundred and fifty years ago

My thoughts: I've been to Niagara Falls twice and am incredibly impressed by the power of the water and the intensity of the place. I am amazed that anyone would be so confident in their skills at tightrope walking that they would attempt a crossing. One fall will be almost certain death. This is a story that had me at the edge of my seat wondering if the Great Blondin would make it across. It has tension and would be a fabulous read aloud.


  1. I have read these books, but loved hearing about them again. They were entertaining and inspiring stories. Both persisted in accomplishing their goals, wonderful mentors. I liked this, Crystal: This book lets readers know there is more than one kind of scientist out there.

  2. It's cool you and Michele featured recs from other bloggers. This community definitely end up sharing books I would never have read in the first place myself.