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 non-fiction. I am thankful that she has this challenge because I know I have read more nonfiction texts as a result.
The two best nonfiction books I've read lately came in my recent Junior Library Guild shipment.
The Blue Whale by Jenni Desmond
This is a gorgeous book that appears to be fiction at first glance. Even on the first page it seems so as a boy is shown beginning to read a book. But then, we essentially read the book he is reading and learn along with him. There are many interesting and fascinating facts about blue whales revealed throughout the text. The illustrations are beautiful watercolor paintings that help to share the life of the blue whale, but many also help to explain the text for young readers. I love the spread where she compares the weight of the whale to 55 hippopotami. A pile of randomly colored hippopotami with a young child sitting on top is so fun. This particular picture is done in collage. She has provided a lovely balance of facts and fancy that will fill students with wonder while making them giggle sometimes too. If you want to see some samples of the illustrations, visit the authors page here and click on the book.
Written by Tanya Lee Stone
Illustrated by Kathryn Brown
I have heard of Jane Addams and Hull House in the past, but did not realize how much Jane Addams accomplished and how much she gave of herself. This book provides a glimpse into her beliefs and motivations. It also shares the many things she was able to accomplish. After reading this, I wanted to know more about her. I also wondered if some of her methods or beliefs were controversial beyond the pacifism that was mentioned and some of her political activity. This is a wonderful look into Jane's life and would be a great book to include when studying people who have made a difference. The illustrations are well-done artistically, though they do seem to romanticize the people and the situation to a certain degree. You may get a look at some of the illustrations here. The back matter adds more about her life and best of all, actual photographs of Jane Addams.