Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: Hoops to Hippos

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. My plan is to read at least 100 nonfiction picture books this year.

While the National Geographic Kids Chapters series books are not precisely picture books, they are definitely nonfiction and have plenty of pictures, so I thought they might fit here.

Title: Hoops to Hippos
Author: Boris Diaw with Kitson Jazynka
Publisher: National Geographic
Pages: 111
Availability: On shelves now
Review copy: Final copy from publisher

Summary:  NBA star Boris Diaw of the San Antonio spurs takes young readers on safari as he explores his off-court passion: wildlife photography! Join Diaw as he escapes from stampeding wildebeests, comes face-to-face with lions, and discovers why you should never come between a hippo and its watery home. Through engaging stories and photos by Diaw, readers will discover a whole new side to this basketball champ.

National Geographic Kids Chapter books pick up where the best-selling National Geographic Readers series leaves off, offering young animal lovers who are ready for short chapters lively, exciting, full-color true stories -- just right to carry in backpacks, share with friends, and read under the covers at night.

My Thoughts: As with many of the National Geographic publications, the illustrations were a big draw for me. It helps that this also includes NBA player Boris Diaw. When I showed the book to my students, his name was one some recognized. This book has a unique twist since it blends sports with animals. I appreciated that readers see how photography can be an exciting hobby.

The book is written in a conversational tone and is a quick and easy read for upper elementary students though is probably a challenge for primary readers. Something that annoyed me a bit was the practice of including the pronunciation of words in parenthesis in this way, "Hi, my name is Boris Diaw (sounds like DEE-ow)." I was irritated by the words "sounds like" being repeated every single time. I felt the pronunciation could have stood alone. That was a small thing though. Overall, I found the book quite engaging.

I picked up a few others in the series, Ape Escapes!  and Animal Superstars. They are also very eye-catching and seem like excellent chapter books to hand to nonfiction lovers. Here's a video so you can meet the author:


  1. This must be a new one, or I guess it wasn't featured in the collection I purchased. Kids like this series so I'm glad to see there is another one!

  2. I love these National Geographic titles, they are so eye-catching and really engaging. The basketball connection is sure to excite a lot of young readers. It's neat that the book includes photos taken by the basketball player, rather than just using him as a spokesman - it's great for kids to see well-rounded adults.

  3. I love almost everything National Geographic puts out. They can really put together a nonfiction book. Thank you for sharing this one!

  4. These show a different approach, maybe trying to find a new way to motivate the reader? This sounds good, and of course the pictures and the person are enticing. Thanks, Crystal.