Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Book Review: KAKAPO RESCUE: SAVING THE WORLD’S STRANGEST PARROT – written by Sy Montgomery & Illustrated by Nic Bishop

Montgomery, Sy. 2010. Ill. Nic Bishop. KAKAPO RESCUE: SAVING THE WORLD’S STRANGEST PARROT. New York: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. ISBN 978-0618494170.

kakapo

Codfish Island is a nature preserve located off the coast of New Zealand.  On this island,  resides the remaining members of the nearly extinct Kakapo Parrot species.  Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop embark on a ten day adventure to Codfish Island to view, first-hand, the Kakapo conservation effort. Their book, KAKAPO RESCUE: SAVING THE WORLD’S STRANGEST PARROT, records their trip and documents the moving story of the scientific rescue group fighting to save the Kakapo’s dwindling population.

KAKAPO RESCUE: SAVING THE WORLD’S STRANGEST PARROT chronicles every aspect of the Kakapo Parrot’s existence including their environment, diet, and growth. The story is well organized and follows a predictable pattern with a comprehensive index at the back of the book. However, this book is a far cry from a dry reciting of un-embellished facts.  Sy and Nic’s pictorial and textual representations of their excursion to Codfish Island add a sense of excitement and adventure to this factual account that will keep children engaged and entertained.  The vibrant and picturesque photographs “support and enhance the text” and add personality and life to the parrots and their would-be saviors (Kirkus Reviews 2010).  The School Library Journal declares that children will “gobble up this tribute to ecological science in action” (Manning n.d.).

Enrichment Activities:

Sy and Nic’s documentary includes a excerpt containing the contact information for the Kakapo Recovery Program. Teachers and parents could ignite children’s desire to help these creatures by having them organize a fundraiser to send to the rescue group.  Moreover, children could be guided in further reading and research on this species of parrot.  A selected bibliography can be found at the back of the book.  Also, the BBC did an in depth documentary of the Kakapo’s struggle titled “Last Chance to See”.  Copies of this documentary can be found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00n7ggx/products

Awards:

From Junior Library Guild http://www.juniorlibraryguild.com/books/view.dT/9780618494170

  • 2011 Sibert Award
  • 2011 ALA Notable Children’s Books, Middle Readers
  • 2011 NCTE Orbis Pictus Recommended
  • 2011 Top 10 Books for Youth, Environment
  • Booklist 2010 Editor’s Choice, Books for Youth, Nonfiction, Middle Readers
  • Booklist Lasting Connections of 2010, Science
  • Booklist 2010 Top 10 Books for Youth, Sci-Tech
  • Horn Book, Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12: 2011
  • Fanfare, Best Books of 2010, Nonfiction
  • Kirkus Reviews 2010 Best Children’s Books
  • BCCB Blue Ribbon 2010, Nonfiction

What to Read Next:

Turner, Pamela S. 2011. THE FROG SCIENTIST. . Ill. Andy Comins. New York: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. ISBN 978-0547576985

Turner, Pamela S. 2013. THE DOLPHINS OF SHARK BAY. New York: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. ISBN 978-0547716381

References:

Kirkus Reviews. 2010. “KAKAPO RESCUE.” April. Accessed March 22, 2014. https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/sy-montgomery/kakapo-rescue/.

Manning, Patricia. n.d. “Editorial Review: School Library Journal .” Amazon. Accessed March 22, 2014. http://www.amazon.com/Kakapo-Rescue-Saving-Strangest-Scientists/dp/0618494170/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395521838&sr=1-1&keywords=Kakapo+Rescue.

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Book Review: TIME TO EAT– written and illustrated by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Jenkins, Steve & Robin Page. 2011. TIME TO EAT. New York: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. ISBN 978-0-547-25232-8

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TIME TO EAT is an easy non-fiction concept book written for young children ages 4-8 years old.  Concept books are a well-liked and abundant form of factual literature that “distills to its most basic terms” information for very young readers (Vardell 2008, 239). Jenkins and Page will ignite children’s imagination and thirst for facts about the natural world in TIME TO EAT. This book provides children with lively pictorial illustrations of individual animals coupled with simple and succinct paragraphs outlining their dietary habits.

This fact filled book is well organized with animated illustrations paired with factual information. An appendix is included at the back of the book with illustrations and more in-depth biological facts about the showcased animals.  The illustrations of animals in the act of eating compliment the text and are “expertly colored, detailed, and expressive” (Rochman n.d.).

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(This book-page picture is from the author’s website at http://www.stevejenkinsbooks.com/eat.html)

Steve Jenkins has written many critically acclaimed science books for young readers. According to the School Library Journal, the works of Steve Jenkins and  Robin Page “can be found in most classrooms and libraries” (Auerbach 2012).  For instance, the following titles (showcased on Jenkin’s website — http://www.stevejenkinsbooks.com/books.html) are a few of the many informational books he has published:

eat

The reader can only assume that Caldecott Honor winning authors presents accurate factual information in all their works. However, there are no notes, sources, or references listed in TIME TO EAT that would “reinforce our appreciation of the accuracy of the work” (Vardell 2008, 254).

Enrichment Activities:

In the last lines of this book, the authors ask the reader “What would you like for your next meal?”.  Parents could use this line as a jumping off point to explore why we eat the foods that we do.  This informational book could open a dialog between young children and caregivers about favorite foods, healthy food, “junk” food, and other social/cultural aspects of eating.

Awards:

According to Steve Jenkins website (http://www.stevejenkinsbooks.com/eat.html) TIME TO EAT has won the following awards:

  • The Eureka! Non-Fiction Children’s Book Award 2011
  • Chicago Public Library’s 2012 Best of the Best

What to Read Next:

Jenkins, Steve. 2001.WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN SOMETHING WANTS TO EAT YOU?. New York: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. ISBN 978-0618152438

Jenkins, Steve & Robin Page. 2011. TIME TO SLEEP. New York: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. ISBN 978-0547250403

References:

Auerbach, Barbara. 2012. “The Wild World of Steve Jenkins: An Author Study.” School Library Journal. October 2. Accessed March 22, 2014. http://www.slj.com/2012/10/books-media/the-wild-world-of-steve-jenkins-an-author-study/#_.

Rochman, Hazel. n.d. “Editorial Review: Booklist.” Amazon. Accessed March 22, 2014. http://www.amazon.com/Time-Eat-Steve-Jenkins/dp/0547250320/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395514824&sr=1-1&keywords=Time+to+eat.

Vardell, Sylvia M. 2008. Children’s Literature in Action: A Librarian’s Guide. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

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Book Review: THE EXTRAORDINARY MARK TWAIN (ACCORDING TO SUSY) – written by Barbara Kerley and illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham

Kerley, Barbara. 2010. Ill. Edwin Fotheringham. THE EXTRAORDINARY MARK TWAIN (ACCORDING TO SUSY). New York: Scholastic Press. ISBN 978-0-545-12508-6

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This insightful and charming picture book biography about Samuel Langhorne Clemens is narrated by his 13 year old daughter, Susy.  In the first lines of this humorous and touching book, Susy tells the reader that what they know about Mark Twain is “just plain wrong” (Kerley 2010).  This book details Susy’s version of her father’s story (handwritten in her journal) so that she may set the record straight.  From Twain’s early life to his writing career, readers will be brought on a whimsical journey chronicling the “details of his character, intimate life, and work routine during his most prolific years” (Paulson-Yarovoy n.d.).

This non-fiction biographical narrative is excellently organized into a story with an added summary of facts and sources. Kerley holds a child’s interest while simultaneously allowing them to extrapolate the facts of Mark Twain’s literary accomplishments.  An accurate and helpful timeline along with “line-by-line sources of quotes … and an author’s note on both Papa and Susy” are included in the last pages of this book (Paulson-Yarovoy n.d.). This story (along with the appended factual timeline and personal accounts) outline Twain’s important milestones, momentous life events, and literary works in a simple and easy to read format.

Illustrators of children’s picture book biographies often strive to “personalize the subject” and “enhance the authenticity of the time and place of the setting” (Vardell 2008, 245).  Edwin Fotheringham provides “digitally enhanced illustrations, colored with a Victorian palette and including dynamic, inventive perspectives” (Paulson-Yarovoy n.d.).  This artful design will draw children’s interest and bring Susy and her father’s story to life.  Susy’s journal is nestled between the pages creating a story within a story.  Her admiring account of her father, written in scrawling and childlike misspelled script, is “tipped into the gutters of this large-format picture book’s double-page spreads” (Phelan n.d.).

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Enrichment Activities:

THE EXTRAORDINARY MARK TWAIN (ACCORDING TO SUSY) includes a back page excerpt titled “Writing an Extraordinary Biography”.  This excerpt gives children a detailed plan to write their own biography.  Moreover, Barbara Kerley’s website (http://www.barbarakerley.com/site/Common_Core__Extraordinary_Mark_Twain.html) includes a wonderfully detailed guide for teachers about how to add this biographical picture book in a lesson plan.

Awards:

According to Barbara Kerley’s website (http://www.barbarakerley.com/site/the_extraordinary_mark_twain.html), THE EXTRAORDINARY MARK TWAIN (ACCORDING TO SUSY) has won the following awards:

  • 2010 CYBILS Nonfiction Picture Book Award
  • Best Children’s Books 2010 — Publishers Weekly
  • Best Books 2010 — School Library Journal
  • Best Books for Children and Teens 2010 — Kirkus Reviews
  • Best of 2010: Books for Young Readers — Washington Post
  • A Junior Library Guild selection
  • 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing — New York Public Library
  • Eureka! Nonfiction Children’s Books Gold Award, California Reading Association
  • Winner of the Oregon Spirit Book Award for Nonfiction — OCTE
  • Oregon Book Award Finalist
  • NCTE Orbis Pictus Recommended Book
  • Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People
  • Notable Children’s Book in the English Language Arts
  • CCBC Choices 2011
  • Best Children’s Books of the Year — Bank Street College of Education
  • California Book Award 2011 nominee
  • Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee
  • Utah Beehive Book Award nominee
  • Keystone to Reading Book Award nominee
  • Children’s Crown Award nominee

What to Read Next:

Kerley, Barbara. 2008. Ill. Edwin Fotheringham. WHAT TO DO ABOUT ALICE?: HOW ALICE ROOSEVELT BROKE THE RULES, CHARMED THE WORLD, AND DROVE HER FATHER TEDDY CRAZY!. New York: Scholastic Press. ISBN 978-0439922319

Burleigh, Robert.  2011. THE ADVENTURES OF MARK TWAIN BY HUCKLEBERRY FINN. Ill. Barry Blitt. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers. ISBN 978-0689830419

References:

Kerley, Barbara. 2010. THE EXTRAORDINARY MARK TWAIN (ACCORDING TO SUZY). New York: Scholastic Press.

Paulson-Yarovoy, Sarah. n.d. “Editorial Reviews: School Library Journal.” Amazon. Accessed March 22, 2014. http://www.amazon.com/Extraordinary-Mark-Twain-According-Susy/dp/0545125081.

Phelan, Carolyn. n.d. “Editorial Reviews: Booklist.” Amazon . Accessed March 22, 2014. http://www.amazon.com/Extraordinary-Mark-Twain-According-Susy/dp/0545125081.

Vardell, Sylvia M. 2008. Children’s Literature in Action: A Librarian’s Guide. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

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