"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Children's Nonfiction Book Reviews -- with help from a six-year-old

I asked my grandson, Ian, to help me review the following children's nonfiction books...

Meet the Bears: An Around the World Adventure by Kate Peridot and Becca Hall
Webeck Children's Publishing, London. 2023.

With the use of darling illustrations readers learn that there are eight different types of bears and they live all over the world. For each bear type we learn about their habitat and range, favorite foods, if they hibernate or not, and unique characteristics. Neither Ian nor I knew that grizzly bears are part of a broader group known as brown bears, and this group is the largest of all bear groups. Black bears are the most common bears near where we live, an also the naughtiest, often getting into trouble because they will get into human food, if the food isn't secured properly. Pandas, at least the black and white kind, are bears. I thought I'd learned that they aren't really bears, but they are. Red Pandas, however, are not bears, even though they have a similar name. Neither are koalas. Bears only hibernate if their range is cold in the winter, so many bears do not hibernate. Another new fact to both of us.

We both liked everything about this book, especially the map of the world with color-coded bears on it, showing up each of the bear's ranges.

Piece by Piece: Ernestine's Gift for President Roosevelt by Lupe Ruiz-Flores, illustrated by Anna Lopez Real
Millbrook Press, Minneapolis. 2023.

Back in 1929 the Great Depression destroyed the American economy. Ernestine Guerrero and her family were able to survive because of breadlines where families queued up to receive hot food or receive a box full of groceries. Ernestine was so grateful to the government for this live-sustaining food she wanted to give the President a gift. Without money to buy a gift, she decided to make something. From the grocery boxes she cut our shapes with the wood to create an elaborate clock case, called The Chimes of Normandy. It took Ernestine two years to make the clock case, since she had to teach herself the wood-working skills as she progressed. When it was finished in 1937 she mailed it off to the President with a handwritten note to let him know that the New Deal was working. The Chimes of Normandy clock case traveled one more time, to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum in Hyde Park. Every year millions of people can still admire Ernestine's handiwork and handwritten note of thanks.

Ian was less impressed by this book. The illustrations are good but there is a lot of text and he wasn't as interested in it compared to a book about bears.

What's Inside a Caterpillar Cocoon? And Other Questions About Mothers and Butterflies by Rachel Ignotofsky
Crown Books for Young Readers, New York. 2023.

Oh boy. Here is a book right up Ian's alley. Author and artist Rachel Ignotofsky, author of Women in Science hit the ball out of the park with this one. Ian and could have looked at the illustrations and talked about everything we were learning about butterflies and moths for hours. The art is so engaging.

Several times in my life I have visited butterfly farms and learned "all about" the stages the insect goes through to become the winged beauty we all love.

Other times I have witnessed the differences between butterflies and moths, most notably how they fold their wings when resting.

So with all this prior knowledge and experience one would think there wasn't much I could learn from a children's book on the topic. You'd be wrong if you guessed that. I learned so much from this book. So did Ian.

When I asked him which of the three books he liked the best he pointed to What's Inside Caterpillar Cocoon? When I asked him why, he told me he learned so much from it. He made a point of telling me that he likes bears better than butterflies and moths, but he learned more from this book.

Below is a page to give you an idea what I am talking about when it comes to the illustrations and information:

I highly recommend you look for this book at your public library. If they don't own a copy of it, ask them to buy one! Then get it into the hands of all those budding scientists you know like Ian.


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