I had already posted reviews and comments on a few of these nominees earlier in the year when they first caught my eye. I'll share links to those posts next time. After that I'll begin posting new reviews and comments on many of the the other nominees in the coming days and weeks.
|WORDSONG, An Imprint of Highlights|
But, oh, they do deserve some attention, and three are wonderful examples of the ways in which nonfiction books can sparkle and shine.
They provide a closer look at a talented author, David L. Harrison, who writes and successfully publishes MANY books, including fanciful fiction and other appealing approaches to nonfiction content. Illustrator Julie Bayless is also prolific. Her style is hard to characterize, other than being very kid-friendly while incorporating both scientifically accurate details and playful twists on those details.
For example, their recent pairing wins grins in lyrical nature romps: CRAWLY SCHOOL FOR BUGS: Poems to Drive You Buggy.
The premise of this clever bug fest is a "bug school" located in a rotting log. Vaguely familiar school issues and relationships unfold, depicting the various personalities of
The charming appeal of the rhymed verses and colorful illustrations is their artful balance between scientific accuracy and anthropomorphized details in expressions and costuming. The premise is established with the school rule: NEVER EAT A FRIEND AT SCHOOL. Then various insects and other bugs each deal with species-specific coping lessons, ranging from ticks with sore bottoms (from being extracted), stink bugs who are unpopular, a wasp who zaps a nosy dog, a school nurse who tends toward drawing blood (mosquito, naturally), and a janitor who happily gathers muck and dung (Mr. D, the dung beetle) to name a few. Smiles are generated on every page, while science slips in as slick as slime.
NOW YOU SEE THEM, NOW YOU DON'T: Poems About Creatures That Hide takes the science a step hider, wider, and deeper. This light-hearted but image- and information-dense collection of verses is organized by animal classes: sea life, amphibians/reptiles, mammals, insects/spiders, and birds.
This title provides the back matter I longed for in the above book, offering common species names and latin labels, with just enough explanation to clarify references in the main text. Each animal family page also provides a kid-friendly science resource for curious readers.
The rhymed verses in this title are less giggly and more informative, as are the illustrations. Giles Laroche uses an artful layering of drawing, cut paper, painting, and gluing, with the resulting scenes suggesting an authentic natural world, but one that will likely inspire young artists to explore similar techniques. The verses, too, are laced with intriguing specifics and evocative moods, inviting further observation and investigation.
A PLACE TO START A FAMILY: Poems About Creatures That Build is another creation combining the considerable talents of Harrison and Laroche. This, too, organizes the information about animal homes in categories: underground, on the land, in the water, in the air, (with a bonus surprise at the final turn). It, too, features the delightful rhymed revelations of familiar and unusual critters and their nesting patterns. Laroche's complex media and layering technique results in surprisingly natural and scientifically accurate scenes.
The back matter is helpful in this title, too, and the "Learn More" resources noted for each category are ideal choices for curious young minds to pursue.
When it comes to delivering information, details, and other facts- real facts that can be verified and confirmed- there are many formats to use, for any age. In these books the blend of rhymed verse, skillful art, helpful back matter, and reliable resources elevate entertaining books to learning tools. That's a winning combination for any age.