Posts Tagged ‘junior non-fiction’

Before, After

November 26, 2014

beforeafterBefore, After

By: Anne-Margot Ramstein & Matthias Arégui

Each time you open a page in this wordless book, there is a set of corresponding images side by side. The images are drawn simply with clean lines. Each set of images implies a “before” and “after” like the title describes. One example of a set of images is a slingshot on one page and a broken window on its facing page. There is also a subtle narrative throughout the book, such as the changing seasons shown with trees.

This book may function as a gentle game, encouraging readers to make associations between the images shown in each set of pages and the book in its entirety. Since it is wordless, it creates the opportunity for dialogue.

Look at this book together as a family and discuss: what do you see before and after?

Recommended for ages 3 and up.

Reviewed by: Diana (Harrington Library)

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Mama Built a Little Nest

November 6, 2014

Mama built a little nestMama Built a Little Nest

By: Jennifer Ward

This is a perfect science picture book to share with children at bedtime. From the first page with a wren’s nest built on a cactus, to the last page where a bed is a nest for a young child, the story describes nests of all sorts. Birds are creative architects that use a variety of materials such a spider webs, sticks, or spit to build their nests. The illustrator, Steve Jenkins, uses colorful, cut-paper collages to show the detail in each of the bird’s nests. The author, Jennifer Ward uses a four-line rhyming verse on the left page to describe each nest such as “Mama built a little nest./She gathered twigs that float/and placed them on the water/to create a cozy boat.” On the right page the author includes additional information about each bird. An excellent book for the youngest bird watchers.

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The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats

October 31, 2014

brownbatsThe Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats: A Scientific Mystery

By: Sandra Markle

Whether or not you are a fan of bats, it should be known that bats are an important part of nature’s ecosystem. The main reason why they are important is that they eat insects, which may damage crops or disease animals and people.

In recent years, bat researchers have been alarmed at the number of bats dying during the winter. Since bats hibernate in protected areas, it isn’t the cold that is killing them.

This book explores the sciences involved in solving this mysterious bat killer.

At the end of the book, there are trivia facts about bats, information on how to help local bats, and global bat conversation websites. Additional books and websites are recommended for further research.

This book presents the mystery with a riveting narrative, photos, and scientific facts. It is recommended for older elementary students.

Reviewed by: Diana (Harrington Library)

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Mr. Ferris and His Wheel

October 10, 2014

ferriswheelMr. Ferris and His Wheel

By: Kathryn Gibbs Davis

Illustrated by: Gilbert Ford

Perhaps you have been to the State Fair of Texas and seen the Texas Star Ferris wheel there.  Did you know that this type of attraction is named after its creator, Mr. Ferris?

This book describes the creation of the first Ferris wheel for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Since the Eiffel Tower had been the star attraction at the last World’s Fair, what would impress the world next?

George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. was an experienced engineer. When he first pitched his wheel idea to the construction chief of the fair, the chief thought it would fall apart. George, however, was not put off and knew steel well. He decided that a steel alloy would be the essence of both a delicate-looking and strong structure.

What happens next, as they say, is history.

This book is recommended for sharing aloud with younger children interested in Ferris wheels or could be a jumping off point for grade-school children learning about engineering.

Check out this book to find out more!

Reviewed by: Diana (Harrington Library)

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Ben Franklin’s Big Splash: The Mostly True Story of His First Invention

October 1, 2014

21870135Ben Franklin’s Big Splash: The Mostly True Story of His First Invention

by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by S.D. Schindler

When most people (kids and adults) think of Benjamin Franklin, they picture something close to what you might see on the $100 bill.


Like this:








Or this:







Buy what about when he was a young boy?  Before the politician and inventor became famous, he spent his youth practicing to be a politician and inventor.  In this little story, eleven-year-old Ben is determined to swim like a fish, and he makes quite a mess doing it.

Rosenstock’s tale of young Franklin is a great addition to a collection of engaging, narrative non-fiction picture books, managing to combine fact and story well.  Particularly fun is the rampant use of verbs that start with “S” – Ben spends the length of the story sketching, shaping, sprinting, speeding and succeeding.  His movement and vitality practically jump off the page.  If you want your history to come alive, this is the book for you!

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Feathers: Not Just for Flying

August 20, 2014

There are so many great new books about birds!

I was enamored with Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart.  This picture book nonfiction title shares some of the unique qualities of feathers.  With a scrapbook-like illustration style, each page provides a line of bold text, with smaller text to give more detailed factual information.  Illustrations show the bird and the object their feathers are compared to.  I like that the feathers are compared to objects which could lead to further discussion between reader and listener.

“Feathers can dig holes like a backhoe…or carry building supplies like a forklift.”  There are swallows who use the feathers on their lower legs to dig tunnels; and there is the lovebird who puts nest materials under her rump feathers.

I was fascinated by all the ways that birds use their feathers and I’m sure children will be, too.

The young ornithologists in your life might also enjoy these new titles:

Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward

Have you Heard the Nesting Bird? by Rita Gray

Nest by Jorey Hurley

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Title Tag

August 8, 2014

To have a bit of reading fun with books play Title Tag.

Directions:  Start with a classic book title.  Then find another title that begins with the last word of the first book chosen. (You will likely have several to choose from.) Repeat the process as long as you are able. Challenge yourself to read the books you find. You’ll be amazed where the game leads and what you learn. Here’s an example list beginning with The Little Prince*. 


The Little Prince (Saint-Exupery)


The Prince of the Pond (Napoli)


Pond Full of Ink (839.3116 SCH)




Footprints on the Moon (629.454 SIY)


Moon over High Street (Babbitt)


Street Art (709.05 SUT)


The Artsy Smartsy Club (Pinkwater)


Club Dread (Keene)


The Dreadful, Smelly Colonies (973.3 RAU)


*These searches were limited to choices from Junior fiction and nonfiction titles in the Plano Public Library catalog.


Ready to play? Tag! You’re it!

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Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building

July 30, 2014

dreamingupDreaming Up: A Celebration of Building

By: Christy Hale

This books starts off with a quote by Madhu Thangavelu, an architect, in the beginning endpage:

‘If they can dream it, they can build it.’

Thus begins a journey into building. Illustrations of children creating juxtaposed with photographs of well-known buildings shows the similarities between child play and the world around us. A blanket tossed onto some chairs may be a fort to children, but its sloping roof looks similar to the Yoyogi National Stadium in Japan created by architect Kenzo Tange.  This is one of the many examples of architecture (and the architects that created the buildings) showcased in this book.

The illustrations and photos are accompanied with poetic text and the back pages give information concerning the buildings and their corresponding architects. Share this book with those that love to build and see if they get inspired!

Speaking of building, PPLS still has some upcoming building programs this summer; join us for:

Read! Build! Play! at Harrington Library on Friday, August 1st at 11:00 am (for ages 0-5)

Block Party at Parr Library on Wednesday, August 6th at 11:00 am (all ages)

Library Legos at Davis Library on Friday, August 15th at 3:00 pm (all ages)

Happy Building!

Reviewed by: Diana (Harrington Library)


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Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature

April 15, 2014

growing patterns

Growing Patterns:Fibonacci Numbers in Nature by Sarah C. Campbell

There’s a number sequence, a pattern, that mathematicians call Fibonacci numbers.  Each number is the sum of the two numbers that come before it: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13…and so on.  So what?  Well, it happens that this pattern shows up in the strangest places throughout nature.  In the petals on a flower, the bracts on a pinecone, the skin of a pineapple, and the shell of a nautilus.  Who knew that nature and math were so intertwined!

This book makes a somewhat sophisticated math concept accessible to elementary age kids, although it helps if the reader has experience with number patterns.  Simple, striking photographs illustrate the concept beautifully, and the last page in the book expands on related concepts like the Golden Ratio and Lucas numbers for those readers who want to know more.  Fabulous and simple non-fiction about a concept unusual in children’s books.

fibonacci 1

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Bone By Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons

March 28, 2014

51-hQw5DqCL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_[1]Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons

By Sarah Levine and T.S Spookytooth

What kind of animal would you be if your finger bones grew so long that they reached your feet? Or what if you had no leg bones but kept your arm bones?

Beginning with an introduction to the human skeleton, this book then compares our bones to the bones of various animals by posing questions like the ones above and then revealing the answers! Did you know that a bat’s wings are made up of finger bones much like the ones in our hands? Young scientists will enjoy this creative and interesting way of learning about the skeletal system and how it functions.

Recommended for children aged 5 and up.

Reviewed by: Lara (Haggard Library)

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