Posts Tagged ‘junior non-fiction’

Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea

April 6, 2016

mariaSolving the Puzzle Under the Sea

By Robert Burleigh

Illustrated by Raul Colon

Illustrated biographies are a great way to introduce your child to important historical figures without reading straight from a textbook. Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea is written in first person about the determined scientist Marie Tharp. Growing up the daughter of a mapmaker, Marie always had a love of maps. She traveled with her father and family as he created maps for farmers. When she reached college, she began to wonder why all of the continents could be seen on globes and maps at school, but not what was hidden beneath the ocean.

It was not easy for a female scientist in the forties and fifties, but Marie stuck with it. She did every job she could as a research assistant, even when her boss told her it was ‘unlucky’ to have a woman on a ship. This beautifully illustrated books will give insight to this interesting woman and what she had to overcome to map the ocean floor.

Recommended for ages 4-8.

Nicole P.

Schimelpfenig Library

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Scratch for Kids

March 11, 2016

scratchScratch for Kids

by Derek Breen (second degree black belt in scratch ninjitsu)

What is Scratch? In simple terms, it’s a kid friendly software designed by MIT to encourage kids to get into programming. The long version is that it’s a tool capable of handling animation, photo editing, character design, video game creation, comic book layout, oh and it teaches kids programming at the same time. Scratch is free to download from the MIT website, so you can get started right away, but if you want to understand all the cool stuff kids can do with this program, I would recommend Scratch for Kids.

This book teaches the different capabilities of Scratch through fun, easy to understand projects. Derek Breen encourages the readers of the book to explore on their own, but gives readers the tools they need to get as much out of Scratch as they can. If you and your kids are considering exploring Scratch, start with the sixteen projects in this book and you’ll be an expert in no time.

Recommended for grades 5-9.

Nicole P.

Schimelpfenig Library

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Not-Your-Everyday Illustrated Thesaurus

January 22, 2016

The Usborne Not-Your-Everyday Illustrated Thesaurus

Boy you can say that again! This reference book from Usborne offers a unique and entertaining approach to helping young writers perform their best.

The first pages cover how to use the book: using a thesaurus, knowing types of words (noun, verb, adjective, adverb and preposition), and using topic pages. This is followed by lists of words in 70 interesting subject categories ranging from feelings to noises to food to Vikings. For example, to write about size turn to the Size Words page which is illustrated with goofy looking monsters of all shapes, colors and sizes. Here’s an example from that page:

long (adjective)





After that there are a few helpful writing tips on comparisons, scene setting, characters, and conversation. This advice will help writers create some stellar stories. Then it’s time for fun with a good friend playing one of the suggested word games that follows.

And for thesaurus users who prefer a more traditional approach the Word Finder at the end of the book is an alphabetical listing of words and their alternatives.

So what’s not to like/ adore/ love? Check this out at once/ now/ promptly/ straightaway!

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Día de los Muertos

October 31, 2015

The Day of the Dead/El Día de los Muertos: A Bilingual Celebration

By Bob Barner;  Translated by Teresa Mlawer

This brightly illustrated picture book follows a family as they prepare for the traditional Mexican holiday known as Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).  They make sugar skulls, bread, and other traditional foods and gather marigolds and candles to take with them to the graves of their loved ones.  This holiday is a time of celebration and remembering the lives of those past.  The author conveys the joy of the holiday with bold, festive collage style pictures.  With rhyming English text on the left side and a Spanish translation on the right, this book makes a great read-aloud book for English and Spanish speakers alike.

This book is also available as an audio CD/book combo and an animated DVD or you can check out these NEW Día de los Muertos books:


If you would like a chance to join the celebration, be sure to check out all the local festivities!  The holiday is celebrated from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 with most festivals and events held on the last two day.  At Harrington Library, we will be celebrating tomorrow from 2 PM to 4 PM.  We will start off with a storytime and then make fun crafts including calaveras to take home!

Reviewed by: Meredith (Harrington Library)

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Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova

October 21, 2015

9781452118901Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova

by Laurel Snyder and Julie Morstad

The world is big.
Anna is small.
The snow is
and all around.
But one night . . .
One night, her mother takes her to the ballet, and everything is changed. Anna finds a beauty inside herself that she cannot contain.

So begins the journey of a girl who will one day grow up to be the most famous prima ballerina of all time, inspiring legions of dancers after her: the brave, the generous, the transcendently gifted Anna Pavlova.

This beautiful and inspiring picture book biography follows Anna Pavlova throughout her life, from her first time seeing ballet and wanting it herself, through the very end of her life. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous, and the text perfectly and hauntingly describes the power of Anna Pavlova’s dancing and the beauty of her life.

This is definitely one of my very favorites of the year!

Be sure to check this out if you love ballet, interesting biographies, poetry, or incredible illustrations.

Reviewed by: Lara (Haggard Library)


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Our Great States

August 21, 2015

What’s Great About Louisiana?

Each title in this entertaining series leads with ten things to see or do. The recommendations are presented on colorful two-page spreads with sidebars for additional historical or cultural facts. Visiting our neighbor, Louisiana? Check out Shreveport’s Sci-Port where you can lie down on a bed of nails or investigate a crime scene. Or maybe a safari is more your style. Lousiana has more than one to offer. In Nevada the suggestions range from a visit to Hoover Dam to the Ruby Mountain Balloon Festival in Elko. The map pages clearly show the points of interest mentioned, a few major cities and the state’s location on the United States map. A representation of the state flag as well as important statistics are also provided. Rounding off each volume is a table of contents, a glossary, a list of additional resources and an index.

So what are you waiting for? Go get a guide and find out about Our Great States!


Reviewed by:  Sarah W. (Haggard Library)

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School Days Around the World

August 6, 2015

schooldaysSchool Days Around the World

By: Margriet Ruurs

Illustrated by: Alice Feagan

A quote by Malala Yousafzai begins this book: “I don’t mind if I have to sit on the floor at school. All I want is education.” This is an accurate statement for many of the world’s children and their education. The author bases each country and child’s experience on real children she has encountered previously. Marta, for example, goes to school in Azezo, Ethiopia. There are 70 students in her class and studies are only in the morning so that more children complete studies in the afternoon. Ana walks an hour from her home to her school in San Luis, Honduras. Amy and Gwen are homeschoolers in Alaska and they go fishing on a field trip. The book is not extensive, but gives a welcoming overview about education for children around the world. For children and students that are interested in the topic, this would make a positive primer.

If you are interested in other back to school books, check out the First Day of School display in the children’s area at Harrington Library.

Other titles in this series include: Children Around the World and Families Around the World.

Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Reviewed by: Diana (Harrington Library)

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Bee Dance

July 10, 2015

beedanceBee Dance

By: Rick Chrustowski

This beautifully illustrated book is a fun way to share information about bees with younger children. The story begins with a single honeybee that goes off to find flowers and drink nectar. After a discovery of a field of prairie flowers, the bee races back to the hive to share the news. The book then describes how honeybees “waggle” dance and buzz to share information with the fellow bees. After all the bees go to the field of flowers, they each take bits of nectar to bring back to the hive at the end of the day. Share this book with friends and family and see if you can perfect the bee dance.

Recommended for ages 3 and up.

For more fascinating information about the bee dance, check out this video:

Reviewed by: Diana (Harrington Library)

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Trash Talk: Moving Toward a Zero-Waste World

June 19, 2015

Trash talk! : moving toward a zero-waste worldTrash Talk: Moving Toward a Zero-Waste World

By: Michelle Mulder


Humans have always made trash and they have always had to find a way to dispose of that trash. This book begins by discussing the history of trash and waste disposal. The ancient Minoans had trash pits that were covered over with soil, the equivalent of modern landfills. Next the author poses the question, “What is trash?” Trash is defined as something that is no longer useful. However, usefulness is in the eye of the beholder and many items could be repurposed. Old jeans can be used as housing insulation, old tires can be used as building materials, and plastic yogurt containers can be reused as pencil holders. The author discusses reusing and repairing to lessen landfill burdens and she includes some startling facts about how much trash the world’s population produces. Mulder has written a thought provoking book with compelling arguments for conservation.


Full-color photos of kids in action add to the reader’s understanding of the book’s concepts. This title is an excellent choice for budding environmentalists.

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June 10, 2015

trapped coverTrapped!  A Whale’s Rescue by Robert Burleigh and illustrations by Wendell Minor

As a humpback whale “spyhops, lobtails, flashes her flukes,” and feeds on krill, she encounters danger in the form of unseen nets.  Soon, the threads of the nets are entangled on her body and she begins to struggle.  She is TRAPPED.  Rescue divers come, but are they too late?

With rich vocabulary and many full-page spreads, the reader has a sense of the majesty and grand size of the whale.  There is tension as the reader hopes for a successful rescue.  Wendell Minor’s gouache illustrations are realistic and depict the beautiful, jewel-tone colors of the ocean.  This is the best kind of non-fiction picture book, with the final pages giving more information on the true story behind the book, whale rescue, and humpback whales, and where to look for more resources.

whale 2

In the final double-page spread with no text, the whale splashes back to the depths of the ocean by the light of the moon.  A truly beautiful picture book about a trapped (and saved) whale.

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