Mike Lewis, Blog 142
Nominated by: sara the librarian
Judge teaches readers that dinosaurs came in a variety of sizes by comparing various dinosaur species to chickens, SUVs and other familiar objects. Most kids will not remember that fierce Microraptors weighed a mere two to four pounds after simply reading this fact. However, kids will find this fact hard to forget after seeing Judge’s memorable illustration of a concerned Microraptor gazing up to a menacing rooster. Each of Judge’s illustrations is fantastic — from the fierce rooster towering over the Microraptor, to the curious Leaellynasaura exploring a group of snooty emperor penguins, to the three kids trying to persuade a Torosaurus to visit the vet.
Judge’s illustrations exude the same energy and skill that she demonstrated in Bird Talk and Red Sled. However, in this, her latest book, Judge tackles a subject with broader kid appeal — dinosaurs — and does so with humor that is lacking from most nonfiction books on the subject. For readers who are interested in learning more about dinosaurs, Judge includes clear and informative endnotes. She provides statistics about each of the dinosaurs pictured and explains how scientists use fossils to determine how big dinosaurs were.
Amy Broadmoore, Delightful Children’s Books
All aboard for a nonfiction extravaganza! Locomotive follows a pioneer family as they travel from Omaha, Nebraska to Sacramento, California, in 1869. The reader experiences the journey firsthand as the crew fires up the massive beast for its first transcontinental journey, then the family climbs aboard. Readers meet the conductor picking up tickets, the “butch” peddling newspapers, fruits and candies, and “all the cigars you can smoke,” and experience the “convenience” in the corner (“don’t wait for the train to stop-it’s rude to use the toilet when the train is sitting at a station”). Careful book design captures the motion of the train as it makes its way west from Omaha through the Platte River Valley, then labors over the steep inclines of the Rocky Mountains, across rickety bridges, through dark tunnels and into California.
Locomotive is a book for train lovers of all ages: the poetic and rhythmic text will capture the heart of preschoolers, while intricately detailed diagrams will grab the attention of the most reluctant middle school readers. Author’s notes provide background information about Floca’s research process, while gorgeously detailed end pages map the train’s journey and the intricate inner workings of a steam engine.
Carol Wilcox, Carol’s Corner
Whether you are an avid birdwatcher or not, you will find yourself fascinated by the information in this book. It’s designed to be everything you need to know to begin birdwatching in your own backyard. But the design, illustrations, humor and content make it so much more than a typical birdwatching book.
Each two-page spread is designed to focus on a big idea within the topic of birdwatching. And each spread includes fascinating content, gorgeous illustrations and surprising humor. Whether readers are learning how to sketch a bird that we see, noticing the difference in bird claws or learning about birds’ colors, the learning is fun and engaging.
Franki Sibberson, A Year of Reading
Nominated by: diane
Do you have an Erdős number? Either way, you’re going to love reading this book about mathematician Paul Erdős. Heiligman balances detail and overview in the text, making the story accessible to the very young and interesting to readers of all ages. Heiligman chronicles Paul Erdős’s life with humor, heart, and perfect pace, and asks the interesting questions: why did his mom let him stay home from school? How did he manage to do so much math? Why did people love him, even though he was a horrible house-guest? How do we benefit from his work, and what can we learn from his life? LeUyen Pham illustrates with eye-catching color and mind-boggling detail (just read her end-note!). She depicts not only Paul’s math friends — the number line, the hundreds chart, and many more numbers, proofs and so on — but also the people and scenery which surrounded him from childhood into old age. The odds are good that you will love The Boy Who Loved Math.
Alysa Stewart, Everead
Alice Mar, Supratentorial