This week in the Book Room, we take a look at a few more of the many and varied forms of informational text for K-5 readers.
SAND TO STONE AND BACK AGAIN, by Nancy Bo Flood, photographs by Tony Kuyper is a stunning introduction to a unit on rocks and minerals and to the larger theme of “Change.” Nancy Bo Flood’s poetic language, paired with photographs by Tony Kyper, carry readers through the canyons, caves, and cliffs of the American Southwest. Sandstone – sometimes desert, or “soft dune resting, or tough old butte”- is always changing, much as we ourselves, change and grow and change again.
One benefit of the variety of informational books available for children is how different formats can open a reader’s mind to a new way of “seeing” what, at first glance, may seem to be a somewhat ordinary subject.
Eggs, for example. A topic most kids would think fairly mundane. Until, that is, they are introduced to Dianna Hutts Aston and Syliva Long’s AN EGG IS QUIET, a lovely, poetic invitation to “see” eggs in a new way – quiet, shapely, clever, giving.
A SEED IS SLEEPY introduces children to seeds of all shapes and sizes, with interesting tidbits of information, such as “the oldest seed to sprout came from an extinct date palm tree… unearthed from a long-ago king’s mountaintop palace in Israel.” This particular seed sprouted 4 weeks after a scientist planted it!
And forthcoming soon, readers of these books will want to find the newest book by the author/illustrator duo, A BUTTERFLY IS PATIENT (May 2011).
What kid (or adult) wouldn’t be fascinated to learn the story of how Walter Diemer became intrigued by the secret experiments going on at the company he worked for. Why would an Walter, an accountant, become involved in making a new bubble-blowing gum after his boss had given up? Because Walter was inspired, and when he finally discovered the secret of bubble-blowing gum, his Dubble Bubble became an instant success. End notes include more information about “The Man Behind Bubble Gum” as well as additional interesting facts about gum.
KAKAPO RESCUE: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot by Sy Montgomery, photographs by Nic Bishop
Having no independent bookstores nearby and a big box store that continues to narrow down the selection of actual BOOKS for sale, KAKAPO RESCUE and Houghton Mifflin’s “Scientists in the Field” series might have slipped my attention entirely if not for winning the 2011 Sibert Medal – one of the sad, but true, realities in these times of no money for book-buying in schools and libraries.
What a loss that would have been! For on one small piece of land off Southern New Zealand – Codfish Island – fourteen people – the entire human population of the island at the time the book was written – worked to ensure the safety of “the only living Kakapo chick in the world … – one of just eighty seven kakapo on the planet.”
It’s a fascinating story with its own share of heartbreak and triumph as the scientists and volunteers work to save a beautiful bird from extinction. This is a book and a series not to be missed.
I’m a huge fan of Joyce Sidman’s poetry and also a fan of the way each poem in DARK EMPEROR is paired with sidebar information relevant to the topic. The poetry invites children to “know” and pay attention to creatures of the night and the small bits of additional information included in the sidebars expand on the topic, encouraging children to investigate even further.
Animals, geography, history, adventure. This book has a little bit of everything. Chock-full of photos, fun facts, homework help and more, the almanac is a book just about any child will want to pick up, read, study a while, and share with a friend.