May 20, 2013

Nonfiction Monday Roundup for May 20, 2013

Welcome to the Nonfiction Monday Roundup!

Nonfiction Monday is the brainchild of Anastasia Suen. Bloggers across the kidlitosphere celebrate Nonfiction Monday by writing about nonfiction books for kids on Monday.

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Nonfiction Monday will be at ProseandKahn next week on May 27, 2013, so get your nonfiction reviews ready!

Without further ado, here are the amazing submissions we have for nonfiction children's books this week:

Jeanne Walker Harvey at True Tales & a Cherry on Top has a great book for Canadians celebrating Victoria Day at home (or at the lake) today- a book by a Canadian librarian,  Joanne Stanbridge, with a strong message of hope, called The Extraordinary Music of Mr. Ives.

 Donald A. Ritchie's book about the US constitution and bill of right for teens, Our Constitution, is the focus at Kid Lit about Politics today.

Can you imagine if learning to read was outlawed? It was for Booker T. Washington and other slave boys in the US before emancipation. Jeff Barger features Washington's struggle to get an education via Fifty Cents and a Dream, by Jabari Asim and Bryan Collier.

Tara at  A Teaching Life also has a story of a man who was affected by the prohibition on literacy among slaves. Dave the potter has a profound legacy and you can check it out in Etched in Clay by Andrea Chen.

Laura Salas introduces us to the life cycle of a godwit through The Long, Long Journey. I'd never heard of a godwit bird before so I need to find this book and find out all about them!

This seems to be a popular choice because Ami at A Mom's Spare Time is reviewing The Long, Long Journey today too! You know what they say about great minds- they read the same books!

Ms. Yingling has a civil rights theme going on today and for nonfiction she introduces Courage Has No Color by Tanya Lee Stone, about the Tuskegee Airmen.

It's a fascinating non-fiction graphic novel at Shelf-Employed today, all about non-human primates and the humans who have studied them. Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani will be released next month.

Kids who like things that go will be interested in The Great Big Book of Mighty Machines showcased by Jennifer at The Jean Little Library. My son is sitting over my shoulder trying to get me to order it before I finish typing this sentence- looks like a good one!

Barbed Wire Baseball, by Marissa Moss and Yuko Shimizu, is featured at The Children's War. I've never heard of Kenochi Zenimura who made it possible to play baseball in his internment camp, but I want to know more now.

Amy at Hope is the Word brings us a review of Miss Moore Thought Otherwise, about the woman who made libraries accessible to children- and I am sure all of us participating today are thankful for that!

Cindy and Lynn at Bookends introduce a unique activity book, Sneaky Art by Marthe Jocelyn. Who wouldn't like an artistic surprise?

I think today's creepiest choice goes to Janet Squires, who is introducing a book about a real-life monster, Giant Squid: Searching for a Sea Monster. With a cover like that I bet it will be very popular!

Stacking Books has another story of someone who couldn't get the education she wanted, in For the Love of Music, The Remarkable Story of Maria Ann Mozart, who was Amadeus' big sister.

Julie Gerber introduces two books in Carole P. Roman's If You Were Me and Lived In... series. Click over and take a journey to France and Mexico!

Our fearless founder, Anastasia Suen, has a book about a rescue mission to save a Navy SEAL, called Today's Air Force Heroes by Miriam Aronin.

Pragmatic Mom has a number of nonfiction middle grade books about skateboarding, including
Cool Skateboarding Facts.

I review a Japanese children's book about conceptual math that has been translated into English, Which is Round? Which is Bigger? by Mineko Mamada here at Perogies & Gyoza.

Which is Round? Which is Bigger?

Which is Round? Which is Bigger? (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written and Illustrated by: Mineko Mamada

Published by: Kids Can Press

Published on: March 1, 2013

Provided for review by the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Mineko Mamada's books are huge favourites in Japan. This one, called どっちかな?(Docchi Kana? Which one?) is a bestseller, and はみがき、きらい?(Hamigaki kirai? You don't like brushing your teeth?) is a kindergarten staple. It's fantastic to see that Mamada is getting recognized internationally. I hope English-speaking audiences will enjoy her as much as Japanese audiences have.

I just want to give a shout out to the translator, whoever she was. Translating a picture book is deceptively simple, but it is very difficult to capture the same rhythm. Bonus points go to the translator and editor who ensured that this is an easy reader so elementary school kids can read it on their own, the same way it is used in Japan.

The concept is great- Mamada draws two items and invites the reader to compare them - then turns the answer upside down when you flip the page. Preschoolers will giggle along as a snail turns out to be faster than a dog. Then when they get bigger they can return to the book and read it for themselves.

My son read this book out loud to me- and he was very quick to catch on to the rhythm. It is a perfect choice for his first semester in Japanese school, where they are learning math concepts such as comparatives and art concepts like perspective. It matches up well with the comparatives in his English curriculum introduced in the Complete Canadian Curriculum workbook for Grade 1. I love books that do double duty!

This is an absolutely adorable book about thinking outside the box- great for little kids as a read aloud or for lower elementary school students looking for conceptual math books that are also easy readers! This book was on my list of the Most Anticipated Picture Books of 2013 and it was a good pick (pats self on back!).

This post is for Nonfiction Monday, hosted this week by me at Perogies & Gyoza.

May 19, 2013

I dreamt...

I dreamt... (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written by: Gabriela Olmos

Translated by: Elisa Amado

Illustrated by: Manuel Monroy, Juan Gedovius, et al

Published by: Groundwood Books

Published on: May 14, 2013

Ages: 4+

Provided by the publisher for review. All opinions are my own.

This is one of the most powerful books I have ever read.

How is it exactly that a 36-page book, with less than 50 sentences, can evoke so much emotion?

The last decade has not been kind to Mexico. The drug war has had irreparable effects on the people; tens of thousands a year killed since 2010, over a million people displaced, and I cannot imagine what kind of fear this generates in the bystanders.

Twelve of Mexico's best illustrators have gotten together with author Gabriela Olmos to donate their art to the creation of this book, in order to give hope to the peace-seekers of the world. It was originally published in Spanish in Mexico, but in order to bring their message of peace to a larger audience it was translated into English and published in North America. The proceeds from this book will be donated to the International Board on Books for Young People's Fund for Children in Crisis.
They were extremely successful in their efforts to provide books for young survivors of the 3-11 tragedy in Japan, providing 103,360 books to 286 locations throughout the devastated region. 

Many times when we participate in fundraisers, a project is thrown together just so people have an excuse to buy something and feel good about participating, whether the project is any good or not...(I've bought some really interesting cookbooks over the years which basically only consist of Cream of Mushroom soup recipes!).  But in this case it's obvious from the cover that this isn't just a fundraiser, it's a picture book of the absolute highest quality.

The premise is simple- the narrator dreams of a world where the perpetrators of violence and their weapons are changed out for happy things. Sometimes this involves a play on words (bombs bursting out in gales of laughter), sometimes ironic juxtaposition. As lovely as it would be for thieves to steal nightmares, it's not quite possible - but the thought of it is sure to put a smile on your face.

I'd never heard of any of these illustrators before this book, sadly. But their talent is evident at first glance. Every spread is a different style but the common theme and the sheer talent make them unified. Manuel Monroy's uplifing cover is a favourite, as is Marissa Arroyo's war of flowers with its newspaper tree proclaiming words of love. 

This book's subjects could be disturbing, but I don't know a kindergartner who isn't aware of war or robbers or nightmares even if they aren't directly affected.  This might be hard for some sensitive readers. But I think the message of hope appeals to children- it's too bad there are so many adults who choose violence over peace.

May 11, 2013


Amazonia (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written by: Daniel Munduruku

Illustrated by: Nikolai Popov

Published by: Groundwood Books

Published on: April 23, 2012

Ages: 10+

Provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

The myths of a culture give us many clues to what kind of people the culture hopes the boys and girls who hear the stories will become. In Japan, the traditional tale of Momotaro (Peach Boy) shows how the culture values men who work well with others and are brave and strong.

Since this collection features myths from different cultures around the Amazon, we get insights into what Munduruku, Bororo, Manao and other peoples want their children to value.

My kids' favourite story is The Brothers Bacororo and Itubore, which is about two siblings who convinced a number of animals to stop preying on people. This creative duo tricked some animals and won fairly against others to extract promises from them to become herbivores.

One of the things we liked most about the book was the exotic plants and animals! It was fun looking up jabiru storks and harpy eagles and pawoe fish. You can see that they look as if they could be predators!

Jabiru stork

Another favourite is The Beautiful Deer, about a young man named Piripiri who turns into a deer (a weredeer?) and has a special bond with his mother. My kids said that they thought Piripiri would turn out to be dangerous because piripiri means to tingle in Japanese- I guess he made their spidey senses tingle!

We read the stories in this book before bedtime over a week and what my kids are left with are two major impressions: there are a lot of tribes and a lot of animals in the rainforest of Brazil, and smells are important to all of them.

This was a fascinating look into a variety of myths from the Amazon area of Brazil, and it's very interesting to try to compare these stories with others from other cultures like Momotaro or Odysseus, and see how similar themes crop up all over the world.