I’ve been thoroughly enjoying my quest for the best new nonfiction titles out there as I lovelovelove a good nonfiction picture book! Here are some of the juicy best I’ve seen thus far:
The Street Beneath My Feet, written by Charlotte Guillain, illustrated by Yuval Zommer first published in the UK; published in the U.S. in 2017 by words and pictures, part of The Quarto Group
Truly, this is one of the most exciting nonfiction books I’ve seen!
The mysterious depths of the earth, nature’s unseen surprises and buried treasures, the murky pipes and wires of urban networks — all of this lurks beneath our feet, hidden from view. Perhaps so utterly unseen, it even evades our curiosity!
Until it’s unfolded in splendor by Yuval Zommer — just look at the way this book opens up as we descend down, down, down, to the Earth’s inner core, then turn about and travel back to the surface. About 9 or 10 feet long when it’s all stretched out, with different illustrations on each side. How cool is that?! Along the way, we get a guided tour of all the fascinations beneath our feet. Earthworms and storm drains, subways and stalactites, badger setts and precious gems.
Phenomenal illustration work. Just the right amount of information. An utterly inviting format. This comes with my highest recommendation! Grab a copy for kids ages 3 and up.
Bravo!: Poems About Amazing Hispanics, written by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael López published in 2017 by Henry Holt and Company
This rich sequence of poetic and visual portraits brims with promise, passion, courage, and LIFE!
Unreeled for us in chronological order, eighteen free-verse poems celebrate a tantalizing diversity of amazing Latinos. Meet Juan de Miralles who is said to have saved his friend George Washington’s troops from scurvy by delivering Cuban fruit to them. Botanist Ynés Mexia who explored Mexico and South America at the turn of the century identifying hundreds of new plant species. The well-known Roberto Clemente, and the lesser known, fascinating Fabiola Cabeza de Baca — what an amazing life she led!
Each brief poem is matched with a powerful, vibrant illustration in sizzling color. Wow, these pages pop!
Brief, prose sketches of each individual are included as well as a rhythmic listing of many more Latinos to learn about. What a fantastic fusion of history, culture, artistry for ages 6 and up!
Penguin Day: A Family Story, written and photographed by Nic Bishop published in 2017 by Scholastic Press
Who can resist penguins? And who can top Nic Bishop’s outstanding nature photography?
There you have it — the perfect recipe for a charming photoessay. Witness a day in the life of a rockhopper penguin family as Mom and Dad care for their baby, guarding him and undertaking an extraordinary journey to collect food.
So much chub, fluff, drama, and cuteness! Dominated by Bishop’s crisp, stunning photographs with a minimal narration of events, this book will entrance children ages 2 and up. An Author’s Note provides scads more information about these Antarctic residents for parents or older siblings.
Karl, Get Out of the Garden!: Carolus Linnaeus and the Naming of Everything, written by Anita Sanchez, illustrated by Catherine Stock published in 2017 by Charlesbridge
Karl Linné, or Carolus Linnaeus, is one of Sweden’s great figures, whose name is borne by a delicate pink wildflower found in the far north, the Linnaea borealis. My dear mother-in-law, Elsie Linnea, child of Swedish immigrants, is named after that Swedish beauty. I love that!
Linnaeus is famous for having developed the classification system for all living things which we take so for granted that most of us don’t pause to think how it originated. A man with insatiable curiosity and wonder who was devoted to botany, Linnaeus began by gathering and using plants for medicinal purposes. What he encountered was chaos due to no uniform method of naming and conversing about anything from a dog rose to a honeybee. So he set about creating order — an enormous task!
Catherine Stock’s gorgeous watercolors beautifully present Sweden in the 1700s and the world of plants in particular which Linnaeus loved. This little gem is accessible to children ages 5 and up.
Animal Journeys, written by Patricia Hegarty, illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle first published in the UK; published in the U.S. in 2017 by 360 Degrees, an imprint of Tiger Tales
Such a beauty! Small but chunky, nature-sketchbook-sized, crammed with lovely illustrations and morsels of text about all manner of animals on the move, it’s a book that’ll lure you into discovering more.
Migratory animals, swimmers, animals coping with challenging environments, surprising animal antics. Wildebeest and pond skaters; wolf packs and dung beetles; echolocation and piggybacking. Dabble here and there in the animal kingdom and be amazed by the variety of travelers.
Graced by Jessica Courtney-Tickle’s captivating artistry, this one’s accessible to kids ages 3 to much older.
Lighter than Air: Sophie Blanchard, the First Woman Pilot, written by Matthew Clark Smith, illustrated by Matt Tavares published in 2017 by Candlewick Press
Just take a look at that lemon-chiffon light, soaring candy-striped balloon, impossibly-lithesome wings buoying Sophie and her wicker basket high above the French countryside. What a dreamy entryway to this fascinating story of the first woman pilot.
Sophie Blanchard lived in France in the 18th century when balloonomania had swept the nation. Having married a famous balloonist, Sophie thrilled to accompany him into the air, to watch villages turn miniature below her. Ascending alone, however, without a male pilot — that was unacceptable in her society. Did Sophie let that stop her? No, ma’am.
Matthew Clark Smith tells Blanchard’s compelling life story while Matt Tavares’ stunning illustrations evoke French elegance, ethereal thrills, and the brooding storms of Blanchard’s life. A fascinating foray into the world of ballooning and a woman I’d never heard of, for ages 5 and up. The author’s and illustrator’s notes are gems as well!
Lesser Spotted Animals: The Coolest Creatures You’ve Never Heard Of, written and illustrated by Martin Brown first published in the UK in 2016; U.S. edition in 2017 by Scholastic by arrangement with David Fickling Books
If you’re a bit bored with bears, zzz-ed by zebras, deluged with dogs; if you seek a bit more exotic fare…well, look no further!
This catalog of uncommon creatures is just the ticket. It’ll wow you with splendidly-diverse populations that humbly inhabit Earth, yet never made it into a children’s picture book…until now.
Say hello to the Numbat, the Zorilla, and that darling, pink, Lesser Fairy Armadillo. No, these aren’s Seussian inventions — they are real animals. Martin Brown’s upbeat, folksy descriptions of these guys make for great reading, with a nice touch of humor and swell illustration work to boot. Even the glossary is a delight! Ramp up wonder with ages 5 and up.