a myriad marvels

I love creative, nonfiction books.

And here’s a tip: If you’ve got a kid that can’t sit still for stories, try checking out a juicy-and-true book, starting with something s/he already loves — boats or bats, dancers or daredevils, spaceships or salamanders. Some personalities are especially drawn to non-fiction. My subject lists are jam-packed with creatively written and beautifully illustrated choices. Every title on there is one I’ve read and loved.

Here are some books I’ve loved recently:

a hundred billion trillion stars cover image

A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars, written by Seth Fishman, illustrated by Isabel Greenberg
published in 2017 by Greenwillow Books

Blow your mind with things in our universe that require really-really-really big numbers to describe.

a hundred billion trillion stars interior by Fishman and Greenberg

Like how many gallons of water cover Planet Earth. Or how many ants live here with us! Kids love big numbers. Don’t we all? Mind-boggling, cleverly-presented, a lovely variety of just enough ideas to tantalize and not nearly enough to bog anyone down, with snappy, bold illustrations keeping things lively. Brilliant for ages 4 and up.

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Masterpiece Mix, written and illustrated by Roxie Munro
published in 2017 by Holiday House

The talented Roxie Munro is about to make a painting. Let her introduce you to her tools, the way she preps her canvas, some famous art works that inspire her…

masterpiece mix illustration by Roxie Munro

…and finally, her finished painting! It’s a sprawling view of her city and surrounding countryside. Ingenuously tucked in are bits of all those masterpieces she’s been showing us in the museum! Can you spot them? If you have trouble, there’s a key in the back along with a snippet of her thoughts on each of these 37 pieces of art. A fabulous, fun way of introducing kids to fine art and to the great joy of looking and seeing!

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One Fun Day with Lewis Carroll: A Celebration of Wordplay and a Girl Named Alice, written by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Júlia Sardá
published in 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

This frabjous introduction to the author of Alice in Wonderland spotlights his  marvelous wordsmithing, for Carroll invented or adapted hundreds of words, giving his imaginative works a lovely mad-hatter sense of the absurd and afar.

one fun day with lewis carroll illustration by Julia Sarda

You’ll come to appreciate him, his penchant for liveliness and merriment, his belief in stories written to amuse, and find out how the classic Alice stories came about. Júlia Sardá’s fantastical, eccentric, captivating illustrations blossom on these pages like fruit on the Tumtum tree. Ages 6 and up.

between the lines cover image

Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery, written by Sandra Neil Wallace, illustrated by Bryan Collier
published in 2018, A Paula Wiseman Book, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

What an unusual, compelling life story we find in Ernie Barnes, a guy whose passion was to make art, but whose physique, talent, and family financial straits pushed him onto the gridiron.

between the lines interior by Wallace and Collier

Barnes was successful as a football player. He even played pro ball. For most young men, that sounds like a dream come true. Yet his unwavering longing was to be a painter, and eventually that dream, his dream, was realized. Barnes poured muscular vigor, fluid motion, elongated shapes into his arresting paintings.

between the lines interior2 by Wallace and Collier

I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever seen sport and visual art combined in a biography. Nope, I don’t think so. Excellent writing and Collier’s handsome illustrations make this a perfect pick for sports-minded kids ages 6 and up.

what's cooking cover image

What’s Cooking? written by Joshua David Stein, illustrated by Julia Rothman
published in 2017 by Phaidon Press

Following up on their playful title Can I Eat That?, here’s another quirky, ambrosial book for young foodies.

what's cooking interior by Stein and Rothman

Curious questions, surprising answers, zippy wordplay, and a sprinkle of silliness will catch you off guard from page one. Find out what stuff you can stuff and what you can can. Confront a potato and consider frying up some gelato.

what's cooking interior2 by Stein and Rothman

As light and tart as raspberry mousse, with Julia Rothman’s bold, gorgeous graphics styling every page, it’s a scrumptious treat for ages 2 and up.