Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Last Nonfiction Wednesday of 2014 and Top 10 NF Picture Book Favorites of the Year

I'm excited that Alyson Beecher, at Kid Lit Frenzy, is continuing her Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge for the third year in a row.
I had to squeeze in a few more nonfiction picture books before the year's end:
Eye to Eye: How Animals See The World

I don't think I've ever rated a Steve Jenkins book less than 5 stars. This book is no exception. Fascinating look at animal eyes with stunning illustrations.
Born in the Wild: Baby Mammals and Their Parents

This book wins for the most adorable cover of a nonfiction picture book for 2014. Maybe ever! Giraffes are my favorite wild animal, so I might be partial, but I knew I had to read this as soon as I saw it. It's not only filled with more adorable illustrations, but interesting information about animal babies and parents. This will be a hit in the classroom!
Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos

Kids might be inspired to become a scientist, or at least pursue their passions, through this biography of Carl Sagan. Great illustrations!
Behold the Beautiful Dung Beetle by Cheryl Bardoe, illustrated by Alan Marks
It amazes me what topics children's nonfiction writers find to write about. This one is all about dung beetles, and somehow, writer Cheryl Bardoe and illustrator Alan Marks made me want to read about them! They're fascinating! Lots of kids will want to read about them, too.
Stand There! She Shouted: The Invincible Photographer Julia Margaret Cameron

This is an interesting biography of a woman in the 1800s who, although she was known as "plain," sought beauty throughout her life, prompting her to become a photographer after the camera was invented. She lived a fascinating life - born in Calcutta to an English family, she enjoyed India when she was young, learning Hindi, English, and French, and playing with her sisters. When she was 3, she traveled to France with her mother to stay with her grandmother. Her life in France was filled with art, dancing, and music. Later, she resided in Cape Town, South Africa to recover from losing her sister on a sea journey. It was there that she met her husband, 20 years her senior, Charles Hay Cameron. They moved back to Calcutta where they had 6 children. England was their next destination. When her husband traveled, she missed him so much, her daughter and son-in-law gave her a camera. Her art was born. I was intrigued by her Bohemian style and the reputation she had for being a task master to her photography subjects, making them pose for hours and expecting them to do whatever she wanted in order to get a successful portrait. She became famous for her blurry, "soft focus" photographs that resulted from a mistake. She had the perseverance to work hard even after much criticism and failures in the photography world, eventually becoming successful and producing three thousand photographs in her career.
This was Katie's Christmas Eve picture book - every year I give the girls a Christmas picture book along with pajamas for their Christmas Eve gifts. They are the only presents we open on Christmas Eve. This year I found a gem - the true story of Gail Halvorsen ("Hal"), a young pilot in the US Army Air Corps who was assigned as a cargo pilot to the Berlin Airlift. His job was to fly supplies into a Soviet-blockaded Berlin during WW II. One day, he noticed a group of children who asked about things related to freedom. This changed Hal. These children seemed different - they weren't begging for food or treats, they were grateful for even the meager rations they were getting. He decided to do something about it. Hal hatched a plan to drop candy from the air. He told the kids he would wiggle the plane's wings in the air, signaling his approach. By December, the idea grew and the pilots had gathered eighteen tons of candy. That Christmas, candy parachutes dropped from the air, "tumbling to earth in a brilliant display of Christmas generosity and joy." Real photos of Hall and his crew accompany beautiful illustrations throughout the book. A CD is included with Tom Brokaw reading the book, and the back contains a short biography of Colonel Gail S. Halvorsen, instructions on how to make a candy parachute, and information on the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra. I discovered that there was a documentary of this story on t.v. a couple weeks ago, so I recorded it. I'm looking forward to watching it.  Treat yourself to the book by watching this production starring Tom Brokaw:

 Okay, that's it for 2014!  Because of Alyson's challenge, I read 82 nonfiction picture books this year!   Now, the hard part...picking 2014 favorites.  Here we go (in no particular order)!

Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey
Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold
Whew!  That was difficult - there were so many nonfiction picture books that I gave 5 stars to in 2014.  I'll probably second guess myself several times on this top 10 list, but before I do, I'm going to hit PUBLISH!  If you'd like to read what I said about each of these books, just search my blog with the titles.  Looking forward to reading more nonfiction in 2015!

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it difficult making a "final list" I struggled too! 5 of your favourites are on my top 14 list as well. So many great nonfiction titles to choose from. I so love this challenge!