For STEM Friday we have a picture book biography that was nominated for a 2015 Cybils award in the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction category.
Small Wonders: Jean-Henri Fabre and His World of Insects by Matthew Clark Smith and illustrated by Giuliano Ferri delves deeply into the life of one of the first naturalists who explored the insect world with a scientific eye and at the same time wrote with the goal of sharing his insights not only with colleagues, but also with essays written for regular people.
Potential authors thinking of writing a picture book biography would do well to study the story arc of this book. Rather than following strict chronological order, Smith starts out by creating an air of mystery around the eccentric old man who lives in a small village in France. He then flashes back to the man’s childhood and his intense curiosity in the natural world around him. Using rich descriptive language, Smith captures Fabre’s fascination with the “small wonders” around him. Circling back, Smith finishes with Fabre as an elderly man again, now receiving great honors for his life’s work.
The rich, lush illustrations are delightful, with insects to find and discuss in every one.
Although touted for ages 6-9, the text of this book is a bit heavy for the average picture book biography reader, and probably should be read by an adult. Appearances aside, it might be more appropriate as a read alone for the middle grades.
Small Wonders will intrigue budding naturalists, particularly entomologists. It might also appeal to almost anyone who felt at times that they don’t really fit in.
Find a related post at Growing with Science blog.
Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Publisher: Two Lions (May 12, 2015)
Monday: Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine
Tuesday: Draw What You See: The Life and Art of Benny Andrews
Wednesday: Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton
Thursday: Growing Up Pedro
Disclosures: This book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.
Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.