Can you feel the excitement? The Cybils book finalists are going to be made public this Friday, January 1, at 6:00 am Mountain time. See the the Cybils blog for more information about the reveal.
Now the pressure will be on the second group of judges to pick the winners.
Will your favorite books from 2009 be in the running?
Our family visited an exhibit of botanical art at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix last week. There was a heavy emphasis on scientific accuracy in all the incredible illustrations, which you can see by going to the member’s gallery
at the American Society of Botanical Illustrator’s website and clicking on any of the artists’ names.
Seeing these works made me think of the illustrations in a couple of children’s nonfiction books I had seen lately: How an Egg Grows Into a Chicken by Tanya Kant and Carolyn Franklin (Illustrator), and Life in a Coral Reef (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) by Wendy Pfeffer and Steve Jenkins.
In both cases the illustrators choose to use torn paper collage. This is a lovely and artistically interesting technique, but I’m afraid that the details and accuracy are lost somewhat. For example, in the first book the torn paper eggs look rough and irregular, not really egg-like at all. In the second book, one of the illustrations looked like it was composed of leftover dots from a hole punch. To paraphrase a famous comedian, if it looks like anyone off the street could have done it, it probably isn’t great art.
As a person interested in art, I like the unusual look and neat texture of torn paper collage in other contexts. As a scientist, I am worried that a child will not get as much out of a book with illustrations that are confusing, lack definition or are flat out unrealistic, especially when there are so many really good books out there with scientifically-accurate illustrations or fantastic photographs.
What do you think of this trend? Are torn paper collages useful or over used?
How an Egg Grows Into a Chicken
Tanya Kant and Carolyn Franklin (Illustrator)
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Children’s Press(CT) (September 2008)
Life in a Coral Reef (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2)
Wendy Pfeffer and Steve Jenkins
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Collins (September 1, 2009)
Product Dimensions: 10 x 8.1 x 0.4 inches
Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Picture Book of the Day. This week’s post is at Practically Paradise
Dragonflies of North America: A Color and Learn Book With Activities by Kathy Biggs and Tim Manolis (Illustrator) is not your average coloring book. First of all, the author has written two field guides to dragonflies, as well as maintains a website about the dragonflies of California. You can tell by the quality of the text that she has a great understanding of, as well as passion for, dragonflies. Did you know that dragonflies often perch with only four legs, and use their front legs to wipe their eyes like windshield wipers? This book is filled with interesting information as well as the illustrations that are meant to be colored.
Dragonflies of North America covers the basics nicely, such as the differences between dragonflies and damselflies, and the dragonfly life cycle. Then the author presents the characteristics of a number of different kinds of dragonflies, with enough detail so you could actually distinguish one from another. Although written for children, this is one of those books that is also perfect for the interested adult beginner.
The best part is that there is not one correct way to color the pages. In the “Publisher’s Note” right in the front of the book states that the colors of many dragonflies change as they get older (No wonder I have always had trouble telling the apart.) Children are encouraged to look up other pictures of the dragonflies, in addition to those provided inside the covers, and decide what colors they want to choose. Another activity would be to visit a lake or wetlands to observe the colors first hand.
You also might want to check this webpage where Kathy Biggs discusses her road to becoming an author. It all started when she put a pond in her yard. Now there’s an idea of a great project with children!
Note to Librarians: Although this book is consumable, it is also available as a CD.
Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: Azalea Creek Pub (June 21, 2007)
Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Picture Book of the Day. This week’s post is at Simply Science.