Nonfiction Monday: Fall Into Leaves

Nonfiction_Monday

Nonfiction Monday Participants:  Go ahead and “leave”  your links in the comments today.

I admit it, I love fall. The colors, shapes and textures of the different tree leaves motivate me to do art projects. Here are two books to use as jumping off points for fall leaf art activities.

drawing-with-scissors

Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors (Smart About Art) is a fun place to find ideas for a leaf collage art project. Jane O’Connor has summed up Henri Matisse’s life and art in a short, sweet and kid-friendly manner.  She explains Henri Matisse started doing paper collage when an illness left him too weak to stand up. He had assistants who painted the paper for him. He cut the shapes and then his assistants arranged the cutouts according to his instructions. When he was happy with the arrangement, the pieces were glued down. Take a look at La Gerbe by Henri Matisse, a copy of which is included in the book. Couldn’t that be a gorgeous swirl of fall leaves?

Activity:  Gather leaves with interesting shapes and/or show pictures of leaves. As a shortcut, provide colorful construction paper, although it might be fun to have the children paint their own paper (envision Eric Carle). Then it is time to do some “Drawing With Scissors.” Cut out leaf shapes. If appropriate, you can tie in the concept of symmetry. Arrange the leaf shapes on a larger piece of paper and glue down, or decorate a wall or window. Or they can use their leaves for the activity below.

leaf-manLeaf Man by Lois Ehlert is inspiring because the author is such a wonderful artist herself. In this book, we see leaf shapes with added plant materials that form a funny leaf man. When the wind comes up, who knows where the leaf man is going to go.

Activity:  Use actual leaves or the leaf shapes cut out in the above activity to create a self-portrait or maybe even a leaf animal. Gather some acorns, nuts or seeds to add as features. If you use real leaves, it will probably work better to dry them first in a plant press.

We’ve got a great turnout for the Nonfiction Monday roundup this week. Let’s see what everyone is reading and recommending.

Amanda at A Patchwork of Books found it is wise to Never Smile at a Monkey.

At In Need of Chocolate, Sarah discovered What Makes A Magnet? is another fine title in the Let’s-Read-And-Find-Out Science series.

Let’s welcome back Abby at Abby (the) Librarian, who reviewed several nonfiction books.

Where did our Halloween traditions and stories come from?  Great Kid Books looks at two interesting books for children ages 6 – 10.

At Lori Calabrese Writes! Lori reviews S.D. Nelson’s “Quiet Hero: The Ira Hayes Story.”

Shirley at SimplyScience has reviewed The WEE Book of PEE in memory of her father.

Amy says  My Light by Molly Bang shines at Hope is the Word.

The Wild About Nature blog has a review of Shrinking Days, Frosty Nights. As an added bonus, they also have an interview with the author, Laura Purdie Salas.

Jill is in today with James L. Swanson’s Chasing Lincoln’s Killer. Check it out at The Well-Read Child.

Let’s welcome Doret at The Happy Nappy Bookseller, who reviewed a biography, The Other Mozart: The Life of the Famous Chevalier de Saint- George.

Picture Book of the Day is reading Mighty MotoXers , and giving some suggestions for X-Game lessons.

Robin reviewed Winter’s Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again at Thebooknosher.

Tricia checked in today with a review of Don Brown’s historical book Let It Begin Here!: April 19, 1775, The Day the American Revolution Began at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Bookends has found two cool books and an audio story to tie into the PBS National Parks series.

Over at the The Stenhouse Blog, Lynne Dorfman and Rose Cappelli review books that take kids to the Moon and beyond!

Freaky at 3T News and Reviews has a post about the Fantasy Chronicles from Lerner on mythical creatures, just in time for Halloween.

Dawn  reviewed Amazing Ben Franklin Inventions You Can Build Yourself, by Carmella Van Vleet, at Moms Inspire Learning.

Today Charlotte has How to Be a Genius: Your Brain and How to Train It at Charlotte’s Library.

Jenny writes about the verse biography I and I: Boy Marley at Biblio File. The book has been nominated for a Cybils award.

Wendie Old listed a few of her (many) favorite Nonfiction Halloween books at Wendie’s Wanderings.

Katie says  that today’s the anniversary of the completion of the Erie Canal! That’s what her post focuses on at Katie’s Literature Lounge.

Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Picture Book of the Day.

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If you are looking for scientific activities with tree leaves, try my Growing With Science blog.

Vital Water

saving-waterCrisp, clear and concise are the words to sum up Buffy Silverman’s book Saving Water: The Water Cycle. Nothing is wasteful or sloppy. The clean photographs, the neatly drawn illustrations and the confident, professional tone remind one of a fresh, cool glass of water. It isn’t fancy, but does its job well and fills an important role.

With recent emphasis on issues such as global warming and energy, the importance of saving water has dropped somewhat from public awareness. It remains, however, an issue critical to the future. Here in Arizona, we are triply aware of the vital nature of water as a resource because we have so little rain. Saving Water shows how much we need fresh water, some of the unique properties of water, and also ways to conserve it.

Silverman’s book will be popular with both educators and children doing science projects because it is full of hands-on experiments. For example, the “Changing Density” experiment on page 12 distills to the essentials how water changes density with temperature. In the corner on a yellow sticky-note graphic is a short list of the materials you will need to perform the experiment. In four simple steps she lays out the instructions. Silverman gets high marks in my book because she doesn’t give the expected results with the experiment. Instead, she gives the essential questions to ask, which leads children to further questions. I will be using the activities in this book next time I teach about water.

On the back of the book, Silverman acknowledges that she always learns something new when she writes about science, and how writing this book motivated her to get a rain barrel for her home. Hopefully children reading this book will be similarly inspired.

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Heinemann Library (August 15, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1432910922
ISBN-13: 978-1432910921
Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 7.5 x 0.4 inches

Saving Water: The Water Cycle (Do It Yourself) by Buffy Silverman

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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 Lori Calabrese Writes!.

Next week Nonfiction Monday will be here.

Just the Facts?

Help! I need some advice from those of you who are children’s book review experts. I sat down this morning to review two books about ants. After reading them, I was disturbed by the number of factual errors and I felt like I couldn’t give either a positive review.

Some of the errors are big, glaring ones. For example, one book defined honeydew as the feces of aphids, and then in the glossary defined feces as the solid waste of animals. If you have ever had aphids on your plants, you know that honeydew is a sticky liquid. The sentence reads “Honeydew is the feces of aphids and some caterpillars and is a much-prized feast for several species of ants.” Knowing a bit about this, the liquid “honeydew” from caterpillars is actually a glandular secretion, not a form of excrement at all.

A number of the errors are smaller. For example, the other book says there are about 8,000 species of ants, whereas the website that keeps track of actual species names now has well over 12,000 listed.

Those are just two examples. Frankly, all these errors turned me off, but I am hesitant to write negative reviews. I know how much time and effort goes into writing a book. On the other hand, these errors are perpetuated as others read these books as references, and take them at face value. I once read a reviewer that suggested the reader not buy a book because it contained a few misplaced commas! What do you do when you come across something like this? Do you ever write negative reviews based on the number of errors you found in a book?

While I’m at it, some of the Cybils judges have been discussing what constitutes a nonfiction work these days. What do you do with a book like the Magic School Bus series, which mixes fiction to create a story, with great information? It’s a hard question to answer, but I wanted to take the question even further.

I don’t have any problem with books that mix fact and fiction when the fiction is clear. We all know that buses don’t really fly. But what about an author who uses creative nonfiction techniques in a book that “feels” like straight nonfiction? Let me give you an example. I was reading a book that was a compilation of biographies of several famous individuals. One was a figure I know a lot about from my own research. In the chapter about that figure the author took two unrelated events and combined them into an event that never actually happened, using creative nonfiction techniques.

Frankly, I was distressed. The event as she described it suggested that the figure had a different personality/temperament than shown in the two separate events that actually occurred. Knowing what I did about that chapter made me doubt the information in all the chapters. What do you think of all this? Does it bother you when nonfiction authors make things up? Do you think it would help if authors revealed their use of creative nonfiction at the outset? Should nonfiction books stick to just the facts? What do you do when the facts are debatable?

I would really love to hear what you think.

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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 Jean Little Library.

Winter’s Tail Book Coming Soon

winter's tailIf you work with children, you might be interested in all the exciting activities surrounding the October release of the children’s book Winter’s Tail by Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff and Craig Hatkoff. Winter’s Tail is the heartrending story of a young dolphin named Winter who lost her tail after becoming entangled in a crab trap line. After she healed, she was fitted with a prosthetic tail.

There will be a webcast of a virtual field trip to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater Florida on Wednesday, October 7, from 1:00 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. Sponsored by Scholastic and Turtle Pond Interactive, you find teaching materials at http://www.scholastic.com/winterstail/. You can also see a short video introduction to Winter. Note: the video does show a mauled tail, so you might want to prepare young/sensitive children.

For an excerpt of the Winter’s Tail, see
http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3750141

Winter’s Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned To Swim Again
by Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff and Craig Hatkoff

nonfictionmonday

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 Bookends Blog.