#Nonfiction Monday Two Picture Books About Pioneering Women Athletes

Let’s explore some of the fantastic nonfiction children’s books that have been nominated for 2018 Cybils awards.

In alphabetical order, today we have two picture book biographies about pioneering women athletes. Unfortunately, their stories are remarkably similar. They were both told they couldn’t participate in their sport of choice because of their gender, and they went ahead and took part anyway.

First up to bat is Anybody’s Game: Kathryn Johnston, the First Girl to Play Little League Baseball by Heather Lang and illustrated by Cecilia Puglesi.

Kathryn Johnston loved baseball and she wanted to play for a Little League team. The only problem was it was 1950 and girls were not allowed. Kathryn cut her hair and and tried out for the team anyway, saying her name was “Tubby” Johnston. She made the team!

At first Heather Lang uses creative nonfiction techniques to create dialogue, but later she lets the facts carry the story, which flows better. The back matter contains very cool black and white photographs of Kathryn at bat in her Little League uniform. Lang also includes a timeline of “Women and Girls in Baseball,” as well as more information about the events that occurred in the years after Kathryn played.

Anybody’s Game will play to young athletes, but it is inspirational for anyone who is brave enough to dream big.

Age Range: 5 – 7 years
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company (March 1, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0807503797
ISBN-13: 978-0807503799

Not far behind is Girl Running:  Bobbi Gibb and The Boston Marathon by Annette Bay Pimentel and illustrated by Micha Archer.

Bobbi Gibb was a long distance runner. She lived near the route for the Boston Marathon, so decided to enter officially. The year was 1966, however, and women weren’t allowed to run (sound familiar?)¬† She knew she could do it, so she decided to run the course during the race anyway. Although Bobbi Gibb proved women could finish the race, ahead of many men, it would be several years before women were allowed to run officially.

Pimental includes many specifics that make the story personal, like the fact that stores do not carry running shoes for women so Bobbi has to by men’s shoes.

The oil and collage illustrations by Micha Archer are vibrant. Young readers are likely to turn back to them after finishing the book to examine all the incredible layers of details, from the graphic running across the bottom of the pages that shows the elevation and mile markers through the race, to the names of women runners hidden in a hillside slope.

Girl Running just might leave young readers breathless.

Age Range: 5 – 8 years
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books (February 6, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1101996684
ISBN-13: 978-1101996683

Disclosure: These books were provided by our local library. Also, 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 no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

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Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.

STEM Friday #Kidlit Bugs Don’t Hug

This month we are exploring some of the fantastic nonfiction children’s books that have been nominated for 2018 Cybils awards.

Today we’re going to read and giggle about the picture book Bugs Don’t Hug: Six-Legged Parents and Their Kids by Heather L. Montgomery and illustrated by Stephen Stone.

The premise of this fun book is to compare what people do with what bugs do. Surprisingly, although bugs really don’t hug, there are many, many similarities. For example, the author says mommy bugs don’t make scrambled eggs for their kids for breakfast, but female crickets do feed their babies special nutritious insect eggs they lay themselves. After many similar comparisons, in the end we conclude that bugs take care of their “babies” in many special ways, too.

The text isn’t for the faint of heart, but is for the young at heart. You’ll find references to dirty diapers, poop, spit, and mouse meat. Plenty of the gross factor that kids of a certain age find so appealing.

Stephen Stone’s Photoshop-generated illustrations wobble between relatively realistic and wildly humorous cartoons, depending on the tone of the text. For example, the “baby” bugs playing peekaboo are cartoons, those hiding under the mother tortoise beetle are closer to real life.

The back matter is great. Besides more serious information about each of the featured insect species such as as their scientific names and where they are found, you’ll find “More to Read” suggestions, and an “Author’s Note” about the playful terminology she used and how it compares to scientific terms. For example, a baby in the book is actually refers to a larva or nymph.

Montgomery also writes “A Note to Parents” that should be required reading for all parents and grandparents:

“Children are fascinated by little creatures. Your reaction to that fascination will affect your child for life…”

Bravo!

Bugs Don’t Hug belongs both in the science classroom and at home as a book to share at bedtime. It is perfect for budding entomologists and entomophobes alike. Pick up a copy today!

Related:

Check the publisher’s website under the “Downloadables” tab (on the “Look Inside the Book” box -middle of page) for a teacher’s guide to download. It has activity suggestions.

At our sister blog Growing with Science we have many insect-themed STEM activities. Start at the Insect Science Investigations post. We also feature a little story about an insect every week for “Bug of the Week.”

Age Range: 3 – 7 years
Publisher: Charlesbridge (September 18, 2018)
ISBN-10: 9781580898164
ISBN-13: 978-1580898164
ASIN: 1580898165

A “baby” queen butterfly

 

Disclosure: This book was provided by our local library. Also, 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 no 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.Opens in a new window Note: this is a new link as of 10/2018.

@Cybils #Kidlit Biography: Before She Was Harriet

Let’s explore some of the fantastic nonfiction children’s books that have been nominated for 2018 Cybils awards.


Today’s picture book biography¬†Before She Was Harriet is from the award-winning husband and wife team of Lesa Cline-Ransome and Coretta Scott King Illustrator, James E. Ransome.

One thing that sets this book apart is it is organized in reverse chronological order. The reader learns about Harriet Tubman in her later years first. The text reveals each of her earlier accomplishments layer by layer until we discover the young girl she once was. It is such a fresh approach and works really well.

Lesa Cline-Ransome’s text is lyrical and spare. It matches her husband’s absolutely gorgeous illustrations perfectly. They are a wonderful combination.

The book is sure to inspire kids to want to learn more about Harriet Tubman. Yet sadly, there is no back matter in the book for them to do so. No timeline, no glossary, no author notes, no suggestions of places for kids to find out more.

Still, Before She Was Harriet is a stand out that is attracting a lot of attention. In fact, I have to take my copy back to the library because someone else has already requested it. You should try to get your hands on a copy today.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Holiday House (November 7, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0823420477
ISBN-13: 978-0823420476

Alabama Spitfire: The Story of Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird

This week To Kill a Mockingbird won The Great American Read contest.


That makes it a perfect time for young children to learn about the author and how the book came about by reading Alabama Spitfire: The Story of Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird by Bethany Hegedus and illustrated by Erin McGuire.

In spite of the overwhelming success of her novel, Harper Lee (full name Nelle Harper Lee) avoided doing interviews and rarely talked about herself. Regardless, author Bethany Hegedus was able to piece together details of Lee’s early life in Monroeville, Alabama and her later experiences writing the novel in New York City. I don’t want to give away all the details, but her relationship with a certain boy who she meets in her home town and then encounters again later in life is fascinating.

McGuire’s digital illustrations look like paintings. They capture the times and the tone of the book seamlessly.

It is important for children to realize that authors of books are real people because it helps them understand they might be able to become authors, too. Alabama Spitfire not only gives readers a glimpse into an author’s life, but also shows how she used details of her life to write a novel. It is a must read for those who love the novel, aspiring writers, and history buffs alike.

Related:

You can listen to what is touted as Lee’s only recorded interview on YouTube (from 1964). She discusses how she did not expect the popularity of the book.

This book was nominated for 2018 Cybils awards in the Elementary and Middle Grade Nonfiction category.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (January 23, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0062456709
ISBN-13: 978-0062456700

Disclosure: The book was provided by our local library. Also, 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 no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

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Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.