#Cybils: 2015 Elementary and Middle Grade Nonfiction Finalists Announced

To start the New Year out with a bang, it is time to announce the 2015 Cybils Awards finalists.

Cybils-Logo-2015-Web-SmIf you have been following this blog, you will know that this year I have been serving as a round I judge in the Elementary and Middle Grade Nonfiction category. After reading over 100 children’s books, we have narrowed the list to seven finalists. The round II judges will pick the winner from this list. Winners are announced in the second week of February.

Elementary and Middle Grade Nonfiction Finalists:
(Cover images are affiliate links to Amazon)

Guts and Glory: The Vikings by Ben Thompson (reviewed at Wrapped in Foil)

Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow is middle grade nonfiction that reads like a thriller. It is fast paced and informative.

Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson and illustrated by Sean Qualls, tells the story of a young man who cycled 400 miles across Ghana in 2001. This in itself is a feat, but he did it with only one leg! (reviewed at Wrapped in Foil)

I, Fly: The Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are by Bridget Heos and illustrated by Jennifer Plecas (reviewed at Growing with Science)

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon reveals an innovative solution to a common environmental problem.

Kid Presidents: True Tales of Childhood from America’s Presidents by David Stabler and illustrated by Doogie Horner shows that kids who grow up to be famous have some of the same problems as regular kids.

Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall by Anita Silvey is a timely biography of a pioneering primatologist.

Congratulations to all the finalists!

#Cybils: Frozen Wild Tells How Animals Survive Winter

Winter might not be in full force yet, but many children have questions about what happens to animals when it gets cold out. Frozen Wild: How Animals Survive in the Coldest Places on Earth (Slither and Crawl) by Jim Arnosky describes how animals are able to live in the cold places, including the Arctic and Antarctic regions (nominated for the 2015 Cybils award in the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction category.)

The first thing you notice about Frozen Wild is the gorgeous paintings, all done with a cool color palette. To fully capture the effect, many of the pages fold out into panoramic scenes. Lovely!

Accompanying the illustrations is a fact-filled text, where young readers learn about insulation, feeding behavior and even the importance of “goose bumps.”

Jim Arnosky is an incredible naturalist, writer, and artist. He has written many nonfiction children’s books about animals and the natural world. As with many other of his books, he includes first person narration that helps bring young readers into his world. As he says on the last page, “I live in awe of wild things.”

Frozen Wild: How Animals Survive in the Coldest Places on Earth is a perfect book to curl up with on a cold winter day. Pick it up for units on animals, weather, and the seasons, as well.

Age Range: 6 – 10 years
Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books (September 1, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1454910259
ISBN-13: 978-1454910251

Disclosures: This book was provided by our local library. 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.

#Cybils Nonfiction: The Vikings Conquer

Looking for a way to get middle grade (and older) students excited to read about history? You need to go no further than our newest title nominated for the 2015 Cybils award in the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction category, Guts & Glory: The Vikings by Ben Thompson.

As the author points out in the “Author’s Note” at the beginning of the book, the Vikings are prevalent in our popular culture, ranging from the names of football teams to characters in movies. Much of what is portrayed, however, can be misleading or downright wrong. For example, ask anyone to draw a Viking and he or she will probably draw a figure with a horned helmet, yet hard evidence shows that real Viking helmets never had horns. To correct the errors, the author has done extensive research to bring the most current understanding of Vikings history to the reader.

Ben Thompson has a distinctive voice that is incredibly fun to read. He writes about the Vikings in an authoritative, and yet loosely conversational way, using words like “cool” and “sweet.” It is somewhat reminiscent of Elizabeth Levy’s hugely popular America’s Horrible History series, which my family devoured again and again. As Ben Thompson says in this “History is Awesome” article, he writes history like he would have wanted to read it, and he has succeeded in creating something memorable.

Guts & Glory: The Vikings is a meaty middle grade title that would definitely appeal to older and reluctant readers, including young adults. History buffs will love it, and those who aren’t history buffs are likely to be inspired to find a new passion.

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Grade Level: 3 – 7
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (June 9, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0316320560
ISBN-13: 978-0316320566

Disclosure: This book was supplied by the publisher for review purposes. 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.

#Cybils: Two New Books About Australian Animals By Claire Saxby

When I was a child, I always wanted to visit Australia. Now I can visit in my imagination with two new picture books by Claire Saxby, both of which have been nominated for the 2015 Cybils award in the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction category.

Both of these books are written with two “stories” per two-page spread, narrative text in one font and factual information in another font in a sidebar. This allows the book to be read many ways, such as as a narrative, as straight informational text, or both.

First up is Emu by Claire Saxby and illustrated by Graham Byrne.

Of course, what catches your eye first is the striking illustration of an emu staring right at you on the cover. Crikey! The digitally-created illustrations by Graham Byrne throughout are bold and innovative.

The main narrative follows an emu dad incubating eggs and taking care of the chicks that hatch. Emu even chases away an eagle that tries to attack one of the chicks. It is an exciting story, full of strong verbs.

In the factual sidebar we learn that female emus lay the eggs and helps make the nest, but does not help incubate the eggs or take care of the chicks. We also learn emus can run fast and often run in a zigzag pattern to avoid predators.

Emu will thrill youngsters interested in birds, nature, or those who, like me, who dream of visiting Australia!

Age Range: 5 – 8 years
Publisher: Candlewick (April 28, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0763674796
ISBN-13: 978-0763674793

Big Red Kangaroo by Claire Saxby and illustrated by Graham Byrne was actually published first and has a similar format.

In this case the narrative follows a male red kangaroo, appropriately named Red. His main challenge is other male kangaroos, because as we learn in a sidebar, big red kangaroos have few predators.

Graham Byrne’s illustrations in Big Red Kangaroo won him the 2014 Crichton Award for New Illustrators from the Children’s Book Council of Australia. He actually became an illustrator later in life and worked previously as an electrical engineer and builder.

Young readers are often fascinated by unusual creatures like kangaroos. Big Red Kangaroo is a wonderful introduction, sure to inspire them to find out more.

Related:Walker Books has two pages of ideas for using the book in classrooms available as a downloadable .pdf

Age Range: 5 – 8 years
Publisher: Candlewick (January 6, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0763670758
ISBN-13: 978-0763670757

By the way, as you can see from the photographs below, my husband went to Australia, but he didn’t take me with him.

kangaroo-in-pouchkoala-in-a -tree-good-00_IMGAnother iconic Australian animal is the koala.

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Disclosure: Emu was supplied by the publisher for review purposes. 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.