#Nonfiction Monday Saving the Countryside: The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit

Let’s take a look at a picture book biography, Saving the Countryside: The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit* by Linda Elovitz Marshall and illustrated by Ilaria Urbinati.

Beatrix Potter is a beloved children’s book author and illustrator, best known for her book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit*, but she did much more. In addition to writing and illustrating 23 books, she also studied fungi, designed tea sets and toys, became an astute business woman, and later in life took up farming.

Linda Marshall’s biography covers highlights of Potter’s entire life in chronological order, but emphasizes the later years when Beatrix turned her efforts to preserving open land in England’s Lake District. All in all, Beatrix Potter donated over four thousand acres to the National Trust so that they could be preserved for future generations. That’s an amazing accomplishment.

The illustrations do a good job of paying tribute to Beatrix Potter’s artistic side without copying her style. They are at turns playful and serious, setting just the right tone.

At her website and in her “Author’s Note” in the back matter, Linda Marshall reveals she was stirred to write about Beatrix Potter after visiting the Lake District during a children’s author tour of England. Now Marshall’s rousing biography is likely to inspire and encourage her readers, as well.

Saving the Countryside is a wonderful choice for women’s history month, for budding artists and writers, and for those interested in conservation issues. Read a copy today and see how it stirs you.

Related activities:

1. Read The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter and some of her other books.

2. Make a blackberry and apple upside down cake and read a review with an extensive look at the interior of the book at Jama’s Alphabet Soup blog

3. Learn more about Beatrix Potter’s years studying fungi (with activity) at Growing With Science blog

Grade Level : Preschool – 3
Publisher : little bee books; Illustrated Edition (January 28, 2020)
ISBN-10 : 1499809603
ISBN-13 : 978-1499809602

Disclosure: The book was provided electronically 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 no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

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

#Kidlit RESPECT: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul

What happens when an award-winning author and illustrator pair decide to tell the story of a larger-than-life, awe-inspiring woman? The answer is a sublime picture book biography,  RESPECT: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Frank Morrison.

Aretha Franklin was an astounding singer who led an amazing life. Her early training was in gospel music, where she honed her unique sound. When she switched to rhythm and blues her career took off, spanning many years with a long series of hits. Aretha’s incredible voice makes you want to stand up, to cheer, to dance, and to take action.

The creative format of the book both captures and celebrates her spirit. Each double-paged spread shouts out one word that encapsulates an idea from Aretha Franklin’s life by spelling it out in capitals the same way she spells out the word in her song R-E-S-P-E-C-T. The word is followed by two lines of rhyming text that tell her story.

G-R-O-O-V-E
Aretha finds her groove when she’s rocking R&B.
No woman of her time has more cart-toppers than she.

As for the illustrations, Frank Morrison’s use of a warm color pallet reflects the loving , admiring tone of the text. You get the idea in this book trailer.

 

In the back matter (of course there is back matter!), an extensive “Author’s Note” delves more deeply into Aretha’s life and there’s also a list of her hit titles.

RESPECT: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul introduces young readers to an incredible singer and person. It will appeal to budding musicians and history buffs alike. E-N-J-O-Y a copy today!

Activity suggestion:

After reading the book, listen to some of Aretha Franklin’s music, for example like in this video from YouTube.

Grade Level : Preschool – 3
Publisher : Atheneum Books for Young Readers; Illustrated Edition (August 25, 2020)
ISBN-10 : 1534452281
ISBN-13 : 978-1534452282

Disclosure: The book was provided electronically 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.

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

#Nonfiction Monday #Kidlit Rare and Blue: Finding Nature’s Treasures

 

Have you spotted the gorgeous new picture book Rare and Blue: Finding Nature’s Treasures by Constance Van Hoven and illustrated by Alan Marks? It is both a celebration of a color and our planet.

Although we are used to seeing blue skies and bodies of water every day, blue plants and animals are less usual, and some are extremely uncommon. Most of us may have seen a blue jay, but what about a cerulean warbler? Take a trip around the world to find eight rare or endangered species that are shades of blue, then learn about why their numbers may be dwindling and what can be done. End with a trip that is out of our world.

The layered text works well. In bold print is a challenge for the reader to find a blue plant or animal:

To find electric blue,
hike into a tall forest,
Listen for…

with the answer appropriately in blue font. The secondary text gives more details about the organism and why they are in decline.

Educators will love the extensive back matter, with the categories of species occurrence (rare to extinct), more facts about each species, a glossary of terms, and a bibliography.

Alan Marks” watercolors make use of every hue and value of blue found in nature. The way he captures the iridescent shine of the male pupfish is particularly outstanding.

Rare and Blue  is a visual treat that will intrigue young scientists and artists alike.  Tour a copy today!

Blue Morpho Butterfly (Morpho peleides)

Blue Morpho Butterfly (Morpho peleides)

Activity suggestions:

  • Visit Charlesbridge for a learning guide and activity kit (under the downloadable tab)
  • Do an art or craft project featuring the color blue inspired by the illustrations in the book.
  • Learn more about one of the plants or animals in the book.

For example, the caterpillars of the Karner blue butterfly  grow faster and survive better when they are tended by ants. In exchange, they provide the ants with sweets.

A Karner blue butterfly caterpillar tended by ants:


Age Range: 7 – 10 years
Publisher: Charlesbridge (September 1, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1623540976
ISBN-13: 978-1623540975

 

Disclosure: The book was provided 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.

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

STEM Friday #Kidlit Numbers in Motion

 

 

Today’s picture book biography puts the M in STEM:  Numbers in Motion: Sophie Kowalevski, Queen of Mathematics by Laurie Wallmark and illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg.

 

Laurie Wallmark specializes in biographies of women in STEM and for this book she has chosen a lesser-known subject for much-deserved recognition.

Sophie Kowalevski grew up observing the pages of calculus problems her father had used to paper her bedroom walls. The desire to understand the intriguing symbols propelled her to study advanced math. Later she became a prominent mathematician — the first to earn a doctorate at an European university — and professor in a time when women weren’t even allowed to enter many college campuses. Sophie broke down barriers for women who came after her.

Public domain image from Wikipedia.

Why Sophie?

In a recent interview, author Laurie Wallmark mentioned that she looks for two criteria when considering a subject for a picture book biography. First, she looks at how much material is available for research. In this case Laurie found a rich source of information because Sophie Kowalevski wrote extensively, including about her own life in her own words. Laurie found so many facts that there are four full pages of back matter,  which spills over into the end papers.

Next Laurie looks for hooks that will make the subject’s life interesting to young readers. She realized that Sophie’s work using mathematics to describe the motion of spinning tops would be fun and understandable to non-mathematicians. She was right!

Illustrations

Sophie grew up in Russia. Yevgenia Nayberg was a perfect choice to illustrate her life because she studied art in Russia. She uses a light touch with Sophie’s life, then makes Sophie’s math vibrant. In one scene the tops look like they are going to spin right out of the book. Her approach makes sense because those were the things Sophie cared the most about.

Numbers in Motion will inspire budding mathematicians and historians alike. Readers will likely end up wanting to learn more about this remarkable woman. Investigate a copy today.

Related:

For a STEM activity to accompany the book, make or find tops and play with them.

This video shows how to make a simple top with a CD and a marker. Hacks:  try to find markers with a rounded tip and the better you balance it, the better it will spin. If your marker is narrow, fill the gap by rolling tape around it as evenly as possible. No clay? Hot melt glue will also work to hold the marker in place, although it is a more permanent solution.

You can also decorate it (another video). Or if you have the DIY gene, try more methods to make spinning tops.

Visit our growing list of children’s books about women who count at Science Books for Kids.

 

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Publisher: Creston Books (March 3, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1939547636
ISBN-13: 978-1939547637

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 1/2019.