#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.

Alphamaniacs Rule the Word

Today we have a tribute to word players and geniuses, Alphamaniacs: Builders of 26 Wonders of the Word by Paul Fleischman and illustrated by Melissa Sweet.

Writers and poets often play with words in creative ways, but Paul Fleischman has gathered a collection of examples of people who have pushed the language envelope into other realms.

Examples:

1. Creative Translations from Sight to Sound

Young scholars have spent long hours translating Latin text into English, so imagine their delight to discover some Latin words sound enough like English words to write prose that means one thing in Latin and a totally different thing in English when read aloud. This is called Dog Latin (link to Wikipedia page).

2. Concrete Poetry Makes Images

Mary Ellen Solt and other poets have used letters  and words to make visual art. Search for examples of Mary Ellen Solt’s concrete poetry, like a poem about forsythia shaped like a forsythia bush or a zinna.

Intrigued at the possibilities? The collection includes:

  • The developer of stylometry or the use of computers to analyze writing style to establish authorship for anonymous works
  • A man who wrote an entire novel without using a single letter e
  • An obsessive designer of fonts
  • The man who created a new language called Esperanto

Plus many more.

As an added benefit , the illustrations are by the innovative Melissa Sweet. The collage mixture of art and word is its own contribution.

Fleischman has assembled an astonishing set of examples. The books is easily browsable and introduces fascinating subject matter. The only shortcoming is that because of the sheer number of different people he covers, he can’t delve deeply into any one topic. Each one receives only a light, breezy mention. Time and time again I wished the descriptions gave more details. Let’s face it, any one of these could be a topic for an extended essay or even a book on its own. It does help he provides references for “Further Entertainment” in the back matter. I wish a glossary had been included as well.

Overall, Alphamaniacs is the perfect choice for mature middle graders to young adults who have a fascination with words and languages. Who knows what it might inspire from future word players.

Related activities:

1. Take some poetic license.

My family has been creating poems and riddles based on car license plates for years, but it turns out we weren’t the first. Daniel Nussbaum has translated well-known stories using records of vanity plates in his book PL8SPK.

 

If you spend way too much time in the car, you probably see vanity license plates every day. Here’s a challenge: Use license plates to inspire haiku-like poems. You can add words if you choose.

For example, these actual vanity plates:

  • LEOPARD
  • FLAWLESS
  • SILENCE

can be rearranged to become the poem

Flawless leopard
Stalks its prey
Silence

In a similar theme, the license plates

  • X3X
  • ANCHOVY
  • FORTUNA

with a little “poetic license” become:

Three anchovies
Four tuna
X anchovies
X tuna

Think about it.

One day I saw these two in the same parking lot:

  • 1Run100
  • GOOD4EWE

I run 100 K
Good for you

That is a a nicer pair than:

Be a duck…
Kabob

UBETCYA

 

To accompany:  Alphamaniacs: Builders of 26 Wonders of the Word
Age Range: 12 – 16 years
Publisher: Candlewick Studio (April 14, 2020)
ISBN-10: 076369066X
ISBN-13: 978-0763690663

Disclosure: The book was provided by my good friend Cassie. 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.