#Nonfiction Monday Whoo-Ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story

Last week was incredibly exciting and busy because our new picture book How to Build an Insect came out. Woot! Woot!

Now it is time to change gears and celebrate some wonderful picture books for National Poetry Month. Our first selection is Whoo-Ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story by Maria Gianferrari and illustrated by Jonathan Voss.

Told in a series of haiku poems, the story follows a pair of great horned owls as they raise their owlets.

Pip. Pip. Pip. Poking
A hole. Cracking. Cracking. Out
Pecks the white owlet.

It seems like a simple premise, but in fact there is much packed into this book.

The life of the owls is not easy. Although great horned owls are predators, they also have enemies such as crows, raccoons, hawks, and foxes. The owlets are particularly vulnerable to danger.

The illustrations are gorgeous. The owlets look so soft and realistic that you want to reach out and touch them. If you look more carefully, you will see they contain much information about owl habitats in a subtle way. For example, the  nest is made of leaves, an abandoned squirrel nest. Without resorting to too many dark pages, you realize the birds hunt at night. The way Jonathan Voss controls the lighting is incredible. You can see examples in this video:

(A brief note:  care has been taken that the illustrations are not too graphic, but are realistic about owls carrying prey to their offspring. Highly sensitive children may still find some of the scenes disturbing.)

Although the text is written entirely in haiku and the emphasis on haiku in the title, it flows together so effortlessly that you get lost in the story and forget about the structure. Maria Gianferrari allows the owls to shine as the main characters.

The back matter also emphasizes the owls, giving more information about different aspects of their biology and resources for deeper research.

Whoo-Ku Haiku is a wonderful example of how to use poetry to entice readers into a nonfiction story. It is a must have for budding ornithologists, nature lovers, and poetry aficionados alike.  Enjoy a copy today!

Activity Suggestions:

We’ll be adding this to our growing list of STEM poetry books at Science Books for Kids

 

Reading age : 4 – 8 years
Publisher : G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers; Illustrated edition (March 3, 2020)
ISBN-10 : 0399548424
ISBN-13 : 978-0399548420

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.

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

#Nonfiction Monday #Kidlit: Ocean Waves for All

Today we are featuring the nonfiction picture book, Ocean! Waves for All by Stacy McAnulty and illustrated by David Litchfield. This book is part of the Our Universe Series published by Henry Holt and Co.

As with the other books in the series, Ocean! is narrated in the first person. The tone is lighthearted and conversational, including words like ‘bro’ and ‘righteous’.

Dude, I am Ocean.

The tone might be light, but the facts are deep. For example, did you know that more people have visited space than the deepest parts of the ocean?

David Litchfield’s illustrations are as big and vibrant as the ocean itself. They are packed full of emotion and creativity. To coincide with the first person voice, the ocean has a floating face with eyes, nose, and mouth.

The back matter includes a note from the author, a discussion about how the ocean is really global — the names don’t reflect real boundaries, “Ocean by the Numbers,” a Q-and-A with Ocean, a list ways to be a friend to Ocean, and “Sources.”

Overall, Ocean! represents a new “wave” of picture books that push the boundary between fiction and nonfiction in interesting ways. Get on board and check out a copy today!

Related:

Check out this interview with the author and illustrator. They are energetic and fun.


Note:  Stacey’s latest, Mars! Earthlings Welcome (Our Universe, 5)  comes out February 23, 2021.

Growing with Science Blog has a week of Ocean science books and activities for kids.

Want more information? Try our growing list of Children’s STEAM books about the ocean at Science Books for Kids.

 

Reading age : 4 – 8 years
Publisher : Henry Holt and Co. (May 5, 2020)
ISBN-10 : 1250108098
ISBN-13 : 978-1250108098

Disclosure: The book was provided by my 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.

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

#Nonfiction Monday We Are Water Protectors

For Nonfiction Monday I have a picture book that has been included on a number of best of 2020 lists, We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and illustrated by Michaela Goade.

Why has it landed on “best of” lists?

Important message

Living things need clean water to survive. That is a fundamental fact. We Are Water Protectors is a call to action to protect the Earth’s precious water resources while we still can.

Distinct, Individual Voice

Author Carole Lindstrom is tribally enrolled with the Turtle Mountain Band of the Ojibwe. She uses her unique, passionate voice to explain the issue and share historical perspective about the Indigenous-led protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Gorgeous Illustrations

Michaela Goade’s watercolor illustrations are exquisite. What  better medium than watercolor for a book fundamentally about water? In addition, she captures the emotions of each scene with her palette and includes culturally-relevant symbols. Words can not describe how beautiful her illustrations are.

Because this book is written like a story, including having a refrain, there may be some confusion about what genre it falls in and whether it qualifies for Nonfiction Monday. After all, Google Books calls it fiction. Responsive Reads calls it historical fiction. Looking at the amount of information in the text, one could easily argue the genre might be closer to creative nonfiction or informational fiction. In fact, in an interview at Two Writing Teachers blog, Carole Lindstrom considers her work to be lyrical nonfiction. If you have read it, what do you think?

We Are Water Protectors offers a lot to consider. It is likely to challenge young readers and to stimulate discussion. Educators should download the activity guide and read the back matter to be prepared.

Bottom Line:

The best books stay with you long after you have read them, which is likely why this one is landing on so many lists.

Related:

PDF Activity guide to download from Roaring Brook Press

See our growing list of children’s books about water and the water cycle at Science Books for Kids.

In this video you can see Carole Lindstrom read the book, then give a detailed explanation of the events that inspired it, plus what came after.

Reading age : 3 – 6 years
Publisher : Roaring Brook Press; Illustrated edition (March 17, 2020)
ISBN-10 : 1250203554
ISBN-13 : 978-1250203557

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.

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

#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.