Tag Archives: Helaine Becker

Top 10 Tuesday -Top 10 Nonfiction Picture Books of 2016!

From snow, to frogs; from giant squids to seeds and monsters – 2016 has been an amazing year for new Nonfiction picture books.  Here is a list of my favorite top 10 (well, okay… I’ve gone over a little!) books for sharing and reading aloud to your class.  These books would make excellent additions to your classroom or school library!

Canada – Year By Year – Elizabeth MacLeod

With Canada’s significant birthday coming this spring, this is a perfect book to explore the timeline of Canadian history from its beginning on July 1, 1867 to the upcoming 150th anniversary in 2017. It includes famous people, politics, sports, culture and significant events.  Accessible and interesting.

Best in Snow – April Pulley Sayre

Stunning photographs and simple, poetic text describes the beauty of winter in its various states and the way animals respond to the coldest season. Snow/meteorology facts included in the back. A great read aloud for Pre-k – Grade 2 and excellent anchor for word choice and imagery for Gr. 2-4.

A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snow Day – Andrea Davis Pinkney

A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day by Andrea Davis Pinkney is a wonderful tribute to the author of this iconic book. Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day helped open the door to children’s books being published with diverse main characters. I love learning the “story behind the story” – of how Ezra Jack Keats pinned a series of photographs of an adorable African-American boy to his wall. Twenty years the boy in the photos became “Peter” and inspired him to write his first children’s book. Andrea Davis Pinkney writes with such poetic and lyrical language. Mark this as an anchor book for word choice!

The Darkest Dark  – Chris Hadfield

The Darkest Dark by beloved Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield is probably my favorite biography of the year.  Inspired by Chris’s childhood and his dreams of becoming an astronaut and his fear of the dark. So much to love about this book: themes of facing and overcoming your fears, dreaming big, not to mention the extraordinary illustrations by the Fan brothers, the adorable family pug, and the short bio at the back. Delightful!  

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Fabulous Frogs – Martin Jenkins

There are so many kinds of frogs in the world — more than 5,000! — and all of them are fabulous.  Gorgeous illustrations combined with great scientific information makes this a fantastic read-aloud for your primary classroom.  I love Martin Jenkins conversational style of writing and have used his previous books  (Emperor’s Egg and Chameleons Are Cool) for modelling “voice”.

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Fish Flying Frogs and Walking Fish: Leaping Lemurs, Tumbling Toads, Jet-Propelled Jellyfish, and More Surprising Ways That Animals Move   – Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

I am a huge fan of Steve Jenkins books as they make for such engaging read-alouds (perfect for practicing “Knew-New Connections”)  The collage illustrations and the fascinating tid-bits and details about creatures are eye-catching and brain busting!  LOVE!

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Animals By the Numbers – A Book of Animal Infographics – Steve Jenkins

How many species are there across the globe?   How much do all of the insects in the world collectively weigh? How far can animals travel?  This second Steve Jenkins book will appeal to your science buffs and makes for a great WOW read-aloud!  Informative and engaging, this amazing book is chocker-block full of scientific research, Jenkins signature collage illustrations and computer graphics.  Ah-mazing!

Giant Squid – Candace Flemming

Wow!  This book is filled with amazing facts, incredible imagery, and gorgeous, rhythmic text.   This introduction to the mysterious Giant Squid is a perfect book for questioning as it is filled with so many unknowns about these creatures. Incredible!

Metropolis – Benoit Tardif

Benoit Tardif introduces young readers to some of the major cities of the world. Each city contains basic facts (country where located, primary language(s) spoken, population) and then spotlights the city through colorful blocked simple illustrations of landmarks, sports, culture, food, and people.  Will inspire your young geographers!  This is a great anchor book for NF text features.

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Green City: How One Community Survived a Tornado and Rebuilt for a Sustainable Future – Allan Drummond

This interesting and inspiring nonfiction picture book would be a great starting point for discussions about what “going green” and sustainability mean. Told in a narrative style, this book tells the story of a small Kansas town that decides to build a “green city” after it was devastated by a tornado.

The Story of Seeds: From Mendel’s Garden to Your Plate, and How There’s More of Less to Eat Around the World – Nancy F. Castaldo

Wow!  Wow! Wow!  This book about the history and future of seeds is fascinating, inspirational and important. I learned so much from it – things about seeds I had never heard of: crop diversity, GMOs, biopiracy, how seed diversity affects the food on your plate, and how to get involved in saving the planet’s seeds.   Important call to action – this book would make an excellent resource for an inquiry into seeds in a middle school or high school.

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Monster Science – Could Monsters Survive (and Thrive!) in the Real World? –  Helaine Becker

A totally unique way of exploring science, this book uses a collection of classic monster examples to cover a wide and fascinating range of real science, mostly relating to anatomy and biology.  Engaging, humorous and fascinating!

The Polar Bear – Jenni Desmond

Oh, this book.  This book is extraordinary in so many ways….stunning illustrations, information presented in such an artistic way…immersion into the world and knowledge of the Polar Bear with a quiet message about climate change.   For those of you who loved Jenni Desmond’s The Blue Whale, this book is a must have.  Amazing facts will fill you and your students with wonder and awe.

           There you have it – my favorite Nonfiction Picture books for 2016.                             

What are your favorites?    

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Filed under Animals, Biography, New Books, Nonfiction, Nonfiction Picture Books, Science

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? New Picture Books for the 2015 Holiday Season

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It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

Well it’s that time of year when I share some new festive, winter books that are released in time for the holidays.  (Read my 3 part- blog post where I shared my favorite holiday classics here, here, and here if you would like to see more!)

Adorable book companion to the Toys Go Out series.  Lumphy, StingRay, and Plastic’s adventure in the snow.  Love these characters – such personality with great dialogue.  Gorgeous illustrations.
When Santa Was a Baby – Linda Bailey
Adorable! Beautiful vintage style illustrations and snappy, funny dialogue.  A great read-aloud and perfect for making connections!
Snow – Sam Usher
The awe, wonder and magic of a snow day, complete with animals in the zoo and toys that come to life.  Lovely child-grandparent relationship.
Rachel Rosenstein is a young girl who loves everything about Christmas- but her family doesn’t celebrate because she is Jewish. Perfect connections for those children whose familes celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas and a lovely introduction to other cultures.
Another great book celebrating both Hanukkah and Christmas.  Beautiful illustrations.
How to Catch Santa– Jean Reagan
Two sibling narrators give clever instructions and tips for “catching” Santa (be crafty! be clever! be gentle!) on Christmas Eve.  Delightful, excited “how to” voice, lovely illustrations, wonderful humor.  Love this one!
Canadian twist on “Jingle Bells” is a great companion to the popular Porcupine in a Pine Tree.   A perfect song to sing at your next Christmas concert!
Follow Juliette and her cousin as they collect Canadian gifts, including 6 Mounties marching and a loon in a maple tree, all the way from PEI to Vancouver.
Holiday addition to the popular Click Clack series.  Simple structure, repetition – great read-aloud!
Thanks for stopping by!  Which new holiday books will you be reading this season?

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Filed under 2015 releases, Holiday books, New Books

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday – New nonfiction titles for spring!

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I’m excited to be joining Alyson Beecher from Kid Lit Frenzy in this year’s Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2014  I’m hoping to discover many new nonfiction books that I can share with my students at school and with other teachers at workshops.  Link up here to join in!

This week I’m featuring some new nonfiction releases – several of which were sent to me to preview from one of my favorite Canadian-owned children’s publisher –  Kids Can Press.  

Animal ABC

Animal ABC – Marcus Pfister

Any of you who love alphabet books – this is a must for your collection!  I love the work of Marcus Pfister (Questions, Questions is one of my favorites!)  and in this book, he uses playful rhymes to highlight the distinct features of each animal.  K – “I carry my baby in a pouch.  I might look slow, but I’m no slouch.” (Kangaroo)  Of course the best part is that each rhyme is written as a riddle – so the book could be used for a guessing game for younger students as well.  The illustrations are amazing – so textured and colorful!  (Just a note – the book I have has a slightly different cover with different animals than the one shown here)

Secrets of the Seasons – Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

I’m a huge fan of any book related to seasons  so was happy to discover this new one to add to my large collection of season books!  This is a simple narrative text that includes Alice explaining to her friend Zack the reasons for the changing seasons.  I really liked how the scientific concepts were weaved through the narrative.  The illustrations are lovely and there are lots of great text features including charts and diagrams, and sidebars.  There are even two helpful and rather funny chickens who help Alice by providing more of the scientific details.  This would be a great book to read aloud to a primary class as an introduction to seasons and the earth’s yearly cycle.

 One World Together – Catherine and Laurence Anhalt

I love this husband and wife team from the UK and read many of their books to my boys when they were younger.  There is something very sweet and charming about the illustrations and the faces of the young children in their books.  In this delightful new book, we take a trip around the world to meet children from lots of different places and peek into their lives.  Every page is a new country and we see how children in different places in the world live, what they eat, where they live, etc.  It’s perfect for comparing our lives to the lives of children all over the world.  The countries featured are Brazil, China, Russia, Kenya, the Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, Morocco, and the United States. A great book to share to introduce a theme of cultural diversity to the younger children.

At the Same Moment, Around the World

At the Same Moment Around the World – Clotilde Perrin

This beautifully illustrated book teaches readers about time zones in a very unique way.  (Even the tall shape of the book is unique!)  The illustrations are lovely – they seem to flow into each other as you turn the pages.  In a 24 hour period, we travel around the world, hour by hour, visiting different time zones in different countries.  I loved how the book ends as it began – a circle of time – and that there is a map at the back.  (I love books with maps!)

Zoobots

Zoobots – Helaine Becker  (Kids Can Press)

A “ZOOBOT” is type of animal inspired robot designed using mechatronics – mechanical and electrical engineering combined with computer science. This sci-fi type book is set up like a animal book. On each page, we are introduced to a facts and stats about a different “zoobot” – and learn what animal it evolved from, its zoobot name, its super skill, its applications and its special operation. “Dash”, for example, is the robot that evolved from the cockroach)  I’m not a particular fan of robot design but I can see how this book would be VERY appealing to many kids I know!   Even though the zoobots are not actually real – the book is informative and intriguing!

Underworld: Exploring the Secret World Beneath Your Feet

Underworld – Exploring the Secret World Beneath Your Feet – Jane Price   (Kids Can Press)

WOW!  This book is fascinating!  I still have not read through every page because there is just so much to read and look at!  Who knew there were whole worlds hidden below the grass and streets?  From caves to subways to mines to tombs, dungeons, trenches and buried treasures!  WOW again!  This is a book that you can spend hours looking through (I already have!) Every 2-page spread features a different underground world.  The text is very accessible with many text features to help you navigate through the information.  The captions and fact boxes are entertaining.  I also loved the illustrations combined with many photographs. My favorite pages were the side view cross-sections.  AMAZING!

Plesiosaur Peril

Plesiousaur Peril – Daniel Loxton  (Kids Can Press)

Well, I am a little ashamed to admit that I did not know that plesiosaurs were ocean-dwelling cousins of the dinosaurs! But now I do – thanks to this book!  The story reads like a narrative, with many scientific facts woven throughout.  A pod of plesiosaurs keep safe by swimming in a family pod until one baby plesiosaur swims too far from its mother and encounters danger and the struggle for survival is on.  This story is quite dramatic at times and I found the digitalized computer generated created life-like images.  I am not a huge dinosaur fan but I know it will be a big hit for the dinosaur lovers at my school!

Shapes in Math, Science and Nature: Squares, Triangles and Circles

 Shapes in Math, Science and Nature – Katherine Sheldrick Ross  (Kids Can Press)

An awesome resource book for teaching concepts about shape – focusing on the Square, Triangle and Circle.  This book is overflowing with interesting information  – from the history of shapes to odd and interesting facts, as well as  instructions on how to make different shape-based projects.  There are even some magic tricks included!  (Super Circle on page 137 was a great trick!)  I’m not sure who will love this book more – kids or teachers!  The illustrations are charming and there is a great section at the back that lists math formulas.  Not a book to read cover to cover in one sitting but certainly one to pick and chose activities and facts to share.

Every Day Is Malala Day

Every Day is Malala Day – Rosemary McCarney

Malala Yousafzai is the 16 yr. old Pakistani student who was shot by the Taliban because she spoke out for the right to be able to attend school.  Recognized world wide for her courage and conviction, she is now a symbol of the struggle for girls’ rights all over the world.     Her story is one that every child should know and this book is a wonderful tribute to her continued fight for girls to be educated.  The book is beautiful.    It is written as a letter from girls around the world to Malala, as they express their sympathy and admiration for her.  It is powerful and emotional and a wonderful book for introducing students social justice and children’s rights.  This is a MUST book for every classroom!  A portion of proceeds of the sale of the book will go to  Because I am a Girl campaign.   You can watch an interview with Malala here

Well – it’s been a very exciting week of new nonfiction books!  Thanks for stopping by and please let me know what book has caught your eye!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Alphabet book, Mapping, Math, New Books, NFPB Challenge 2014, Nonfiction, Seasons, social justice, Social Studies