For the last five years, Cathy Mere at Reflect and Refine
and Mandy Robek at Enjoy and Embrace
Learning have hosted the "Picture Book 10 for 10" where they invite people to select picture books they couldn't live without. I love this day because I always get lots of terrific ideas for new books I want to own and share with kids! And I hate this day because I always get lots of terrific ideas for books I want to own and share with kids! Seriously, this is probably one of my favorite days of the year! Head over to Cathy and Mandy's blogs for a roundup of the lists!
IF: A MIND-BENDING WAY OF LOOKING AT BIG IDEAS AND BIG NUMBERS
by David J. Smith
When I taught fourth grade, my students loved David J. Smith's IF AMERICA WERE A VILLAGE and IF THE WORLD WERE A VILLAGE. Now Smith is back to address the idea of scale in ways that kids can really understand. Each two-page spread takes on a different topic- e.g.
- If the events of the last 3000 years were shrunk into a single month
- If the surface of the Earth were shrunk to fit onto two pages of this book.
- If all the water on the earth were represented by 100 glasses.
- If the average life expectancy were represented by footprints in the sand
- If all the food consumed around the world in one year were represented by a loaf with 25 slices
Smith's engaging text is accompanied by Steve Adams' infographic illustrations. Absolutely perfect! Might be my nominee for CYBILS NONFICTION this year!
FISH FOR JIMMY- Katie Yamasaki
Taro and Jimmy's parents immigrate from Japan to California, where they operate a successful vegetable stand until the boys' father is taken to prison after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Soon afterward, Taro, Jimmy, and their mother are taken to an interment camp. Jimmy, the younger brother, will not eat the unfamiliar American food, so Taro sneaks out to capture fish for his brother. FISH FOR JIMMY is based on events from the life of Yamasaki's great grandfather, Anko Hirashiki, who is pictured in the back of the book. Taro is her grandfather's cousin, who actually snuck out of an internment camp to find fish for his son. Katie Yamasaki is a well-known muralist and applies her gorgeous art on a smaller scale to the illustrations in this book. I'll pair this with one of my all time favorites, BASEBALL SAVED US. This book was reviewed in the NY Times
THOMAS JEFFERSON- LIFE, LIFERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF EVERYTHING
This new picture book biography captures many different facets of Jefferson's life as a lover of books, inventor, gardener, musician, and oh yes, author of the Declaration of Independence and president of the United States. It also addresses Jefferson's dark side as a slave owner and his relationship with Sally Hemings. The layout of this book and the interesting fonts are going to make this a favorite with middle grade readers. Great voice for a mentor text. It will work well with THOMAS JEFFERSON BUILDS A LIBRARY,
which was on my list of favorite nonfiction picture books last winter.
HOW TO MAKE THE UNIVERSE WITH 92 ELEMENTS- Adrian Dingle
OK, so this one hundred page introduction to the Periodic Table is a little long for a picture book, but it's too good to leave off of this list. The book has an introduction, then four chapters, consisting of multiple two-page spreads. "Space, Earth, and Nature" includes Let's Rock
, Oceans and Seas
, and Make your Own Human Being
. "Daily Life" has sections on money, matches, and milk and cookies. "Materials" includes Fun with Fireworks, Skyscrapers
, and Dazzling with Diamond.
"Cool Machines" features computers, television, and nuclear fusion and fission. I'm sharing this one with middle and high school science teachers! Tons of great read aloud material!
EYE TO EYE - Steve Jenkins
And of course I can't create a list of favorite picture books without my all time favorite nonfiction picture book author, Steve Jenkins. EYE TO EYE: HOW ANIMALS SEE THE WORLD is chockful of interesting information about animal eyes. The tuatura, for example, has a third eye on top of it's head. The halibut is born with eyes on both sides of head, but one eye gradually migrates until both eyes on same side (ew!). The tarsier has the largest eye relative to the size of its body of any mammal, with each eyeball larger than its brain. Back matter includes the evolution of the eye and animal facts. You might also want to check out another newish Steve Jenkins' book, THE ANIMAL BOOK. It's also terrific!
TUESDAY TUCKS ME IN
by Luis Carlos Montalvan
There's no way I could create a list of picture books without at least one dog book. About two years ago, I reviewed Luis Carlos Montalvan's adult memoir, UNTIL TUESDAY.
Montalvan is a veteran who suffered from severe PTSD until a service dog named Tuesday came into his life. I loved that book, but I love the picture book, with full color photographs of Tuesday, even more!
I AM ROSA PARKS by Brad Meltzer
I have to confess, I almost didn't pick this up. The cover and size just didn't seem all that appealing. Boy, am I glad I had a minute to spare, because this series is terrific. Brad Meltzer is best known for his adult mysteries and thrillers. Several years ago, he was looking for heroines for his daughter, and couldn't find much beyond Disney princesses and decided he needed to write a few biographies for children. I AM ROSA PARKS follows this great American from childhood. It's written in the first person and the voice is terrific, a great model for biography writers all the way into middle school. Others in this series: I AM ABRAHAM LINCOLN, and I AM AMELIA EARHART. I AM ALBERT EINSTEIN is coming this fall and others will follow. For an interview with Brad about these biographies, read here.
THE MAN WITH THE VIOLIN- Kathy Stinson
This fictional picture book is based on the true story of American violinist, Joshua Bell, who took his Stradivarius to a Washington D.C. subway station and played for several hours. People pay more than $100 a ticket to hear Bell play, but this day, at the subway station, more than one thousand people rushed by, but only a few, mostly children, stopped to listen and at the end of the day, Bell had only $32 in his violin case. End pages include photographs and an interview of Bell. I could see using this book in a writers' workshop mini-lesson on how writers pay attention to what is going on around them.
A GLASS- Etienne Delessert
Etienne Delesseret's mother died in childbirth and about three years later, his father remarried the only mother Delesseret ever knew. The family, like most families, had some rocky times, and the title of the book comes from an argument in which Delesseret's stepmother actually hurtled a glass across the room. Surprisingly, the glass didn't break and still sits on the author's desk today. Every child that comes from a blended family, and every stepmother, or
adoptive mother, will flinch when they read the oh-too-familiar words,
"You're not my mother!" Great mentor text for teaching memoir and the last line will be perfect for teaching kids about endings or about life lessons.
RAZIA'S RAY OF HOPE- Elizabeth Suneby
Razia is a young Afghani girl who desperately wants to go to school. The male members of her family are strongly opposed to this until a situation arises where Razia really needs to be able to read. Loosely based on the work of Razia Jan, an Afghan native and humanitarian who spent much of her life in the United States, and recently moved back to her country to found the Zabuli Education Center. A terrific jumping off place for discussions about the value of education or advocacy or real world heroes!