Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cybils Nonfiction Picture Book Nominations

 The mangrove tree: Planting trees to feed families by Cindy Trumbore, illustrated by Susan Roth

The Text: There are two threads of text running through this story. The basic story is told in a “This is the house that Jack built” style, with the mangrove trees that saved the people as the central players. This rhythmic text is placed on the background of illustrations. To the right of each spread, the story is told in more detail, about Dr. Gordon Sato, who taught the people of Hargigo on the Eritrean coast to grow mangrove trees, end the famine and fight back against poverty.

The Illustrations: Roth’s paper and fabric illustrations are warm backgrounds for the simple cumulative verse. She blends a surprising amount of detail into her simple textured illustrations and they are a good fit for the verse and more detailed information.

The Extras: Further information, background, photographs, sources and more are included in the lengthy afterword.

Verdict: A nice combination of verse for younger children and information for older children with plenty of additional information. However, I'm always wondering if these "activism" books really have a long enough shelf life to justify their purchase. Will kids still be interested in this movement in five years? Ten? Am I prejudiced because I don't personally care for Roth's illustration style? I'm not sure - you decide.

ISBN: 978-1600604591; Published May 2011 by Lee & Low; Borrowed from the library

Saving animals from oil spills by Stephen Person

 This latest addition to the Rescuing animals from disasters series focuses on the Gulf oil spill in 2010. Person takes us through real-life rescue stories, a simple explanation of the oil spill’s causes, how oil damages sea life, especially birds and turtles, and how rescue workers clean and return animals to the wild.

There is an overview of other oil spills, information on long-term damages, and stories of animals rescued from various oil spills. The facts are amply illustrated with a variety of photographs.

The Extras: As always, Bearport has a good selection of additional information, glossary, sources, and websites.

Verdict: This is an excellent title, not so specific that it will be outdated, but with plenty of up-to-date information. Recommended

ISBN: 978-1617722882; Published August 2011 by Bearport; Review copy provided by publisher

  Eco dogs by Judith Bauer Stamper

This latest addition to the Dog Heroes series brings together Bearport’s high interest subjects, photographs, and plentiful information to create another popular and well-written title.
The book features a variety of dogs who have been trained in search and detections that aid ecological research and rescue. 

Python Pete, a beagle, searches for Burmese Pythons, an invasive species in the Everglades, Jamberry, a black lab, helps scientists count seals in the Arctic. Some dogs help find turtle nests, some track scat for wildlife researchers. Information on the dogs' training and how they work, their teams, and how they are used in wildlife enforcement and scientific research is included throughout the book

The Extras: More facts about eco dogs, glossary, additional websites and bibliographies, are also included.

Verdict: This high-interest series will be a hit with kids who like animals and dramatic stories. 

ISBN: 978-1617721526; Published January 2011 by Bearport; Borrowed from the library

 First garden: The White House garden and how it grew by Robbin Gourley

The story begins with a brief introduction to the White Houses’ history and grounds, including a list of all the children who used its outdoor gardens. The author next introduces us to the current presidential family, the Obamas, and Michelle Obama’s decision to create a kitchen garden. More history on White House gardens is interspersed with the creation of the current garden by Mrs. Obama and some of the children from Bancroft Elementary School. Now the garden produces food for the White House, a nonprofit organization called Miriam’s Kitchen, and is a tourist destination for many people around the world

Gourley’s simple watercolors emphasize the colors and shapes of the garden and vegetables. Some of the spreads include quotes about the White House in italicized font around the edges of the picture. Some of the portraits of various historical figures have captions, which they need as it can be difficult to identify them from the washed-out features.

The Extras: Additional tips on gardening, healthy eating, and recipes from the White House are included as well as extensive further resources and websites.

Verdict: An interesting book, but will quickly be outdated when the White House occupants change. An additional purchase.

ISBN: 978-0547482248; Published April 2011 by Clarion; Borrowed from the library

How the weather works: A hands-on guide to our changing climate by Christiane Dorion, illustrated by Beverley Young

The Text and Illustrations: The text and illustrations in this book are smoothly integrated. Chunks of text are crammed together with small illustrations, flaps, pull tabs, and other moving parts to create a picture of the science of weather and changing climates. A general explanation of weather is followed by more detailed explanations of the water cycle, weather fronts, winds, meteorology, weather disasters, climate, a timeline of weather history, and a final section on global climate change.
Each spread is full of information, moving parts, illustrations, and text. The font is a casual script that looks hand-written and the pictures are colorful and cheerful.

The Extras: There are no sources or bibliographical information.

Verdict: This is an excellent introduction to weather, packed full of information, facts, and pictures. However, the moving parts make it a doubtful choice for a library and despite the title there is little information about climate change. There are quite a few general weather books out there that would be more long-lasting. This might be a good gift for a child interested in weather and science.

ISBN: 978-0763652623; Published February 2011 by Templar; Borrowed from the library

 Jane brocket’s clever concepts: Ruby, Violet, Lime, Looking for Color; Spiky, Slimy, Smooth, What is Texture

Both of these books are photographic delights and present an unusual look at concepts. A readable font presents short chunks of text about various textures and colors, “Raw eggs are wobbly and runny and slimy. They feel very funny.” and “Orange is hot and fiery. Copper berries, a tangerine sunset, amber peppers, and flame-colored flowers make every season feel warm.” The adjectives introduced in each section of text are highlighted in different colors. The text is a great introduction to a huge variety of vocabulary words describing colors and textures. The real stars of these books, however, are Jane Brocket’s photographs, chock full of color and texture. 

Verdict: These books are a visual feast, perfect for a storytime, classroom project, or reading on your own. Recommended.

Ruby Violet Lime
ISBN: 978-0761346128; Published September 2011 by Millbrook; Borrowed from the library

Spiky Slimy Smooth
ISBN: 978-0761346142; Published March 2011 by Millbrook; Borrowed from the library

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