Monday, April 14, 2014

Nonfiction Monday: Beneath the Sun by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Constance Bergum

I am so excited to be on the blog tour for Melissa Stewart's latest seasonal/habitat book in the series that includes When Rain Falls and Under the Snow. Somehow I've never gotten around to reviewing either of those titles, although I use them regularly in storytime and they are everything I want in a nonfiction picture book. Happily, Beneath the Sun is equally delightful.

The book opens with a look at what kids do on a hot day - but what do animals do? The rest of the book covers a wide range of habitats and creatures from earthworms and golden eagles to frogs and sea stars. The simple text not only describes what they do in the heat, "A golden eagle soars through the cool air high above the desert." but also adds facts about the animals "Its thick feathers shield its skin from the sun's hot rays.

Bergum's watercolors have muted colors and softened lines and backgrounds, but keep the focus firmly on the various animals featured in each illustrations. Many of the spreads are divided into a smaller side panel with a second animal or text or a continuation of the illustration in the larger panel. I'm often not a fan of watercolors for nonfiction books because they all tend to blur together, but as you can see even in the cover illustration, the animals are clearly identifiable.

When I'm looking for nonfiction for storytime (both in-house and outreach) I'm often looking less for nonfiction narratives and more for books that will spark off a dialogue. That's what makes Stewart's books so versatile. You can read them straight through as a story, or you can use them to engage the audience. I always ask the kids to try to identify the animals and offer guesses on their behavior and adaptations; how do they think they're keeping cool? for example. Then, after reading the text we'll repeat and explain the unfamiliar words.

Verdict: If you're trying to add more nonfiction to your storytimes, or planning your summer storytimes, this is the perfect addition. Kids love identifying the animals and learning about their different behaviors and the tie-in to their own behavior in the summer is a great early literacy connection. A must for your library connection and highly recommended for use in storytimes.

ISBN: 978156145335; Published April 2014 by Peachtree; Review copy provided by the publisher and donated to the library

For more information about Melissa Stewart, her books, and lots of helpful science information, check out Melissa Stewart's Science Clubhouse

Next stops on the blog tour
Monday - Blue Owl
Tuesday – Geo Librarian
Wednesday- Kid Lit Reviews
Thursday- Tolivers to Texas and Chat with Vera
Friday- Sally’s Bookshelf

And for more on Peachtree's great nonfiction offerings, check out The World of Peachtree Publishers

1 comment:

Resh said...

Nice! A story-time friendly non-fiction series is just what we need! I used only picture book biographies so far because I couldn't find a non-fiction that could hold attention. Thanks for recommending this series.
-Reshama @Stackingbooks