Nonfiction Wednesday – January 13, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2016 is a weekly celebration of imaginative children’s nonfiction materials hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy.

I’ve only got one book to share this week (it’s been a bit of a crazy week!) but it’s a good one!


Title: Tastes Like Music : 17 Quirks of the Brain and Body
Author: Maria Birmingham / Illustrator:  Monika Melnychuk
Publisher: Owl Kids
Publication Date: 2014
Genre/Format: Nonfiction

My Two Cents: Sometimes getting books into the hands of skeptical young readers can take a bit of subterfuge on the part of the crafty, determined teacher or librarian. Last week I relied on the appeal of a video game to get a National Geographic book past the reluctant reader gates, and this week I’m relying on the almost universal childhood interest in all things weird to book talk this Red Cedar-award nominated nonfiction title.

Tastes Like Music is an ode to the human body, and in particular to individuals whose bodies function in unique and unusual ways. Author Maria Birmingham introduces a number of wacky and wonderful quirks of the human body, some of which children might be familiar with (sleepwalking, for example, or being double jointed), and other which are likely to be entirely unfamiliar (such as tetrachromacy, which is the ability to see the world in one hundred million colours, while the average person only sees about one million). Humorous illustrations help explain each condition, while information is presented in clear, easy to read paragraphs, ideal for children who may be intimidated by longer texts.

Tastes Like Music is significant too in that it is a very positive text – no one with these conditions is presented in any way as being a “weirdo” or a “freak”. The illustrations are diverse, with a wide range of individuals represented. In fact, the author herself is included as an example of an individual with an usual condition, as she has isolated congenital anosmia, and is entirely unable to smell. Individuals with these “quirks” are just like you and me, the text suggests, they just live their life in different ways because their bodies work in different ways.

I’m always delighted to celebrate Canadian literature, and not only is Tastes Like Music written by and published by Canadians, it is also in the running for a Red Cedar award for nonfiction in 2015-2016. If you aren’t familiar with the Red Cedar awards, they are children’s choice book awards in the Canadian province of British Columbia. You can find out more about the awards and this year’s nominees on their website, at

So let me know, what great nonfiction titles have you been exploring this week?


15 thoughts on “Nonfiction Wednesday – January 13, 2016

  1. I can see why a reluctant reader might love this, Jane, but others, too. There is a fiction book that students have loved by Wendy Maas, A Mango-Shaped Space, about synesthesia. I imagine once you start talking about these ‘quirks’, students will share about their own special things. Thanks very much for sharing!


    • It’s a lot of fun, and the author includes little interviews with people with rare or unusual conditions, which makes them more relatable. It’s also pretty fun that the author has included herself in the book, too! It’s nice to get to know an author a bit better.


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