Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday – November 11, 2016

nonfictionNonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2015 is a weekly celebration of imaginative children’s nonfiction materials hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy.

Title: Hello World! Greetings in 43 Languages
Author/Illustrator: Manya Stojic
Publisher: Boxer Books (England) / Scholastic (United States)
Publication Date: 2009
Genre/Format: Nonfiction/Picture Book 
Publisher’s SummaryTake a trip around the world and learn to say “hello” in 42 different languages! This book features vibrant paintings of children from across the globe, simple translations, and pronounciation keys! Bonjour! Hola! Konnichiwa! Learn how to say “hello” in French, Spanish, Japanese—and many more languages! Children from all around the world say “hello” each in their own languages, each and every day. Each page includes a greeting translated in a different language with easy-to-pronounce phonetic spellings.

My Two Cents: This simple picture book is a collection of greetings from around the world – 43 beautiful, happy children saying hello in their different languages. Each picture includes a handy pronunciation guide, but it would have been helpful if Stojic had indicated where each language originates (some of the languages are less familiar to Western readers, like Mandika and Bafia, and teachers/librarians might want to prepare themselves by consulting an atlas, as they are likely to get questions from curious readers!) I like that the illustrations show children in generic contemporary clothes – books about countries around the world often depict children in traditional clothing, which is informative but doesn’t necessarily reflect their modern reality. It’s easy for kids to relate to the children in these pictures, because the emphasis is on their faces, rather than on their costumes. My one finicky little caveat is that most of the Asian children are shown with thin slits for eyes, which is a little stereotypical. Still, I like that there is a bit of variety in how the children are depicted, that is, not all the Europeans are shown with pale skin, blond hair and yellow eyes, which I think better represents the realities of modern Europe.

Title: If…..A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers
Author: David J. Smith

Illustrator: Steve Adams
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication Date: 2014
Genre/Format: Nonfiction/Picture Book 
Publisher’s SummarySome things are so huge or so old that it’s hard to wrap your mind around them. But what if we took these big, hard-to-imagine objects and events and compared them to things we can see, feel and touch? Instantly, we’d see our world in a whole new way.” So begins this endlessly intriguing guide to better understanding all those really big ideas and numbers children come across on a regular basis. Author David J. Smith has found clever devices to scale down everything from time lines (the history of Earth compressed into one year), to quantities (all the wealth in the world divided into one hundred coins), to size differences (the planets shown as different types of balls). Accompanying each description is a kid-friendly drawing by illustrator Steve Adams that visually reinforces the concept. By simply reducing everything to human scale, Smith has made the incomprehensible easier to grasp, and therefore more meaningful. The children who just love these kinds of fact-filled, knock-your-socks-off books will want to read this one from cover to cover. It will find the most use, however, as an excellent classroom reference that can be reached for again and again when studying scale and measurement in math, and also for any number of applications in social studies, science and language arts. For those who want to delve a little deeper, Smith has included six suggestions for classroom projects. There is also a full page of resource information at the back of the book.

My Two Cents: Woah…This book is mind-blowing! Abstract concepts or massive numbers are made tangible through real-life examples and illustrations. For example, if your whole life could be represented by a pizza divided into twelve slices, 4 slices would represent the time you spend at work or school, 4 slices would represent time spent in bed, and 1 slice would represent the time spent cooking and eating (among other slices!!) How cool is that?? As I child I really struggled to visualize numbers – the weight of a blue whale in tonnes meant nothing to me, but I could visualize an equivalent number of African elephants. This is a particularly valuable books for visual learners like myself, who learn best through through observing. The author has included a number of extension activity suggestions to help students explore and understand concepts of scale.

So, which nonfiction books have caught your eye this week?