Wednesday, December 18, 2019

🎄Nonfiction Suggestions for Holiday Gift Giving 🕎

Here are some gift suggestions for fact loving readers of all ages on your holiday list! 

Don't Let Them Disappear: 12 Endangered Species Across the Globe
by Chelsea Clinton, illustrated by Gianna Marino
Philomel Books, 2019, 40 pages
As more creatures begin to disappear from the earth forever, this book looks at 12 familiar species from around the world that are getting closer and closer to becoming extinct themselves if nothing is done to try to save them. Giraffes, gorillas, blue whales, rhinoceroses, giant pandas, whale sharks, polar bears, lions, sea otters, orangutans, tigers, and elephants are all introduced with interesting facts and information about their individual characteristics. Included is how and where they live, the causes for us to be concerned about their dwindling numbers as well as their endangered status and, most importantly, which of them are at risk of disappearing, each one ending with the plea "Don't let them disappear!" Each species gets a two page spread accompanied by very appealing, colorful and emotional gouache illustrations. In addition to information about these creatures, Clinton includes a useful key defining the different levels of risk, ranging from not endangered to extinct. And back matter consists of reasons species are endangered, as well as a list of proactive suggestions that young people and their families can do. This is an excellent book to start a needed conversation with young people.

You Are Home: An Ode to the National Parks
written and illustrated by Evan Turk
Atheneum BFYR, 2019, 56 pages
It's a terrible possibility to think about, but our national parks may start disappearing one of these days. However, until that happens, they are here and they are wonderful. In this book, using simple free verse sentences, just a few lines on each two page spread, Turk repeats the titular phrase You Are Home throughout, as he paints a breathtakingly beautiful picture of life in each of 23 out of our 60 different National Parks, from the chipmunk sleeping in her burrow in Shenandoah and prowling bobcats in Yosemite to the ancient rock carvings in Mesa Verde National Park and "the child whose ancestors/ lived on these lands before/ the stars and stripes/ took them as their own: YOU ARE STILL HOME." In fact, poem and pictures instill in the reader that same sense of belonging regardless of who you are and where you live. Readers are reminded that there is "a sense of belonging/ sung by the streams,/ from valleys to peaks,/ through millions of hearts." Back matter includes A Note From the Author, a Map showing the location of all 60 National Parks and More About the Parks And Animals In This Book. This book is too sophisticated for my young readers, but I spent a lot of time myself reading the text and exploring the stunningly textured illustrations done with pastel on black paper. I can guarantee, you will, too.

Surprising Stories Behind Everyday Stuff 
by Stephanie Warren Drimmer
National Geographic Kids, 2019, 256 pages
I'm known among friends as the Duck Tape Queen because I truly believe a roll of this wonderful silver tape can be used to fix everything, so naturally I had to known the original of it. It is a miracle tape that was developed during WWII and it even saved the lives of three Apollo 13 astronauts in 1970. And this is just one of the fact you will find in this chockablock books of fascinating origin stories. From peanuts butter to jeans to holidays and traditions, this book has it all. This small 7'x7' book is divided by category into 10 chapters, each with the beginnings of 10 related items. There are plenty of full color photographs and sidebars with additional information throughout. This is the kind of book I would have loved as a young reader, and would have enjoyed reading it them as much as I have. It is an ideal gift idea that can provide hours of fun for the whole family, at home or on a trip (in fact, my Kiddo asked if she could have it to read on her plane trip back to China and to use in her classes over there). 

Your Amazing Digestion From Mouth Through Intestine
by Joanne Settel, PhD, illustrated by Steve Björkman
Atheneum BFYR, 2019, 112 pages
This may look like an odd book to include on a holiday gift suggestion list, but I suspect there is more than one kid out there who has questions about what happens to the food we eat after it is swallowed.  Well, here are the answers, all in kid friendly terms. The book is divided into five parts, written in iambic couplets (no easy task for a nonfiction book), with "Cool Facts" prose sidebars giving even more information. Beginning with nutrition, Settel explains what is in the food we eat, the carbs, the proteins, the fats, the vitamins and minerals. From there, she goes through each part of the digestive process from tasting to swallowing to what happens in your stomach to waste, looking at a variety of issues related to each step, issues like why chili makes you sweat, why milk comes out of your nose when you laugh, why your stomach gurgles, and why poop can smell so bad. These are important things, things kids wonder and sometimes laugh about. So naturally, Settel uses humor in her text, and Björkman's watercolor, pen, and ink spot illustrations reflect both the humor and the serious side of what is being said. Back matter includes an extensive Glossary, suggestions For More Information, References and Additional Reading and an Index. 

Suffragette: The Battle for Equality 
written and illustrated by David Roberts
Walker Books, 2019, 128 pages
One of the things we've learned in recent elections is that women and their vote can make a big difference. In this compelling history of the women who endeavored to get the right to vote, young readers will discover the roots to that struggle in both the United Kingdom and the United States and meet the women who made it finally happen. Roberts begins his history by defining just what suffrage is, then beginning in 1832, he traces the fight for the right to vote chronically, focusing in the many different women suffragettes on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as some of the men who vehemently did not want women to have a franchise. The writing is straightforward and Roberts makes a complex topic quite understandable for young readers. His watercolor, ink and pencil illustrations done in a soft pastel palette are just exquisitely rendered - there is a certain delicacy together with a strength of determination that is unmistakable. This is a book that is so chockablock with information that it will require more than one reading to take it all in. This is a wonderful gift for anyone, but especially a young girl who is just beginning to take a greater interest in the world around her and who will be voting someday soon. Personally, every time I stand on line waiting to cast my vote, I think about those brave women who came before me. And now I have an even clearer picture of The Battle for Equality.

Leading the Way: Women in Power
by Janet Howell and Teresa Howell.
illustrated by Kylie Akia and Alexandra Bye
Candlewick Press, 2019, 144 pages
Meet the fifty women whom Janet Howell has chosen to honor in this anthology, which has been published in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote. Included are women politicians, like feminist Bella Abzug, Tammy Duckworth, who was a Lieutenant Colonel in the army before she was a Congresswoman and later a Senator from Illinois. Also represented are people like Madeleine Albright, US ambassador to the UN, and US Secretary of State under President Clinton; activist and journalist Ida B. Wells-Barnett (yeah, I didn't who she was either, but I do now), Supreme Court Justice and Nancy Drew fan Sonia Sotomayor and her fellow Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Young readers will meet women mayors and governors, gutsy ladies like Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Jordan - all leaders, all trailblazers who made a difference in some way for today's young people. Back matter includes A Take Action Guide, and More Leaders to Discover. Each luminary is highlighted with a digitally rendered illustration and colorful circular Power Symbols that represent their specific character qualities, such as Integrity, Persistence, and Courage among others (there is a key at the beginning of this book). Pair this with Suffragette: The Battle for Equality for a well-rounded history of women and the fight for equality.

Encyclopedia of American Indian History & Culture:
Stories, Timelines, Maps, and More
by Cynthia O'Brien
National Geographic Society, 2019, 304 pages
As our awareness of this country's indigenous peoples comes more and more to the fore, I think we often realize how little non-Natives know about the history and culture of these very diverse people beyond the usual stereotypes we've been given. Now, here is a book that can help  change that. It is an encyclopedic introduction to more than 160 federally recognized tribes, and is divided into eight geographical regions - the Arctic and Subarctic, the Northeast, The Southeast, the Plains, the Southwest, the Great Basin and Plateau, the Northwest Coast, and California. There is a guide that explains how to use this book, followed by an Introduction, and a wonderful full-color map that shows where the eight different regions are. Readers will discover the stories, the history, the religion, culture, and more about the Native Americans in each region, and how their way of life had adapted to the different conditions in each one. As you would expect from a National Geographic publication, there are copious color and black and white photographs, as well as maps and timelines. Back matter includes a Glossary and a list of all the Federally Recognized Tribes. My kids are a little young for this book, but we've read most of the stories that are included and they really enjoyed them, which led to conversations about Native Americans, including the stereotypes they are already familiar with. I've also lent this book to older kids who used it for school during Native American Heritage Month (November), and their response to it was really positive. While it is not a in-depth look at each tribe included, it is a good stepping stone for more detailed information.It's a big, heavy book, but I keep it on the coffee table for people to pick up and go through.

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