Monday, April 24, 2017

READING FOR RESEARCH BOOK REVIEWS - Post #9

Today's topic for book reviews for ReFoReMo 2017 is Nonfiction.   


GIANT SQUID by Candice Fleming

Lyrical prose and amazing illustrations teach children about giant squids, one of the big mysteries of the ocean. Much is known about them, but so much is left to be learned.

The last four pages of the book are packed with information about giant squids, including a diagram with labeled parts. Also, two of the pages in the book unfold to reveal a giant squid illustration which is very striking.

I'M TRYING TO LOVE SPIDERS by Bethany Barton

Do you like spiders? I don't. I really, really, don't like spiders. I try to like spiders, but it's really hard to do.

This is a great book for anyone who doesn't like spiders (like myself). It's filled with wonderful illustrations and interesting facts and trivia about spiders.

The text is written with humor as the person who is "trying to love spiders" keeps smashing them and then apologizing for doing so. But, in the process, the person becomes a bit less squeamish and more appreciative of these 8-legged critters.

It can be difficult to love spiders, but when you think about how helpful they can be maybe you can come to love them, or at least, not be afraid of them.

The front and back matter of the book has drawings of a variety of different spiders. The illustrations throughout the book are colorful and expressive. Kids are sure to love them (the illustrations, if not the spiders)!

INFINITY AND ME by Kate Hosford

Have you ever stopped to think about what infinity is? Uma has. One night when she sits under the stars, she wonders how many stars there are. Are there an infinite number of stars?

She asks some people how they think of infinity. One person says it's just a number that keeps growing and growing. Another person thinks of it in terms of the symbol which she says looks like the number 8 turned over on its side to take a nap so it looks like a racetrack that you can drive around forever and ever. It seems like everybody has a different idea of what infinity is.

That's the beauty of the word and the concept. It can be thought of in many different ways. Author Kate Hosford does a great job of describing and defining the term without being boring, preachy or know-it-all. The illustrations by  Gabi Swiatkowska go perfectly with the text. The author also includes an Authors Note in the back of the book with some more thoughts and information about infinity.

This would be a great book to use in the classroom when discussing the concept of infinity.

MERKAT MAIL by Emily Gravett

When Sunny's house gets a bit crowded and things get a bit cozy, Sunny decides to go looking for a different place to live. He spends time with different relatives. Even though he is welcomed everywhere he goes, he can't find a place where he feels like he fits in. There's only one place where that happens. I'm sure you can guess where that is.

While we read about Sunny, we learn a bit about the different habitats of merkats. The text is enhanced with lift-the-flap postcards that Sunny writes to his family from the places he visits.


Isatou lives in Gambia. Her family and people in her village are very poor. When Isatou finds a plastic bag on the ground, she is grateful to have it because her basket is broken and can no longer be used. But, when the bag gets a hole in it, what is she to do with it? When her basket broke, she just threw it on the ground where it would rot back into the earth in a short time. But when she throws the used plastic bag on the ground, it stays there, for a very long time.

Over time, many more plastic bags end up on the ground. They they soon become a problem. The ground is covered with them. Goats who eat them die. They are just a mess. But, what can Isatou do about it?

This is a story about how people in a village figured out how to overcome a problem and turn it into something good. It's a great lesson for everyone.

The story is well-written and has some great repetition, and the story is based on real events. Author Miranda Paul uses some foreign words in the text. She provides a glossary of the words at the end of the book. She also provides an author's not about Gambria, West Africa.

OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW by Kate Messner

As dad and child glide over the snow on their skis, where they see birds and animals going about their business, numerous other animals are living their lives deep beneath the snow where they can't be seen.

This is a lyrical look at the world under the ground, where life goes on unseen. An Author's Note at the end of the book provides additional information about animals who live above and below the ground.

RAINDROPS ROLL by April Pulley Sayre

Author April Pulley Sayre takes the reader on a lyrical and pictorial tour of raindrops. She incorporates the elements of lyrical prose, some rhyming text, and beautiful photographs to talk about raindrops. She has taken an otherwise ordinary event and turned it into something magical.

She includes an Authors Note at the back of the book that explains some of the science behind rain and raindrops.


A behind-the-scenes look at how the members of a philharmonic orchestra prepare for a concert. The author takes us from bath time, to actually getting dressed, to traveling to the auditorium, to getting ready for playing and then to the start of the concert.

The text and illustrations work well together to make what could otherwise being a rather boring ritual seem like fun for kids. I know kids will love all the talk about taking baths or showers and getting dried off and getting undergarments on. But, for me, I think the story/narration would have been just a good with a little less detail and description about that part. But, like I said, I'm sure kids will love it.

I love the last line of the book: "They are the members of the Philharmonic Orchestra, and their work is to play. Beautifully."

WATER IS WATER by Miranda Paul

This book takes a look at water and where it comes from. Author Miranda Paul uses delightful, lyrical verse to explain what water is and the many types of water that exist - ice, steam, rain, etc.

The book begins: "Drip. Sip. Pour me a cup. Water is water unless...it heats up" (then you get steam). Steam then changes into clouds. Each type of water is illustrated with lyrical, rhyming verse and also illustrated with detailed, life-like pictures (by Jason Chin).

There are four pages in the back of the book called "More About Water." These pages include great reference material about different types of water, a chart showing that almost everything contains water, a map of the world showing water on the earth's surface, a paragraph about why water is important, a list of books for "Further Reading" and a "Select Bibliography."

This book would make a great addition to teaching and reference materials for students learning about the water cycle.

WHAT IN THE WORLD? by Nancy Raines Day

The book starts out: "What in the world comes one by one? A nose. A mouth. The moon. The sun?"

This format, with the words "What in the world" starts each stanza, with one stanza used for each of the numbers 1 through 10. Each stanza also rhymes.


This is a delightful, lyrical, rhyming look at nature by the numbers.


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