Monday, March 24, 2008

Non-Fiction Monday

I promised you the rest of the Cybils books and then never delivered, didn't I? Well, have no fear, my opinion is here!

Also, my Top 9 for March is up at the Biblio File store. Check it out!

But first, I showed a bunch of kids the Glister books. They have pronounced them "Awesome" and "Totally cool."

Marie Curie: Giants of Science #4 Kathleen Krull

A very well done biography of the chemist Marie Curie. I learned a lot I didn't know and Curie's life is always easy to book talk to kids who need a biography. She's not well known and she's, you know AWESOME. Krull makes this fascinating story accessible and engaging. The only problem is kid appeal-- kids will LOVE it if they ever read it, but I don't seem them ever reading it unless they have to. Curie's not famous enough and the book itself isn't eye-candy enough for them to pull it off the shelf. Also, some photos would have been nice.

The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain

When I was in the 4th grade, one day we were lining up in the cafeteria to go outside for lunch-time recess. Miss Anderson (who I would have for 6th grade, but now her name is Mrs. Gosz and she teaches kindergarten) came in to tell us that the Berlin Wall was being torn down. It was the first time I had ever heard of the Berlin Wall. She was extremely frustrated that this room full of kids had no idea the history that was taking place at the moment.

Peter Sis understood. He grew up in Prague, during the Cold War. This autobiography straddles the line between graphic novel, biography, and picture book. He tells the story of a little boy who wanted to draw, of having to draw approved things, of getting in trouble for drawing the wrong thing. He tells of the story of trying to escape, of Western music, of crackdowns, of neighbors spying on neighbors.

The book is scant on background information though, so, like the 4th grader I used to be, it might confuse some children. It's beautiful and well done, but the older audience it's aimed at might need some selling, as it looks like a picture book on the surface.

Smart-opedia: The Amazing Book About Everything

This is more of a browsing book then a sit-down and read book. Think DK Eyewitness style to a bunch of different topics. It's a fun read, but I had 2 main complaints:

1. It's heavily illustrated with cartoon-y pictures, and real photographs would have worked just as well and would have been better.

2. Because it covers everything, it doesn't cover anything in depth. Because of this, some things are glossed over to the point of no longer being entirely correct. They're not wrong, but they're not right either, you know? You lose the subtleties of a situation.

And there's the nonfiction report!

Picture Book of the Day has the round up!

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