Nonfiction Monday: Swirl by Swirl

What do you love in nature?  Are you keen on spider webs in early morning dew, a spiral shell found on the beach, or the spirals found in the ocean or rivers?  If so, you will love, love, this Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beth Krommes.    

This new non-fiction book which was originally nominated in the Poetry category for the CYBILS.  Sadly, I had to move it to the NFPB category as it was a single poem.  Poetry is all about the poetry collections. Each page is a two page spread in which the words and wood-graving illustrations swirl in and out of each other.

It begins:

“A spiral is a snuggling shape.
It fits neatly
in small places.
Coiled tight,
warm and safe,
it waits….

The accompanied illustrations show a woodland scene both above and underground. Readers see the tight coils of the bull snake, the eastern chipmunk, and the woodchuck as the slumber in winter. The next pages show the animals as they have “a chance to expand.” by wakening for spring.

From ferns to ocean waves, underwater creatures to creatures of the jungle, readers will be engaged with both text and pictures for hours on end.  A bonus is that the flora and fauna are named discreetly with in the illustration.

The author and illustrator collaborated with one another and it shows.  The text and illustrations are seamless, working in concert with one another.   Additional information about spirals can be found at the end of the book including the Fibonacci spiral.

This book will be an excellent addition to any library.  It can be used on so many different levels from math to poetry to art. Even the copyright information is listed in a spiral.

Title: Swirl by Swirl
Author: Joyce Sidman
Illustrator: Beth Krommes
Date Published: 2011
Pages: unpaged
Reading Level: K-3
ISBN: 978-0-547-31583-6
Source:  Local Public Library

Nonfiction Monday is hosted by Simply Science.  Go and see what other fabulous nonfiction is on tap for today.

Happy Reading.


Nonfiction Monday: Corn by Gail Gibbons



September is such a great month to eat lots of corn in the Pacific Northwest.  As I was pulling out the books for fall and harvest, I came across Gail Gibbon’s Corn.

In Corn, Gibbons’ tells readers about the history of corn.  She uses well placed maps and bright illustrations to give  a clear picture about corn’s early days. 

The reader will learn through diagrams the different uses for corn in the days of the Pilgrims, what a common corn plant looks like, and the planting and pollinating of corn.

Did you know that there are four types of corn?  Gibbons’ explanation of the four types and their uses provide lots of new information for the readers.

Readers will be amazed to find out how corn isn’t just for eating.

Gibbons also includes a page of more corn trivia at the end.

Corn will be used as one of my upcoming lessons with kindergarten and first grade for a look at nonfiction.

Title: Corn
Author: Gail Gibbons
Date Published: 2008
Pages: 32
Reading Level: K-3
Publisher:Holiday House
ISBN: 978-0-8234-2169-5
Source of Book: In library collection

Nonfiction Monday is hosted by Tales from the Rushmore Kid.

Happy Reading.


Nonfiction Monday: Vacation Mode

Hi. I’m on vacation,can you tell? Between the two trips to the east coast to say good-bye to my aunt and follow up with her family matters, our own vacation road trip, and just getting the projects completed like my computer/writing room, this summer is flying by me.

I have been reading a couple of  great professional books this summer.  Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller is one that will be a staff read this coming school year.  An easy book to read, it’s chock full of ideas and strategies to hone the art of teaching.

What I love is that even with 37 years of teaching behind me, there are points for me to consider.  One of these is revisiwing my beliefs about teaching and learning.  How can I refine them?  How can I update to match the 21st century students?  It’s great to get inside the head of one of the most masterful education leaders we currently have.

Here are some other fabulous nonfiction books:

A biography of Maria Anna Mozart  at Wrapped in Foil.

Speaking of Art: Colorful Quotes by Famous Painters edited by Bob Raczka at Janet Squires.

African Animal Alphabet at NC Teachers Stuff.

SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING about Marie Curie at Rasco at RIF.

Dear Hot Dog by Mordicai Gerstein at Shelf Employed.

Elephants over at A Patchwork of Books.

This Tree Counts by Alison Formento at Simply Science.

Me . . . Jane and The Watcher about Jane Goodall at BookMuse

Sea Turtles by Laura Marsh at Geo Librarian.

Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride by Pam Munoz Ryan and Brian Selznick at Gathering Books

Not a Buzz to be Found: Insects in Winter at Nonfiction Detectives

Amelia Lost: The life and disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming at Jean Little Library

Happy Reading.  Enjoy!



Nonfiction Monday: Human Footprint

Put a shoe on my foot and you’re putting a size 10 on my dogs.  But have you wondered what the human footprint is for everything you will use, eat, wear, buy and throw out in a lifetime?

National Geographic Kids wants us to know in their new title: Human Footprint: Everything You Will Eat, Wear, Buy and Throw Out in Your Lifetime by Ellen Kirk.

This book features loads of interesting facts and tips to decrease the human footprint in easy to read text and fabulous photos.  Kirk is clear in her statement that the photos are not doctored, they represent the numbers,

The sections are divided into topics that are sure to grab you attention: diapers, candy bars, showers, milk, and clothes to name a few. Each section gives a fact on how much is used furthering explaining the impact on the environment to produce the item.

Did you know? This is for the average American who lives 77.75 years.

You will munch through 12 shopping carts of candy bars in your lifetime. 

You will drink an average of 43,371 cans of soda over a lifetime.  On page 20 there’s a great photo to illustrate this fact.

It takes one half pint of crude oil to make the plastic lining for a disposable diaper, thus 1,898 pints are used per baby.

You will spend $52,972 in clothing and you will toss out 68 pounds of clothes.

This is a great book to have in the classroom, school library and home.  I see the possibilities for further science experiments. It is sure to interest readers al around.

Nonfiction Monday Round-up is at Chapter Book of the Day by Anastasia Suen.  Thanks!

Happy Reading.


Nonfiction Monday: Silk and Venom: Searching for a Dangerous Spider

I am on vacation and it ends today as I travel back home.  While on my trip, I have enjoyed reading Silk and Venom: Searching for a Dangerous Spider by Kathryn Lasky, photographs by Christopher G. Knight.  It’s a fresh look at spiders for 2011.

I love spiders. I am intrigued by them. So this book had me at its title.  The text is written in such a way tha Lasky pulls readers in on her journey. Both she and Knight were invited to join Greta Binford, a arachnologist and professor at Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon (my ala mater) to go with her to search for the Loxosceles tanio in the Dominica Republic.

The book’s photographs is rich and detailed.  There is a vast array of spiders that I had not heard of before.  For example, have you every seen a close up of the spiny orb weaver?  It looks like an alien spaceship. 

Greta is a fascinating scientist. Lasky has written and engaging and informative text for any young aspiring arachnologist.   Readers learn of the process she uses to capture the spiders, her questions about how and when the Loxosceles made it to the North American continent. The end material includes  a pictorial glossary of spiders, websites to check out and index.



The 5th Annual Kidlit Con Blogging Conference registration is now open.  You can find details HERE. I will do a post some time this week.

Nonfiction Monday is at proseandkahn.  Head over there to see what others are saying about great nonfiction books.

From the road,



Nonfiction Monday: Dazzling Dragonflies: A Life Cycle Story


Dazzling Dragonflies: A Life Cycle Story by Linda Glaser is packed with facts in a story like narrative.  The opening line:
“Hello mama dragonfly.  You dip down to the water and lay a clutch of eggs.” 

The book leads readers from the hatching of eggs to life as a nymph wondering when the wings will arrive.  As the nymph matures, it leaves the water to molt one last time with wings.  Readers find out the many ways that dragonflies move and what they eat.  The book ends with the “sparking of new life” and a new mama dragonfly leaving a new clutch of eggs. The cycle of life complete.

The water color collage illustrations by Mia Posada enhance the text beautifully by including details. The appendix includes a “FAQ” section about dragonflies, a resource of websites, and illustrations which identify dragon flies.

I recently used this book with first graders.  They are in the midst of an insect unit and have had several different insects in their rooms to observe.  I asked the question: “What do you know about dragonflies?” and we made a list.  Then explaining that readers read for information to answer questions and expand their knowledge, we read the book. Throughout the reading I stopped to ask what new information we could add.  It was a great lesson. Students were engaged by making comments that connected their classroom studies with the book.

Title: Dazzling Dragonflies: A Life Cycle Story
Author: Linda Glaser
Photographer: Mia Posada
Date Published: 2007
Pages: 32
Reading Level: K-3
Publisher:Lerner Publications
ISBN: 978-0-8225-6753-0
Source of Book: In library collection

Nonfiction Monday is hosted by History with a Twist. Thank you, Vicky.

Happy Monday.  Happy Reading.

Nonfiction Monday: When Bob Met Woody


Today I bring you the new book by Gary Golio, When Bob Met Woody: The Story of the Young Bob Dylan. I recently had an email from him about the new book and an invitation to participate in the upcoming blog tour.  The book will be released in a couple of weeks.  Once again, Golio chooses a person who informed me muscially as a teen.

Are you ever curious about the young lives of influential people?  What was it about childhood or teenage years that added to the fabric of their life?  In Gary Golio’s new book, readers will discover how a young Bob Zimmerman chose a path of folk songs becoming Bob Dylan, a singer-songwriter icon extraordinaire of the 21st century.

His tale begins in May 1941 when Bob was born in the city of Duluth, not as Golio states, “Bob floated into this world on waves of sound.” He sang at an early age.  His family moved to a small mining town in Minnesota and at age 10, Bob decided to piano and guitar.  The young boy’s mind was a sponge for the ideas that became poems and short stories.  As a teen, he listened to all kinds of music from Muddy Waters to Hank Williams and everything in between. The music informed his playing but not everyone was impressed.  He was called crazy and his band got kicked off the stage for being too loud at a school talent show.

Bob Zimmerman began college as expected of him by his parents.  In Minneapolis, he found Dinktown, the local coffeehouse scene and spent most of his time there.  It was here that he told everyone he was Bob Dylan, after his favorite poet, Dylan Thomas.  Soon he became introduced to the songs of Woody Guthrie and his path changed forever.

“Woody made each word count. He painted with word.”-Bob Dylan. 
Woody was his master teacher, Bob read his book, Bound for Glory and learned all the songs Woody had written.  In fact, Bob wanted to be so much like Woody, that he recreated his life story as an orphan and run-away.

Bob’s talent grew.  He had to figure out how to make his dreams come alive.  Then he heard that Woody was ill and in a New York City hospital.  He dropped everything and hitchhiked to his hospital bed and sang for him.  It was a defining moment in young Bob Dylan’s life.

Golio has once again given readers insight on how to make big dreams happen through perseverance to follow your dreams. The text has a that folksong rhythm much as his previous book(reviewed earlier this year), Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow had a rock and roll rhythm. 

Marc Burckhardt’s  illustrations bring the text to life through their texture and simplicity.  It reminds me of folk art and were painted with acrylics and oil paper mounted on board. 

This is one of my new favorites for 2011 nonfiction picture books.  I am sure we will see it on the CYBILS nominating list later this year. 

Come back on Tuesday, May 24, when I interview Gary Golio as part of his blog tour about the young Bob Dylan.

Nonficiton Monday is hosted today by Writing Nonfiction for Children.  And be sure to read through the poems by students on my blog for 30 Days =30 Students.

Happy Reading.


Nonfiction Monday: Ten Birds By Cybele Young

Do you like counting books or books that you can spent hours lingering over the illustrations?  If you do, then you are in luck.  Ten Birds by Cybele Young is just  that book.  Her intricate pen and ink illustrations tells the story of ten birds who are trying to find a way to get to the other side of the river.

From “Brilliant” to “Needs Improvement”, each bird finds a unique way to cross the river.  Is one idea better than another or is there a lesson to be learned from this fable?  Readers can ponder inventions, what’s common sense, and why labels don’t work. It’s also great for developing number sense.

Young has created a book that will fascinate readers of all ages.  Her baby daughter’s antics inspired the tale fifteen years ago.  Cybele Young’s work can be found in several galleries:

Edward Day Gallery


Nonfiction Monday is held at The Children’s War.

Happy Reading.


Nonfiction Monday: Totally Human

Do you ever wonder why we have hiccups or crave junk food or shake you head when scared?  In Cynthia Pratt Nicolson’s new book, Totally Human: Why We Look and Act the Way We Do illustrated by Dianne Eastman, readers will find out the answers to those questions. 

Did you know that you laugh when you are tickled as a response to a mock attack?  Scientists believe that tickling’s function is to help create bonds among family and friends.  And that we sleep to help our body a chance to grow and repair.  Young readers will be thrilled to learn the answer to why humans fart and burp.

Nicolson’s Totally Human blends explores  human characteristics from both our ancestors and other animals. Our evolutionary roots are explained in answers to each question.  There is a glossary and an index at the end.  Eastman’s collage like illustrations are done in Adobe Photoshop CS3 and are wildly fun.  It’s a great introduction to biology and human behavior in an interactive way.

Students are always wondering why.  Now they have the answers to twenty-six why questions.


Oprah: The Little Speaker, Paul Robeson by Eloise Green Field, and Ben and the Emancipation Proclamation by Pat Sherman were won by Laurie Thompson!

Nonfiction Monday is hosted by Picture Book of the Day.  Thanks, Anastasia.

Happy Monday.


Nonfiction Monday: Oprah:The Little Speaker

Do you watch Oprah?  Subscribe to her magazine O?  Have you wondered about her childhood. Thanks to Carole Boston Weatherford’s book,  Oprah: the Little Speaker readers get an inside look of Oprah as a child. 

Oprah was a child raised by her grandmother because her mother was a maid and her “daddy a soldier passing through”. Strong, loving Mama Hattie, Oprah’s  grandmother surrounded her with Bible scriptures and church. Oprah fed the animals on the farm and emptied the slop jar. At three, Oprah could read and shortly thereafter, she began public speaking in church by reciting Bible verses.  Oprah suffered bullying because of her gift.  She was called “Miss Jesus or the “Preacher”. 

Weatherford’s writes lyrical paragraphs followed by an italicized  sentence “Surely, God was smiling too,” and “learned to lean on God just like Mama did.”  Readers will gain a sense of how faith, perseverance, and love provided the platform for the adult Oprah. London Ladd’s acrylic painting reflect the somber determination of the little speaker.  It’s a great book for young readers to learn about determination and speaking up.


As the CYBILS  Nonfiction Picture Book organizer, publishers were generous with review copies.  I have a three book prize package to giveaway this week: Oprah: The Little Speaker, Paul Robeson by Eloise Green Field, and Ben and the Emancipation Proclamation by Pat Sherman.

Simply leave a comment here by Sunday February 27, 9:00 PM PST.  I will announce the winner next Monday.  I will be giving out three more books on Wednesday so watch for that.

Nonfiction Monday is being held at  Three Turtles and Their Pet Librarian. Thanks for hosting.

Happy Monday. Happy Reading.