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Great New Nonfiction!

August 27, 2008

Virtually True: Questioning Online Media by Guofang Wan
TV Takeover: Questioning Television by Guofang Wan
Coming Distractions: Questioning Movies by Frank W. Baker
The five books in the Fact Finders Media Literacy series may not be anyone’s first choice for fun reading, but they are fascinating, provocative, and informative on a number of levels. For instance, the book on television invites readers to look for examples of product placement, but it also introduces concepts such as “airtime” and “target audience,” and it outlines the various people who are needed to create a TV show and the jobs that they do. Given the increasingly networked nature of our world, the volume on online media is invaluable to anyone trying to make sense of the 21st century.

Math Fables Too: Making Science Count by Greg Tang with illustrations by Taia Morley — For young readers who like some rhyme with their science and math, this book offers ten poems about animals that incorporate basic math and science concepts.

When Bugs Were Big, Plants Were Strong, and Tetrapods Stalked the Earth: A Cartoon Prehistory of Life Before Dinosaurs by Hannah Bonner — The title pretty much sums up this great book, which is all done in cartoons but also packed with information about prehistoric creatures.

The Periodic Table: Elements With Style by Adrian Dingle with illustrations by Simon Basher — Early elementary teachers will be familiar with the Little Mr. books by Roger Hargreaves–Mr. Sneezy, Mr. Happy, Mr. Quiet, and all the rest. Adrian Dingle’s book is the Little Mr. book of elements. We meet an element in every spread, and in addition to useful information such as the element’s symbol, atomic number, and classification, we also get a little bit of personality. Take Zinc: “Here to protect and serve, I’m more useful than you’d zinc! I’m a very sociable element that’s always happy to mix with other metals. Brass is probably my most well-known ally, formed when I got together with copper.” It’s enough fun to make me want to take chemistry again!

Alien Invaders: Species That Threaten Our World by Jane Drake and Ann Love with illustrations by Mark Thurman — Although they get mentioned frequently in the press, kids may have only a dim understanding of what an invasive species is. This book, with its gorgeous illustrations and informative text, will change that. The authors start by giving just a little bit of history to explain how species started to migrate and take over new environments. The rest of the book deals with particular invasive species and with the ecosystems that are affected by them. Full color spreads on each page depict species such as walking catfish, purple loosestrife, and moves on to cover some of the landscapes that these species and others have overtaken. The final section, “Who Cares?” points out some of the reasons that we should care and gives suggestions for action. And, with the recent discovery of walleye in the Buffalo Bill reservoir, there’s even a current events tie-in!

Bill Nye The Science Guy’s Great Big Book of Tiny Germs by Bill Nye and Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld with illustrations by Bryn Barnard — Everyone’s favorite science guy takes us on a germ tour, introducing bacteria and then talking about the ways we fight back against germs. Each chapter also includes a related experiment (growing your own germs, killing germs with alcohol), and although when the world ends, there will probably still be more books of science experiments than anyone needs, these are nicely put together, and many would work in your classrooms.

Penguins by Seymour Simon — Who doesn’t love penguins, especially as photographed by Simon, who is the force behind many good books in our library.

Emperor Qin’s Terra Cotta Army by Michael Capek — This book is part of a series called Unearthing Ancient Worlds (other volumes will be arriving soon), each of which looks at a famous archeological site.

Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote by Tanya Lee Stone with illustrations by Rebecca Gibbon — A brand new picture book biography of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, just in time for election year! We also have a biography of her for slightly older readers, You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton? by Jean Fritz. While Wyoming has the privilege of being the first state in the country to allow women to vote, it is worth remembering the long hard struggle that it took to secure that right in the rest of the country.

Praying Mantises: Hungry Insect Heroes by Sandra Markle — This arrived too late for Catch the Reading But, our summer reading program, but this is still a fabulous book to use for introducing the insect kingdom, and with its stunning close up pictures and hexagonal “Mantis Facts” on every spread, it would be a good choice for reluctant readers, especially those more interested in the real than the fictional.

Lady Liberty by Doreen Rappaport with illustrations by Matt Tavares — A gorgeously illustrated biography of the Statue of Liberty. On each page you hear from another person who was involved in her creation and installation — a process that took over twenty years!

Otto Runs For President by Rosemary Wells — This is fiction, but it’s another great election year choice. Tiffany, the most popular girl in school, and Charles, the school’s best athlete, are both running for school president. Then Otto decides to enter the race. This book works both as a primer on campaigning and as a good story about an underdog.

Sea Queens: Women Pirates Around the World by Jane Yolen with illustrations by Christine Joy Pratt — Pirates, cool. Female pirates, more cool. Stories of female pirates as related by folktale master Jane Yolen and illustrated with woodcuts by Christine Joy Pratt? Best. Thing. Ever.

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