Back again, with another list of books for Holiday giving: Non-Fiction. For an especially memorable gift, pair a non-fiction book up with a fiction book on the same topic. Or try something more concrete, like a special notebook and pen for writing poems, for one of the poetry books.
And don’t forget, these are some of the best books of 2010. Look for these titles to be on the award lists in January. (Or at least, we hope they will be!)
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2010 Non-Fiction for Kids:
Aronson, Marc. Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom and Science
The title says it all. This meticulously researched, brutally honest, compelling book offers readers a different way to look at many events over the past 200 years. From the slave trade through abolition; from revolutions to the Louisiana Purchase; from the decline of honey to the rise of saccharine, these events and many more are directly traced to the cultivation and production of sugar cane around the world. The book has a jigsaw-puzzle feel as the authors connect seemingly disparate threads and bring readers to the larger picture by highlighting the smaller details hidden within. For older readers.
Hill, Laban. Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave. Illustrated by Bryan Collier
Dave was an extraordinary artist, poet, and potter living in South Carolina in the 1800s. He combined his superb artistry with deeply observant poetry, carved onto his pots, transcending the limitations he faced as a slave. Dave’s story is rich in history, hope, and long-lasting beauty. Alert readers will find hidden messages in some of the collages, but what stands out in these pictures are Dave’s hands and eyes, and the strength of his body, reflected in the shape and size of his legendary jars and pots.
Jenkins, Steve. Bones. Illustrated by the author
Bones are given an entertaining and fresh treatment in this visually driven volume. Kids come face-to-face with some head-to-toe boney comparisons, many of them shown at actual size. Here you’ll find the differences between a man’s hand and that of a spider monkey; the great weight of an elephant’s leg, paired with the feather-light femur of a stork; and rib-tickling info about snakes and sloths. How many bones are in the whole human body?
Kerley, Barbara. The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy). Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham
Susy Clemens thought the world was wrong about her papa, and she was determined to set the record straight. In a journal she kept under her pillow, Susy documented her world-famous father-from his habits (good and bad!) to his writing routine to their family’s colorful home life. Her frank, funny, tender biography (which came to be one of Twain’s most prized possessions) gives rare insight and an unforgettable perspective on an American icon. Inserts with excerpts from Susy’s actual journal give added appeal.
McCarthy, Meghan. Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum
Gum has been around for centuries, but it just wasn’t that exciting. But what if gum chewers could blow bubbles while chewing it? In the 1920s a factory in Philadelphia was working on a top secret project. Month after month the workers experimented, but all they had to show for their hard work was a big sticky mess. Will one man with no chemistry experience change the course of history? Full of fun historical facts, Pop! is the true story of how bubble gum was invented.
McCully, Emily. The Secret Cave: Discovering Lescaux
Jacques, Jojo, Simon, and Marcel were looking for gold when they explored a cave in the south of France in 1940. But the treasure they found was far more valuable: walls covered with stunning prehistoric paintings and engravings, preserved within the sealed cave for over 17,000 years. Part Hardy Boys, part archeology, this is the true story of the boys who discovered the cave of Lascaux, bringing to the modern world powerful examples of the very beginning of art.
Raczka, Bob. Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys. Illustrated by Peter Reynolds
When you’re a guy, nature is one big playground—no matter what the season. There are puddles to splash in the spring, pine trees to climb in the summer, maple seeds to catch in the fall, and icicles to swordfight with in the winter. So what kind of poetry best captures these special moments, at a length that lets guys get right back to tree-climbing and kite-flying? Why, guyku, of course! Read this book, and you’ll be writing your own!
Sidman, Joyce. Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night. Illustrated by Rick Allen
Come feel the cool and shadowed breeze,
come smell your way among the trees,
come touch rough bark and leathered leaves:
Welcome to the night.
Welcome to the night, where mice stir and furry moths flutter. Come out to the cool, night wood, and buzz and hoot and howl—but do beware of the great horned owl—for it’s wild and it’s windy way out in the woods!
Sidman, Joyce. Ubiquitous: Celebrating Natures Survivors. Illustrated by Becky Prange
Ubiquitous: Something that is (or seems to be) everywhere at the same time. How did the gecko survive 160 million years? (by becoming nocturnal and developing sticky toe pads.) How did the shark and the crow and the tiny ant survive millions of years? When 99 percent of all life forms on earth have become extinct, why do some survive? And survive not just in one place, but in many places? Just how do they become ubiquitous? Poetry and science work together in this unique book.
Singer, Marilyn. Mirror, Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse. Illustrated by Josee Massee
This ingenious book of reverses; poems which have one meaning when read down the page and a different meaning when read up the page! The 14 pairs of poems—easily distinguished by different fonts and background colors—allow changes only in punctuation, capitalization, and line breaks, as Singer explains in an author’s note about her invented poetic form. “It is a form that is both challenging and fun—rather like creating and solving a puzzle.” Also includes instructions on how to create such a poem.
Stone, Tanya. The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie: A Doll’s History and her Impact on Us
In the prologue, Meg Cabot describes her desire for a Barbie and her mother’s reluctance to purchase one, basically summing up the conflict surrounding the doll since its introduction in 1959. During her unparalleled fifty-year history, Barbie has been the doll that some people love–and some people love to hate. An unbiased look at how Barbie became the icon that she is, and at the impact that she’s had on our culture (and vice versa). Featuring passionate anecdotes and memories from a range of girls and women, and original color photographs, this book explores the Barbie phenomenon in a brand-new light. For older readers
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For Parents/Grandparents/Friends–basically anyone on your list who likes sharing books with kids:
Sutton, Roger. A Family of Readers: The Book Lover’s Guide to Children’s and Young Adult Literature. Also by Martha Parravano
A book for anyone who has ever loved children’s books, this is designed to help parents foster a love of reading in children, while providing insight into the craft of children’s bookmaking. The contributors, including well known authors, are grouped into sections that mirror the reading life of a child: reading to children becomes reading with them, which gives way to their growth as independent readers. Sutton and Parravano also contribute commentary, discussing the best books for all ages and reading levels, and what makes them so. It’s an indispensible guide for anyone who wants to encourage their child to love reading.
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Picture Books and Holiday Books are coming up later this week!