Thursday, May 12, 2016

Picture books to look for!

I got to read some very interesting picture books this week from Netgalley.  YAY for advanced readers copies!

The first one is the second in what is apparently going to be a series about a little cat named Max by Ed Vere.  This one is called "Max at Night".  I loved the first one, called "Max the Brave" about a little kitten named Max who is out to hunt mice.  Except he doesn't know what a mouse is.  He goes out into the big world and finds many creatures that are not mice, until a furry little monster (with a long tail and big ears) tells him where to find the mouse.  The kids loved that one and I think they are going to love this one too. In "Max at Night", we find Max getting ready to go to bed.  He has a whole night time routine that he goes through, but on this particular night, he wants to say good night to the moon, so he keeps trying to get closer and closer to the moon.  The pictures are the same as in the first Max book-the pictures are very simple with out a lot of background details, but big eyed Max really keeps your attention.  It's a very sweet story and will invite comparisons to a book like "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown.

The second one is a biography about Nicola Tesla.  It's called "Zap! Nikola Tesla Takes Charge" by Monica Kulling.  It's part of a series of picture book biographies called "Great Ideas" and each one spotlights a different person who made some kind of a technological advancement, but maybe never heard of.  I love these books and we have several of them in the library.  This one is just as awesome as the rest of the series.  It gives background information about Tesla, how he was born and grew up in Croatia, where he astonished people with his math, engineering, and problem solving skills.  He came to America with only the name of a person to find (it was Thomas Edison) who might give him a job.  It follows Tesla through his career and talks, in simple terms, about his big idea, alternating current (which is the electrical system we use today).  In fact, it's kind of ironic that Thomas Edison is a well known hero in American historical literature and so little has been written about Tesla.  YAY for a book that rights a wrong!  The pictures are nice and help to carry the story.

The last one is a non-fiction book called "The Toad" by Elise Gravel.  It's part of a series called "Disgusting Creatures".   I have to confess to being a little confused.  Let me start with the idea that I work in a Montessori school and Montessorians tend to be very rooted in reality-in some models, the Montessorians don't even read fantasy books to their students until they are at least 6, because they believe that the kids don't understand the difference between reality and fantasy and so it's better to just stick to reality.  I also know that my Montessorian students LOVE non-fiction books and I never have any trouble getting them to check out non-fiction books (which is almost always a surprise to everyone else).  So the part about me being confused has to do with the illustrations in this nonfiction book.  It's an over simplification to describe nonfiction as having photographs and fiction having art work, because there is lots of non fiction with gorgeous artwork and fiction with photographs, but the art work in this one is so cartoony and so silly, that it kind of takes away from the whole nonfiction message.  I'm sure this will also be a point that pulls some kids in, but for my little Montessorians, it's not really the right thing.  The information is written in a very conversational way which I think many kids will find fun, but it's hard to picture if kids find these animals disgusting that they are going to want to continue to read about them, no matter how much fun the drawings are.

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