Thursday, May 06, 2010

New Nonfiction


Cover to Cover sold books at The Literacy Connection workshop this weekend. I picked up quite a few books and the ones I am most excited about are some of the new nonfiction titles.

THE HIVE DETECTIVES: CHRONICLE OF A HONEY BEE CATASTROPHE by Loree Griffin Burns
I have not had a chance to read this whole book yet but have read quite a bit of it. I intend to read it cover to cover soon. This book fascinates me. The science of the recent bee disappearance is so stunning and the way that the author makes this story accessible to kids is amazing to me. The book is a longer nonfiction book--about 65 pages. There are gorgeous photos throughout (done by Ellen Harasimowicz). And I am amazed at how much information is included in the book.

The book begins with the work of a bee keeper. Early on in the book readers learn much about the bee community in general and then quickly moves onto the 2006 event. Dave Hackenberg's story of finding hundreds of totally empty hives begins the story. The book goes on to share the dilemma faced by bee scientists in seeing something they had never seen before. Theories of what could have happened and the ways the scientists tried to discover the root of the problem is an amazing story.

Included in the book are profiles of bee scientists,the process of discovering the underlying problem of the vanishing bee colonies and the ways that the scientists solved problems together. Much bee-specific vocabulary is defined and the accompanying photos help to make things clear. Readers learn about the honey production process as well as interesting facts about honeybees. There is an extensive glossary and a great resource list at the end of the book. The resource list shares books, movies, documentaries, magazines and websites that readers can go for more information.

I love any story that shows real scientists at work solving real problems. I can see so many implications for this book in schools. I think it would make a great read aloud. Because it is a narrative, kids would enjoy hearing the amazing story, I think. I also know that so much of our science curriculum deals with ecosystems and habitats. What a great addition to readings about that for older elementary students. This is also a great model for nonfiction writing.

I think this is a good anchor book to think about when we think about our goals for our elementary readers. For me as a 5th grade teacher, this is a book that I would have wanted students to be able to read and understand by the end of their 5th grade year. Having the skills and stamina to do this can be built throughout the elementary years but this book is a great one for kids who read nonfiction for pleasure.
(A interesting article was published this week connected to the book.)

LOOKING CLOSELY AROUND THE POND by Frank Serafini is the newest in the LOOK CLOSELY series. A close-up photo begins each segment and the reader guesses what it is that he/she sees. The answer comes with the full picture as well as a few paragraphs of information about it. A great series for elementary students. For anyone who does work with outdoor labs, this series could be key. This one would also make a great read aloud and a great model for writing. Serafini's photography is stunning, as always.

FOR GOOD MEASURE: THE WAYS WE SAY HOW MUCH, HOW FAR, HOW HEAVY, HOW BIG, HOW OLD by Ken Robbins is an amazing book that focuses on the language of measurement. The book focuses on standard units of measurement of all kinds. Ken Robbins shares information about lengths and distances, area, weight, capacity and more. Within each section, Robbins shares information about the different ways we can measure each--going from smaller units of measure to larger ones. For each unit of measure, Robbins defines the unit and gives readers a great visual to help in understanding. Information about where certain vocabulary comes from and how certain units of measure came to be are included. I think this book can really hep make this work interesting for kids and help them make better sense of it. As always, Ken Robbins is brilliant in his work.

HOW TO CLEAN A HIPPOPOTAMUS: A LOOK AT UNUSUAL ANIMAL PARTNERSHIPS by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
I buy everything by Steve Jenkins. This new book is another great one. Jenkins and Page explore the relationships between animals and the authors make the concept of symbiosis clear to readers. The book explores several animal partnerships that work and explain why they do. The artwork is what we have come to expect from Jenkins and Page but this book has a bit of a different look because lots is packed onto every page and the background colors are a bit darker than other recent books. The layout is almost graphic-novel like which I am sure will appeal to kids. This allows lots of information per page. I so love the way these authors organize the information in their books. Such smart models for our students as writers but also such a brilliant way to make complex concepts accessible to kids.

1 comment:

  1. These look like awesome nonfiction titles to add to my collection. Thanks for the update!

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