Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - The Pilot and the Little Prince

by Peter Sís
Farrar, Straus, & Giroux (May 27, 2014)
Nonfiction * Biographical * Aviation 

Description from GoodReads:
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was born in France in 1900, when airplanes were just being invented. Antoine dreamed of flying and grew up to be a pilot—and that was when his adventures began. He found a job delivering mail by plane, which had never been done before. He and his fellow pilots traveled to faraway places and discovered new ways of getting from one place to the next. Antoine flew over mountains and deserts. He battled winds and storms. He tried to break aviation records, and sometimes he even crashed. From his plane, Antoine looked down on the earth and was inspired to write about his life and his pilot-hero friends in memoirs and in fiction. Peter Sís’s remarkable biography celebrates the author of The Little Prince, one of the most beloved books in the world.

Image from The Pilot and the Little Prince

Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher's Weekly | Hornbook |

Links to interesting pages: NPR Interview of Peter Sís |  

About the Author: Peter Sís is the internationally renowned author and/or illustrator of many books for children. He is the recipient of the 2012 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration and has also been awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. He has lived in and around New York City since 1984.

Where to find Peter Sís: website | facebook

My thoughts on the book:
A couple of weeks ago, I picked up The Pilot and the Little Prince.  I have been a fan of Peter Sís for awhile and when I saw that this was coming out I knew I had to have it.  Finally, I had a chance to sit down and spend some time pouring over this beautifully illustrated book.  And when I say pouring over this book, I do mean spend time with it.  This is not a book that you read once.  Though the narrative story text is fairly simple, there is much more to process.

Image from The Pilot and the Little Prince

The story is laid out in multiple ways - readers can simply begin with the straight narrative text that tells the life of Antoine de Saint-Exupery.  Additionally, the illustrations provide readers with another level of visual literacy that can and should be read.  Finally, there are illustrations with scripted text, which provides another layer.  Though I do have to say that the small font was a bit difficult for me to read with ease. If I were to ask for one addition to the book, it would be for back matter (author's note, additional reading, links, or other things) to be included at the end of the book.

Overall, this is a beautiful picture book biography for children in Kindergarten to Third grade.  It would make a lovely addition to a classroom or school library. 

Don't forget to link up your nonfiction reviews:

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Some Musings

Thank you everyone for all of the great posts each week for the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2014.

Several years before the Common Core State Standards decided to try mandating the amount of nonfiction or informational text students should be reading, I realized that I had a serious book gap.  Though I went through phases when I did read nonfiction related to things I was interested in as an adult, I realized that I focused on very little nonfiction for children. Frankly, I saw it as boring and not particularly worth my time. Yes, I needed an attitude adjustment.

However, I can tell you when my attitude changed and by which book.  It was January 18, 2010, and I was listening to the ALA Youth Media Awards curled up in bed at 5 a.m.  The awards were in Boston that year and in order to hear them live, I had to get up early.  As they announced the awards, I was intrigued by several of the Sibert Medal Winners, particularly, The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton.  Shortly, after the announcements were made I tracked down a copy of the book and from that moment on I have been on the search for creative, informative, and interesting nonfiction picture books for children.

My interest in nonfiction picture books has lead me to starting this challenge and to getting to know all of you.  I have felt good about the amount of nonfiction that I have been able to feature on my blog, especially through this weekly challenge.  However, I have been playing with some ideas, and will probably be adjusting my posts.

Once a month, usually the first Wednesday of the month, I feature new nonfiction picture book releases.  From the feedback, I have received readers really seem to enjoy this post. So, I am going to keep doing it.  I am going to try and find ways to keep improving it but overall, it seems to be working.

Next, I might start doing a What are you reading? type post to share all of the great nonfiction I find.  Often, I don't have time to review everything I read, but I would like to give more attention to books that I have enjoyed and want to share with others.  I will share these separate from my Monday What are you reading? posts, especially when I have a lot of titles to talk about.

Finally, I want to do more posts that feature a collection of books around a similar topic and include links to various resources or ideas of how to use them in the classroom.  I tried it recently with the post for The Sea Turtle Scientist.  It seemed to work.  So I am trying it again.  Let me know with these new posts what is helpful and what you would love to see more of as a teacher or librarian or parent.

If you are looking for the link to the Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday Widget please go here, and check out my post about Tracking Trash, and Plastic Ahoy!

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Chasing Cheetahs

Text by Sy Montgomery  Photographs by Nic Bishop
HMH Books for Young Readers (April 1, 2014)

Description from GoodReads:
Since the year 1900, cheetah footprints quickly dwindled in African dirt as the species plummeted from more than 100,000 to fewer than 10,000. At the Cheetah Conservation Fund's (CCF) African headquarters in Namibia, Laurie Marker and her team save these stunning, swift, and slender creatures from extinction. Since the organization's start in 1990, they've rescued more than 900 cheetahs, most of whom have been returned to the wild.

But this arduous challenge continues. For most African livestock farmers, cheetahs are the last thing they want to see on their properties. In the 1980s, as many as 19 cheetahs per farmer died each year. Cheetahs were considered vermin--but, in learning more about this magnificent species, we know this is far from true.

Today, CCF acts as a liaison between the farmers and the cheetahs, in order to promote cohabitation in an ecosystem that cannot thrive without the existence of the precious and predatory cheetah. On a wild ride through the African wilderness--sometimes sniffing out scents left in the dirt--Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop join CCF in studying the cheetah's ecological, genetic, and behavioral patterns in order to chase down the fastest animal on land and save the species--before it is too late.

A Message from Dr. Laurie Marker and the Cheetah Conservation Fund:

Introduction to the Cheetah Conservation Fund 2013:

About Scientists in the Field: Where Science Adventure Meets -
The Scientists in the Field series shows people immersed in the unpredictable and dynamic natural world, making science more accessible, relevant, and exciting to young readers. Far from the research laboratory, these books show firsthand adventures in the great outdoors—adventures with a purpose. From climbing into a snake den with thousands of slithering snakes to tracking wolves, swimming with hammerhead sharks, and collecting bugs, readers experience the thrill of discovering the unknown.

The Scientists in the Field series has been deemed consistently excellent, imaginative, engaging, and informative. The series provides a broad range of curricular opportunities that will both teach and entertain children.

Follow them on: Twitter | Facebook

My thoughts on the book:
Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop have collaborated on a number of books about wild animals for The Scientist in the Field Series.  Each book is a bit different depending on the animal, and the location.  In Chasing Cheetahs, the focus in on Dr. Marker's work with the Cheetah Conservation Fund and how she is working to save cheetahs.  What I love about this series is the focus not only on the individual animals being highlighted but also on the scientists that study them and the way the animal is part of a larger ecosystem and why different animals/creatures are crucial to the health of the ecosystem.

Beautiful photographs, and engaging dialogue invite readers into the story and the lives of Dr. Marker and her amazing wild cats.  Delving into the story, readers learn about the cheetahs that she has rescued but also her attempt to reintroduce cheetahs to the wild.  Additionally, Dr. Marker has focused on creating successful ways to reduce farmers' tendency to kill cheetahs whom they believe are killing their stock by providing them with special dogs who help to care and protect their livestock.

If you are looking for a great read aloud for younger students or a nonfiction text for upper elementary age students, Chasing Cheetahs is an excellent option.

Don't forget to link up your nonfiction reviews:

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - National Geographic Super Readers

Thank you everyone for all of the great posts each week for the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2014. This week I am doing something a little different and presenting a series of books and how I recently used them with first graders.

National Geographic Readers Series:

Recently, I did a presentation for a group of teachers and shared a variety of nonfiction and informational books that have come out in the last couple of years.  Some of the teachers were familiar with the National Geographic Readers and other books for children, and some were completely new to the incredible books.  I was excited that they were able to explore the books and think about how to use them in the classroom.

Today, I am just focusing on the Super Readers (Leveled Readers), which are divided into four categories:

Pre-Reader"Pre-reader" books are just right for kids who are ready to read.

Level 1: "Starting to Read" books or just right for kids who are beginning to read on their own.

Level 2: "Reading Independently" books are perfect for kids who are read for longer sentences and more complex vocabulary.  New words are defined on the page, but occasional adult help might be welcome.

Level 3: "Fluent Reader" books are ideal for kids who are reading on their own with ease, and are ready for more challenging vocabulary and varied sentence structures.

About the Series:
National Geographic Science Readers is a high-interest, science inquiry series in an exciting and easy-to-read format. Each book falls into one of five reading levels and is labeled by level on its front cover. The simple, fun text with pull-quotes is only the beginning: National Geographic photography and kid-friendly diagrams draw kids in and get them reading about their favorite subjects.

Developed by National Geographic in close consultation with literacy education experts, this new series is one teachers, librarians, parents, and grandparents know they can trust to nurture every child's love of reading.

Cost: Individual Books cost approximately $3.99/book; Collections (4 books in 1) are $7.95

My thoughts on these readers:
I am a huge fan of these books. From the gorgeous photographs, to the vocabulary words and glossary, to the humorous questions and answers, to the interesting facts, these books provide students with excellent and highly engaging reading material.

Last week, I took a set of readers and other National Geographic books for children into a first grade class.  I projected an ebook version of one of the readers onto a screen so that we could look at the book together.  As we flipped through it, we talked about all of the special features: title, table of content, headings, labels, diagrams, images, photographs, and more.

Next, students worked with a partner to look through a couple of readers and see what they could discover. 

At first, it was a bit confusing. This was the first time that they were learning about text features.  I would wander from group to group checking in on them and talking about what they were finding.

Despite the task being new, they were really interested in what they were doing.  I think the books had a lot to do with it.  There is a great range in topics and levels which allowed everyone to find something that they loved.  

It was really rewarding to see how focused they were and how much they really were enjoying the books.  I plan to continue working with the readers with this group of students.  They are quick learners and I know that they will be able to grasp the various names and purposes of different features.

Check out the Official National Geographic Super Reader Trailer:

For additional National Geographic Sites: National Geographic Kids | National Geographic Education

Where to find National Geographic Readers: Check out your local bookstores, or library.  The following websites can also help you find the books:  IndieBound | WorldCat

Don't forget to link up your nonfiction reviews:

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - New Releases for April

Thank you everyone for all of the great posts each week for the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2014.  At the beginning of each month, I like to try to do a post to spread the word about recent releases or upcoming nonfiction/informational titles.  It is not comprehensive, but I do try to include a variety of titles that might be of interest to readers.  Some of them I have read and some I have yet to read.  Often I include reviews in later posts. 

Here are some April titles that I missed posting last month.  April is a huge month for nonficiton.  I also found some additional titles that came out earlier in the year.  If you missed the posts from the past three months, I have included them below.

Link to January & February Releases Post
Link to February & March Releases Post
Link to March & April Releases Post

Releases this month...
April 1, 2014

Beneath the Sun by Melissa Stewart; Illustrated by Constance R. Bergum (Peachtree Publishers)

Eye to Eye: How Animals See the World by Steve Jenkins (HMH Books for Young Readers)

Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature by Sarah C. Campbell; Photographed by Richard P Campbell (Boyds Mill Press)

Tooth & Claw by Jim Arnosky (Sterling Children's Books)

April 3, 2014

A Mom for Umande by Maria Fasal Faulconer (Dial)

April 8, 2014

Galápagos George by Jean Craighead George; Illustrated by Wendell Minor (HarperCollins)

New Releases for Older Students...
April 1, 2014

Every Last Drop: Bringing Clean Water Home by Michelle Mulder (Orca Books)

Secrets of the Sky Caves: Danger and Discovery on Nepal's Mustang Cliffs by Sandra K. Athans (Millbrook Press)

Schools of Hope: How Julius Rosenwald Helped Change African American Education by Norman Finkelstein (Calkins Creek Books)

Underworld: Exploring the Secret World Beneath Your Feet by Jane Price; Illustrated by James Gulliver Hancock (Kids Can Press)

April 15, 2014

Bugged: How Insects Changed History by Sarah Albee; Illustrated by Robert Leighton (Walker Children's)

Past 2014 Releases...

Benny Goodman & Teddy Wilson: Taking the Stage as the First Black-And-White Jazz Band in History by Lesa Cline-Ransome; Illustrated by James Ransome (Holiday House, January 2014)

It's Raining! by Gail Gibbons (Holiday House, January 2014)

Plants Feed Me by Lizzy Rockwell (Holiday House, January 2014)

Sea Turtle Scientist by Stephen R. Swinburn (HMH Books for Young Readers, January 2014)

Swamp Chomp by Lola Schaefer; Illustrated by Paul Meisel (Holiday House, January 2014)

Do You Know Leeches? by Alain M. Bergeron; Michel Quintin Sampar (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, March 2014)

Don't forget to link up your nonfiction reviews....