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Archive for the ‘Nonfiction’ Category

When I was growing up, I lived in an area that didn’t have the benefit of a public library. The school library in my first two elementary schools had little to offer and no librarian to help me select a book or even teach me about different books. My last elementary school only had a library because my mom and other parents were determined to establish one with a qualified librarian.

Since I didn’t have a librarian to introduce different genres to read, my real first experience with biographies was from the generosity of a neighbor. Her children were older, and she had some great books that she decided to give away. That was my introduction to biographies. She gave me the complete set of Childhood of Famous Americans. The series is still around today.

Today, however, there are some wonderful biographies published every year that shouldn’t be missed.
The books listed here are some of my favorites from the 2012 publishing year. I hope you check them out.

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The Amazing Harry Kellar: Great American Magician by Gail Jarrow
Calkins Creek, Gr. 5-8
Introduces the life and accomplishments of Harry Kellar, following his career from his early days as a magician’s assistant to his own international stardom at the turn of the twentieth century.
K, SLJ

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Annie and Helen by Deborah Hopkinson; illustrated by Raul Colon
Schwartz & Wade Books, Gr. 2-5
Describes the relationship between Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan, and includes excerpts from letters written by Annie about her work with Helen.
SLJ

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Barnum’s Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World by Tracey E. Fern
Farrar Straus Giroux, Gr. 1-4
Looks at the life of paleontologist Barnum Brown.
B, K, SLJ

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Best Shot in the West: The Adventures of Nat Love by Patricia C. McKissack and Fredrick L. McKissack, Jr.
Chronicle Books, Gr. 6-10
A graphic novel portrayal of the life of African-American cowboy Nat Love, also known as Deadwood Dick.
K, SLJ

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Bon Appetit!: The Delicious Life of Julia Child by Jessie Hartland
Schwartz & Wade Books, Gr. 2-5
Follows Julia Child from her childhood in Pasadena, California, to her life as a spy in WWII, to the cooking classes she took in Paris, to her celebrity as a world-renown chef.
B, PW

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Colorful Dreamer: The Story of Artist Henri Matisse by Marjorie Blain Parker, Illustrated by Holly Berry
Dial Books, Gr. 2-5
Describes how Henri Matisse grew up to be a famous painter.
B, K, SLJ

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Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by Robert Byrd
Dial Books, Gr. 2-6
An illustrated biography of Founding Father and inventor Benjamin Franklin.
B, K, PW

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The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau by Michell Markel, Illustrated by Amanda Hall
Eerdmans Books, PreS-Gr. 3
Introduces the life and accomplishments of Henri Rousseau, a self-taught painter who faced harsh criticism but persevered and succeeded.
B, PW, SLJ

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Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington by Jabari Asmi, Illustrated by Bryan Collier
Little, Brown, Gr. 2-4
An illustrated introduction to the life of Booker T. Washington that focuses on his hard work and determination to earn a college degree.
K, PW, SLJ

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Helen’s Big World: The Life of Helen Keller by Doreen Rappaport, Illustrated by Matt Tavares
Hyperion Books, Gr. 2-4
An illustrated biography of Helen Keller, introducing young readers to her life and legacy.
K, SLJ

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It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw by Don Tate, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Lee & Low, Gr. 2-4
A biography of Bill Traylor, a former slave who began to draw pictures–based on his recollections of rural and urban life–at the age of 83.
B, K, SLJ

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Jazz Age Josephine by Jonah Winter, Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
Atheneum, Gr. 2-6
Introduces the life and legacy of Josephine Baker, examining her accomplishments, and describing how she overcame her poor, segregated upbringing to find success as a performer.
B, K, PW

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Life in the Ocean: The Story Of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A. Nivola
Farrar Straus Giroux, Gr. K-5
A picture book biography of oceanographer Sylvia Earle, discussing her childhood along the Gulf of Mexico, her passion for the environment, and her experiences in ocean exploration.
B, K, PW, SLJ

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Looking at Lincoln by Maira Kalman
Nancy Paulsen Books, Gr. K-5
A young girl is curious about Abraham Lincoln and sets out to find out more about the life of the nation’s sixteenth president.
PW, SLJ

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Monsieur Marceau by Leda Schubert, Illustrated by Gerard DuBois
Roaring Brook Press, Gr. 1-5
An illustrated biography of the famous French mime, Marcel Marceau.
B. K, SLJ

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Paiute Princess: The Story of Sarah Winnemucca by Deborah Kogan Ray
Farrar Straus Giroux, Gr. 3-7
A biography of Sarah Winnemucca, Paiute Indian and Native American civil rights activists, discussing her childhood, her work as an advocate for all Native Americans, and the appeals to white America to treat her people with dignity.
PW, SLJ

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Seed by Seed: The Legend and Legacy of John “Appleseed” Chapman by Esme Raji Codell, Illustrated by Lynne Rae Perkins
Greenwillow, Gr. 1-3
Chronicles the life of the man who came to be known as Johnny Appleseed and reveal the five principles he followed that led to his legendary status in American history.
PW

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Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass by Lesa Cline-Ransome, Illustrated by James E. Ransome
Simon & Schuster, Gr. 2-5
A biography of the early life of Frederick Douglass, one of the first leaders of the antislavery movement, discussing his childhood on as a slave child on a plantation, at eight when sold to Hugh and Sophia Auld in Baltimore, and explains that learning to read was the key to his freedom.
PW, SLJ

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Recommendations:
B – Booklist
K – Kirkus Reviews
PW – Publishers Weekly
SLJ – School Library Journal

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All Amazon links are affiliate links for Linda’s Links to Literature.
Books annotations are from The Library of Congress or Linda’s Links to Literature.

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Nonfiction picture books are an integral part of reading comprehension strategies for younger children.
Take a look at these information-rich selections that Linda’s Links likes the best.

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Barnum’s Bones by Tracey Fern
Illustrated by Boris Kulikov
FSG, 2012
Looks at the life of paleontologist Barnum Brown. (Picture Book/Biography)

Brothers at Bat by Audrey Vernick
Clarion, 2012
Shares the story of the Acerras and their sixteen children, who had enough members to fill every position on a baseball team. (Picture Book/Informational)

Jazz Age Josephine by Jonah Winter
Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
Atheneum, 2012
Introduces the life and legacy of Josephine Baker, examining her accomplishments, and describing how she overcame her poor, segregated upbringing to find success as a performer. (Picture Book/Biography)

Just Behave, Pablo Picasso! by Jonah Winter
Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
Scholastic, 2012
Critics want Pablo Picasso to continue painting the kind of things they like, but he stands up to them and paints in the styles he chooses. (Picture Book/Biography)

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Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A. Nivola
FSG, 2012
A picture book biography of oceanographer Sylvia Earle, discussing her childhood along the Gulf of Mexico, her passion for the environment, and her experiences in ocean exploration. (Picture Book/Biography)

Minette’s Feast by Susanna Reich
Illustrated by Julia Bates
Abrams, 2012
While Julia is in the kitchen learning to cook up elaborate, delicious dishes, the only feast Minette is truly interested in is that of fresh mouse. (Picture Book/Biography)

Monsieur Marceau by Leda Schubert
Flash Point, 2012
Presents a biography of the famous mime. (Picture Book/Biography)

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Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas by Molly Bang & Peggy Chisholm
Illustrated by Molly Bang.
Blue Sky Press, 2012
Explains how tiny plants feed the seas. (Picture Book/Informational)

Out on the Prairie by Donna Bateman
Charlesbridge, 2012
Illustrates the creatures of Badlands National Park from reptiles, mammals, and birds to insects, and includes a guide to prairie flora and fauna. (Picture Book/Informational)

Step Gently Out by Helen Frost
Illustrated by Rick Lieder
Examines nature through lyrical text and close-up photography. (Picture Book/Poetry) 

Water Sings Blue by Kate Coombs
Illustrated by Meilo So
Chronicle, 2012
A collection of poems about the sea. (Picture book/Poetry)

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There are additional book-related teaching resources for this book in the Linda’s Links to Literature database.
Login to the Linda’s Links to Literature database for book-related teaching resources for some of these books.

All Amazon links are affiliate links for Linda’s Links to Literature.
Books annotations are from The Library of Congress or Linda’s Links to Literature.

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There are thousands of children’s books published each year, but only a select group are acknowledged as the best of them all.
Today’s post focuses on the picture books that Linda’s Links considers the very best and the ones that should be on your shelves.
It will be fun to see if any of these titles will be selected as notable by the various children’s book organizations.

Tomorrow’s post will feature the best nonfiction picture books.

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And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano
Illustrated by Erin E. Stead
Roaring Brook Press, 2012
Reveals the anticipation of a boy who, having planted seeds while everything around is brown, fears that something has gone wrong until, at last, the world turns green.

Another Brother Matthew Cordell
Feiwel & Friends, 2012
Davy the sheep wishes he had time alone with his parents, as he did before his twelve brothers came along and started imitating his every move, but when his wish comes true Davy misses playing with the youngsters.

Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic by Ginnie Lo
Lee & Low, 2012
A Chinese American girl’s Auntie Yang discovers soybeans-a favorite Chinese food-growing in Illinois, leading her family to a soybean picnic tradition that grows into an annual community event.

Ballerina Swan by Allegra Kent
Illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully
Holiday House, 2012
Sophie the swan joins a ballet class and works hard to earn a part in the end-of-year performance of Swan Lake.

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Boot and Shoe by Marla Frazee
Beach Lane Books, 2012
Boot and Shoe are dogs that live in the same house, eat from the same bowl, and sleep in the same bed but spend their days on separate porches until a squirrel mixes things up.

Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman
Illustrated by Dan Yaccarino
Knopf, 2012
A boy and a robot strike up a friendship despite their differences.

Chloe by Peter McCarty
HarperCollins, 2012
Chloe Bunny lives with her big family of ten older brothers and sisters and ten younger brothers and sisters, but it is only Chloe who is able to compete with the new television set that Dad brings home one evening.

Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems
Hyperion, 2012
Pigeon is very angry when the duckling gets a cookie just by asking politely.

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Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrated by E. B. Lewis
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2012
When Ms. Albert teaches a lesson on kindness, Chloe realizes that she and her friends have been wrong in making fun of new student Maya’s shabby clothes and refusing to play with her.

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett
Illustrated by Jon Klassen
HarperCollins, 2012
With a supply of yarn that never runs out, Annabelle knits for everyone and everything in town until an evil archduke decides he wants the yarn for himself.

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Williems
HarperCollins, 2012
A spin on the traditional tale with dinosaurs who visit Norway as the main characters.

Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Roaring Brook, 2012
Explores the many shades of the color green.

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The Hero of Little Street by Gregory Rogers
Roaring Brook, 2012
When a boy being chased through present-day London seeks refuge in the National Gallery, a dog escapes from the painting of one Dutch master and together they leap into the painting of another, where their adventures in seventeenth-century Delft are a prelude to returning to London and continuing the chase.

Hide & Seek by Sung Na
Knopf, 2012
When the animals play hide and seek, Elephant finds everyone but Chameleon, who has hidden so well no one can find him.

A Home for Bird by Philip C. Stead
Roaring Brook Press, 2012
Vernon the toad takes the silent Bird on a journey in hopes of finding Bird’s home.

Homer by Elisha Cooper
Greenwillow, 2012
Homer the dog is content to watch from the porch as his family goes out to enjoy the day.

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The Insomniacs by Karina Wolf
Illustrated by The Brothers Hilt
Putnam, 2012
When Mr. and Mrs. Insomniac and little Mika move twelve time zones away, they have trouble staying awake during the day and make an interesting discovery about themselves.

Jimmy the Greatest! by Jairo Buitrago
Illustrated by Rafael Yockteng
Groundwood, 2012
Don Apolinar urges Jimmy, who lives in a small Caribbean town where there is not much to do, to start training at the boxing gym and to read about Muhammad Ali. Jimmy begins to realize that he is a good boxer and finds that he would be happy running the gym and improving his hometown.

Just Ducks by Nicola Davies
Illustrated by Salvatore Rubbino
Candlewick Press, 2012
A young girl shares her observations about the mallard ducks that live down on the river.

Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten! by Hyewon Yum
FSG, 2012
A five-year-old boy, ready and eager on his first day at “the big kids’ school,” must calm his very worried mother.

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Oh, No! by Candace Fleming
Illustrated byEric Rohmann
Schwartz & Wade, 2012
A series of animals falls into a deep hole, only to be saved at last by a very large rescuer.

Penny and Her Doll by Kevin Henkes
Greenwillow, 2012
Penny instantly loves the doll her grandmother sends her, but finding the perfect name for her is a challenge.

Penny and Her Song by Kevin Henkes
Greenwillow, 2012
Penny comes home from school eager to share her very own song, but must wait until the time is right to teach it to her parents and the babies.

The Quiet Place by Sarah Stewart
Illustrated by David Small
FSG, 2012
A little girl moves to the United States from Mexico with her family and writes letters to her aunt in Mexico about her new life.

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Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills
Random House, 2012
Rocket writes a story about a new friend, the owl.

Sadie and Ratz by Sonya Hartnett
Illustrated by Ann James
Candlewick Press, 2012
Hannah and her hands, named Sadie and Ratz, regularly get into trouble, especially when younger brother Baby Boy is around.

This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
Candlewick Press, 2012
A tiny fish wearing a blue hat hopes not to wake up the trouble that might be following close behind.

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The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse by Helen Ward
Templar, 2012
A retelling of Aesop’s well-known fable in which a country mouse visits a town mouse and they find they prefer very different ways of life. Set in 1930s New York at Christmas.

Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey by Mini Grey
Knopf, 2012
Traction Man, the action figure, and his sidekick, Scrubbing Brush, share dangerous adventures at the beach.

Z Is for Moose by Kelly Bingham
Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
Greenwillow, 2012
Moose is terribly eager to play his part in Zebra’s alphabet book, but when his letter passes him by, Moose behaves rather badly until Zebra finds a spot for him.

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Login to the Linda’s Links to Literature database for book-related teaching resources for some of these books.

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All Amazon links are affiliate links for Linda’s Links to Literature.
Books annotations are from The Library of Congress or Linda’s Links to Literature.

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