Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: Wrapping Up 2016 With a Few of My Favorites

In 2015, I thought I had a challenging year.  However, 2016 has proven to be even more arduous. Granted, difficult journeys can also prove to be great learning experiences and assist us in weeding out those things that are truly essential from the trivial. I will share a little more about the journey of this past year in future blog posts. However, for today, let me just say that my reading life suffered a little this year. Some of my reading and blogging goals needed to take a back seat for a little while, and there are still a number of nonfiction books that I am tracking down in order to read them before ALA Midwinter and the award announcements. 

Rather than repeat titles from my Mock-Sibert posts, I decided to feature some nonfiction books that I loved even if they did not meet the requirements for a Sibert Award. To see my Mock-Sibert posts click here and here. The books below are listed in no particular order. 


A Poem for Peter by Andrea Davis Pinkney; Illustrated by Lou Fancher & Steve Johnson (Viking Books for Young Readers) - This may be one of my favorite books of 2016 and worthy of whatever bling is bestowed upon it. Andrea Davis Pinkney has written a beautiful biography of Ezra Jack Keats and a nod to Keats' Peter books.


Anything But Ordinary Addie: The True Story of Adelaide Herrmann Queen of Magic by Mara Rockliff; Illustrated by Iacopo Bruno (Candlewick Press) - I love books that introduce me to women who go outside of the norms for their times and have been true to themselves. Rockliff introduces readers to Adelaide Herrmann who became a successful magician in a time when women usually supported their husbands. 

Pink is For Blobfish by Jess Keating; Illustrations by David (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers) - Weird, wild pink creatures get recognized in this book by Jess Keating. Loved the concept of this book and Keating knocked it out of the park. Children will love it.

The Secret Subway by Shana Corey; Illustrated by Red Nose Studio (Schwartz & Wade) - Shana Corey shares with readers the history behind New York's first subway. Creativity, stepping outside of the box, and perseverance helped Alfred Ely Beach create the first "secret" subway for New York City. In the year of 1870, the idea of building a subway underneath the city that could move people from one place to another was a big deal. An excellent selection for a STEM read aloud and discussion.

Tooth by Tooth: Comparing Fangs, Tusks, and Chompers by Sara Levine; Illustrated by T. S. Spookytooth (Millbrook Press) - I loved Levine's Bone by Bone and was excited to learn that she would have another book. The format of the book provides readers with a perspective that they may not have considered and provides a mentor text for comparing and contrasting. 

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy; Illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley (Simon & Schuster) - There are many of us who are fans of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and this picture book biography provides young readers with a good introduction to one of the most well known Supreme Court Justices. 

Fly Guy Presents: Snakes by Tedd Arnold (Scholastic) - Fly Guy is a fun series but I really like this nonfiction spin-off. Photographs and humor and Fly Guy as narrator will introduce readers to snakes. 


Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois by Amy Novesky; Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault (Harry N. Abrams) - I wish Art History had been taught through a series of picture book biographies. I may have paid more attention. Fortunately, there seems to be several strong biographies each year on various artists and I have become acquainted with artists as a result of these books. Novesky tackles the life and art of Louise Bourgeois. I was fascinated by Bourgeois and her work and how her life significantly influenced her work.

Gorillas Up Close by Christena Nippert-Eng; Photographs by John Dominski & Miguel Martinez (Henry Holt & Co.) - Gorillas! Do I need to say more? I love gorillas and elephants and every year there is at least one really good book about these amazing creatures. Definitely a must read for budding primatologists. 

Fearless Flyer: Ruth Law and Her Flying Machine by Heather Lang; Illustrated by Raul Colon (Calkins Creek) - Though I am not sure I have the courage to tackle flying a plane in 1916, I am fascinated by the story of Ruth Law and her brave attempt to fly from Chicago to New York City. 

Mae Jemison (You Should Meet Series) by Laurie Calkhoven; Illustrated by Monique Dong (Simon Spotlight) - This year I had to include several early reader books on my list. They don't often make many end of the year best book lists but this new series by Simon Spotlight deserved to be recognized for introducing readers to some amazing women. In this book, readers are introduced to Mae Jemison, a scientist and astronaut. 

Women Who Launched the Computer Age (You Should Meet Series) by Laurie Calkhoven; Illustrated by Alyssa Petersen (Simon Spotlight) - As I mentioned above, early readers do not typically make the cut. However, I really l enjoyed learning about the six women who worked as the first women computer programmers during World War II. Sadly, it wasn't until the 1980's that they received recognition for the work they had done 40 years earlier. 


Don't forget to link up your nonfiction reviews: