Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday (8)

As part of the Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge 2012 (Twitter: #nfpb2012), my goal is to read and review as many of the new non-fiction picture books that are released this year.  Wednesdays will be my primary day to post the reviews.

This week's Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is coming to you courtesy of Penguin Books. Thanks to Publisher Rep extraordinaire, Nicole, one lucky reader has a chance to win a copy of The Camping Trip that Changed America by Barbara Rosenstock and The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba.  In addition to these two wonderful books, there is also a signed print from Maira Kalman's book Looking At Lincoln

The Camping Trip that Changed America
Author: Barbara Rosenstock
Illustrator: Mordecai Gerstein
Publisher: Penguin Group (January 19, 2012)
Audience: 2nd to 5th grade

Can you imagine going on a camping trip with the President of the United States?  True, I am not much of a camper, it doesn't prevent me from thinking about what it would be like to have some undivided time with one of the most influential people in the world.  Of course, it wouldn't be very easy to accomplish this today.  Can you imagine how many Secret Service men would have to join you?  However, this story takes place in 1903, when it was still possible for the President to go off on an adventure. 

Though this is more of a fictionalized telling of a fateful camping trip that President Theodore Roosevelt went on with naturalist, John Muir, there is still some great information in this book. Barbara Rosenstock does a nice job depicting the enthusiasm which Roosevelt possessed and the sense of adventure and appreciation for nature as beheld by Muir.  My favorite part in the book is a two page spread where Roosevelt and Muir are camping out under the skies and Muir tells Roosevelt about all the wonderful things there were in the United States.  All I can imagine is how these two men influenced each other in some important way.

Mordicai Gerstein illustrations lend a certain mood that perfectly suits the book.  Rosenstock includes some quotes and important author notes at the end of the book which provide slightly more information.  I found this a fun read and would certainly recommend it for a classroom or school library.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Author: William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer
Illustrator: Elizabeth Zunon
Publisher: Dial (January 19, 2012)
Audience: 2nd to 5th grade

"In a small village in Malawi, where people had no money for lights, nightfall came quickly and hurried poor farmers to bed.  But for William, the darkness was best for dreaming."  

In a world, where so many children have so much and sometimes believe that they should receive a grade or a position for just showing up, it was refreshing to read about William Kamkwamba's story.  In a poor village, in face of a drought, and without the funding to attend school, William used his ability to dream and his curiosity about how things work to develop a solution that would help his family and community.  Creating a windmill at a teenager in the best of circumstances would be a challenge, but having to scrounge the pieces from junkyards and wherever else he could find things made the challenge even that much greater.  William's story is inspirational and should be shared with children. 

Elizabeth Zunon's mixed media illustrations bring an extra dimension to this story and makes both William and his windmill stand out and pop off the pages.  A fascinating story paired up with well matched illustrations makes this a wonderful book to add to a classroom or school collection.

Looking At Lincoln
Author/Illustrator: Maria Kalman
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books (January 5, 2012)
Audience: 2nd to 5th grade

Starting with the penny and a five dollar bill, Maria Kalman introduces children to the 16th president in quirky but factual manner.  As with the previous title, there is an element of the story being fictionalized but there is accuracy in the facts of the story.  It was particularly interesting for me to pick up a couple of other picture books written at very different times and by very different authors and find that certain aspects of Lincoln's life was prominent in each of the books. 

The often humorous, yet touching look at the life and habits of Lincoln, including his relationship with his wife, and how he stored notes in his hat, made this important president seem even more humble and significant.  The illustrations also done by Kalman add to the feeling of the book, and I especially liked how she tied the story together at the end with the Lincoln Memorial.  Though I believe children ages 7 and up will enjoy the book, I do think the 2nd and 3rd graders may particularly connect to the illustrations and story format.

Giveaway Rules:

1. Though comments are very much appreciated, please do not enter any personal information in the comments section (including your email, website, etc.).  If you do enter personal information, you comment will not be posted.
2.  You must complete the Entry Form to officially enter the contest.

3.  The Contest runs from 12:00 a.m. Pacific Time on February 29, 2012 to 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on March 6, 2012.

4.  You must be 13 or older to participate in this contest.

5.  If you are selected as a winner, I will notify you by e-mail.  If you do not respond within 48 hours, I will select a new winner.

6.  International participants are welcome to enter the contest.