A Leaf Can Be...
By Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Violeta Dabija
Published 2012 by Millbrook Press
I have been in love with this book since it first came out - it's shameful that I haven't blogged my love of it until now. This is a gorgeously illustrated, beautifully written celebration of leaves - small but lovely bits of nature that are often overlooked. I love the language in this book - it's excellent for phonological awareness and helping to build vocabulary. Additionally, this book is simply a joy to look at - I have been eagerly awaiting my chance to share this title in a storytime. This book also features some pretty good back matter, with explanations of the phrases used, a glossary of scientific terms and a bibliography.
The Bravest Woman in America
By Marissa Moss, illustrated by Andrea U'Ren
Published 2011 by Tricycle Press
I think I've mentioned a time or two that I really enjoy picture book biographies, especially those that focus on people I'm not familiar with. I often think that picture book biographers have more freedom to choose their subjects - I'm not sure there would be enough information or interest for full-length adult biographies on some of the people I've seen covered in picture books. Kids (and me, apparently) love finding the lesser-known stories. This is no exception. Moss tells the story of Ida Lewis, a woman who became the keeper of a lighthouse in Rhode Island and the first woman awarded the American Cross of Honor. Fascinating woman and fascinating story, unfortunately this book falls a little short for me. There is not enough back matter and no bibliography, which I find troubling and unusual. Additionally, on a personal note, I'm not crazy about the illustrations. Still, an interesting story about a great woman.
By Carlyn Beccia
Published 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Okay, I'm stretching a little bit with this one since it's not really a picture book, but it is non-fiction, so I reserve the right to shove it in amongst these other titles. I gravitated to this book because I'm always interested in bits of trivia and I liked that this book focused on a number of royal historic figures, attempting to iron out the truth about them. This book is presented in an engaging format - each section offers a rumor about a royal figure and then evidence that supports and contradicts that rumor. The illustrations and tone of the book are humorous, which is definitely kid-friendly. Additionally, each section is only a couple of pages, making this a very quick read. Kids can jump around from rumor to rumor, depending on what interests them. Back matter is great, with resource notes, a bibliography and information on how kids can research rumors and find the truth on their own.