Five Nonfiction Picture Books for Kids of Many Ages — From Monsters and Animals to Historical Figures and the Flight to the Moon

“Vincent Can’t Sleep: Van Gogh Paints the Night Sky” by Barb Rosenstock and Mary Grandpré  shares with young readers the lonely, often tormented life of Vincent Van vincentGogh. Each page begins with “Vincent can’t sleep…” and begins with his childhood when at the age of nine or ten he once walked at night six miles from his home in the Netherlands to Belgium where he was “found with torn clothes and muddy shoes.” The author includes that he was moody, “Excited. Bored. Eager. Lazy. Explosive. Shy. His many-colored moods scare the customers — and he’s forced to go.” This is a wonderful book for encouraging discussion about being different. Van Gogh was different. He’s described as “A sensitive boy. A hidden genius. A brilliant artist.” But according to the Author’s Note, he may have only sold five paintings while he was alive. Questions to discuss can include what makes someone successful? Was Van Gogh successful? Was he crazy? Why are his paintings so revered and so valuable? A beautiful book about a brilliant — and tormented — artist. (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers)
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Great Giveaway of Picture Book ‘Fiona the Hippo’ by Richard Cowdrey

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Hey, folks! Zonderkidz is partnering with me for a fabulous giveaway!

Here’s a chance to win a copy of Richard Cowdrey’s fabulous picture book, “Fiona the Hippo,” about the plucky premature hippo at the Cincinnati Zoo. (Read my glowing review here.) In addition to the picture book, you’ll receive an adorable Fiona stuffed animal, and a Fiona sippy cup! All courtesy of partner Zonderkidz.

prize package

“Fiona the Hippo, by New York Times bestselling artist Richard Cowdrey of Bad Dog, Marley fame, tells the story of Fiona, the adorable internet sensation from the Cincinnati Zoo who captured hearts around the world with her inspiring story and plucky personality.

Born prematurely, at only 29 pounds, Fiona was not expected to live. But her spunk and determination helped her thrive and become a happy, healthy hippopotamus. With every challenge she faced, Fiona let out a snort, wiggled her ears, and said “I’ve got this.” And she did! In this delightful story, inspired by the real adventure of this heroic hippo, join Fiona and her lovable animal friends at the zoo as she is introduced to the world in this whimsical and inspiring tale of perseverance and friendship.”

During a very recent trip to Kenya, I had the opportunity to see many hippos at Masai Mara. Most were in the Masai Mara river, but we caught sight of one walking along the dirt road. She was huge and pink and grey, and we loved getting to see her!

Be sure to enter to win your own “Fiona the Hippo” book and more!

Fiona’s fabulous giveaway! 

‘Fiona the Hippo’ by Richard Cowdrey Is a Picture Book About Not Giving up (and It’s Adorable!)

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In “Fiona the Hippo,” a picture book by Richard Cowdrey, readers who didn’t know about the baby hippo who was born six weeks early will get to see how the staff at the Cincinnati Zoo cared for her and helped keep her safe. The story is lovely, and Cowdrey cleverly has Fiona say, “I’ve got this!” for each new accomplishment.

That’s a great catch-phrase for kids. Fiona’s story teaches that all new skills take practice — sometimes lots of practice — but if a child is taught determination and perseverance and says, “I’ve got this!” the chances of success are multiplied tenfold.

Fiona got it, and she was reunited with her parents. Cowdrey’s story of Fiona’s start is a picture book that kids will want to read over and over. They will know when to chime in for Fiona, “I’ve got this!” and one might hope that it becomes the new mantra for a generation.

Learn more at Fiona the Hippo. Watch her adorable video on YouTube.

Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Big Honcho Media for review purposes.

Six Picture Books for Older Kids: Books to Think About

Picture books aren’t just for babies. There are many thoughtful, informational picture books that are wonderful reads for children of all ages. Here are just a few.

god bless america“God Bless America: The Story of an Immigrant Named Irving Berlin” is a very timely nonfiction picture book by Adah Nuchi and illustrated by Rob Polivka. The author is the daughter of immigrants, and this book is chock-full of references to the contributions of immigrants to our country. And the man who wrote such American classics as “God Bless America,” “White Christmas,” “Blue Skies,” and “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” to mention just a few, was an immigrant. In fact, Izzy Baline, more famously known as Irving Berlin, was a prolific, brilliant songwriter. Yet his family escaped from Russia where Jews were being persecuted, and they came to America with their children, their work ethic, and nothing else. When Berlin’s father died, the family was even more in need. So young Berlin went to work, kept writing songs, and eventually sold one, which led to more work. As much as this story is about Irving Berlin, it’s also very much a story about the contributions that immigrants make to our great country. Nuchi writes, “And while some people didn’t like that the voice of America belonged to an immigrant and a Jew, most people felt that a refugee was just the right person to celebrate the hope America held.” Ain’t that the truth. (Disney-Hyperion)

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From Robins to Band-aids: Nonfiction Picture Books Perfect for Summer Reading

Just because it’s summer and the sun is shining doesn’t mean it’s time to stop reading. Not with all the fabulous books out there that children will love and that will keep them learning new information. From animals who build shelters to the man who invents a way to make bandages to help his accident-prone wife, here are a bunch of books to make your summer a bit more interesting!

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Summer Comic Books that Will Keep You (and Your Kids) Learning: ‘Action Presidents’ Series

 

Shhh. Don’t tell the kids, but when they start reading and laughing out loud at the humor in the “Action Presidents #1: George Washington” and “Action Presidents #2: Abraham Lincoln,” they will be learning a bunch of history at the same time. Real history — history presented in a graphic novel format that’s humor-filled and easy-to-understand.

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6 Picture Books that Will Encourage Thought, Compassion, and Discussion about Diversity

Summer is a time of leisure, and a time when long sun-filled days might just give parents more time to read and reflect on books with their children. Here are many picture books that kids will love, and parents will love to discuss with those kids. They would be great choices for library read aloud time or for classrooms in the fall. All share wonderful messages. Continue reading

‘Write to Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind’

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A beautifully written, touching picture book about a shameful period of American history is “Write to Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind” by Cynthia Grady and illustrated by Amiko Hirao.

The book includes pictures from that time of children wearing identification tags and families with their belongings (they were only allowed to bring what they could carry). At the heart of the story is Clara Breed, a children’s librarian in San Diego County where many Japanese American families lived. She formed relationships with her patrons, and when they told her that they were going to be imprisoned because they were of Japanese descent, she gave them postcards so they could keep in contact with her.

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