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Staff Reviews: Children's nonfiction

Check out these reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library, featuring books and DVDs for children! (For reviews of books for all ages, visit our main Staff Reviews webpage.) Staff book reviews are also published at Goodreads.com; follow us for the latest updates. The book reviews on this website represent the personal opinions of the individuals who created them and do not represent any official views of the Marathon County Public Library.


Cover: 'Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré'

"Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré" by Anika Aldamuy Denise, Paola Escobar

★★★★★ This was a really impactful story about the life of Pura Belpré, author, puppeteer, and librarian from Puerto Rico. Not only was this a story about the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York, this is a heartwarming story about the impact librarians have on their community. I really enjoyed learning about the life of Pura Belpré, and appreciated the...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Tea Time Around the World'

"Tea Time Around the World" by Denyse Waissbluth

★★★★★ Take a trip around the world with tea! This traditional, yet diverse beverage can be warm or cold, sweet or tart. Did you know that tea can also contain yak butter or tapioca bubbles? Tea can also steep in a samovar and be prepared as an entertaining show!  Learn about tea in various cultures with the poetic rhythm of a...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'On Wings of Words: The Extraordinary Life of Emily Dickinson'

"On Wings of Words: The Extraordinary Life of Emily Dickinson" by Jennifer Berne, Becca Stadtlander

★★★★★ Beautifully illustrated with just the right amount of text to a page, this picture book biography is great to share with young poets. It tells how Emily lived a secluded life enjoying her family, close friends, and the natural world. In books and in her mind she experienced much that she described in her poems. Though she published few in her lifetime, her...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'If You Want a Friend in Washington'

"If You Want a Friend in Washington" by Erin McGill

★★★★ Explore a wackier side of life in the White House in this fun and entertaining book about presidential pets!  The President of the United States has a lot of responsibility and has to make hard decisions. Citizens and fellow politicians might agree, or disagree with these decisions, making friends hard to come by. Many presidents hoped for...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice'

"Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice" by Mahogany L. Browne, Theodore Taylor III, Elizabeth Acevedo, Olivia Gatwood

★★★★★ This is an absolutely beautiful collection of thought-provoking poems by an amazing collection of talented poets that tackles topics from discrimination to immigration to intersectionality to privilege ("What's in my Toolbox" and "A Me-Shaped Box" are both must reads on the topic of privilege and stereotypes). It is a beautifully illustrated reflection on...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Writers and Their Pets'

"Writers and Their Pets" by Kathleen Krull, Violet Lemay

★★★★★ Do you have a pet? What kinds of animals do you like? Have you ever given your pets names like Bambino, You Know, Catterina, Mooky, Littless Kitty, Friendless, or Colonel Eggbert? In this read you will learn about the pets and animals 20 famous authors loved! Author Kathleen Krull offers insight into the backgrounds of the authors from childhood to them...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Invisible War'

"The Invisible War" by Ailsa Wild

★★★★ World War I was a time of great changes when it came to warfare - from mustard gas to the Browning Automatic Rifle, the way the world fought wars had changed. Unfortunately, medical science hadn't caught up with many of these changes. Soldiers suffered from debilitating wounds that often led to a slow, painful death or traumatic amputations. Many soldiers...

Audience: teens, tweens | Genre: graphic novel, nonfiction

Cover: 'The Faithful Spy'

"The Faithful Spy" by John Hendrix

★★★★★ This creative, colorful, biography tells the life story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran pastor, a member of the German Resistance, and double agent working for the Abwehr during World War II. Bonhoeffer opposed Hitler’s ideology of Aryan supremacy early on in his rise to power, long before the outbreak of the second world war. He watched with...

Audience: children, teens, tweens | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Pandemic'

"Pandemic" by Connie Goldsmith

★★★★★ I love a good book about pandemics. For whatever reason, they fascinate me. Learning the reasons behind the Black Death or Ebola can be an adventure story and "Pandemic" covers everything you need to know.  This book was very readable, with great pictures of viruses, bacteria and  insects, as well as interesting side notes that help clarify...

Audience: children, teens | Genre: nonfiction, epidemics, health

Cover: 'The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden'

"The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden" by Kevin DeYoung, Don Clark

★★★★ This brilliantly illustrated book covers the Bible’s central message in just 10 chapters using simple, casually styled language. It describes the Bible story of the snake crusher (that’s Jesus), defeating death forever so that we can live with God in the garden as the biggest story the world has ever known. DeYoung’s writing makes the Bible accessible to...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Dear Pope Francis'

"Dear Pope Francis" by Pope Francis

★★★★★ This book is a delightful and refreshingly candid look at Pope Francis and the children from around the world who had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write a letter and ask the leader of the Catholic Church any questions they wished. The questions they ask are honest, surprising, and ones that people of all ages would be interested in hearing his...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Sad Animal Facts'

"Sad Animal Facts" by Brooke Barker

★★★★ For those of you who like animal trivia facts, this book is for you. There are over 150 hand-drawn illustrations with little known facts about your favorite animal. For example, did you know that a koi fish can live 200 years? Or that gorillas can catch human colds or that camels can drink 30 gallons of water in 15 minutes? This book is a quick read...

Audience: adults, children, teens | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Ugly'

"Ugly" by Robert Hoge

★★★★ Growing up fairly normal-looking is difficult enough, but when you are, well, ugly, it is almost unimaginable. Born with a tennis ball-shaped tumor in the middle of his face instead of a nose, and with short twisted, mangled legs, Robert Hoge was not the sort of baby mothers rush to take home. As a matter of fact, his mother didn’t. After knowing the facts...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Airport Book'

"The Airport Book" by Lisa Brown

★★★★★ Join a young boy, his toddler sister, and their parents as they journey through a busy airport. From leaving the house to experiencing turbulence, and from boarding the plane to the baggage claim, the siblings take you through the entire process of going to the airport and flying on a plane. There is even a fun subplot about the sister's toy monkey and his...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids: 60 Easy Plant-Based Recipes Kids Can Make to Stay Healthy and Save the Earth'

"The Help Yourself Cookbook for Kids: 60 Easy Plant-Based Recipes Kids Can Make to Stay Healthy and Save the Earth" by Ruby Roth

★★★★★ Are you a parent or family member looking for healthy, fun meals for your youngest family members? This fun, new cookbook is a great resource for anyone looking for healthy recipes that will tempt even the pickiest eaters. Not only are all recipes vegan, so they are allergy friendly and environmentally conscious, but the author did a great job of...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'Their Great Gift: Courage, Sacrifice, and Hope in a New Land'

"Their Great Gift: Courage, Sacrifice, and Hope in a New Land" by John Coy

★★★★★ This beautiful, heart-warming children’s book gave me goosebumps. The photographs portray a multitude of immigrants who came to America from many different countries. In simple, almost lyrical text it imparts the great sacrifices that the previous generation made, not only to bring their family to a new country, but to survive and provide new opportunities...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction, history

Cover: 'Finding Winnie:  The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear'

"Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear" by Lindsay Mattick, Sophie Blackall

★★★★★ This is the heartwarming story of the real life "Winnie the Pooh." I really enjoyed how the author told the story in two parts and also included real journal entries and photographs from WWI. In 1914, Harry Colebourn, a Canadian veterinarian on his way to care for horses in World War I, happened upon a lost baby bear at a train station. For some reason,...

Audience: children | Genre: caldecott award winner, nonfiction, picture book, read-alouds

Cover: 'Wild Eats and Adorable Treats: 40 Animal-Inspired Meals and Snacks for Kids'

"Wild Eats and Adorable Treats: 40 Animal-Inspired Meals and Snacks for Kids" by Jill Mills

★★★★★ This book totally lives up to its name; it is adorable! There are some seriously cute ways to make snacks and meals for you and your family. Adults and kids will both enjoy the recipes in this fun filled cookbook. Adults, you’ll find lots of healthy recipes and treats that you can make with your kids or for them as a surprise. Kids, you will find cool...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'What Is Punk?'

"What Is Punk?" by Eric Morse, Anny Yi

★★★★★ Did you grow up listening to Punk music and wish to share it with your kids or reminisce about it? "What Is Punk" covers the rise of the Punk movement, the various bands associated with it, and its fashion. Experience this book in all its glory as you learn all about the Ramones to The Slits to the Descendents in a fun story that rhymes and is illustrated...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Emotions' Survival Guide'

"The Emotions' Survival Guide" by Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear and Anger

★★★★★ Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear and Anger from Disney/Pixar's "Inside Out" are here to help children ages 8-12 navigate their feelings. The book covers ways to deal with sadness, fear, anger, disgust, and ways to find happiness in all situations. It gives ideas of things to do when feeling sad, ways to calm down when feeling angry, and how to deal with change....

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'I'm Trying to Love Spiders'

"I'm Trying to Love Spiders" by Bethany Barton

★★★★★ For the record, I do not like spiders. However, I am trying to pass on a better view of them to my daughter. This book is very helpful for any young reader who would like to unmask the mystery of these sometimes creepy insects. The writing is simple so that anyone can learn about spiders in a fun way. Not only that, but the illustrations do a great job to...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Little Author in the Big Woods'

"Little Author in the Big Woods" by Yona Zeldis McDonough, Jennifer Thermes

★★★★★ This new children's biography of perhaps Wisconsin’s most well known and loved author, Laura Ingalls Wilder, is a great addition for all her fans. Written in a plain, simple style it includes most of the facts we know about her and her family. The illustrations by Yona Zeldis McDonough are simple, warm and homey, reminiscent of the illustrations by Garth...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: nonfiction, biography

Cover: 'The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights'

"The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights" by Steve Sheinkin

★★★★★ The Port Chicago 50 tells the true story of 50 black sailors who were tried for mutiny late in World War II. Port Chicago was a Navy base near San Francisco, CA, and, like other military bases in the U.S. at the time, was segregated. At Port Chicago, black sailors—who could not serve on naval vessels outside of the mess hall or laundry—loaded munitions into...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: nonfiction, history

Cover: 'Little Humans'

"Little Humans" by Brandon Stanton

★★★★ From the author and photographer of the well-known blog "Humans of New York" comes a great picture book that celebrates the uniqueness, abilities, and diversity of the littlest humans--children. Brandon Stanton's photographs capture children doing everyday things like walking down the street, riding a bicycle, playing in the street, and making music. This...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction, picture book

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