Thursday, December 12, 2019

Best Nonfiction of 2019


If you think nonfiction has to be dense and dry, think again! We're wrapping up the end of 2019 with some of our favorite nonfiction reads. Full of gorgeous photographs, STEAM activities, funny anecdotes, and more, give these titles a try.

The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons 
Natascha Biebow
Macaroni and Cheese. Inchworm. Robin’s Egg Blue. Razzmatazz and Tickle Me Pink. It’s hard to believe that children (and adults) weren’t always dreaming about naming a Crayola Crayon color or wishing for the big box with the sharpener. This book reveals Edwin Binney’s journey from working in a dark, colorless factory to inventing a way for children to vibrantly draw. 
Highlights include: A look at the Crayola factory in Easton, Pennsylvania; the various minerals for pigments; and a well-rounded bibliography.

United Tastes of America: An Atlas of Food Facts & Recipes from Every State
Gabrielle Langholtz 
What culinary delights are famous in your state? Ohio is known for its chicken paprikash, apples, and the chocolate peanut buttery goodness of buckeyes. In this colorful cookbook, each state is given a profile of fun food facts and a signature recipe. 
Highlights include: A cooking tips and tools section; easy recipes; and the U.S. territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are also featured.

Elvis is King!
Jonah Winter
Elvis Presley’s impoverished beginnings and meteoric rise to superstardom are chronicled in 3D by Red Nose Studio. Short chapters convey Presley’s shyness, first love, loneliness, and discovery of blues and gospel music. 
Highlights include: Each chapter is a short, lyrical poem about a moment in Presley’s early life; an author’s note at the end describes the complexity of Elvis, including the loneliness he experienced throughout his life, and the cultural appropriation and segregation of the time. 

The Sea Book
Charlotte Milner
From coral reefs to migrating whales to kelp forests, The Sea Book explores the incredible habitats and animals of the world’s oceans. The end of the book discusses some of the issues threatening these incredible places and creatures, such as climate change and plastic waste, and what steps can be taken to reverse the effects. 
Highlights include: Gorgeous illustrations and countless diverse facts; there’s even a tutorial for crafting a reusable shopping bag from an old shirt.

Can You Hear the Trees Talking? Discovering the Hidden Life of the Forest
Peter Wohlleben
Do trees have grandparents? Do they ever get scared? What do trees drink? Why do some trees lose their leaves every autumn? Peter Wohlleben answers these questions and more for young readers. While the book discusses the typical life a tree, particular emphasis is given to how trees communicate with one another and how essential they are to the planet’s network of plants and animals. 
Highlights include: Beautiful photographs; quizzes; and a “Try This!” corner on virtually every page with easy activities and experiments.

Can You Crack the Code? A Fascinating History Ciphers and Cryptography
Ella Schwartz
If you’ve ever wanted a more secure, secretive way to pass notes during class, give this book a try. Can You Crack the Code? traces the use of ciphers from Ancient China to the Greeks to Samuel Morse to Alan Turning to the present day. Simple and complex methods of creating codes, such as messages on silk or through computer code, are discussed in addition to methods of keeping codes secret – even swallowing paper! 
Highlights include: Activities for young readers to create and break codes are included

Owling: Enter the World of the Mysterious Birds of the Night
Mark Wilson
Those gorgeous, big owl eyes that captivate us? Did you know that some owls’ eyes are larger than their brains? Or that owls do not build their own nests, but rather use those abandoned by other birds? Owling is a detailed look at the anatomy, nesting habits, calls, habitats, and hunting and flying practices of owls. The nineteen owl species of North America are covered with gorgeous pictures by wildlife photojournalist Mark Wilson. 
Highlights include: The layout and photographs are attractive; every young reader is fascinated by poop so it’s no surprise that there’s a hefty discussion of owl pellets; the end of the book details current conservation efforts and steps for making an owl box. 

Fighting for the Forest: How FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps Helped Save America
P. O’Connell Pearson
When President Roosevelt took office in 1933, he immediately unleashed a barrage of New Deal Programs to bring the U.S. back from the brink. One of the most successful New Deal programs was the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC provided young men with employment, shelter, clothing, food, and a $30 monthly wage ($25 was automatically sent home to their families). Some 3 million men participated, 800 parks were created, and 3 billion trees were planted. Ample personal stories, a thorough background on the Great Depression and the creation of the CCC, the leadership involved in the program, and the type of work the CCC did make this an excellent read. 
Highlights include: The positives and the negatives of the CCC are discussed; vocabulary words are highlighted; and today’s connections to the CCC are given plenty of attention.

The Poison Eaters: Fighting Danger and Fraud in Our Food and Drugs
Gail Jarrow
The Poison Eaters hooks young readers immediately with tales of candy laced with arsenic, milk with formaldehyde, and sausages with borax. In addition to gruesome food events and junk medicine, the book describes the life of Harvey Washington Wiley, his 30 year campaign for safe food and drugs, and the eventual creation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Highlights include: Photographs, timelines, newspaper headlines and political cartoons, magazine advertisements, plenty of stories, and a “More to Explore” section are a draw for reluctant readers.  

Fearless Felines: 30 True Tales of Courageous Cats
Kimberlie Hamilton
"Dewey" know about the library cat that greeted patrons and read with children? What about the first cat that traveled into space? Or what about the tabby that went on top-secret flying missions during World War II? Hamilton provides young readers with 30 full page biographies of famous felines complete with the most adorable illustrations. 
Highlights include: The diversity of the cats profiled; a timeline and cat trivia between biographies; and a fun quiz titled “Why Are Cats So Weird?”