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2012 Children’s Room Favorites – Nonfiction

Our final list of favorites focuses on one of hottest area of children’s publishing in 2012 – nonfiction. Check out our fiction favorites for younger readers and older readers as well!

Bomb: The Race to Build – and Steal – the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
Sheinkin is a master of page-turning narrative nonfiction and this gripping thriller – part Tom Clancy, part James Bond and all true – is another winner. Focusing on the Manhattan Project’s race to harness nuclear fusion and the scientists within it who are selling their secrets to the Soviets, there is also an exciting sub-plot about the attempts of a crack team of Norwegian resistance fighters to destroy a heavy water manufacturing plant in the far North of their country. Bomb is a must read for kids interested in the second world war or who like real-life adventures (Grades 5-8)
- Hayley

Book of Animal Poetry: 200 Poems with Photographs that Squeak, Soar, and Roar edited by J. Patrick Lewis
You don’t have to like poetry to love this awesome book, brimful of amazing animals caught in action by the photographers of National Geographic. Children’s poet laureate J. Patrick Lewis serves up short, accessible poems by masters like Frost, Tennyson, Dickinson, and Marin’s own Kay Ryan and pairs them with unbelievable shots of creatures sporting wings, fur, scales, paws, pockets, and more. This lyrical and colorful critter compendium is not to be missed! (Grades 1-5)
- Yolanda

Chuck Close: Facebook by Chuck Close
Chuck Close is one of my favorite artists of all time! I’m completely amazed by his work and his determination to create art despite the obstacles against him, including dyslexia, face blindness and paralysis. Face Book gives an account of the artist’s life, his method of work, including lots of examples of his work. The book is arranged in a question and answer format, inspired by real questions from a visiting class to Chuck’s studio, and has an interactive mix and match self-portrait section. If you are curious about artists or the artistic process, this is the book for you. (Grades 4-8)
- Natasha

Create with Maisy by Lucy Cousins
Unlike many children’s craft books, this one, featuring Maisy Mouse and friends, shows finished projects that actually look like they might have been made by a five year-old and which are very much in keeping with the naïve style of Lucy Cousins’ illustrations. Though none of the ideas are particularly original – a pencil holder from a plastic cup, a mask from a paper plate – they can all be made from things you’ll have around the house and I think younger kids will find them inspiring and satisfying to make. (Preschool to Grade 1)
- Hayley

The Fairy Ring, or Elsie and Frances Fool the World by Mary Losure
When cousins Elsie and Frances fake photographs of themselves with fairies beside the stream behind their cottage, they don’t think it’s anything more than a joke on Elsie’s dad. The “fairies” were just paper cut-outs! But things spin out of control when other grown-ups find out about the pictures — and believe them. Amazingly, one of those duped adults is none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the great detective Sherlock Holmes. The Fairy Ring vividly recounts this surprising and true tale, and includes the actual photographs Elsie and Frances made. It’s a fascinating tale of imagination, belief, and how adults all too easily underestimate the creative powers and capabilities of young girls. (Grades 4-6)
- Molly

First Girl Scout: The Life of Juliette Gordon Low by Ginger Wadsworth
I always wished I had participated more in the Girl Scouts and, after reading First Girl Scout: The Life of Juliette Gordon Low, I am in awe of her legacy and hope to pass it along to future generations of young women. Juliette — better known as Daisy — had a fascinating life and Wadsworth captures all the moments beautifully. Photographs of Daisy and her family give the biography more depth and engross the reader more into Daisy’s hardships and accomplishments. I think Daisy is a great role-model for all women and anyone who is or has ever been a Girl Scout will treasure and appreciate this biography.
(Grades 5 – 7)
- Serianna

I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; illustrated by Kadir Nelson
I had to add this to our list of favorites simply because it contains the iconic, inspiring, and ever-so-relevant words of Dr. Martin Luther King and the sublime oil paintings of Kadir Nelson. For me, the combination of these two elements spells out Black Pride and keeps the dream of racial equality alive for a new generation. (Grade 2 and up)
- Yolanda

Island: A  Story of the Galapagos by Jason Chin
This stunning new picture book is a story of the Galapagos, but not just the Darwin and finches one I knew about. This tells a broader tale that begins with the island’s volcanic birth, six million years ago, and how the island grows and becomes habitable to plants and animals that find it. In small, almost comic-book-like panels, the artist shows how these animals change over time, and how that first island eventually sinks beneath the sea. This is a wonderful and beautiful book that can show children the slow process of evolution, for animals as well as for the land itself. (Grades 3-6)
- Lauren

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