Please welcome my guest author today, Maria Gianferrari! We are giving away a copy of her newest nonfiction picture book, TERRIFIC TONGUES. Please enter at the bottom.
I’m celebrating the release of my first expository nonfiction STEM title, Terrific Tongues, illustrated by Jia Liu and published by Boyds Mills Press!
What’s expository nonfiction you ask? Expository nonfiction does not tell a story; it describes, explains and informs in delightful ways and appeals to all kinds of kids, but especially to kids who love facts, information and data. Today’s expository nonfiction is engaging and can use a humorous approach with a more lively voice, or a softer, more soothing lyrical one, or even something in between.
Want to learn more about expository nonfiction? Follow science writer and nonfiction guru Melissa Stewart’s blog, Celebrate Science. Melissa has been surveying educators and librarians about their favorite expository nonfiction titles over the last year or so. There are so many excellent titles out there!
Here are some of my Top 10 favorites:
Top 10 Expository Nonfiction Picture Books
1. Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Steve Jenkins)
Ward’s rollicking read aloud features all kinds of birds and nests told visually through Steve Jenkins’ cool collage art. My favorite is the hummingbird stanza:
Mama built a little nest,
a cup so wee and snug,
with walls of moss and roof of sky
and silky, cobweb rug. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
2. You Nest Here with Me by Jane Yolen & Heidi E.Y. Stemple, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
I want to nest with this book! Coupled with Melissa Sweet’s stunning illustrations, Yolen and Stemple sing a lyrical bird lullaby filled with some of my favorite birds, like the killdeer:
Killdeer, once their eggs are laid,
Perform a broken wing charade.
The clutch can rest there unafraid,
As you nest here with me. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
3. Feathers by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Sarah J. Brannen
Feathers cushion like pillows; shade sun like umbrellas; glide like a sled—they’re not just for flying. Brannen’s gorgeous watercolors are as soothing as Stewart’s pleasing text. [picture book, ages 6 and up]
Are you noticing a pattern??? Yup. Resident bird nerd here J.
The list continues with more STEM books:
4. Pink Is For Blobfish: Discovering the World’s Perfectly Pink Animals by Jess Keating, illustrated by David DeGrand
I love this series, full of cool and unique creatures all bonded by the color pink in a subversive way! In addition to the titular blobfish, Keating introduces readers to pygmy seahorses, pink fairy armadillos, naked mole rats and Amazon River dolphins to name just a few! Don’t miss the other books in the series, What Makes A Monster and Cute As An Axolotl (see below). [picture book, ages 4 and up]
5. How to Swallow a Pig by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page
Jenkins and Page give readers a fun-filled and fascinating step-by-step guide to things we always wanted to know: How to Woo a Ewe like a Mountain Sheep; How to Sew Like a Tailor Bird, and of course, How To Swallow a Pig, like a python. [picture book, ages 6 and up]
Check out this video to see how they made How To Swallow A Pig.
6. How to be an Elephant by Katherine Roy
I love elephants—and so does Katherine Roy! With lush watercolor illustrations full of feeling and dynamism, Roy shows us how a newborn elephant learns to survive and thrive, guided by her extended family deftly weaving in scientific details about elephants’ social behavior, anatomy and their role in the ecosystem. [picture book, ages 7 and up]
Here’s Roy’s video showing an elephant’s trunk is a swiss army knife of tools: arm, shower, nose—it can be strong and delicate.
7. I, Fly: The Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are by Bridget Heos, illustrated by Jennifer Plecas
A fly character who no longer wants to be a fly on the wall, but studied by kids. Heos combines fun fly facts with a humorous voice and clever wordplay from beginning to backmatter. To give you a taste of the humor:
Scientists called us larvae. Humans called us maggots. Our parents called us adorable. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
8. Grand Canyon by Jason Chin
Winner of both an Orbis Pictus as well as a Sibert Honor, this is Chin’s finest work. What I love most about this book are the multiple habitats, the literal layers of rock and unfolding layers of time. We start the journey at the canyon base, at the banks of the Colorado River, and follow the layers of stone ascending through space and time, through ecosystems from riparian to scrub to pinyon and ponderosa. I also love the marginalia teeming with the various flora and fauna in each escalating ecosystem. A feast for the eyes and the mind, and detailed backmatter sure to please budding scientists and backmatter nerds like me! [picture book, ages 7 and up]
And lastly, two lyrical flower favorites:
9. Weeds Find a Way by Cindy Jenson-Elliott, illustrated by Carolyn Fisher
Jenson-Elliott’s long lilting lines celebrate the indefatigable and defiant nature of so-called weeds, lovely in their own right:
Weeds find a way to be loved,
sending up flares of riotous red,
flags of green,
umbrellas of the finest white lace,
making a place sing with bees and birds,
exhaling breath as sweet as sleep. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
10. Plants Can’t Sit Still by Rebecca E. Hirsch, illustrated by Mia Posada
Posada’s cut paper collage and watercolor illustrations perfectly complement Hirsch’s poetical text.
sleep at night,
Others wake with the stars
and lift their faces to the moon. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
All of these books contain beautiful backmatter too!
Terrific Tongues GIVEAWAY!
Enter to win a copy of Terrific Tongues by filling out the Rafflecopter below. We can only ship to US addresses.
Maria would love an air conditioner-like tongue to combat Virginia’s hot and humid summers, or a tongue like a straw for sipping cold ice tea! But she’ll make do with kisses from her rescue mutt, Becca. Terrific Tongues is Maria’s first book with Boyds Mills Press. She is also the author of the Penny & Jelly books, Coyote Moon, Officer Katz & Houndini and Hello Goodbye Dog. Maria lives in Virginia with her scientist husband, artist daughter, and writing companion, Becca. To learn more, visit her website, Facebook and Instagram.
An animal lover, illustrator and art teacher for both children and adults, Jia Liu is the illustrator of Terrific Tongues (Boyds Mills Press) and the What Shapes The Earth series (Cantata Learning). She has two picture books, Arithmechicks Add Up and Arithmechicks Take Away releasing in 2019 and 2020. To learn more, visit her website.
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.