Speed Reviews of 5 New Nonfiction Picture Books

Today's reviews of non-fiction books are a little of this and a little of that, but all worth their salt. And they all need to go back to the library today, so it's a speedy review for each!

Rescuing the Declaration of Independence: How we Almost Lost the Words that Built America by Anna Crowley Redding illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham

Loved the illustrations in this one. It was definitely a cool story that I had never heard before. Stephen Pleasonton was James Monroe's clerk when he got an urgent message that the British were coming to attack Washington. Despite the possibility of it being a fake-out, and even though it took a ridiculous amount of work, he moved the records from his office in the State Department and kept them safe during the attack. The problem I had with this book was that Peasonton was given all the glory, even though it was a huge group effort. Still, a very cool story, well written and illustrated.

The Cat Man of Aleppo by Irene Latham and Karim Shamsi-Basha, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu

This gorgeous, meticulously illustrated book tells the story of Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel, an ambulance driver who stayed behind in war-torn Syria when his family and friends fled the country. With so many people gone, all the cats of the city begin struggling. Alaa finds a great sense of purpose in caring for the cats, finding a place for them, and eventually building a far-reaching service oriented community. This is an inspiring book, and my cat-loving son liked it, too. 

Who Will It Be?: How Evolution Connects Us All by Paola Vitale and Rossana Bossù

I found this one a little bit abstract. It wasn't until I read the backmatter and then re-read the book that I felt I understood what author & illustrator were going for. The book takes us through how we all have a common form early in our gestation -- fishes, lizards, foxes, ducks, humans, we all have very similar form in the earliest stages of life. I felt like I learned from this book, but it bothered me that the abstract art was also mixed with real but unfamiliar science art. I wondered which parts of the art were true and which weren't. The book is certainly informative and beautiful to look at. 

Nature Did It First: Engineering Through Biomimicry by Karen Ansberry illustrated by Jennifer DiRubbio

Since biomimicry was an area of focus in my first-grade daughter's classwork, I was interested to read this book. It introduces 7 concepts from nature that people have imitated to their advantage. Each has a page with a poem on it, and a page with facts and information. The poems were alright. The informational pages were cool. Each info page had 4 paragraphs and the last one was devoted to how humans have engineered this nature concept. I think I would have liked more on that, and less poetry, but it's still a great book to use if you're studying biomimicry. The watercolor illustrations were detailed and pretty awesome. 

You're Invited to a Moth Ball: A Nighttime Insect Celebration by Loree Griffin Burns photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz

The step-by-step instructions in this book make it seem both possible and fun to host a party in which the main attraction is moths. The photos are great, and show set-up as well as many amazing moths. The conversational tone of the book  makes it easy to read in one sitting and the big headings would make it easy to flip back through the book as you were setting up your own Moth Ball. Recommended for the curious and scientific ages 8 and up, I'd say!

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