Monday, April 18, 2016

Nonfiction Roundup

As life in the Doucette Library is becoming quieter with teacher-education students out on practicum, I’m getting caught up on some reading.

Today I’m highlighting some interesting nonfiction books for all levels.


A Place for Turtles by Melissa Stewart
Despite the commercialism of the jingle, “I love turtles”, I do, in fact love real turtles. They are fascinating creatures and this book lays out many interesting facts about various species of turtles predominately found in the United States. Along with these facts are the conditions and challenges that turtles face today. The illustrations are well done and provide abundant details about what the turtles look like and their habitats. It emphasizes the interconnectedness within ecological systems and the importance of protecting turtles.

What an interesting story! This is about a young man from Ghana who overcomes a physical challenge and societal prejudices proving that “disability does not mean inability”.  Born with only one strong leg Emmanuel had to learn to do things for himself fairly quickly. He learned to carry water and climb coconut trees.  He hopped two miles each way to get to school. He learned to make friends when the other kids didn’t want to play with him.  He was resourceful and resilient. As a young man he decides to honour a promise he made to his dying mother by cycling close to 400 miles across Ghana to spread his message that “disable does not mean being unable.” Loved it.

This book also explores the life of an artist who lives with what could have been a debilitating condition, going blind at a young age, but ends up becoming a world class runner and renowned artist. It’s an interesting story with good classroom potential to teach about resiliency, inclusion, and art.  I did find the writing somewhat abrupt, a little choppy with no sense of what the time line was for George’s life.

Middle School

Another fascinating look at an atypical childhood. We are introduced to Marie Ahnighito Peary, born in a shed in Greenland in 1893, the daughter of a naval office obsessed to become the first person to reach the North Pole. Marie and her mother were often willing participants of Peary’s expeditions (and there were many) that placed them far from Washington D.C. society and living in the high Arctic with sailors, explorers and local Inuit people. Marie was adventuresome and saw her father as a hero for trying to attain his goal. There are lots of photos of Marie, her family, the ships she sailed on and various locales that are mentioned in the text. The book has a lot of text which may put off younger or struggling readers but the story here is so interesting that it’s worth having in the classroom.

“Is this for real?” asked my partner when he saw this book sitting on the coffee table at home. That’s exactly what I thought when I came across this one, too. I had no idea that so many attempts had been made by so many innovators to construct a vehicle that would allow a car to fly or a small aircraft to drive like a car.  Many configurations of areocars have been designed between the early 1900s and today. It’s a fascinating idea that sparks the imagination but within a heartbeat raises a myriad of questions about the challenges of just anyone flying/driving a vehicle. Nevertheless, a really cool idea.


Okay, I’m going to fess up that I haven’t read all of this one – yet. This is an interesting, well-written account of the practical and societal issues about garbage.  What drew my attention to this book was an article that came my way about Boise High School using this book to engage its student body with reading and sustainability issues. Check out the article to read more about this initiative or read about the school's objectives for this project here. I love the idea that this sort of enterprise can have such a big payout for both literacy and social change in a school setting. This is an interesting and informative read that really does impact all of us.


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