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Wonder Garden, a Review

We were setting up a display of children’s new nonfiction books when this book found its way to me. Wonder Garden illustrated by Kristjana S. Williams and written by Jenny Broom is quite simply one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen.

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It’s an over-sized trip around the world to explore the habitats of the Amazon, Black Forest, Great Barrier Reef, Chihuahuan Desert and Himalayan Mountains. Each page is covered in bright illustrations  with a gold gate overlay on the cover which gives the reader the feel of setting off on an exotic, psychedelic adventure.

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Each section includes a summary of each habitat, brief descriptions of animals with their scientific names as well as an index. This is one of those books with the wondrous detail that a kid could get lost in. With such visually stunning illustrations even non-readers will want to sit with this one awhile. Recommended for readers of all ages.


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Best of the Year: Nonfiction Picture Books

This month I’ll be sharing my favorite picture books of the year. I love all the ‘best of’ book lists that come out around this time, seeing my favorites show up on others’ lists and discovering titles I’d missed or overlooked. With award season just around the corner, this is the time to catch some of the best books published all year. Children’s nonfiction has come a long way in the last several years producing titles that are interesting, beautiful, readable. The librarian in me struggles with the nonfiction picture book, however. They’re often beyond the attention span and comprehension of the picture book crowd. Kids old enough to sit through and understand them often don’t want to read them, viewing picture books as ‘babyish.’ Nevertheless,  they give readers a fresh perspective on a historical period, often work as readalouds and with so many having Caldecott-worthy illustrations they’re simply too good to ignore.

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A tasty story of a little-known figure from the Revolution. The notable part is that the illustrations really look like gingerbread. You may feel a strong urge to bake cookies afterwards.

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Fascinating story with retro graphic illustrations.

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Kudos to McCarthy for taking an object no one thinks about and turning it into this funny, comically illustrated story.

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 Works as a readaloud and the groups I’ve read it to have really enjoyed it. If you’ve ever seen a spider and thought, “Kill it! Kill it!” this one’s for you. Laughed so hard my stomach hurt. Funniest. picture book. ever. EVER!

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 A beautifully illustrated book that is telling a story within the story. Love the author’s use of illustrations to show and give visual scale to the facts and numbers.

Share your favorite nonfiction kids’ books!