Friday, January 16, 2009

Non-Fiction Book Reviews

I've been given mostly non-fiction books to review lately, which has me rather bogged down. Here are a couple of current reviews.

Making Cents, by Elizabeth Keeler Robinson and illustrated by Bob McMahon.
The United States has a lot of different forms of currency, or money, from the penny up to the $100 bill. How much is the money worth and how can you get some of it? This non-fiction title describes each monetary unit, shows a nice picture of it, and describes what you can buy with it. Turn the page, and the penny is multiplied to the nickel, and its buying power is multiplied too. As the amount of money grows, the illustrator continues drawing pennies, nickels, and dimes so that the reader can see the pile of money growing and growing. The author also shows how the choices of purchases multiply along with the money. For a penny, the kids can buy one-penny nail, but for one dollar, the kids can buy one hundred penny nails or twenty spiraled wood screws or ten marking pencils or four sandpaper squares, or a hinge for a door. The ascension of money and products is simply laid out and explained and makes a bold impression. In addition to the text, the bright and appealing illustrations show kids doing various neighborhood tasks to earn the money they are going to need to build a clubhouse, so the concepts of earning and saving are mildly introduced as well. An author’s note at the end discusses other currency not mentioned in the text, such as the two-dollar bill or the one-dollar coin. The author also describes how the pictures on our coins change all the time and gives the websites for the Bureau of Printing and Engraving and the U.S. Mint so that kids can see the various designs for themselves.

Hide and Seek: Nature's Best Vanishing Acts, by Andrea Helman with photographs by Gavriel Jecan.
Animals around the world and across many habitats use camouflage to hide themselves from predators. Giraffes in the savanna, candy crabs in the sea, grasshoppers in the desert, seal pups in the arctic, tigers in the forest, and jackrabbits in the mountains are just some examples of the varied animals that use their skin to stay safe. In this book, dramatic photographs show how difficult it can be to see these, and other, animals hiding in plain sight. Notes at the end of the book will help you find animals you might have missed hiding in the photographs. The notes also pinpoint where in the world the photos were taken and give further information about the animals pictured, including each animal’s Latin name. Large, bold-face type and simple text make this an accessible choice for younger elementary children. The layout of the book is not particularly special, but the space on the page devoted to the amazing photographs makes up for the lack of jazzy editorial features.

No comments: