Nonfiction Monday, the roundup

Welcome to Nonfiction Monday at bookstogether! Please leave a comment with a link to your post (and a brief description, if you'd like); I'll update this one with your links throughout the day. Don't forget to come back and click through to later posts (including mine on Kathleen Krull's Kubla Khan: The Emperor of Everything; Viking Juvenie, 2010). Til then, have a merry Nonfiction Monday!

Good morning!

Mary Ann Sheuer of Great Kid Books features two animal books for young readers today: Creature ABC and Out of Sight. She writes, "Both are amazing visual treats, and would be great paired with a set of animal figures. While they are naturally perfect for young preschoolers and kindergartners, they are so visually stimulating that older kids love looking at them too!"

Jone reviews three books by Steve Jenkins at Check it Out (including my favorite, Bones).

Over at Shelf-employed, Lisa is featuring a new series, All Aboard! about trains - perfect for PreK - Gr 2.

Angela reviews the YALSA nonfiction award shortlistee Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing at Bookish Blather.

Shirley has Life-Size Aquarium at SimplyScience (we love the Life-Size books).

Abby the Librarian has a review of Bones by Steven Jenkins.

Afternoon check-in

Welcome to Stacey Loscalzo, whose very first Nonfiction Monday post addresses her own bias against nonfiction.

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Ritan of Bookendsat Bookends are writing about I Dreamed of Flying Like a Bird: My Adventures Photographing Wild Animals from a Helicopter by Robert Haas.

Alex Baugh of The Children's War posts about a book called Parallel Journeys by Eleanor Ayer with Helen Waterford and Alfons Heck.

Catherine Nichols of The Cat in the Hat posts a review of a book about sloths for beginning readers.

At Apples with Many Seeds, Tammy Flanders "is looking at how cities developed over several centuries and several continents. Metropolis [by Albert Lorenz] gives us plenty of information about cities, in a very graphic way, making the book accessible for strong and struggling readers. It's a time sink. Just so much to look at."

Robert at Wrapped in Foil says it's a busy time of year, but she still found time to praise The Bat Scientists by Mary Kay Carson.

Pink Me is in (finally, she says!) with Ballet for Martha: The Making of Appalachian Spring, by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Brian Floca (this is one of my favorite nonfiction titles of 2010).

The Wild About Nature blog reviews EcoMazes: 12 Earth Adventures by Roxie Munro.  And, "We are also continuing our celebration of the holiday season with another book giveaway!  Stop by, read and enter for your chance to win!"

Time for bed

Tara chose an old seasonal favorite--Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory--for her first Nonfiction Monday Post.

Thanks for visiting Nonfiction Monday at bookstogether, everyone!

The Crowfield Curse

The image of an angel struck by an arrow featured in last week's  Middle Grade Gallery is from The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh (Chicken House, 2010).  According to the old story, illuminated on a manuscript page, the angel was buried by monks in the forest behind Crowfield Abbey over a hundred years ago.  Now Master Jacobus Bone and his servant Shadlock are looking for the angel's grave, and they want William, an orphan boy living at the abbey, to help them find it.  The mystery of angel, forest, and abbey combines elements from Christian belief (in angels) and British mythology (the fay); setting them in the medieval world of 1347.

The Crowfield Curse was nominated for a Cybil in the Middle Grade Science Fiction and Fantasy category (which is how I came to read it). To subcategorize even further, it's the sort of book I think of as historical fantasy (which is also a sort of book I tend to like). There's a "Winter Timetable for Daily Life at Crowfield Abbey" at the back, and a hobgoblin!  Authentic and atmospheric, it's also perfect snow day reading.

Caldecott hopefuls: Big Red Lollipop

[I should note that by "Caldecott hopefuls" I mean picture books I happen to like a lot, not necessarily picture books that are likely to be recognized by that committee using these criteria (although one can hope).   Really, I'm almost always surprised by the Caldecott (well, maybe not last year, when The Lion and the Mouse won).  But for what they're worth, here are my quick takes on some 2010 favorites, starting with Big Red Lollipop.

In Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan, illustrated by Sophie Blackall (Viking), Rubina is invited to a birthday party and her mom, unfamiliar with the whole concept of birthday parties, insists that her little sister Sana attend the party, too.  Sana is a brat at the party and then eats the lollipop from Rubina's goody bag ("I don't get any invitations for a really long time," says Rubina).  When Sana gets a birthday party invitiation, should littlest sister Maryam get to go?

I should probably admit that I'm the bratty little sister in my family (hi, Maria!), so I speak from experience when I say that both Khan's text and Blackall's illustrations get the sibling and cultural dynamics just right.  It's the expressive faces and easily readable body language of the sisters (and their mother) that tell the real story here.  A spare, creamy background sets off the composition of the illustrations as well as the colors and patterns of the family's clothing. 

Blackall did the cover art for last year's Newbery winner, When You Reach Me (written by Rebecca Stead; Wendy Lamb Books, 2009).  The first page of Big Red Lollipop (shown below) recalls that image, but it's the bird's-eye views--particularly the one of Rubina chasing Sana around the first floor of the house--that are really striking.  A graceful and gorgeous book.

Middle Grade Gallery 9

This week in the Middle Grade Gallery, an illuminated manuscript, or rather a page from one, that holds the key to a mystery--and a curse:

[William] looked back at the page and tried to make out the details in the three small drawings at the foot of the page.  They were enclosed by a border of crows amongst twirling branches and leaves.

The first picture showed a hill with trees growing on the top, and in the foreground a white-robed figure with feathered wings.  There was what appeared to be the shaft of an arrow sticking out of its chest.  A chill went through William as it dawned on him what he was looking at.

[Me again.]  The passage goes on to describe the second and third pictures as well.  Try as I might I couldn't find a medieval image of a "white-robed figure with feathered wings" (angels were much more colorful back then).  William's angel probably would have looked more like this one, from Bede's Life of Cuthbert (England, N., last quarter of the 12th century), blue-robed and rainbow-winged.  I think this manuscript is a good fit in terms of period and setting for the book in question, a lovely new middle grade novel set in a mythical, medieval world.

[The illuminations hold the key to the title of this book, too!]