So I was...Remember that time when....You're never going to believe what just happened ...Back in the day... fill-in-the-blank. True stories happen every day. In library land, we like to call them NON-FICTION. Some kids think "information" books = boring. Some kids have no idea where to look for these exciting books, or that they even exist! But if you can get your kid to love non-fiction books early in life, it will create a habit that will make them smarter their whole life long. So in honor of everyone's true stories, I'm breaking out some reviews of our newest and coolest NON-FICTION books for kids.
Annie Sullivan And The Trials Of Helen Keller - Joseph Lambert
This is not your typical non-fiction book. It's not your typical biography. It's not your typical graphic novel, and it's certainly not the typical first thing a kid would grab off the shelf. But that's what makes it so special. It's new territory, a graphic-novel shared biography of Annie Sullivan and her deaf and blind student Helen Keller. Told from 2 points of view - the sighted view of Annie, and the blind and dark view of Helen - the story jumps back and forth with startling suddenness. Lambert's illustrations take you from Annie's Victorian world, to a shapeless, formless, colorless black void that belongs to the young girl Helen. In Helen's world, everything is blank arms and objects, nothing makes sense, and she acts out in her frustration at her inability to communicate with and understand the world around her. Annie is hired by Helen's parents, and begins the seemingly impossible task of teaching some sort of language to a little girl who can't see or hear her, lashes out violently at her, and acts like an indulged wild animal. The illustrations fit the wildness and frustration of the story perfectly, showing Annie and Helen scuffling and emerging with messy hair and injuries. As Helen finally begins to trust Annie and learn, the empty blackness surrounding her changes into shapes and items labeled with names and meaning. It's a long road, but excitement builds as Helen is slowly released from her isolation and begins to enjoy the world around her. Although some aspects of the story require a higher level of comprehension, even younger kids will be drawn in by the cartoon panel illustrations. You might find your adult friends picking it up from your coffee table as well!
Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems - Kristine O'Connell George
While not technically a true story, poetry does count as non-fiction! I've never been a big sister, but I've been that annoying little sister always tagging along and ruining life, and boy, I loved this collection of poems. But be careful, tissues may be required. Jessica has a problem. Her little sister Emma is always there. Bugging her, touching her things, acting weird in front of people, it never ends. In 34 sweet as sugar poems, Jessica deals with the in-and-outs of everyday sisterly life. Always having to be a role model, translator, and general "watcher-over". Snooping, cheating, sharing. Holding hands, birthdays, comfort, it's all here. But when Jessica finally receives a long-promised break from Emma, things turn out quite differently than she thought they would. Heart-melting and sincere, this perfectly illustrated picture book will have even the most fractious sisters giving each other a big hug!