If you know a kid ages two to 12 whom you'd like to encourage to explore the natural world, check out my favorite science picture books published in the last two years. These books prove that modern picture book non-fiction makes learning both intriguing and fun, and they make perfect gifts for children with inquiring minds! Read on to find books about animals, outer space, natural patterns, conservation, and weather:
On the Wing by David Elliott and Becca Stadtlander
I'm a bit bird crazy, so I knew I'd be biased toward this amazing collection of poetry and art. But, the fact that my nine year old raved about this book helped me know that it is truly worth crowing (bad pun) over. The poems are clipped and witty and the gouache illustrations are so lively that the varying subjects seem to fly off the pages and into your soul. It's so hard to do this book justice without putting it into your hands, so here's a page spread to help:
Go, buy, gift it, immediately!
Gravity by Jason Chin
Jason Chin is a gifted artist who has a talent for taking incredibly complex scientific topics and distilling them down into a few choice words (and some breathtaking imagery) to make books for kids. The otherwise-difficult concept of gravity receives noteworthy treatment here. Take a look at one of my favorite blogs to find out just how Chin developed and edited this fantastic book.
Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature by Sarah C. and Richard P. Campbell
Sarah Campbell is an award-winning science writer for children, who works with her husband to share complex topics through kids' picture books. I wish I could show you a page spread of this one, because the large-scale photography and the intermittently sparse/a bit more detailed text make for an intriguing book that will absorb kids of many ages. (If you follow through the link on the title or the cover photo, Amazon will let you look inside the book.) I'm so excited that topics like fractals (seriously, fractals) can be made not just accessible to kids, but fascinating to boot.
Blue on Blue by Dianne White and Beth Krommes
I have been obsessed with everything Beth Krommes does for several years now, ever since I started reading Swirl by Swirl, another superb science picture book, to my toddler son. Krommes has been awarded a Caldecott Medal (the highest distinction for children's book illustration) for her inticrate scratchboard-and-watercolor work. This time Krommes joins up with a new picture book author to take young readers through a rainstorm on a farm. Blue on Blue has received accolades in each of the major children's book review journals. I love that it takes something that can be scary and turns it into a joyous celebration of the beauty and power of nature ... from raindrops to mud. This is a picture book that you don't want to miss.
Born in the Wild: Baby Mammals and Their Parents by Lita Judge
Lita Judge has made quite a splash in the picture book scene in the past couple of years, and she steps up her game with this appealing introduction to some adorable baby mammals and their mamas and daddies. Born in the Wild received starred reviews from School Library Journal, Kirkus, and Publishers Weekly. The relationships between animal parent and child are tenderly rendered in a warm manner that makes this book accessible to kids across a wide range of ages. Snuggle up with a little one you love and prepare to enjoy!
The following are titles I've reviewed in the past 18 months. More of my favorite science picture books:
Look Up!: Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cole
Shimmer and Splash: The Sparkling World of Sea Life by Jim Arnosky
Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward and Steve Jenkins
Creature Features: 25 Animals Explain Why They Look the Way They Do by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats: A Scientific Mystery by Sandra Markle
I'm thrilled just thinking about more kids getting their hands on these wonderful books! Come back soon for a look at biography picture books that make great gifts!
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