April 19, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

From the Gambia to the Forbidden City | Nonfiction Preschool to Grade 4

Get the latest SLJ reviews every month, subscribe today and save up to 35%.


redstarGoodall, Jane. The Chimpanzee Children of Gombe. photos by Michael Neugebauer. 64p. Minedition. 2014. RTE $19.99. ISBN 9789888240838.

Gr 2-5–Goodall has written other books for kids, but her latest focuses on children themselves: young chimps. Photos captured by Neugebauer over the 50 years that Goodall carried on her research offer lovely portraits of several chimp mothers and their offspring. These images, coupled with Goodall’s simple, conversational text (“I think we are all getting a bit weary after our day in the forest”), follow a single day in the Gombe jungle. Goodall parallels human and chimp behavior—kissing, hugging, spending time with family—to emphasize the similarities that we share and to illustrate her point that people need to learn from the life that surrounds them. The spread pairing photos of a young chimp and a boy using the same gestures is particularly heartwarming. Readers will enjoy the images of other animals—baboons, a skink, a grass finch—found here. Back matter includes information about Goodall’s Roots & Shoots program, which gives students of all ages the chance to make a difference. This charmingly designed, delightful book will inspire a new generation to look for the similarities that unite us, whether among humans or between people and other species.–Dorcas Hand, Annunciation Orthodox School, Houston, TX

redstarKwong-chiu, Chiu. In the Forbidden City. tr. from Chinese by Ben Wang. 52p. chron. illus. Tuttle. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9780989377607. LC 2014932006.

Gr 3-6–With the scope of David Macaulay’s architectural series (Houghton Harcourt) and the whimsy of Martin Handford’s “Where’s Waldo?” books (Candlewick), this attractive volume introduces readers to the architecture and history of China’s imperial compound and its inhabitants. Large line drawings show parts of the Forbidden City, the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty, located in Beijing, in great detail, with several folding out for multiple pages. The buildings and grounds are all heavily populated—interiors often feature people who would have lived there when the emperor did, and exteriors are filled with modern-day tourists. Readers will appreciate (but won’t require) a magnifying glass, which is included to help catch all the details. (Can you find the cat in each picture?) Paragraphs of text highlight architectural details and stories about imperial life under different reigns. Cartoon figures and captions help differentiate among different rulers and dynasties within the city. Kwong-chiu has made a potentially complicated and confusing subject accessible and fascinating without oversimplifying it. While the text is aimed at upper elementary students, readers of all ages will spend hours poring over the pages to make sure they catch it all. This is one of the first books from the We All Live in the Forbidden City program to be translated into English, and if this book is any indication, librarians and students will look forward to future titles. An excellent, exquisitely designed volume.–Jennifer Rothschild, Arlington County Public Libraries, VA

redstarPaul, Miranda. One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia. illus. by Elizabeth Zunon. 32p. chron. ebook available. further reading. glossary. illus. maps. Millbrook. Feb. 2015. RTE $19.99. ISBN 9781467716086. LC 2014009382.

Gr 1-4–The simple format of this picture book belies the strength of its content, a story lovingly supported by charming collage illustrations. As a girl, Ceesay realized that the goats on which her village relied were dying because they were eating plastic bags. She also saw that people were tossing the used bags on the ground just as they had always thrown away their baskets when no longer useful—except the plastic bags, unlike the baskets, weren’t biodegradable. So Ceesay figured out how to use crochet, a skill with which the villagers were already familiar, to make purses out of the plastic bags. Simple but lyrical text conveys this beautiful, thought-provoking tale of ecological awareness and recycling (“The basket tips. One fruit tumbles. Then two. Then ten.”). An inspiring account.–Dorcas Hand, Annunciation Orthodox School, Houston, TX

redstarScott, Traer. Nocturne: Creatures of the Night. photos by Traer Scott. 128p. websites. Princeton Architectural. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781616892883. LC 2014006210.

Gr 2-6 –Scott once again taps into her creativity and photographic genius, compiling remarkably intimate images. The book features 42 nocturnal creatures, many depicted through multiple shots, laid out on a black background, allowing the details and features of the subject to pop. Each image is accompanied by unique information written for a higher level reader than most photobooks. Some of the highlights are a capybara so lifelike that it begs to be touched, a raccoon staring into the camera soulfully, a little brown bat that seems to be coming right off the page, a charming fennec fox whose sweet expression will evoke squeals, and a hedgehog rolled up into a ball. The collection contains many mammals, but there are also plenty of birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects, too. This selection will attract nonreaders with its gorgeous images but will also be of interest to older children, though students doing anything but the most basic research reports would need to supplement this book with additional materials. An excellent addition.–Jane Hebert, Glenside Public Library District, Glendale Heights, IL

The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue:

Alko, Selina. The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage. illus. by Selina Alko & Sean Qualls. 40p. bibliog. further reading. illus. notes. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine. Jan. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780545478533.

Barber, Antonia, retel. Tales from Grimm. illus. by Margaret Chamberlain. 78p. (The Classics). Frances Lincoln. 2014. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781847805096.

Friedman, Samantha. Matisse’s Garden. illus. by Cristina Amodeo. 48p. reprods. Museum of Modern Art. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9780870709104. LC 2014939198.

Goldstone, Bruce. I See a Pattern Here. illus. by Bruce Goldstone. 32p. photos. Holt. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805092097.

Gravel, Elise. The Rat. ISBN 9781770496583. LC 2013953639.

––––. The Slug. ISBN 9781770496552. LC 2013953638.

ea vol: illus. by Elise Gravel. 32p. (Disgusting Critters). ebook available. Tundra. 2014. Tr. $10.99.

Heos, Bridget. I, Fly: The Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are. illus. by Jennifer Plecas. 48p. Holt. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805094695.

Innes, Shona. Friendship Is like a Seesaw. ISBN 9780764167485. LC 2014932022.

––––. Life Is Like the Wind. ISBN 9780764167478. LC 2014932021.

ea vol: illus. by Irisz Agócs. 32p. (Big Hug). Barron’s. 2014. Tr. $10.99.

Lorbiecki, Marybeth. The Prairie That Nature Built. illus. by Cathy Morrison. 32p. further reading. glossary. notes. websites. Dawn. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781584694915; pap. $8.95. ISBN 9781584694922. LC 2013049138.

Loy, Jessica. Weird and Wild Animal Facts. photos by Jessica Loy. 40p. websites. Holt/Christy Ottaviano Bks. Apr. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805079456.

Marsico, Katie. Doctors Without Borders. ISBN 9781631880278.

––––. The Red Cross. ISBN 9781631880285.

––––. The Salvation Army. ISBN 9781631880292.

––––. UNICEF. ISBN 9781631880315.

––––. The United Nations. ISBN 9781631880322.

––––. The World Health Organization. ISBN 9781631880308.

ea vol: 24p. (How Do They Help?). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Cherry Lake. 2014. lib. ed. $25.64.

National Geographic Society. My Weird but True Fact-a-Day Fun Journal. 304p. (Weird-but-True Facts). index. photos. National Geographic for Kids. 2014. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9781426317279.

Pattison, Rosie Gowsell. Just Joking 6. 208p. (Just Joking). index. photos. National Geographic for Kids. 2014. lib. ed. $15.90. ISBN 9781426317361; pap. $7.99. ISBN 9781426317354.

Pizzoli, Greg. Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower. illus. by Greg Pizzoli. 48p. glossary. notes. photos. reprods. Viking. Mar. 2015. RTE $17.99. ISBN 9780670016525.

Rix, Juliet. A-Maze-ing Minotaur. illus. by Juliet Snape. 32p. maps. Frances Lincoln/Janetta Otter-Barry Bks. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781847804310.

Yolen, Jane & others. Animal Stories: Heartwarming True Tales from the Animal Kingdom. illus. by Jui Ishida. 160p. chron. further reading. index. maps. photos. National Geographic for Kids. 2014. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781426317255. LC 2014015729.

This article was published in School Library Journal's December 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.