Young Adult to Picture Books: Reading Tub Bookmarks February

Welcome to the February Bookmarks. Our monthly shortlist of mini book reviews starts with two nonfiction picture books  and ends with  middle grade fiction ([amazon_link id=”1423101499″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Percy Jackson[/amazon_link]). As I explained last month, these are just a few highlights of what we’re reading. We still track (and update) all the children’s and young adult books we’re reading this year on our 2012 Books We’ve Read Pages. Book reviews on the Reading Tub website will have the requisite link.

Each Bookmark has basic info and an original blurb / overview. You’ll meet the key players, we’ll add our reader reaction, and then we’ll ask the author and/or illustrator a question or two.

An additional note: As a judge for the Cybils Nonfiction Picture Book category, I could not review these titles before the winner was announced on February 14, 2011. I was VERY excited about both of these nonfiction books and have been holding these mini book reviews all month. Congrats to Carlyn Beccia, author and illustrator of I Feel Better With a Frog in My Throat, which won the 2011 Nonfiction Picture Book category.

Noteworthy February Bookmarks

Carlyn Beccia nonfiction picture bookI Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat: History’s Strangest Cures
written and illustrated by Carlyn Beccia
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010
Elementary to middle grade audience
nonfiction picture book, history, medical history, science
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Using both question-and-answer and multiple choice formats, readers are asked to decide which (if any) medical treatments worked to cure a particular illness. This nonfiction picture book is part history of medicine, part science, and completely interactive reading.

Who are the key players?
The most valued player in this book is the reader, whether you are partner-reading with a child or a third grader is reading independently.

A Reader’s Thoughts
This is nonfiction at its best. It is engaging for adults and young readers, and offers lots to explore … without having to follow the pages in order. The “yuck” factor is neither gratuitous nor frightening. Because the author has integrated history with the content, it helps the reader understand the medical / science concepts in context. Our 10-year-old explored this over and over again.

Question for Carlyn Beccia
Did you originally set out to write a book with a history of medicine, or did it start with studying idioms (like having a frog in one’s throat) and become a “science” book?

Where did you get this book? The public library!

[amazon_link id=”1402756615″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Thunder Birds: Nature's Flying PredatorsThunder Birds: Nature’s Flying Predators[/amazon_link]
written and illustrated by Jim Arnosky
Sterling Publishing, 2011
elementary to middle grade audience
nonfiction picture book, nature, science, birds of prey
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Fold-out pages with detailed illustrations of bring birds of prey up close and personal for readers. Facts about the birds and their habitats complement each spread. Readers can start on page one or start at the back; Each spread is a ‘vignette’ of a particular species.

Who are the key players?
The reader. This is a book for exploring, allowing readers to read as much or as little of the additional information as they choose, but still walking away with more knowledge than when they opened it.

A Reader’s Thoughts?
I was in love with this book the moment I opened it … and so was the 10-year-old. The facts are fascinating, as is the back story. The illustrations are incredibly beautiful, and have photographic quality. The one downside was that the pages don’t always close well.

Question for Jim Arnosky
Which of the birds in this collection did you find the most difficult to capture in illustration? Did you have a favorite that you drew?

Where did you get this book? My personal library.

[amazon_link id=”B005JY1UUQ” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson & the Olympians #04) (Rick Riordan) - HardcoverThe Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book4)[/amazon_link]
by Rick Riordan
Hyperion Books for Children, 2008
upper elementary and middle grade audience (edges into Young Adult)
fiction fantasy adventure, Greek mythology, boys and boy interests
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There is no time to spare. Time is running out for friends and foe alike. The discovery of the opening to the Labyrinth adds additional pressure, as Luke (Hermes’ son) could get to Daedalus’ Workshop first. The fate of Olympus hangs in the balance.

Who are the key players?
This is Percy’s story to tell as he sets each scene, shares the journey through the labyrinth, and carries us through each of the challenges they face.

As the leader of the quest through the Labyrinth, Annabeth plays a significant role. In essence, she guides the journey because she makes (or doesn’t!) the decisions.

A Reader’s Thoughts
Truth be told, we aren’t quite done with this one … but it is worth including because of how excited our 10-year-old has been in reading it aloud to us several nights consecutively. It has surprised us that she has stayed with the book, given that this is the first title in the Percy Jackson series that she’s read so she doesn’t know the “back story” of many of the players at Camp Half-Blood.

Questions for Rick Riordan
In gathering the research for the Percy Jackson series, what piece of Greek mythology surprised you the most? Was there something new or unique (i.e., not widely known) that you “had” to weave into the story?

Where did you get this book? My personal library.

What We’re Reading

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2011)
Reaction so far:  Ready to abandon, but still trying to push my way forward with this one. Almost halfway done and still undecided on what I think of it.
audience: Young Adult
Book source: personal library
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The Last Notebook of Leonardo by B.B. Wurge (Leapfrog Press 2010)
Reaction so far: I love how the author jumps right in. She covers a lot of ground in just those first few pages. I’m skeptical of the Dad-as-Orangutan piece, but am anxious to see how it plays out.
audience: Upper elementary to early middle grade
Source: Author / publisher donation to the Reading Tub
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Click here to see other Reading Tub book reviews this month. Use these links to take you to your favorite children’s and young adult book categories.

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Note: Book covers and titles link to Amazon.com, with which the Reading Tub has an affiliate relationship. We may earn income from purchases made through these links. They are offered for convenience and do not represent an obligation to buy from this vendor.

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