Nonfiction Monday – Life in the Boreal Forest

Life in the Boreal Forest by Brenda Z. Guiberson, illustrations by Gennady Spirin.

Released on September 29, 2009.

This book so clearly captures the beauty and life in the boreal forest that one can almost hear the birds and smell the freshness of the air.  The great northern forest stretches from Alaska and Canada to Scandinavia and Russia Showing the brevity of the northern summer, the activity of the stark winter months, and the glory of the spring and the return of warmth will bring readers face-to-face with nature and its drama.  Spirin’s illustrations show delicate detail, dazzling vistas, and many many animals.  This is a book to sink into, explore and learn.

Guiberson’s text is filled with sounds, from bird calls to wolves howling to smaller noises like hares hopping on snow.  Each sound and its explanation brings this unique ecosystem to life.  Her words create an understanding through the small details of the importance of this forest for all of us.  Spirin excels as capturing animals with their small details and yet showing the forest itself as more than a background, as a living thing.  Her art is large and breathtaking even while the details are shown.

Highly recommended, this book is a great nature book for children.  For children in the north, this book is like coming home.  For everyone it is important to see forests celebrated in this way.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Henry Holt.

Nonfiction Monday – An Eye for Color: the Story of Josef Albers

An Eye for Color: the Story of Josef Albers by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Julia Breckenreid.

Josef Albers was born in Germany where he saw art everywhere including in the doors his father painted.  As he grew up, he worked with collage and different medium in his art.  When he traveled to Mexico, he found inspiration everywhere.  He began painting rectangles and noticing how colors changed depending on what is around them.  He set out to study color itself and eventually wrote a book, Interaction of Color.  Albers’ colorful squares play a major role in modern art, and readers of this book will understand his importance.

Wing has summed up Albers’ life in a way that is fascinating and very child-friendly.  Her language is simple while the concepts are large.  She has managed to convey facts of his life alongside the wonder of his discoveries.  I especially appreciate the portion of the book where she looks at color specifically, just as Albers does.  Breckenreid’s art pays homage to Albers with its playful use of color and strong use of shape.  She evokes Albers on every page.

Highly recommended for art classrooms but also as an accessible biography for children. Appropriate for ages 5-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Henry Holt.

Check out Natasha Wing’s blog!

Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award Finalists

The first finalists for the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award have been announced.  The award recognizes an author whose work shows “a positive approach to life, widespread teen appeal, and literary merit.”  The award is sponsored by ALAN (The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents) and is unique in its emphasis on a positive point of view towards life. 

Here are the finalists:

After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Me, the Missing, and the Dead by Jenny Valentine

My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger