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Last year, I attended an SCBWI nonfiction conference and learned quite a bit about writing nonfiction books for children.
This year, I’m excited for the opportunity to attend another SCBWI Adventures in Nonfiction conference featuring Senior Editor Carolyn Yoder and authors Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Miranda Paul.
You can find more information about the upcoming nonfiction conference on the SCBWI Iowa website here. Registration is now open for it!
Just like I did last year, I decided to read some books written by the authors who will be presenting at the conference. Even though Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Miranda Paul have published many books, these are the books I was able to check out from my local library.
Nonfiction Books by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Jacqueline Briggs Martin will be discussing picture book biographies at the conference. Here are some of the nonfiction picture books written by her that I was able to find at my local library.
Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious (Readers to Eaters, 2014)
This is a picture book biography about Alice Waters who was on a mission to make delicious meals to share with others using fresh foods. She started Chez Panisse, had the opportunity to cook for a U.S. president, won the James Beard Award for “Outstanding Chef of the Year”, started the Edible Schoolyard Project, and wants others to learn about growing fresh food for themselves.
Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix (Readers to Eaters, 2017)
This is a picture book biography about Chef Roy Choi who calls himself a “street cook”. Roy Choi was born in Korea but has spent most of his life in Los Angeles. Searching for his path in life wasn’t easy for him, but he finally discovered his passion and joy by cooking for others out of a truck. His Korean barbecue in a taco was a success! He started Kogi, opened cafes, and opened a soulful fast food restaurant called Locol. He wants to show others the deliciousness of cooking with love.
Creekfinding: A True Story (University of Minnesota Press, 2017)
This is a true story about a man named Michael Osterholm who was on a mission to find a creek that had been covered with fields in Iowa. Through much work, dedication, and time, he was finally able to restore the creek. Now, instead of a field, the creek is flowing and filled with lots of wildlife.
I found it interesting that this true story took place less than an hour away from where my family once lived.
Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table (Readers to Eaters, 2013)
This is a picture book biography about Will Allen who went from playing professional basketaball in Belgium to becoming a farmer in the middle of the city of Milwaukee. He started Growing Power farm, and he now grows many fruits and vegetables, raises red wigglers, and shows others how they can farm in cities. Thousands of people each year continue to visit his farm in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to “tour the greenhouses, watch goats, snack on greens, and go home planning to start a farm on a city lot, rooftop, or abandoned highway.”
This was another book that I found interesting due to the location of the story because I lived in southeast Wisconsin for quite a few years and was just in that area again recently.
Snowflake Bentley (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998)
This picture book biography is about photographer Wilson Bentley (who became known as “Snowflake Bentley”) who lived from 1865 to 1931. He was intrigued by snowflakes and wanted to find a way to capture their beauty to share with others. His “parents spent their savings and bought the camera” Wilson Bentley wanted in order for him to pursue his dreams. Through a lot of patience, dedication, and creativity, Wilson Bentley discovered ways to capture the beauty of snowflakes on film. He enjoyed showing others his photographs and even had a book published with his snowflake photos.
The book states: “By 1926 he had spent $15,000 on his work and received $4,000 from the sale of photographs and slides.” That seemed like a lot of money for 1926, so my daughters and I Googled what that would be equivalent to in 2019 dollars. According to this inflation calculator, $15,000 would be equivalent to $217,070.34 and $4,000 would be equivalent to $57,885.42.
My family also watched this Youtube video after reading Snowflake Bentley to see some of Wilson Bentley’s beautiful snowflake photographs. It is quite amazing what he was able to do with the technology of that time!
The Chiru of High Tibet (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2010
This is a true story about trying to save the chiru species. Chiru are animals that “look like antelope” and live in “the northern plains of Tibet”. They had once been very plentiful in that area but their population was significantly depleted when people started killing them to make shawls. For many years, no one knew where the chiru birthing ground was located. A man named George Schaller and four mountain climbing men took the initiative and (more than) one journey to find the location and ask the Chinese government to protect that land from hunters.
Nonfiction and Informational Fiction Books by Miranda Paul
Miranda Paul will be talking about creative nonfiction and informational fiction picture books at the upcoming conference. Here are the nonfiction and informational fiction picture books by her that I was able to find at my local library.
Adventures to School: Real-Life Journeys of Students from Around the World (Little Bee Books, 2018)
This nonfiction picture book written with Baptiste Paul describes the journeys children from thirteen different nations must take in order to get to school along with additional information about each of the nations.
It’s amazing to read what some of these children must endure in order to get to school. My daughters are truly blessed to be able to simply walk down the stairs to start school each morning.
Are We Pears Yet? (Roaring Brook Press, 2017)
This is an informational fiction picture book. Two pear seeds perform a play about the life cycle of pear seeds. The young pear seed is eager to become a pear but learns it first needs soil, rain, sun, and long naps (more than 2 years of naps) to grow into trees at which point the pear seeds need a costume change. Pears finally appear on the trees and an x-ray reveals two pear seeds within one of the pears. Extra facts about pears are given at the end of the book.
Nine Months Before a Baby is Born (Holiday House, 2019)
This picture book told in a poetic style goes through the process of a baby forming and growing before birth. Backmatter offers more information about the different stages of development.
One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia (Millbrook Press, 2015)
This nonfiction picture book tells the story of how a young woman named Isatou Ceesay took the iniative to make Njau, Gambia beautiful again after plastic bags had accumulated in the area causing unwanted water, mosquitoes, disease, and dying goats. With help from some other women, the bags were cleaned and transformed into beautiful hand-crocheted purses, which could be sold to others.
Water is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle (Roaring Brook Press, 2015)
I found this book in the fiction section at my library, but it is informational since it discusses the water cycle in poetic form. The backmatter found at the end of the book offers additional information about water including words like evaporation, condensation, precipitation, seepage, and more.
Fun Fiction Picture Books by Miranda Paul
Here are the some fun fiction picture books written by Miranda Paul that I found at my local library.
10 Little Ninjas (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2016)
Told in the same fashion as “10 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed”, this picture book has 10 little ninjas, 9 tiny astronauts, 8 rapid racers, 7 prowling tigers, 6 rowdy cowboys, 5 hungry reef sharks, 4 thirsty firefighters, 3 quiet pirates, 2 sleepy dragons, 1 little cuddlebug, and finally 10 sleeping kids.
The Great Pasta Escape (Little Bee Books, 2017)
This fiction picture book filled with humor and pasta puns is about noodles in a factory that were content following the rules until they discovered they were made to be eaten. After examining all of the evidence and confirming this was true, they strategized an escape plan together.
Mia Moves Out (Alfred A. Knopf, 2018)
Mia decides the obvious solution to her brother taking over her room is to move out. So, begins her journey of finding a new place to stay. The bathroom, basement, and cupboard prove to be bad choices. She finally finds a place she likes but realizes it’s missing something (really someone – her brother). That’s when she comes up with the idea of creating a fort for her and her brother to enjoy together outside.
Trainbots (Little Bee Books, 2016)
This rhyming picture book is about trainbots becoming hero-bots to get rid of the evil badbots, so they can deliver toybots to kidbots. How a-bot that description?
Reading all of these books makes me really excited for the upcoming SCBWI Adventures in Nonfiction Conference. Which book is your favorite?