Rummanah Aasi
 I'm a bit behind on my children and middle grade reads, but I hope to catch up really soon. I find nonfiction books for kids really hard to circulate, but I've discovered some great titles that are fun, easy to read and educational. Both of the books below were featured on the Bluestem Book Award last year.

Description: Brothers Joe and Bob Switzer were quite different. Bob was a hard worker and planner who wanted to grow up to be a doctor. Joe dreamed of making his fortune in show business and loved magic tricks and problem-solving. When an accident left Bob recovering in the dark basement, the brothers began experimenting with ultraviolet light and fluorescent paints. Together they stumbled on a formula for colors that glows with an extra-special intensity-Day-Glo colors.

Review: I had no idea that fluorescent colors were created out of a bad experiment and business idea. Barton takes on the role of a cool and fun teacher and discusses how two brothers worked together to create the eye-popping hues. Joe Switzer figured out that using a black light to create a fluorescent glow could spruce up his magic act, so the brothers built an ultraviolet lamp. They began to experiment with various chemicals to make glow-in-the-dark paints. Soon Joe used fluorescent-colored paper costumes in his act and word got around. Through trial and error, the brothers perfected their creation. The story is written in clear and simple language. It reminded me a lot of my favorite science shows, Bill Nye the Science Guy, that incorporates fun and education seamlessly. The book also has lots of whimsical cartoons. While endpapers are Day-Glo bright, most of the story is illustrated in black, white, gray, and touches of color, culminating in vivid spreads. The Day-Glo Brothers is a fun story that is sure to be enjoyed by those who love science.

Rating: 4 stars

Curriculum Connection: Inventors, Science

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 3 and up.

If you like this book try: So you want to be an inventor? by Judith St. George, How nearly everything was invented by Jilly MacLeod

Description: When you’re a guy, nature is one big playground—no matter what the season. There are puddles to splash in the spring, pine trees to climb in the summer, maple seeds to catch in the fall, and icicles to swordfight with in the winter.
     Nature also has a way of making a guy appreciate important stuff—like how many rocks it takes to dam up a stream, or how much snow equals a day off from school.
So what kind of poetry best captures these special moments, at a length that lets guys get right back to tree-climbing and kite-flying? Why, guyku, of course!


Review: Poetry is very hard to understand and write. Haiku seems like a terrific way to introduce poetry to young readers and in the case of Guyku- to boys though girls will gravitate to this title too. Haikus are  deceptively simple and very accessible to almost any reader. The poems in this picture-book collection capture natural moments that young readers have while playing outdoors. Each season is addressed, and moments associated with spring such as riding bikes with baseball cards attached to the wheels to mimic the sound of a motorcycle brings the book to life and almost define spring. The artwork created by pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations mirror the simplicity of each entry and capture the expressions of the boys and their adventures honestly and charmingly. This book could easily work with students learning about the seasons as well as teach them about poetry in a fun way.  

Rating: 4 stars

Curriculum Connection: Poetry and seasons.

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 1-3.

If you like this book try: Don't Step on the Sky by Miriam Chaikin, Song of the water boatman by Joyce Sidman
3 Responses
  1. I wish I liked poetry more. Maybe if I'd been introduced to it more as a kid - although I did love Shel Silverstein.


  2. "Climb a pine tree"? Seriously? Has this person ever seen a pine tree? There aren't any branches!

    Guyku sounds like a great way to introduce poetry to younger kids and reluctant poets. My kids always have to write haikus for school. I know you say it's for younger kids, but maybe it would help my kids. I'll check for it in the library.

    Heather


  3. Sam Says:

    Bill Nye the Science Guy! I'm glad I'm not the only one who knows about that. ;) Guyku sounds like a lovely quick read, too, though I've never been too into poetry. Great reviews, Rummanah!


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