Monday, April 30, 2012

Weekly Round-Up Index

Some of these below are also linked with picture books, easy readers, etc. if all the books on the list fall under that category. But often we'll throw out a wide range of reading levels all on the same general topic; after all, many of us have children at home at all different levels! So, here's the full weekly round-up list....

Olympic-Themed Reading (MG, Easy Readers, London/sports)
7 Books, 7 Girls, 7 Histories (MG Historical Fiction)
Around the World in 8 Chapter Books
It's a Bug's Life (some favorites from picture books to Charlotte's Web)
African American History Month (a few notable selections)
Usborne-Kane Miller Favorites
Poetry for Children (some favorite resources)
Ballet Books! (picture books through chapter books)
Folk Tale/Fairy Tale Picture Books (can apply to multiple ages!)
Fairy Tale Anthologies
Tea in Children's Books
I Love You in Picture Books 
Honest Abe (mostly MG level reads about Abraham Lincoln)
Fun February Reads (mostly MG graphic novels and notebook novels)
Valentine Books (picture books)
Advent Round-up (picture books)
Favorite 2012 Picture Books

Clever Counters (counting concept picture books)
Restful Illustrations (mostly musings, but a few titles included)

Single Protagonist/Main Character Easy Readers
Person + Pet Easy Readers
2012 Geisel Award Winners (Easy Readers)
Crazy, Zany Easy Readers
Literary Favorites (Easy Readers)
Best Friends in Easy Reader Land 

The 1960's for Middle Grades

Betsy's Summer (2012) Grown-up Nonfiction Reads 
Picture Book Baseball Bio's
Moose Books! (picture books)

Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art

Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art
Madeleine L'Engle
North Point Press

This year marks the 50th anniversary of A Wrinkle in Time. While I have vague plans to reread that marvelous book (again), I thought it might be interesting to discuss L'Engle "behind the scenes" as it were. L'Engle has written several nonfiction books; Walking on Water primarily focuses on her own writing process, her understanding of what it means to write as a Christian, and her reflections on how anyone's faith intersects with art (visual, literary, etc.).

Friday, April 27, 2012

Miss Betsy's Book Nook

I have a new appreciation for web developers and designers! For a culminating project in one of my courses this spring, I had to design a website using Drupal (a content management system not unlike blogger). As the "administrator" of my site, I had to set everything: user permissions, blocks, layout, theme, colors, options for content, type of content, text editors, forum, weight of menu items, etc.

In short, I gained a new appreciation for what blogger does behind the scenes for us already!

Check out Miss Betsy's Book Nook to see my finished product (well, as much as a web site is ever "finished"), and to gain a peek into some of what I've been up to this semester on the scholastic/professional side.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Single Protagonist/Main Character Easy Readers

As I mentioned in the first weekly roundup of easy readers, lots of easy readers fit into some standard character categories. Here is the rough breakdown in which many early readers fit:
  1. Cute stories involving one main protagonist--usually animals (i.e. Little Bear books)
  2. Stories about two best friends, usually animals and usually incompatible and/or quite different at first glance (i.e. Frog and Toad)
  3. Super simple words/text and, sometimes, zany plots/illustrations (i.e. Dr. Seuss books)
  4. Person + Pet: the more unlikely the "pet," the better (i.e. Danny and the Dinosaur)
Today, let's examine some of the "cute stories involving one main protagonist." There aren't as many of these as there are of the friends or person + pet, but the ones that do exist are worth finding. Note: updated 5/04/12 to add Penny and her Song and Frances--how could I forget Frances??!!

Little Bear books
Else Holmelund Minarik
Maurice Sendak

If you've never read these, you must remedy that ASAP. And no, the TV shows won't do. The best read aloud of the set, in my opinion, is Little Bear's Visit--particularly "The Goblin Story." I love it when authors know just how much to scare little children and still make it fun. These are especially nice for children who are starting to read at a very young age (3-4) because Little Bear is a 4-year-old in disguise (this is my professional opinion, having had 3 4-year-olds in quick succession these past couple of years).

Amelia Bedelia
Peggy Parrish

One of the few non-animal-main-character easy reader series out there, these are classics. Kids need to be able to recognize the irony in Amelia Bedelia's constant misunderstanding of words; usually by the time they're 5, kids recognize what the words are suppose to mean and enjoy the humor.

Curious George Flies a Kite
H. A. Rey and Margaret Rey

There are some easy reader Curious George stories out there, and they are worth seeking out. Many are older (and I MUCH prefer the older stories--that's worthy of another post, though). There's an ABC book, a book about flying a kite, a book in which Curious George wins a medal, and so forth. The easy reader George books are usually identified as such.

Dodsworth in...
Tim Egan

Much more recent than these others on the list, Dodsworth is a strange little animal who travels the world. I could perhaps put him in the unlikely best friends category, but I'm not sure his relationship with the quirky duck really counts as "friendship." And, unlike the friends books, the duck never makes the title; only Dodsworth is in the title. These books are favorites with my kids, but the world famous cities and their tourist attractions go right over the kids' heads.

Cynthia Rylant

Another easy reader winner by Cynthia Rylant, this series is about a pig named Poppleton and his adventures with his friends (all different animals) in their small town.

Penny and Her Song
Kevin Henkes

Henkes' first foray into easy reader land is a nice addition! Another endearing little mouse character like Lily, Owen, and the rest, Penny wants to share her song with the world.... (Note: this is BRAND new; it's at stores such as Barnes and Noble, but not yet in many libraries.)

A Bargain for Frances (and other Frances books)
Russell and Lillian Hoban

In A Bargain for Frances, Frances learns a lot about the ins and outs of friendship. Some Frances books are "picture books" and at least this one is a "beginning reader." No doubt, if your child loves Frances, he or she will soon be able to read the picture books if they're tackling this easy reader.

All cover images from goodreads

What other endearing main/solo easy reader characters are we missing from this list? I know they're out there....(read the comments for other ideas!)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Truth and Story in Picture Books

When we talk about Truth and Story, it's often easy to think of chapter book examples. When we evaluate a picture book, it gets harder to pinpoint the "truth" or even the "story" in a picture book, especially in a basic concept book.

Does "Truth" or "Story" matter at the picture book level? Yes and no. Megan is working on an excellent analogy that includes the importance of the illustrations in books. Until its big reveal, we'd like to propose that the literature we introduce to our children when they are young serves a unique purpose: to acquaint them with the pleasure, practice, and purpose of reading.To this end, exemplary text and illustrations are supremely important.

What is reading? To a very young child, who's been read to since (or before!) birth, reading is likely associated with comfort, quality time with older "readers," books, pleasure, entertainment, etc. Reading aloud to children goes beyond their future scholastic achievement and their basic appreciation of literature. Early books are also acquainting young children with ideas of art, of beauty, of language, of communication. These are big! If art imitates life and readers "co-create" with the author/illustrator, then well-executed and artistic picture books will help young children make sense of life, stretch their young imaginations, and raise their internal standards of excellence. Honey for a Child's Heart is a great resource for parents along this line.

Reading to young children often cements in the habit, or practice, of reading: where it is done (in our house--everywhere!), when it is done (all the time for us!), how it is done (eagerly? with expression? with enjoyment? in a group? solo?), and similar practices. Jim Trelease's Read Aloud Handbook is an excellent resource along these lines.

We have a unique opportunity to train readers, to help them associate reading with the Bible, to help young children value words in general, and to begin to handle language. God chose to reveal Himself to us through special revelation (the Bible/words) and through general revelation (Creation). SO many picture books highlight the wonders of creation--be it an Eric Carle book delighting in animals/bugs and colors or something more recent like Red Sings in Treetops or And Then It's Spring. A picture book which delights in language (The Huckabuck Family by Carl Sandburg and illustrated by David Small is a GREAT example), which celebrates the power of story (Heckedy Peg by Audrey Wood is riveting), which helps a child learn to make sense of language/reading (Elephant and Piggie--We Are In a Book!)--all of these are moving children along the path to reading Scripture, to reading literature intelligently and with discernment, to marveling at God's Creation, and to learning to ask the big questions in life. They are also learning to use their own imaginations, to reflect that characteristic of the Lord that he gave us in part when he made humanity in his image.

The goal of reading to children is to appeal to all their senses, to provide a pleasurable experience so that they will be drawn to the pleasure of reading in the future and further explore the world God has placed them in, appreciating the wide range of ideas, imagination, wonder and joy. The earth is the Lord's and everything in it--that includes literature!--and every gifted author and artist has something to contribute to this great fine world. Our children, created in the image of God, have something to contribute as well. Reading books for the pleasure of them is one way to nurture and encourage that creative image. Along your pleasurable journey of reading aloud, you will also inculcate the practice of reading in your children.

Thus, when we evaluate picture books on this site, we hope to bring to your attention picture books which draw our attention to the beauty of the written word, to creativity in written or visual form, to the breadth of the imagination, to the marvels of Creation around us, to a better understanding of humanity. It may be hard to pinpoint "Truth" in Anno's Counting Book, but it is a marvel of a book which invites and encourages greater understanding of numbers, of order in Creation, of the flow of the seasons, of the ways in which a community develops--and it does all of this without words! A Richard Scarry book surely delights youngsters with words upon words upon words--silly words (a pickle car!?) as well as informative words; Cars and Trucks and Things That Go also provides immense enjoyment of a book (Where is Goldbug?).

 Some examples of the many exemplary picture books out there in no particular order (in which text and art are both executed well):

  • Red Sings in Treetops: A Year in Colors (Joyce Sidman, Pamela Zagarenski, Caldecott Honor 2009)
  • Heckedy Peg (Audrey and Don Wood, 1992)
  • Where the Wild Things Are (Maurice Sendak, Caldecott, 1963)
  • The Lion and the Mouse (Jerry Pinkney, Caldecott, 2009)
  • A Sick Day for Amos McGee (Philip Stead, Erin Stead, Caldecott, 2010)
  • Grandpa Green (Lane Smith, Caldecott Honor, 2011)
  • A Visitor for Bear (Bonny Becker, Kady MacDonald Denton, 2008)
  • Bread and Jam for Frances (series by Russell Hoban, 1960s) 
  • Anno's Counting Book (Mitsumasa Anno, 1977)
  • The Huckabuck Family (Carl Sandburg, David Small, 1999)
  • Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons (Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Jane Dyer, 2006)
  • The Story of Ferdinand (Munro Leaf, Robert Lawson, 1937)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Paperwork, Lists, and More...

This announcement is more for the benefit of our regular subscribers (thank you!! We're honored you want us showing up in your feed reader or inbox on a regular basis!).

You will no doubt have seen our book review indices come through in recent weeks along with some "foundational" documents regarding Truth and Story in literature--hope you enjoy them! But we're reorganizing the site a touch, and you will continue to see some items along those lines as we post them simply in order to link back to them from the top navigation bar. Have patience☺. We'll get back to more interesting content. (Of course, Megan and I think book lists are wildly interesting and could peruse them and create them for hours. A perfect afternoon could be spent drinking tea and discussing books and reading to and with our children and husbands.)

In addition to frequent emails and occasional phone calls, Megan and I have a wiki off site where we have been compiling/editing information and documents from our own archives--these new posts all are "posted by Betsy" but you can rest assured that they are a joint production (and, in many cases, all Megan's amazing words/explanations!). 

We hope the new organization of the site (and the new information) will provide a great resource for folks who want to seek out great books for their families! If you are a regular subscriber and don't visit the actual blog site often, we recommend that you check it out in coming weeks to familiarize yourself with the layout and organization--it's not going to be terribly different, just a bit more streamlined and user-friendly (we hope).

Friday, April 20, 2012

And Then It's Spring

And Then It's Spring
Julie Fogliano, author
Erin Stead, illustrator
Roaring Book Press
Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book

(update 6/12/12: BG-HB Honor) Megan and I have a "thing" for restful illustrations. We aren't opposed to flashy, vibrant, fluid pictures...but the quiet books are increasing hard to find. Some of my favorite books--and my children's favorites--are the ones that say, "Come, spend some time exploring my pages and pondering me for a while.... take me to rest time with you and look at the intricate details of the pictures.... enjoy some rest from your busy day by reading me slowly one more time...." Thank you, Julie Fogliano and Erin Stead, for giving us another gem in the quiet picture book lineup.

This book is by no means dull or boring. But it is restful. Quiet. Contemplative. Patient. A book that invites you to listen to the world around you, to notice the world around you, to describe the world around you. And that is a marvelous lead-in to studying and marveling at Creation.

A small boy is waiting for spring and for his precious seeds to grow. He wonders if birds have eaten them? Have bears stomped on them despite his small warning sign to "please not stomp"? In the beauty of understatement, Fogliano gives us descriptions of the varying shades of brown in early spring: brown that has a "greenish hum" or brown that you almost think is green. The illustrations are so perfectly matched to the feel and pacing of the text--making for one near perfect picture book in my humble opinion.

Book checked out from my local library; cover image from goodreads

What are your favorite "quiet" picture books?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan
Katherine Applegate
2013 Newbery Winner (updated 1/29/13)

I am a sucker for a good animal story.

I also enjoy books with intentional line breaks.

I love it when an author has pitch perfect "voice" and can communicate a lot in a small amount of space

and when the bad guys are, well, human enough that at least a small part of you empathizes with their predicament

and when the good guys are good, but still need some convincing to do the right thing

and when the coming-of-age story is presented as a journey: sometimes terrifying, sometimes happy, sometimes confusing, but definitely "the right thing to do"

and when the friends in the story are supremely loyal to each other

and when a book can make me tear up at the happy ending

and when a book can make a statement about the importance of art

and when an author can make a statement about social/animal justice but not be preachy

and when all of this happens in a book written from the perspective of the mighty-and-yet-gentle-silverback-also-known-as

The One and Only Ivan.

For the record, I don't enjoy it when the pictures are just not quite right and don't really capture who the characters are in my mind.

This book is a great story, and one that is based on true events/characters. Applegate has mastered the art of communicating a lot with few words, making this a quick read but a forceful one. I found it interesting that Ivan, the gorilla narrating his experience, identifies himself with humans as all part of the big ape family near the beginning of the book, but by the end, definitely thinks of himself as a gorilla and of humans as, well, humans. He views himself as distinct, yet sort of related when the book opens; we hear less of those sorts of statements as the book progresses. The humans clearly make some poor decisions in regards to their care of animals in this book; some decisions are downright cruel (but more in theory--no graphic violence here). There are also humans who make a real effort to care for the animals near them as best they can. I think Applegate has managed to communicate "a message" about animal cruelty and ethical treatment while at the same time giving us a genuinely great story.

For the record, I think the Newbery, Boston Globe-Horn Book, and other award committees are going to have a tough decision this year.... Here it is April, and I've already read two terrific possibilities (Wonder being the other), and there are lots more coming plus at least one more in my current "to read" stack from the library!

  • Humans are given dominion over God's creation right in Genesis (Adam even names the animals). Have we done a good job with that responsibility? Um.... Worth discussing!! What are ways in which we have been good stewards with what the Lord has given us? Bad stewards? Perhaps bad stewards with good, or misguided, intentions? 
  • Where is the balance in our care for Creation? What sorts of factors should guide our decisions as we seek to tend the earth and its creatures? What are the reasons Applegate implies? Is there more to it than the book intimates?
  • What does set us apart from the great apes? (hint: look back at Genesis... God made humans in his image) What are the implications of this?
Book from local library; cover image from goodreads

Thoughts? Other books that come to mind that do a good job enlightening us in the area of animal husbandry, stewardship of Creation, etc.?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Weekly Roundup: It's a Bug's Life

Within the past week, my family has:
  • seen beautiful butterflies in the Smokies
  • tracked water striders along a mountain stream
  • befriended and "nurtured" two caterpillars (named "Spiky" and, um, "Spiky")
  • identified and, um, killed a black widow spider on our porch
  • dug up and fished with big earthworms
  • obliterated a fire ant hill
  • been beaten by mosquitoes....
Clearly, the time's are a'changin.' Or, at least, the seasons. Warm weather is fast approaching, and the bug world is coming out in force.

But that's okay to a young child. For some reason, the insect kingdom offers no small fascination for the younger population. Maybe it's because they're not rushing through life, too busy to notice the ladybug on the maple, the inchworm laboriously crossing the sidewalk, or the roly polies under the big rock they just turned over. The bug world is a marvel of God's creation--a microcosm of intricacy, special function, and beauty.

You could, of course, celebrate the bug world with some screen action: It's a Bug's Life or Bee Movie. But what fun is THAT? Or, you could make haste to pick up some of our favorite titles below from your local library and head out for a backyard picnic/story time to observe these little guys close up (don't forget the bug spray!).

Step Gently Out
Rick Lieder and Helen Frost

This book is gorgeous, but I'll say no more. I am waiting on it from my local library, but I did get to peruse it this weekend when I was visiting with Janie Chaney (yes, shamelessly name dropping here☺). She's going to do it more justice on Redeemed Reader soon, so hop on over there and check them out.

Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices
Paul Fleischman
Eric Beddows, illustrator
1988, Newbery Medal

One of my all-time favorites!! These antiphonal poems are meant to be heard, preferably by two readers. If you don't have readers in your home yet, check out the superb audio version. The poems are all about bugs.

Douglas Florian
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

20+ buggy poems and marvelous mixed-media style paintings await your perusal here. Poems are perfect for early elementary kids to pour over and read.

Diary of a Worm, Diary of a Spider, and Diary of a Fly
Doreen Cronin, author
Harry Bliss, illustrator

Did you know that worms keep diaries? Flies and spiders, too? Funny text and pictures engage young readers. (Usually in picture book section). These are silly and have journal/collage style illustrations; they'll work best with the kindergarten-second grade crowd, but probably aren't good read alouds to a crowd because some pictures are quite small.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Eric Carle
Puffin Books
1994 (orig. 1969)

A classic that needs no description! A perennial favorite. Check out Carle's The Very Busy Spider, The Very Quiet Cricket, The Very Lonely Firefly, The Grouchy Ladybug,....

Ten Little Ladybugs
Melanie Gerth
Laura Huliska-Beith, illustrator
Piggy Toes Press, 2003

A simple, rhyming counting book with bright illustrations that young children love.

Inch by Inch
Leo Leonni
1995, originally 1995

Another "retro" favorite, Leonni is the author of Swimmy and other favorites, too. This one is about a little inchworm.
Hi! Fly Guy
Tedd Arnold
Cartwheel Books
2006, Geisel Honor Book

Megan and I have some young boys who are big Fly Guy fans!! A very fun easy reader series worth checking out.

Janell Canon
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Only the author of Stellaluna could make a cockroach and an ant colony so beautiful. A sweet story followed by some nonfiction pages on cockroaches and ants. Longer text makes this a good school age read aloud or to younger experienced listeners.

Sam and the Firefly
P. D. Eastman
Random House
2010 (originally 1958)

This is an old favorite for the easy reader crowd, and it's a nice addition to a bugs books lineup!

Charlotte's Web
E. B. White
Garth Williams, illustrator
2001 (originally 1952)

Of course! How can we not include this classic in a bugs books lineup! Charlotte is the world's best spider character, bar none.

All cover images from goodreads

Be sure to check out the 595 section of the juvenile nonfiction books for some fact books, too!

What are YOUR buggy favorites? Let us know in the comments, and we'll check them out!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Code of Silence

Code of Silence: Living a Lie Comes with a Price
Tim Shoemaker

Three eighth grade kids are eye witnesses to an armed robbery and potential murder at their favorite local diner. One of them is partially seen by the bad guys; the message to the witness, under cover of darkness, is "We'll find you. We'll make sure you don't talk." (OK, that's a rough paraphrase ☺). The problem? Two of the bad guys, though masked, were clearly wearing cop pants.... Are the police in on it? The kids' plan? A code of silence: tell no one (not even their parents). Hide the security camera's hard drive they swiped. Lay low. Play it cool. When the cops show up at their school to start questioning kids, the code of silence trio know the game is up--or very nearly so. These bad guys aren't messing around....

Because this is a book from a well known Christian publisher, it's no surprise that references to God and prayer are thrown around in the book. Unlike many prayers-as-evangelistic-opportunities, these one liners are the whispers of desperate kids. The code of silence trio are presumably Christians; some of their families and peers ask them if they're praying, and the kids themselves reference their own prayers. Yet, there is no overt gospel message or even remotely identifiable denominational label. This book will appeal just fine to nominal Christians and even a broader audience. That being said, one of the things I appreciated in this book is the characters' honesty and recognition that their continual lies--necessitated by their commitment to their code of silence--are creating a barrier between them and their families and the Lord. By the end of the book, this is all reconciled, and their hearts are predictably more at peace. "Lying doesn't pay" comes through loud and clear as the book builds to its climax. Another theme I appreciated is the subtle idea that kids don't always know what's best. Novel in this day and age, I can assure you. Here's a middle grades novel that wraps up with the kids taking matters in their own hands at their peril. The parents don't exactly "save the day," but the kids do realize at the end that they should have trusted their parents from the get go as well as the others in authority over them. Nice. (And yet, I don't feel the book is too preachy and "message-y".)

This is your classic mystery with a nice twist at the end. Writing is pretty good for mystery standards, which I was pleased with. The perspective changes a few times between the three main characters; this wasn't necessary, in my opinion, and gets a little distracting. In addition, the middle third of the book is a touch slow--just a touch. That being said, it's a gripping read, and I think kids who enjoy mysteries will like it a lot!

  • As with any book, Christian or not, ask your kids what they think of the actions of the main characters--would they have done the same thing? 
  • It sounds, on a very few occasions, like the main characters might be taking the name of the Lord in vain. Arguable--what do your kids think? Is it justified? Is it a gasp of a prayer? 
  • Ask your kids if there are times when they've been tempted to lie--is there ever an okay time to lie? What about trusting your parents? 
  • Lots to discuss here--don't make this book a "teaching opportunity" but make note of some potential teachable moments that may crop up.

Happy Reading!

Book on shelves now; book reviewed via ARC from netgalley; cover image from Zonderkidz

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Stars in Our Eyes: Professional Reviews

Are you curious about how the "system" works? How do librarians pick books for their libraries? How does Barnes and Noble decide what books to feature/sell? How do bloggers know which books are "hot" and which ones to review?

For many folks, professional reviews are their biggest source of information. Here's a sneak peek at the inside world of professional reviews.

When I say "professional reviews," I mean those featured in magazines/websites such as School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Publisher's Weekly, Horn Book Magazine, Booklist, Library Journal, and others. Often, folks are paid to review and have had to apply to be a reviewer; they must have some experience in the field, be it bookseller, librarian, etc. These magazines/websites all have editors who review the reviews. Stars get assigned to books based on the reviewer's recommendation and the editor's agreement. Here's something you may not know, though: negative reviews don't appear. Bottom line: if a book doesn't appear in the professional review sources, it's because it didn't measure up in some way. If a book does appear, then someone thought it worthwhile--even if it doesn't have a star.

Folks in charge of buying books for libraries (or other places) will read (skim) these review sources to find out what's getting buzz. Oh--a particular book has a star. Let's read that review more closely. Wow--this book got stars from two sources. Must be worth paying attention. THREE STARS?? (from three different sources) It's at the top of list. If you're curious about this process, there are two great web articles worth checking out: Stars vs. Printz (how the medal committees factor in starred reviews) and HornBook's Stars. If you get the sense that all these folks know one another, you're not far wrong.

It is our hope to review some of these "hot now" titles and offer a critical perspective. I tend to try to sound positive in my reviews, but, unlike the major reviewers out there, if there's a "hot now" book that I don't  like or find offensive, I will tell you. It's worth examining current titles--both for what we can learn from them (great art mirrors life!), and for what the general public is being "instructed" to read by these powerful review sources. Professional reviewers have a lot of clout that people don't think about.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Reading v. reading

Here we are again, on Literaritea, making a capital/lower case distinction! We've discussed Truth v. truth and Story v. story. Today, we're going to discuss the distinction between Reading and reading. (As with the others, you might think of these as "Big-R Reading" and "Little-r reading" and we will try to make a size distinction clear when we are referencing the distinction).

Reading (capital "R")

Any active, skilled, memorable engagement with words or images that conveys worthy meaning or T/truth to the one who absorbs them. The result of Reading should include ideas or responses of one’s own; i.e., something original to the reader occurs by means of the activity and the text or images which occasion the Reading. Real Reading is a kind of creation cooperatively between one human and another, having some of the life of each.

Madeleine L'Engle puts it this way (Walking on Water): "Creative involvement: that's the basic difference between reading a book and watching TV. In watching TV we are passive; sponges; we do nothing. In reading we must become creators. Once the child has learned to read alone, and can pick up a book without illustrations, he must become a creator, imagining the setting of the story, visualizing the characters, seeing facial expressions, hearing the inflection of voices. The author and the reader "know" each other; they meet on the bridge of words." [I would add to this: in our day of screen-reading, we are increasingly scanning, not reading. It's worth teaching our children to READ).

reading (lower case "r")
A more or less passive and forgettable encounter with words or images that fails to bring one into any real contact with meaning or truth and resulting in no significant or lasting change in the reader and nothing original. [This is frequently the kind of reading we employ when we read web-related information--like this blog! As screen-reading becomes more and more a vehicle for actual literature that is meant to be Read, we must help our children discern when they do, in fact, need to Read instead of merely scan.]

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Here on Literaritea, we make the distinction between Truth and truth. We also make a distinction between Story and story. As with Truth/truth, you might find it helpful to think of these as "Big S Story" and "Little S Story" or, simply, "Capital Story" and "Small Story" or something along those lines.

When we evaluate the literary merits of a given work, we are looking for the difference between these two versions of "Story." What does that distinction look like?

  • Story: a classic narrative that has the power to represent T/truth to people of all times and any places or cultures with unity, persuasiveness, conviction, and memorability. This means that the narrative not only has a good plot, but is crafted well and avoids trite-ness, unnecessary stereotypes and the like. Timeless themes are often found in folklore because one generation has deemed them important to pass onto the next. The greatest Story ever told on earth is the Incarnation of Christ and his Redemption of mankind as seen in Scripture. If Story does not accomplish its potential, it is due to a failure in adequate Reading--yes, we make a distinction between Reading and reading, but more on that another time.

  • story: a narrative that fails to achieve classic value or status due to some inherent weakness in unity, persuasiveness, conviction, memorability or truth. Where story fails to realize its potential, the fault is likely to be in some aspect of the narrative, its meaning, or its truth. Even if Read with care and skill, even if it contains essential Truth, story still falls short in some way.

It is hard for us to find Story in works that don't also communicate Truth, but they do exist. The following examples demonstrate Story and story, but, as with T/truth, there is a continuum and often a difference of opinion!

Story Examples (with or without Truth)
  • Philip Pullman's Dark Materials books.
  • The Secret Life of Octavian Nothing
  • A Wrinkle in Time
  • Days with Frog and Toad
  • Grandpa Green
  • classic fairy tales

story Examples (with or without Truth)
  • basal readers (poor children!)
  • Disney knockoffs of classic fairy tales in book form ("movie versions")

Monday, April 9, 2012

Truth v. truth

We make the distinction here on Literaritea between Truth and truth. One is capitalized; one lowercase. You might think of them as "Big-T Truth" and "Little-t truth" when you are speaking of them. Look for Truth to be bigger in size than truth to help distinguish them (when we're making the distinction).

So, what do we mean by Truth v. truth? We're indebted to a favorite college professor (Mr. Ethan Pettit) for this clarification, and must give him the credit! Here is a short summary of the differences:
  • Truth: "Reality as God has ordained it, from the order of His creation and the fall of man. There is good, and that is God. There is evil, and that is the nature of man. There is redemption, and that is Christ." We certainly believe that "all truth is God's truth," and that all mankind has been created in the image of God--therefore, the "nature of man" as evil is more that all mankind has been tainted by the original fall from grace in the Garden of Eden ("in Adam's fall we sinned all" as the old New England primer puts it). Literature which reveals ultimate goodness and the idea of a Creation, shows the effects of sin (and shows them AS sin), offers the hope of redemption--all of this falls under the umbrella of Truth. Needless to say, if there is overt reference to God Himself, a clearly identifiable Christ figure, the presentation of the gospel--these would fall under this category, too. The line between Truth and truth can be fuzzy; when we analyze works for Truth, we are essentially examining the worldview present within them. 

  • truth (as common grace): any instance of Truth reduced to the common insights or perceptions of mankind as evidenced in Creation of the common nature of man. This includes such "ideas" as the Golden Rule ("do unto others as you would have them do unto you") and general knowledge such as that reflected around us in the world (gravity).

  • truth (as truism): ideas that are commonly recognized and accepted among men but may or may not be accurate according to Scripture (God helps those who help themselves). Ben Franklin is king of this sort of truth!

Does this mean we only read "Christian" books since they are the only ones which contain Truth? No! In fact, as we hope to demonstrate, some "Christian" books are very much not the best examples of the combination of Truth and Story. We'll cover Story (and story) in another post. For now, the works below are all examples which fall into either the Truth or truth category. This is a continuum; some books straddle the line.
Truth (some classics and some brand new examples!):
  • Narnia (an ultimate, powerful "God" figure; a perfect Creation marred by evil; a final triumphant battle in which good wins; a definite Christ-figure/redemptive storyline...)
  • The Queen of Attolia and King of Attolia: WOW--what a terrific picture of love, sovereignty, sacrifice, and strong MEN and WOMEN
  • Lord of the Flies: talk about effects of the fall! This book shows us creation (a near perfect island paradise), the fall and its many destructive effects, and the hope of redemption (the ship at the end)
  • Brothers Karamazov: Just read it if you doubt us :-)
  • Old Mother West Wind stories by Thornton Burgess: cute stories about anthropomorphic animals which always carry some sort of moral
  • Aesop's Fables always have a moral!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Other Books Index

The anthologies listed below include everything from poetry to short stories and encompass all ages. Age ranges are noted.

Metabooks (books about books)

Hunt, Gladys. Honey for a Child's Heart. 2002.
L'Engle, Madeleine. Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art. 1980.
Reinke, Tony. Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books. 2011. 
Wilson, Elizabeth and Susan Schaeffer Macaulay. Books Children Love. 2002. 

Story Bibles and Bible Memory Aids

Elkins, Steve. Hide and Seek Devotional Bible. 2012. (Bible memory)
Ergemeier. Ergemeier's Bible Story Book. 1922.
Green, Steve. Hide 'em in Your Heart, vols. 1-2. (Bible memory CD's)
Helm, David. The Big Picture Story Bible. 2010.
Hunt, Susan. My ABC Bible Verses: Hiding God's Word in Little Hearts. 
Taylor, Kenneth. Big Thoughts for Little People. (Bible memory)
---. Giant Steps for Little People. (Bible memory)
---. Wise Words for Little People. (Bible memory)
---. Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes. (Bible story book)


Curtis, Barbara. The Mommy Manual. 2005.
Durbin, Kara. Parenting with Scripture. 2012.
Priolo, Lou. The Heart of Anger. 1997.


Poetry for Children. Post listing numerous poetry resources for children.
Random House Book of Poetry. Compiled by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Arnold Lobel. 1983. CH.

Miscellaneous Grown-Up Books (Fiction/Nonfiction)

Brooks, Geraldine. Year of Wonders. fiction.
James, Sharon. Elizabeth Prentiss: More Love to Thee. biography.
Kidd, Sue Monk. The Secret Life of Bees. fiction.
Kingsolver, Barbara. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. nonfiction.
Morton, Kate. Three Novels (The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, House at Riverton). 2000's.
Prentiss, Elizabeth. Stepping Heavenward. fiction/memoir
Pollan, Michael. In Defense of Food. nonfiction
Voskamp, Ann. One Thousand Gifts.
Walls, Jeanette. The Glass Castle.memoir.

Audio Books We Enjoy

Fforde, Jasper. Thursday Next books. (grownup fun)
Fleischman, Paul. Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices. (delightful antiphonal poems about bugs!)
Gruen, Sarah. Water for Elephants. (poignant grownup novel that's better in audio)
Lewis, C. S. Narnia books. 
Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter books. (one of the BEST narrators ever!)
Snicket, Lemony. A Series of Unfortunate Events. (hilarious family fun--got a road trip coming up?)

MG/YA Books Index

This index covers quite a range. Age ranges are quite general and loosely follow where these books might appear in your local library. Many titles will cross over the edge, depending on your local library (and many are cross-listed on the children's novels index; if they will appeal to middle grades students, then they appear here, too)! Please note that books labeled on "YA" are probably too mature in theme/content (not necessarily reading level) for the average middle schooler.

MG=Middle Grades (often in the Children's Section); YA=Young Adult/Teen Section; NH=Newbery Honor; NM=Newbery Medal; PH/M=Printz Honor/Medal

Fantasy/Science Fiction/Steampunk/Etc.

Anderson, M. T. Feed. 2002. YA. NBA finalist. Science fiction.
Applegate, Katherine. The One and Only Ivan. 2012. Talking animals (but very realistic)
Auxier, Jonathan. Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes. 2011. MG. Fantasy.
Barnhouse, Rebecca. The Coming of the Dragon. 2010. MG/YA. Historical fantasy.
Billingsley, Franny. Chime. 2011. YA. Fantasy.
Billingsley, Franny. The Folk Keeper 2000. MG. Fantasy.
Boston, L.M. The Children of Green Knowe. 1955. CH/MG. Fantasy
Boyne, John. The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brockett. 2013. MG. Fantasy.
Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games (series). 2000's. MG/YA. Dystopian.
Coombs, Kate. The Runaway Princess. 2006. MG. Fantasy
Fforde, Jasper. The Last Dragonslayer. 2012. MG/YA. Fantasy.
Fforde, Jasper. Shades of Grey. 2009. YA. Dystopian.
Funke, Cornelia. The Thief Lord. 2002. CH/MG. Batchelder Award. Magical realism.
Kendall, Carol. The Gammage Cup. 1959. CH/MG. NH. Fantasy
McCall, Guadalupe Garcia. Summer of the Mariposas. 2012. MG/YA. Magical realism.
Ness, Patrick. A Monster Calls. 2011. MG. (Magical realism, maybe?)
Reese, Jenn. Above World. 2012. MG. Fantasy/sci-fi.
Reese, Jenn. Mirage. 2013. MG. Fantasy/Sci-fi.
Rubino-Bradway, Caitlin. Ordinary Magic. 2012. MG. Fantasy.
Schlitz, Laura Amy. Splendors and Glooms. 2012. MG. NH. Fantasy.
Schmidt, Gary. What Came From the Stars. 2012. MG. Fantasy. 
Spinelli, Jerry. Hokey Pokey. 2013. MG. Dream fantasy.
Turner, Megan Whalen. Conspiracy of Kings. 2010. MG/YA. Fantasy.
Turner, Megan Whalen. King of Attolia. 2006. MG/YA. Fantasy.
Turner, Megan Whalen. Queen of Attolia. 2000. MG/YA. Fantasy.
Turner, Megan Whalen. The Thief. 1996. MG/YA. NH. Fantasy.
Westerfeld, Scott. Leviathan. 2009. MG/YA. Best Books for YA's. Steampunk.
Wilson, N. D. 100 Cupboards. 2007. MG. Fantasy. (100 Cupboards Trilogy #1)
Wilson, N. D. Dandelion Fire. 2009. MG. Fantasy  (100 Cupboards Trilogy #2)
Wilson, N. D. The Chestnut King. 2010. MG. Fantasy (100 Cupboards Trilogy #3)
Wilson, N. D. The Drowned Vault. 2012. MG/YA. Fantasy. (Ashtown Burials #2)
Wilson, N. D. The Dragon's Tooth. 2011. MG/YA. Fantasy. (Ashtown Burials #1)

Modern Realism/Realistic Fiction (primarily 1990's and up when the setting is prominent)

Anderson, Laurie Halse. Speak. 2000. upper MG/YA. PM. Read in many 8th grade classrooms.
Birdsall, Jeanne. The Penderwicks. 2005. CH/MG. Realistic fiction.
Green, John. Looking for Alaska. 2005. YA. PA.
Henkes, Kevin. Olive's Ocean. 2005. MG; NH.
Marchetta, Melina. Saving Francesca. 2003. YA.
Myers, Walter Dean. Monster. 1999. YA. PM/NBA finalist/Coretta Scott King. Told in screen play format.
Ness, Patrick. A Monster Calls. 2011. MG. (Magical realism, maybe?)
Palacio, R. J. Wonder. 2012. MG.
Pennypacker, Sara. Summer of the Gypsy Moths. 2012. MG.
Perara, Anna. The Glass Collector. 2012. YA.
Schmidt, Gary. Trouble. 2008. MG/YA.
Stead, Rebecca. Liar and Spy. 2012. MG.

Historical Fiction (includes novels set in 1980's and before when the setting is prominent...)

Anderson, Laurie Halse. Chains. 2008. MG/YA. NBA. Scott O'Dell Award. Revolutionary war/slavery. Historical fiction.
Barrow, Randi. Finding Zasha. 2013. MG. WWII Russia. 
Coker, Rachel. Interrupted. 2012. YA. WWII era.
Donnelly, Jennifer. A Northern Light. 2004. YA; PH. early 20th c. North Woods. Historical fiction.
Gantos, Jack. Dead End in Norvelt. 2011. MG. NM. 1960's. 
Lai, Thanha. Inside Out and Back Again. 2011. MG. Vietnam War. novel-in-verse.
Larson, Kirby. Hattie Ever After. 2013. MG/YA. Early 20th c.
MacDonald, Maryann. Odette's Secrets. 2013. MG. WWII. Novel-in-verse.  
McGraw, Eloise. The Golden Goblet. 1961. CH/MG. NH. Ancient Egypt.  
Robinson, Mabel. Bright Island. 1937; re-issued 2012. MG/YA. Old-fashioned setting.  
Schmidt, Gary. Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. 2004. MG/YA. NH, Printz.
Schmidt, Gary. Okay for Now. 2011. MG. 1960's.
Schmidt, Gary. The Wednesday Wars. 2007. MG. 1960's
Selznik, Brian. The Invention of Hugo Cabret. 2007. CH/MG. Caldecott. Early 20th c.
Selznik, Brian. Wonderstruck. 2011. CH/MG. Early-mid 20th century.
Sepetys, Ruta. Between Shades of Gray. 2011. YA. WWII era/Russia. Historical fiction
Smith, Sherri. Flygirl. 2008. YA. WWII.
Vanderpool, Clare. Moon Over Manifest. 2010. MG; NM. WWI/Depression jointly. Historical fiction.
Vanderpool, Clare. Navigating Early. 2013. MG. WWII. Historical fiction/magical realism. 
Wein, Elizabeth. Code Name Verity. 2012. YA. WWII era/Nazi occupied France. Historical Fiction.
Wood, Maryrose. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #1: The Mysterious Howling. 2010. MG. 

Adventure and Mystery Novels

Boyce, Frank Cottrell. Cosmic. 2010. MG. Adventure (with some sci-fi thrown in)
Dowd, Siobhan. The London Eye Mystery. 2007. MG. Mystery.
Feinstein, John. Rush for the Gold: Mystery at the Olympics. 2012. MG/YA. Mystery.
Holl, Kristi. Fading Tracks (a FaithGirlz Boarding School Mystery). 2008. MG.
Shoemaker, Tim. Code of Silence. 2012. MG/YA. Mystery
Wilson, N.D. Leepike Ridge. 2007. MG.  Adventure novel.

Graphic/Cartoon Novels

Frye, Michael. The Odd Squad: Bully Bait. 2013. MG. Cartoon/notebook novel. 
Kinney, Jeff. Diary of a Wimpy Kid. 2007. MG. Cartoon novel.
Kipling, Rudyard. Just So Comics: Tales of the World's Wildest Beasts. 2013. Graphic novel.  
Yang, Gene Luen. American Born Chinese. 2006. MG/YA. PA + Many other awards. Graphic novel.


DiCristofano, Carolyn. A Black Hole is Not a Hole. 2012. MG
Fleming, Candace. Amelia Lost. 2011. MG
Heiligman, Deborah. Charles and Emma: the Darwins' Leap of Faith. 2009. YA, PH, NBA. Literary nonfiction.
Menzel, Peter. What the World Eats. MG
Murphy, Jim. The Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure. 2012. MG/YA.
Rappaport, Doreen. Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of the Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust. 2012. MG/YA.
Richardson, Gillian. 10 Plants that Shook the World. 2013. CH/MG.
Sheinkin, Steve. Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World's Most Powerful Weapon. 2012. MG/YA. NH, Sibert, YALSA. 
Sheinkin, Steve. Lincoln's Grave Robbers. 2013. MG. 
St. Stephen's Community House. It's Not All Black and White: Multi-Racial Youth Speak Out. 2012. MG/YA.
Washburn, Kim. Heart of a Champion: The Dominique Dawes Story. 2012. MG/YA
Whelan, Joan Morrison. Home Front Girl. 2012. MG/YA.

Children's Novels/Chapter Books Index

This list includes some middle grade fiction since many of those are included in the children's section at your local library.
Key: CH--Children's; MG--Middle Grades; NM/NH--Newbery Medal/Honor

Fantasy (very broad; many children's novels contain talking animals and the like--these are technically "fantasy")

Alley, Zoe B. and R. W. Alley. There's a Princess in the Palace. 2010. CH. Graphic novel retelling of five classic "princess" tales. 
Applegate, Katherine. The One and Only Ivan. 2012. CH/MG. Talking animals (but bordering on realism)
Auxier, Jonathan. Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes. 2011. CH/MG. Fantasy.
Bearn, Emily. Tumtum and Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall. 2009. CH. Talking animal fantasy.
Billingsley, Franny. The Folk Keeper 2000. MG. Fantasy.
Boston, L.M. The Children of Green Knowe. 1955. ALA Notable Children's Book. Fantasy. 
Boyne, John. The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brockett. 2013. MG. Fantasy.
Coombs, Kate. The Runaway Princess. 2006. CH/MG. Fantasy 
Cottrell Boyce, Frank. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again. 2012. CH/MG. Fantasy.
DiCamillo, Kate. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. 2009. CH. Illustrated children's novel.
Eager, Edward. Half Magic. 1954. CH/MG. Fantasy.
Funke, Cornelia. The Thief Lord. 2002. CH/MG. Batchelder Award. Magical realism.
Kendall, Carol. The Gammage Cup. 1959. CH/MG. NH. Fantasy 
Lin, Grace. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. 2009. CH/MG. Fantasy/Folklore
Morpurgo, Michael. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. 2004. Arthurian Legend.
Morris, Gerald. The Adventures of Sir Lancelot the Great. 2008. CH. Arthurian Legend. 
Morris, Gerald. Sir Gawain the True. 2011. Arthurian Legend. 
Nesbit, Edith. The Enchanted Castle. 1907. CH/MG. Fantasy.
Ness, Patrick. A Monster Calls. 2011. MG. (blend of realism and fantasy; maybe magical realism?) 
Reese, Jenn. Above World. 2012. MG. Fantasy/sci-fi. 

Reese, Jenn. Mirage. 2013. MG. Fantasy/Sci-fi. 
Rubino-Bradway, Caitlin. Ordinary Magic. 2012. MG. Fantasy. 
Schlitz, Laura Amy. Splendors and Glooms. 2012. MG. NH. Fantasy. 
Schmidt, Gary. What Came From the Stars. 2012. MG. Fantasy.
Sharp, Margery. The Rescuers. 1959. CH. Talking animal fantasy. 
Spinelli, Jerry. Hokey Pokey. 2013. MG. Dream fantasy.
Umansky, Kaye. Clover Twig and the Magical Cottage. 2009. CH/MG. Fantasy.
Wilson, N. D. 100 Cupboards. 2007. MG. Fantasy (100 Cupboards Trilogy #1)
Wilson, N. D. Dandelion Fire. 2009. MG. Fantasy (100 Cupboards Trilogy #2)
Wilson, N. D. The Chestnut King. 2010. MG. Fantasy (100 Cupboards Trilogy #3) 

Realistic Fiction

Adderson, Caroline. Jasper John Dooley: Left Behind. 2013. Early chapter book series. 

Atinuke. Anna Hibiscus. 2010. CH (Early Chapter book). Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor
Atinuke. The No. 1 Car Spotter. 2011 (Early Chapter Book). CH
Birdsall, Jeanne. The Penderwicks. 2005. CH/MG.
Henkes, Kevin. Olive's Ocean. 2005. MG; NH. 
Jules, Jacqueline. Freddie Ramos Makes a Splash! 2012. CH (Early chapter book) 
McKay, Hilary. Lulu and the Cat in the Bag. 2013. CH (Early chapter book)
McKay, Hilary. Lulu and the Dog from the Sea. 2011. CH (Early chapter book series).
McKay, Hilary. Lulu and the Duck in the Park. 2012. CH Early chapter book series.
Ness, Patrick. A Monster Calls. 2011. MG. (blend of realism and fantasy; maybe magical realism?)
Palacio, R. J. Wonder. 2012. MG 
Pennypacker, Sara. Clementine. 2006. CH. (Early chapter book) Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor
Pennypacker, Sara. Summer of the Gypsy Moths. 2012. MG. 
Ransom, Candice. Iva Honeysuckle Met Her Match. 2013. CH. Early chapter book series.  
Sheth, Kashmira. The No-Dogs Allowed Rule. 2012. CH. Early chapter book.  
Stead, Rebecca. Liar and Spy. 2012. MG.

Historical Fiction (includes anything set in 1980's or earlier!)

Barrow, Randi. Finding Zasha. 2013. MG. WWII Russia.
Enright, Elizabeth. Thimble Summer. 1938. CH; NM. Old-fashioned realistic fiction.
Estes, Eleanor. Ginger Pye. 1951. CH; NM. Old-fashioned realistic fiction 
Gantos, Jack. Dead End in Norvelt. 2011. MG. NM. 1960's setting.
Karr, Kathleen. The Great Turkey Walk. 1998. CH/MG. 1860 setting
Konigsburg, E. L. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. 1967. CH/MG. Newbery. 1960's setting.
Konigsburg, E. L. The View From Saturday. 1997. CH/MG. Newbery Medal. 1990's setting.
Lai, Thanha. Inside Out and Back Again. 2011. CH/MG. Vietnam War setting 
Lenski, Lois. Indian Captive. 2011 (e-book). CH/MG. 1750s. 
MacDonald, Maryann. Odette's Secrets. 2013. MG. WWII. Novel-in-verse. 
McGraw, Eloise. The Golden Goblet. 1961. CH/MG. NH. Ancient Egypt.
Porter, Eleanor. Polyanna. 1913. CH/MG. Early 20th century (or maybe late 19th?) 
Robinson, Mabel. Bright Island. 1937; re-issued 2012. MG. Old-fashioned setting.
Selznik, Brian. Hugo Cabret. 2007. CH/MG. Caldecott. Early 20th century.
Selznik, Brian. Wonderstruck. 2011. Early-mid 20th century.
Streatfield, Noel. The Magic Summer. 1966. CH. Old-fashioned realistic fiction.
Taylor, Mildred. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. 1976. MG; NM. Early 20th century.
Taylor, Sidney. All-of-a-Kind Family. 1951. CH. Early 20th century setting.
Vanderpool, Clare. Moon Over Manifest. 2010. MG; NM. WWI/Depression jointly. Historical fiction.
Vanderpool, Clare. Navigating Early. 2013. MG. WWII. Historical fiction/magical realism.
Wood, Maryrose. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #1: The Mysterious Howling. 2010. CH/MG. Historical fiction? (not sure how to classify this one)

Adventure and Mystery Novels

Boyce, Frank Cottrell. Cosmic. 2010. MG. Adventure (with a hint of sci-fi).
Dowd, Siobhan. The London Eye Mystery. 2007. MG. Mystery.
Holl, Kristi. Fading Tracks (a FaithGirlz boarding school mystery). 2008. MG. 
Wilson, N.D. Leepike Ridge. 2007. MG. Adventure novel.


DiCristofano, Carolyn. A Black Hole is Not a Hole. 2012. MG 
Eamer, Claire. The World in Your Lunchbox. 2012.  CH/MG
Fleming, Candace. Amelia Lost. 2011. CH/MG. 
Larson, Jennifer. Delicious Vegetarian Main Dishes. 2013. CH/MG.
Menzel, Peter. What the World Eats. MG 
Miller, Natalie Davis. Speed to Glory: the Cullen Jones Story. 2012. CH/MG.
Murphy, Jim. The Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure. 2012. MG
Nelson, Kadir. Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans. 2011. (told from a fictional character's perspective, but a history lesson, nonetheless). CH/MG.
Richardson, Gillian. 10 Plants that Shook the World. 2013. CH/MG.
Sheinkin, Steve. Lincoln's Grave Robbers. 2013. MG.
Tsiang, Sarah. Warriors and Wailers: 100 Ancient Chinese Jobs You May Have Relished or Reviled. 2011. CH/MG. 
Washburn, Kim. Heart of a Champion: The Dominique Dawes Story. 2012. MG/YA 

Graphic/Cartoon Novels

Frye, Michael. The Odd Squad: Bully Bait. 2013. MG. Cartoon/notebook novel.
Kinney, Jeff. Diary of a Wimpy Kid. 2007. MG. Cartoon novel.
Kipling, Rudyard. Just So Comics: Tales of the World's Wildest Beasts. 2013. Graphic novel.