Cover of book shows face of aye-aye

I love Jess Keating’s series “The World of Weird Animals.” I’m not the only one. Recently I checked out Pink is for Blobfish to use in a presentation; many of the pages were stuck together from all the sticky fingers that had loved that book to death. The books are brilliantly designed with compelling photos, deftly-written facts, and insightful thematic links. She’s already announced the third book in the series but I just got the second one from my library. What Makes a Monster examines creatures with a reputation–sometimes deserved, sometimes not, for monstrosity. Along the way I learned lots of cool facts about animals and had a serious think about what I personally consider monstrous. My favorite thing about Keating’s books is that when I’m reading one, I feel absolutely impelled to share it with the people around me. I have to grab my kid or my spouse to show them just this photo, or tell them just this cool fact. The next book is about cuteness. I think I better order it much, much earlier from my library.

My Awesome Summer by P. Mantis is a funny, fact-filled book about praying mantises. The end papers are covered with typical nonfiction sidebars about the science ofCover of book shows praying mantis on a leaf. praying mantises (about how they camouflage, where they originated, how they catch prey, etc.). But the main text of the book masquerades as a journal. It starts “May 17. I was born today! It’s a beautiful, sunny spring day!” We follow along as P. Mantis enthuses over delicious aphids and also eats his siblings, catches prey, evades predatoIrs, and grows bigger and bigger. I learned a lot about praying mantises and enjoyed looking at the world from an insect point of view. It was interesting to read the book next to What Makes a Monster since some of the praying mantis’ habits could be considered monstrous (that whole eating your siblings thing). A really fun book that conveys great nonfiction content.

What Makes a Monster? by Jess Keating, illustrations by Dave DeGrand. Alfred A. Knopf: 2017.

My Awesome Summer by P. Mantis by Paul Meisel. Holiday House: 2017

Children with book around a globe

I participate every Wednesday in the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge at Kid Lit Frenzy.

 

Cover of Margaret and the Moon shows Margaret Hamilton contemplating the full moon as an astronaut and lunar module drift pastLot of recent books about female scientists! An eighteenth century astronomer. a marine biologist, a computer programmer. And today, a female member of the moon launch team is profiled in Margaret and the Moon.

I loved the voice of the book, and its quick pace. The book starts, “Margaret Hamilton loved to solve problems. She came up with ideas no one had ever thought of before.” The spare, efficient text tells about her interests as a child and about how finding computers changed her sense of what was possible. It’s exciting to see her struggling with the problems faced by space travel. The culminaton of the book is the moment when it looks like the computers may fail the astronauts in space, but it becomes clear that Hamilton’s careful computer coding has properly anticipated the problems, and solved them far in advance.

The illustrations are by graphic novelist Lucy Knisley. I loved her art in Relish and it’s just as accessible and fresh here. All of the text is hand-lettered (or maybe just looks hand-lettered?). The back endpapers include black and white photos of the real Margaret Hamilton. I kept flipping back and forth between the photos and the illustrations. Knisley does a great job capturing the look of the actual Margaret Hamilton in the illustrations.

Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing by Dean Robbins, illustrated by Lucy Knisley. Alfred A. Knopf: 2017.

Children with book around a globe

I participate every Wednesday in the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge at Kid Lit Frenzy.