Cover of "I Like, I Don't Like" shows two children writing the title.I Like, I Don’t Like,  an imported nonfiction picture book from Italy,  is a brief (85 words), elegantly designed book inspired by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Every spread has, on the left side, a child doing some normal childlike activity. On the right side of the spread, a child in poverty is working in deplorable conditions. So one child says, “I like bricks” while building with Lego. On the facing page, children carrying bricks to a building site say, “I don’t like bricks.” A child playing soccer says, “I like soccer balls,” while on the facing page a child sewing soccer balls says, “I don’t like soccer balls.” It’s a sobering but sensitive depiction of child labor.

I wish the back matter had included explanations about each spread. For example, I didn’t really understand the “I don’t like popcorn” page. Where do children pop and then package large plastic bags of popcorn? And am I doing something to promote this type of child labor? It left me with unsettling questions that I’m not sure how to answer.

The art is collage, with both photographic and illustrated elements. This book is a great addition to the set of non-narrative nonfiction titles to use with young children. It uses comparison and contrast as a structure. It also could be an example of a book that takes a position and argues it.

The book is in translation from the Italian.

I Like, I Don’t Like by Anna Baccelliere, illustrated by Ale + Ale. Eerdmans: 2017.

Children with book around a globe

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

Cover of book shows whale watching cruiseI’ve been thinking a lot lately about nonfiction text structures. I love lots of nonfiction picture books with traditional story structures: following a character through her life from birth to death, or recounting an event from beginning to end. But there are lots of other text structures possible, as well. Whale Trails: Before and Now elegantly sets up a compare/contrast structure to explore the differences between whale watching trips with whaling voyages.

The design of the book invites the reader to compare and contrast. Every spread has, on the left, full color with illustrations that bleed to the edges of the page. The right hand page of the spread, though has a black and white illustration enclosed within borders. But every spread deals with the same idea, showing how it differs or is the same across the centuries.

The narration is in first person present tense:

My father and I live for the sea. He is the captain of the Cuffee whale boat, and today I am his first mate.

But it invites us to look back to the past:

Before now, each generation of my family sailed these waters in search of whales.

We see the whale watching travelers traveling up the gangplank, and the whaling boat crew traveling up the gangplank; the route of the whale watching cruise and the route of the whaler; the gear aboard the whale watching cruise and the gear aboard the whaler, and so forth.

This fascinating book is another great example of a book with solid nonfiction content that ably uses a fictional framework–the girl who is serving as first mate today. Would you shelve this in the fiction section? Or the nonfiction? I’m not sure, but I think it’s clear to the reader what is fact and what is not.

I’ve never gone whale-watching, but I loved doing it virtually in this book!

Whale Trails: Before and Now, by Lesa Cline-Ransome. Christy Ottaviano Books: 2015.

Children surrounding a globe and the words "Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2016"


I participate in the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy


daylightDiurnal. Crepuscular. Nocturnal. This book pairs animals who are active at different times of day, implicitly inviting you to see similarities and differences between them (and explaining the technical chronotype terms in the back matter). The paintings are lovely–as one expects with Wendell Minor!–but the language was what most surprised and delighted me. It’s full of vivid words, lots of alliteration, and is fun to wrap your tongue around while reading aloud.

At night, pink-nosed opossum plods through the field and forages for food with her family on her back.

In the back matter, Minor mentions that he has seen all the creatures in this book in his own backyard. What a great challenge, to see how many creatures creep through your yard throughout the day!

Daylight Starlight Wildlife by Wendell Minor. Nancy Paulsen Books: 2015.