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In the stacks: new nonfiction for kids

Posted: June 1, 2011 - 6:55pm  |  Updated: June 1, 2011 - 7:47pm

New nonfiction for kids runs the gamut of poetry to adventure to biography to science. Look for it on the new juvenile nonfiction shelves at the Juneau Public Libraries.

“Meanwhile,” written and illustrated by Jason Shiga.

Do you like graphic novels? How about choose-your-own-adventures? Pick up this unusual book in which every choice has a consequence and where your chocolate ice cream might doom the world to total annihilation. Follow the colored lines that will show you Jimmy’s (and your) story from the ice cream store through multiple realities, into the past, and through the minds of others. Don’t try flipping through to find out what happens next – you’ll only end up looking like Jimmy on the cover – instead, start at the beginning and see if you can choose your way to the one happy ending out of 3,856 chances. Just make sure you’ve got plenty of time…

“Dark Emperor and other poems of the night,” by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Rick Allen.

As she did in “Song of the Water Boatman,” Sidman again seamlessly merges science and poetry into a beautiful sweeping image. Here, the theme is night and the animals that glory in it, from the owl to the bat, and the snail to the cricket. Mushrooms and oak trees have their moment in the moonlight, and through her words readers can almost smell the cool damp of the night air and hear the quiet coos of the porcupette and its mom. Lovely in their own right, the poems are accompanied by a paragraph or two of facts about each subject, full of the tidbits readers will delight in. Gorgeous linoleum prints accompany each poem, making a double-page spread of each poem.

“Here There Be Monsters,” by HP Newquist.

For as long as humans have sailed the seas there have been stories of the monsters that live in the depths, but one monster story sounds the same no matter what culture or era it comes from. It’s about a thing with long arms and huge head with a sharp beak that slithers up to grab hold of unwary sailors - and sometimes even whole ships. It’s a monster so big that it can fight a whale – and win. Greeks called it Scylla, but it’s probably best known as a Kraken, and in 1870, scientists got their first look at one. Instead of the island-sized behemoth the legends described, they found a giant squid with a seven-foot long body, eight arms, two tentacles, and eyes bigger than a human head. But there’s something even larger out there… There are plenty of color photos and illustrations to answer questions and provoke even more!

“Lives of the Pirates,” by Kathleen Krull and Kathryn Hewitt.

Who wouldn’t like to live like a movie pirate, swaggering around the decks wearing lots of gold and defending the ship at swordpoint? But the lives of real pirates were a little different than in the movies. Krull and Hewitt do their best to reconstruct the lives of 20 of the finest (or at least, most notorious) swashbucklers who ever rode the seas. Meet the Barbarosa brothers, whose flaming red beards were their signature, and Sir Francis Drake, knighted by Elizabeth I, who was not only a politician, but a pirate of the first order. The scholar pirate, William Dampier, was in it for the experience rather than for the treasure, and ended up dying penniless, but having tasted flamingo tongues and experienced the joy of unreeling a guinea worm from his own leg. Several female pirates make an appearance, too: Grace O’Malley, the pirate queen; Anne Bonny and Mary Read, who married into piracy; and Madame Cheng, who commanded over 2,000 ships and over 17,000 pirates. Riveting reading!

“Surviving Extreme Sports,” by Lori Hile.

Planning on spending the summer perfecting your BMX skills, climbing mountains, or learning new fliptricks? Pick up this slim book jam-packed with snapshot biographies of people who love extreme sports for a little inspiration (or perhaps a cautionary tale). What is an “extreme sport”? How about skiing 8,000 feet down Mount Everest? Kayaking whitewater rapids? Swimming to Antarctica? Hile relishes the chills and spills as much as the thrills. Going surfing? Watch out for the sharks! Street luging? Hope that SUV obeys the traffic lights. Lots of spectacular photos take you right into the action.

•••

The Summer Reading program has begun and story and toddler times are in full swing. Sign up now for a full summer of reading games, books, and prizes — pick up a calendar of Summer Reading events and join in the fun. And, this year, adults can play, too – pick up a flyer or check it out online.

For information about upcoming programs, or to place a hold, visit www.juneau.org/library or call 586-5249.

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