Nonfiction for kids includes graphic novels, folk tales and more

Posted: Thursday, May 14, 2009

There's a wide variety of nonfiction for kids on the shelves at the public libraries.

"Arctic Adventures," by Raquel Rivera, illustrated by Jirina Marton.

This collection of true stories from the lives of four Canadian Inuit artists is a compelling look at an older way of living and thinking. Read about seal hunting, where bad luck sent a hunter out to sea on an ice floe alone, but good fortune brought him back in with the changing tide. And what happened when a girl and her friends encountered the goddess of the sea while hunting ducks. Each story is followed by a photo and short biography of the artist as well as an all-too-brief sample of his or her work.

"Animals in the House," by Sheila Keenan.

Written for pet owners everywhere, this engaging book looks at the history of pets throughout the ages, starting with the first domesticated cats and dogs who eventually were invited to sit at early human hearths as much as 14,000 years ago. At first, pet ownership depended on fashion and space, with medieval courts hosting pets as exotic as giraffes and elephants, and more ordinary citizens fawning over birds, monkeys, and of course, cats and dogs. Today, there's less likelihood that your neighbor will own a monkey, but there are lots of other pet choices highlighted in this book. Chapters trace cats, dogs, birds, fish, reptiles and small furry animals from their original uses as easily-caught food to their current lives in our homes.

"The Singer in the Stream," by Katherine Hocker and Mary Willson, illustrated by Katherine Hocker.

Both delightful and informative, this book uses light rhyme to spotlight a local bird you may have seen (or heard) yourself: the dipper. Hocker and Willson are Juneau-based biologists studying these small birds through the seasons as they choose mates, build nests, raise young, and catch lots and lots of food. Named for the way they continually bob their whole bodies, dippers are able to sing even while inhaling, and can fly under water. Find out how to spot a dipper nest, what it's like inside, and get an up-close look at what dipper parents get to have following them around.

"Rapunzel's Revenge," by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale.

In this wild-west graphic novel based on the classic story, Rapunzel's long hair isn't for the prince to climb up, but for Rapunzel to use to lasso trees, tie up bad guys and snap guns out of the hands of evil-doers. When Rapunzel defies Mother Gothel, the witch imprisons her in a magical tree-tower in the middle of a dangerous, swampy forest. The feisty redhead takes matters into her own hands and escapes, only to fall into the company of a young con artist named Jack, his pet goose, and his magic bean. Now Rapunzel's got to get out of jail, survive the Badlands, and vanquish ferocious beasts before she can get back to save her real mother from the witch.

"The Great Smelly, Slobbery, Small-Toothed Dog," retold by Margaret Read MacDonald, illustrated by Julie Paschkis.

Colorful stylized pictures set this British folktale of a rich merchant, his beautiful daughter and a powerful (but drooling) mastiff in motion. When the merchant is rescued from thieves by the dog, he promises the dog a reward - the dog chooses the man's greatest treasure: his daughter. In classic style, she goes to live with the dog and they get along quite well. She even names him Sweet as Honeycomb, but then one day her homesickness overtakes her. The kind, but slobbery and somewhat stinky, dog pities her, but it isn't until she renames the great beast in her heart as well as her mind that she is reunited with her father and gains a handsome husband.


Reminder: Lapsit and storytimes are taking a break this month and will be back in June. For more information on the library's programs, visit their Web site at for more information.

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