Tag Archive for nonfiction

Review — Everything Dinosaurs

The introduction presents some dinosaur “what if”s: What if dinosaurs had not become extinct? What was the world really like with dinosaurs roaming around? Dr. Paul Sereno, a paleontologist, helps to answer these questions through his research. In “Explorer’s Corner” sidebars throughout the book, Dr. Sereno provides extra information from his worldwide expeditions. The four chapters cover everything from “dinosaurs rule” to “fun with dinos.” Colored illustrations and sidebars complement the text. Young readers will learn how dinosaurs first evolved as well as how they became extinct. An “Afterword” explores why we are still interested in dinosaurs. An interactive glossary tests the reader’s knowledge with four definition options for each term. Correct answers are provided at the bottom of the page. A “Find Out More” section provides “Dino Documentaries,” “Dino-riffic Reads,” a list of related websites, and information about places to visit to learn more about these creatures. An index allows easy navigation through the text. This book is part of the “National Geographic Kids ‘Everything’” series, which covers an extensive number of topics for young readers. This book would be an excellent addition to supplement the science curriculum and will open the world of dinosaurs for young readers.
—Children’s Literature

Stubby the Dog Soldier: World War I Hero

9781479554652_p0_v1_s600As a bit of a history buff and a dog lover (just ask my spoiled pooch Ty), I jumped at the chance to write a picture book about Stubby, a dog who truly shows how heroic and loyal are canine friends can be.

This book was released earlier this summer and features some fantastic art by Oliver Hurst.

Summary: A stray dog named Stubby braves the World War I battlefields alongside Private J. Robert Conroy. See the story unfold as this brave little canine makes a big difference in the lives of many World War I soldiers.

Reveiw — Everything Mythology

In Everything Mythology, Blake Hoena and Adrienne Mayor introduce readers to a colorful and fearful world that is not entirely foreign. This book is filled with stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes, Monsters, revenge, love, hate, trickery and so much more. As readers and listeners journey into the world of Mythology they will quickly find characters they are familiar with in today’s world—including super heroes, wizards, princesses and characters from some favorite books. Short stories and facts are accompanied by vibrant illustrations that will engage readers. Hoena and Mayor include a map to help readers place the stories in a geographical context. This book is a great steppingstone into mythology for young readers. Each mythical story builds upon the next and soon readers will understand where terms like “Pandora’s box” and “Achilles’ heel” come from. Hoena and Mayor did an effective job at keeping the facts and stories short and understandable. All these elements lend to an educated introduction to Mythology. This book is highly recommended for use by parents with young readers who want to know the backstories of their favorite modern day heroes.
—Children’s Literature

Review — Everything Mythology & Dinosaurs

With more than 100 full-color illustrations these titles are visual treats, while providing a good deal of content. Each features four main sections with two-page chapters within those sections concentrating on specific topics. Within “Dinosaur Life,” for instance, readers will find spreads on the “Dino Nursery,” “Growing Up Dinosaur,” “Chomp or Be Chomped,” and “The Plant Eaters.” The layouts include headlines, text boxes, illustrations, and quick facts. Mythology even offers an Olympus Family Tree and isn’t limited to the gods of the Greek pantheon. Anansi, Horus, and Ganesha are all at home in these pages. The books are not only easy to read and understand, they’re also fun. Each volume includes a glossary (with an accompanying quiz to increase comprehension) and sources for more information (books, websites). Good purchases where these subjects are much in demand.
—School Library Journal

Everything Soccer

With the World Cup starting up in a little over a week, it’s great timing on my newest release, National Geographic Kids EVERYTHING Soccer. While working on this book, I even interviewed Omar Gonzalez, a star defender for Team USA.

9781426317132Summary: Score! Finally, a book that explains everything about soccer—a favorite team sport played by millions of kids around the globe. From patches of dirt to gleaming turf, soccer is a game for all. Meet soccer’s superstars. Learn the rules. Get kitted up, get out on the field, and show off your fancy footwork.

National Geographic Kids

This month I have two new books being released: Everything Dinosaurs and Everything Mythology, both published by National Geographic. The exciting part, for me, is that I grew up reading National Geographic Magazine. It’s how I learned about dinosaur fossils, exotic animals, and all the strange places around the world. National Geographic was part of my growing up, and I’m proud to help another generation read about the topics that interested me as a youth: dinosaurs and mythology.


9781426314964 In National Geographic Kids Everything Dinosaurs, kids will explore the fascinating world of dinosaurs, meeting prehistoric creatures as tall as houses, and others that were as tiny as chickens. Kids become dino experts as they browse the eye-popping illustrations and absorb the authoritative information, made extra fun through a lively and humor-infused presentation.



9781426314988National Geographic Everything Mythology is jam packed with fascinating facts and awe-inspiring imagery that brings your favorite fierce mythological heroes to life, introducing kids to gods of ancient worlds, including Greek, Norse, Chinese, America Indian, African cultures, and more. Packed with facts, colorful illustrations, and infused with humor, this fun journey through ancient lore will keep kids fascinated with every turn of the page.

My Werewolf Movie Watching List

Or what I like to call research!

One thing that helps me get started on a project is watching documentaries about the subject at hand, whether it’s Dinosaur Planet (2003) for a recent dinosaur book I worked on or Trouble the Water (2008) for something I wrote about Hurricane Katrina. A little TV watching is usually the first step in immersing myself in a project; what I often do before I hit the research books as a way to warm up the brain. Now, with one of my latest projects, there really weren’t any documentaries to watch, but there are quite a few good classic movies to get things rolling.

The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)—This classic uses some of the original werewolf mythology. Leon Corledo isn’t bitten by a werewolf. Rather, he’s cursed to become one because he was conceived through a rape and was born on Christmas Eve. However, the idea that it takes a silver bullet to kill a werewolf is used, possibly because this movie borrows from the story of The Beast of Gévaudan.

The Werewolf of London (1935)—Up until this point, when a werewolf transformed, it was believed that it changed completely into a wolf. But Wilfred Glendon changes into a half-man, half-wolf beast. A new idea in werewolf mythology. Well, unless you think Mr. Hyde was a kind of werewolf.

The Wolf Man (1941)—The first mainstream werewolf movie, audiences were so thrilled (and frighten) by Lon Chaney Jr. transformation into a werewolf that he reprised his role as the Wolf Man in Frankenstein meets the Wolf Man (1943) and House of Dracula (1945). It should also be noted that this movie is the first to include the three basic traits of a modern werewolf: becomes afflicted after being bitten by a werewolf, turns on the full moon, and is harmed by silver.

An American Werewolf in London (1981)—While in earlier movies, werewolves were seen transforming through stop-motion effects. This classic took things to another level. Through special effects, audiences saw David Kessler’s body changing and twisting and morphing into a werewolf. The movie also gave the impression that turning into a werewolf was a painful process.

Of course, there are many other fun werewolf movies, from The Howling (1981) and Underworld (2003), but the above fit into my research the best as they each portrayed a change in werewolf mythology.

Bird Trivia

Recently, I’ve been working on a research project about birds. It’s fun learning about the animals that wake me up every morning with their song. I’m also lucky to have an uncle who’s an ornithologist. He studies birds for the American Museum of Natural History in New York. So he expects me to know a few things about our feathery friends.

I’d like to share some of the interesting tidbits that I’ve picked up during my research.

—Birds are the fastest animals alive. A peregrine falcon can swoop down at more than 200 miles per hour as it snatches up prey.

—Emperor penguins can dive more than 600 feet underwater to feed (possibly up to 1,000 feet).

—Birds that fly have four toes per foot. Birds that don’t fly usually have three, and ostriches are the only birds with just two toes.

—Birds don’t have teeth! Yeah, I know you’re probably wondering about those vicious geese that hiss and snap at your during your strolls down by the lake. I grew up on a farm and had a few painful run-ins with geese. But those sharp ridges on their beaks are called tomia. They don’t have enamel, which makes teeth hard. So if you think geese bites are painful now, just think what it would be like if they really had teeth.

This summer, I hope to set up some bird feeders to attract colorful songbirds like goldfinches, or even humming birds. At the moment, I have cardinals, sparrows, and chickadees fluttering about my backyard. I often hear doves cooing in the morning. And then there’s the loud caws of common crackles.

Review — Matthew Henson: Arctic Adventurer

Innovative and entertaining, this nonfiction title captures the story of African-American explorer Matthew Henson in a graphic novel format. This unique way to present biographical information to elementary through middle school age students is sure to be a big hit. Although the information presented is not detailed, an overview of Henson’s struggles and accomplishments are presented. Readers will empathize with the young Henson as they read about his struggle for meaningful work in a time when young black men were not considered equal. They will cheer for him as he finally receives the recognition he deserves for his role in the discovery of the North Pole. The careful selection of vocabulary and easy to read text makes this title very useful for biographical research, especially for struggling readers. The bold illustrations really enhance the text.
—Children’s Literature

Review — Matthew Henson: Arctic Adventurer

This standout in the Graphic Biographies series briskly details the life of the American explorer who, with Robert Peary, blazed a trail into the Arctic and pinpointed the North Pole. Growing up in the late nineteenth century did not afford a young African American many opportunities, and Henson suffered through many menial jobs, indignities, and much discrimination before he became such a crucial part of American history.
—Book Links