As you are aware by now, I am fascinated by nonfiction picture books. From science driven ones (Dianna Aston)untitled (135) to biographical focused ones (Barb Rosenstock, Audrey Vernick, Emily Arnold McCully, et. al.) to historical fiction (Kelly Lyon Starling, Judith St. George, Don Tate, Eve Bunting, et. al.). The text and illustration are so captivating that I cannot stop turning the pages. untitled (136)

The days of the “boring textbooks’ format” in nonfiction is fading away like rotary phones and landlines. I, for one, is ecstatic about this. So I am constantly keeping up with the buzz on the changes in publishing and how nonfiction is affected. I came across this article and thought I should share. I found a blog that blogs about the Common Core State Standards. Whether they are for or against it, is irrelevant. However, they stated that there are 7 categories of nonfiction in kidlit and they classify these books in these categories. untitled (139)


1.) Data: In more friendly terms, you might call this category Fasts Facts. It includes Eyewitness Books, The Guinness Book of World Records, and my own book Animal Grossapedia. These are the concise, fact-filled books that groups of boys love to read together and discuss. untitled (141)

2.) Expository: You might call this category Facts Plus because the facts are interwoven into a content-area explanation. This is could be considered “traditional” nonfiction in some ways, but there’s nothing old-fashioned about today’s expository titles. Their engaging text and rich, dynamic art and design are sure to delight as well as inform young readers.

3.) Narrative: This is a category we’ve heard a lot (I mean A LOT) about in the last few years. It’s the current darling of awards committees. Narrative titles present facts in the form of a true story with a narrative arc. As you learn about the next few categories, I think you’ll see that some of the books that have been lumped into the narrative category should really be thought about on their own terms, based on the author’s approach to the information. untitled (137) untitled (139)

4.) Disciplinary Thinking: These books reveal how scientists and historians go about their work, how they evaluate evidence and form theories. The structure could be narrative, but it usually isn’t. This category might also be called something like Experts at Work. Scientists in the Field books are the perfect example, but there are plenty of other examples. Skull by Mark Aronson is one that immediately comes to mind. untitled (142)

5.) Inquiry: This category could also be called Ask and Answer. In these books, the author raises a question or a group of related questions and then seeks the answer. Sally Walker’s Written in Bone and What Bluebirds Do by Pamela F. Kirby are great examples. untitled (143)

6.) Interpretation: For these books, authors research a topic widely, find their own meaning in the information, and present the content from that point of view. Charles and Emma by Deborah Heiligman is the first title that leaps to mind, but I’d also put books like Those Rebels, Tom and John by Barbara Kerley in this category. I think we’ll see more of these books in the future because this type of presentation directly supports Common Core. untitled (144)

7.) Action: This is category offers a separate spot for titles that invite young readers to take action. The most obvious examples include Citizen Scientists by Loree Griffin Burns and the Science Play series by Vicki Cobb. I’m not sure this system is the be all and end all, but it’s a very interesting way for writers, teachers, librarians, and other book lovers to think about nonfiction. It stretches the way we think about current books and future possibilities, and I think that’s extremely valuable. untitled (145)

Do you know what you are writing? Do you know in which category your manuscript belong? Take the Challenge. Find some of these books, read them, and come back here and post the title, author, and category. Trust me, you will not be disappointed in your finding. Better yet, you will have a new love and discovery for all things nonfiction.

Here are some of my favorite nonfiction. untitled (140) untitled (153)

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90 Picture Books in 14 Days

The 14:14 Picture Book Challenge is over and Christie Wild compiled the links, books, and elements in one big post. You may find them all at the link below.

And here is THE LIST of the Top 10 Story Elements for Picture Books with all the books we have featured during the last 2 weeks. All books on this list have been published within the last 10 years, from 2004 to 2014. Only one book was reviewed twice and both times it was for character, so that’s why it’s listed twice (two separate links). Enjoy and visit often!

•The Pigeon Wants a Puppy by Mo Willems
•Wangari’s Trees of Peace by Jeanette Winter
•Riley and the Grumpy Wombat: A journey around Melbourne by Tania McCartney
•I’m Bored by Michael Ian Black
•Maya Was Grumpy by Courtney Pippin-Mathur
•Lightship by Brian Floca
•THANK YOU BEAR by Greg Foley
•Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton
•I’m Bored by Michael Ian Black
•Character by Linda White
•Insect Detective by Steve Voake
•Of Thee I Sing, A Letter to My Daughters by Barak Obama
•Joone by Emily Kate Moon
•Sophie and the Sea Monster by Don Gillmor

•Bears On Chairs by Shirley Parenteau
•Wangari’s Trees of Peace by Jeanette Winter
•The Taxing Case of the Cows by Rynbach by Iris Van Rynback & Pegi Deitz Shea
•Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! by Mo Willems
•I Hate Picture Books by Timothy Young
•The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton
•Rosa by Nikki Giovanni

#3: PLOT
•Precious and the Boo Hag by Patricia C. McKissack and Onawumi Jean Moss
•Love Monster by Rachel Bright
•Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet
•NOT IN ROOM 204 by Shannon Riggs (also THEME)
•The Legend of the Golden Snail by Graeme Base

•Mrs. Katz and Tush by Patricia Polacco
•THANK YOU BEAR by Greg Foley
•Oh! What a Surprise! by Suzanne Bloom
•An Aussie Year by Tania McCartney
•The Pocket Mommy by Rachel Eugster
•Faucet Fish by Fay Robinson
•SATCHEL PAIGE, Don’t Look Back by David A. Adler
•Rosa by Nikki Giovanni
•Puffling by Margaret Wild
•ABE’S HONEST WORDS by Doreen Rappaport

•Penduli by Janell Cannon
•The City by Armin Greder
•Being Frank by Donna W. Earnhardt
•The Way I Love You by David Bedford and Ann James
•Kangaroo and Crocodile: My Big Book of Australian Animals by Bronwyn Bancroft
•Look, A Book! by Libby Gleeson
•Fox & Squirrel by Ruth Ohi
•The Island by Armin Greder
•Cub’s Big World by Sarah Thomson
•Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal by Vaunda Micheau Nelson
•The Goblin and the Empty Chair by Mem Fox

•Prairie Storms by Darcy Pattison
•Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell
•Baby Penguins Everywhere! by Melissa Guion
•Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin
•Big Bad Bunny by Franny Billingsley

•MOSES: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People To Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford
•Lucia and the Light by Phyllis Root
•Stars Beneath Your Bed by April Pulley Sayre
•Cock-A-Doodle Dance! by Christine Tricarico
•Moonlight by Helen Griffith
•Surfer Chick by Kristy Dempsey

•The Monstore by Tara Lazar
•Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin
•My Very Own Alphabet Book by Wendy Coyle
•I Wanna New Room by Karen Kaufman Orloff
•The House That George Built by Suzanne Slade
•Down the Drain! by Robert Munsch
•Martina The Beautiful Cockroach by Carmen Agra Deedy
•Never Too Little to Love by Jeanne Willis
•Wombat Went ‘A Walking by Lachlan Creagh
•The Wolves are Back by Jean C. George
•I Am Invited to a Party! by Mo Willems
•The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernst

•The Butt Book by Artie Bennett
•I and You and Don’t Forget Who: What Is a Pronoun? by Brian P. Cleary
•Iron Horses by Verla Kay
•Tadpole Rex by Kurt Cyrus
•Hibernation Station by Michelle Meadows
•Rough, Tough Charley by Verla Kay
•All Aboard the Dinotrain by Deb Lund
•Cock-A-Doodle Dance! by Christine Tricarico
•Surfer Chick by Kristy Dempsey
•Vulture View by April Pulley Sayre
•Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit by Chris Van Dusen
•Ode to Underwear by Helaine Becker

•Spinifex Mouse by Norma McDonald
•Small, Medium & Large by Jane Monroe Donovan
•ABE LINCOLN: The Boy Who Loved Books by Kay Winters
•Desert Baths by Darcy Pattison
•The Sandcastle Contest by Robert Munsch
•Good Luck Bear by Greg Foley
•Wolf Camp by Katie McKay

And that’s the monster list of mentor texts we all came up with together for studying the top 10 story elements of picture books for 2014. Enjoy! And continue to share the love. I’ll be doing a Top 10 Element each month on the 14th from here on out.


untitled (71)TITLE: ABE LINCOLN: The boy who loved books
AUTHOR: Kay Winters
ILLUSTRATOR: Nancy Carpenter
Publisher: Aladdin
Year: 2006 (First edition 2003)
Word Count: 1049
Category: Nonfiction

Summary: This book highlights the life of Abe Lincoln.

This challenge is 14:14 PB Challenge by Christie Wild.

ABE LINCOLN: The boy who loved books is a 1049-words book with presidential hook. In honor of President’s Day, I chose to analyze this book. I will focus on ELEMENT #10 ~ BEGINNING AND ENDING.

The book began:
In the wilds of Kentucky, 1809
a boy was born.
His mother called him Abraham,
his last name Lincoln.
His bed was made from corn husks,
his covers, skins from bears.
His cabin built with logs
from towering trees.

This is the first page. I typed it as written. I like the introduction. The birth to show us that this book covers a span of years.

The rest of the books delves into his parents, his schooling, and his determination to learn how to read. It tapped into his emotional side – the book he borrowed from a neighbor and how upset he was when the rain destroyed it, his studying to be a lawyer and helping a friend, and his motivation for president.

The book ends with these words on the last page:

Abraham Lincoln –
born in a log cabin,
child of the frontier,
head in a book –
elected our sixteenth president!
From the wilderness
to the White House.
He learned the power of words
and used them well.

I loved this book. As you all know by know, I am branching out into writing nonfiction picture books. So analyzing these books give me insight into pulling these books together.

The simplicity of the sentences spark any reluctant reader to pick up a book.

My favorite part of the book, is the attack of the forest animals. The descriptive prose reminded me of a poetic feel.

“Bears growled,
Wolves howled,
panthers screamed.
Abe shivered.
Dark was a fearsome time.”

I loved this book. I recommend it to everyone. And it is in perfect time for President’s Day!

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14:14 MRS. KATZ AND TUSH (Part 2)

Publisher: Doubleday
Year: 2009 (First edition 1993)
Word Count: 1395
Summary: A long-lasting friendship develops between Larnel, a young African-American, and Mrs. Katz, a lonely Jewish widow, when Larnel presents Mrs. Katz with a scrawny kitten without a tail.

This challenge is 14:14 PB Challenge by Christie Wild.

I am a voracious reader. I am greedy and I am always craving a good book to relieve me of my hunger. This book is decadent, delightful, delectable, and delicious. It is just plain divine.

The element that I will analyze is #4 DIALOGUE.

This book is written mostly in the dialogue format. It is engaging. Mrs. Katz, a Jewish widow lives in a building with an African-American family. Larnel, the African-American child, visits Mrs. Katz with his mother. When a cat had a litter of kitten, and all of them are placed except for one with no tail, he decided to give the cat to Mrs. Katz, who in turn made him promise to help her care for it. She names the cat TUSH because he has no tail and all she sees is its behind or “tush”.

Each time he visits, Mrs. Katz shares stories about her Jewish heritage, her deceased husband, and her story of immigration. She cooks for Larnel, teaches him to dance, and teaches him that his African-American history and Jewish history shares similarities.

What makes this unique is Larnel asked questions throughout the book. She answers all his questions making a lively conversation written in the form of dialogues.

I would not be able to share the conversation as I would not know where to begin. But let me say, this book is amazing. Patricia Polacco’s illustrations are captivating, real, and natural. The story has a flow that at times, it reads like a poem written in free verse.

I could have picked any of the ten elements and this book would have been appropriate. And I know you are looking at the word count. But you should know how I feel about word count from my previous post, “Stories can be told in 500-600 words. But great stories should be told in as many words needed to get the message across, and 1395-words did justice.”

I recommend this book for all grades. It is delightful as fresh baked bread from the oven dripping with honey butter. This is the kind of book, you should sprinkle honey on and eat it. Trust me, it will be worth it.


Christie Wild 14:14 Picture Book Challenge

So you know I consider myself the “Challenge Queen”. This means I will jump on a challenge that involves picture books, reading, writing, sharing information, and analyzing. Since I do not have anyone to listen to me, these challenges allow me to write my thoughts and share them with others.

Christie Wild’s 14:14 Picture Book Challenge is reading 14 picture books in 14 days (14:14). Then analyze them using one of these:

Top 10 Story Elements for Picture Books
#3: PLOT

Each day, I will read a book and post the analysis here. I will link it back to her site. And check out the other sites of other writers who are participating in the challenge.

I should have posted this post before I began the challenge, but I didn’t. I actually started the challenge yesterday. I read and analyze MOSES: WHEN HARRIET TUBMAN LED HER PEOPLE TO FREEDOM, by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Kadir Nelson. Phenomenal book!

In Moses, I analyzed ELEMENT#7 ~ WORDPLAY (Alliteration, Simile, and Onomatopoeia). Check it out by clicking the link above. So now I have nine more elements to explore 😀 I am so excited.

14:14 PBC, MOSES

AUTHOR: Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrator: Kadir Nelson
Publisher: Jump to the Sun and Perma-Bound
Year: 2006
Word Count: 1424
Summary: This nonfiction book describes Harriet Tubman’s spiritual journey as she hears the voice of God guiding her north to freedom on her very first trip to escape the brutal practice of forced servitude.

This challenge is 14:14 PB Challenge by Christie Wild.

I had choices. There were so many books to choose, but I wanted this one. I wanted to read about a woman who was determined. A woman who persevered. And a woman who was a dreamer, believer, a challenger and a motivator.

I wanted to know about a woman whose bones were beaten, but wouldn’t let her dreams be broken. A woman who knew to look to the sky and follow the star. I wanted to know about Harriet Tubman. And I did!

I see the wheels turning in your head, and I know what you’re thinking.
“1424-words for a picture book?”
Yes, that’s accurate. However, do not question the word count. It’s about the content. I know the industry is looking for books in the 500-600 word range. However, stories can be told in 500-600 words. But great stories should be told in as many words needed to get the message across, and 1424-words did justice.


I love the writing of this piece. The use of onomatopoeia (sound words) delivered the story in n rhythmic way. Two-word alliterations sprinkled through out. And the use of simile (comparing two things using ‘like’ or ‘as’) drove the plot forward.


“She (Harriet) grips the ax to chop wood, breathes deeply, and MURMURS.”
“As the wagon WOBBLES along…”
“A heart song LULLS her to sleep”
“A mosquito BUZZES in Harriet’s ears”
“Back on shore, hounds SNARL, SNIFF for Harriet’s trail”
“…gut CHURNS”

“Her heart flutters. HUSH: hoofbeats!”

“She recalls dreams where she FLEW LIKE A BIRD”
“Harriet feels LIGHT AS A CLOUD”

I chose this book for three reasons. One, it is the month of February and Black History Month. Two, it is the Week-Of-Writing Mini Retreat. Three, I am working on two nonfiction picture books so since I had to find mentor text, I decided to kill two birds with one stone 😀

This book is written in a lyrical prose. The illustrations are amazing. I love everything that Kadir Nelson touches. He is the Midas of illustrations to me; so talented and amazing. But this story is about knowing that nonfiction doesn’t have to be boring. This book is entertaining, fun, quick and easy to read. The pacing and flow of the words on the page allows the reader to connect with the pictures.

So in the words of Harriet Tubman, “Lord, don’t let nobody turn me ’round; I’d rather die than be a slave.”

I agree, Harriet! I agree!





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@LatinasInKidLit Challenge ~January, PARROTS OVER PUERTO RICO

untitled (64)This is my first review for the challenge at @LatinasInKidLit. For the month of January, I am reviewing, PARROTS OVER PUERTO RICO.

PARROTS OVER PUERTO RICO is a nonfiction picture book showcasing the beauty of Puerto Rico, an island which is a commonwealth to the United States of America, and its parrots’ population. Being from a Caribbean island, the beauty of the pictures reminded me of my home country and the beauty of small mass of lands surrounded by water. I loved this book.

I am fascinated with this island’s history. I think it’s because I’m from a small island. When you’re from the Caribbean, you tend to appreciate the natural simplicity of life. The oceans. Beaches. Birds. Foods. Festivals. And most of all the people. That’s why I read this book; not because it was receiving rave reviews (because those are subjective), but because it was nonfiction presented in a creative, non-boring way.

At first, I felt, it was very long for a picture book (2597 words). But being nonfiction, it can go all the way up to 3000 words. The book’s illustration was enough to keep me captivated. The various blues blended with green fluttered, flittered, and flew off the page and landed in a part of my brain that took me to a happy place. This was a great book.

About the story, Puerto Rico had thousands of parrots – blue and green – in the early part of its existence. The Taino people hunted the parrots and kept them as pets. (The Taino people were also found on my island, Jamaica. They were actually descendants from South America.) As I read this book, I realized the history of Puerto Rico is similar to the history of Jamaica and other Caribbean islands.

The islands had Native Indians living on the land and taking care of it. Then Christopher Columbus showed up. He took the land. He enslaved the people. The Spaniards claimed the land. The island was later inhabited by the Africans who were brought to the island to work as slaves. And history books credit Columbus as “discovering” the island.

(SIDEBAR: In the real world, we cannot walk into a house, take it over, and claim it. It is illegal unless you live in Texas and Florida, then you can claim “adverse possession.” )


The information and illustrations in this book makes this book perfect for the classroom. It’s ideal for a cross-curriculum integration – Math, Science, History/Social Science, Reading/Language Arts, and Art Education. I love how the author was able to deliver the history of the island in a creative way. The pace and the flow of the story allows even the reluctant reader not to lose focus. I also love how the author showed how the island planned on saving its birds’ paradise. When the islanders realized what was happening to the parrots, they came up with a plan to save them. The end of the book has photos, timelines, and sources for additional research.

I love that the illustrations are not like other books. I joked that the students get a chance to exercise their eyesight by turning the book upside down to take in the splendid illustrations.

This is an awesome book. It is amazing and I recommend it. I am blessed to be reading great books. If you like this book, then I recommend reading AFRICA IS MY HOME: A CHILD OF THE AMISTAD by Monica Edinger.

Author: Roth, Susan L.
Language: English
Interest Level: Lower Grades
Type: Nonfiction
Book Level: 5.7
Word Count: 2597

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