[Nonfiction Wednesday] Of Snakes and Monkeys in 2015 Nonfiction Picturebooks

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Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2016 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year.

Widget Handcrafted by Iphigene for GatheringBooks.

Widget Handcrafted by Iphigene for GatheringBooks.

Aside from picturebook biographies, I enjoy reading nonfiction titles about animals – and here are two outstanding nonfiction reads published last year.

IMG_8173I Don’t Like Snakes

Written by: Nicola Davies
Illustrated by: Luciano Lozano
Published by: Walker Books, 2015
Book borrowed from Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

This young girl is way different from the rest of her family who clearly adore snakes. When she announced, quite definitively, that she doesn’t like snakes, her mum, dad, and brother all asked her: “Why?”

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For each reason she gave, her family provided very clear information as to why snakes move the way they do – the slithering aspect of snakes actually have that fascinating grip-stretch-pull-grip quality to it. Their scaly texture – while seemingly-slimy-looking actually creates colourful mosaic patterns that either make them stand out or help conceal them from predators. Their flicking tongue also has its unique function that aids them in smelling their prey which they inject with venomous poison (see below):

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What really worked for me in this book is the art – it provides supplemental illustrated visuals to easily-accessible information told within the context of a young girl overcoming her anxieties about snakes. Call me old-school, but I prefer these kinds of illustrated sketches to glossy photographs when it comes to non-fiction texts. What didn’t work for me, though, was how easily the young girl seemed to overcome her dislike for these slithering creatures – it just did not seem credible as she seemed too easily swayed and her initial dislike – farcical in nature, rather than real. Regardless, this is a book that is able to convey information in a way that would engage and interest a lot of young readers.

Mad About MonkeysIMG_8169

Written and Illustrated by: Owen Davey
Published by: Flying Eye Books, 2015
Book borrowed via inter-library loan. Book photos taken by me.

In contrast to the first book, this one is more text-heavy – yet the way that the information is laid out is done in such a way that it does not seem too cluttered or too overwhelming for reluctant readers. The overall layout and design are remarkable providing a sleek, sophisticated quality to the entire book whereby the text flows seamlessly with the exquisite illustrations:

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I like knowing about the Old vs the New Monkeys and how to distinguish one from the other (it’s in the nose!). It was interesting to know not just about the physical attributes that distinguish monkeys from their relatives: the great and lesser apes and the prosimians; but also their social interactions and behavioural traits that make a few “top of the class” with their intelligence, and those who steal handbags and sunglasses – the mischievous and the playful. Definitely a book that you should add to your library – and a clear nonfiction favourite from last year’s.

  1. I loved the Nicola Davies book and so did my students! I don’t know about Mad About Monkeys, so I will check it out!

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  2. I could repeat Holly’s comment, Myra. I liked the “Snakes” book, thought it gave clear information about snakes, but it wasn’t a favorite like the one about spiders earlier in the year. I bookmarked the one about monkeys. It does look good. Thanks!

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  3. Love love the Snakes book. Love the organization.
    I liked the Spiders one too, but I think the Snakes one gave clearer information.

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  4. I think the illustrations are the real stars of “I (don’t) Like Snakes”, and I agree, the little girl seems to get over her aversion to snakes in record time! I also found it a bit creepy just how many snakes that family seems to own, most of which aren’t contained in any way….I don’t think I’d want to be their neighbour….! 😉

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  5. I’ve been wanting to read the Monkeys book. I almost typed Flying Monkeys!

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