(B) Ages 4-8, (C) Ages 8-10, (D) Ages 10-12, Book Reviews, Booklists, Nonfiction, Picture Books, Resources
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Nonfiction Picture Books Round-up: Biographies, Science, and Words

A round-up of 2018 nonfiction picture books on all sorts of subjects and for all sorts of ages!

The Great Dictionary Caper by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Eric Comstock

In this lively book, words become art as well as the subject: they are bored and escape the dictionary! Homophones, verbs, contractions, palindromes, and even archaic words frolic and caper about. Recommended for ages 6-10 (but all ages will enjoy it at some level!)

Snowy Owl Invasion! Tracking an Unusual Migration by Sandy Markle. 

Wonderful photos enrich this nonfiction picture book about snowy owls and a particular year’s irruption (unusual migration). End matter and sidebars expand the text without detracting from the reading experience. The author doesn’t talk down to her young readers; instead, by looking at a particular event in the life of a particular species, she gives a window into snowy owls and the importance of scientists and their work in the preservation of species and our understanding of the natural world. Recommended for ages 8-12.

Brave Jane Austen: Reader, Writer, Author, Rebel by Lisa Pliscou and illustrated by Jen Corage.

More substantial in content than Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen, this is an informative introduction to the lovely Jane Austen. Although the title includes “rebel,” the book does not shout “agenda.” Charming, winsome illustrations are faintly reminiscent of Denslow’s famous Wizard of Oz illustrations in style. Recommended for ages 6 and up.

Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten by Laura Veirs and illustrated by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. 

Beautiful, subtle illustrations in a soft palette are the highlight of this book whose text is a touch “girl power-y.” The afterword is more substantial than the text and worth reading. Libba’s talent was discovered in the musical Seeger household. (See the next title!) Recommended for ages 6 and up.

Listen: How Pete Seeger Got America Singing by Leda Schubert and illustrated by Raúl Colón. (2017 release)

Not everyone will agree with his politics, but it’s safe to say his music has shaped our American folk music landscape. This picture book biography gives a glowing, poetic introduction to the man. Text is sprinkled with song titles; you can look many of them up on sources like Spotify or check out his CDs from your local library. Back matter includes more resources. Recommended for ages 6 and up.

One Fun Day with Lewis Carroll: A Celebration of Wordplay and a Girl Named Alice by Kathleen Krull and illustrated Júlia Sardà.

A must read if your family enjoys Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass! Krull peppers her lively text with words and phrases that Carroll invented; readers familiar with his works will enjoy those references and the story all the more. Sardà’s equally lively illustrations cavort across the pages. End matter includes glossary of words found in the story that Carroll invented. A fun companion to this book would be Will’s Words which celebrates the many words Shakespeare also contributed to our English language. Recommended for ages 8 and up.

Have you read any of these picture books? Do you know other 2018 picture books you’d like to recommend?

Talk amongst yourselves...


  1. Patti Rowe says

    What is the title of the book about Shakespeare’s invented words? And the author?

    • Thanks, Patti, for drawing that to my attention! Somehow, the title (Will’s Words) AND link to our review got put earlier in the Lewis Carroll review (right after the Lewis Carroll title). I’m not sure how that happened, but it should be fixed now.

  2. Marcey says

    So glad Story Warren linked to this list! We will be reading many of these thanks to your review. Thank you!

  3. Pingback: The Warren & the World Vol 6, Issue 10

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