Counting Lions, Katie Cotton (Candlewick, ages 4-6) Cotton’s lyrical words paint a poignant picture of 10 endangered animals, but it’s Stephen Walton’s stunning portraits that dominate this oversized book.
Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans, Don Brown (HMH, ages 8-10) The author presents the heartbreaks of Hurricane Katrina in a way that combines emotions, information, and illustrations with maximum clarity and engaging writing.
Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear, Lindsay Mattick (Little Brown, ages 3-6) Twined stories tell the story of the real bear who inspired the character Winnie the Pooh. The story is told by the great-granddaughter of the veterinarian who rescued a little black bear as he was on his way to England to serve in World War I. Winnie, as he named the bear, ended up in the London Zoo for safety, and there he met a boy named Christopher Robin.
Game Changer: John McLendon and the Secret Game, John Coy (Carolrhoda, ages 6-10) Dramatic writing relates the story of a courageous game of basketball between the all-white squad from Duke University Medical School and North Carolina College of Negroes in 1944. The players’ risky game taught them the benefits of desegregated sports decades before it became legal.
Glow: Animals with Their Own Night-Lights, W.H.Beck (HMH, ages 4-8) Dramatic black backgrounds set off the striking bioluminescent creatures and plants in a simply written book that lets the photographs take center stage.
I Don’t Like Snakes, Nicola Davies (Candlewick, ages 5-9) Fiction and nonfiction merge as the young heroine fights her family’s love of snakes. They offer so many intriguing facts that by book’s end, she “really, really, reeeealllly” likes snakes.
Life-sized Birds: The Big Book of North American Birds, Nancy J. Hajeski (Thunder Bay Press; ages 10-adult) This oversized book holds facts, descriptions, classifications and location maps for more than 100 birds. Birdwatchers and nature lovers will be thrilled by the brilliantly colored life-sized photographs.
Masterpieces Up Close: 20 Western Paintings from the 14th to 20th Centuries, Claire d’Harcourt (Princeton Architectural Press, ages 4 and up) This luscious oversized book has striking reproductions of classic pieces surrounded by pictorial details and comments that discuss the artists’ styles, offer context, and suggest questions to ponder.
Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery That Baffled All of France, Written by Mara Rockliff and illlustrated by Iacopo Bruno (Candlewick, ages 7-10) Mystery, history, and scientific process unite in an engaging story in which Ben Franklin frees France from the mysterious hypnotic power of Dr. Mesmer. Writing and illustrations are full of humor and drama.
Welcome to the Neighborwood, Shawn Sheehy (Candlewick, ages 4-8) Lyrical text and dramatic pop-ups create in an amazing tour of animal homes found in nature, including hummingbird’s “Craftbirds hip” and garden spider’s “Loom of Doom.”