Candlewick Nonfiction Picture Books: Who’s Like Me? by Nicola Davies; Can We Help? by George Ancona; Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend by Calvin Alexander Ramsey & Bettye Stroud; and The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower by P.J. Lynch



Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

who's like me

Who’s Like Me?
Author: Nicola Davis
Illustrator: Marc Boutavant
Published February 28th, 2012 by Candlewick Press

Goodreads Summary: Lift the flaps and learn about animal life in this fresh, fun-filled book for curious preschoolers.

A bunny is furry and breathes air. Who else is like that — a pigeon, a fish, a chameleon, or a fox? Some animals have fins to swim with, some have feathers and a beak, some have skin that is scaly, or smooth and wet. But whatever features a creature has, someone else has them, too. Can you guess who? Big flaps and a matching spread at the end make animal classification fun.

My Thoughts: This flap book is going to be a big hit in my house both because it is entertaining and because it is informative. First, the author does a great job making the identification of animal types a game including flaps and comparisons/contrasts then she ensures that factual information follows the matching to explain the type of animal and the characteristics of the type.

can we help

Can We Help? Kids Volunteering to Help their Communities
Author: George Ancona
Published August 25th, 2015 by Candlewick Press

Goodreads Summary: Real kids make a real difference in their communities in this vibrantly photographed chronicle by George Ancona.

George Ancona celebrates the joy of kids giving back. In one after-school program, middle-school students mentor and tutor younger children. Via a special partnership, schoolchildren help professionals train assistance dogs for people with disabilities. At a community farm, families plant, grow, and harvest produce for soup kitchens and charities. In these and other examples of volunteering, kids of all ages work together knitting hats and scarves for those who could use warm clothes, packing hot meals to deliver to housebound people, and keeping roadways clean. Young humanitarians reading these accounts may well be inspired to find ways that they can help, too.

My Thoughts: I think this picture book would be a wonderful one to read in conjunction with the 31 Ways to Change the World because that book includes suggestions while this one gives us narratives about those actually making a difference. I love the variety of ways the author highlights: from knitting to a community farm to training dogs and mentoring. These stories are inspiring and will make the reader (adult or child) want to do something to make a difference!

belle last mule

Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend
Authors: Calving Alexander Ramsey and Bettye Stroud
Illustrator: John Holyfield
Published September 13th, 2011 by Candlewick Press

Goodreads Summary: A true story inspires the moving tale of a mule that played a key role in the civil rights movement– and a young boy who sees history anew.

Sitting on a bench waiting for his mother, Alex spies a mule chomping on greens in someone’s garden, and he can’t help but ask about it.””Ol Belle?” says Miz Pettway next to him. “She can have all the collards she wants. She’s earned it.” And so begins the tale of a simple mule in Gee’s Bend, Alabama, who played a singular part in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. When African-Americans in a poor community– inspired by a visit from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.– defied local authorities who were trying to stop them from registering to vote, many got around a long detour on mule-drawn wagons. Later, after Dr. King’s assassination, two mules from Gee’s Bend pulled the farm wagon bearing his casket through the streets of Atlanta. As Alex looks into the eyes of gentle Belle, he begins to understand a powerful time in history in a very personal way.

My Thoughts: This story adds an extra truth to the story of Martin Luther King that many of us know. MLK was an advocate and leader and activist for all African and Black Americans and this meant a lot to so many communities of people around America including Gee’s Bend. To learn about Belle and King’s reason for having Belle pull his coffin really just shows how true his intentions of being a man of the people while fighting for the rights of all. And I loved how this story was told as a story from a Bender to a young boy visiting the town. Gee’s Bend is such a historical place, and I love this new part of their history that I didn’t know. (I love the quilts produced in Gee’s Bend! If you haven’t viewed them, Google it now!)

boy who fell

The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower or John Howland’s Good Fortune
Author and Illustrator: P.J. Lynch
Published September 22nd, 2015 by Candlewick Press

Goodreads Summary: In the first book he has both written and illustrated, master artist P.J. Lynch brings a Mayflower voyager’s story to vivid life.

At a young age, John Howland learned what it meant to take advantage of an opportunity. Leaving the docks of London on the Mayflower as an indentured servant to Pilgrim John Carver, John Howland little knew that he was embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. By his great good fortune, John survived falling overboard on the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, and he earned his keep ashore by helping to scout a safe harbor and landing site for his bedraggled and ill shipmates. Would his luck continue to hold amid the dangers and adversity of the Pilgrims’ lives in New England? John Howland’s tale is masterfully told in his own voice, bringing an immediacy and young perspective to the oft-told Pilgrims’ story. P.J. Lynch captures this pivotal moment in American history in precise and exquisite detail, from the light on the froth of a breaking wave to the questioning voice of a teen in a new world.

My Thoughts: I have to start my review with discussing the art work. Describing P.J. Lynch as a master artist is a perfect statement. His watercolor and gouache full page plus illustrations are so lifelike and beautiful that the reader will spend time on each page viewing the art in addition to reading the text. And what makes the book even better is that the text is interesting. Told in first person from John Howland’s point of view, we travel from London to America through storms, a fall off the Mayflower, death, disease, famine, and shows how friendship and kindness pay. In the classroom, this text would be an informational and interesting introduction to the Mayflower voyage and Plymouth.

All Recommended For: 

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Kellee Signature

3 thoughts on “Candlewick Nonfiction Picture Books: Who’s Like Me? by Nicola Davies; Can We Help? by George Ancona; Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend by Calvin Alexander Ramsey & Bettye Stroud; and The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower by P.J. Lynch”

  1. A varied list this week. Belle seems fascinating. I need to see if there are MLK Jr books that isn’t necessarily about him but his impact.


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