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Non-fiction works have compelling stories, too

Luci Hand

Luci Hand

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Updated: September 5, 2013 6:32AM



Let’s look at some non-fiction. Although they don’t usually tell a “story,” they can be compelling in their own right.

Who doesn’t like money? David A. Adler brings us “Money Madness,” which is full of interesting facts about this wonderful invention.

We begin with why people want and need money. We go on to what we would have to do if we didn’t have it.

To get clothes, we would have to start with the sheep.

We discuss how money was developed and how a bank works. There is also a brief look at the currency of other countries. A quick look at inflation comes along too.

(If you can find it, “All The Money In The World” by Bill Brittain is a hilarious fictional look at what happens when all the money in the world ends up on Quentin’s farm. This is perfect for middle graders.)

I love the feel of silk. There is nothing to compare to the real thing.

I have never figured out how an ugly worm, eating only one kind of leaf, can produce the loveliest fabric in the world.

Richard Sobol tells us all about it in “The Story Of Silk — From Worm Spit to Woven Scarves.”

We begin with a legend of how silk was discovered. I had always wondered.

A Chinese princess dropped a cocoon into her hot tea and when she went to take it out, it unraveled and she realized it could be woven.

We follow Mr. Sobol as he travels to Thailand and joins a village where silk is produced. The silk comes from the cocoons which are boiled to release the threads.

This ends the life cycle so the people of the village import tiny silkworm eggs to hatch new worms for the silk.

Mr. Sobol also illustrates weaving. The lucky kids of the village get to wear silk every day.

Chris Butterworth brings us “See What A Seal Can Do.”

Seals “flump” on land (“a flump is a combination of a flop and a jump together”). They are ungainly and slide and roll along.

They excel n the water where they are like rockets under the waves.

We are treated to a combination of fiction and non-fiction as we follow a seal through the day, and facts are added to each lovely page.

Did you know that seals’ ears are simply holes but they can hear under water?

He is a mammal and must breathe air, has two fur coats to keep him warm, and when he dives way down, his heart slows so that he does not have to breathe for 15 minutes.

“Mesmerizing Math” is brought to us by Jonathan Litton and Thomas Flintham. This is a wonderful interactive book with flaps and pop-ups to keep your young one’s interest.

It does delve into some pretty complicated things, like shape shifting and tessellation, so it’s for second-graders up, I feel.

It is a “do it with your kid” book as there are projects and activities that you will need to help with.

What a great time you’ll have.



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