I have been happily immersed in nonfiction picture books lately.  I have spent a lot of time looking at many great nonfiction books as I choose the best mentor texts for nonfiction to have in our classroom library. One of the ways I’ve done that is to spend a great deal of time looking at all the nonfiction picture books that were nominated for a Nerdy Award.  What a great place we are in currently with nonfiction – so many amazing titles out there, covering a wide variety of topics.  Then, when I was asked if I would write today’s blurb to announce the Nerdy winners in this category, I got to spend an entire afternoon perusing different websites, searching for the best ones for book trailers and other resources to introduce the amazing winners.  I’m pleased to say nonfiction picture books are alive and doing well.

That being said, we have seven winners in this category.  Four are biographies, one takes a very up-close look at a species prevalent throughout the world, another tracks the birth and growth of an island and its inhabitants, and finally, we have a book to set to one of the most famous speeches ever given.  With no further ado, the Nerdy Awards in the nonfiction picture book category go to…

Here Come the Girl Scouts: The Amazing All-true Story of Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low and Her Great Adventure

Written by Shana Corey and illustrated by Hadley Hooper

Scholastic Press, 2012

As a former Girl Scout, this book brought back many memories of learning about the history of Scouts to earn a badge, and more recently (okay, 20 years ago), having my daughters be Daisy Girl Scouts.  Our own Nerdy Book Club members, John Schu and Colby Sharp, did a connected study of biographies between Colby’s classroom and the 5th grade students in John’s school, with Here Come the Girl Scouts being an important focus.  But preceding that collaboration, Colby’s class actually had a Skype visit with Shana Corey.  In addition to their cross-collaboration, this link also provides two interviews with Shana.

The Beetle Book

Written and illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Houghton Mifflin Books, 2012

Steve Jenkins is an incredibly prolific writer and I’ve come to look forward to each of his new publications.  The Beetle Book doesn’t disappoint.  Who knew there were so many species of beetles?  The text is incredibly informative, and the pictures of each different beetle just pop right off the page.  I found this review by a Denver Post journalist that I really liked, especially since Boulder, Colorado, is the place that Jenkins calls home.

Looking at Lincoln

Written and illustrated by Maira Kalman

Penguin Group, 2012

Looking at Lincoln is a book that has been on many different lists as a possible award winner.   The story gives the reader, especially a young reader, a wonderful look at the ordinary life of Abraham Lincoln as well as some of his historic milestones.  Jama at Jama’s Alphabet Soup blog posted about how Maira Kalman’s New York Times essays became this delectable book –
Then, as an additional resource, listen to Maira herself share how she created the backstory for Looking at Lincoln :

Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team

Written by Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Steven Salerno

Clarion Books, 2012

Though I can grow quite bored watching nine innings of baseball on the television or at the ballpark, for some reason, I am absolutely fascinated by historical baseball books.  I felt that way about Baseball Saved Us and We are the Ship.  Brothers at Bat continues the fine tradition of excellent baseball history stories.  This time, the story focuses, just as the title suggests, on a baseball team made up entirely of brothers.  We get to know the brothers both as a team and also individually as both world events and personal events happen to them all.
I found a great blog where the teacher shared this book with her students and then posted their responses to the story.  This class is the next generation of Nerdy Book Club members!

Helen’s Big World

Written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Matt Tavares

Hyperion Books, 2012

What is not to love when this pair teams up?!!  A great biography writer with a wonderful illustrator – we hit the jackpot with this one!  There are several links that really struck my fancy when poking around today.  The first is when Doreen Rappaport and Matt Tavares visited Books of Wonder, an independent bookstore in NYC.  The pictures of them with some of the artifacts from the book and from Helen’s life are great to see!  –
Another link that really touched me was one where Matt Tavares shared some of his thinking about illustrating such a powerful story about a person who could not see or hear –
And finally, a review that nicely sums up this incredible story.

I Have a Dream

Words by Martin Luther King, Jr. and illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Schwartz and Wade Books, 2012

Though only published in October, I Have a Dream has made many “Best of…” lists already.  And now, we can add a Nerdy Award as well!  Kadir Nelson’s illustrations beautifully capture the moments of the day of this incredible speech by Martin Luther King, Jr.  It gives me hope that a book like this will give new life to this amazing man’s legacy to an entire new generation of readers.

And because I am drawn to anything Kadir Nelson illustrates, I had to add this link to an interview with him where he talks about illustrating this book with TFK kid reporters –


Written and illustrated by Jason Chin

Flash Point Books, 2012

Island is a book I didn’t pick up until two weeks ago.  Life science and the evolution of an island just didn’t make it to the top of my TBR pile.  When I finally did read Island, I couldn’t help but wonder what the heck took me so long!  This is an incredible book that shares an island’s life story, divided into time periods, millions of years apart.  The concept of survival of the fittest when it comes to what species do in order to survive and adapt is a huge part of what makes this book such a spellbinding read.
The following blog post does an amazing job giving the reader a look inside Island, complete with several of the page layouts that are absolutely gorgeous.
What a wonderful list of nonfiction picture book Nerdy Award winners!!  Congratulations to all seven Nerdies winners!

Karen Terlecky is a 5th grade language arts teacher who has belonged to the Nerdy Book Club her entire life, dating back to her days visiting the weekly bookmobile and collecting all the books in the Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames, Student Nurse series, and rereading Little Women for at least the 20th time.  Today, she continues her Nerdy status every time she has Nerdy friends (that includes her students) recommend a book she just has to put in her TBR pile (it never seems to shrink!), every time she participates in #titletalk, #bookgapchallenge, #bookaday, and other reading memes, and every time she meets and has the good opportunity to talk to an author whose work she loves. Being Nerdy is the norm in her classroom, and she can’t wait to share the Nerdy Award winners with her students.