Mr. Ferris and His Wheel – Another Fantastic Nonfiction Book


I wrote this post in October.  Then, neglected to pretty it up and post it.   Mr Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis and illustrated by Gilbert Ford is a another of ML’s favorite illustrated nonfiction books from 2014.

The North Carolina State Fair wrapped up this past Sunday.  So we won’t be hearing fireworks at 9:45 each night until October 16, 2015.  I’m not ashamed to say I’ve never attended.  I’m not against fairs; but my body is against being anywhere near a horse.  And horses are at the fair.  So ML enjoys the fair with her dad.

Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis and illustrated by Gilbert Ford arrived the week after ML attended the fair.  Earlier in the week, she exclaimed, “I rode the ferris wheel at the fair.”  So I knew it would be a hit.

This beautifully illustrated, historical record of the 1893 Chicago World Fair wanting to outdo the Eiffel Paris from the 1889 World Fair is a highly readable amusement.  The perfect pacing left us wondering if this engineering feat would be completed in time for the fair.  If so, would it actually work?

An official photograph of Geroge Washington Gale Ferris Jr is included at the back of the book.  ML pointed to a picture frame on our bookshelf saying, “He looks like the guy over there.”  It was a photograph of my great grandfather.  She was correct.  They both had somber faces,  similar hairstyles and clothes.  Neither was looking directly in the camera.

The Noisy Paint Box – ML’s Favorite Nonfiction Book of 2014

Noisy Paint Box

ML rarely asks me to read a nonfiction book again; and never repeatedly for several nights in a row.  Then, I brought home The Noisy Paint Box:  The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art by Barb Rosentock and illustrated by Mary Grandpre.  Mary Louise couldn’t get enough of this book.

“Vasya Kandinsky was a proper little boy: he studied math and history, he practiced the piano, he sat up straight and was perfectly polite. And when his family sent him to art classes, they expected him to paint pretty houses and flowers—like a proper artist.

But as Vasya opened his paint box and began mixing the reds, the yellows, the blues, he heard a strange sound—the swirling colors trilled like an orchestra tuning up for a symphony! And as he grew older, he continued to hear brilliant colors singing and see vibrant sounds dancing. But was Vasya brave enough to put aside his proper still lifes and portraits and paint . . . music?”

Why should you read this book?
I’m buying ML the book for Christmas. I know it’s a book she’ll treasure for years.  Colorful language surges throughout the book.  The opening illustrations depict the life of “a proper Russian boy” during the mid 1800’s.  As Kandinksy follows his dream, the book’s illustrations transform from realistic to abstract.

You’ll learn something.  At least, I did.  If I knew about Vasya Kandinsky before, it’s buried somewhere deep inside my brain where I can no longer retrieve it.  It is know thought Kandinsky had a genetic condition called synethesia.  “In people with synesthesia, one sense triggers a different sense, allowing them, for example to hear colors, see music, taste words, or small numbers.”  Kandinsky began hearing colors after his Auntie gave him a wooden paint box.


Naughty Kitty by Adam Stower


Naughty Kitty by Adam Stower –  Lily’s mom said, “Dogs were too messy, too smelly and far to much trouble.”  So Lily received a kitty.  He was cute and sweet until Lily left him alone.  Then, he wreaked all sorts of havoc.  The cute little kitty turned into a beast or so it seemed.

Why should you read this?
It’s a perfect story for both preschoolers and elementary aged children.  ML loved the discretely placed newspaper and a television report in the illustrations giving a clue to what was happening.

Can A Penguin Soar? Yes, With the Help of Friends

Flight SchoolMountain of Friends

It’s hard being a penguin.  You’re a bird; but you can’t fly.  Luckily the penguins in the following books meet some amazing friends who help them realize their dreams.  These books are similar in concept. Both penguins want to fly. However, the story line and illustrations are unique. Read both as a segue into conversations about problem-solving and helping friends.

Flight School by Lita Judge – “Although little Penguin has the soul of an eagle, his body wasn’t built to soar. But Penguin has an irrepressible spirit, and he adamantly follows his dreams to flip, flap, fly! Even if he needs a little help with the technical parts, this penguin is ready to live on the wind.”

A Mountain of Friends by Kerstin Schoene – “Heartwarming and beautifully illustrated, Kirsten Schoene’s North American debut picture book shows how working together can accomplish seemingly impossible goals. Young readers will enjoy helping penguin achieve his dream by reorienting the book and building a ‘mountain of friends’ to support him”

In Flight School the penguin is bold and seeks out the challenge.  In A Mountain of Friends, the penguin needs more of a boost from his friends.  The combination of these two stories mimic life. Sometimes, we’re bold.  Other times, we’re timid.  In each case, it’s the encouragement and help of friends that help us soar.  Just like in the books.

Catch That Cookie!

Catch That Cookie

Catch That Cookie! by Hallie Durand and pictures by David Small – “Marshall knows one thing for sure, despite what all the stories say: Gingerbread men cannot run. Cookies are for eating, and he can’t wait to eat his after spending all morning baking them with his class. But when it’s time to take the gingerbread men out of the oven . . . they’re gone! Now, to find those rogue cookies, Marshall and his class have to solve a series of rhyming clues. And Marshall just might have to rethink his stance on magic.”

Why should you read it?
It’s a clever, treasure hunt of a story.  Perfect for this cookie baking time of year.

ML is rarely able to attend programs at the library where I work.  However, one afternoon I was able to take a late lunch.  I picked her and two friends up from school to enjoy building and decorating cookie houses.  Unfortunately, I waited until the last minute to pick out a book to read to the crowd.  My first choice, Catch That Cookie!, was checked out.

Trust me and take my advice.  I’ve been there.  Don’t buy a gingerbread house kit.  Instead, grab a milk carton, graham crackers, frosting, pretzels, candy, cereal and sprinkles.  It’s an easier and more enjoyable experience for parents and kids alike to decorate a milk carton “gingerbread house.”  ML’s creation is pictured below.

Cookie House (2)

Chengdu Could Not, Would Not Fall Asleep by Barney Saltzberg


Chengdu Could Not, Would Not Fall Asleep by Barney Saltzberg – “High in the trees in the middle of the night, all of the pandas are sleeping except for Chengdu, who tries everything and still cannot fall asleep until he finds the perfect spot.”

Why should you read this book?
Chengdu is adorable, the story is funny and the ending is cuddly.  A perfect bedtime story.

A Perfectly Messed-Up Story by Patrick McDonnell

Perfectly Messed Up

A Perfectly Messed-Up Story by Patrick McDonnell – “Little Louie’s story keeps getting messed up, and he’s not happy about it! What’s the point of telling his tale if he can’t tell it perfectly? But when he stops and takes a deep breath, he realizes that everything is actually just fine, and his story is a good one–imperfections and all.”

Why should you read it?
Because ML found it hilarious.  Louie is almost as dramatic as ML and friends.