Monday, April 19, 2010
Nonfiction Monday: S is for Smithsonian, by Marie and Roland Smith, Illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen
While we are probably all familiar with Sleeping Bear's alphabet books by now, this one bears a slightly closer look to find some hidden fun - not unlike the Smithsonian itself.
We can start with the authors and illustrator: while the name Roland Smith isn't usually associated with nonfiction (this is his third in the alphabet series), it is certainly a familiar one to librarians and adventure fans (Cryptid Hunters and Tentacles, the I,Q. series, etc.) While the illustrator's name is not as familiar, it will certainly give you pause - and we thought Jon Scieszka's was hard to pronounce! No wonder, as his bio says, kids call him "Mr. Nick". Right there you have the making of a mini-lesson on name origins, elementary linguistics, geography, etc. His family's 20 years of wildlife rehab make us wonder if he doesn't have a story or two to tell himself (surely he has had some heartwarming success stories involving turtles!)
On to the actual book. Of course we have Sleeping Bear's usual quality in binding and print, and the now-traditional short poems with information sidebars. The Smithsonian is such an eclectic and HUGE collection of items, we don't know how the Smiths were able to decide what to include - in fact, on several pages, we get two items for that letter. At any rate, just like in the museums, there should be plenty to interest any reader. And yes, we said museums, plural - we did not realize that the Smithsonian is actually made up of 19 museums, 156 affiliate museums, and 9 research centers.
Did you know that the Hope Diamond, one of the most visited museum items in the world, was sent to the Smithsonian through the mail? Would you like to see life-sized replicas of a right whale or a 24-foot giant squid? How about Dorothy's ruby slippers, or Mr. Rogers' red sweater? (We weren't sure who Mr. Rogers was, which apparently made Miss Ami feel old. Just humor her and say that's cool.)
Once again, another excellent book from Sleeping Bear, sure to be a hit with kids and adults alike. Click here for more great nonfiction book reviews.