Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Behind the Books: Novelty in Nonfiction Design

Okay, as promised last week, here are some examples of nonfiction books that make wonderful, innovative use of format and design:

Where in the Wild? Camouflaged Creatures Concealed . . and Revealed by David Schwartz, Yael Schy, and Dwight Kuhn teaches observation skills, but that’s not what kids will notice. To them, the book is a game. They look for hidden animals alluded to in poems on the left. If they’re stumped, they can turn the gatefold to reveal the same image with everything but the animal opaqued.


How Many Ways Can You Catch a Fly? by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page is also as much a game as it is a reading experience. There is a question and little animal clues at the bottom. Readers can turn the page for some more super-cool paper collage art as well as amazing and entertaining answers. And if all that isn’t enough to win you over, take a look at the rich backmatter. It’s chock full of even more information about the featured animals.
And here are some books that offer innovative approaches to high interest topics:

I’ve mentioned An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Hutts Aston (illus. Sylvia Long) before on Celebrate Science, but I just can’t get enough of it. The provocative main text raises questions—and even doubt--in the readers mind, but factoids scattered around the spread clearly and concisely convince us that the language of the main text is completely appropriate. In the end, we gain a whole new appreciation for eggs and the array of life that they contain. But it is the gorgeous illustrations, the font choices, and the clever use of white space that make this book to die for.

Born to Be Giants: How Baby Dinosaurs Grew to Rule the World by Lita Judge is much more than just another dinosaur book. The text is full of cutting edge information and the art brings long-extinct creatures to life for readers AND is full of amazing comparisons that really help us see the world from their point of view. Like An Egg is Quiet, this book makes spectacular use of white space to keep the narrative flow of the piece going.

Next Wednesday, I'll be baking pies and mashing potatoes. But stay tuned for more discussion of nonfiction design in December, including a post by a very special guest on December 8.

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