Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Beyond the 5 Kinds of Nonfiction: Blended Books, Part 2

Last week, I began a close-up look at blended books—titles that feature characteristics of two or more categories in the 5 Kinds of Nonfiction classification system. 

This week I’m continuing that discussion by focusing on books that blur the line between browsable nonfiction and expository literature. 

These titles feature a colorful, eye-catching design with such text features as layered text, sidebars and factoids, photos and captions, and bulleted lists. In addition, each spread functions as a discrete unit, making it easy to skip around (broweseable). But instead of providing a broad overview of a topic, these books are narrowly focused. They have a strong hook and delight readers with rich language and a strong voice (expository literature).

Many of you are probably familiar with Jess Keating’s ground-breaking World of Weird Animals series, which includes the uber-popular title Pink Is for Blobfish. Another book that walks the line between browsable and expository literature is my upcoming title Ick! Delightfully Disgusting Animal Dinners, Dwelling, and Defenses.

Here’s a sample of the main text for a spread that describes the range of disgusting foods black-backed jackals eat on a daily basis:

“Pups That Love Puke

One thing’s for sure: Black-backed jackals aren’t picky eaters. They’ll attack anything from rats and snakes to birds and insects. They’ll devour fruit, too. 

And that’s not all. Jackals don’t let anything go to waste. They’re happy to eat the meat lions, leopards, and other predators leave behind—even if it’s swarming with maggots and has been rotting for days. 

When a mama jackal is so full she can’t eat another bite, she hurries back to her den. As soon as she sees her hungry pups, she regurgitates, or throws up, her last meal as partially digested mush. Then the little ones greedily lap up the putrid puke. Yum!”’

As I was writing this passage, I worked hard to make the text lively by using strong verbs, alliteration, playful word choices, onomatopoeia, and a lighthearted, casual voice. These elements enrich the language, making it fun to read.

For more information about this kind of blended nonfiction, be on the look out for 5 Kinds of Nonfiction: Enriching Reading and Writing with Children’s Books, coming soon from Stenhouse Publishing. Next week, I’ll highlight books with characteristics of both narrative nonfiction and expository literature. Stay tuned.


  1. Looking forward to reading your book, Melissa. Is it releasing in September?

    1. Due to pandemic-related delays, the pub date is up in the air right now. But it's coming . . .