Exploring Antarctica – and 2013’s Best-Selling Titles

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Maybe inspired by all of the Common Core materials about the importance of encouraging kids to read narrative nonfiction, I’ve been on a nonfiction jag over the past few days. We’re in a golden age for children’s nonfiction right now, and although it sometimes feels like there are too many books being sent out into the world, there is always room for excellence. Here are two stand-outs:

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1. Sophie Scott Goes South by Alison Lester

A mixture of text and multi-media images, Lester’s new book is a journal “by” Sophie, a nine-year-old who travels to Mawson Station in Antarctica with her father, who is the captain of a ship delivering people and supplies to the research station. There is so much to look at – beginning with the maps on the endpapers and continuing through photographs and delightful images of penguins and details about icebergs. Mixed in with Lester’s lively and cheerful illustrations are reproductions of actual pictures that children sent to the author while she was visiting Antarctica in 2005.  This is the perfect book for the curious 2nd to 5th grade student. “Sophie’s” enthusiasm is so infectious that readers – and young artists – will be inspired to plan an adventure.

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Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill

If your young explorer is inspired to learn more about very cold places, recommend Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill. The story of Shackleton’s ill-fated 1914 journey to cross the south polar continent always fascinates kids. I remember the first time I read that not a single member of the Endurance crew was lost – even after suffering deprivation and unimaginable conditions . It’s an adventure story with a happy ending (at least until you read more about Shackleton’s life)!

Sentences like this one convey the stark situation faced by Shackleton’s crew: “After six months on the ice, Shackleton and his men were now balancing precariously on a raft of ice that was beginning to break up.”  That kind of sums up a bad day!  Like Lester’s book, Grill’s includes many detailed drawings, diagrams and maps.

Moving on to a report from the business desk…

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You can probably guess the answer to this question: What were the best-selling children’s books of 2013?  If you guessed Divergent – you’re right!  No surprise there.  The three books in the trilogy sold a combined 6.7 million copies!  But Publishers Weekly‘s list of “Facts and Figures 2013” had lots of fun facts beyond the Veronica Roth phenomena-

1. Right behind the Divergent trilogy was the eighth Wimpy Kid book, Hard Luck. In fact, Hard Luck was the bestselling book of 2013.

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2. Other big sellers included the Rick Riordan series and The Hunger Games trilogy. A good friend of mine will be glad to hear that 2.9 million people purchased Pete the Cat books!

3. It cheered me to read that The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers was the bestselling picture book of the year. If you haven’t seen it, add it to your list. I’ve read the book to 7-year-olds and shared it with teenagers. I’m not sure who enjoyed it more.  And check this picture out….one of our parents (who is a very good sport) dressed up as a pink crayon to assist her son with his Crayon-themed book project:

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4. I know a few students who would not be shocked to learn that Emeraldalicious by Victoria Kahn sold nearly 400,000 copies. I may have checked the book out that many times over the past year!

5. Disney is selling lots of books. So is James Patterson.

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6. And….Flora and Ulysses sold 123,465 copies!  I bought five of them!

Happy Reading – and Exploring!

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