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Best & Brightest Children's Nonfiction of 2020


This Best & Brightest list was created by Denver Public Library staff to celebrate our favorite recently published nonfiction books. Enjoy!

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Baseball: Amazing But True Stories
Barnes, Derrick, author.
4th-6th grade. “Celebrate the unheralded people and stories that helped shape the game of baseball! Meet unsung pioneers. Discover unforgettable moments. Marvel at records. And that’s just for starters! This lively illustrated collection of shiny nuggets of baseball lore will transform you into a superfan who knows the game better than anyone else.” --From the publisher. From stories about the first Negro League to a killer spitball, Barnes takes readers on a tour of exciting, weird and unique baseball stories. Bajet’s lively and colorful illustrations bring to life many unsung BIPOC and women contributors to the sport. A bibliography and extensive glossary of baseball terms round out this inviting title.
Changing The Equation: 50+ Us Black Women In STEM
Bolden, Tonya, author.
3rd-5th grade. “Award-winning author Tonya Bolden explores Black women who have changed the world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in America. Including groundbreaking computer scientists, doctors, inventors, physicists, pharmacists, mathematicians, aviators and many more, this book celebrates more than 50 women who have shattered the glass ceiling, defied racial discrimination and pioneered in their fields.” --From the publisher. Bolden’s bite sized chapters, lively writing and primary source photos introduce readers to inspirational Black women in the STEM fields. This visually pleasing and accessible #ownvoices title is rounded out with pullout boxes, quotes and back matter including detailed source notes, a bibliography and an index.
Your Place In The Universe
Chin, Jason, 1978- author.
Kindergarten-3rd grade. “With crisp illustration and intriguing science, Your Place in the Universe introduces readers to the mind-boggling scale of the known Universe. Most eight-year-olds are about five times as tall as this book...but only half as tall as an ostrich, which is half as tall as a giraffe...twenty times smaller than a California Redwood! How do they compare to the tallest buildings? To Mt. Everest? To stars, galaxy clusters and...the universe?” --From the publisher. Chin's detailed illustrations, a combination of watercolor, gouache and digital techniques, bring to life the awe-inspiring concepts described in the text. Fact-filled sidebars and extensive back matter provide the reader with the opportunity to delve deeper into the world of size, scale and distance.
Alphamaniacs: Builders Of 26 Wonders Of The Word
Fleischman, Paul, author.
4th-6th grade. “Are you a word person? A curiosity seeker? An explorer? Take a look at these twenty-six extraordinary individuals for whom love of language is an extreme sport. Step right up and read the genuine stories of writers so intoxicated by the shapes and sound of language that they collected, dissected and constructed verbal wonders of the most extraordinary kind.” --From the publisher. This playful book introduces middle grade readers to 26 daring linguists who transformed the written and spoken word in unique ways — from the invention of Esperanto to Klingon. Engaging, short chapters are supplemented with primary source quotations, diagrams and Sweet’s whimsical collage artwork.
Fleming, Candace, author.
Kindergarten-3rd grade. "Take to the sky with Apis, one honeybee, as she embarks on her journey through life! A tiny honeybee emerges through the wax cap of her cell. Driven to protect and take care of her hive, she cleans the nursery and feeds the larvae and the queen. But is she strong enough to fly? Not yet! Apis builds wax comb to store honey, and transfers pollen from other bees into the storage. She defends the hive from invaders. And finally, she begins her new life as an adventurer.” --From the publisher. Fleming’s present tense text immerses the reader in the honeybee’s world, while Rohmann’s stunning, full bleed, oil paint on paper illustrations allow for close inspection of everything from probisci to pollen dust. Detailed back matter rounds out this fascinating book, which is narrative nonfiction at its finest.
Bringing Back The Wolves: How A Predator Restored An Ecosystem
Isabella, Jude, author.
3rd-5th grade. “An unintended experiment in Yellowstone National Park, in which an ecosystem is devastated and then remarkably rehabilitated, provides crucial lessons about nature's intricate balancing act.” --From the publisher. Stunning full spread digital illustrations and concise diagrams reveal the impact that wolves’ presence (or lack thereof) has made at Yellowstone Park — from the smallest insects to the tallest trees. Isabella’s easy flowing and well placed text is sure to engage readers and wolf lovers of many ages.
On The Horizon
Lowry, Lois, author.
4th-6th grade. “On the Horizon tells the story of people whose lives were lost or forever altered by the twin tragedies of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. Based on the lives of soldiers at Pearl Harbor and civilians in Hiroshima, On the Horizon contemplates humanity and war through verse that sings with pain, truth and the importance of bridging cultural divides.” --From the publisher. Stark, poetic language and hand-drawn pencil illustrations shine a light on the everyday lives of individuals lost to, or forever changed by, the bombings at Hiroshima and Pearl Harbor. Lowry draws inspiration from her childhood experiences growing up in Hawaii during World War II to produce a powerfully affecting read.
Condor Comeback
Montgomery, Sy, author.
3rd-5th grade. “In April of 1987 the last wild California condor was captured and taken to live in captivity like the other twenty-six remaining birds of its kind. Many thought that the days were over for this remarkable, distinguished bird that had roamed the skies of North and Central America for thousands of years. Sy Montgomery employs her skill for on-the-ground reporting, shrewd observation and stunning narrative prose to detail the efforts of scientists, volunteers and everyday citizens to get California condors back in the wild.” --From the publisher. Strombeck’s large, full-color photographs paired with Montgomery’s engaging text draw the reader into this hopeful story of conservation in action. Appendices include a timeline, updates on where featured condors are now and an extensive bibliography, making this another strong showing from the Scientists in the Field series.
How We Got To The Moon: The People, Technology, And Daring Feats Of Science Behind Humanity's Greatest Adventure
Rocco, John, author.
3rd-5th grade. “The Moon landing is one of the most ambitious, thrilling and dangerous ventures in human history. This exquisitely researched and illustrated book tells the stories of the 400,000 unsung heroes–the engineers, mathematicians, seamstresses, welders and factory workers–and their innovations and life-changing technological leaps forward that allowed NASA to achieve this unparalleled accomplishment.” --From the publisher. Caldecott Award-winning author and illustrator Rocco tackles history, science and engineering in this incredibly comprehensive book jam-packed with diagrams, statistics, biographies, infographics and fantastically detailed, hand-drawn illustrations. Scientific problems and solutions abound, illustrating the scientific process, and profiles of BIPOC and female contributors to the project are emphasized.
Being Frog
Sayre, April Pulley, author.
Toddler-1st grade. “Frogs are amazing creatures, and this book offers young readers an up-close and revealing peek at their everyday lives. Follow them from egg to tadpole to froglet crawling up onto land for the first time. Watch them resting on a favorite log, searching for food and leaping through the air. And see how frogs are unique, individual beings with rich lives all their own in the wild.” --From the publisher. Using the author’s glorious close-up photos, this visually enticing book invites early learners to imagine life from a frog's perspective. Ample white space with no more than seven words per page supports early nonfiction readers, while the sparse poetic text lends style and substance. A substantive author's note adds insight into Sayre's creative process and illuminates scientific research.

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