I’m hosting Non Fiction Monday with string of reviews!

posted in: Ashley Wolff, Margarette S. Reid | 12

nonfiction.mondayToday I’m delighted to be hosting Nonfiction Monday. If you’ve a new post about a great nonfiction book today, please leave a comment below, or add it via the linky and I’ll round them all up in this post as the day goes on.

My own contribution today is review of A String of Beads written by Margarette S. Reid, illustrated by Ashley Wolff.

stringofbeads_FrontcoverOstensibly a tale of a girl rifling through her Grandmother’s bead collection, this is a beautiful information book which covers everything from the different shapes beads come in, to the materials used to make them, via various ways in which beads have been used throughout history. It finishes with an invitation to make your own beads; a tutorial disguised as an activity the child shares with her Grandmother.

M has been doing work at school about how to identify whether a text is fiction or nonfiction. I’ve been a little frustrated with the school’s approach because it doesn’t deal well with texts exactly like this one, so called creative or narrative nonfiction. Whilst some children love (traditional) nonfiction, others fear it – perhaps they think it will be dry, dull, and without imagination. This is exactly the sort of book for them – it’s beautiful, welcoming, but oh-so-full of information and ideas that could be easily linked to maths, geography, history, science, art, design as well as creative writing.


Whilst the text is not only accessible and inviting, perfectly capturing and reflecting a child’s curiosity and wonder, the illustrations are mouthwatering. The black background on each page heightens the sense that you are looking at treasure. If you don’t have a bead collection yet, you’ll find yourself wanting to start one after your fingers have enviously stroked over Wolff’s beads.

Sadly out of print this is definitely a book to hunt down in your library or second hand bookshop.

It was such a delight to get out our own tin of beads to explore alongside reading this outstanding book.


We sorted our beads into different colours.



We found treasure!


Then we chose our favourite beads to create a “story string”: Inspired by Native American story sticks, we threaded beads onto a length of string and told each other stories using the different beads as prompts or inspiration for the twists and turns in our stories.



“As the night stars faded the elephant walked around the lake and watched the red sun rise”


I wonder what sort of necklace we’ll make today with the string of reviews you’ll be submitting?

  • Prose and Kahn is first in this week with a review of National Geographic book, Alien Deep: Revealing the Mysterious Living World at the Bottom of the Ocean. “The picture book format belies the depth and complexity of the text here as the audience is decidedly middle school and above.

  • Over at Shelf-Employed there’s a review of a book for fans of baseball: Miracle Mud: Lena Blackburne and the Secret Mud that Changed Baseball by David Kelly, illustrated by Oliver Dominguez. “Oliver Dominguez’ nostalgic, double-spread, painted illustrations are the perfect complement to this short and engaging biography of Lena Blackburne (1886-1968) and his famous mud.

  • There’s another book for baseball fans at The Fourth Musketeer: Becoming Babe Ruth by Matt Tavares. “Tavares’ oversized illustrations capture the jumbo personality of Babe Ruth, who became the biggest celebrity in America.

  • Boys Rule Boys Read! has a round up of basketball books, including The Basket Counts by Matt Christopher and Basketball Step-by-Step by Brian Burns and Mark Dunning.

  • Super Pop!: Pop Culture Top Ten Lists to Help You Win at Trivia, Survive in the Wild, and Make It Through the Holidays by Daniel Harmon is reviewed over at Biblio File. “SuperPop is a super-fun book full of top ten lists on all sorts of topics.

  • At Wrapped in Foil there’s a review of a book of interest to any library lover: Miss Moore Thought Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children by Jan Pinborough and illustrated by Debby Atwell. “Although the main theme of the book is a celebration of children’s libraries, there are underlying messages about the roles of women and children during at the turn of the last century, how free public libraries are important resources, and that one person can make a difference.

  • Orange by Rebecca Rissman is the focus of Non Fiction Monday over at NC Teacher Stuff. “Orange would be a vibrant nonfiction addition to a preschool or kindergarten library.

  • Demi has created some very beautiful picture books, so I can heartily recommend checking out The Great Voyages of Zheng He, written and illustrated by Demi as reviewed by Barbara Ann Mojica. “Adults and children eight and over will appreciate the adventure story and learning about a part of Chinese history and culture that is not widely known.

  • Cowboy Up! Ride the Navajo Rodeo by Nancy Bo Flood; photos by Jan Sonnenmair features on Sally’s Bookshelf. “If you’re looking for a book about athletes, about culture, about traditions and history – or if you just can’t get to the Calgary Stampede – then get your hands on a copy of Cowboy Up!

  • At the Jean Little Library blog there’s a review of Down to earth: How kids help feed the world by Nikki Tate. “The book is really an introduction to food production on small, organic farms and in rural, undeveloped countries.

  • Over at Perogies and Gyoza there’s a review of an easy reader, On the Scale, a Weighty Tale by Brian P Cleary, illustrated by Brian Gable. “This would be a great book for US residents or expats- but I wish they had a metric version too!

  • Louisa May’s Battle: How the Civil War Led to Little Women is reviewed at True Tales & A Cherry On Top.

  • Monet Paints a Day by Julie Danneberg, illustrated by Caitlin Heimer is highlighted at Booktalking.

  • Tales of a Bookworm reviews The Toothbrush Millionaire by Jean Merrill. “Not only is this book fun to read, it is highly recommended for readers in the classroom.

  • 12 Responses

    1. Lisa @ Shelf-employed

      I agree with your comments about nonfiction. Because of the move to the Common Core Standards, schools are going to have to get it right. The push to read nonfiction is very strong. I’m featuring a picture book biography today – another genre that does not always fare well in schools! Thanks for hosting.
      Lisa @ Shelf-employed recently posted..Lena Blackburne Baseball Rubbing Mud

    2. Ms. Yingling

      I’m slacking on the nonfiction reviews this summer, but thanks for hosting. And your post gave me flashbacks– I still have a huge tin of beads; we strung them on men’s thin waxed shoe strings. Hours and hours were spent this way, and only one bead was ever put up someone’s nose! (I got it out with a paint brush. Makes three sleeping, surly teenagers seem a much better bet!)
      Ms. Yingling recently posted..MMGM–Sidekicked

    3. Jeanne Walker Harvey

      Hi Zoe!

      What a fun book and review! As a girl, I loved making my own beads from triangles cut from magazines.

      Thanks for hosting Nonfiction Monday today! I know it’s MUCH later there in the UK, but it’s still early (isn) morning here … I just returned from Hawaii so I’m still on that time 🙂

      Today at True Tales & A Cherry On Top, I’m featuring the picture book biography LOUISA MAY’S BATTLE – HOW THE CIVIL WAR LED TO LITTLE WOMEN



    4. Iron guy Carl

      Thanks indeed for hosting. I put something on the linky but am also sending a comment (I didn’t see where the comments were at first) I posted thsese reviews on Thursday and hope this is not too late. you may remove it if it is. I also included one fiction review and, once again, you may remove or not publish if it doesn’t fit. the link to the post is:

    5. Iron Guy Carl

      I’m very sorry-this is my first time to participate in Nonfiction Monday. I thought it was like the Carnival of Children’s Literature in which one can use earlier posts. I didn’t realize that reviews must be written on Mondays. Please feel free to remove my linky and I’ll get it right next time.

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