Two fun new fall non-fiction titles provide answers to some common (and not-so-common) questions kids may have about the world around them and beyond.
I Am Josephine (And I Am a Living Thing) helps kids connect with the natural world. This inviting picture book by Vicky Metcalf Award winner Jan Thornhill introduces scientific classification, giving readers an early biology lesson. We follow Josephine as she bounces, rollerblades, and marches her way through the pages, explaining the differences and similarities between all living things, be they humans, mammals, or animals. After Josephine defines each classification, she leads readers through a counting exercise that applies what they’ve learned in a fun way.
The differences between the classifications as described in the main text could lead to some confusion (“Wait, I’m an animal AND a human?”). As a consequence, the glossary provides the clearest, most satisfying read. These last few pages go a little deeper into the subject matter, and include a guide that suits both classroom discussions and bedtime chats.
Cheerful illustrations by Jacqui Lee showcase global cultures and inclusive settings, encouraging young readers to imagine the world that exists beyond their own neighbourhoods and to reflect on the concept of individuality.
Taking a giant leap for humankind, retired Canadian astronaut Dave Williams (a.k.a. Dr. Dave) and first-time author Loredana Cunti adroitly tackle kids’ body-related questions in To Burp or Not to Burp: A Guide to Your Body in Space. The authors explain all the funny, weird, cool, and embarrassing physical aspects involved in the rare experience of travelling in microgravity.
As per the title, we learn that a burp may not just be a burp in space. Readers will come to appreciate the value of gravity after learning about how stomach valves relax in the absence of G-force, making for a potentially messy after-dinner scene. We also learn astro-etiquette like how to pass gas near a filter, where to perform “digital extraction” (picking space dust out of your nose), and how to navigate space toilets with precision. The book dedicates an entire chapter to “number one” and “number two,” explaining not only the complex engineering of the International Space Station’s waste system, but more importantly, how to pee into a tiny funnel, combat cosmic constipation, and jettison 1,000 pounds of solid waste into space.
In addition to light-hearted illustrations by Theo Krynauw, the book features fascinating photos taken on board the shuttle, including images of the sleeping pods, in which crew members look like horizontal zombies with their arms sticking up if they aren’t secured inside the sleep restraint system. These visual aids reinforce the science presented in the text in a fun and informative manner.
Both I Am Josephine and To Burp or Not to Burp will provide answers to various “hows” and “whys” from young readers, while also taking them further into explorations of new frontiers.