Posts Tagged ‘non-fiction kids books’

Write a Review Wednesday: How to Be a Genius

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Theodore Boone. Kid Lawyer. This week we’re looking at DK Canada’s How to be a Genius: Your Brain and How to Train It (age 10-17). I have to thank Chris at DK Canada for my review copy.

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Maybe it’s the thought that school’s starting soon or maybe I’m just suffering from summer brain mush but I’ve been spending a few days with my nose stuck in DK Canada‘s book How to be a Genius: Your Brain and How to Train it.

At first I thought this book would be great for my 8-year old daughter. She loves math and puzzles (like me, well the puzzle part anyway) so I thought this would be a fun read. I always think it’s nice to toss some non-fiction into the mix and this would be fun non-fiction.

How to be a Genius starts off by giving you some information on your brain, including the senses, the differences between the left and right brain and even the physical parts of the brain. The book moves into other areas like the senses, memory, problem solving, language, creativity, plus how your brain makes you who you are and how it continues to develop and evolve.

Now a book about the brain may sound boring but not How to be a Genius. The content is broken out into easily digestible chunks and the pages are eye-catching with unique layouts and typography and a mix of photography and illustration. This book reminds me a lot of DK Canada‘s Pick Me Up (another favourite of ours), in structure not content.

Learning about the brain and how it functions and makes you who you are is interesting (at least to me) but the best part of the book are the brain games. The end of each section includes a few pages of brain games to help illustrate the points made and ‘train your brain’. I’m a big fan of brain games but I think the structure of How to be a Genius offers so much more than just a game to flex your brain matter. The content included with and before the brain game pages explain why your mind functions a certain way, why you may view things differently than others and how to adjust your thinking. This adds so much more to the experience.

Although I seem to have taken over the book, my 8-year old daughter has also spent time with it. She likes to pick an area that interests her, like creativity, and read that section and How to be a Genius is flexible enough to work that way. You don’t need to read the whole book to get some enjoyment (and learning) out of it. I have found my daughter sitting in her room working on the puzzles as an afternoon distraction.

Will How to be a Genius really make me a genius? Probably not but knowing how and why I think a different way then my kids or colleagues has been really helpful. And my 8-year old loves the problem solving, putting her brain matter through the paces. She says after reading How to be a Genius: Your Brain and How to Train It, she’s more than ready for grade 3. We’ll see.

You can add a copy of How to be a Genius: Your Brain and How to Train It to your personal library by visiting your independent bookstore or DK Canada. Looking for other great books for kids? Read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Write a Review Wednesday: Wolf Wanted

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Tundra Books Topsy-Turvy Town. This week we review Groundwood BooksWolf Wanted (age 4-7) written by Ana Maria Machado and illustrated by Larent Cardon. I have to thank Trish at Groundwood Books for my review copy.

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While looking for a job Manny happens upon a posting in the paper: Wolf Wanted. As he’s a Wolf, Manny Wolf, he applies for the job only to find out they’re looking for a real wolf, the four-legged dog type. But when so many wolves apply to the Wolf Wanted ad, the company hires Manny to review and reply to all the candidates letters. That’s where the real story begins. Each letter is written with clues to which wolf character is apply for the job, from the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood to The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing from Aesop’s Fables.

Reading Wolf Wanted, my kids, and I included, loved trying to figure out who the wolf was before Manny revealed it in his letter of reply on the next page. Some were easy, some were hard, but all were fun. You forget how many stories contain wolves as characters. To add to the fun, the illustrations were done with each letter appearing like a letter on the page. we felt like we were reading the correspondance Manny was receiving (and sending) instead of just reading a story about Manny and his letters. The only thing my daughter thought would make this better is if the letters were actual letters, ones you pull out of envelops and hold in your hand to read (yes, we’re fans of the Griffin and Sabine trilogy).

Near the end of the book, after Manny answers a number of letters (and still has stacks left to go through) he realizes the original wanted advertisement wasn’t clear enough so he rewrites it. It turns out the company Manny works for is looking for real wolves to be included in a film documentary. The company wants to capture wolves in their natural habitat, living their lives and letting others know, especially because wolves are on the endangered species list. This is the clever twist to Wolf Wanted that really intrigued me. From taking a ficticious story about classic character wolves and changing the stories focus on real wolves in the wild, you’re now draw into understanding and discovering more about the variety of wolves in the world. Wolf Wanted also includes a great map showing where key wolf populations are located around the world and giving a brief description.

I enjoyed Wolf Wanted when I first started reading the letters but the natural transition from a fiction story into a non-fiction piece at the end really won me over and my two older kids.

You can add a copy of Wolf Wanted to your personal library by visiting your independant bookstore or visiting Groundwood Books online. Looking for other great books to read your kids? Take a read through our past Write a Review Wednesday posts.