If you are on the lookout for terrific new children’s non-fiction titles, I have you covered! Thanks to the lovely folks at Pajama Press, I had the opportunity to peruse these two wonderful titles: The Girl Who Rode a Shark: And Other Stories of Daring Women by Ailsa Ross and illustrated by Amy Blackwell; and The Dog Patrol: Our Canine Companions and the Kids Who Protect Them by Rob Laidlaw. Read on for more of my thoughts and, as ever, happy reading to you all!
The Girl Who Rode a Shark: And Other Stories of Daring Women by author Ailsa Ross and illustrations by artist Amy Blackwell, is collection of short biographies about fifty-two trailblazing women from different time periods from around the world. It has been encouraging and truly satisfying to see what I would argue is a recent boom in children’s non-fiction about groundbreaking women– think of all of the fabulous titles about scientists, inventors, physicists, artists, writers, and ecologists published in the last half decade or so! The Girl Who Rode a Shark: And Other Stories of Daring Women is a strong entry and addition to the mix, featuring an impressively lengthy list of incredible women in history- and representing various fields of specialization or focus. Sleekly organized by categories: ‘The Artists’, ‘The Pioneers’, ‘The Scientists’, ‘The Activists’, ‘The Athletes’, and ‘The Seekers’, each of the brackets begins with an overview of the women within, as well as a map of the world showing where each woman practiced/practices. For almost all of the trailblazers within, they are given a one-page, concise biography of their life and legacy, suggestions of more women to study, as well as an accompanying illustration (Note: some of the icons are illustrated in a pairing). Of particular standout is the fact that A Girl Who Rode a Shark gives more space to feature arguably less-publicly known (and more present-day) individuals than it does to well-known icons. Readers get to learn about famous figures such as Joan of Arc, Sacagewea, Amelia Earhart, Zora Neale Hurston, and Sylvia Earle alongside individuals such as photographer Miheala Noroc, astronaut Roberta Bondar, and eagle hunter Aisholpan Nurgaiv. The array of fifty-two women is awe-inspiring and staggering! Have you read about the work of activists Shannen Koostachin or Naomi Wadler? What about endurance runner Mira Rai from Nepal? Or Nobel Prize winning journalist and writer Svetlana Alexievich? A starred review from Kirkus, as well as recommendations from School Library Journal, CM Magazine, and Booklist (among others), all highlight just how rousing, wonderfully grand in scope and well put-together Ross and Blackwell’s collaboration is. The Girl Who Rode a Shark: And Other Stories of Daring Women would be an invaluable resource (and jumping off point for further investigation!) in school libraries, public library children’s non-fiction collections, as well as an uplifting book for kids (and teens and adults!) to read at their own leisure. Back matter includes: Glossary, notes about Indigenous people and their respective groups referred to in the book, as well as notes about changing geography.
Rob Laidlaw is the award-winning children’s non-fiction author, activist and biologist, behind Bat Citizens: Defending the Ninjas of the Night, and 5 Elephants. This latest non-fiction title for kids, The Dog Patrol: Our Canine Companions and the Kids Who Protect Them, is perfect-for-dog-lovers and canine advocates. In this book, Laidlaw covers everything from the history of dogs and their domestication, their general anatomy and super senses, the processes of becoming a dog owner, and how to properly take care of and advocate for the well-being of canines. Throughout each section of The Dog Patrol, Laidlaw also features inspirational and hopeful stories of canine advocates (from young children to teens!) from all over North America. For children who perhaps are more interested in learning basics about dogs, or getting a dog, or being the best canine caregiver, there is much to pore over and learn. For kids or young teens wondering if they can or how they might be able to get involved in canine welfare causes, The Dog Patrol is a great starting point to motivate and encourage further research. The book is comprehensive without being overwhelming: Laidlaw has smartly mixed true-life stories and photographs with informational highlights, quick facts, ‘Pawsitively Pawsome’ doggy news, along with more serious subject matter (e.g. dog cosmetic surgeries, how to protect oneself from dog bites, ‘crating abuse’, and dog chains). Just from reading Laidlaw’s Preface and Introduction, readers get a sense of how deeply important canine (and general animal) advocacy is to the author’s heart: this hopeful and easy-to-digest informative tone carries through the course of the book, making The Dog Patrol: Our Canine Companions and the Kids Who Protect Them a fantastic and vital up-to-date resource for children’s non-fiction collections and dog enthusiasts alike. Back matter includes: a twelve-point ‘Dog Lover’s Pledge’ for being a champion of dogs and the best dog owner one can be; Further Resources list; Glossary; and Index. There is also a special fold-out page in the middle of the book featuring a large spread of a Jack Russell Terrier mid-leap, their physical features, and relevant breed information. If you have access to a hardcover of the book, the dust jacket removes to reveal the same informative and cool doggy spread!
I received copies of these titles courtesy of Pajama Press in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own. Titles have been published and are currently available.