High quality non-fiction can be hard to find for children, especially at the lower grades. That’s why I was so excited to review these three new offerings from Seattle-based Sasquatch Books. They are fictional picture books, but include so many facts that a K-3 teacher could use them to support several of informational content threads from the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
Elliott the Otter: The Totally Untrue Story of Elliott, Boss of the Bay by John Skewes and Eric Ode gives kids a close look at life in Elliott Bay. From tugboats to orcas, Elliot the Otter explains all. He also describes what fish ladders are and why they are so important to salmon.
My daughter is five and a half years old and I feel like she learned a lot of science and social studies from Elliott the Otter. Technically this is a fictional book, because I’m pretty sure we don’t have talking otters in Seattle, but there were so many facts conveyed that it could definitely be used to meet Common Core standards for informational texts.
My daughter and I were both charmed by the colorful illustrations. Elliot himself is very loveable and altogether this was an enjoyable book to share.
Another collaboration from Eric Ode and John Skewes is Larry Gets Lost Under the Sea. When Larry the dog and his human friend Pete go to the beach, Larry sneaks away for a maritime adventure. Or perhaps I should say a “marine biology” adventure because this book is packed with science.
My family recently went to the Aquarium in Vancouver, Canada, and this was an excellent text to reinforce everything we learned about sea life. From the oceans of the world to how tides work, Larry Gets Lost Under the Sea explains crucial concepts with beautiful illustrations and a very cute dog.
I could definitely see this book being part of a K-3 classroom library supporting Common Core standards for informational text, but it’s also a fun book to have at home for bedtime read aloud.
Arrow to Alaska: A Pacific Northwest Adventure, written and illustrated by the talented Hannah Viano, tells the story of a six-year-old boy named Arrow who travels from Seattle to Alaska to visit his grandfather. Along the way Arrow rides on a salmon tender boat with his Aunt Kelly and sees a wide variety of ocean life.
Reading about Arrow’s journey immediately made my daughter and I think about our own trip to Alaska aboard a cruise ship. I wish we had been able to read Arrow to Alaska two years ago when we were on the Celebrity Solstice. Hopefully cruise ships take note and stock this book in their gift shops!
The illustrations in Arrow to Alaska are absolutely stunning and convey the beautiful of the Pacific Northwest in a stylized way. The only criticism I have regards the picture of the coffee mug that has “I Heart Mom” stenciled on the side. The way the “O” is drawn in stencil letters is very confusing for emergent readers and/or individuals with dyslexia. To them the stenciled O looks like a backwards C and they might read it as “M-C-M.” This can be really frustrating for children, especially when “Mom” is one of the first words they are consistently able to decipher.
Mom mugs aside, my daughter and I both loved Arrow to Alaska and would highly recommend it to anyone.
P.S. I received free copies of all three books from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinions and review.