When I was compiling Sibert thoughts a while back, I went through the past winners and honor books to estimate how many of them are historical. (Ans: about 20 out of 32, depending on your definitions and based solely on what I can guess from the title.) I had assumed at first that I Face the Wind (a 2004 Sibert Honor) was some kind of inspiring biography, and amused myself by trying to guess whose biography it might be. John Muir's? A Revolutionary War hero's? A Dust Bowl survivor's?
No, in fact, I Face the Wind (written by Vicki Cobb, illustrated by Julia Gorton) is a science-based book about wind for very young children. And it's good.
Offhand, I can't remember ever reading a non-fiction book for this age level (pre-school?). Are there any classics? Or is this a newer phenomenon?
I Face the Wind is for children so young that the author doesn't even expect them to be able to read; a page titled "Note To the Reader" is aimed at parents. Since this is the first page of the book, I was immediately suspicious: would this book really WORK?
It does. In fact, I wanted to go out and do the simple experiments myself--especially the one where you prove that air is heavier than... well, more air is heavier than less air. Fascinating!
While the book is apparently meant for a readaloud, and I'm sure it functions well that way, Cobb and Gorton successfully make this a book that transcends levels. It isn't babyish in the slightest--the multimedia illustrations are actually kind of cool. A second-grader could read this to herself and conduct the experiments without ever thinking that she was reading a baby book.
Wind struck me as a strange topic to choose for a book, but in the end, this is all about "science is cool"--the topic doesn't matter much, and they make it work. I'd recommend this for ages 3-9.
For more Non-Fiction Monday posts: Mother Reader.