Monday, June 20, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: Hosting

It's Nonfiction Monday and it's my turn to host.  I'm excited to be a part of this weekly activity.  If you have a book or books to share, please include it in the comments and I will add them to the post throughout the day.

Queen of the Falls
Written by Chris Van Allsburg
Illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2011
Grades 2 and up
Reviewed from purchased copy.

She could remember standing in a park near the falls, hypnotized by the sight and sound, and holding her father’s hand as they took a walk that would lead them closer. That’s what everyone wonders when they see Niagara . . . How close will their courage let them get to it?
At the turn of the nineteenth century, a retired sixty-two-year-old charm school instructor named Annie Edson Taylor, seeking fame and fortune, decided to do something that no one in the world had ever done before—she would go over Niagara Falls in a wooden barrel.  Come meet the Queen of the Falls and witness with your own eyes her daring ride! (Summary from

Strengths: This book is typical Van Allsburg with an intriguing story, never before told in picture book format. What is especially interesting is that this is a true story.  I guess sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction.  The author starts by putting us at the top of the waterfall with Annie, just as she is about to go over the falls (without telling us who is in the barrel).  Then he explains why Annie decided to do such a crazy stunt, she hoped it would make her rich, so she wouldn't have to try to eke out a living as a store clerk or cleaning lady.  The same reasons that people do such seemingly crazy stunts today, fame and fortune.  The writing is smooth-flowing and tells the story well, but it's the illustrations that make the story stand out.  Unfortunately, for Annie she wasn't young and beautiful and as a result the public wasn't interested in hearing her story. The facial expressions are fantastic and show clearly the feelings of the people involved, the spectators, barrel makers, Annie herself, and her 'manager.'  Normally I prefer color illustrations, but Van Allsburg's are so superb that color doesn't seem to matter, in fact the black and white seem to help delineate the feeling of the historical era.

Weaknesses:  I have to admit, I don't really see any weaknesses in this particular book, except maybe the length.  Like many of Van Allsburg's books, this one has a lot of writing, making it more appropriate as a read-a-loud for an older audience. 

Here are some other reviews for you to check out: Waking Brain Cells, New York Times, A Fuse #8 Production, The Lemme Library, and Abby the Librarian.

Links for Nonfiction Monday: 

Brenda at Proseandkahn talks about The Watcher, Jeannette Winter's newest biography about Jane Goodall.

Jeanne at True Tales & A Cherry on Top highlights Keep Your Eye on the Kid: The Early Years of Buster Keaton.

Tammy at Apples With Many Seeds looks at Fatty Legs: a true story by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton. It's in recognition of National Aboriginal Day held June 21st in Canada.

Bookmuse reviews All the Water in the World.

Nonfiction Book Blast has the authors, books, handouts, and signing times for their 2011 ALA panel and presentation.  (Sounds great, wish I could go.)

SimplyScience highlights Seven Wonders of Space Technology by Fred Bortz.

Jeff at NC Teacher Stuff talks about a DK Eyewitness book about Flight.

Anastasia at Picture Book of the Day reviews Sarah Emma Edmonds Was a Great Pretender: The True Story of a Civil War Spy.  She also takes a look at The Adventurer's Handbook at Chapter Book of the Day.

Margo at The Fourth Musketeer takes a look at Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile by Gloria Houston.

Ms. Yingling Reads reviews three nonfiction books.

Betsy over at A Fuse #8 Production reviews Eat Your Math Homework by Ann McCallum.

Janet S. reviews Neo Leo by Gene Baretta.

Amanda at A Patchwork of Books has a review up of Oil Spill! Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Books for Learning highlights a nonfiction series entitled Animals with Super Powers.


  1. All the Water in the World review on
    Thanks for hosting!

  2. Hi Heidi.
    At Apples with Many Seed I'm looking at Fatty Legs: a true story by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton. It's in recognition of National Aboriginal Day held June 21st in Canada.
    Thanks for looking after today's event.

  3. Hi,

    Thanks for hosting today. True Tales & A Cherry On Top writes about Buster Keaton: Keep Your Eye On The Kid

  4. Thanks for hosting today! Over at Proseandkahn, I talked about The Watcher, Jeanette Winter's newest picture book biography. Here's the link:

    Happy reading.


  5. Thanks for hosting today! I'm in with Sarah Emma Edmonds Was a Great Pretender: The True Story of a Civil War Spy at Picture Book of the Day and The Adventurers' Handbook: An Extreme, Extraordinary, and Exciting Journey Around the World at Chapter Book of the Day

  6. At The Fourth Musketeer, I have review of Miss Dorothy and her Bookmobile, by Gloria Houston. Thanks for hosting!

  7. I review Eat Your Math Homework by Ann McCallum over at A Fuse #8 Production:


  8. Thanks for hosting.
    My selection is about the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci, "Neo Leo" by Gene Baretta.

  9. Over at A Patchwork of Books I have a review up of Oil Spill! Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico:


    A Patchwork of Books


Blog Design by Imagination Designs all images from the Story Time kit by Kristin Aagard