Wild Books About the Natural World

By August, your children may be more engaged with the natural world than ever after six weeks of digging in the mud, jumping off big rocks, plucking baby tomatoes from the vine in the garden, and climbing trees. So it's never been a better time for this fantastic list of awesome middle-grade nonfiction from Rachel Poliquin, whose new book is Moles

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With her Supersonic Snout Fingers and Blood of the Gods, Rosalie the Mole is the star of the second instalment in my Superpower Field Guide Series. Yes, Rosalie is a squinty-eyed mole, but don’t underestimate this unlikely hero. One part silly, two parts science, and jam-packed with full-colour illustrations by Nicholas John Frith, Moles will introduce middle-grade readers to their new favourite subterranean superhero. 

I love clever nonfiction that entertains kids while it teaches. And I love that the genre is undergoing a quiet but explosive revolution—particularly in the realm of nature books. Smart and funny authors and superb illustrators are transforming unexpected subjects like supernovas, head lice, and bacteria into serious fun. Here’s a list of highly entertaining and visually stunning nonfiction books sure to make middle-grade readers love the natural world around them.    

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The Mushroom Fan Club, by Elise Gravel 

Charming, goofy, and brimming with very important mushroom facts, this was one of my favourite books from 2018. Gravel’s mushrooms are the cutest little fungi, and her whimsical tour of mushrooms and foraging is sure to inspire kids to look more closely at the forest floor.  

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Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space, by Dominic Walliman, illus. Ben Newman

With his tiny fedora, Professor Astro Cat has since explored the human body, atoms, and the solar system, but the first book in the series, Frontiers of Space, is still my favourite. This hugely stylish book is utterly captivating and filled with the infinite possibilities of space. If you don’t know it already, you’re in for a treat! 

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Book Seeing Stars

Seeing Stars: A Complete Guide to the 88 Constellations, by Sara Gillingham 

This guide to all 88 constellations is a rare beauty. With an introduction to constellations, where and when to find them, and their mythological origins, all stylishly illustrated in pure gold and aquamarine, Seeing Stars is a stunning introduction for young stargazers. 

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Inside Your Insides: A Guide to the Microbes That Call You Home, by Claire Eamer, Illus. by Marie-Eve Tremblay 

Microbes inside your body might not seem like a super kid-friendly subject, but when the microbes get googly eyes and tell corny jokes, they turn out to be downright fascinating. All 100 trillion of them. 

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A Beginner’s Guide to Immortality: From Alchemy to Avatars, by Maria Birmingham, illus. by Josh Holinaty 

Immortality for kids?  This quirky guide explores vampires, cryogenics, the holy grail, and everything in between. Totally fun, totally bizarre, this book will fascinate even the most reluctant readers. 

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10 Plants that Shook the World, by Gillian Richardson, Illus. by Kim Rosen 

Did you know that pepper started a war? Or that rubber got into espionage? This book offers an excellent primer on the interconnections between nature, politics, commerce, and science. That might seem heavy, but don’t be afraid—it’s gorgeous and a pleasure to read. 

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The Disgusting Critter Series, by Elise Gravel 

Elise Gravel is a master at turning the grossest creatures into charming characters. These short and sassy books about slugs, worms, and rats are filled with humour and facts. There are eight in the series with two new ones—The Bat and The Cockroach—due out in 2020.  

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Coyote Tales, by Thomas King, illus. Byron Eggenschwiler  

Admittedly not nonfiction, but no list of nature books by Canadian authors would really be complete without a couple of handsomely told trickster tales about Coyote, Moon, and Porcupine in stolen yellow pajamas.

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About Moles: 

Meet Rosalie, a common mole. The first thing you need to know about Rosalie is that she is shaped like a potato. Not a new potato, all cute and round, but a plain old lumpy potato. She may be small. She may be spongy. But never underestimate a mole.

I know what you’re thinking: moles are just squinty eyed beasts that wreck your lawn.

You’re right! Those squinty eyes and mounds of dirt are proof that moles have superpowers. There is absolutely nothing common about the common mole.

Funny and fact-filled, Moles is another instalment in the SUPERPOWER FIELD GUIDES series by author Rachel Poliquin, featuring full-colour illustrations by Nicholas John Frith that will engage readers with witty narration and fun visual elements, inspiring readers to dig deep and see the world, both above and below ground, with new eyes. 

August 12, 2019
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