Fascinating books keep kids reading

Children are curious about everything, and excellent nonfiction books provide an important avenue to learning and generating new questions and answers that hadn’t been thought of before.

Interested minds need to be nourished, and when they are, interesting people emerge. A steady diet of nonfiction provides a rich and ever-expanding base of knowledge and understanding.

Such is the case with the books reviewed today. Be sure to ask your local librarian and bookseller to point you in the direction of others. It’s up to the adult to make it happen for a child. Make that adult you.

Books to borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries.

“I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat: History’s Strangest Cures” written and illustrated by Carlyn Beccia, Houghton Mifflin, 48 pages

Read aloud: age 8 – 9 and older.

Read yourself: age 9 – 10 and older.

Long ago, if you were sick, there were some mighty odd remedies used to cure what ailed you. In this clever book, author/illustrator Beccia presents a fascinating look at history’s strangest remedies for many common ailments.

If someone had a headache, what would help — putting a hole in the head, putting mustard on the head, or getting a shock from an electric eel? When someone had a stomachache, did any of these cures help — urine, dirt, or millipedes?

Citing the origin of each of the cures, describing where and when such remedies were used, and zeroing-in on what worked, what didn’t, and why, this wildly interesting book will have kids (and adults) pondering ancient, modern, and future medicine in more ways than one.

Librarian’s choice

Library: Sinking Spring Public Library, 3940 Penn Ave., Sinking Spring

Library director: Wenonah Riegel

Youth services Librarian: Christine Weida

Choices this week: “I Survived True Stories: Five Epic Disasters” by Lauren Tarshis; “John, Paul, George, and Ben” by Lane Smith; “Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices” by Paul Fleischman and Eric Beddows

Books to buy

The following books are available at favorite bookstores.

“Mythical Beasts: 100 Fun Facts About Real Animals and the Myths They Inspire” by Stephanie Warren Drimmer, photos various credits, National Geographic Kids, 2022, 48 pages, $4.99 paperback

Read aloud: age 7–9.

Read yourself: age 7-9.

There was a time when people believed in dragons, unicorns, and many other mythical creatures. While such animals weren’t real, one might wonder why and how such holdings took hold. “Mythical Beasts” is here to set the record straight with astonishing facts and magnificent photographs that will have readers/listeners pouring over this book time and again.

Unicorns? Come on; they aren’t real. But the tusks of narwhals — a medium-sized toothed whale — is the real deal. Long ago, many didn’t know that narwals existed, so when narwhal tusks washed ashore, a story unfolded about what animal had such a magical horn belonged to — a unicorn.

In Greek mythology, a mythical monster, Hydra, had numerous heads and if one was cut off in battle, two would grow back in its place. While Hydra was a myth, the real-life axolotl salamander can regrow body parts it has lost. And on occasion in real-life, there have been two-headed creatures seen in nature, such as two-headed snakes, turtles, and others.

Hold on to your hat because there’s so much more to “Mythical Beasts,” a fascinating and fun book that explains myths, real-life creatures with bizarre superpowers, and how many of their stories intertwine.

“Anglerfish: The Seadevil of the Deep” by Elaine M. Alexander, illustrated by Fiona Fogg, tells how a prehistoric-looking creature survives in one of the harshest environments on the planet. (Courtesy of Candlewick)

“Anglerfish: The Seadevil of the Deep” by Elaine M. Alexander, illustrated by Fiona Fogg, Candlewick, 2022, 32 pages, $17.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 4–8.

Read yourself: age 7-8.

Meet a deep-sea-angler fish, known as the Seadevil of the Deep, a creature that lives 13,000 feet below the surface of the ocean in the midnight zone, where there is no light, few inhabitants and scarce resources.

Anglerfish didn’t always live in the midnight zone. She began life as a baby fish (a fry) on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. But life there was full of danger with hungry predators and fishing nets. So, as Anglerfish grew, and her illuminated fishing rod grew from her forehead, she descended deeper and deeper until she was in complete darkness. There, she has buried herself in mud and sand, with only her glowing fishing orb visible, luring unsuspecting prey to its glow and her ultimate meal.

These and other fascinating facts about Anglerfish are presented in both story form and followed by several pages of equally interesting backmatter material. Journey with Anglerfish to discover how this prehistoric-looking creature survives in one of the harshest environments on the planet.

Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children’s literature. She can be reached at

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