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Nonfiction Books are Among the Most Popular Reads in School Libraries

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What sank the world's biggest ship? Who was the greatest hitter who ever lived? How does an earthquake cause a giant wave? Kids can learn the answers to these and many more fascinating questions in these fantastic new books.

"Ocean and Sea" from Scholastic Discover More and Steve Parker; Scholastic; 110 pages and $15.99.

There are lots of ocean-related books on the market, but this one wins with uber-clear, close-up photographs and an eye-catching design with charts, sidebars, maps and unexpected page spreads. Sections focus on seabirds, islands in the sea, crossing the ocean, the Titanic, ocean legends and riches from the sea, plus all the requisite facts on tides and ocean life.

With so much to peruse and learn from, plus a free digital companion book, "Shark Spotter," this Scholastic Discover More entry is intriguing and completely accessible for kids of all ages.

"What Sank the World's Biggest Ship?" by Mary Kay Carson; Sterling Publishing; 32 pages; $12.95.

The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic is coming up on April 14th, prompting a slew of documentaries, museum exhibits and new books about the disaster. As the kick-off for a new children's book series called "Good Question," the "unsinkable ship" stars here with trivia rich content, a timeline, gorgeous illustrations and real photographs that bring the event to life.

Carson's hardcover picture book uses an "ask and tell" format, with questions such as: "How could an iceberg appear out of nowhere?" "Why did everyone think the Titanic was unsinkable?" and "Where were the ship's binoculars?" Answers are explained clearly and briefly enough to interest readers from ages 5 to 8.

Slightly older readers can learn more with "Titanic: Voices from the Disaster" by Deborah Hopkinson; Scholastic Press; 275 pages; $17.99.

This super-researched account of the disaster honors the legacy of the doomed ship, by weaving together real voices and stories of Titanic survivors and witnesses. Certain to be a definitive read to commemorate the 100th anniversary, Hopkinson's book offers plenty of personalization and human interest, with a wealth of narrative accounts, a detailed timeline, comprehensive diagrams and gripping survivor letters.

Archival photographs and illustrations help transport young readers (ages 8 to 12) and older Titanic buffs back to that fateful night.

"There Goes Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived" by Matt Tavares; Candlewick Press; 38 pages; $16.99.

Ted Williams was an ordinary kid who wanted to be able to hit a baseball better than anyone else. He practiced nonstop, ate a lot, practiced more and even did fingertip pushups. Eventually, Williams got his wish, with an unmatched .406 season in 1941. But there was more to Ted Williams than just hitting; he was also a decorated fighter pilot in World War II and Korea, and then devoted his life to helping sick children.

"There Goes Ted Williams" captures all the excitement of a sport hero's greatest wishes coming true. Tavares' text is energetic and bold, and his colorful illustrations are full of personality and action. Tavares' dedication to presenting Williams as a larger than life superstar reigns big, resulting in an amazingly interesting picture book, already a Junior Library Guild Selection.

"Flight" and "Medieval Life" from Eyewitness Books; DK Publishing; 72 pages and $16.99 each.

DK's famous Eyewitness books are the gold standard that other reference books strive to be. Their newest additions contain a clip-art CD and timeline poster, with updates to keep them modern and fresh. "Flight" by Andrew Nahum, begins with the very earliest human tries to fly like a bird and moves on to vintage aircraft, first jetliners, airships, modern gliders and portable planes.

"Medieval Life" by Andrew Langley, presents up-close photographs of authentic medieval items and museum-worthy paintings of medieval life, war, plays, diseases, cathedrals and homes.

"Kingfisher Readers" from Kingfisher Books; 32 pages and $3.99 paperback/$12.99 hardcover.

Developed with literacy experts and designed with clear, appealing text and up-close photographs and colorful illustrations, this new beginning reader series is wondrous. With paperback books from level one (just beginning to read) to level five (reading fluently), book titles include "Butterflies," "Baby Animals," "What Animals Eat," "Dinosaur World" and "Pirates."

Affordable and visually appealing, the books also offer sidebars in the upper levels, plus an index and glossary.

To find out more about Lee Littlewood and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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