105 Ways to Give a Book

A Book By Any Other Name

With nonfiction books, especially for children, the titles can be pretty straightforward. If you want a books about snakes, the title Snakes would be a pretty obvious choice. I suppose authors could use something like Eve’s Bane or The Thing In My Garden That I Find Scary as titles, but they never seem to do that. Given the obvious title syndrome (or OTS — see your doctor for a prescription), it should come as no real surprise that two books with similar title formats came into my library on the same day.

A Tiger Grows UpA Tiger Grows Up, by Anastasia Suen, is a nonfiction picture book for younger readers. The pictures are beautiful, really stunning. The text is simple with a sentence or two on each page, and usually a little fact insert on each spread. The words are easy enough for a beginning reader, or it could be enjoyed as a read-aloud to a preschooler. I’d tell the plot, but you’ve probably guessed from the book’s title. It is one in a series of books of Wild Animals, that includes a hippopotamus, elephant, rhinoceros, lion, and a baboon — all growing up, presumably.

A Bear Cub Grows UpNow, A Bear Cub Grows Up, by Pam Zollman, is one of a series of books from Scholastic News. The series includes books about a shark pup, tadpole, chick, turtle hatchling, and spiderling (what a cute word). These books are intended as beginning-reader books, with a few simple sentences per page, easy vocabulary, and large type. The left page is text and the right page is a photo, sometimes with a caption. The ending summarizes what the child has read in smaller type, perhaps for the parent to review with the child — as I did with my beginning reader.

Both series are great, just different in audience and style. But with the plethora of words at the publishers’ disposal, perhaps they could have found a way to differentiate these two series more clearly. Assuming they care. Which they probably don’t. It’s librarians and parents who will get confused as they try to look up one title or another in the series. So, remember, if it is the adult animal’s name (i.e., tiger) it’s the Wild Animals series. If it uses the baby animal name (i.e., spiderling), it’s the Scholastic News series. Got that? Good.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your nice review of my baby animal series with Scholastic News. My editor gave my books their titles, and at one point they were titled "How a (insert baby animal name here) Grows Up."

I've noticed that my nonfiction books, as well as those of other authors, often have rather plain titles. When I wrote a nonfiction chapter book on the California gold rush for Harcourt/Steck-Vaughn, I suggested the title "Ho for California!" because that was the NYC newspaper headline in January 1849 that started the '49ers rush for the west coast for gold. But then my editors reminded me that "Ho" has a different meaning in today's society. Doh! I knew that, but had temporarily forgotten. So, anyway, they also rejected my other choices and came up with the book's title: "The California Gold Rush." Simple and to the point...but maybe those kids might have been more drawn to my original title. LOL!

Pam Zollman