Living Things and Non Living Things: A Compare and Contrast Book

Booklist - September 2017

Statements and questions in the large-print text lead smoothly from one double-page spread to the next, while well-chosen color photos illustrate the text. These appealing images show up beautifully on the heavy, glossy pages. An appended section includes a series of small photos beside boxes briefly listing the benchmarks that will help the reader decide whether the pictures represent living or nonliving things. An intriguing, well-designed book with classroom potential. — Carolyn Phelan

Kirkus Reviews - July 2017

Every photograph is striking and colorful, sure to keep readers engaged. The first pages show photographs of things unmistakably living—from polar bears to cactuses—or nonliving—from a cresting ocean wave to a sea of automobiles. The heart of the text uses a few simple questions to try to determine what makes something living or nonliving, beginning with, “Are living things the only things that move?” A droll, humorous photomontage shows a droopy-eared basset gazing up at wildly swinging monkeys as a snail crawls nearby. The page turn reveals breathtaking photos of nonliving things that move—clouds, trains, waterfalls—and living things that (arguably) cannot move—coral, a tree, fungi. Growth, change, reproduction, and the needs for food, water, and oxygen are all examined similarly, leading to the conclusion that “Not even scientists have a perfect answer” to the question of what differentiates living from nonliving. A thoughtfully laid-out double-page spread concludes that there are five basic activities which usually guarantee that something is “probably a living thing.” Finally, there are four pages of enrichment activities, including colorful checklists that help reassure readers that such things as frogs are living, while robots and amethysts are nonliving. A Spanish-language edition, Seres vivos y no vivos, publishes simultaneously.

Spectacular photography enriches a simple, thoughtful text.

School Library Journal - August 2017

K-Gr 3–This compare and contrast book tackles both the obvious and subtle differences and similarities between what is animate and inanimate. Kurtz starts off simply, directing readers to just look at the photos of various animals, objects, etc., before segueing into more complex territory (“Are living things the only things that move?”). The text acknowledges the challenge of the exercise, and the many variations or exceptions that can arise (e.g., fire needs oxygen and something to consume). The photos are all stock images but they are bright, clear, and kid-friendly. An ending “For Creative Minds” section was developed for classroom use. Consider for early STEM collections, to be used in a guided setting

Foreword Reviews - September/October 2017

Vivid photographs featuring some of Earth’s most astonishing features, creatures, and accomplishments are set on a crisp white backdrop and paired with an array of questions that sensibly guide curious young biologists on a quest of scientific identification in Living Things and Nonliving Things: A Compare and Contrast Book from Kevin Kurtz.

Horn Book Guide - June 2018

Kurtz gives five criteria for living things, with examples and exceptions shown for each. He concludes that science doesn't offer a "perfect" way to differentiate between living and nonliving things, but when something displays all those five characteristics, it's probably living. Impressive photos, simple text, and activity pages make this an appealing tool for introducing a complex concept.

Children's Lit - February 2018

How do you know whether or not something is a living creature? The answer may be more complicated than one might think! This edition of the Compare and Contrast series provides some intriguing comparisons and criteria. With its large text that varies in color and size to catch the eye, this book would be ideal for young readers. It could even be a great choice to read aloud, lending itself to discussion and questioning throughout. Colorful, vivid photographs enhance the text by depicting the various examples that are provided. The book describes traits that living and nonliving things share, and also the characteristics that make both categories unique. The author notes that there is no perfect answer to define what makes something living or not, instead encouraging readers to take an inquiry-based approach to make that determination on their own. This nuanced examination of a complex concept is well done, using clear and concise language that young children can understand. The back of the book includes a glossary and additional resources. There is also a set of checklists that students can use to determine somethings status as living or nonliving. This informational text would be great for a compare and contrast activity or even an early biology lesson.

Midwest Book Review - November 2017

"Living Things and Nonliving Things" is a creatively photo-illustrated Compare and Contrast book that challenges young readers to develop criteria for distinguishing living from nonliving things. For example, living things move, but do some nonliving things also move? How about growing and changing? Stunning photographs demonstrate that there are indeed nonliving things that also grow and change, such as volcanoes, icebergs, clouds, and crystals. Gradually, the criteria that emerge from all the compare and contrasting experiments are as follows: "If something does all these things, it is probably a living thing: Breathe. Drink water. Take energy and nutrients from its environment. Reproduce. Grow and change." A concluding section titled For Creative Minds including a Glossary, and Living or Nonliving Checklist. "Living and Nonliving Things" is an excellent teaching text using compare and contrast approaches to detect criteria for living versus things.

Texas Kitchen - October 2017

Really incredible photographs grace the pages of this educational children’s book. The author, Kevin Kurtz, asks questions throughout the book that get young minds thinking about the world around them. As your child reads, they will learn the some of the many differences and similarities between “Living and Nonliving Things”.

Heck of a Bunch - October 2017

With amazing realistic pictures, this book isn't filled with a lot of words but gets children thinking about how living and non-living things are both alike and different. For instance, we know that all living things do grow and change. But the book shows beautiful pictures of nonliving things that grow and change too, like icebergs and clouds. This compare and contrast book opens up discussions and makes kids think.

Views by Kelly - October 2017

The photographs are simply stunning, sure to keep children interested. I really enjoyed looking at all the pictures. The questions really make you think. I think this would be a terrific book for every school to have in it's library. It is informative and easy to understand. My daughter really enjoyed reading this and gave it two thumbs up.

Outnumbered 3 to 1 - October 2017

This is yet another book with gorgeous photography. Especially great for Lil Sis at age 6 as it really makes her think about characteristics of things that are both living and nonliving. A fun science lesson that will have them thinking long after you put the book down.

Unleashing Readers - November 2017

Living Things and Nonliving Things is a great introduction to what makes something living. Kevin Kurtz uses bright photographs to illustrate his different points that will start great scientific conversations about different things in our world and what makes them living or nonliving. This text is going to be wonderful in classrooms within early STEAM lessons.

SWON Libraries CLEAR Reviews - January 2018

Beautiful pictorial book of comparisons of living and nonliving. Basic terminology to help even the youngest reader understand. Photos are spectacular and the print is easy to read. In addition there are worksheets in the back to reinforce the subject. I will highly recommend this book.

Kids Book Buzz - May 2018

I like that the pictures are realistic and colorful and that they are photos. I like that they compared living and nonliving things side by side on the pages. I learned in the book that not just living things can breathe oxygen and that nonliving things can move, too. My favorite part of the book is the pictures. Mr. Kurtz makes it easy to understand the difference between living and nonliving things. I like the quiz pages at the end of the book. It was fun to test myself and see if I remembered everything in the book.

Children's Literature Review, Ohio School Leadership Foundation & University of Cincinnati SDI Center - June 2018

This book makes learning facts fun with its comparisons and awesome pictures.

PSLA Teaching and Learning Lit Review - March 2018

This nonfiction book is a wonderful resource for teaching the concepts of living and non-living and comparing and contrasting skills. There is a page for creative minds, which includes a short glossary, and several pages of photographs with checklists for the reader to quiz themselves on identifying living and non-living things. This book also includes Curriculum Connections and an online Teaching Activity Guide.

Oregon Coast Youth Preview Center - November 2017

I highly recommend this book for libraries for elementary age children. Not only are the photographs thought provoking, the author was able to capture beauty, humor, movement and make ordinary things look extraordinary. It uses inquiry-based learning to help build critical thinking skills in young readers. Also available in a Spanish translation, Seres vivos y no vivos, which supports ELL and dual-language programs.