As a nonfiction writer, I tend to have fairly firm opinions on fiction vs nonfiction. Because of this, I sometimes find myself at odds with people who want to alter timelines or create dialogue. Sorry folks, that’s fiction!
But what do you call a book like Brian Floca’s Locomotive? It doesn’t have a fictional plot and characters but Floca has created a typical train taking a typical journey.
Or fact filled books with a fictional narrative like In the Canyon by Liz Garton Scanlon? Yes, there is a ton of information about the flora and fauna of the Grand Canyon but the narrator is entirely fictional. What do you call a book like that?
I recently read a post that called these books informational books. They teach but they also contain fictional elements.
Other ideas that I would consider informational include an animal narrator teaching about his ecosystem, a named child taking you through a typical school day in her home country, or a named child helping a grandparent put in a garden. Do these named children’s actually exist? Nope. They are 100% fictional. Has a coyote ever taken me on a walking tour of his homeland? Not when I was a awake, thank you.
I don’t think that this term is accepted as an industry standard. When I did a quick Google search I saw it used to describe straight-up nonfiction, such as The World Almanac for Kids or Anne Schreiber’s Penguins, as well as this wonky in-between books, including We The Kids by David Catrow.
Why am I so interested in this? Because I am working on a preschool astronomy text that includes 4 fictional characters who drive the story. The information about the movement of the Earth, Sun and Moon are 100% factual but the four characters who drive the story are entirely figments of my fevered imagination. I have to admit that I will be much more comfortable pitching this as an informational book than I would be pitching it as nonfiction.