Luna, Julia, and readers

kostecki-shaw_luna & me

We recently received Luna & Me: The True Story of a Girl Who Lived in a Tree to Save a Forest by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw (Holt/Ottaviano, May 2015). It’s sort of dual picture-book biography, telling the stories of a thousand-year-old redwood tree called Luna, which was slated to be logged; and of young activist Julia […]

Review of Gordon Parks

weatherford_gordon parks

Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured 
Black and White America by Carole Boston Weatherford; 
illus. by Jamey Christoph Primary   Whitman   32 pp. 3/15     978-0-8075-3017-7   $16.99   g Weatherford (Sugar Hill: Harlem’s Historic Neighborhood, rev. 5/14; Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane, rev. 5/08) presents the life of groundbreaking African American photographer […]

Picture books under the sea

Life in the Ocean

With water covering around 70% of the world’s surface and playing home to some of the most fascinating creatures on earth, it is not surprising that it is a perennially popular topic for young children. And, this ongoing popularity means that there are plenty of books available on this topic to encourage students to pursue […]

They’ve got the beat

engle_drum dream girl

Picture-book biographies can be an instrumental way to introduce children to musical figures. Whether they’re breaking new ground or slapping the skins — or both! — the following real-life performers will inspire kids to march to their own beat. The protagonist of Margarita Engle’s poetic picture book Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed […]

Review of Trombone Shorty

andrew_trombone shorty

Trombone Shorty by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews; illus. by Bryan Collier Primary   Abrams   40 pp. 4/15   978-1-4197-1465-8   $17.95 In New Orleans parlance, “Where y’at?” means “hello.” As an opening greeting (repeated three times, creating a jazzy beat), it also signals the beginning of this conversational and personable 
autobiography. Andrews, a.k.a. Trombone Shorty, concentrates on his […]

Review of How Jelly Roll Morton 
Invented Jazz

winter_how jelly roll morton invented jazz

How Jelly Roll Morton 
Invented Jazz by Jonah Winter; 
illus. by Keith Mallett Primary   Porter/Roaring Brook   32 pp. 6/15   978-1-59643-963-4   $17.99 Much like jazz itself, Winter has created a book filled with ebbs and flows, rhythm and rhyme, darkness and light, shadow and sunshine. Opening with a dreamy spread set in a dimly lit New […]

Review of In Mary’s Garden

kugler_in mary's garden

In Mary’s Garden by Tina Kügler and Carson Kügler; illus. by the authors Primary   Houghton   32 pp. 3/15   978-0-544-27220-0   $16.99 As a girl, Mary “was happiest when her hands were busy making, building, creating things.” As she grew up and traveled around the world, those early interests developed into a love for art. She returns […]

Me…Jane | Class #4, 2015

Me...Jane

As picture book biographies go, this is one of the more irreverent ones. What did you make of it? What about the visual mix: McDonnell’s cartoon-style art, vintage stamps, Goodall’s childhood drawings, and photos? The year this was published, we had lots of discussion pro and con about the final photograph and the book’s editor […]

Dave the Potter | Class #4, 2015

Dave the Potter

Here’s a biography of someone we really know very little about. What do you make of Hill’s poem? Do you want to learn more? Do Collier’s illustrations fill in some gaps? The information at the end tells us more, but in fact we are still left with a mystery. Do Collier’s collages match the tone […]

Women’s History Month 2015

mccully_queen of the diamond

In these picture-book biographies perfect for Women’s History Month, young women blaze trails and battle bigotry. From baseball and art to environmentalism and education, these leaders and their triumphs are to be celebrated. Emily Arnold McCully’s Queen of the Diamond: The Lizzie Murphy Story introduces a young woman who, at the beginning of the twentieth […]