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The power of the image: photographs in biographies

Striking photographs in biographies can draw in, engage, and inform young readers on a deep level. In addition, they can serve as outstanding primary sources. Whether the photographs are current, colorful, high quality prints, or old, sepia, grainy shots, they reveal much about the subject, the setting, and the social/historical context. The two books below are outstanding new biographies with stunning photography and unique information not revealed in other books on their respective subjects.

goodallUntamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall by Anita Silvey
Do we really need another biography of Jane Goodall? Yes, we do! This volume begins with a forward by Goodall, herself, as she sets the stage for the book. Silvey tells Goodall’s story in a strong, storytelling voice with liberal use of quotations. She sets about very successfully to explain challenges, as well as accomplishments, trials as well as achievements. Sidebars of additional information break up the text nicely, and the book is filled with exquisite National Geographic photography. Silvey includes rich back matter, titled Field Notes, including information on chimps and the family she studied, time lines, maps, resource lists, index, photo credits, and author’s note.


Sally Ride: A Photobiography of America’s Pioneering Woman in Space by Tam O’Shaughnessy
O’Shaughnessy, business and life partner of Ride, tells a touching, heartfelt story of America’s first woman astronaut, like no one else can. Tracing her entire life, O’Shaughnessy, relates the big picture, as well as smaller slices of her life, both admirable, and less admirable stories. Using many primary sources, written in large font, and filled with captioned photographs, this promises to be a standout in the field of works about Ride for children. The back matter includes a cast of characters, timeline, additional photos, credits, and index.
Christina Dorr
Christina Dorr
Christina Dorr is an elementary and middle school media specialist in Hilliard, OH and has a middle school classroom teaching license. She received a Ph.D. in children’s literature from the Ohio State University and is currently serving on the 2016 Coretta Scott King Book Award jury.

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