Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday 11.25.15 biographies


I am excited to join Alyson Beecher and other friends in this weekly challenge.  Finding great nonfiction picture books isn't a challenge anymore, there are so many wonderful books to be read now!  The challenge is sharing them with as many people as possible so they can find this wealth of literature to share with our young readers.  Thanks to Aly for starting this weekly link-up and thanks to all who join in!  See all of the posts at kidlitfrenzy.

We often study character traits to understand a character - who they are, why they do things, what their motivations are.  Most of the time, we're studying fictional characters.  Why not look at biographies to do the same thing?  What can you learn about a character by studying a nonfiction picture book?

I read a couple of books lately that certainly have a contrast in character.  Or do they?

Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman's Race for the Presidency
Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman's Race for the Presidency
by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
illustrated by Courtney A. Martin
In light of our current race for presidency, this is a great book to share with students.  Belva Lockwood really believed she could move the mountains that were in front of her, and often succeeded.  With determination and a willingness to fight for what she believed in, Belva did so much to move equal rights for all forward in our country.  So many wonderful character traits to study when reading this story about Belva.

Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower Tricky Vic by
by Greg Pizzoli
Determination.  An admirable trait.  But what if a person uses determination and it hurts people?  Robert "Count Victor Ludwig" Miller was a con artist who was determined to swindle people out of large sums of money.  He worked hard at what he did and was successful at it until he was caught and jailed at age 45. 
I enjoyed seeing how Pizzoli paired the text and illustrations.  I liked how Vic remained faceless throughout the book.  Added to the mystery of his character that he seemed to portray. 

Interesting to pair the character trait of determination using these great biographies.

Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova
Another wonderful picture book biography that could be used when talking about character traits would be Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova by Laurel Snyder.  I wrote about this gorgeous picture book here.  I was thrilled to be in the audience at the NCTE Picture Book Awards Luncheon when it was announced this gorgeous book won a 2016 NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor Award.

So many possibilities when using picture book biographies!


  1. I just got Swan from the library, finally! I haven't read it yet, but have read the first two. Your idea for comparing these characters is good, especially throwing in Tricky Vic. He certainly didn't give up, did he? Thanks, Michele.

  2. I was holding off on reading Tricky Vic but I think I just can't wait anymore.

  3. I love the idea of doing a compare/contrast of Tricky Vic with more traditional biographical subjects!