Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - picture book biographies 11.02.16

Every Wednesday I join Alyson Beecher from kidlitfrenzy and other
kidlit bloggers to share wonderful nonfiction picture books.
The intention of today's blog is to give educational professionals
new nonfiction reading material and ideas to use 
with students to promote a love of reading nonfiction materials.

Don't miss these picture book biographies!

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat
Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat
by Javaka Steptoe
What I love about art is how much it varies.  People really see something different in all art, and find something different that speaks to them.
It seems to me that I really don't know many current artists.  I'm always finding new ones through children's literature.  I'm glad many of them are being introduced to me.
Jean-Michel Basquiat is an artist I did not know about, but the layers of this man is fascinating to me.  To have so much passion at a young age, to see pieces of the world and social injustice and messages and put it all into art...
Steptoe's words are as vivid as his own artwork.  He includes a note both at the beginning and end of the book explaining the art in the book and his decisions that went into it.  I felt the need to do some further research and go back and forth between the author's real work and the illustrations in the book.
I have a feeling we'll be hearing this book title in January.

I Dissent by Debbie Levy
I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark
by Debbie Levy
Fantastic picture book biography - well rounded information and Levy does a great job showing the reader how Ginsburg fought passionately - still is! - for the rights for all.  What stood out to me in this picture book biography was the big picture - Levy named the book "I Dissent" and then went on to show how this was a theme throughout Ginsburg's life.  Great back matter included.

Six Dots by Jen Bryant
Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille
by Jen Bryant
I think I've read more about the blind but haven't really thought much about what is behind the Braille alphabet.  Great picture book biography about the young man who invented this alphabet.  I was surprised to learn that Braille was not born blind, but it was through an accident that lead to his being blind.  Another book with great back matter.

I am Jane Goodall by Brad Meltzer
I Am Jane Goodall
by Brad Meltzer
I think this series has gotten better over time.  This one about Jane Goodall is packed with information that gives the young reader a great picture of who she is.  I thought the themes were placed just right - accomplish anything by working together, see how alike, not different, people are, share the Earth, take care of each other.

Esquivel!  Space-Age Sound Artist
Esquivel! Space-Age Sound Artist
by Susan Wood
I had never heard of the musician Esquivel, but when I saw the book was illustrated by the wonderful Duncan Tonatiuh, I knew it was a book I would check out.  I think what enhanced my reading experience was listening to Esquivel's music as I read the book.  I pulled up some of his songs on Apple Music and the sound was absolutely unique and different.  Some of the artistic decisions Tonatiuh made absolutely made sense as I listened to the music.  Esquivel created a unique mix of sounds that while different, came together to make a very interesting listening experience.  I'm not sure if I read the book without the music it would've stayed with me the same.

Antsy Ansel: Ansel Adams, a Life in Nature
Antsy Ansel: Ansel Adams, A Life in Nature
by Cindy Jenson-Elliott
I've heard of Ansel Adams, but I'm sorry to say I'm not as familiar with his work.  I appreciated how this book scattered representations of his work through the book.  Through this book, readers will understand a few important points about Ansel's life - that from a very young age he knew he belonged outdoors, and through the camera lens, he shared the outdoors with people.


  1. I love your point that picture books introduce you to a wide variety of artists. So true for me, too! And so many different techniques and styles.

  2. We are fortunate to be at a time that all these lovely bios are being written, and they're so good! I need to read Radiant Child, but what you said reminds me of all the wonderful street art in one of our art districts. It is such a delight to take visitors to that area to see the murals. I like Six Dots and Antsy Adams, too. Also need to find Esquivel! Thanks, Michele!

  3. I Dissent and Esquivel are two biographies I really enjoyed. I've ordered Radiant Child and am looking forward to it. I've got Six Dots, but haven't read it yet. I'm glad to learn that it's a good one.