Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday 4.27.16 - Adelaide Herrmann

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.

Anything But Ordinary Addie by Mara Rockliff
Anything But Ordinary Addie
The True Story of Adelaide Herrmann Queen of Magic
written by Mara Rockliff
illustrated by Iacopo Bruno
published by Candlewick Press

The dynamic combination of author Mara Rockliff and illustrator Iacopo Bruno are back in the book Anything But Ordinary Addie.  I'm seeing a trend here - anything they work on together is a book I want to own!  

Rockliff has written another picture book biography spotlighting a person I didn't know anything about, Adelaide Herrmann.  Addie quickly realized at a young age that she was destined to be someone who was far from ordinary.  As she tried new experiences, she quickly found that the more daring and the more extraordinary feats were the ones that held her passion.  But it was meeting the magician, Alexander Hermann, that her life really took meaning.  They traveled around with their stage act, performing magic tricks that captivated audiences.  Even after the death of her beloved husband, Addie continued the act for many more years.  It's in the author's notes that we learn that not much was ever published about Adelaide Hermann.  It wasn't until many decades later when another female magician went looking for Addie's privately written memoir, was her extraordinary life brought to the public's attention.

This magical book could not be told without illustrations that truly capture the magic within this story.  Iacopo Bruno's beautiful illustrations, which match the historical time, really bring this story to life.  I loved what  looked like cut paper pieces that are added to the layouts.  The bright colors are sure to catch young reader's attention!

After reading this book, I thought about how it could be used in a classroom setting.  Of course, it could just be used in a biography unit, but it felt like it needed more than that.  Addie was such a unique character for this point in time, I felt like her traits needed a spotlight.  And that's what made me think - character traits.  I know many classrooms talk about characters - their traits, how they change, feelings, motivations.  I would use this text to talk about her traits, but use them to talk about her traits and how they influenced her life and her decisions.

1st reading of the book, find character traits:
  • she was daring
  • she didn't want to be ordinary
  • she was bold
  • she was caring

2nd reading of the book, use the character traits and find how she used those traits in her life:
  • daring - she was always willing to try new things, even if it was dangerous (cannon ball trick, bullet catching trick, traveling to new places)
  • didn't want to be ordinary - always looking for the next thing (being on stage wasn't enough, had to try something that was always a little bit harder)
  • bold - she asked her Alexander to marry her!
  • caring - she didn't want her employees to be out of work so even though she was heartbroken, she went back to "work"
I think young readers are going to really enjoy meeting Addie.  Add this book to your classroom or library!


  1. I continue to be surprised that we are being told about so many wonderful and interesting people we've never heard of before in fantastic picture books. Thanks of this, Alyson. I hope I can find it!

  2. I love Mara Rockliff's books too. Long may she write!

  3. This sounds like a good one. Thanks for the tips on how to use it in the classroom.