Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - picture book biographies - 2.19.2020

Wednesdays I join Alyson Beecher from kidlitfrenzy and other
#kidlit bloggers to share wonderful nonfiction picture books.
The intention of today's blog post is to give professionals that work in the
education field new nonfiction reading material and ideas to use 
with students to promote a love of reading nonfiction materials.

This week I'm continuing to celebrate some nonfiction picture book biographies about ways men have changed the world we live in!

The Book Rescuer by Sue Macy
The Book Rescuer: How a Mensch from Massachusetts Saved Yiddish Literature for Generations to Come
written by Sue Macy
illustrations by Stacy Innerst
Animals aren't the only thing to be going extinct in our world - languages and cultures are slowly disappearing from history.  Aaron Lansky started studying Jewish history in college.  As an avid reader his entire life, he knew much of his education would come from books.  However, he had to first learn the language that many of these books would be written in - Yiddish.  As he became more proficient he started looking for more and more books written in Yiddish and discovered they were very hard to find.  This became his mission - save these books and save this language.  More and more children were not being taught this language as the older generation who had immigrated to the United States stopped teaching this language in order for their children to learn English.  As Lansky started saving more and more books, he soon needed a place to store them.  That's when the Yiddish Book Center was created.  It has since moved locations, but it's purpose - saving Yiddish books and having them available to the public - continues.
Additional backmatter further details information about the current state of the Yiddish Book Center and has a note from Aaron Lansky.
Winner of the 2020 Sydney Taylor Book Award - picture book category

Image result for saving lady liberty claudia
Saving Lady Liberty: Joseph Pulitzer's Fight for the Statue of Liberty
written by Claudia Friddell
illustrated by Stacy Innerst
Although we have to wait awhile for this one - it doesn't publish until June 30th - I can promise you it's well worth the wait.  I really enjoyed the focus on Joseph Pulitzer and how he helped campaign to build Lady Liberty's pedestal in New York.  I had not heard this story before and it is a really interesting part of history.  And it's another book illustrated by Stacy Innerst!  This is one you are going to want to preorder!

Hi, I'm Norman by Robert Burleigh
Hi, I'm Norman: the Story of American Illustrator Norman Rockwell
written by Robert Burleigh
illustrated by Wendell Minor
My first experience with a Norman Rockwell painting came at a young age as I started regular visits to my eye doctor's office.  He had several hanging up around the office.  I remember enjoying how realistic they were and how they reflected real people, even if they were from the "olden days" (from my child's mind).  Rockwell's paintings, although well known, also have a look and feel to them that make them easily recognizable.
Interesting writer's choice, Burleigh choose to write this biography from Norman's voice.  Although that may add some writer's choice in the voice instead of completely based on facts and actual quotations (there are some noted in the backmatter), I think it was an interesting choice since Rockwell seems to be the American people's illustrator.  He painted what he saw and everything had such a personal feel to it.

Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau (Jacques Cousteau Book for Kids, Children's Ocean Book, Underwater Picture Book for Kids)
Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau
written by Jennifer Berne
illustrated by Éric Puybaret
This book has been in my stack for a very, very long time!  My dad has always been a big fan of Jacques Cousteau and I remember flipping through some of his books when I was little.  The underwater world is fascinating and I enjoyed reading more about Cousteau's life and what lead up to his adult life.  It certainly left me wanting to know more!

Thurgood by Jonah Winter
written by Jonah Winter
illustrated by Bryan Collier
Grateful my friend, Kristen Picone, got this one back on my radar for me.  If you discuss civil rights at all, you cannot discuss them without noting the contributions of Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall.  As the author notes, you can't explain the magnitude of the work Thurgood Marshall accomplished in his lifetime in a 40 page book, but this at least is a start.
I really enjoyed the way this book was structured.  Many pages started with a heading that stated "Fact" and then listed an accomplishment in Marshall's life.  Seemed like a good way to spotlight some of the things he did in a judicial way!
Fantastic illustrations by Bryan Collier accompany this story.

Happy biography reading!


  1. I'm so looking forward to each of these, Michele. And I have The Book Rescuer on its way from my library! Each one will be a great read! Thank you!

  2. I LOVED The Book Rescuer! Such a moving and gorgeously illustrated story! Stacy Innerst is a new favorite illustrator of mine, so I'm delighted to see that he's the illustrator of the Lady Liberty book too! It looks wonderful!

    I enjoyed Thurgood, but I found the first-person telling of the Rockwell biography to be a bit jarring. I certainly hope that it's not being classified as nonfiction because of that!

    I read & enjoyed Manfish when it first came out & I LOVED her On a Beam of Light, an Einstein bio. I am so excited to read her Dickinson bio: On Wings of Words, since she's a favorite poet :)!

  3. Thanks for sharing Saving Lady Liberty.

  4. Thanks for sharing these Michele. I've read Manfish but all the rest are new to me.