Today's nonfiction roundup celebrates a love of the written word!
Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks
written by Suzanne Slade
illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera
Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, the name Gwendolyn Brooks was always shared in English classes. Her poetry was always a mix with other well-known poets, and I remember there being a special on the local WTTW channel.
This book takes a look at how she grew up and how her family fostered her love of words. She married a man who also loved words and supported her writing. But Gwendolyn didn't stay home and write - she lived during the Great Depression when she had to work to help supplement the family income. Although in working, she saw the hard-working people around her; she saw the dire straits so many people lived under and doing what they could do scrape by. Her poems were a reflection of the life she saw - around her and the life she saw in the world around her.
This book is accompanied by illustrations by the fantastic Cozbi A. Cabrera. She is an illustrator I hope we see more and more from in the future!
Jump at the Sun: the True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston
written by Alicia D. Williams
illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara
This book is absolutely wonderful. The writing is gorgeous, which shouldn't be a surprise since it comes from Newbery Honor winner, Alicia D. Williams (Genesis Begins Again). Telling the story of award winning author, Zora Neale Hurston, Williams captures the voice of the Black storyteller who passes along folktales by word of mouth. Zora captured these tales and created beautiful stories that are still read and in print today. As you read this book, Williams takes you through the south and paints a picture with her words that will make you feel as if you've traveled alongside Zora and seen her life.
Accompanying the text are breathtaking illustrations by Jacqueline Alcántara. The bright colors and the fun illustrations of some of the folktale characters will invite the reader back into the pages again and again.
Both of these books are mentor text for amazing writing. Teachers can use the stories to share the passion you can have for words and the worlds that can be created.