Monday, July 6, 2015

Nonfiction Monday - sort of - The Kite That Bridged Two Nations

O’Neill, Alexis. The Kite that Bridged Two Nations.  Illus. Terry Widener. Honesdale, PA: Calkins Creek, 2013.
(picture book historical fiction)             
                        This prose poem picture book is based on the true story of the boy, Homer Walsh, who flew his kite across Niagara Falls from Canada to the United States, laying the first lines which then pulled the cables for the International Bridge connecting the two countries just below Niagara Falls

                        O’Neill originally attempted to write a picture book biography, but changed to fiction when she realized she needed to be inside the boy’s mind and to show how he felt, such as, “I felt it’s (the falls’s) booming, pounding power in my chest.” The result is a prose poem, which lyrically explores this event that united the two countries with a bridge, told in first person point of view.  (My kite. My pride. My Union.) The extensive author’s notes fill in more information.  I especially like the part where O’Neill explores what we do not know about Homer and his project.
                         This would be good for classes who wish to combine fiction and nonfiction as per the Common Core.

Alexis O'Neill loves flying kites and participating in Kite Festivals.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Fourth of July

Just for fun - some fireworks:

Oh, it's just one.
If you want multiple fireworks, go to my wall on Facebook today. Wowsers. The video there has almost too many fireworks at once.

For the real ones, we'll be walking to a park overlooking the fairgrounds where the county fireworks go off.  (and off in the distance we can also see fireworks from two other towns north of us. fun!)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Nonfiction Monday - A Fine Dessert

Jenkins, Emily. Illus. Sophie Blackall.  A Fine Dessert, Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat.  New York:  Schwartz & Wade books, 2015

Does this qualify as nonfiction?
Sort of.

Yes, the families cooking in their kitchen are fiction.
However, the recipe is real. And every aspect of the kitchen, their actions, and the tools they use to make Blackberry Fool are carefully researched and can be used by anyone studying one of the four centuries depicted.

Where do they get the berries? 
 Four centuries ago they picked them themselves. In present day - bought.

How do they make it?
Whip it with a tool make of twigs/ 
whip it with a handmade wire whisk/
whip it with rotary beaters/
whip it with electric mixer. (found the recipe on the internet!!!)
Ah - things have gotten easier these days, but it's still the same delicious blackberry fool.

Yes, the recipe is included.
Plus Sources, A note from the author, and A note from the illustrator.

Interesting info Not included -- did you know that Emily Jenkins is also known as E. Lockhart when she is writing Young Adult novels? Click on over and read about her.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Mo Willems' sketchbooks

Willems, Mo. Don't Pigeonhole me! Two decades of the Mo Willems Sketchbook, with a foreword by Eric Carle.  New York: Disney, 2013.

When I first picked this up, I expected a huge HUGE biography of Mo Willems.  Perhaps even an autobiography - which meant it would be a combination of poignant and funny.  What I got was something entirely different.

If you ever get invited to dinner at Mo's, you'll discover that the walls of the dining room are actually chalkboard. And the dining room tablecloth is actually covered with sketch paper. Everyone at the table is encouraged to scribble on it during and after the meal. "to doodle over dinner," as Mo calls it. His family does.  His friends do. And sometimes those table doodles become parts of Mo's books.

Everyone knows Don't Let The Pigeon Drive the Bus. (or should)  Everyone knows Elephant and Piggy. (or should)  But few know that these characters first showed up as scribbles on his dining room table. And then graduated into sketchbooks, pieces of which were published yearly as the December issue of a small magazine.

It is these December sketchbooks that are reproduced in this huge, coffee table sized book. Plus comments by other artists and friends.

Eric Carle writes, in his introduction to this books, that this book "will be an inspiration to doodlers and illustrators, secret sketchers and cartoonists -- and to those in the making."

Monday, June 22, 2015

Nonfiction Monday - Tricky Vic

The Impossibly True Story of Tricky Vic, the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower by Greg Pizzoli.  New York:  Viking, 2015.

Picture book biography.

Tricky Vick was a Con Man.  Any child who doesn't know what a 'con man' does, will quickly learn the ins and outs of several common scams such as a box that magically produces money.
He is best known for one of the largest scams in the world. Not that it involved many people. but it involved the largest (at that time) structure in the world - the Eiffel Tower.

Pizzoli also illustrated the book, which enabled him to inserted a secret joke that only people who knew French would be able to figure out. Although four of the prospective purchasers of the tower are shown as silhouettes, the fifth man, Andre Poisson is shown in a business suit with a fish head. Fish head?  (Poisson is French for fish.)
Poisson bought the rights to dismantle the tower and sell it as scrap metal - making a huge profit. Or so he thought. But when he attempted to begin dismantling the tower, he learned that all he had bought was a few pieces of official-looking, but fake papers.
Naturally, Tricky Vick was not to be found.

Glossary, a long bibliography, an author's note, Acknowledgements, and a note about the art in this book complete the back matter.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Chapter book biographies

Great books by a great writer (Kathleen Krull) about great women.  Click on over and check it out this interview.

Women who Broke the Rules

Monday, June 15, 2015

Nonfiction Monday - First Mothers

First Mothers byBeverly Gherman. Julie Downing, illustrator. New York: Clarion, 2012.

You study the presidents in school. Well, mainly the ones involved with important actions in history. There are books about the wives of presidents. (and that is one very difficult job, with the whole country watching what you do and listening to what you say.)  But do you know anything about their mothers?

Gherman and Downing spent over six years searching out information about these little known ladies and how to represent them in art. The result is a quick tour through our nation's history, as seen through their eyes.  Just to keep the connection between the mother and the president, Gherman has numbered each lady. However, you have to read the blurb about her to discover the name of her president son.

Each entry carries a title describing their character:
The Resourceful Mother
The Quiet Mother
The Pioneer Mother
The Flamboyant Mother
The Stepmother
The Optimistic Mother
The Midwife Mother
The Writer Mother.  (There were actually several mothers who wrote, but each is described in a different way.)

Some mothers were given a double page spread. Many others only got one page. And there also is a section crammed with two mothers on a page.

Attentive readers will notice that Mary Ball Washington (guess whose mother she is) keeps popping up making comments about other mother's lives. Mary AND Sarah Roosevelt comment about Bill Clinton's mother and also Barak Obama's mother.

(p.s. there is a major error in the Clinton entry. The illustrator has a notation that Bill Clinton was Impeached.  Not true.  Impeached means removed from office.  He actually was threatened with Impeachment, but the bill to Impeach failed to pass Congress.  (Interestingly enough, other presidents were also threatened with Impeachment by their Congress as well, but that's not mentioned in this book.)

Although the author mentions other mothers who were mothers AND grandmothers of presidents, she does NOT mention that Dorothy Walker Bush also was the mother and grandmother of two presidents. I wonder why that was left out?

Excellent bibliography and author's note.
Useful for Mother's Day and President's Day displays.