Monday, January 2, 2012

more narrative nonfiction in picture books

VIVALDI AND THE INVISIBLE ORCHESTRA by Stephen Costanza (Holt 2012) is part fact and part fiction. Vivaldi did indeed use an orchestra comprised of orphans who played behind a darkened curtain. Taking that fact, Costanza has woven a fanciful narrative about how the creation of Vivaldi's classic "The Four Seasons" came to be. Softly blurred illustrations in pastel colors are a perfect accompaniment to this piece of biographical fiction. <690>

Alexandra Wallner gives readers a biography in SUSAN B. ANTHONY (Holiday House 2012).Her folk art illustrations are a terrific choice for this biography of an important pioneer in women's rights. Readers will see Susan as a child and see the seeds of her discontent over the treatment of women early on. Looking for books with themes of social justice? Here is one to include. <691>

A PICTURE BOOK OF SAM HOUSTON by David A. Adler and Michael S. Adler with illustrations by Matt Collins (Holiday House) manages to convey the highlights of the life of one of Texas' larger-than-life heroes, Gen. Sam Houston. In addition to his heroic actions, the Adlers include information about Sam's failed marriages and his own trouble with unpopular positions he took in his career as a politician. Jean Fritz' biography of Sam Houston and the adult book, THE RAVEN, are the beginning of a nice reading ladder. <692>

LIFE IN THE OCEAN: THE STORY OF OCEANOGRAPHER SYLVIA EARLE by Claire A. Nivola (FSG 2012)will introduce readers to the work of oceanographer Sylvia Earle who from childhood felt the call of the sea. She spent much of her life devising ways of diving deeper and deeper. Using quotes from Earle, Nivola manages to convey the spirit of this underwater explorer well. <693>

IRENA'S JARS OF SECRETS by Marcia Vaughan with illustrations by Ron Mazellan (Lee and Low, 2012)introduces readers to Irena Sendler. Born a Catholic in Poland, Irena went on to help rescue thousands of Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto when the Nazis occupied Poland during World War II. Sendler kept lists of the children and their parents' names buried in jars so that (she hoped) families could be reunited after the war had ended. Sadly, many parents died in concentration camps or were exterminated. However, Sendler's actions did save some of the lives of those persecuted simply because they were Jews. <694>

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