Tag: nonfiction

This is the latest booklist I’ve been compiling. It’s especially tricky because there are just endless numbers of picture book biographies I started, have piled on my desk, or want to read. But I had to draw the line somewhere. These are the best of what I’ve come across so far. The top three were my favorites, followed by the complete list I’ve got so far (I’m sure I will add to it as time goes by):

Sis, Peter. The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain. New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2007.

Peter Sis’s autobiography of growing up in Prague during the Cold War. Brilliant imagery shows how he discovered rock ‘n roll and evolved from an obedient follower to an artistic dissident. A 2008 Caldecott book, this is fascinating for older kids.

Schanzer, Rosalyn. How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning. New York: Harper Collins, 2003.

A zippy story with great cartoon illustrations of Ben Franklin and his inventions. Fast-paced and fun.

Brown, Monica. My Name is Gabito/Me Llamo Gabito: The Life of Gabriel Garcia Marquez/La Vida de Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Flagstaff, AZ: Luna Rising, 2007.

A vibrant bilingual story of the life of author Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Gabito had a big imagination as a child and grew up near a banana plantation, both influencing his writing later in life. Winner of the 2008 Pura Belpre Award Honor for illustration.

Read more on Picture Book Biographies…

I thought Duel! was an accessible nonfiction offering about the pistol match that killed Alexander Hamilton. Older elementary grades will appreciate it, and possibly even some middle schoolers. The illustrations are dramatic (I love that front cover, but at least one of my coworkers hates it), and the story of the feud between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton is explained in interesting parallels and contrasts. Their childhoods are described side-by-side, as are their experiences in battle. I thought this would be great for Social Studies lessons and school history projects. There is a lot of text on the pages, but it isn’t boring or overwhelming. And kids will think the duel aspect is cool. Plus it’s a nugget of New Jersey history that doesn’t get much press in the classroom.

Read more on Duel!: Burr and Hamilton’s Deadly War of Words by Dennis Brindell Fradin…