Let’s go on an adventure…

Sis, Peter. Robinson. New York: Scholastic Press, 2017.
A softly beautiful picture book combining memories from the author’s childhood with the story of Robinson Crusoe. The softly detailed illustrations, complemented by the capital-letters font, will enchant readers 7 to 14 years old. Highly recommended!

Picture book memoirs

Stories of adventure

Write about your own memories

“When you have little children, you want to tell them about joy and happiness and hope. And then comes the time you want to tell them there are tough moments. I admire people who can do that.” Peter Sis 

Note: All of Peter Sis’s books are memorable. Here are some of my favourites:

  

“People think children’s books are about teddy bears and little flowers. I realize people sometimes don’t know what to do with my books because they say, ‘Is it a children’s book, and what age group?'” Peter Sis

Observing nature…

Heckert, Barbara. A Boy, a Mouse, and a Spider: The Story of E.B. White. New York: Christy Ottaviano Books / Henry Holt and Company, 2017.
Who was the author of the classic novel Charlotte’s Web? What was his childhood like?  What challenges did he overcome? What inspired him to write children’s stories? The design of this picture book – illustrated by Caldecott winner Lauren Castillo – is unfortunately weakened by the font, which does not match the style of the pictures. Nevertheless, this biography is still recommended for curious readers 8 years old and up. 

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“There’s no limit to how complicated things can get, on account of one thing always leading to another.” – E.B. White

Setting the record straight…

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain

Kerley, Barbara. The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy). New York: Scholastic Press, 2010.
This is a frank biographer and an honest one; she uses no sandpaper on me.” That’s what Mark Twain said about his own daughter, who secretly – when she was thirteen years old – kept a journal about her adored papa. Author Barbara Kerley tells the whole story in this intriguing picture book biography. Varying-sized fonts, humorous full-page illustrations by Edwin Fotheringham, and sample diary entries complete with misspellings help to tell this delightful account of one of the most well-known American writers. A timeline, author’s note, and tips for writing a biography complete this picture book highly recommended for all who have enjoyed the tales of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. 

More biographies

“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” 

Picture books for writers

“The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.”

Humorous stories

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

 

Finding a friend…

“I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.” 
– Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
 …
Neri, Greg. Tru and Nelle. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.
An unlikely friendship builds between a seven-year-old boy who likes to dress in fancy clothes and a six-year-old girl who dresses like a tomboy. But they both enjoy reading. They also like mysteries and set off together to discover who has stolen candy and a brooch from a local drugstore.  Set in Alabama in the summer of 1930, this 268-page novel is based on the real-life friendship between Truman Capote and Nelle Harper Lee. Readers don’t need that information, though, to enjoy the story. The writing flows like music and the large font and widely spaced lines make it easy to read. Several short stories – inspired by the real Truman’s fondness for short stories – and an historical note with black-and-white photographs round off the book. Highly recommended for readers 8 years old and up.
 …
 
 “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view….Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”  – Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Making reading fun!

Sierra, Judy. Imagine That! How Dr. Seuss Wrote The Cat in the Hat. New York: Random House, 2017.
Imagine this assignment: write a story that makes reading fun and that uses only 50 different words! That was the inimitable Theodore Geisel’s task in 1954: write something fun for children in the first grade.  Of course, he did it. In fact, he created 47 books in all. This nonfiction picture book illustrated by Kevin Henkes will fascinate readers young and old. And maybe even inspire some budding writers and artists.

More books about books

Ideas for making reading fun!

The Boy on Fairfield Street: How Ted Geisel Grew Up to Become Dr. Seuss by Kathleen Krull with paintings by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher (New York: Random House, 2004). A heart-warming picture book biography with softly coloured full-page illustrations and small drawings by Dr. Seuss. The old-fashioned style of the paintings and the gentle rhythm of the words create a story that feels like a memory told by a grandparent. Additional information about Dr. Seuss’s adulthood is provided at the end of the book. Highly recommended for readers and listeners 8 years old and up. (Kathleen Krull has written many biographies, both picture books and chapter books, and they’re all a joy to read. Her flowing style of writing makes the informative content sound like someone talking to you, telling you about someone you might like to meet.)

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Laura Ingalls Wilder

McDonough, Yona Zeldis. Little Author in the Big Woods. New York: Christy Ottaviano Books / Henry Holt and Company, 2014. 

Little House on the Prairie is one of the first novels of childhood. The experiences of Laura’s family in the series of ‘Little House’ books have formed many people’s picture of frontier life. But who was Laura Ingalls Wilder?
This 157-page biography portrays the life of an energetic girl who grew up to be an enterprising writer, a woman who never lost her sense of adventure. The relatively large font and widely spaced lines will appeal to children being introduced to the Little House books for the first time. The glossary, several recipes, and directions for playing games and making toys at the end of the book will be useful for teachers designing units of study. The biography itself, though, will also be appreciated by older readers who fondly remember Laura’s stories of her childhood in 19th century America. 

More biographies HERE.

‘First novels’ for young readers HERE.

Write about your own life HERE.

Thank you, Beatrix Potter!

A Celebration of Beatrix Potter: Art and Letters by More Than 30 of Today’s Favorite Children’s Book Illustrators. New York: Penguin Young Readers Group, 2016.
Artists pay tribute to Beatrix Potter in this celebration of her stories. Tomie de Paolo, Peter H. Reynolds, Rosemary Wells, David Wiesner and 28 more illustrators tell how the famous stories influenced them and share their own unique illustrations to commemorate the 150th anniversary in 2016.
The letters will intrigue older readers who fondly remember the stories from their own childhood. Both the letters and illustrations are highly recommended for teacher-librarians and classroom teachers to use as part of a unit on styles of illustration. [Animals in art; Authors; Illustrators; Beatrix Potter]

More books about art HERE.

More picture books for artists HERE.