Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge

Alyson Beecher over at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts a Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge and has a roundup every Wednesday. I love the encouragement to explore more non-fiction. I am thankful that she has this challenge because I know I have read more nonfiction texts as a result.

Picture Book Biographies

I love learning about how people have lived and finding out about their passions. These two books show two people who cared deeply about something and shaped their lives around that one thing. 

Written by Gloria Houston & Illustrated by Susan Condie Lamb

Goodreads summary: When Dorothy was a young girl, she loved books, and she loved people, so she decided that she would become a librarian.

Dorothy's dearest wish is to be a librarian in a fine brick library just like the one she visited when she was small. But her new home in North Carolina has valleys and streams but no libraries, so Miss Dorothy and her neighbors decide to start a bookmobile. Instead of people coming to a fine brick library, Miss Dorothy can now bring the books to them —at school, on the farm, even once in the middle of a river!

Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile is an inspiring story about the love of books, the power of perseverance, and how a librarian can change people's lives.

My thoughts:  Obviously, with a librarian as the focus, this book will be capturing the attention of librarians. Miss Dorothy ends up living in a place without a public library. She can't even imagine not having books available for everyone. She sets about changing that situation.

Miss Dorothy didn't have the ideal situation for a library, but she used what she had to share her love of reading with the people in her community. Even without a big physical library like the one she grew up visiting, she made it work. The author was one of the school children able to check out library books because of Miss Dorothy

I think children will be fascinated with the idea of a library on wheels and can't help but imagine what that would be like. This would be great paired with My Librarian is a Camel: How Books are Brought to Children Around the World by Margriet Ruurs or Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown & John Parra.


Written by Sebastian Robertson & Illustrated by Adam Gustavson

Goodreads summary: Canadian guitarist and songwriter Robbie Robertson is known mainly for his central role in the musical group the Band. But how did he become one of Rolling Stone's top 100 guitarists of all time? Written by his son, Sebastian, this is the story of a rock-and-roll legend's journey through music, beginning when he was taught to play guitar at nine years old on a Native American reservation. Rock and Roll Highway is the story of a young person's passion, drive, and determination to follow his dream.

My thoughts: Robbie was a young man in love with music. He played the guitar practically non-stop. He even slept with it. If he woke in the night, he would play even then. With such a consuming fire for the guitar and music in general, Robbie put in hours and hours of practice to become an amazing musician. This book shares the story of how he made his way to a group called the Band. They became world famous and have been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He also went on to have a solo career.

The book includes a narrative followed by a wonderfully thorough timeline and an interview with the author. The narrative was mostly choronological, but started with the final performance of the Band and shared how they got to that point. The interview was quite interesting and I'm glad that they included photographs from Robbie's life in both the timeline and interview.

One confusing thing was the headings. I didn't realize that they were song titles and lyrics. They don't always go with the narrative. Like "Stage Fright" was the heading above the section that described Robbie's first major public performance. There was nothing in the text indicating that he was afraid prior to performing. In the interview where they discussed Robbie having stage fright later in his life and the song he wrote about it. That's when I realized the headings were songs. I looked up a few and some are from lyrics too. I thought it was a little clunky because my brain would try to figure out how the headings and the text were related and sometimes it was only very loosely. This may not bother most readers and may have been done for readers to discover on their own.

I was fascinated by Robbie's story and wanted to know more about him. Fortunately, there are many videos of performances and lots of information about him online. I would have liked to see resources provided, but readers will likely head to the Internet, as I did while reading, and will find things on their own. I'm happy to have this book in our collection because it is hard to find picture book biographies that are about contemporary Native people. Robbie's mother is Mohawk and that is pointed out in the narrative. Some of his later music explores his Native roots and is mentioned in the timeline. Debbie Reese shared a great review of the book on her blog  American Indians in Children's Literature

I would highly recommend both of these picture book biographies and I look forward to sharing them with students.


  1. I loved Miss Dorothy :) She definitely would have been a Nerdy Book Club member!
    The other book is new to me. Maybe it could be paired with the new Johnny Cash picture book biography. Different people and different experiences...
    I'm starting to put together a bin of picture book biographies of people who maybe aren't well known but have done something special. These would fit!

  2. I love books about librarians and that was a great one.

  3. I have such fond memories of the bookmobile coming to my elementary school when I was little. I know I would love Miss Dorothy!