Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Non Fiction Picture Book Challenge

Alyson Beecher over at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts a Non-fiction Picture Book Challenge and has a roundup every Wednesday. I love the encouragement to explore more non-fiction.

I have read some great biographical/memoir books over the past few weeks and I can't help but share them.

Goodreads summary: Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus and sparked a boycott that changed America. Harriet Tubman helped more than three hundred slaves escape the South on the Underground Railroad. Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

The lives these women led are part of an incredible story about courage in the face of oppression; about the challenges and triumphs of the battle for civil rights; and about speaking out for what you believe in--even when it feels like no one is listening. Andrea Davis Pinkney's moving text and Stephen Alcorn's glorious portraits celebrate the lives of ten bold women who lit the path to freedom for generations. Includes biographies of Sojournor Truth, Biddy Mason, Harriet Tubman, Ida B.Wells-Barnett, Mary McLeod Bethune, Ella Josephine Baker, Dorothy Irene Height, Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Shirley Chisholm. 

My take: After reading Revolution by Deborah Wiles, I wanted to know more about Dorothy Irene Height. Julie Walters on Twitter told me that I could read more about her in Let it Shine by Andrea Davis Pinkney. It was a book that I had been meaning to read, so I grabbed it from my school library and was not disappointed. 

Pinkney provides information about these female leaders in her wonderful storytelling style. I had never even heard some of the names of the women before. I appreciated the chance to hear about women who had made such a difference in our world. 

As I was reading, I thought that some of the sections (maybe all) would make great picture books. I loved finding out about the big personality of Sojourner Truth, so was excited to see that there actually is a picture book biography about her by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Sojourner Truth's Step-Stomp Stride.

Goodreads Summary: Born into slavery, Belle had to endure the cruelty of several masters before she escaped to freedom. But she knew she wouldn't really be free unless she was helping to end injustice. That's when she changed her name to Sojourner and began traveling across the country, demanding equal rights for black people and for women. Many people weren't ready for her message, but Sojourner was brave, and her truth was powerful. And slowly, but surely as Sojourner's step-stomp stride, America began to change.
A celebrated author-illustrator team tells the story of one of the most unique and courageous women in American history, Sojourner Truth, who worked relentlessly to end slavery and ensure freedom for all. Full color.

My Take: Sojourner Truth was such an impressive woman. I thought the illustrations and text worked together so well to so her as a force to be reckoned with. She seems filled with energy and eager to fight for her beliefs. The book made me want to shout "Amen."

On My Block: Stories and Paintings by Fifteen Artists is another fantastic book that I got to read.

Goodreads summary: In this lovely homage to neighborhoods everywhere, 15 gifted artists portray the places most special to them. Readers soar from the rooftops of south Brooklyn to the desert of Taos Pueblo, from a basement in San Francisco's Japantown to a Mississippi Gulf Coast porch. A garden in Mexico overflows with brilliant flowers while one in Tehran hums with the purring of 32 cats. Moving, funny, and unexpected, the stories and images encourage children to explore and observe their own neighborhood and to ask, What is my world? What is my special place?

My take: This book reminded me of Family Pictures by Carmen Lomas Garza. Like that book, the artists use their art to showcase a setting close to their heart and include a brief bit of text to explain it. The diversity within this book is incredible. There are fifteen radically different styles of art and they chose to illustrate many unique settings. This would make a great mentor text when talking about setting.

I am cheating with Relish. I suppose you could call it a picture book since it has pictures, but truthfully, it's a graphic novel. And I suppose it is not strictly non fiction either, but it is mostly since it is a memoir. Anyway, since my theme was biographical, I couldn't resist including it.

Goodreads summary: A vibrant, food-themed memoir from beloved indie cartoonist Lucy Knisley. Lucy Knisley loves food. The daughter of a chef and a gourmet, this talented young cartoonist comes by her obsession honestly. In her forthright, thoughtful, and funny memoir, Lucy traces key episodes in her life thus far, framed by what she was eating at the time and lessons learned about food, cooking, and life. Each chapter is bookended with an illustrated recipe—many of them treasured family dishes, and a few of them Lucy's original inventions. A welcome read for anyone who ever felt more passion for a sandwich than is strictly speaking proper, Relish is a book for our time: it invites the reader to celebrate food as a connection to our bodies and a connection to the earth, rather than an enemy, a compulsion, or a consumer product.

My take: Relish is a thoroughly entertaining memoir through food. Since I am a big fan of food and books, that was a big draw for me. I love to have recipes to try and she provides plenty of those. I have only used one of them so far, but I think I have made it about ten times in the past few weeks. I love her recipe for chai. Yum. Yum. Yum. I now have star anise and cardamom pods in my spice cabinet. I had to search a bit for those pods too. It's definitely a young adult graphic novel as she goes into some of her coming of age moments. If you are a reader who enjoys books about food, you will not want to miss this one. 


  1. I absolutely loved Step Stomp Stride but haven't heard of the first Andrea Davis Pinkney picturebook. Pinning it now in my PBB Pinterest board.

  2. I'd forgotten about Relish! I have always wanted to read that one, but it had gotten buried in my TBR.
    Step Stomp Stride is one of the first Pinkney books I read as well. Such a great biography.