#Nonfiction Monday Bloom with Elsa Schiaparelli

This month we are exploring some of the fantastic nonfiction children’s books that have been nominated for 2018 Cybils awards.

For Nonfiction Monday, let’s take a look at Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Julie Morstad. The best picture book biographies introduce readers to people, like Elsa Schiaparelli, who they might not learn about in textbooks.

Born in Rome, Italy, Elsa Schiaparelli felt her family preferred her older sister. In fact, she thought she was ugly and when she was seven she covered her face, ears, nose, and mouth with flower seeds in an effort to make herself more attractive. All the seeds did was make her sick, but it showed how she could think outside the box. After she grew up, Elsa used her creative spirit to design beautiful, innovative clothing that turned the fashion world of Paris on its ear.

For the most part, Kyo Maclear’s first person text is enjoyable and informative. It is a bit awkward (a stretch), however, for Elsa to describe her own birth at the beginning. Maclear also discusses how Elsa’s sister makes fun of the moles on Elsa’s face in a middle of a paragraph about Elsa’s Uncle Giovanni. The sentence is a non sequitur in that paragraph, although it does tie in later when he tells her the moles look like a constellation.

Julie Morstad’s gouache, watercolor and pencil illustrations are a perfect reflection of Elsa Schiaparelli’s artistic and creative talent. They aren’t static, but zoom in and out in scale. The focus moves from close up of faces to a panorama of the night sky and back again.

Like a fresh flower, Bloom is a delight to behold. It is sure to inspire young readers to try their hands at clothing design.

Suggested Activities to Accompany Bloom:

1. Design a dress or other doll clothing

Gather:

  • dolls or action figures
  • scraps of cloth
  • ribbons, colorful yarn
  • lace
  • beads
  • chenille
  • age-appropriate scissors
  • glue
  • small safety pins (optional)
  • sewing supplies (optional)

Drape the scraps of cloth around the dolls to get ideas. Skirts can be simply tied about the waist like a sarong. Adding a belt of ribbon, yarn or lace can cinch on dresses or tops. Cut holes in cloth to create arm holes. Most children will need little guidance once they get the idea.

No sewing is needed, but patterns are available free online if you want to extend the activity further.

Even the leftover scraps from the dining room drapes look great on a doll.

 2. Plant flowers

Show children how to plant some flowers for real. Instructions to accompany video at PBS Parents.

Older artists looking for some serious inspiration should see our previous post about hi-tech clothes.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: HarperCollins (February 6, 2018)
ISBN-10: 9780062447616
ISBN-13: 978-0062447616

Disclosure: The book was provided by our local library. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

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Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.

Note:  Nonfiction Monday blog moved over the weekend. Be sure to bookmark the new site.

#Cybils #kidlt Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History

Have you nominated your favorite children’s books from the last year yet? The Cybils nomination window ends October 15, 2018. Learn how to nominate at the Cybils blog.

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The New York Times bestseller Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison has already been nominated for a 2018 Cybils award in the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction category.

 

Vashti Harrison wanted an outlet for her art and also wanted to do something for Black History Month. The result began as a series of posts on Instagram and grew into this wonderful collection of 40 short biographies of groundbreaking women.

Each of the women is represented by a two page spread. One the left side is a three to four paragraph summary of the woman’s life and accomplishments, and accompanying it is Vashti Harrison’s unique illustration on the right. As has been mentioned in other reviews, the artist gives each figure a gentle smile and downcast eyes. They remind me of Simon Basher’s illustrations.

When my son was in third grade, it was the tradition in the school to present what they called a “wax museum.” The students dressed up as a figure from history and lined up in the hallways. As families and friends walked by, the students gave a short speech about the person they represented. Too bad this book wasn’t available then because it is an incredible resource for student projects like that one. Little Leaders introduces children to many inspiring women who they might not have previously heard about. Harrison has done a great job covering women from a variety of backgrounds, too.

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History will be enjoyed by children and adults alike. It deserves a place on every shelf, although it isn’t likely it will stay there for long before someone picks it up to read it.

Age Range: 8 – 11 years
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (December 5, 2017)
ISBN-10: 9780316475112
ISBN-13: 978-0316475112

 

#Nonfiction Monday Counting on Katherine

Let’s explore some of the fantastic nonfiction children’s books that have been nominated for 2018 Cybils awards.

For Nonfiction Monday, we’ll start with the picture book biography Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 by Helaine Becker and illustrated by Dow Phumiruk.

Katherine Johnson was a gifted mathematician who was denied a high school education where she lived because of her skin color. Her father decided to move the family to another town where there was a school she could attend. Through persistence and hard work Katherine ended up working for NASA, where she performed the many complicated calculations needed for successful space flight.

This is the kind of biography that makes you want to stand up and cheer at the end. Helaine Becker does a wonderful job of summarizing Katherine Johnson’s life, distilling it to the essentials needed for a picture book. It’s delightful how she plays with Katherine’s love of counting by repetition of the phrase “count on me” through the text.

Dow Phumiruk’s digitally-created illustrations are both warm and finely detailed. You can see some of her illustrations in this official trailer for the book:

The illustrations capture the tone of the book beautifully.

Counting On Katherine ticks all the boxes for a picture book biography because it reveals the life of an amazing woman set to the backdrop of her time in history. It is a moving story that will encourage young readers to dream big and follow their passions, no matter what the obstacles. Check out a copy today!

Age Range: 5 – 9 years
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (June 19, 2018)
ISBN-10: 9781250137524
ISBN-13: 978-1250137524

Want to read more biographies? Try our list of children’s books about women scientists at Science Books for Kids.

 

Disclosure: The book was provided by my local library. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

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Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.

#Cybils Nominations Start Today

October 1, 2018 is the opening day to nominate children’s books for a 2018 Cybils Award. (See previous post for more information about what books are eligible).

Categories (links go to nomination lists):

Early Chapter Books/Easy Readers
Elementary/Middle-Grade Nonfiction
Elementary/Middle-Grade Graphic Novels
Elementary/Middle-Grade Speculative Fiction
Fiction Picture/Board Books
Middle Grade Fiction
Poetry
Junior/Senior High Nonfiction
Young Adult Fiction
• Young Adult Graphic Novels
Young Adult Speculative Fiction

If you can’t think of any titles to nominate in a certain category, try Jean Little Library blog for some great suggestions.

If you are looking for top notch children’s books, stop by and check out the nominations after they close. You won’t be disappointed!