#Cybils Picture Book Biographies: Draw What You See with Benny Andrews

Continuing our week of picture book biographies nominated for a 2015 Cybils award in the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction category, we have Draw What You See: The Life and Art of Benny Andrews by Kathleen Benson and illustrated with paintings by Benny Andrews himself.

This biography is told in a straightforward, sweet style. Benson starts with Benny Andrews traveling to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to help the children whose lives had been torn apart cope a bit by expressing themselves through art. Incredible! Then the author goes back to the artist’s own childhood and recounts the difficult journey that he had made to reach this point of helping others.

Not many children’s picture book biographies are illustrated by the subject like this one. Most of Benny Andrews’s works are oil/collage and, although the reproductions in the book give a flavor of his work, unfortunately they can’t capture the three dimensional texture very well.

This short video of Benny painting shows a bit of what is missing.

As the video points out, even though everyone in his family worked in the cotton fields when he was growing up, they still found time to draw.

For serious scholars, the back matter contains “More about Benny Andrews,” an extensive two-page timeline of events in the life of Benny Andrews, “Sources and Resources,” and “More about the Art.”

Draw What You See: The Life and Art of Benny Andrews introduces the reader to a talented man who overcame great odds and tough situations to become a respected artist. It is a story that children will find both enjoyable and inspiring.

Related:  A book like this cries out to be accompanied by an art project. Download a free study/activity guide for Benny Andrews at L&S Studios. (direct link to .pdf)

Age Range: 4 – 7 years
Publisher: Clarion Books; 1 edition (January 6, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0544104870
ISBN-13: 978-0544104877

Have you seen this book yet? What did you think?

Picture book biographiesMonday:  Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine
Wednesday: Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton

Thursday:  Growing Up Pedro

Disclosure: This book was supplied by my local public 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.

#Cybils Winnie: The Real Bear Who Inspired The Classic Books

Have you ever wondered about how the classic children’s book character Winnie-the-Pooh came about? You can find the answer in one of the nominees for a 2015 Cybils award in the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction category, Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh by Sally M Walker and illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss.

The story relates how the cuddly toy and book character is based on a real American black bear that was brought from Canada to the London Zoo during World War I. Named Winnipeg by the veterinarian who rescued the bear as a cub, Harry Colebourn, the bear’s name was soon shortened to Winnie. One day author A.A. Milne took his son to the zoo where he met the real Winnie. The bear made such an impression that Milne’s son Christopher Robin renamed his stuffed bear Winnie-the-Pooh, the Pooh part apparently coming from another animal he knew. The bear became a central figure in their bedtime stories and a book was born.

As an aside, it is fascinating how experiences with living things can inspire authors looking for ideas for children’s books. Robin Page revealed that the idea for her book (reviewed Monday), A Chicken Followed Me Home, came to her after watching chickens following her neighbor. Kate DiCamillo said having a sick squirrel come onto her front porch generated ideas for Flora & Ulysses. What if the authors had not had those encounters? It is also interesting how the concrete is useful to spark the creative.

Back to Winnie, the end papers are amazing. Inside the front cover are archival black-and-white photographs of Winnie and Harry. In the back is a photograph of Christopher Robin and Winnie at the London Zoo. Given how long ago this was, it is fabulous how well the events were documented.

Winnie is sure to appeal to the numerous Winnie-the-Pooh fans. It is also a heartwarming story that can stand on its own.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (January 20, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0805097155
ISBN-13: 978-0805097153

Disclosure: This book came from our local public library. 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.

Cybils#: Emmanuel’s Dream Rides High

Today I was fighting a cold and feeling sorry for myself. That is, until I pulled out this nominee for a 2015 Cybils award in the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction category. Reading a good children’s book can be a wonderful way to get perspective on your life.

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In Laurie Ann Thompson’s first picture book, Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah illustrated by Sean Qualls, she tells the true story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah who cycled 400 miles across Ghana in 2001. This in itself is a feat, but he did it with only one leg!

When Emmanuel was born in Ghana, West Africa with one full leg, it could have meant a lifetime of limits. After all, in his country people with disabilities were thought to be only fit to beg for food. With his mother’s help, Emmanuel was able to chose a different path, one that is still helping other people with disabilities today.

Laurie Thompson tells the story with the precision expected of an experienced author. The simple mixed media illustrations by Sean Qualls evoke folk art, setting just the right tone for a story set in West Africa.

There are many reasons to celebrate this book. It is a Junior Library Guild selection. It is a wonderful choice to promote diversity. It brings attention to  Emmanuel’s Dream Charity at EmmanuelsDream.org, which Random House donated to when the book was published. Emmanuel’s Dream deserves a place on the shelf for many reasons!

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 3
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (January 6, 2015)
ISBN-10: 044981744X
ISBN-13: 978-0449817445

 

Disclosures: This book was from 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 not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Searching for Children’s Books? Try the 2014 Cybils Nominations

October is always a great month for finding quality children’s and young adult books because that is when the Cybils nomination lists are released. Cybils-Logo-2014-Round-Sm1

The Cybils website has been revamped a bit, so here are direct links to some of the lists at the Cybils website and a few books I have chosen to highlight in an Amazon widget. Note: If you click on the books in the widget it will take you to Amazon. Clicking only the arrows allows you to view the books without leaving this blog.

Fiction Picture Books

 

Easy Readers/Early Chapter Books

Poetry

I hadn’t seen some of these poetry books. They look really good.


Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction

I will be reviewing a number of the elementary and middle grade nonfiction books (the ones that I haven’t previously reviewed) over the next few weeks.

Young Adult Nonfiction

By the way, Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines by Paul Fleischman has been nominated for the AAAS/Subaru SB&F awards in the middle grade category this year and it is on the young adult list here.