#Nonfiction Monday: An Artist and An Architect

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

So many wonderful biographies were nominated this year. Because we only have a limited time to talk about them, I’m going to pair books about two women who have produced public art that has changed lives.

In alphabetical order by the subject’s last name, first we have the picture book Ruth Asawa:  A Sculpting Life by Joan Schoettler and illustrated by Tracie Van Wagoner.

Ruth Asawa’s story could have been made into at least two books. She started out life as Aiko Asawa from Southern California. She was given the Americanized first name Ruth when she went to school. A short time later World War II started, and she and her family were taken to one of the Japanese internment camps. While inside, Ruth studied art and spent her free time creating. If the author had chosen, this could have been an entire story of its own.

But there was more to Ruth. Once she was released, she used her experiences to create astonishing looped-wire sculptures and later on, public fountains. She became a renowned sculptor.

You can see some of her amazing sculptures in this video.

The tone of both the text and the illustrations are appropriately more subdued than some of the other biographies on the nomination list (for example, last week’s post). The brightest illustrations are the first spread, when Ruth was Aiko on the farm where she grew up and the last spread showing the beautiful Garden of Remembrance Ruth designed to honor the Japanese-Americans who were interred during the war.

Black and white photographs of Asana and her work are included in the back matter.

Ruth Asawa:  A Sculpting Life will captivate readers interested in history and those who enjoy art. It is a perfect choice for women’s history month, too. Pick up a copy and be inspired today.

Activity Suggestion:

Fold an origami butterfly (Instructions — and links to more patterns– in this previous post)

Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Publisher: Pelican Publishing Company, Inc. (August 30, 2018)
ISBN-10: 9781455623976
ISBN-13: 978-1455623976
ASIN: 1455623970

Moving on in time, we have the middle grade title Maya Lin: Thinking With Her Hands by Susan Goldman Rubin.

Not everyone knows, but the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D. C. was designed by a young student of Chinese descent. The architect Maya Lin has gone on to shape many more breathtaking buildings and outdoor spaces.

Abundant color photographs reveal Lin’s story and her projects, like a gorgeous two-page spread of the Storm King Wavefield covered with snow (see). The images give the book a vibrant, modern feel. They also make you want to go visit all the places she’s created.

Of note: Susan Goldman Rubin shows Maya Lin’s talent didn’t arise from thin air.

“…her aunt had been an architect and architectural historian in Beijing. She had come to the United States to study architecture, but she was not admitted because she was a woman. However, within a year she wound up on the faculty.”

Do you know a budding architect or artist? Get Maya Lin: Thinking With Her Hands into their hands right now!

Activity Suggestion:

Check out an informational video about Maya Lin and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Khan Academy (especially appropriate since today is Veterans Day).

Publisher: Chronicle Books (November 7, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1452108374
ISBN-13: 978-1452108377

Disclosure: The books were provided by our local libraries. 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.


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

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