#Cybils: Kathleen Krull’s Biography of Sonia Sotomayor Rules

I’ll confess that I am a big fan of Kathleen Krull. She is the master of biography, both because she knows how to find interesting people to write about, particularly women, and because she encapsulates their lives perfectly. That’s why I was looking forward to reading her newest (a nominee in the  2015 Cybils award in the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction category), Women Who Broke the Rules: Sonia Sotomayor illustrated by Angela Dominguez.

Boy, Krull did not disappoint. I admit being a bit put off by the cartoon illustrations when I first paged through it because I felt they were perhaps a bit disrespectful of such a prominent person. Once I started reading, however, I completely forgot about my initial reaction. Krull’s narrative pulled me in and I couldn’t put the book down until I finished the last sentence.

Sonia Sotomayor’s story is a compelling one. She overcame a childhood of poverty and illness to attend an Ivy League university. Working both hard and smart, she rose through the legal system to becomes the first Latina to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Not finding role models in her neighborhood, Sotomayor admits that she wanted to be like Perry Mason on TV something children will probably be able to relate to.

As for the illustrations, I realized they fit in with the other books in the Women Who Broke the Rules series. They are likely to pull in reluctant readers who might find more scholarly illustrations intimidating.

Sonia Sotomayor:  I’ll Be the Judge of That! is an inspiring story that is told well, one that every child deserves to know. Share it today!

Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (June 9, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0802737986
ISBN-13: 978-0802737984

Disclosure: This book was supplied by the publisher for review purposes. 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.

nonfictionmonday

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

#Cybils Picture Book Biographies: Fabre’s Small Wonders

For STEM Friday we have a picture book biography that was nominated for a 2015 Cybils award in the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction category.

Small Wonders: Jean-Henri Fabre and His World of Insects by Matthew Clark Smith and illustrated by Giuliano Ferri delves deeply into the life of one of the first naturalists who explored the insect world with a scientific eye and at the same time wrote with the goal of sharing his insights not only with colleagues, but also with essays written for regular people.

Potential authors thinking of writing a picture book biography would do well to study the story arc of this book. Rather than following strict chronological order, Smith starts out by creating an air of mystery around the eccentric old man who lives in a small village in France. He then flashes back to the man’s childhood and his intense curiosity in the natural world around him. Using rich descriptive language, Smith captures Fabre’s fascination with the “small wonders” around him. Circling back, Smith finishes with Fabre as an elderly man again, now receiving great honors for his life’s work.

The rich, lush illustrations are delightful, with insects to find and discuss in every one.

Although touted for ages 6-9, the text of this book is a bit heavy for the average picture book biography reader, and probably should be read by an adult. Appearances aside, it might be more appropriate as a read alone for the middle grades.

Small Wonders will intrigue budding naturalists, particularly entomologists. It might also appeal to almost anyone who felt at times that they don’t really fit in.

Find a related post at Growing with Science blog.

Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Publisher: Two Lions (May 12, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1477826327
ISBN-13: 978-1477826324

Picture book biographies

Monday: Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine
Tuesday: Draw What You See: The Life and Art of Benny Andrews
Wednesday: Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton
Thursday:  Growing Up Pedro

Disclosures: This book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. 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.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

#Cybils Picture Book Biographies: Growing Up Pedro

Today we have another picture book biography nominated for a 2015 Cybils award in the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction category that is illustrated by the author. Growing Up Pedro: How the Martinez Brothers Made It from the Dominican Republic All the Way to the Major Leagues by Matt Tavares encapsulates the life of baseball great Pedro Martínez.

What do you do when your dream is to play professional and your bigger, stronger older brother is already living that dream? If you are Pedro Martínez, you work even harder to achieve your goal.

As for the book, one huge plus of the author also being the illustrator is that the text and illustrations fit together seamlessly. The book is big, with many full page illustrations, which make it a perfect for holding up in front of a group and reading at story time. Add a story that is exciting and compelling to read and this one is sure to be a crowdpleaser.

Readers who are not baseball fans are going to find Growing Up Pedro heartwarming and inspiring. For children who dream to be athletes, it is a must read!

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Grade Level: 3 – 7
Publisher: Candlewick (February 10, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0763668249
ISBN-13: 978-0763668242

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

Picture book biographies

Monday: Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine
Tuesday: Draw What You See: The Life and Art of Benny Andrews
Wednesday: Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton

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 Picture Book Biographies: Poet George Moses Horton

Our next picture book biography nominated for a 2015 Cybils award in the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction category, is the moving and powerful Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton by Don Tate.

Those of us who are interested in children’s literacy are already aware of the importance of being able to read, but sometimes it takes a book like this one to reinforce the extraordinary importance of education for all people.

George Moses Horton grew up enslaved in North Carolina during a time when people like him were not allowed to learn to read or write. Somehow, through sheer force of will and a few tattered cast-off books, he was able to not only teach himself to read, but also to become an accomplished and published poet.

Don Tate is an author/illustrator and his love of his craft is evident. His first solo effort, It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw (reviewed here) earned the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor Award in 2013. I expect we’re going to see more great things from him in the future.

Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton hits all the right notes. It might be just the right title to inspire a reluctant or struggling reader to put away that video game and read some books.

Related Activity:

Read and discuss George Moses Horton, Myself (from Poetry Foundation). Discuss why he felt his genius was a restless bird trapped in his heart.

Hardcover: 36 pages
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (September 1, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1561458252
ISBN-13: 978-1561458257

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

Picture book biographiesMonday: Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine
Tuesday:  Draw What You See: The Life and Art of Benny Andrews

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.