“To us / it is just dirt, / the ground we walk on. / Scoop up a handful. / The gritty grains slip / between your fingers.” page 3
Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick Hill, illustrated by Bryan Collier.
Little, Brown, and Company Hachette Book Group, New York, 2010.
Picture book biography, 40 pages including end notes.
Winner of the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, 2011.
2011 Caldecott Honor recipient.
Lexile: AD1100L (What does AD mean in Lexile?)
AR Level: 6.0 (worth 0.5 points) .
Dave the Potter was a real-life African-American slave and artist. He must have been incredibly strong, because he was able to successfully make pots as large as forty gallons. He knew how to read and write, because he marked poems into the sides of some of his pots. Beyond that we may never know many of the details of his life.
This book came up several times before I bought it. The first time, it was mistakenly labeled as fiction. Later I realized it was non-fiction and added it to the bottom of my TBR. After reading When the Beat Was Born by the same author, I decided to purchase this book, knowing that the writing would be excellent. And I loved it!
Since so little is definitively known about Dave, this book focuses on the process of making his pottery that Dave would likely have gone through, using sparse poetry, detailed and realistic images of the process, and collage backgrounds imagining the world he inhabited.
“I know I can’t change the way I look. / But maybe, just maybe… / … people can change the way they see.”
We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio.
Alfred A. Knopf, Penguin Random House, New York, 2017.
Picture book, 27 pages
Lexile: Not yet leveled.
AR Level: Not yet leveled.
NOTE: This is a work of fiction although I’m not reviewing it on Fiction Friday.
This picture book follows a young Auggie, main character of the chapter book novel Wonder, through the park and beyond as he reminds us that we’re all wonders.
I’ve seen this in pre-order for a while now, and was interested but also a little worried that the author is just tapping into her previous successful novel rather than doing anything original. Then I saw it at Target and decided to buy it for my diverse targetpick of the month. Interestingly, Z picked this off of the shelf and requested that I read it to him. (I didn’t put it in his bookbin, it was on a family shelf and not in the kids reading area. Also, yes, our littles have their own bookbins. #teachernerdparent)
THE non-fiction picture book for discussing gender with kids from age three up.
Who Are You? The Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity by Brook Pessin-Whedbee, illustrated by Naomi Bardoff.
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Philadelphia, PA, 2017. (First pub in the UK, London.)
Informative non-fiction picture book, 30 pages.
Not yet leveled. (I would read it aloud or rate it at about a third grade level due to difficult words like assigned, expression, identity.)
This simple picture book is a child’s first guide to gender identity, whether trans or cis or in-between!
As we prepared for the first Pridefest celebration with kids in tow, Husband ordered a bunch of books to read with them. Some were (unbeknownst to him) straight off my wishlist, while others, like this delightful guide to gender, were new to me.
“I am Commander John B. Herrington and I am Chickasaw.” page 4
Mission to Space by John Herrington.
White Dog Press, Chickasaw Press, Ada, Oklahoma, 2016.
Picture book informative non-fiction, 20 pages including glossary.
Not yet leveled.
John Herrington tells about space travel, including the preparations for what happened during his trip to space. Since he is an enrolled tribal member of the Chickasaw Nation, his experiences as an astronaut are also viewed through the lens of his indigenous heritage.
I had to get this after reading Debbie Reese’s review at AICL. Not only did she strongly recommend it, but the pictures she shared from the book also had me convinced that this would be great for my students. Many of them love space, and most are ill-informed about indigenous peoples, so this book would be a great way to interest and educate. Plus, the book trailer was great too.
“The girls in the circle / have painted their toes. // They’ve twisted their hair / into big yellow bows. ” pages 4-7.
The Girls in the Circle by Nikki Giovanni, illustrated by Cathy Ann Johnson.
Produced for Scholastic by Color-Bridge Books, Brooklyn, NY, 2004.
Poem illustrated as picture book, 32 pages (including back matter).
AR Level: 1.9 (worth 0.5 points).
NOTE: Part of the Just For You series, level 2. This book is poetry.
The Girls in the Circle is a well-known poem, here presented with illustrations and additional commentary and activities. A group of girls staying at Grandma’s dress up in all her things. But when Mom arrives, she won’t let them leave until they change back… or have they?
“things nature never intended / a child to see / haunted them / tragedy accompanies growth / no matter who we are” p. 22
Coretta Scott by Ntozake Shange, illustrated by Kadir Nelson.
Amistad imprint, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2009.
Biographical poem picture book, 30 pages.
Lexile: not leveled
AR Level: 4.9 (worth 0.5 points)
Note: this book is an illustrated poem.
Ntozake Shange has written a poem and Kadir Nelson has illustrated it in this gorgeous, but non-traditional biography.
I’m not quite sure what I expected from this book. Probably something more like Martin’s Big Words because the cover style looked similar to me. Actually, it was quite different and I have some mixed feelings about it. I’ve ordered another, more traditional children’s biography of Coretta Scott King which I’m hoping will compliment this one nicely.
“Kool Herc’s music made everybody happy. Even street gangs wanted to dance, not fight.” p. 19
When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip-Hop by Laban Carrick Hill, Illustrated by Theodore Taylor III.
Roaring Brook Press, New York, 2013.
Elementary to middle grade picture book biography, 30 pages.
Winner of the 2014 John Steptoe Award for New Talent
Lexile: AD910L (What does AD mean in Lexile?)
AR Level: 4.2 (worth 0.5 points)
Have you ever heard of DJ Kool Herc? He was a Jamaican immigrant who was instrumental in the development of hip-hop. Step into his world and learn how hip-hop came to be with this picture book biography.
While I’m sure an avid fan of hip-hop would get more out of this book, I was pleasantly surprised by how accessible it was to myself as a not-so-musical person. Context is given to everything that makes it understandable, and the pictures and words work in beautiful harmony.