Day Four of the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge. Also, Come Visit the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge hosted by Alyson Beecher at Kidlit Frenzy.
I've been linking to Alyson Beecher's website for a while now, and from all others who link up plus Alyson's sharing, my knowledge of wonderful nonfiction picture books has grown and grown. The books can be for all ages, some just for the younger ones and some only for older students. Great books to discover and savor!
Nathan of Yesteryear and Michael of Today – written by Brian J. Heinz and illustrated by Joanne Friar
Every other page or double-page spread, the author tells the story of different topics in Nathan’s and Michael’s lives, one living in the 1880’s and one living today. It isn’t a particularly exciting story, but will serve to bring up the contrasts between the two times, and perhaps the imagining of what it would be like to live ‘back in the old days’. For young children, they might ask questions about things like bringing mail by horseback or reading by candlelight. But older kids might look at this as a commentary about devices causing the loss of community.
Actually, I enjoyed the warmth of several family times, eating together at the dinner table, and extended family together, eventually having Grandpa telling stories to the children. In the contrasting “today” pages, the illustration shows the father watching TV, Michael on his IPad, his sister on her desktop computer, while the mother is across the room on a laptop. Hm-m, I’m not sure I like the picture, especially the sad dog looking at all the family, leash in his mouth.
The Magician of Auschwitz – written by Kathy Kacer and illustrated by Gillian Newland
It’s great to find one more story written about a Holocaust survivor, and this one will be a good one to add to your history studies of World War II. The focus is on two men, one young, and one who seems old, but really is in his 30’s. They end up in the same bunk at Auschwitz, the younger one, Werner, grateful for the kindness of the older one, Herr Levin. Their experiences are not given many details, just the facts of standing endless hours for the taking of attendance, and the lack of food. When Werner was freed, he was 17 and weighed 64 pounds! Without saying it, the idea of having someone kind to sleep with in such conditions gave Werner overwhelming support. his age wasn’t given, but he must have been in his early teens, Herr Levin turned out to be a magician. When the guards discovered his talent (didn’t tell how), they often woke Levin, and thus Werner, to prod him into showing off his magic card tricks. The story will offer layers of information for discussion, it doesn’t tell many details, but focuses on the idea that if it weren’t for the magic, both might have been killed. Both survived, but never saw each other again. There is further information in the backmatter.
Winnie: The True Story of The Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh – written by Sally M. Walker and illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss
I just discovered this story, and what a wonderful one it is. In Winnipeg, a soldier, Harry Colebourn, ready to ship out sees someone at the train station with a bear cub for sale. Harry is a veterinarian, knows he can care for the bear, buys it, and brings it along, all the way to England. Winnie becomes his unit’s mascot, his antics loved by everyone, but he always returns to Harry at night and sleeps under his bed. Because this soldier has to leave for battle in France, he finds a home for him at the London zoo, where a young boy meets him, a young boy named Christopher Robin! Christopher visits often, and when his father, A.A. Milne, leaves to fight, he promises to send stories back about Winnie. Beautiful story, lovely realistic illustrations, a nice addition to the Winnie-The-Pooh stories for those who still love and enjoy them.
The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra - written and illustrated by Chris Raschka
I saw this book reviewed and raved about many times, and finally found a copy. What a joyful book that Chris Raschka has written and illustrated about one of the jazz greats, although even in this short text, known to be “different”. In fact, he continues to say he is from Saturn. Evidently a musical genius, the book tells of his abilities even at 11 years when he was already notating music that he heard on the radio. He drifted around as a young musician, playing various instruments, one of the first to embrace electronic ones. Eventually, SunRa ended up in the big cities, finally in Philadelphia, then all over the world with his group, Arkestra. The book is a nice introduction to young readers about this little-known jazz musician. And the illustrations are all things Raschka, filled with music. It seems like Raschka is from Saturn, too.