Thanks to Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at her blog, Kidlit Frenzy.Come read to discover everyone's recent non-fiction picture books.
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Last week, I shared beautiful books about nature. This time, the books share stories of inspiring people in U.S. history who made a difference for people in different ways.
The Inventor’s Secret, What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford - written by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt
It’s wonderful to learn some early stories of some of our most well-known and successful inventors. Suzanne Slade found notes about a conversation between Edison and Ford, and her story-telling, research adventure began. You’ll need to read the story to find out what the secret is, but she has included the early curious lives of both Henry and Thomas, sixteen years older with many patents claimed before they met and became friends. I had the opportunity to visit the Edison Museum in Ft. Myers, Florida a few years ago, and their homes across the street. Yes, they eventually built homes next door to each other and now are open to the public. Although it is a picture book, there is much information shared of the path to the final work of the electric bulb and the Model-T automobile, both of which changed the ways people lived. There is additional backmatter and a timeline of this friendship and the inventions. It’s a book certainly worth reading and having for students studying inventors. Watercolor illustrations in various formats help tell the story from the beginning to the end.
Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum - written and illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker
Until this book I had only a little knowledge of Art Tatum, and for those children who love music, this will be an inspiration. He had very poor eyesight, so very early in his childhood stayed inside, and eventually, started experimenting with the piano. Thank goodness his family had one! Told in first person, it’s an amazing story of one of the jazz greats illustrated also by the author in beautiful watercolor portraits and scenes. Tatum was asked to play as early as ten years old by his pastor, which led to neighbors asking him to play for celebrations. One fun story is that his father and a friend took him to bars, got him a chair at the piano, and told him to play. The bar became quiet, wanting to know who this new player was. Then, with more gorgeous tunes, they began to dance, and filled his pockets with coins. That was the beginning of his name becoming known. It’s hard to write about a musician, and I’m listening to Tatum play as I write--gorgeous pieces given a special jazz flavor. There is extra information at the back of the book, including the sad fact that Art Tatum died at the young age of 46.
The House That Jane Built: A Story About Jane Addams - written by Tanya Lee Stone and illustrated by Kathryn Brown
If you don’t know about Jane Addams, this book offers a lovely introduction for young children. It begins with a very early story where, on a trip with her father, Jane asks about the poor that she notices, and vows that when she grows up she will do something to help. Kathryn Brown gives us beautifully drawn watercolors of the highlights of Jane’s life as she journeyed toward her famous accomplishment, opening Hull House in the midst of Chicago slums. Eventually this one house became thirteen buildings, including a theater, music school and community kitchen. The story tells that Jane never gave up on a problem. When she learned that running water was not available for so many, she opened a public bath. When so many came to use it, she persuaded city officials to provide more public baths. A tireless woman who, with others helping, we have to thank for community centers in many cities. There is additional information at the back.