Thanks to Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at Kidlit Frenzy, everyone shares wonderful non-fiction picture books.
The following two books seem like a celebration of the recent Centennial birthday celebration of our National Park System. We are fortunate to have had these lands kept sacred for one hundred years! I have wonderful memories of visits to some of our national parks, with and without students, near and far.
How wonderful that Annette Pimentel and Rich Lo researched, wrote and illustrated this story of a long ago American who cooked for a crew led by Stephen Mather to entice some influential men to fight for a national park system. It is amazing that this one man with an assistant created meals like steak, Lyonnaise potatoes and apple pie on white china sitting on a linen tablecloth, eggs and sourdough rolls for breakfast, and more. By the time Tie Sing, known for his scrumptious camp cooking, and his assistant cleaned up for the trail, and caught up with the group, it was time to start prep again for supper. There were mishaps, lost mules (and goods!), but Tie Sing always seemed to be able to adjust and create a wonder of a meal. The text is a poetic story, enjoyable to read: "They watched the edge of the sky turn rosy while they cracked dozens of eggs. . . He served breakfast as a yellow edge of sun peeked above the horizon." And the back matter tells more about this man through research. Through hard times for Chinese in the U.S., Tie Sing had few rights, but Annette did determine that finally he was recognized as a citizen, born in the U.S. sometime before 1900. The illustrations appear to be black-outlined watercolor, showing well the people and the beautiful forest scenes along with the challenges faced carrying the supplies needed to feed a group in the wilderness. I enjoyed the book very much.
These collaged illustrations with some watercolor wash are gorgeous, and dominate the spare text. Yet, this brief and familiar cumulative story manages to arrive at the end with a wonderful surprise. The theme centers on connectedness, showing how an ecosystem works, beginning with an acorn, moving to a tree, which invites birds, etc. I can imagine reading this book and adding the subjects one by one in my own quick drawing, returning to the book again with children, showing how our environment intertwines. One small thing that doesn't happen every page, but it's fun. On some pages there is a small cut out that peeks through to the next page. The cutout fits the illustration on both pages. For example, on the first page (similar to the acorn of the cover), the lower part of the acorn is cut out, and that tan/brown color is part of a leaf on the following page. The authors give additional information of each part in the story at the back with a short list of ways to help the environment. This is a new favorite book!