Thanks to Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at Kidlit Frenzy, those who link up share wonderful non-fiction picture books. I am grateful for all that I've learned through reading non-fiction picture books.
Aston and Long’s gorgeous books are wonderful beginnings to studies of their subjects, celebrations of the things they have written about: nests, eggs, butterflies, seeds and rocks, and now, beetles. The illustrations that so beautifully incorporate basic bits of information about the topic are so enticing one is bound to look for more, to ask questions to further knowledge, to look and look again at the pictures. This one about beetles is the latest one, and it fascinates from the cover to the end. Who wouldn’t want to see a beetle that’s COLOSSAL, meeting it on the page, about a foot long, its mandibles “powerful enough to snap a pencil in half”. And amazing that on the opposite page is the smallest beetle, the North American Featherwing Beetle, one who is so small “it could pass through the eye of a needle.” There are other descriptors like armored, shy, prehistoric, a delightful look at BEETLES!
This story of George Washington Carver is so inspiring. Nicole Tadgell’s colorful illustrations show the incredibly tough work described by the author Suzanne Slade. This man born a slave, then freed, worked so hard in salt mines and coalmines until one day. On that day he overheard talk of a school for black people, but 500 miles away! He saved, and finally got there, graduated in three years, ended eventually in Tuskegee, Alabama and started a school for black students, in a shed! The back matter tells that it leaked, and sometimes students held an umbrella over him so he could continue teaching. He borrowed money, bought land outside town where he and the students worked hard to make bricks to make a school. Digging deep, they found clay. After breaking more than one kiln, at last one worked and they had bricks. And they began to build!
I’ve summarized the story, but it holds a sense of the depth of Carver’s dedication to bringing his school to the students. And he did. Not only did the first building go up, but three others soon after. Now, of course the Tuskegee Institute is a huge institution known throughout the world. The author, in an afterword, acknowledges that she has not included the sleepless nights spent figuring out how to pay the bills, find clothing for needy students, etc. That is for another story.