Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Joy-Filled Books





              I continue to be grateful to Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at Kidlit Frenzy.  I have learned much from her and those who link up to share fabulous non-fiction picture books.  


        Happy Reading! Almost time for the ALA Midwinter, and the awards!





               There are lots of picture books in my home, but only two have remained on a special shelf, a favorites shelf: The Snowy Day and Goodnight Moon. In this book, A Poem for Peter by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson Andrea chose to tell Ezra Jack Keats' Story and that of this landmark book in poetry. The illustrations are also created by collage reminiscent of the unique style of Keats, beautifully done. Born in the U.S. to poor Polish immigrants, Ezra soon discovered that he loved to draw and to paint. There are ups and downs, but during a 20-year span, he kept a special news clipping and picture of a little African-American boy with an impish grin. That eventually became HIS Peter. He looked around and noticed that there were no diverse characters in the picture books, neither minorities nor immigrants. It was a huge step, and became The Snowy Day, winner of the Caldecott Medal, the first mainstream book to feature an African-American child. Those "ups and downs" mentioned connect to being poor, but having a father who pinched the pennies so that Ezra (Jack) could have paints. He was about to go to an art school, but his father died a few days before high school graduation, and the plans were not to be. But he persisted, and you know the rest of the story. Like many others, I loved the book.  



         More than once in the past years, I've celebrated an author that told a story from the past that I never knew. Thanks to Donna Janell Bowman, this time I learned about Doc Key and his marvelous horse and friend, Jim Key. Doc was born a slave, but lucky that his master allowed his education. It wasn't long before others saw Doc's ability to doctor horses and that was when he became "Doc". He learned from his mother's home remedies, experimented and developed his own. After being freed, he bought a piece of land and soon became wealthy, went on the road to sell his medicine. During that time there was lots of cruelty to animals, and Doc came across a small circus that was selling its horses. That's when he saw Lauretta, a horse he recognized as a pure Arabian. She was in terrible shape, but Doc had big dreams of her offspring becoming successful race horses. When her foal was born, there was disappointment from this sickly colt. Doc determined to nurse it back to health, and that is when the story amazes. The horse became the grown Jim Key, and through kindness and patience, also became a horse who could read and do sums, understand Doc's questions. Jim Key traveled the country showing his expertise, and while there were skeptics, no one ever found a "trick" to the performances. Doc said all his life that kindness was the answer. During this time, the ASPCA began, and money from Jim's performances helped that organization. It's an amazing story, brought to life with Daniel Minter's wonderful illustrations. There is an afterword with additional information and photographs, and a source list.

8 comments:

  1. I love A Poem for Peter! It is such an unusual way to write a biography and so captivating. The other book also sounds really interesting. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks! I am late in reading A Poem for Peter, but glad I did. I loved it, too! Enjoy Step Right Up!

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  2. Did Step Right Up just recently publish? I feel like that one I'm just recently starting to hear about. Loved A Poem for Peter. Especially the artwork!

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    1. I got it from the library, & Amazon says it published in October, Michele. I put it on my list from someone a week or so ago. Glad you loved A Poem for Peter-a sweet book!

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  3. I love the heading "Joy-filled Books." Perfect.

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  4. With our weather here, The Snowy Day is getting lots of mentions. And, of course, I can't help but bring this book up.

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    1. Hope the snow lets up for you all, Earl. I imagine The Snowy Day is needed!

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