I continue to be grateful to Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at Kidlit Frenzy. There are still books from the past I want to read and share, but it's also time to read new ones coming too.
Here is one new book out on Valentine's Day, and one that's been highly praised, published last fall.
I received an Arc of this story of Isaac Newton's life thanks to Candlewick Press. I liked hearing of his early days, rejection by his family, living from the age of twelve above an apothecary's home and business. The loneliness forced upon him and the solitude he later sought shows the thinker and questioner as he digs deeply into alchemy, but also mathematics and astronomy. It's an interesting story well-backed by writing that has been kept of Newton's and others who worked with him. For those children who are interested in both history and science/math background, this book will please. For others, it might seem dry. Illustrations from Newton's notebooks that accompany each chapter are fascinating to examine. Additional information is given in the backmatter with source notes and a bibliography.
I have enjoyed Duncan Tonatiuh's stories and fabulous illustrations in each book he's created, and finally got this book from my library after waiting because of many holds. I love that he's held to his unique way of illustrating, paying tribute to ancient codexes and their drawings: people and animals are always drawn in profile and their entire bodies are usually shown. After holding true to those "rules", he manages to place enormous emotion in the pages. That pages of happiness and tragedy are stunning.
This is a fable told of how the volcanoes near Mexico City were formed, it is a love story, and Duncan Tonatiuh has changed some parts passed down through the years to make his own story. A beautiful princess is set to become married, and her father wants her husband to be a powerful ruler, but Izta falls in love with a stalwart soldier, Popoca. The father says they may marry if Popoca can defeat the enemy of a neighboring land, Jaguar Claw. The set up is familiar and connected to other myths in other lands. This time, Jaguar Claw, about to be defeated, sends a messenger to lie and tell Izta that Popoca has been defeated and killed. Izta is devastated and drinks a potion that she's been told will ease her grief. Instead, she falls into a deep sleep. When Popoca arrives, he tries to rouse her and does not succeed. He takes her to the top of a mountain, and there, through the years, they stay. The two mountains, Iztaccíhuatl, the sleeping woman and Popocatépetl, still active, alive, waiting for that sleeping woman to awaken.
I was surprised when reading this book that I remembered a personal connection from long ago. In my seventh grade year, I had a wonderful science teacher and we did a study of volcanoes. He told us this story, at least some version of it, and I remember loving it, and the beautiful names of Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl, quite new and exciting to learn about.
The Princess and The Warrior adds a good afterword about this myth, a glossary, and a bibliography.