Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Non-Fiction Wonders



    Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  From Alyson and others, you will discover terrific nonfiction picture books!
       
     I have a giveaway today on this post. It's a fun middle-grade novel, The Splendid Baron Machine by Eric Bower.

         Looking for the music of Mama Africa, Miriam Makeba, made me realize that I'm not sure I've ever heard her voice, and it is powerful. Because the tragedy of Soweto of many children being killed is mentioned in the story, here she is in concert with Paul Simon and Graceland singing "Soweto Blues". 
         Miriam's countrymen of South Africa were fortunate indeed to have her fighting for them, against apartheid, first in her youth, then all over the world. And she lived to see freedom, but only after years of living away, watching her people live under harsher and harsher restrictions, and die because of them or fighting against them. This story of Miriam begins with her early childhood when she was already singing, through the praise for her voice and for her ability to sing in the numerous languages of her people. Charly Palmer's wonderful full-color paintings bring both sadness and exuberance to the text. A favorite, but sad, page shows Miriam with tears streaming because she has just become banned from re-entering her country. Kathryn Erskine spent part of her childhood during apartheid and reflects on this and the story of Mama Africa in a beautiful afterword. There is also a timeline, a bibliography and a list of books for further reading. Erskine interjects different foreign words and phrases into the text and gives the translation and pronunciation in a glossary.



       I always thought it was wonderful to introduce my students to the idea of scientific identification, learning how the "Many" animals ended in the specific classification that each one did. I remember one time talking about ants, learning there are about 12,000 species of them on earth. Wow! This book introduces that concept so beautifully, beginning with one - girl, two - flower, three - ant, then MANY! Big and little, different and similar, Nicola Davies shares a few facts. For one "big" example, the text tells that there are two kinds of elephants and more than six hundred kinds of oak trees! She varies the look at habitats, too, showing deserts and islands, under feathers and in boiling volcanic lakes. There is a page that concerns the circle of life and the dependence on each other, including humans. And there is one poignant page of those species no longer here. Illustrations by Emily Sutton support the brief text with soft colors of living thing after living thing after living thing. There are MANY! 

6 comments:

  1. Love these two books!
    Nicola Davies is just a wonder. So much information in every book. This one I need to purchase still, it's one to own!

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    1. I have this from the library, but know that the girls will love looking at it, too. It might be a good one for Christmas! I agree, Nicola Davies packs the info in even in brief text.

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  2. I have never even heard of the subject of the biography, Linda, so I will have to look for this. Songs can be such a powerful way to resist. And I adore Nicola Davies' books, so I will be on the lookout for this one too. Thanks!

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    1. I believe I knew of her only because my students and I studied different kinds of oppression one year and apartheid was part of that study. Glad to share these with you, Laura and hope you enjoy them!

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  3. Wasn't Mama Africa so good? The style definitely makes you flip back to see the call and response.

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    1. Yes, it was wonderful. I think many are reading it because I waited with it on hold a long time. Glad to hear you loved it, too, Earl.

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