Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Problem-Solving Thanks

    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 first learned about this beautifully innovative deception in the longer middle-grade book Double Cross by Paul B. Janeczko. For older readers, like this one, it opens eyes to the desperate problem-solving done in so many ways to help win wars.
This time Chris Barton tells the story from World War I of the need to stop Germany from torpedoing ships of war or those carrying goods to the United Kingdom. Suddenly, the war's loss seemed imminent if something wasn't changed to help those ships. The UK depends on food and other needed items brought in because it is an island, and Germany hoped to starve them into defeat. Things such as training seals to alert for submarines (really!) were considered, but once a lieutenant-commander named Norman Wilkinson introduced the idea of painting ships to confuse the enemy about a ship's speed and direction, and he convinced the king himself, the idea was carried out. Many people contributed to this work, artists and other workers, too. The endnotes give the statistics of about 3,000 ships painted by the UK and 1,256 by the U.S. No one has a way to prove that it indeed helped, but the U-boat attacks stopped and Germany eventually surrendered. Barton tells the story in step by step brief paragraphs, highlighting important parts that occurred. There is an extensive author's note that adds to the information and a timeline.
         In addition to this interesting story of the extreme problem-solving that happens when trying to win a war, Victo Ngai offers daring full-page illustrations that seem to mirror ocean waves. The swirls of color (see the cover) amaze as he illustrates the big ideas to accompany Barton's words. Each double-page highlights one part of the story's words, with the smaller details included. For example, when the early distress of possible starvation is discussed, a warrior is shown huddling over children with empty bowls, a tipped pitcher, broken plates. Swirling in the water are sinking ships with a larger periscope "eye" looking on. It and others serve as powerful illustrations of the story. It's a terrific book.

       It's hard to imagine going to jail, but for a nine-year-old African-American girl. it feels impossible. Audrey loved going to church, listened at home to what was going on in the protests, and loved the food, especially what was cooked when "Mike" came into town and especially "rolls baptized in butter." "Mike" was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. When he came, Audrey listened to his words and learned about protests. It wasn't right to have to ride the freight elevator, sit at the back of the bus, or drink at a dirty and warm water fountain. Because of the plans to march didn't work well until Dr. King called for the children to march, Audrey Faye Hendricks realized this was her time to march and she spent a week in jail. There she was the youngest, was lonely, hated the greasy grits served but stuck it out! She was part of the Children's March that happened in May 1963, a march that filled all the jails in Birmingham, Alabama and helped break the segregation laws and rules occurring at that time. 
       It's a story that shows how influential each person who resists can be, no matter the age. Audrey Faye Hendricks continued her work all her life for Civil Rights, was nicknamed the "Civil Rights Queen".  Vanessa BrantleyNewton enlarges this inspiring story with her brightly-colored pages of realistic scenes about Audrey and her march and time in jail. Back matter added are an author's note, a timeline, a recipe of those "Hot rolls baptized in butter" and a source list. How inspiring it would be to read this to grade-school-age children.


  1. I need to check out Dazzling Ships. It may even be good for fans of Nathan Hale's books.

    1. I looked up those books, Earl, and they do look like a match for this one. Hope you like it, too!


Thanks for visiting!