Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Non-Fiction Picture Books - Inventors' Stories

art by Sarah S. Brannen
         Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  From her and others, you will discover and want to celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!  
         Both of these books tell of men from the past with enthusiasm for their individual passions.
          Though he filled his life with errant misdeeds, the outcome well after his death is one I imagine most mathematicians and statisticians celebrate, "IF" they knew his story. William Playfair's father died when he was twelve, and he ended up living and being educated by his famous mathematician brother John. He evidently was quite a bold character because, restless, he left that home to work for an inventor, at age fourteen! And the story goes, with William moving from person to person, project to project, unsuccessful, making decisions with ill-gotten gains, never quite becoming "fancy, superior, or special" as he dreamed. Helaine Becker's story is illuminated with the full page, kin to mathematical straight-line illustrations of Marie-Eve Tremblay. Further information to William's story is at the back with pictures of the very first graphs published, a break-through in this kind of communication of numbers. It was over a hundred years before the importance of these info-graphics known so well to even kindergarteners was recognized. 
        This is not recognized as non-fiction, but based on what is a story passed on in one part of the US, the story of the first potato chips, "Saratoga Chip".  George Crum really did exist, was a chef at Moon's Lake House in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. and legend tells that after a picky customer returned fried potatoes, "too thick and undercooked", George is said to have "sliced a potato paper-thin, fried them to a crisp and doused them with salt." In the backmatter, Anne Renaud writes that there are earlier stories of others creating the same kind of 'chip'. She's added sources and some great photos of some of Crum's and Saratoga Chip history. The illustrations are colorful and emphasize the joy of cooking, serving and eating in what was a very popular restaurant. I imagine using this as a text for a class's research project that investigates the origins of different kinds of food! It's a fun story.


  1. Replies
    1. It was interesting, about him and that he did make "potato chips". But was he the first, that's debatable. Thanks, Earl!

  2. Oh Linda, two new books to me. I love books about math and I think a story about potato chips will be a hit with kids. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Terrific, both are great in different ways, examining the topic itself, but also the people's lives. They would be good for discussions! Thanks, Mandy.


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