Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Non-Fiction - Gifts from "Other"



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!  
         These times are challenging beliefs, and I wonder how many people could benefit from reading the myriad of picture book biographies of those they might know little about, people that often are considered not to be included in the mainstream of the U.S. Here are two recent books out in the past two months, about one immigrant and one Native American who both contributed so very much to our country.





          I've known something of Irving Berlin's life before, that he wrote Alexander's Ragtime Band, White Christmas and God Bless America, but Nancy Churnin has managed to write of his life from his poor beginnings as an immigrant in NYC to his extraordinary successes as a composer in a way to introduce him to young children, or those readers who want to read a short biography as a start to research. He came from Russia, in a poor family when his father died when Irving was twelve, he had to quit school to try to find ways to earn pennies to help. He loved music and singing so much that when one time he felt so full with music, he burst into song. People liked that and threw pennies. He was excited, soon was noticed by a restaurant owner who hired him as a singing waiter. The story really is a "rags to riches" tale. With a friend, he wrote his first song and they sold it for 37 cents! Irving never had formal music training, used a "transposing" machine eventually to write his compositions. The book shares a few songs I didn't know he wrote, like the score of Annie Get Your Gun that has "There's No Business Like Show Business", and a most famous one is "White Christmas. There are many others.
          There is an author's note and a timeline added in the backmatter.


       Joseph Bruchac's books have taught me much about Native Americans, and I am glad to share this new picture book that will be a marvelous introduction to Chester Nez for younger readers. Bruchac has previously written a book about this same topic for middle-grade readers and up. 
        Like so many Native Americans, Chester Nez left his home, his reservation to attend boarding school where he was forced to abandon his heritage and language in order to integrate with the white culture and to learn English. He refused to give up! Years later, that decision turned out to be a good one, for Chester and other Navajo men like him were recruited by the US Marines to use their native language to create an unbreakable military code. That language they were told to forget was needed to fight the war, and it worked! 
        Many full-page illustrations include Chester's early and close connection to home and family, shown in Amini-Holmes’ textured art, both emotional and sometimes seeming other-worldly, with a touching double-spread showing his feelings when he returned home from the terrible experiences in the war.
        The backmatter includes a timeline and a portion of the Navajo code, and also depicts the life of an original Navajo code talker while capturing the importance of heritage.

8 comments:

  1. These are both books I've been waiting to find from the library... not there yet so a bit more waiting for me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They're both worth waiting for, Michele. I hope you enjoy them. Thanks!

      Delete
  2. Will definitely be on the look out for both of these. thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome, Earl, hope you enjoy them as I did.

      Delete
  3. Oh, your opening statement ♥︎

    I enjoyed the Irving Berlin one as well and will have to keep my eyes out for the Chester Nez book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, glad to hear that you liked the book about Berlin. It's great!

      Delete
  4. One already on my library list to order. I will add the other one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Terrific! Both are so good! Thank you!

      Delete

Thanks for visiting!