Wednesday, December 4, 2019

NF Picture Books Share Stories of Courage

Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  Thanks to her hosting and sharing and those who add their posts, you can discover and celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!  I always learn from these books, am happy that they are more and more available today for children, for everyone!  

         This week Alyson is sharing the beginning of her 'best of the year' books. Be sure to check them out!
           These two books are narratives based on the history of two brave people.

            Patricia Polacco tells another special story about Wallace Hartley, the man who played on with his fellow musicians as the Titanic sank.  Jonathan Harker Weeks complains he doesn't want to practice the piano, he wants to play stickball with his friends. His grandfather responds with who he really was as a child, a 9-year-old stowaway on the Titanic. Part of his earlier life was as a poor, eventually orphan boy, in the slums of Ireland. He ended up hiding from thieves in a mail sack, found himself a stowaway. He was taken in by the friendly Hartley—who loved the boy's playing the violin so much that he arranged an onboard audition before John Jacob Astor that later led to a life in music. It seemed like a dream until the loud noise and eventual realization that this ship that wasn't supposed to sink, was going down.  Saying goodbye to his kind mentor, the boy watched the playing “Nearer, My God, to Thee” for those doomed to stay behind. The illustrations in Polacco's signature style focus on the people but add to the story with the beautiful setting backgrounds. It's another story that focuses on a story many may not know of this brave man. There is a real photo of him and added information at the back. One extra note that is also in the story concerns his violin and special case, given to him by his fiance. It also is pictured. After the recovery of his body, it was recovered as well and is now at the Titanic Museum in Lancashire. It's a special story.

           When Lilly Ann Granderson was four, she worked in the master's house, and the children there played school with her, giving her an old blue-black speller (see that cover) and thus she learned to read. In Kentucky, Janet Halfmann tells, it was not illegal for slaves to learn, but not encouraged. She studied, tracing the letters in the dirt and hiding that book to keep it safe. Eventually, she could read the Bible. She realized the power reading gave her and began teaching in the woods, in secret. 
           Sadly, Lilly's master died and she was auctioned off and sold to someone in Mississippi. There it was illegal to know or learn how to read and Lilly was put in the cotton fields, nearly collapsing from the work. Finally, her master noticed and put her in the kitchen. She missed the teaching, discovered an abandoned cabin where she started again, risking much to do it. 
            In the inspiring story brought to life by Halfmann's words and London Ladd's beautiful full-color paintings, it is special to read of this courageous woman who knew the importance of knowledge, found through reading. She lived through the Civil War and opened another school, continued teaching all her life. 
             There is an Afterword, sharing more and the amazing legacy carried on by her descendants, although some information, the author states, cannot be found. There are references and a picture of the Union School in Natchez, Mississippi where Lilly taught for many years after the Civil War.

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