Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Non-Fiction Picture Book Wednesday - People Work To Make Things Right

   Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy -- hashtag #nfpb2020! Thanks to her hosting and sharing and those who add their posts, you can discover and celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books! 


           Vivian Kirkfield tells this story of Sarah E. Goode, former slave, finally free and moved to Chicago with her family. She grew up with a father who was a carpenter, who could build anything. She learned from him, then in her new city, she hears many stories from those who have to fit their families into one room!  She runs a furniture store but realizes so much of the furniture is bulky.  Thinking and planning, she works to build a "cabinet bed". After several tries, she succeeds! A small cabinet, when unfolded, reveals a bed. She applies for a patent, waits for a whole year, is turned down. She does not give up. Like others, she persists, and finally gets that patent for what is called a "cabinet bed". This is years before the "murphy bed" is patented, one many of you might know of. Vivian also adds a list of "Black Women Patent Holders" and Sarah is the first and oldest, in 1883.
           There is also an author's note, an explanation of "patent", a Sarah E. Goode Timeline, and a source list. Vivian shares that little is really known of all of Sarah E. Goode's life, but what is there has been pieced together into a story of inspiration. Chris Ewald's full-page lovely paintings of Sarah's life as a young slave to successful shop-owner and carpenter show her joy as she works to solve this problem. 

          I am delighted to share another book by Vivian Kirkfield, another story little known, but now she's shared it in a picture book. Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe, two peas in a pod. Wait, did you know they were good friends? I did not. Both had troubled childhoods. Ella grew up on the streets, hanging around bars to jive with the music. Marilyn was in and out of foster homes and in an orphanage. But both had a dream, Ella to sing and Marilyn to act. Vivian tells how Marilyn, already acting, wanted to improve her singing. By then, Ella had already made many recordings, so Marilyn listened and listened, heard the way Ella vocalized and harmonized. Just as Marilyn put a bit of herself into the characters she played, Ella put a bit of herself into her songs. Marilyn's singing in "Gentleman Prefer Blondes" was a hit. She now had more power and when she heard that no matter how popular Ella was, she still was not allowed to sing at a Hollywood hot spot. Marilyn helped and Ella sang. They became good friends, both sharing the discrimination of the past and the successes now earned. Alleanna Harris's illustrations add to the story of these two famous women, both the triumphs and the struggles, sometimes in full pages, other times in small circle scenes. I love the picture of them walking together down a street with that Hollywood sign showing behind them. It's a great example of how allies can help each other fight against discrimination.
        There's an author's note with added information and a wonderful picture of Ella and Marilyn together, 1954. Vivian adds primary and secondary sources. 

         Voting is going on, Super Tuesday and Super Tuesday two have passed, more is coming. Strong women, men, too, have fought for this important right for years and years. The 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women's constitutional right to vote is this year. Things did not end there, of course, as this book emphasizes for young readers. In poetry, Deborah Diesen shows the long journey of the fighting for "Equality's Call". Page by page, she shows the journey made as the founders appeared to wish, that "The voice of the people/would strengthen our nation." Every few pages, as the history is shown, people join the line to protest as the poetic refrain repeats: "A right isn't right/Till it's granted to all." That final page is filled with all kinds of people, marching, helping each other, holding signs that say "VOTE" and "VOTING is PEOPLE POWER." Magdalena Mora beautifully illustrates the breadth of people who have worked for this important thing we call "voting", showing them marching and striving for better!

           Sadly in the early years, only white men with property could vote, and the timeline of years is long, all the way to 1965 when the Voting Rights Act was passed. Still today, different groups continue to try to suppress the vote. The back matter offers brief paragraphs of "Voting-Related Amendments & Legislation" then a wonderful list of Voting Rights Activists. 
That final group, all reminding to VOTE!


  1. WOW...thank you so much, Linda! I'm loving your post...and I'm honored to see TWO of my books reviewed. And I have not read Equality's Call I'm grateful that you mentioned it here...I'll be grabbing a copy ASAP.

    1. You are welcome, Vivian. I loved both your books & thought Equality's Call fits beautifully with them. I hope you enjoy it, too. Thanks for coming by!


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