Mar 23, 2010

Nonfiction & Biography Book Reviews

Nonfiction
Bibliography:
Nelson, Kadir. 2008. We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball. Hyperion Books for Children. ISBN 0786808322

Summary:
A look back into the history of the Negro Baseball League, and the role of the African American in baseball.

Critical Analysis:
Kadir Nelson’s, We Are the Ship, takes the reader into a time when black men were not allowed to play alongside white players in Major League Baseball. Presented in the first person from the viewpoint of a Negro player during the 1920s and 1930s, We Are the Ship is an inspirational look back at the history of baseball in America. Chapters are organized into innings and separate the different milestones for black men in baseball. During the early 1900s, players were segregated not only in baseball, but from hotels, restaurants and bathrooms. We learn that at times players would have to travel several hours out of their way to find a hotel to put them up or a diner to feed them. Many times these players were treated poorly by white managers and field owners. Several men, such as Rube Foster (the inspiration for the title of the book), promoted blacks in baseball. The birth of the Negro Baseball League and their key players is presented in conjunction with exquisite paintings based on photographs from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the Negro Baseball Museum. Famous for his illustrations, Nelson doesn’t disappoint. Several pages fold out to reveal portraits of black men who made their mark on baseball. These men are portrayed as strong and resilient. Nelson is respectful in the telling of this important story. His facts are paired with footnotes and based on published resources. The forward by the legendary Hank Aaron is touching and is a perfect way to set up the story. An index is provided for a quick reference to the men who changed baseball in America. We Are the Ship belongs in every library in any community.

Awards:
Starred Review, School Library Journal
Starred Review, Booklist
NYT Best Illustrated Children's Books, 2008
Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, 2009
Silbert Medal, 2009

Reviews:
“Social studies teachers and baseball fans of all ages will covet this delightful winner of the 2009 Coretta Scott King author award and illustrator Honor award.” School Library Journal

“The powerful pictures bring the players right off the pages, including a six-panel fold out of the ‘First Colored World Series’ teams, and will pull readers of all ages back to the book repeatedly. As recreational nonfiction for the very young or nonreader and a motivating start for the advanced reader wanting to learn more, the book is a captivating centerpiece for multiple age and culture displays.” VOYA

Connections:
Shange, Ntozke. 2004. Ellington Was Not a Street. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, ISBN 0689828845

Levine, Ellen, Nelson, Kadir. 2007. Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad. ISBN 043977733X


Nonfiction
Bibliography:
Jenkins, Steve. 1999. The Top of the World: Climbing Mount Everest. Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 0395942187

Summary:
Describes what it takes (and what to take) to reach the summit of the highest mountain on Earth.

Critical Analysis:
The Top of the World offers a brief history of the highest point on the planet along with the many dangers it poses for mountaineers. Jenkins doesn’t make light of the hazards and sometimes perilous events for the climbers. Frostbite and lack of oxygen are serious concerns for any hiker, and Jenkins offers short, clear explanations of the dangers. Jenkins also touches on the surrounding people (Sherpas) and the sacred view they hold for the mountain. He details what every climber needs for the trek (jumar, ropes, and ice ax) and what to expect along the way (wildlife, icefall, and vegetation). Illustrations are cut paper collages and sometimes you forget that you aren’t looking at a painting. The billowy clouds on the cover convey the cold and high altitude well. Any youngster will find this picture book informative and fascinating.

Awards:
Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, Non-Fiction, 1999
A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book, 2000
ALA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 2000
ALA Notable Children's Book, 2000

Reviews:
“A windfall of facts about Everest and the daring mountaineers who have attempted to reach its summit. Breathtaking cut-paper collages capture the dramatic vistas and the frightening realities of high-altitude climbs.” Library Journal

“Addressing readers as would-be Everest explorers, Jenkins's book is a compendium of historical info and practical tips, illustrated with stunning cut-paper collage.” Publisher’s Weekly

Connections:
Jenkins, Steve. 2009. Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. ISBN 0618966366

Discuss what you would take for an adventure to the summit of Mt. Everest.

Find some information on climbers who have succeeded trekking to the summit of Mt. Everest. What kind of people are they? Men? Women? From what contries?


Biography
Bibliography:
Krull, Kathleen; Morales, Yuyi. 2003. Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 0152014373

Summary:
A biography of Cesar Chavez, from his early years living with his family in Arizona, to his days marching for farm worker rights in California.

Critical Analysis:
Cesar Chavez was 10 years old when his family lost his 80 acre ranch in Arizona due to horrible drought conditions. They relocated to California and were succumbed to horrible working conditions. By the time Cesar was in eighth grade (his last formal year of schooling) he had attended 35 schools. As a young man in his 20s, Cesar began to rally people together for a change in their work conditions and the overall mentality of farm workers. He founded the National Farm Workers Association with just a handful of people. At the age of 38, thousands of people marched with Cesar to Sacramento in order to gain the government’s attention and aide. The march was a success, and Cesar signed a contract between land owners and the National Farm Workers Association. This was the first contract between farm workers in American history. Krull’s choice of dates and details makes this picture book biography fascinating for young readers. Children will identify with his struggles in school and being teased for not speaking English. Adults and children alike will appreciate the underlying ‘hero factor’ and understand that not all heroes wear capes. Morales’s acrylic paintings compliment the story well with earth tone colors and illustrations of Cesar’s heartbreak. Cesar is depicted as a cool and calm person having to deal with harsh prejudices. The paintings reinforce his peaceful demeanor, and children will be left with a message that violence is never the answer. Krull and Morales make a great attempt of making the farm worker rights interesting.

Awards:
Christopher Award, 2004
Jane Addams Book Award, 2004
Pura Belpre Honor for illustration, 2004
CCBC Choices Selection, 2004
Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2004
The National Council for Social Studies, 2004
Blue Bonnet Award Nomination, 2004

Reviews:
"One person can make a difference is a message that resonates throughout Krull's stirring biography..." San Francisco Chronicle

“Krull and Morales introduce a long-neglected figure from recent history to a new audience in an informative, eye-catching manner.” A notable achievement. Kirkus Reviews

“A fine addition to any collection.” School Library Journal

Connections:
Krull, Kathleen. 2000. Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 0152020985

Visit www.yurimorales.com for lesson plans, study guides, and family activities that support Harvesting Hope.

No comments:

Post a Comment