#MentorTextMoment, Books

#MentorTextMoment: A SONG FOR GWENDOLYN BROOKS

9781454930884The Book:

A SONG FOR GWENDOLYN BROOKS

Author/Illustrator: Alice Faye Duncan, illustrations by Xia Gordon

Publication Info.: Sterling, 2019

Category: Nonfiction, biography, narrative nonfiction

Overview (from the publisher): “With a voice both wise and witty, Gwendolyn Brooks crafted poems that captured the urban Black experience and the role of women in society. She grew up on the South Side of Chicago, reading and writing constantly from a young age, her talent lovingly nurtured by her parents. Brooks ultimately published 20 books of poetry, two autobiographies, and one novel. Alice Faye Duncan has created her own song to celebrate Gwendolyn’s life and work, illuminating the tireless struggle of revision and the sweet reward of success.”

What’s noteworthy for authors and educators:

The best nonfiction has multiple hooks. Alice Faye Duncan’s A SONG FOR GWENDOLYN BROOKS shows readers the value of revision as well as telling Brooks’s life story and sharing her poems. Duncan aptly uses lyrical voice to share Gwendolyn Brooks’s story.

Additional Resources/Classroom activities:

Alice Faye Duncan has two lesson plans on her website (scroll down). One if for alliteration, assonance, and rhyme. The other focuses on sonnets.

#MentorTextMoment, Books

#MentorTextMoment: PLANTING STORIES

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The Book:

PLANTING STORIES: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpre

Author/Illustrator: Anika Aldamuy Denise, illustrations by Paola Escobar

Publication Info.: Harper Collins, 2019

Category: Nonfiction, biography, narrative nonfiction

What’s noteworthy for authors and educators:

Anika Denise and Paola Escobar do a masterful job of carrying the idea of planting stories from beginning to end of this #picturebook biography. First Pura arrives with the seeds of stories carried from Peurto Rico. A factory job doesn’t provide “fertile ground” for Pura’s stories to take root. But by the end of the book, seeds become a “lush landscape” and plants take over the page in Escobar’s illustrations.

Additional Resources/Classroom activities:

A teacher’s guide is available on the Harper Collins website, here.

Why not try planting your own garden after reading this book? Here’s a cool ziploc bag activity from Mad In Crafts.

Books

PPBF: The Poppy Lady

Poppy Lady

With fall upon us, it’s time to hit the books again — the Perfect Picture Books, that is.

TITLE:  THE POPPY LADY: MOINA BELLE MICHAEL AND HER TRIBUTE TO VETERANS

AUTHOR: Barbara Walsh

ILLUSTRATOR: Layne Johnson

PUBLICATION INFO: Calkins Creek, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59078-754-0

SOURCE: library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: ages 7 to 11

GENRE: nonfiction picture book biography

OPENING and SYNOPSIS:

“Moina Belle Michael looked forward to summer vacation when she returned home from her third year of boarding school in 1885.”

From the publisher:

“When American soldiers entered World War I, Moina Belle Michael, a schoolteacher from Georgia, knew she had to act. Some of the soldiers were her students and friends. Almost single-handedly, Moina worked to establish the red poppy as the symbol to honor and remember soldiers. And she devoted the rest of her life to making sure the symbol would last forever. Thanks to her hard work, that symbol remains strong today. Author Barbara Elizabeth Walsh and artist Layne Johnson worked with experts, primary documents, and Moina’s great-nieces to better understand Moina’s determination to honor the war veterans.”

THEMES/TOPICS: history, biography

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: I’ve used this book as a mentor text to help me shape a “slice of life” picture book biography I’m writing. Walsh’s use of a prologue to give readers a glimpse into Moina Belle’s girlhood is an effective technique for this type of biography. Walsh uses rhetorical questions and a repetitive phrase drives the pacing and page turns. Finally, Walsh has let Moina Belle’s voice shine through by incorporating her quotes throughout the main text. But this book isn’t just a must-read for writers. My seven-year-old snatched it out of the book return pile. He gives it two thumbs up too!

As a bonus part of the book’s proceeds go to the National Military Family Association’s Operation Purple®, to help children of the U.S. military.

RESOURCES/ACTIVITIES:

  • A teacher’s guide is available through Walsh’s Web site.
  • BBC One has a children’s World War I Web site with age-appropriate materials.
  • Veterans’ Day is Nov. 11th. Why not find a way to honor a veteran or active service member. Children can write letters to soldiers and send them through A Million Thanks or send packages through Any Soldier.

You’ll find way more cool books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s “Perfect Picture Books.” Every Friday folks review a host of new books. Join us!