As part of my writing process, I read dozens of books by other nonfiction authors. When I read, I make notes about the craft choices authors make in terms of voice, structure, POV, and other unique elements that add up to amazing books. I recently decided to share my notes (in a searchable format), so teachers and fellow writers can see what I find new and noteworthy. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
Author: Kyo Maclear
Illustrator: Julie Morstad
Publication Info.: HarperCollins, Feb. 6, 2018
Ages/Grades: preschool through 3rd grade (ages 4 and up)
Categories: first-person POV, narrative nonfiction, biography
“Every story starts somewhere.
My story begins on September 10, 1890, in a beautiful palazzo in the center of Roma.”
Overview (from the publisher):
“Elsa dared to be different, and her story will not only dazzle, it will inspire the artist and fashionista in everyone who reads it.
By the 1930s Elsa Schiaparelli had captivated the fashion world in Paris, but before that, she was a little girl in Rome who didn’t feel pretty at all. Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli is the enchanting story for young readers of how a young girl used her imagination and emerged from plain to extraordinary.”
What’s noteworthy for authors and educators:
What makes something beautiful? For designer Elsa Schiaparelli anything could be beautiful, including a dress made of wool, cellophane, tree bark, and velvet. Or a shoe as a hat. This book could launch a wonderful conversation about what makes something beautiful and how we might broaden that definition. In addition, Schiaparelli takes an inventive approach to her designs, embracing failure much like so many inventors of machines and technologies. This could spark a discussion about the role of trial and error and experimentation in the creation of art.
Authors will note that this book is written in a more experimental point of view — first person. This allows for more introspection than usual in a picture book biography. Kyo Maclear writing as Schiaparelli helps us experience more fully the internal transformation Schiaparelli undergoes as she gains confidence in her designing skills.
Additional resources for authors, educators, and parents:
- The Philadelphia Museum of Art created an educator’s guide for its 2003 exhibit about Schiaparelli. The discussion guide is fabulous (grades 5 through 12).
- For younger students, try a mixed media project using recyclables or cast-off objects, turning old things into something beautiful.