Phew, just barely made it in time to claim this is a monthly feature! I’ve read a million books this month (or nearly), but today I picked up a handful of our picture book autobiographies and biographies. I was pulling a book on Abraham Lincoln and The Tree Lady caught my eye. Once I’m near a non-fiction bookshelf, I can’t pick out just one, so I ended up reading four lovely books.
So! Some books I’ve read and loved in September are:
The Tree Lady, H. Joseph Hopkins, ills. Jill McElmerry: This is the story of Kate Sessions, the person most responsible for the vegetation in San Diego and Balboa Park. A horticulturist, a scientist, and a lady, Kate Sessions introduced plants into the desert climate and changed the landscape permanently. Beautifully illustrated and sparingly told, this one is perfect for, you know, anyone. Reading about scientists? Trees? Women? Check, check, and check. Read it!
The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain, Peter Sis: Born in Czechoslovakia in 1949, Peter Sis was old enough to experience and vividly remember life in Cold War era Eastern Europe and he retells his experience in this stunning picture book. Perfect for older audiences (upper elementary, middle school, even high school) and ideal for tying together key themes and concepts in history (dates + communism + censorship), this should be welcome in any history classroom. I LOVE a picture book that will work well with older kids and this one is definitely it.
A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin, Jen Bryant, ills. Melissa Sweet: Horace Pippin was an African American artist who didn’t fully develop his talent until later in life, after an injury sustained in WWI. Of the four I read, this one has the best story. It would make for a lovely read aloud for the elementary set (which ones? You decide. Any of them. All of them!) but the art is so beautiful is worth a closer, individual look. The mixed media illustrations of Melissa Sweet deserve a book of their own!
I Dreamed I Was a Ballerina, Anna Pavlova: Taken from the words of Anna Pavlova’s memoir and set beside the artwork of Edward Degas, this might be an easy one to overlook. It’s a publication from The Metropolitan Museum of Art and it’s not exactly a traditional picture book. But. It is lovely and the story- taken directly from Pavlova’s own words- is enchanting. Sure, there are lots of ballet books for elementary girls, but how many of them use the artwork of Degas and Anna Pavlova as their central pieces? Not any. Probably. I didn’t actually do any research to back that statement up. Anyway, this one is still lovely and worth a read, especially if you know someone with a love for ballet!