Nonfiction Monday: Three Biographies

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Just like the last time I participated in Nonfiction Monday, today I have three picture book biographies to share. The first is this cheerfully illustrated biography of Thomas Edison. We read another biography of Edison several months ago that focused primarily on his childhood. This would make a great accompaniment to that book as it focused on the inventions Edison and his team created at his lab in Menlo Park. I really liked that the author, Gene Barretta, highlighted so many inventions beyond the lighbulb. We knew that Edison invented the phonograph and the first motion picture camera. But I didn’t know he was responsible for an ore separator or the first large scale power plant or the alkaline battery or a vote recording machine. The book is also organized in a fantastic way. Each page layout has one page showing how a particular invention is used today and the other page shows how that invention came to be.

I greatly enjoyed this book about Julia Child. My kids? Not so much. The author and illustrator is Jessie Hartland (whose other books include How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum). Hartland’s style is unique (although it is also somewhat reminiscent of Maira Kalman’s work). The book is packed full of information on Julia Child’s life, most of which I found fascinating. However, it was a little too much for my kids. It’s also a difficult read-aloud as it’s one of those books with lots of talk balloons and side captions. I would recommend it for an older child (or adult) who is interested in Child or cooking or just likes interesting biographies.

More historical fiction than biography, I’m including this new book by Lane Smith here just because. Smith plays off legends about the Lincoln Bedroom at the White House in this book about Lincoln’s ghost encountering a small girl on a field trip. The reason his ghost still walks is that he is restless, concerned that the nation he left in 1865 was fragile and its future uncertain. The little girl takes him by the hand on a tour to show him how the world has changed, in large part thanks to him. I liked that Smith makes his ghost Lincoln tell corny jokes and includes the dream that Lincoln reported having the night before his assassination. This is in no way a comprehensive biography of Lincoln but would make a terrific addition to the considerable amount of books about our 16th president.

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Timeless Thomas and Bon Appetit have both been nominated for Cybils in the nonfiction picture book cateogry. Abe Lincoln’s Dream was published after the cut-off for the Cybils but it’s the first book going on my list to consider nominating for next year.

4 thoughts on “Nonfiction Monday: Three Biographies

  1. I lovelovelove picture book biographies. I’ve seen a lot of the Julia Child one but it’s my first time to see Timeless Thomas and Lane Smith’s Abe Lincoln one. They all look gorgeous, and well-deserving of a Cybils nomination indeed.

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