The best thing I think about reading picture book biographies is learning about people who are fascinating but who I never learned about in history class. Michelle Markel and Melissa Sweet team up in Brave Girl to tell the story of Clara Lemlich, a young Jewish girl who was a leader in the garment worker’s strike of 1909 in New York City. Clara’s story is inspiring and Markel tells it in a way that is simple enough for younger elementary kids to enjoy and understand, yet, with enough depth that older students will have their interest piqued to learn more.
Melissa Sweet is becoming (or already is) the indisputable queen of non-fiction illustration. The illustrations here are done in her trademark watercolor and collage style and include fabric and sewing details that draw the reader into Clara’s world.
Places to learn more:
Melissa Sweet’s website
A Booklist Online interview with Melissa Sweet, primarily about the making of Brave Girl. I was fascinated to learn that one of the places she went to research the time period was the Tenement Museum in New York, which we just visited this summer on an anniversary weekend trip to NYC. The Museum is fascinating and I would highly recommend it if you are in the area and interested in this time period in history.
Michelle Markel’s website
More books illustrated by Melissa Sweet reviewed at Supratentorial:
Mrs. Harkness and the Panda (last year’s Cybils winner in the non-fiction picture book category)
A River of Words
The Boy Who Drew Birds
This book is a nominee for a Cybils Award in the Elementary and Middle Grade Non-Fiction category for which I am a Round 1 panelist. I obtained a copy of the book from my library. My opinions are my own and don’t necessarily reflect those of the other panelists.