Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday (6)

As part of the Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge 2012 (Twitter: #nfpb2012), my goal is to read and review as many of the new non-fiction picture books that are released this year.  Wednesdays will be my primary day to post the reviews.

What Color is My World: The Lost History of African American Inventors
Authors: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Raymond Obstfeld
Illustrators: A.G. Ford, Ben Boos
Publisher: Candlewick Press (January 3, 2012)
Audience: Grades 3 to 7
Source: Borrowed Copy

Description from GoodReads:
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, basketball legend and the NBA's alltime leading scorer, champions a lineup
of little-known African-American inventors in this lively, kid-friendly book.

Did you know that James West invented the microphone in your cell phone? That Fred Jones invented the refrigerated truck that makes supermarkets possible? Or that Dr. Percy Julian synthesized cortisone from soy, easing untold people's pain? These are just some of the black inventors and innovators scoring big points in this dynamic look at several unsung heroes who shared a desire to improve people's lives. Offering profiles with fast facts on flaps and framed by a funny contemporary story featuring two feisty twins, here is a nod to the minds behind the gamma electric cell and the ice-cream scoop, improvements to traffic lights, open-heart surgery, and more - inventors whose ingenuity and perseverance against great odds made our world safer, better, and brighter.

An interview with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar


My thoughts on the book:
Some books make you wonder about the conversation that might have taken place between publisher, editor, author, illustrator.  If I was a more talented writer, I would recreate this hypothetical conversation for the entertainment of readers.  However, I will spare you that digression and jump into my thoughts on the book.

When I look at a book, especially a nonfiction picture book, I have a hard time stepping out of my educator mindset.  Yes, I want to enjoy a book simply because it is an enjoyable book.  However, with nonfiction, I am also trying to consider how to use it with children.  Basketball great - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has stepped into the role of celebrity debut author with his new children's book What Color is My World: The Lost History of African American Inventors.  His comment in the video above indicating his desire to show children a piece of African American History beyond Slavery and Civil Rights is most admirable.   I want children to know about the rich history and culture of African Americans too.  For that we are in agreement.  We are also seeing eye to eye on the wonderful facts provide on the various men and women inventors which are included in this book. 

Where we diverge, the format of the book and the voice of the story.  The format is a large-size picture book with flaps which in my mind is typically for younger audiences.  The text written for the facts about inventors is written for student in grades 4 and up.  The story portion of the book has an excessive amount of text (again for an older audience) but a voice that almost seems appropriate for younger readers.   

It is true that I haven't had a chance to look at this book with children, and so my opinion might change.  And though, I think there are wonderful facts and parts to this book, I would discover a way to share this book so children will get the most from it.

Click here to check out Candlewick's Book Trailer for What Color is My World?

It's that time of the week...add your nonfiction reviews to the Mr. Linky below.