Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - 12/12/12

For those who have been participating in the Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge 2012 (Twitter: #nfpb2012), we have entered our last month of the challenge.  For the next several weeks, I am going to share a few books at a time.  There are just too many good ones to leave any out.

Here is what I found and read this week:

Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by Robert Byrd (Dial, September 2012) - Electric Ben sports psychedelic cover art and is packed with significant details and information about Ben Franklin.  Despite the picture book format, this is a book geared for 5th to 8th graders.  Readers can read this book several times and get something new with each reading.  Pictures, sayings, and embedded textbooks and captions provide learners with a significant amount of material.  Though the book is not what I would consider conducive to a read aloud, it will provide the right student readers with great background information on Ben Franklin.  My only concern with a book like this is that it will be overlooked by teachers of older students due to the format, and yet it is the format which makes this one very unique biography.

It Jes' Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw by Don Tate; Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (Lee & Low Books, April 2012) - I knew little about Bill Traylor, son of slaves, share cropper, and eventually an artist.  In It Jes' Happened, readers learn about the life of Bill Traylor and how he began to draw with whatever he had on whatever material was around.  Traylor's life was not an easy one and he even spent some of his older years homeless.  With the support of Charles Shannon, Traylor received additional material and support to draw.  However, it wasn't until years after Traylor's death that he received greater recognition for his work. 

This biographical picture book would work well with 2nd to 4th grade readers and tie in with units on African American History.

The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans by Barbara Elizabeth Walsh; Paintings by Layne Johnson (Calkins Creek Books, September 2012)- This may have been one of my favorite biographical picture books of the week.  I knew about the symbol of the red poppy for veterans but knew little of the history or how it began.  In The Poppy Lady, readers learn about the passion and dedication of Moina Belle Michael as she focused her work on supporting soldiers and veterans and their families.  The paintings by Layne Johnson are gorgeous. The proceeds of the book will benefit the National Military Family Association's Operation Purple.  Read Aloud Level: 2nd to 4th grade  Independent Reading Level: 3rd to 5th grade.  I would love to see this one in more classroom and school libraries. 

Look for each of these books at your local bookstore or public library.  Don't forget to buy from an Independent Bookstore whenever possible.

Link up your nonfiction picture books below: