Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny)

Authors: Kathleen Krull; Paul Brewer
Illustrator: Stacy Innerst
Publisher: Harcourt Childrens (March 19, 2013)
Source: Bought
Audience: Grades 2nd to 5th
Biographical * Rock Musicians * England

Description from GoodReads:
Q: How do you find all this business of having screaming girls following you all over the place?
George: Well, we feel flattered . . .
John: . . . and flattened. 

When the Beatles burst onto the music scene in the early 1960s, they were just four unknown lads from Liverpool. But soon their off-the-charts talent and offbeat humor made them the most famous band on both sides of the Atlantic. Lively, informative text and expressive, quirky paintings chronicle the phenomenal rise of Beatlemania, showing how the Fab Four’s sense of humor helped the the lads weather everything that was thrown their way—including jelly beans.

My thoughts on the book:
When I saw that there was a picture book biography on The Beatles, I thought that someone was being a bit gutsy.  Of course, until I saw that it was Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer.  At that point, I figured if anyone could pull it off, then they could, and I wasn't wrong.  I read this book on an evening where there was little excitement radiating out of the stack of picture books that I was reading.  However, The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny) shone as brightly as its vibrant yellow cover.

Krull and Brewer take readers on a journey that begins with how the Beatles formed through their rise in fame in England and then the United States and beyond.  The text provides young readers with the highlights of the Beatles career that one would expect and does so in a readable manner mixed with just the right amount of detail and a twist of humor.  The question and answer section was particularly funny with a page dedicated to each one of the Beatles demonstrating something unique about that individual.  

Stacy Innerst's paintings compliment and expand the text in a way that brings the book to the next level.  His attention to detail, and the small touches on many of the pages reflect the personality and music of the Beatles.  Resulting in a book that not only works on a written level, but can be enjoyed just as thoroughly from its images.  

There are important dates in Beatles History and additional sources listed at the end of the book.  The only thing that I might have wished for was an author's note or even an illustrator's note.  Regardless, this book is outstanding and would be a great gift for any fan of Rock Music history or for a classroom or school library collection.      

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Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Louisa May's Battle

Author: Kathleen Krull
Illustrator: Carlyn Beccia
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Source: Personal Copy
Audience: Grades 3rd to 5th
Nonfiction * Women's History * American History * Famous Authors

Description on GoodReads:
Louisa May Alcott is best known for penning Little Women, but few are aware of the experience that influenced her writing most-her time as a nurse during the Civil War. Caring for soldiers' wounds and writing letters home for them inspired a new realism in her work. When her own letters home were published as Hospital Sketches, she had her first success as a writer. The acclaim for her new writing style inspired her to use this approach in Little Women, which was one of the first novels to be set during the Civil War. It was the book that made her dreams come true, and a story she could never have written without the time she spent healing others in service of her country

My thoughts on the book:
One of my favorite authors when I was in 5th grade was Louisa May Alcott.  I read and loved Little Women, Little Men, Jo's Boys, and Eight Cousins.  However, I never really bothered to look into who Louisa May Alcott was or what influenced her as a woman and writer.  Recently, I read the biographical picture book Louisa: The Life of Louisa May Alcott by Yona Zeldis McDonough (Henry Holt, and Co., 2009) I found the book fascinating and the historical information interesting.

In Louisa May's Battle: How the Civil War Led to Little Women, Kathleen Krull focuses on Alcott's experiences as a nurse during the Civil War and how it influenced her as a person and also as a writer. Krull brings to life Alcott's experience from the train ride to the her travels on a ship to her experience tending soldiers.  Unfortunately, Alcott wasn't immune from the illnesses facing the men and boys she was caring for.  Several weeks in, she became ill with Typhoid fever.  Alcott was never quite the same after her illness, but when she was well enough to consider work again, she began revisiting her writing with more success than she had before.

The combination of Krull's text accompanied by Beccia's paintings make this book a success for me.  Krull provides additional sources at the end as well as some additional information of Women in Medicine.  This is a great addition for any classroom or school library, and a wonderful book to celebrate Women's History Month.  

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