Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Picture Book Biographies

The Adventures of Mark Twain by Huckleberry FinnThe Adventures of Mark Twain by Huckleberry Finn by Robert Burleigh

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Love the pictures and even learned a few new things about his life (like the name Mark Twain comes from riverboats testing the depth of the waters ahead).

I may come back and change this to a four. I just can't help but think the dialect ... while interesting and true to the style of many of Mark Twain's stories ... is going to be a stumbling block for many kiddos. I could be wrong ... but I know, for example, they get very confused with some of the anachronisms in Bubba, The Cowboy Prince. Even the older ones. So we'll see.

PERFECT as an easy intro to Mark Twain for older students.

Barnum Brown: Dinosaur HunterBarnum Brown: Dinosaur Hunter by David Sheldon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Though I still do not understand the fascination with dinosaurs ... the kiddos at my school love them. This is a nicely accessible picture book biography to encourage casual readers. Not quite enough info for research ... but more than enough to pique curiosity to look further!

A Wizard from the Start: The Incredible Boyhood and Amazing Inventions of Thomas EdisonA Wizard from the Start: The Incredible Boyhood and Amazing Inventions of Thomas Edison by Don Brown

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Great description of his childhood as promised by the cover ... but not much more. Liked the illustrations.

And EGADS. Reading the author's note at the end? Trying to compete with Tesla and his AC current Thomas Edison electrocuted an elephant?

Wish I didn't know that. Before today I'd always thought of him as such a creative, hard-working innovator. Now I'm also going to remember that. :[

The Remarkable Benjamin Franklin (National Geographic)The Remarkable Benjamin Franklin by Cheryl Harness

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ben Franklin did many great things for our country. Didn't know he started from such humble beginnings or that he had so much ... family drama, shall we say?

Kid appropriate. Only thing I would say is that there is an awful lot of text for a "picture book biography." One of those cases where the teacher would say "no, that's not long enough for your report" but the younger kids would get lost in all the words.

Loved the quote around the portrait on the opening page ... "If you would not be forgotten, As soon as you are dead and rotten, Either write things worthy reading, Or do things worth the writing. B.F."

The Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of Philo FarnsworthThe Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of Philo Farnsworth by Kathleen Krull

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great storytelling and I loved the illustrations.

Though ... I've always been told the first "TV" broadcast was in the BY Academy in Provo--well, the tour guide told me that when we went through it back in my undergrad days when it was all falling apart (they've since remade the building into Provo's Public Library). This book made it sound like it was in CA. I wonder who was right?

Thought it was interesting that Philo didn't do much in the way of TV watching ... except for the landing on the moon. It didn't turn out exactly like he might have envisioned but he was right. The shared experience of watching a story is a fun way to bring people together.

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  1. Thanks for these reviews - the last one looks really intriguing.

  2. I am deeply deeply interested in picture book biographies - and we love Don Brown and Kathleen Krull too over at GatheringBooks - I believe we've done quite a number of book recommendations from these authors - but these titles are new to me! So I'm so glad to have stumbled on to your site. Will be bookmarking this and I would make sure I borrow this from our library. I'm actually thinking of doing a conference presentation on picture book biographies - so this modest list would be very helpful.