I read this book on an airplane, and literally had people craning over the aisle to see the beautiful and unusual photographs of the great junior adventurer, Marie Ahnighito Peary, whose daddy Lt. Admiral Robert Peary was hell-bent on winning the race to the North Pole. An intimate and very complete look at a family on a mission, the book captures the adventure of racing down cliffs, dodging avalanches, relocating a meteorite, witnessing a walrus slaughter and being trapped amidst icebergs and midnight blizzards, as well as the dualities of Marie's frustratingly genteel life in the states and the free spirited one spent amidst her Inuit friends. Children who love non-fiction history or survival stories in the vein of Gary Paulsen will whoop with joy and disappear with the book as fast as a dog-sled will carry them, however, my one compunction is that there was nothing distinctively for children in the writing style; the straighforward essay-like text peppered with facts, long names and geography may leave some children with less prior knowledge in the dust (or the snow, as the case may be), only suggesting all the more that this is a book to be shared. The photos are plentiful, evocative and gorgeous and go far to take the reader away to the snowy landscape, with Marie at the helm (see page 31, she looks so marvelous with those buttons up and down her hood). The details of the lives are moving, from Peary's African-American companion Matthew Henson becoming an uncelebrated clerk after accompanying Peary on his celebrated adventure; the devoted wife Josephine Peary who suffered the loss of a child and followed her husband literally to the end of the earth, only to discover he was messing around with some chick named Allakasingwah; and the controversy against Peary's claim that he ever was first at all. At the core of this story with its very adult conflicts is the optimistic and confident child who finds friends all around the world, and will find a friend in readers today, a century later. Overall, this is a compelling, well-researched book that reads like a treasured photo album with a narrator to tell you the stories behind the people. Make the discovery! (8 and up)
Imagine if you read aloud just one picture book biography to a child every week. By the end of the year, how many new heroes would that child have? How many new mentors? How many figures from history and around the world would that child know? There's only one way to find out!
Picture book biographies are one of the strongest genres in contemporary children's literature. They can be read aloud across the grade levels, and they don't take long to share. Many focus on peacemakers, visionaries and artists. So make a biography break a regular part of your reading routine! Here are just a few to get you started...
Welcome to the Wonderful World of PlanetEsme! I'm a professional readiologist™ who thinks children's trade literature and read-aloud is our best hope for equalizing education in America. I hope this book-a-day plan will be a boon to anyone who would like to play a supporting character in a child's reading life story. This blog is a supporting page to sister site PlanetEsme.com, where you will find a silly amount of additional reviews, thematic lists, links, and much more...everything you need to become an expert in children's literature.