Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Non-Fiction Picture Book Tuesday, March 26

Please visit the Non-Fiction 
Picture Book Challenge Host- Kid Lit Frenzy 

Words Set Me Free
The Story of Young Frederick Douglass
by Lesa Cline Ransome
Illustrated by James E Ransome

This story of young Frederick Douglass' life was heartbreaking and inspiring.  Narrated from young Frederick's point of view, this book describes his childhood and his quest to learn to read and write.  After his mother's death, Frederick was sold to a new family.  His mistress had never had a slave before and was kind to Frederick.  When he asked her to teach him to read, she did not realize it was illegal so she agreed.  When he learned his letters and a few words quickly, the mistress boasted of her teaching to her husband.  Her husband was outraged and screamed that if Frederick learned how to read, "It would ever unfit him to be a slave."

It was too late. The seeds of literacy had been planted.  Frederick spent all his spare time trying to learn to read and write. Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book. "I may not have known how to read, but I knew that if learning made me no longer want to be a slave, then I would secure my freedom one letter at a time."  

This book would make a great read aloud in grades 2 and up. At 32 pages, it is a relatively quick read. It would also be a wonderful addition to a unit on the Civil War,  early American history, biographies or Black History Month. It sends a powerful message about the importance and the gift of literacy. 

Monsieur Maceau
Actor Without Words
by Leda Schubert
Illustrated by Gerard Dubois

I have to admit, the only thing I knew about Marcel Marceau before reading this book was that he was a famous mime.  In this short picture book, I learned several things about this fascinating man.  Born Marcel Mangel, he changed his last name to Marceau after WWII so people would not realize he was Jewish.  As a teen, he bravely led hundreds of Jewish children to safety from France to Switzerland.  Marceau's father tragically died in the concentration camps during the war. 

It was not until after the war, at the age of 24, that Marcel studied mime.  He soon became famous for his talent and his well known character, Bip.  During his career, Marcel Marceau traveled the globe and performed for presidents and royalty.  In his lifetime, he performed an estimated 15,000 times.  Marceau died in 2007 at the age of 84. 

I found this book to be very interesting.  It is quite a short read (40 pages with few words on each page).  The pictures are fantastic.  I think children would enjoy reading about Marcel Marceau and practicing some of his movements to tell a story. 

More recent blog posts:
It's Monday, What Are You Reading?
Our Wonder-ful Journey Comes to a Close

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