Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin
By Robert Byrd
Published 2012 by Dial
Ugh, I absolutely hate the cover of this book - sorry, I just had to say it. Anyway, what I do love is the layout of this book - each two-page spread is wonderfully arranged and reading flows naturally. I love the interplay between the text and the illustrations. I also love the endpapers, covered with Franklin's proverbs. This biography reminds one of how inspiring Franklin is - that man would simply set his mind to something and figure out a way to accomplish it. Additionally, this book has a great bibliography. Though there are a lot of biographies of Franklin for young people, I'm pleased to see and recommend this one.
Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman
By Marc Tyler Nobleman, illustrated by Ty Templeton
Published 2012 by Charlesbridge Publishing
I LOVE THIS BOOK! I am not even really a comics person (I've dabbled, but not really delved into all the old school), but I am fascinated with the history of comic books and the people who created them and the cultures in which they were created. This book feeds my curiosity and does so in an appealing and fascinating way. I love, love, love the style that Nobleman and Templeton chose for this book (well, I don't know who chose it really, but it works so beautifully). I love that I knew nothing about Bill Finger but definitely feel inspired to learn more. I love the author's note and the obvious passion that Nobleman has for getting Finger the recognition he deserves. This book is brilliant and will definitely appeal to comics fans.
My Hands Sing the Blues: Romare Bearden's Childhood Journey
By Jeanne Walker Harvey, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
Published 2011 by Marshall Cavendish Children's Books
This picture book biography of Bearden, an African-American artist and musician, didn't really work for me. I love being introduced to people I'm not familiar with and this was no exception - I'd never heard of Bearden, but I think his life is presented quite well here and I do enjoy the illustrations. However, I'm not a fan of the text - it rhymes but it just didn't work for me. I think sometimes rhyming can age a book down, but I don't think this book really has appeal for a younger audience. I don't know - this just wasn't my cup of tea.
Over and Under the Snow
By Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
Published 2011 by Chronicle Books
Ooh, I love this book! This is picture book non-fiction for the storytime crowd, and I definitely want to use this in a winter storytime (maybe when I move back to a land that actually has a winter). Simple but beautiful, this book tells the story of winter by showing readers what animals are awake over the snow and what world is hiding under the snow. It doesn't feel overly heavy with information; instead readers learn just by engaging with the story. There is great back matter, though, for the readers who want more of the facts. This is simply a lovely book - non-fiction at its best.