Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Top Ten Youth Biographies-2008

Top 10 Biographies for Youth: 2008.
First published June 1, 2008 (Booklist
Cooper, Ilene (author).

Note: Some of these books are in the Guarini Library Collection or are available for review at the Weiss Center!)

This year’s top 10 biographies for youth spotlights saints and strong men, patriots and pianists, showing how diverse the world of children’s biography has become. These books were chosen from titles reviewed in Booklist during the past 12 months.

As Good as Anybody: Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March toward Freedom. By Richard Michelson. Illus. by Raul Colón. Knopf, $16.99 (9780375633359). Gr. 1–4.

This powerful, well-crafted picture book about the partnership between two great civil rights leaders follows King and Polish rabbi Heschel from boyhoods fraught with prejudice to the 1965 march in Selma, Alabama.

Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote. By Tanya Lee Stone. Illus. by Rebecca Gibbon. Holt, $16.95 (9780805079036). Gr. 1–3.

This short, incisive picture-book biography introduces Stanton and what she accomplished, beginning with her shocking realization that the law treated women unfairly. The child-pleasing artwork makes this highly accessible.

Frida: Viva la vida! Long Live Life! By Carmen T. Bernier-Grand. Illus. by Frida Kahlo. Marshall Cavendish, $18.99 (9780761253369). Gr. 7–12.

Using lyrical free-verse poems, Bernier-Grand brings readers into the life of artist Kahlo. Each well-produced painting by Kahlo is paired with an original poem that expertly extends the imagery so evident in the art.

George Washington Carver. By Tonya Bolden. illus. Abrams, $18.95 (9780810993662). Gr. 3–6.

Bolden’s strong writing finds a worthy subject in the slave-born scientist Carver, but she never shies away from directly and indirectly addressing criticisms of Carver for his lack of political activism. Photos and reproductions of Carver’s paintings help make this a standout.

The Many Rides of Paul Revere. By James Cross Giblin. illus. Scholastic, $17.99 (9780439572903). Gr. 4–7.

Giblin’s attractive, large-format book looks at Revere’s life and his role in the American Revolution, in many cases setting the record straight. Salient facts and intriguing details combine effectively with period portraits, narrative paintings, engravings, and maps.

Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum. By Robert Andrew Parker. Illus. by the author. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $16.99 (9780375839658). Gr. 2–4.

Parker contributes both words and pictures in this heartfelt portrait of jazz great Art Tatum. The vibrant scenes contrast crowds of dancers and musicians in a swirl of animated motion with scenes of the nearly blind Tatum, set against moody, abstract, shifting colors.

The Real Benedict Arnold. By Jim Murphy. illus. Clarion, $20 (9780395776094). Gr. 7–10.

Murphy has a difficult task—getting past rumors and folktales to present Arnold in a fair and honest way—and he does it meticulously. While never going beyond his sources, he still manages to offer a fascinating look at a man whose name has become synonymous with traitor.

The Secret World of Hildegard. By Jonah Winter. Illus. by Jeanette Winter. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $16.99 (9780439507394). Gr. 1–4.

A medieval visionary might not seem the topic for an early-level biography, but with elegant simplicity, this mother-son team introduce Hildegard, squeezing out the essence of her life, and making her story accessible to young children. A small jewel.

Strong Man: The Story of Charles Atlas
In this winning picture book, McCarthy separates fact from fiction as he tells the story of Atlas, the original 98-pound weakling who transformed himself into a world-famous strong man.

The Wall: Growing Up behind the Iron Curtain . By Peter Sís. Illus. by the author. Farrar/Frances Foster, $18 (9780374347017). Gr. 7–10.

This autobiographical picture book is an artistic account of Sís’ coming-of-age in Prague during the cold war. The remarkable art expresses the interplay between Communist restrictions and Western influences (Booklist’s 2007 Top of the List winner for youth nonfiction).

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