We expand our children’s worlds when we help know the stories of other people. These six new picture book biographies will deftly do just that.
6 Wonderful New Picture Book Biographies
The Strongest Man in the World: The Legend of Louis Cyr by Lucie Papineau and Caroline Hamel
Even at a young age, Cyprien-Noe of Canada, earned a reputation of Samson. When he learned that weight lifting (actually lifting stones and other heavy objects) was actually a sport, he started doing that, eventually joining a circus. His record, which still exists today, is lifting 4,337 pounds. (WHOA!) This is an interesting story about a lesser-known person.
Martina & Chrissie The Greatest Rivalry in the History of Sports by Phil Bildner, illustrated by Brett Helquist
The author’s conversational style makes this story come alive. Readers will be fascinated by the two star tennis players who each work hard to win the championship matches. And for all but a few years, these two women stay close friends. Well-written, informative, and engaging — all the qualities you want in a picture book biography!
John Ronald’s Dragons The Story of J.R.R. Tolkien by Caroline McAlister, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
Warm, beautiful illustrations accompany the story of a boy who grew up to become the author of the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books. John Ronald is a boy who dreamed of dragons, made up his own language, was orphaned, grew up, got married, and then remembered his story of dragons . . . which readers (and movie viewers) still enjoy today!
Balderdash: John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books by Michelle Markel, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
John Newbery believed children should have good, entertaining books just like adults. (Not only the preachy stories and rule books they had to read in the early 1700s.) Newbery, a publisher and bookstore owner, started making books just for kids, some accompanied by a toy. And it worked. The books sold like crazy including the popular story, Little Goody Two-Shoes. This delightful book gives us perspective about a relevant part of history, kids’ books. It skillfully makes me love John Newbery’s vision, appreciating that much more the children’s literature we have today.
Out of School and Into Nature the Anna Comstock Story by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Jessica Lanan
Anna didn’t follow the typical female path of her time — getting married. Instead, she studied insects, drew then in detailed pictures, studied them under a microscope, and wrote books about them. When she realized that schools weren’t teaching children about the natural world, she wrote lessons about nature for children. Not only that, she encouraged teachers to take their students outside to experience the beauty of nature. Simple and lovely.
Lighter than Air by Sophie Blanchard, the First Woman Pilot by Matthew Clark Smith, illustrated by Matt Tavares
If you like learning about amazing women from history, you’ll want to read about Sophie Blanchard, a woman who lived in France during the time of Napoleon. After she married a famous balloonist, Jean-Pierre Blanchard, and realized her dreams of flying. Even after her husband died, Sophie made a living as a professional balloonist.