We've reached the final stages in our CYBILS fiction picture book evaluations. From now until the first of the year, when finalists are announced, I'll limit posts to nonfiction and poetry. There are plenty of titles to praise and celebrate in those categories, but I'll start here:
Kids really have a hard time picturing adults as babies, or even as kids. How could a mom, dad, teacher, coach, or any adult driving a car, mowing the lawn, or cooking dinner, ever have been a kid? Could they have hated homework? Pouted, teased, been bullied, or caused trouble? It stretches the imagination, to say the least.
It’s even more difficult to picture famous adults as kids. Sports stars are perhaps the hardest of all. Weren’t they just born into the world talented, superior, poised, confident, popular? Rich?
Just in time for holiday gifting, here's a book that will reveal some childhood truths and hook young readers in the process: Kid Athletes: TrueTales of Childhood from SPORTS LEGENDS. (Quirk Books, December, 2015). Kids will love discovering the details of REAL kids who grew up to become famous athletes in this thoroughly researched new book for middle grade readers.:
The stories are written by David Stabler, with illustrations by Doogie Horner. This pair also created Kid Presidents: True Tales of Childhood from America’s Presidents.
At two hundred pages, KID ATHLETES is meaty but accessible for even reluctant readers: large font, wide line spaces, text packed with wry humor and action, and nearly every page featuring colorful, comic illustrations.
The athletes span two centuries, many sports, both genders, and the globe. Although primarily focused on American athletes, even those won't all be familiar to young readers. The childhood experiences and societies these athletes inhabited provide real exposure to historic periods and changes. For kids who can't imagine a world without portable screens, these biographies are valuable opportunities to take steps back through time.
The stories of athletes are grouped by themes: Not Easy Being a Kid, Family Matters, and Practice Makes Perfect. They offer examples of hardships overcome, but also depict troublemaking kids, bullying, pranksters, frustrations, and failures. Each takes only a short time to read, with additional resources and readings provided in back matter.
This blog focuses on picture books, but this two hundred page, non-fiction picture-ish book offers intriguing biographies that pair well with picture books.
My favorite picture book pairing is featured among the recommended titles. It's by award-winning biographer Kathleen Krull: Lives of the Athletes: Thrills,Spills (and What the Neighbors Thought).
Some of the same individuals are featured, offering a great opportunity to compare and enhance the details of their lives from the two sources. It offers additional names to learn and lives to explore.
Krulls website includes an introduction here, and a page with links to further information here.
Kathleen Krull is the author of one of my all-time favorite picture books (review here), illustrated by none other than award-winning David Diaz. WILMA UNLIMITED: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman.
I'll slide two steps back from my pledge to stay with nonfiction when I tell you about a book that will release in February, 2016. Wilma Rudolph is the legendary figure who inspired THE QUICKEST KID IN CLARKSVILLE, by Pat Zietlow Miller. Truth be told, I haven't read this one yet, but a story created by Miller and about the inspiration provided by Wilma Rudolph to a kid in Clarksville will be in my hands the minute it becomes available.
After all, every legend started off as a kid. And every kid can grow up to become a legend. Reading these books could be just the inspiration they need to make it happen.