Genre: Nonfiction

Middle Grade Monday: Little Author in the Big Woods (2014) by Yona Zeldis McDonough

Middle Grade Monday: Little Author in the Big Woods (2014) by Yona Zeldis McDonoughLittle Author in the Big Woods by Yona Zeldis McDonough
Published by Macmillan on September 16th 2014
Genres: 19th Century, Biography & Autobiography, Girls & Women, Historical, History, Literary, Middle Grade, Nonfiction, United States
Pages: 176
Goodreads

Suggested age range: 7 and up

The Book: Divided into eight chapters and illustrated with charming and comfy black and white pencil drawings, McDonough’s biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder is a good choice for elementary readers interested in the life of the beloved Laura Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie. Here we learn more about the lives of Laura’s parents, Charles and Caroline, and about Laura’s early life growing up in the “Big Woods.” The book follows Laura all the way until her death, providing details about her life with Almanzo, her daughter, Rose, and her life as a writer. Readers will recognize events shared in the biography if they’re familiar with the Little House books. This is something the author mentions—the fact that Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about the life she knew—and which made her historical fiction that much more powerful. The book also includes quotes of Laura’s, “Games Laura Played,” a craft, and even recipes of foods mentioned by Laura.

Highlights: Love the map in the front of the book—“Places Laura Lived”—including the states of South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas. At several points in the book, the author connects different events in Laura’s life to reinforce how those events contributed to her becoming a writer. These reminders made me think about how so many factors influence the roles we end up filling in our lives—but if we have a strong passion for something, it’s hopeful that we’ll end up nurturing that anyway.

Who Should Read This Book: Readers of the beloved Little House books will appreciate this short and sweet biography, peppered with charming black and white drawings of various scenes from Laura’s life. It’s an easy read, filled with loads of information and interesting details about the various moves Laura’s family took throughout her life.

To Read or Not to Read?: Yes! I’ve been a fan of the Little House books since I was a young reader, and I have always been fascinated by the fact that the books were inspired by the real life of a girl growing up on the Prairie. This biography reminded me of how much I loved reading about the Ingalls family and the daily routines of their life back in the middle of the 19th century. Historical fiction is a genre I ADORED as a young reader, and I still LOVE a good historical read today. You’ll notice I don’t post reviews of as many nonfiction books on the blog, but reading Little Author in the Big Woods has made me rethink that. Nonfiction literature for children and young adults is a valuable genre, and it may be that my jaunt over the vast space Laura Ingalls Wilder journeyed during her lifetime via this short read just may inspire me to pursue more nonfiction journeys for young readers in the near future!

Do you have a favorite Nonfiction read from 2014? Or from any year that you think I absolutely must read??

What Katie Read

#AtoZchallenge: “S” is for Starry Messenger (1996) by Peter Sis

#AtoZchallenge: “S” is for Starry Messenger (1996)  by Peter SisStarry Messenger by Peter Sís
Published by Macmillan on July 15th 2014
Genres: Astronomy, Biography, Nonfiction, Science & Nature, Science & Technology
Pages: 36
Goodreads
five-stars

He dared to speak up and challenge the traditional way of thinking about the world.

He spent his time gazing at the stars.

By so doing, he realized that the earth was not the center of the universe. Rather, the earth and other planets revolved around the sun–a suggestion in opposition to the accepted truth of the day.

Like so many other visionaries in history, Galileo’s revelation (with evidence) was not entirely embraced by the leading authority of the day.

In this beautifully illustrated and luminous picturebook, Peter Sis tells the story of Galileo Galilei and his discovery that changed the world as well as the way we see ourselves and our place in the universe. The book affirms the courage and vision of Galileo and provides an important portrait of a man for young readers through Sis’s detailed written and visual text.

Here’s the GoodReads summary:

“In every age there are courageous people who break with tradition to explore new ideas and challenge accepted truths. Galileo Galilei was just such a man–a genius–and the first to turn the telescope to the skies to map the heavens. In doing so, he offered objective evidence that the earth was not the fixed center of the universe but that it and all the other planets revolved around the sun. Galileo kept careful notes and made beautiful drawings of all that he observed. Through his telescope he brought the starts down to earth for everyone to see.

By changing the way people saw the galaxy, Galileo was also changing the way they saw themselves and their place in the universe. This was very exciting, but to some to some it was deeply disturbing. Galileo has upset the harmonious view of heaven and earth that had been accepted since ancient times. He had turned the world upside down.

In this amazing new book, Peter Sís employs the artist’s lens to give us an extraordinary view of the life of Galileo Galilei. Sís tells his story in language as simple as a fairy tale, in pictures as rich and tightly woven as a tapestry, and in Galileo’s own words, written more than 350 years ago and still resonant with truth.  Starry Messenger is a 1997 Caldecott Honor Book.”

five-stars
What Katie Read
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