Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Two Great Nonfiction Picture Book Biographies

WHO SAYS WOMEN CAN'T BE DOCTORS?
The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell
by Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
Henry Holt and Company, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-8050-9048-2
Picture Book Biography
1st and up
Reviewed from purchased copy.

ABOUT THE BOOK

In the 1830s, when a brave and curious girl named Elizabeth Blackwell was growing up, women were supposed to be wives and mothers. Some women could be teachers or seamstresses, but career options were few. Certainly no women were doctors.
 

But Elizabeth refused to accept the common beliefs that women weren’t smart enough to be doctors, or that they were too weak for such hard work. And she would not take no for an answer. Although she faced much opposition, she worked hard and finally—when she graduated from medical school and went on to have a brilliant career—proved her detractors wrong. This inspiring story of the first female doctor shows how one strong-willed woman opened the doors for all the female doctors to come.

REVIEW

There are more and more great picture book biographies being published about ordinary people who did extraordinary things.  I love it.  This is another great one to add to the list.  Elizabeth Blackwell was clearly a strong-willed person from the time she was little.  I loved the examples the author shares illustrating this, for example carrying her brother over her head until he gave in on whatever it was they fought about, and sleeping on a hard floor to 'toughen' herself up.  I also really liked the details about how she didn't set out to become a doctor, she didn't even like being around blood or sickness when she was younger.  But once the idea was planted in her mind, she persisted until she made her dream a reality, despite a tremendous amount of opposition.  I love stories like this because they are inspiring and true!  The illustrations by Marjorie Priceman are darling and match the spunky tone of the writing to a tee.  The bright colors and expressive faces add a great deal to the enjoyment of the story.  I highly recommend this as not only a great picture book biography, but just an awesome story period.

MARY WALKER WEARS THE PANTS

The True Story of The Doctor, Reformer, and Civil War Hero
by Cheryl Harness, illustrated by Carlo Molinari
Albert Whitman & Company, 2013
ISBN:  9780807549902
Picture Book Biography
Grades 1st and up
Reviewed from purchased copy.  

ABOUT THE BOOK

Mary Edwards Walker was unconventional for her time: She was one of the first women doctors in the country, she was a suffragist, and she wore pants! And when the Civil War struck, she took to the battlefields in a modified Union uniform as a commissioned doctor. For her service she became the only woman ever to earn the Medal of Honor. This picture book biography tells the story of a remarkable woman who challenged traditional roles and lived life on her own terms.

REVIEW   

I had to smile as I read this book. Mary Walker was a lady who knew her own mind and heart and lived according to her beliefs regardless of what others said or did.  She was mocked and gossiped about at all levels of society, she was even jailed at one time for daring to wear pants at a time when women were expected to wear only long dresses and skirts.  She also made her way through medical school and fought her way into the army to work as a surgeon during the Civil War.  Her courage both on the front lines and behind the front lines earned her the Medal of Honor.  While she didn't live to see women get the right to vote she did much to encourage women and men to fight for their civil rights.  Not only is this a fascinating story, but a great biography.  It's challenging to write a biography this short, but Harness does a great job giving the reader a glimpse of the brave woman that was Mary Walker as well as a glimpse of a time that isn't as long past as it might seem.  Another great picture book biography, a must have for schools and public libraries alike.

 

11 comments:

  1. Wow Heidi
    I am so glad you posted these on the hop. This is a subject so dear to my heart and I have hopefully imparted a very similar theme with my little girl elf who wants to become a healer just like her mum.

    These books are going on the to buy list. I am so interesting in books showing girls that can do anything. As a registered nurse I have worked amongst some fine women doctors, many at the top of their field, but I realise that there was a time when this would never have even been considered. These are the kinds of stories that I want to impart to my little girl, so thank you as I don't know if I would have found them otherwise, best wishes. Julie

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  2. I'm so glad you shared these books! I am always looking for good books to read to my girls that will encourage them to take control and not allow themselves to be confined by anything.

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  3. So psyched to be on the Hop this week! The two books you reviewed look very interesting, and I personally love when nonfiction is represented via picture books. I'll need to check these two out. I'm your newest follower, and so pleased to have found you!

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  4. It's so inspirational to read stories of these amazing women who really stuck their neck out so that women for generations to come could benefit. Love these two books! Thanks for hosting the Hop with us Heidi! :)

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  5. We love picture book Non-Fiction. These look like great reads! Thanks for sharing them. And I would like to invite you to check out our non-fiction picture books too at www.stackingbooks.com

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  6. Yay! We love Marjorie Priceman illustrations in this house and especially love picture books (as Kieth mentioned) of nonfiction stories. With one darling daughter in this home, we will be reading both of these books. Thank you for the post. I am enjoying joining the blog hop.

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  7. These look like wonderful books to inspire young minds... It's so important for women to have positive role models from a young age. Thank you for sharing!

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  8. These both sound great! I love biographies for children.

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  9. Perfect! Thanks for the emphasis on nonfiction. I want my son to know about and take pride in these women, just as I would want my daughter (if I had one) to do. Thanks again for hosting!

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  10. Really interesting review choices. I like the covers, too. Thanks for sharing!

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