January 18, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Nonfiction Titles That Do Double Duty | SLJ Spotlight

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As we like to say in the office, the more curriculum connections the better! These two titles provide a wealth of material that should inspire thoughtful discussions on the relationship between language arts and STEM (Mary’s Monster) and sports and art (Between the Lines).

redstarJudge, Lita. Mary’s Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created ­Frankenstein. illus. by Lita Judge. 320p. bibliog. notes. Roaring Brook. Jan. 2018. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781626725003.

Gr 7 Up –Judge details the life of the great Mary Shelley through poetry in this atmospheric and illustrated volume. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a classic masterpiece of horror and science fiction, and Judge treats it as such, hyping up the events that would lead to it’s creation—from her tumultuous relationship with Percy Bysshe Shelley to trials and tribulations of being a disowned woman in the 1800s. Readers will be enthralled by the dark and exacting verse, beautifully accompanied by haunting black-and-white watercolor spreads. In the poem “I Am Seventeen”: “Already/I am daughter to a ghost/and mother to bones.” This work does not skimp on the details, however sordid they may be. The pain, fervor, and tragic events that drove Shelley’s inspiration for Frankenstein will sit with readers well after the volume is finished. It also discusses the issue of women’s rights at the time (or lack thereof) in a somberly poignant way that mirrors many of Shelley’s own experiences. VERDICT A must-purchase for any middle and high school or public library YA collections, particularly where Gothic horror is in demand.–Molly Dettmann, Moore Public Library, OK

redstarWallace, Sandra Neil. Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery. illus. by Bryan Collier. 48p. further reading. notes. reprods. websites. S. & S./Paula Wiseman Bks. Jan. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481443876.

Gr 1-4 –The pursuit of dreams and the resilience of the human spirit shine in this illustrated biography of one of the world’s greatest sports artists. Growing up in the segregated south, Ernie Barnes loved to draw and rarely left home without his sketchbook. Shy, quiet, and often picked on, Barnes found his voice by painting what he observed in his surroundings: families walking, an old man snoring, the junk man peddling. When he grew to be six foot three, he was recruited for the high school football team and eventually earned a sports scholarship to an all-black university. Still, Barnes was discouraged: he wanted to be an artist instead of an athlete. His art teacher inspired him to paint what he saw, and suddenly his calling was realized: he will paint football, seeing the beauty in what before was ordinary. Barnes would go on to make the NFL, play for the Colts, and paint his first football painting, The Bench, a work that would define his career for years to come. After leaving football for good, his professional dream was fully realized when he was invited to become the official artist for the American Football League: “When I became an athlete, I didn’t stop being an artist.” Collier’s illustrations are storytellers on their own, blending emulations of Barnes’s work with dynamic, mixed-media imagery that enhances the book’s historical relevance. VERDICT An absolutely indispensable illustrated biography that will remind readers of all ages that it’s never too late to pursue their dreams.–Natalie ­Romano, Denver Public Library

This article was published in School Library Journal's January 2018 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Della Farrell About Della Farrell

Della Farrell is an Assistant Editor at School Library Journal and Editor of Series Made Simple

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