Monday, March 11, 2013

Picture Book Reviews

In the Land of Milk and Honey
In vibrant language and a rhythm that moves with the rhythm of the train, Thomas describes her family's voyage in the late 1940's to California, the Land of Milk and Honey, as well as their early days there. The images are all positive, with no mention of the struggles many families faced as they made a place for themselves. This would be a good introduction to a unit on that time period, area, emigration, urbanization, or migrant workers.
Brick by Brick
By contrast in Brick by Brick, by Charles R. Smith, Jr., there is no denying the countless hours of heavy work slaves put into building the original White House, while "slave owners take slave hands' pay." Even the pictures show bloated politicians handing bills to weasily slave owners, while toiling slave children are barely able to keep their eyes open. It's hard to find fault with a largely negative representation of what was, really, a largely negative aspect of American history. Smith still manages to impatr a sense of pride and hope - "Slave hands count shillings/ with worn fingertips/and purchase freedom/earned brick by brick."
Both of these books were illustrated by Floyd Cooper. This third features the artwork of Kadir Nelson.
Nelson Mandela
Oh, yes, please!
What's that? I'm supposed to be objective? I have to at least open the book before I decide I love it? Well, if you insist.
Oh, happy sigh. I'm sorry, I can't be objective, I just adore anything this Nelson puts to paper. I did learn a multitude of things I didn't know about the other Nelson - Nelson Mandela, however. Or I should say, Rolihlahla (I wonder if he ever considered going back to his given name when he got older? Read the book to find out what that translates to - quite apt, I think!) I had no idea he had to leave home at such a young age. I had forgotten how long he was in prison (over 27 years!) And, I was newly inspired by the determination and positive outlook he still has.

And did I mention the illustrations are amazing?
Thank-you to HarperCollinsChildrens for all three review copies! For more great nonfiction books, jump over to Nonfiction Monday at Sally's Bookshelf!


  1. Great selections! Adding all three to my Must Read list ...


  2. All three books look absolutely wonderful - and Kadir !Nelson can do no wrong in my estimation. So great to see a book for kids about Mandela!

  3. All three sound like great reads. Haven't read these ones yet.
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. These look interesting - and I have to confess I never thought about how bricks were carried. Thanks for sharing.