Who was the first person to fly an airplane? This book profiles Alberto Santos-Dumont, the Brazilian contender. It’s a charming story of sophisticated Parisian life in 1903, despite clunky invented dialogue and an awkward shift in point of view in the middle of the book. Louis Blériot, the hero of Alice and Martin Provensen’s Caldecott […]

How do writers keep nonfiction lively? Often, we adopt fictional strategies to tell our nonfiction stories. We think about characterization, setting, and plot arc. We often, like fiction writers, try to show an event rather than simply telling what happened. Of course, the problem for a nonfiction writer is that her toolbox is limited to […]

Louise Borden and Raúl Colon have created a lyrical ode to baseball and its place in American culture. Such a huge, amorphous topic must have been tough to structure into a narrative, but Borden uses chronological arcs to organize everything. She uses both the arc of a single game and the arc of an entire […]

This book opens with a giant block of marble standing in a courtyard in Florence and tells the story of how that chunk of rock became Michelangelo’s iconic statue of David. The book doesn’t break any new ground historically, and it doesn’t rely on primary documents, but the clever structure makes it a great introduction […]

I don’t think I’ve sung a picture book since Iza Trapani’s Itsy Bitsy Spider, but I found myself singing page after page of this wonderful picture book. Murphy traces America’s civil rights debates since colonial times by showing how the lyrics to “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” have been changed over and over to address new challenges […]

How do you tell a life in picture book format? The most obvious story structure–birth to death–often flattens the historical character. It can be boring. Zeroing in on a single moment in that astonishing life, though, makes that character spring to life. In Hot Dog! Eleanor Roosevelt Throws a Picnic Leslie Kimmelman writes about Eleanor Roosevelt […]