Drawing of Dr. Seuss with a sketchpad.Who doesn’t love Dr. Seuss? His pictures and his rhymes are funny, inventive, and memorable. I usually write about traditional nonfiction picture books, but today I’m joining Michele Knott and Allyson Beecher in their #Road2Reading Challenge. Dr. Seuss: The Great Doodler is an early reader biography that explores the life of the author/illustrator everybody knows.

I loved reading about Theodore Geisel’s early life–visits to the zoo with his sketchpad, his work on a college humor magazine–and seeing connections to his later work. The book includes wonderful details. Did you know he composed with wacky hats on his head? I was especially fascinated to read about Geisel/Seuss’s work as an editor.

The book is labeled as a Step 3 Step into Reading book. It’s a great example of an engaging subject written for young readers.

Dr. Seuss: The Great Doodler, by Kate Klimo, pictures by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher (Random House: 2016)

Children reading books in a tree.



You don’t find an easy reader memoir every day. This one’s a rare gem. It tells the story of a Sierra Leone war orphan who becomes fascinated with ballerina and eventually becomes a professional ballerina. It’s co-written by Michaela and Elaine DePrince, the ballerina and her mother.

I was especially impressed by the way the narrative weaves together so many difficult themes. The narrator talks about her skin condition, vitiligo, and the teasing she endured because of it. She tells the story of her adoption, describing the uncertainty as well as the thrill that went with getting a new family and a new country. She takes us through her obsession with ballet. She shows us the loneliness of being black in a predominantly white workplace.

It’s a lot for a single easy reader to tackle, but this text does it with grace. There’s a lot for any new reader–or any human!–to connect with here.

Ballerina Dreams: From Orphan to Dancer, by Michaela and Elaine DePrince, illustrated by Frank Morrison. Random House Step into Reading: 2014.