In celebration of SEPTEMBER as National Literacy Month, I’ve created a
talk on biography basics.
“I was once asked what was the one story I most wanted to publish. This is it.”
biographer Hester Bass, author of The Secret World of Walter Anderson
PICTURE BOOK BIOGRAPHY BASICS or Is THIS One the Story for the 978 Shelf?
An incomplete CHECK LIST –
_____EXEMPLAR young readers can identify with/emulate/learn from this person
_____ILLUSTRATION story will “pop” off the pages in pictures – in original photographs& documents. Or with artist-created illustrations. Or both.
_____ ORIGINAL introducing an undiscovered achiever? Star-struck by a famous name? If your subject is the history-making Cleopatra, will your book illuminate exciting & less-known aspects of her story ? See Cleopatra Rules! by Vicky Schecter.
_______ MULTISOURCED are significant primary & secondary references & resources included in the back copy? Key specialists/players brought onboard as listed consultants to the project? See Bylines by Sue Macy.
________CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS teachers may apply the book to important school subjects/study areas; be alert for tie-ins.
________STORYTELLING conflicts/obstacles, structure, setting, hook, narrative, mechanics & all the usual
_________HEARTBEAT your heart beats fast for this person? Is the subject someone to enthusiastically present to the world- indefinitely?
websites to explore
Library of Congress “Today in History” & much more
Florida Memory Florida’s version of the Library of Congress
Interesting Non-Fiction for Kids, with award-winning books & their creators
American Library Association has the page, “Great Web Sites for Kids” From it, see: Biographies
Create a Voki , a moving avatar of yourself – like your own visual/audio mini-biography. Vox + Loki = Voki “Vox” is Latin for voice. “Loki” is a prankster character in Norse Mythology.
some p.b. biography titles
The SCBWI co-founder, author Lin Oliver, has said writers should read at least 100 books in the genre in which we hope to publish.
Writers & illustrators have brought to young readers the stories of lesser- known folks whose paths in the world make me pause. Here are just 8 to know, along with opening lines. (SCBWI = Society of Chilrens’ Book Writers & Illustrators)
Walter Anderson The Secret World of Walter Anderson
There was once a man whose love of nature was as wide as the world.
Roy Chapman Andrews Dragon Bones and Dinosaur Eggs
A lifetime of adventure began calmly enough for Roy Chapman Andrews when he was born January 26, 1884 in Beloit, Wisconsin.
Claudette Colvin Twice Toward Justice
If like Claudette Colvin, you grew up black in central Alabama during the 1940s and 1950s, Jim Crow controlled your life from womb to tomb.
Betty Mae Jumper She Sang Promise
Spring breezes tickle cabbage palm spikes in a woman’s birth camp of the proud Tiger Family in the powerful Snake Clan.
In 1841 a boy named Manjiro lived with his widowed mother and sisters and brothers in a village called Nakanohama in the province of Tosa in Japan.
Jackie Mitchell Mighty Jackie
It was April 2, 1941, and something amazing was about to happen.
Esther Morris When Ester Morris Headed West
Her name was Esther Mae Hobart McQuigg Slack Morris, and in 1869 she headed out to South Pass City in the Wyoming Territory.
Thomas Moran Yellowstone Moran
Tom Moran had dreams as big as the Montana sky.
Here, select honors are listed, for a few of the hundreds, of picture book biographies.
When Marian Sang Sibert Honor Book
Story Painter Carter G. Woodson Book Award
Harvesting Hope Pura Belpre Honor Book
Dragon Bones and Dinosaur Eggs 2001 Books for the Teen Age List
Eleanor, Quiet No More Amelia Bloomer Award
Snowflake Bentley Caldecott Award (for illustrator Mary Azarian)
Claudette Colvin National Book Award/Jane Addams Honor
My writing credo is simple, a 6-word artistic statement & writing lesson: “Made you look!” Made you care…