I give thanks today that I am home as part of our Thanksgiving break. Yesterday I had the opportunity to share two more CYBILS Nonfiction Books with students.
I am thankful for all the new titles that have presented themselves in this category. Yesterday was “art” day.
What a quiet story about an important person of the Harlem Renaissance. As a child, August sculpted things with the clay she found near her home. Her preacher father was not to keen on it. When I read about him smashing one of the creations, a child stated that his dad had done the same. Augusta’s love of sculpting wins out and she eventually ends up going to art school in New York. Bereal, a sculptor as well, captures the tone of the book with rich and realistic illustrations.
Unfortunately, much of her work was lost or destroyed. The book concludes with a detailed note about her life and work and two of her pieces, “Gamin” and “The Harp”.
Book Two was read to fifth graders and we worked on questioning strategies. The Secret World of Walter Anderson by Hester Bass and illustrated by E.B. Lewis is another quiet story of a lesser known artist. Walter Anderson grew up in Louisiana and Mississippi. He is most noted for his Horn Island watercolors and the book features that slice of life about him. How he loved to go for weeks on end to paint on this remote island.
The book is a fabulous read aloud. The fifth graders were silent and I think a bit amazed that someone would leave for weeks at a time to paint. Some of their questions confirmed their thinking:
Why did he leave his family?
Why did he hide his paintings?
Is Walter normal?
Why does Walter want to travel alone?
Does Walter ever get lonely?
The watercolor illustrations of E. B. Lewis capture the mood. Hess provided a larger view of Walter Anderson’s life at the end of the book with examples of his art. The poetic nature of the text makes for one terrific read aloud.
Both of these books are quiet treasures on the nomination list this year. They are both stories that demonstrated the spirit of never giving up what you love to do.
Happy Thanksgiving. Happy Reading.