Thursday, January 24, 2013

Two nonfiction biographies (2012, 2013)

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children. Jan Pinborough. Illustrated by Debby Atwell. 2013. [March 2013] Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  40 pages.

Once in a big house in Limerick, Maine, there lived a little girl named Annie Carroll Moore. She had large gray eyes, seven older brothers, and ideas of her own. In the 1870s many people thought a girl should stay inside and do quiet things such as sewing and embroidery. But Annie thought otherwise...

There was a time when children weren't allowed in libraries, weren't allowed to touch books let alone to take them home. Some librarians felt differently. Anne Carroll Moore was among them. Children needed access to books, to good children's books. Libraries needed to have special rooms and collections for children. Miss Moore Thought Otherwise tells the story of one librarian whose special work within the field of librarianship had a great impact on the world, on how people thought of libraries. The book does note that she was not the only librarian working in this field, striving to make children's rooms a part of every public library. She just happened to be in the right place and right time. (New York City). She not only was a librarian; she reviewed children's books and compiled recommended reading lists as well.

I definitely enjoyed this one. It is so easy to take having access to books for granted, it's good to have a reminder now and then that it always wasn't so. This book might pair well with Miss Dorothy's Bookmobile.

Noah Webster & His Words. Jeri Chase Ferris. Illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages.

Noah Webster always knew he was right, and he never got tired of saying so (even if, sometimes, he wasn't). He was, he said, "full of confidence" [noun: belief that one is right] from the beginning. He was born in 1758 on a farm in West Hartford, Connecticut, when America still belonged to England, and by the time he was twelve he knew how to grow everything from beans and corn to peas and potatoes. His father said Noah would be a fine farmer, following in the footsteps of a long line of Webster farmers. But Noah did not want to be in that long line. He didn't want to be a farmer at all. 

I definitely enjoyed this picture book biography of Noah Webster. The narrative was straightforward and yet playful at times with it's interruptions of definitions. The book provides background on American life and culture in addition to providing background on Webster himself. The book primarily focuses on Webster writing AMERICAN textbooks for use in schools and his writing of the AMERICAN dictionary. There are plenty of details to bring this story to life. For example, his blue-back speller cost fourteen cents, but Webster's profit was only a penny per book sold. It didn't take Webster long to learn that he wouldn't be getting rich by writing textbooks. Half the book focuses on the time he spent working on the dictionary. It was quite an accomplishment of course...
An example of the book's playfulness:
Now Noah needed to read the two thousand pages he had worked on for almost twenty years, to be sure there were no mistakes. Next, he needed to find just the right publisher. Last, he needed to take a nap.

I would recommend this one.

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comment:

Ms. Yingling said...

I'llhave to take a look at both of these. Such a sucker for books about libraries, not surprising!