As the new blog coordinator for the SCBWI-Carolinas blog, I was excited to "meet" Shana Keller through email and schedule her blog on writing picture book biographies. When she told me that her newest biography, Bread for Words was being published by Sleeping Bear Press this month, I immediately requested a book to review and give away. Beautifully illustrated by Kayla Stark, this is another wonderful picture book to add to your personal collection. Kindergarten through 4th grade teachers should add it to their classroom libraries and use it during Black History Month.
REVIEWWritten in the first person point of view, the book opens with this remarkable statement: "I know where I was born, not when."
Frederick wasn't at all happy about giving up his freedom and although he met his brothers and sisters at the Great House Farm, he was so sad to leave his grandmother that he didn't even play with them.
He met Daniel, the young boy who lived in the great house and they hunted and fished together. "Except for the color of our skin, it was hard to know why we were different."
Frederick wanted to learn how to read and write, but he learned early on that it was illegal, unlawful, and unsafe for him to become literate.
Perhaps it was because he showed the master's family that he was just like Daniel, he was sent away from the plantation to live with the family's kin. Conditions were better for him and the master's wife began to teach him.
But, his new master disapproved and forbade her teaching.
"From that moment, I understood the pathway from slavery to freedom. If I learned to read, I could loosen the changes of bondage."
Frederick's jobs including escorting young Thomas to school and running errands for the family. When we met some hungry boys on the streets, he remembered how it felt to be hungry and he came up with a plan.
Frederick copied letters he saw at the shipyard and wrote them on fences, brick walls, and the pavement. He copied letters from Thomas's discarded copybooks.
This inspirational book ends with a summary of Frederick Douglass' life and why Ms. Keller chose to write the book as she did. Notice in some of the illustrations above, the words in bold are Frederick's exact words taken from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. In keeping with Ms. Keller's example, I put words in bold that I copied from Bread for Words that were Mr. Douglass' exact words.
As I consider writing a picture book biography, I plan to look for the nugget in each book around which the person's life (and thus the biography) revolves. For Galapagos Girl, it was Ms. Cruz's passion for her native island and animals. What do you guess the story nugget is for Bread for Words? Hint: I think there are several "right" answers.
For a chance to win my copy of this book (which I hate to give away--but I will for some fortunate reader's sake!) please leave me a comment along with your email address if you are new to my blog. Giveaway ends on February 1. For extra chances, share this on social medial. Just let me know what you do. Continental United States Only