Congratulations to my newest follower, Janet Frenck Sheets who won CAVE DADA PICKY EATER form last week's blog. Here's a hint to my faithful followers. When I offer to give you extra chances by sharing my blog on social media or becoming a new follower, take me up on it! Many times those people win!
Picture book biographies fascinate me. In fact, I'm so intrigued by this genre that I'm writing one myself. I recently had my manuscript critiqued by awesome picture book author, Kirsten Larson, who helped me figure out my story's inciting incident, mid-point, and plot points. I had no idea that Save the Cat elements could be applied to nonfiction picture books!
With Kirsten's instruction fresh in my mind, I decided to analyze another wonderful curriculum resource published by Calkins Creek: Jacob Riis's Camera: Bringing Light to Tenement Children written by Alexis O' Neill and illustrated by Gary Kelley.
Here's the midpoint of the book: Jacob discovers Blitzlicht, a special flash powder which photographers used to light up dark places. He and two amateur photographers captured pictures of the dark tenements, but they tired of the job.
He practiced taking pictures.
He practiced using flash powder.
Twice, he set fire to dwellings.
Once, he even set fire to himself.
But he didn't give up.
With words and pictures, Jacob finally found a way to make the Board of Health pay attention.
Jacob projected life-sized photographs of the slums to church groups, missions, and charities. Finally, the people of New York City started seeing the "plight of the city's poor who lived in squalor."
In 1890, Jacob published How the Other Half Lives. One of the men who read his book was the newly appointed president of the Police Board, Theodore Roosevelt. The two became life long friends and together they eradicated those slums.
In place of these slums, Mulberry Bend Park opened. A place for children and families. A place
flooded with sunlight,
feathered with soft grass,
bubbling with children playing.
For curriculum resources, including some of Jacob Riis's original photographs, see this page on Alexis O' Neil's website. The nine pages of back matter include information about Jacob's life, his work, a timeline, a glossary, and an amazing list of his accomplishments.
Here are two videos. The first includes Alexis' journey of writing this book and the many layers that went into it. The second is a presentation using photographs from How the Other Half Lives.
Book Talk by Alexis O' Neill
No giveaway this week, I'm saving this book as a curriculum resource for my grandchildren. If you teach 3-6th grade, I think this book would help your students, children, or grandchildren see what poverty looks like--and what a determined person can do to bring about change.