It’s Monday, and here’s what I’m reading: December 3, 2012

Monday YA Round Up
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts

  Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2012  
 The Kid Lit Challenge is hosted by Alyson at Kid Lit Frenzy
 

Nonfiction Monday is hosted by Shirley at Simply Science Blog


First up is a wonderful new historical fiction work: A Soldier’s Secret: The Incredible True Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero  by Marissa Moss.  

Sarah Emma Edmonds,  served as a Union soldier, a nurse, a spy and a courier during the Civil War: as Frank Thompson, she was everywhere – from Bull Run, to the Peninsula Campaign to Fredericksburg and Antietam.  She saw action in some of the Civil War’s most brutal campaigns, and managed to keep her secret safe until 1863, when she discovered that she had malaria and knew that hospitalization would surely reveal her true gender.

Sara Edmonds Seelye Sara Edmonds Seelye disguised as Franklin Thompson

Moss tells this hard-to-believe-but-true story beautifully, through Sara’s perspective   She does not shy away from the horrors of war, but that realism adds to the story, and makes one admire Sarah all the more for staying true to her belief that she was just as capable of serving in the Union Army as any fellow – and doing so with distinction.  As a Civil War history buff, I found the historical details fascinating. Camp life and battle life are wonderfully sketched, and Moss does a great job of imagining Sarah’s conflicting feelings – she is loyal to her regiment, her cause, but feels (as many soldiers must) the weariness of loss and sorrow as battle after battle claims the lives of comrades and friends.  There are many photographs throughout this book, which add greatly to the reading experience – and I loved all the historical resources at the end of the book for further reading.  So, this is definitely going on my buy-for-the-class-library list.
Next, I read, So, You Want to be a Comic Book Artist? by Philip Amara, because I seem to have one boy every year who is mad about comic book illustrating, and I have been searching for a how-to book about this for a long time.

Divided into easy to read chapters with topics such as “Starting a Studio and Tools of the Trade,” “Character Creation: From Superheros to Villains,” and “Creating Stellar Stories:Comic Book Scripts,” this is a wonderful how-to guide for the aspiring comic book artists in my class.  The best part is that this book is well-written, too – so I feel good about handing it over to a student.  Some of the try-this exercises made even ME want to grab a pencil and try sketching out something!

Finally, I was able to get my hands on Self Portrait in Seven Fingers: The Life of Marc Chagall in Verse, which many bloggers have been singing the praises for some time now.  This absolutely stunning book is the work of Jane Yolen and J. Patrick Lewis, who provide the poems which weave the story of Chagall’s life – from his birth in Vitebsk, Russia in 1887, to one of his last paintings, “The Fall of Icarus” in 1975.

   

I love the care with which the paintings were chosen and how the poems provided insight both into the artist’s life as well as the artist’s vision.  Art history meets biography in these brilliant poems –  and I found myself going back and forth from lines in the poems to details in the paintings they accompanied.  What a feast for the senses!
It is my fond hope to finish the year off with a multi-genre project (Penny Kittle’s idea, actually, which she details in  Write Beside Them, a summer book club read which left me much inspired.  Self Portrait with Seven Figures will  be a wonderful mentor text to share with my students as a way to mix nonfiction writing with poetry and art.


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3 thoughts on “It’s Monday, and here’s what I’m reading: December 3, 2012

  1. The books about Sarah Edmonds & Marc Chagall sound terrific, Tara. We always have some students study the Civil War & different kinds of art so these are good additions to seek out. I agree too about the 'comic' drawing-often someone, or lots of them wish to study the topic. I'm excited you're going to try the multi-genre project-will be excited to hear about it! Have a good week!

  2. Oh Tara, I am in LOVE with both these books that you just shared. The former because I have a kindred who's currently serving in Afghanistan as part of the European elite forces. And so I gravitate naturally to books with this theme – we really should push through with our war and peace theme in GatheringBooks next year. The Life of Marc Chagall in verse sounds enchanting – I adore artists and poetry, I am sure that I'd fall in love with this book. I shall look for this in our libraries although heaven knows I have borrowed way too many books during the past week.

  3. Wow – such great books! I'm always looking for a woman's perspective, and it's hard to get in older history. I'll have to check out that one. I also have a ton of students who are trying to make comics every day… great suggestion for that book!

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