Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: May 28th., 2014

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 The  Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge  (#nfpb2014) is hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kidlit Frenzy 

Mumbet’s Declaration of Independence by Gretchen Woelfle is a wonderful picture book about the remarkable life of one of America’s earliest abolitionists, Elizabeth Freeman:

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Born into slavery in pre-Revolutionary Massachusetts, Mumbet longed for freedom day and night.  Talk of freedom is in the air, it is the rallying cry of men marching off to fight for freedom from the British king, and it is inscribed in the new law of the land – the Massachusetts Constitution, where it is written: “All men are born free and equal”.   Mumbet knows in her heart that those words apply to her, and she convinces Thomas Sedgewick, a young lawyer in town working for the cause of American independence,  to take her case to court.  Their victory is one of the first in the long fight for the abolition of slavery; and so Mumbet is able to choose her own name, Elizabeth Freeman, and live her life owned by no one.  Fittingly, her great grandson was the civil rights leader and peace activist W.E.B. Dubois.

Alix Delinois’ gorgeous paintings  make this an arresting read aloud, one that will spur discussion and increase awareness of the long journey to freedom that as American Abolition:

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I’ve always loved sharing Ken Mochizuki’s Baseball Saved Us, the story of a young Japanese American boy and his father who bring baseball and thereby hope to their internment camp during World War II.  Now, there is another beautifully written book, based on a true story,  about baseball in Japanese internment camps: Barbed Wire Baseball, written by Marissa Moss and illustrated by Yuko Shimizu:

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Here’s the jacket blurb:

As a boy, Kenichi “Zeni” Zenimura dreams of playing professional baseball, but everyone tells him he is too small. Yet he grows up to be a successful player, playing with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig! When the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor in 1941, Zeni and his family are sent to one of ten internment camps where more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry are imprisoned without trials. Zeni brings the game of baseball to the camp, along with a sense of hope.

I had never heard of Zenimura, and was fascinated by the information about him in the author’s afterword.  The publisher also offers a curriculum guide with additional resources and thoughtful discussion questions which would be a fabulous way of introducing students to the historical events of the time.  Marissa Moss’ engaging text and Yuko Shimizu’s amazing illustrations make this a must have book in classroom libraries, to learn from and to be moved by:

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2 thoughts on “Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: May 28th., 2014

  1. I have the baseball book in my stack from the library, Tara. I’ve heard of Elizabeth Freeman, but not this book. It looks wonderful. One of W.E.B. Dubois’s descendants visited our school and spoke to the students a few years ago. It was great. Have a terrific day!

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