Sunday, July 24, 2011

Nonfiction Monday- Biographies

Krull, Kathleen. Sigmund Freud (2006)
Discovered an odd thing while reading this: I didn't want to critique the book as much as I wanted to critique Freud's life! Krull always does an excellent job with biographies, like the one on Marie Curie, but I wasn't nearly as interested in Freud. The style was the same, with nice discussions in a sort of conversational, lecture format, but Curie's life was so much more exciting. The more interesting parts of Freud's life, such as how his dog Jofi was "trained" to get up after an hour, I just didn't believe. Isn't it more likely that he gave his dog a signal? I love biographies, having read all of the Childhood of Famous Americans books I could find in elementary school, but I think I'll pass on this one for my library. The inclusion of actual pictures of Freud would have made it more valuable to my collection.

Bertozzi, Nick. Lewis and Clark.

The note at the beginning of this book helped a lot: what the author want to do was to communicate "the experience of that remarkable expedition". This the book does very well. The graphic novel format made it hard for me to follow some of the history, leaving me to want to read a standard biography or nonfiction book on the topic, but this was a good way to impart the highlights (or lowlights as they were!) of the expedition. The book starts when the president gives the commission and ends with Lewis' problems afterwards, and his suicide.

Strengths: I can see this being used by social studies teachers to recount some of the more interesting portions of the journey or to entice students to read further. It is well-researched and the drawings are comparable to other graphic novels.

Weaknesses: As previously stated, understanding the details is sometimes difficult without the support of a lot of text. The one formatting issue I would have changed is that sometimes the drawings are contained on one page, and sometimes it is necessary to read across the entire two page spread to read things in order. Perhaps this is not a struggle for those used to graphic novels, but I had to reread several pages because of the confusion this caused.


Kyle said...

Thanks for the new ideas. During the Denver Writing Project on Fellow did a presentation on how his students wrote biographies on classmates. He used mentor texts to show different ways to write a biography.

PS I love your new site design!

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