Monday, September 24, 2012

Nonfiction Monday-- Biographies

I Am #1: SacagaweaI Am #2: Albert Einstein

Norwich, Grace. I Am Sacagawea, I am Albert Einstein
Scholastic, 1 August 2012.
Also reviewed at Young Adults Books Central; I Am Sacagawea, I am Albert Einstein

This new series from Scholastic also includes I am Helen Keller and I am Martin Luther King, Jr.

There is little documentation about the life of Sacagawea, who was kidnapped by another tribe, sold as a teenager to be the second wife of a French trader, and who ended up on the Lewis and Clark expedition because her husband wanted to go with them and knew her skills could be valuable to the team. The information we have is mainly from the log notes, which detail the birth of her son, an illness from which Clark nursed her back,  and her help and calm attitude during the trip. Little is known about her life after the trip-- she may have died within a few years of returning, or she may have lived to be 94! This book, with its black and white illustrations, covers the basics of her life in 124 pages and includes other resources at the back.

Einstein's life, on the other hand, is well-documented, and the biography of him skims the existing story and presents the bare basics about his scientific work in a way that students can understand. It delineates simply the circuitous route his life took, and addresses but glosses over the nitty gritty of his divorce from his first wife, and talks about his interest in pacifism after World War II. In this book, the drawings were a disappointment, since there are many photographs of Einstein that could have been used.

Both books remind me somewhat of the Childhood of Famous Americans series, although much more detail is given to the adult life and accomplishment of the subjects. The engaging narrative and understandable presentation of often complicated facts makes these good books for reports and leisure reading in grades 3-6.

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts. Both sites have lots of links to reviews about books that are great for the 4th through 8th grade.

Head over to A Teaching Life  which is hosting Nonfiction Monday. This meme was started by Anastasia Suen.

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