Posted tagged ‘Kathleen Krull’

Picture Book Month – Biographies

November 21, 2013

Picture book biographies shine. They offer readers an easy way to learn about well-known people as compared to reading a longer biography that may be too daunting for them.

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Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball written by John Coy and illustrated by Joe Morse is a picture book biography that shines. In 1891 in Springfield, MA, James Naismith took over a gym class that no one else wanted to teach. In desperation, he created a game that required skill and rules that had to be followed if the players wanted to remain playing. His game piqued the interest of the boys, and basketball became a hit. Coy provides concise information about how James Naismith invented the game of basketball and how it became a national pastime. The graphic illustrations by Joe Morse offer readers a glimpse into the time period when basketball was invented. Make sure to look at the endpapers to see Naismith’s first draft of basketball rules.


Another picture book biography worth reading is Louisa May’s Battle: How the Civil War Led to Little Women written by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by Carlyn Beccia. Krull offers a slice of Louisa May Alcott’s life that played an important role in the way she ultimately looked at her own life. In 1862, Louisa traveled to Washington D.C. to help nurse the wounded and sick soldiers of the Civil War. Conditions in the makeshift hospital were horrible, and tending to the seriously wounded soldiers made Louisa come face-to-face with the reality of war. In her short time there, she saw the disparity between how white workers and black workers were treated. Three weeks into Louisa’s time in Washington, she became very ill and was eventually brought home by her father. Alcott’s experience in Washington was live-changing. Her heartfelt writing about what she saw in the hospital made editors sit up and pay attention. Her writing was suddenly in demand. Soon afterward, she was asked to write a book about girls. Little Women, set during the Civil War, was the result, and it became a best seller. Carlyn Beccia’s colorful illustrations and Kathleen Krull’s story give readers a new look into the life and writings of Louisa May Alcott. Back matter and endpapers in the book provide more information about the time period. A list of  websites related to Louisa May Alcott and a timeline of her books can also be found.

Jim Henson and the Muppets

November 1, 2011

“The most sophisticated people I know – inside they are all children.” ─ Jim Henson

In our house, we love the Muppets! They’re the top of the line, the pièce de résistance, the bee’s knees. Whether it’s Sesame Street, a Muppet Movie, or a DVD of The Muppet Show, you’ll find someone in the house gawking and guffawing at the antics of the Muppets. The man behind all these creations was Jim Henson. He made magic!

When I found a copy of Jim Henson:  The Guy Who Played with Puppets, I was thrilled. This picture book biography is written by Kathleen Krull with illustrations by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. Simply and clearly, this book tells the story of Jim Henson’s life. It’s perfect for all ages. From early on, Henson was very observant. He loved to draw and make up stories. When he saw the puppet show, Kukla, Fran, and Ollie, he was smitten with puppets and puppet-making. His career path led him to create the Muppets that appeared in commercials and made guest appearances on television programs. Jim Henson’s Muppets eventually landed on Sesame Street and later starred in movies. His imagination worked overtime – always creating something unique and exciting.

This book is a lovely tribute to Jim Henson, who died unexpectedly at age of fifty-three. He was a true visionary. He had the ability to make people laugh and feel good about themselves. His inspiration, his passion, and his imagination provided generations of children and adults with pure and simple pleasure.

Another great Jim Henson Book:  Jim Henson:  The Works – The Art, the Magic, the Imagination by Christopher Finch (Random House, 1993)

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