Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper is a complex story set in North Carolina in 1932, as African Americans were registering to vote in hostile and dangerous environment. This book not only tackles historic themes of struggle, oppression, and racism, but also universal themes such as struggles with learning, empathy, and personal responsibility. With an engaging plot, Sharon Draper pulled me right into the fear, frustration, and anger of Stella's family, giving a personal look at the struggles for basic human rights that people endured in our country.
I attended a conference in Boston put on by the John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Because Bryan Collier was one of the presenters, I read some of his books over the weekend. Uptown , Bryan Collier's first book, was inspired by The Snowy Day. This book contains repetitive language and strong images of Harlem. Collier's collages are beautiful and launched his career as an illustrator.
Because The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats served as a mentor text for Uptown, I brought it home from the library and reread it. The simple language and drawings remain powerful, even after years of sitting on library shelves. It's fun to read these two books side by side and find the inspiration that Ezra Jack Keats' work provided to Bryan Collier.
Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews and illustrated by Bryan Collier was available for purchase at the conference and will be available in another couple of weeks in bookstores. It is an autobiography, telling the story of Troy's musical development in New Orleans. The words and language are lyrical, the images are memorable, and the collages are beautiful. This is another great book to add to collections of resilience, growth mindset, and perseverance.
Dave the Potter by Laban Carrick Hill and illustrated by Bryan Collier is one of my new favorites books. Based on the true story of a slave named Dave who made over 40,000 pots during his lifetime, it is a wonderful example of narrative nonfiction. The amazing teachers at The Classroom Bookshelf have collected and mined an incredible collection of resources to add depth to inquiry lessons you can teach through this amazing story.