Thursday, May 22, 2014

Picture Book Roundup: Historical fiction edition

Here are two fiction picture books that feature days gone by.  Both books should tickle your fancy and make fun read-alouds for school-aged children, K-2.


  • Kulling, Monica. 2014. The Tweedles Go Electric. Ontario, Canada: Groundwood. Ill. by Marie Lafrance.


The year is 1903, and the Tweedles are "a bunch of fuddy-duddies," according to their neighbors.  Even when they finally decide to purchase a car, neighbors still tease them,
"People don't want that.  They want noise.  They want smoke." ... "They want a car to sound and smell like a car." 
But rather than the latest in gas-powered autos, the Tweedles purchase a smart, green, electric car.

With a wink and a nod to the future of "green" transportation and women's empowerment, it is the youngest of the Tweedles, Frances, and the "green" car that save the day when an emergency arises.  Marie Lafrance's illustrations accurately evoke the era and are reminiscent of the style of Herg├ęs Tin Tin.




With an illuminated capital I and leafy, gold flourishes, Brother Hugo and the Bear begins firmly planted in the monastical world of the Middle Ages,
It befell that on the first day of Lent, Brother Hugo could not return his library book.
As the reader soon discovers, a bear has eaten the monastery's beautifully illuminated copy of St. Augustine's letters.  It becomes Brother Hugo's job to painstakingly recreate the massive, illustrated tome —a job that "would have been full easy to endure if it had not been for the snuffling."  The source of the snuffling, we soon discover, is the bear, who has not yet had his fill of letters.  Written and illustrated with great reverence for the early art of book-making, Brother Hugo is humorous as well.  Both the monk and the bear are earnest and joyful.

Based loosely upon a true story, Brother Hugo, in combination with its included Historical Note, Glossary, Author's Note, and Illustrator's Note is illuminating for both children and adults.

  A Discussion Guide for Brother Hugo and the Bear.

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