The Biography Pie
Welcome back to my journey of picture book biography writing. While you've been gone, I found ANOTHER descendant of my subject, and we talked on the phone for almost two hours! It was awesome discussing my subject with someone else more knowledgeable.
While studying picture book biographies, I've noticed that they fall into two categories: a story about the person's whole life from birth to death or one part of the person's life. I'll call these options the whole biography pie or a slice of biography pie.
As always, I like to look at great examples. What's better than a book that received two recent ALA awards for nonfiction? I purchased on Kindle A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, Knopf 2013.
Opening line: On February 22, 1888, the town of West Chester, Pennsylvania, celebrated a holiday. That day, in that same town, Daniel and Christine Pippin celebrated the birth of their son, Horace. (This book uses the setting to begin.)
Description: Horace is a big boy who's a great helper, and he loves to draw. When he wins a drawing contest, he receives real paints and draws as much as he can. But times are tough and then there's a war. Horace is called away, and something happens that prevents him from doing what he loves best until...
Here are some things I learned about picture book biography writing from this book:
I really enjoyed this book and learned so much from it. I hope you get the chance to read it. And here's a FABULOUS interview of Jen and Melissa on the making of this book. So will you be baking a whole biography pie or just a slice?
2/9/2014 09:58:03 pm
Tina - Wonderful post today! I love how you have shown us the different ways this book shows us the whole pie! I will be rereading it again with a different eye!
2/10/2014 01:25:04 am
2/10/2014 07:12:52 am
I was especially interested in your post because I was talking with a friend who published her memoirs years ago about turning her story into a children's book. The information was very helpful.
2/10/2014 09:02:53 am
Tina, I, too, am loving these posts. I've been keeping them for reference. :-)
2/10/2014 09:58:28 pm
This is so helpful, Tina, for writing our NFPBs! It was good to see you at the archaeology Webinar last night!
2/11/2014 02:39:39 am
Our local library has a section devoted to picture book biographies. (I know - I am spoiled!) It is very interesting to think of those shelves in terms of whole pie vs. slice books. Well known, important persons like Lincoln, Washington, etc. tend to have lots of slice books for kids (ex. Lincoln and Grace: Why Abraham Lincoln Grew a Beard by Steve Metzger)
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Tina M. Cho, children's author
I'm a children's author and freelance writer for the educational market. Welcome!