Bill Peet: An Autobiography. by Bill Peet. Published 1989. Caldecott Honor 1990. ISBN: 9780395689820
I don’t know many of Bill Peet’s books, but that did not prevent me from enjoying his autobiography, a significant portion of which is devoted to his years working for Walt Disney. I loved following the story of how he rose through the ranks at Disney, and the anecdotes of his personal relationship with Walt Disney himself. The most incredible thing about this book is that there is an illustration on every single page. Each drawing is wonderful and brings to life a memory from Peet’s past.
Me... Jane by Patrick McDonnell. Published 2011. Caldecott Honor 2012. ISBN: 9780395689820
This is a great picture book biography, and it especially pleases me because it is appropriate for younger audiences - even as young as two or three. I love the incorporation of Jane Goodall’s own childhood papers into the illustrations, and the relationship between her stuffed toy monkey and the real chimpanzee shown with her on the final page of the book. Every detail in this book is in the right place, and the ending gives the reader a nice warm and fuzzy sensation.
Dave the Potter. by Laban Carrick Hill, illustrated by Bryan Collier. ISBN: 9780316107310
I couldn’t help but think that Dave looks like Craig Robinson on some pages of this book. That was somewhat distracting to realize, but it didn’t ruin the book for me. My favorite illustration is the pull-out paneled spread which shows Dave’s hands shaping a pot. I think kids like to hear stories about unsung talents, and Dave the Potter is a perfect example. Kids have a strong sense of justice, and they will appreciate seeing Dave get the credit he is due for his work.
Rosa. by Nikki Giovanni, illustrated by Bryan Collier. ISBN: 9780805071061
This book elevates Rosa Parks almost to sainthood in a way that sounds very false to me. It’s nice to have a picture book biography that gives the background of her life and how that led her to her famous act of civil disobedience, but the language is over the top and Parks is depicted as a flawless heroine who never does anything wrong. It just doesn’t sit right with me. Great illustrations, though. I’m especially fond of the endpapers.