Picture Book Showcase #3

Welcome to another Picture Book Showcase!

Last Picture Book Showcase I talked about William Joyce's works that had sculptures made based on them in Abilene, Texas. I also briefly talked about the National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature and how I had seen a couple of exhibits there. Today's showcase will focus on one of those exhibits that I read the works for.

Today's theme is Melissa Sweet, children's illustrator.

Her work was featured inside the NCCIL and it was pretty cool to see, since she sometimes does some mixed media works and not just illustrations on paper. There can be very layered pieces and visually it is really cool to see. There were more books in the exhibit than I got to read, and I really like to just highlight books that I have read, so this showcase will be smaller than the previous two. I'm still trying to find the other ones we caught glimpses of at the exhibit and should I ever find them, I will read them and then update this post to include them. Let's see the books!

The Right Word Brave Girl
Some Writer!A River of Words


  • The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant
  • Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel
  • Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White by Melissa Sweet
  • A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant


So all of these books were illustrated by Melissa Sweet, and one of them she also wrote. They are all biographical, non-fiction books and would probably be excellent to complement lesson plans involving these topics and people. 

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus presents the life of Peter Mark Roget, who wanted to write a book, but did not write stories. Roget wrote lists and loved words, which turned into a combination of listing words so they could be found for use. When he needed a word, he wanted to be sure he could find the right one. The lists he made grew and grew until it became what we know of today as the Roget Thesaurus. It was originally created in 1805. What I like first and foremost about this book, is that it is about words. I love words and writing and reading, so this one was a natural fit for me. However, one of the points where this book shines is taking a topic that, most people, would find utterly boring, and it makes it enjoyable. The illustrations are really intriguing in a collage kind of style and the book is very approachable despite being seemingly dry in its focus. It was a Caldecott nominee in 2015 and has been nominated for, or won, numerous other awards: SCBWI Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Illustration (2015), Sibert Medal (2015), Lupine Award for Picture Book (2014), NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor Book (2015), Keystone to Reading Book Award Nominee for Intermediate (2016), & Kirkus Prize Nominee Finalist for Young Readers' Literature (2014). 

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909 tells the story of Clara Lemlich, an immigrant Jewish woman from Ukraine who came to America. She studied at night school and helped to support her family at a time when girls did not go to school. At the time, girls worked in factories where they were very mistreated. This did not please Clara, and she was part of leading the largest women workers walkout in America's history. This book tells about an event and women that I knew nothing about. I didn't learn about them in school, which kind of makes sense, because in the future, Clara generally became kind of a blacklisted person due to being a Communist in belief. In this story the focus is solely on her role in fighting for women's labor rights, which at the time was very important since the jobs they had were at places that we now call "sweatshops" with unfair wages and work conditions. Clara later also fought for women's suffrage, so political affiliation aside, generally speaking, she is a pretty cool figure to get to read about.

Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White is a non-fiction lengthy picture book with chapters, that presents the life of the famous American author. E. B. White is known for writing Charlotte's Web, The Trumpet of the Swan, and Stuart Little. This book presents what his life was like, both in youth and adulthood. It talks about his journey as a writer and journalist, from life to death, 1899 to 1985. The book features personal letters and photos in a mixed media illustrative style, which really makes the whole thing come together very nicely. White's own words are presented in the text and as a whole you can get a better feel for what his philosophies were and what kinds of things he appreciated in his life time. I always find it really fascinating to read about authors and other creative people, to see what inspired and influenced them and what environments they found themselves in or leaning towards within their lives. This one is lengthy, but definitely worth a read.

A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams presents the life of renowned poet, William Carlos Williams. This book also has the mixed media illustration style and it presents a biographical account of a writer. William Carlos Williams is not a writer that I was ever introduced to in grade school. I first read one of his poems when I studied creative writing in undergrad. To find a children's picture book about him was really interesting to me. I like the idea of introducing more figures and literary works to kids in an approachable way. Also, this one is similar to Some Writer! because it details the personal life of Williams. Williams became a medical doctor to make a living, and while doing so, he also wrote poetry. He had to find a balance between the self-pleasing pursuits of writing, and the need to make a living. This one is enjoyable to me for the same reasons that Some Writer! is. I like the insights into creative peoples' lives a lot, and I think this is a good introduction to a popular poet that doesn't tend to get covered much in lower levels of schooling.

Final Thoughts

Today's books are biographical, non-fiction. Melissa Sweet is an illustrator with a distinct style, focusing largely on mixed media and collage elements. I greatly enjoyed seeing her works on display and look forward to eventually reading more books that she illustrated. She has many other works, but I've not had the chance to explore them yet. These books are generally lengthier and require more patience out of a reader, so they definitely are not for the preschool age group. 

Comment Section Time!
Have you read any of these books? What are some authors that you like that you would like to see biographical picture books written about? Also, recommend any biographical books you have read and enjoyed down in the comments below! 

See you next post!