Picture This: Non-Fiction Picture Books Telling Life Stories – A Guest Blog by SF Said
We're thrilled to welcome SF Said, author of Varjak Paw, as a guest blogger/bookseller, to share an incredible selection of contemporary non-fiction picture books that will spark all readers' imaginations. Click on the links below to browse and buy.
And say hi on Twitter 🐦 @whatSFSaid to get more recommendations!
COMING TO ENGLAND by Floella Benjamin and Diane Ewen
An established favourite in both its chapter book AND brand-new picture book (October 2020) forms. Baroness Benjamin relates her Windrush generation story so relatably, while honestly documenting racism as well as family reunion.
MALALA'S MAGIC PENCIL by Malala Yousafzai and Kerascoët (joint pen name of illustrators Marie Pommepuy and Sébastien Cosset)
A modern classic & one of the most influential books of the last decade from Nobel Peace Prize awardee Malala Yousafzai, and a rare example of a book for young people written by a young writer. Also: will lead all readers to more books!
LIBBA: THE MAGNIFICENT MUSICAL LIFE OF ELIZABETH COTTEN by Laura Veirs and Tatyana Fazlalizadeh
Gorgeous dreamy realism here from artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh accompanying a tribute from one musician, Laura Veirs, to another. Elizabeth Cotten's life spans the 20th century, bringing blues from South to North with her self-taught genius.
THE PROUDEST BLUE: A STORY OF HIJAB AND FAMILY by Ibtihaj Muhammad, SK Ali and Hatem Aly
A story of two sisters: Faizah is starting school, and her older sister Asiyah has just started wearing her beautiful, ocean-blue hijab. Sibling love stands up to bullying and celebrates being true to your beliefs in this beautiful book.
WE CAME TO AMERICA by Faith Ringgold
Faith Ringgold is a great artist full stop – AND she moves joyfully between protest art, gallery works, quilts and illustrated books for young readers that all share her commitment to telling the true American stories and embracing community.
PAPER SON: THE INSPIRING STORY OF TYRUS WONG, IMMIGRANT AND ARTIST by Julie Leung and Chris Sasaki
You may know him best through Bambi, which he animated – but who was Tyrus Wong (born Wong Geng Yeo in China) before he worked for Disney? A beautifully illustrated book about a brilliant artist who worked with many kinds of brushes.
WERE I NOT A GIRL: THE INSPIRING AND TRUE STORY OF DR. JAMES BARRY by Lisa Robinson and Laura Simkin Berke
James Barry travelled the world as a doctor and soldier, living his entire adult life as a man – but he was assigned female at birth. A striking and sensitive story of a historical figure who challenged gender assumptions and lived a full life.
THE ARABIC QUILT: AN IMMIGRANT STORY by Aya Khalil and Anait Semirdzhyan (please note this book is a special order title)
Based on Aya Khalil's experience, this is a brilliant story about the power of sharing stories & making art: when Kanzi faces teasing, her teacher allows her to bring in her beloved teita's quilt, inspiring her class in a collective creative project.
DOROTHEA LANGE: THE PHOTOGRAPHER WHO FOUND THE FACES OF THE DEPRESSION by Carole Boston Weatherford and Sarah Green
Her famous photographs from the Dust Bowl challenged America to address the Depression – and Dorothea Lange, a polio survivor and a woman in a man's world, also photographed breadlines, former slaves, and interned people.
ENORMOUS SMALLNESS: A STORY OF E. E. CUMMINGS by Matthew Burgess and Kris Di Giacomo
A bold, rhyming take on one of America's most beloved wordsmiths, pairing short, sweet verses with characterful pictures that illustrate not only e.e. cummings' life but also gorgeous quotations from his poems. A work of enormous smallness.
SILENT DAYS, SILENT DREAMS by Allen Say
James Castle could not hear and he never learned to speak. And yet he created art that speaks to us still. Allen Say shows and tells how in this tender, celebratory life of one of America's most original, inventive artists.
ON A BEAM OF LIGHT: A STORY OF ALBERT EINSTEIN by Jennifer Berne and Vladimir Radunsky
Introducing any reader accessibly to a genius – who was also a curious child, and a non-conformist adult who questioned everything. Vladimir Radunsky's pictures convey Einstein's speed of thought beautifully in this unusual life story.