Friday, June 1, 2012

The Crossing by Donna Jo Napoli - Perfect Picture Book Friday

The weather in Wisconsin has been rather strange this week–moving from hot to cold, with gale-force winds.  Let's hope the weather turns a little warmer for my SUMMER OF PIZZA kickoff tomorrow. 

But the chill of these last few days (the ones before kids are released for a summer of exploration), has reminded me how powerful and varied the American climates can be–especially in the Midwest and West.

What if I were to trek the country and experience that power and variety firsthand?  
What if I explored the landscape through the eyes of a child?  
How might young eyes and ears describe the vast and challenging land that is the United States of America?

Donna Jo Napoli poetically answers those questions through the eyes of Sacagawea's son in THE CROSSING.  So, I've chosen it for today's Perfect Picture Book pick (visit Susanna Hill's blog if you want to learn more!).

TITLE:  
THE CROSSING

Author:  
Donna Jo Napoli

Illustrator:  
Jim Madsen

Publisher:
Atheneum Books for Young Readers (S & S)

Year: 
2011

Genre:  
Poetry, Nonfiction, Picture Book

Themes/Topics: 
 Exploration, Cultures/Multicultural, History (U.S), Lewis & Clark

Synopsis:  
"Experience the majesty of the young United States of America...all through the eyes of a small boy safe on Sacagawea's back."

First Page:  
Rolled in rabbit hide, / I am tucked snug / in a cradle pack / in the whipping cold / of new spring.  / ROAR, ROAR! Grizzlies stand tall in my dreams.

Why I chose it:  
So many reasons!  I hated learning history as a child...but if books like this had been around, I'm sure I would have been captivated.  Not only is Napoli's text simple and inviting, Madsen's illustrations are absolutely astonishing.  Together, they highlight the sights, sounds, and feelings that must have accompanied such a trek–something I never got in my fact-based history lessons as a child.  My favorite page is actually (I think) the center spread, in which the explorers are around the campfire with a group, and the old chief speaks Chinook to a prisoner who speaks Shoshoni...and the message goes around the fire in five languages.  It's just a groundbreaking book in so many ways.

Resources:  
Donna Jo Napoli includes an Author's Note in the back of the book highlighting each part of Lewis and Clark's journey in prose.  In addition she lists a neat website in the back which is a English to Shoshoni dictionary:


And National Geographic has an online game for kids about the Lewis & Clark Expedition:


Montana Kids also publishes a biography of Sacagawea that readers of any age will find interesting:



Well, whatever you're exploring this summer - pizza, or America, or the world - I hope you find an adventure and a story worth telling again and again.

Comments are open!  And swing on by Wednesday's post if you've got a pizza topping suggestion for me.  I need at least six more!

6 comments:

Joanna said...

I have read adult novels about Sacagawea, but not a picture book, thi i a great find, Miranda!

Julie Rowan-Zoch said...

On my library 'holds' already! Thanks.

Amy D said...

Wow, this looks like a great summer educational read. Thanks for the recommendation!

Kirsten Larson said...

What an amazing book. I am trying to write my June 12x manuscript in free verse/lyrical style, so nonfiction books like these are a true inspiration.

Stacy S. Jensen said...

We're adding this to our hold. And, we're having a butternut squash, goat cheese and sage pizza tonight. It's become one of our favorites to make.

Vivian Kirkfield said...

What a wonderful book, Miranda! Books like this bring history to life for young children...I think I would love it myself. And yes, it sounds like the circle around the fire was the original League of Nations. :) Super resource and activity list as well!!

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