Nonfiction Monday: Here Come the Girl Scouts! by Shana Corey
Here Come the Girl Scouts!
By Shana Corey
Illustrated by Hadley Hooper
And now for something a bit different. I’m tag-teaming today’s review with the host of this week’s Nonfiction Monday, Mary Ann of the excellent children’s lit blog Great Kid Books.
Mary Ann: Picture book biographies draw todayâ€™s kids into the lives of people we admire, giving our kids a glimpse of their struggles and accomplishments.
Travis: A great picture book biography can highlight not only an individual, but also provide a glimpse into a particular time and place for a variety of readers.
MA: Yep, these picture book biographies draw students from kindergarten through 5th grade. Some are simple and accessible, like Martinâ€™s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport. Others are complex and intricate, like Starry Messenger by Peter Sis. But I especially love picture book biographies that can be read by a range of audiences.
T: And thatâ€™s what we have here, I think. This picture book biography of Girl Scouts founder Juliette â€œDaisyâ€ Gordon Low by Shana Corey (whoâ€™s previously knocked it out of the park with picture book bios Milly and the Macyâ€™s Parade and Mermaid Queen) does things right. A remarkably fresh take on the founder of an organization that has changed the world.
MA: Iâ€™ve been amazed how vibrant the Girl Scout organization remains, and how many of our students are Girl Scouts today. They join partly to have fun with their friends, and partly because the values of the Girl Scouts still speaks to girls. â€œTo make yourself strong and healthy, it is necessary to begin with your insides.â€ Daisy Low said that over 100 years ago, but it still resonates today.
T: My Thin Mint habit is indeed alive and well. Itâ€™s great to see the organization thriving. A year or so ago, due to student demand, I was desperately looking for books on the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. I was amazed to discover that the pickings were slim. For the Girl Scouts, at least, thatâ€™s about to change. 2012 is the groupâ€™s 100 year anniversary and it seems every publisher is coming out with something on the topic. While Here Come the Girl Scouts! is the first such offering Iâ€™ve read, itâ€™s going to take a lot to top it.
MA: This book is going to draw these girls into seeing what values were established by Gordon Low – called Daisy by her family and friends. She was no wilting flower! Daisy loved adventure and wanted girls to learn skills that would help take them places in life. She grew up with advantages, but she really thought about how she could make a difference in girls’ lives, how she could help others explore and expand their horizons. Corey brings this out through her lively narration and Lowâ€™s quotes that she sprinkles across every page.
T: That definitely adds another layer of character. The third-person text is concise yet retains personality. Key words and dialog are often given a bold font and color, increasing interest.
MA: The design and layout really draw kids to it. Iâ€™ve also been happy that itâ€™s a great read aloud – so it works well for younger kids in 1st or 2nd grade, as well as nine- and ten-year-olds.
T: The story wouldnâ€™t work nearly as well if it werenâ€™t for Hooperâ€™s gorgeous artwork, â€œcreated with traditional ink, paint, and printmaking techniques, then scanned and assembled in PhotoShop.â€ The palette is sunny an oozes appeal. My first thought is that the art looks something like what would result if you gave LeUyen Pham (Grace for President) block print tools. The technique itself reminds me of Stephen Shaskanâ€™s A Dog is a Dog from 2011.
MA: You can really see her charactersâ€™ spirit in this sample. They do remind me of Phamâ€™s characters, especially from Freckleface Strawberry or Big Sister, Little Sister!
T: Can we make it mandatory to include illustration info in every picture book? I would have assumed these illustrations were created entirely in the digital realm until the CIP page note set me straight.
MA: Corey conveys the essence of Lowâ€™s philosophy in an upbeat way. I didnâ€™t realize her original philosophy emphasized outdoor activity so much. Imagine camping with a group of girls in the early 1900s! I love this spread here:
T: Two other books are coming out this winter about Juliette Gordon Low – both are much longer (200 – 400 pages), full of photographs and primary sources, perfect for older students:
First Girl Scout: the life of Juliette Gordon Low by Ginger Wadsworth
Juliette Gordon Low, the remarkable founder of the Girl Scouts byÂ Stacey Cordery
MA: Another thing to mention is that as 2012 is the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts, many celebrations are being planned around the US. Our troops here in the California Bay Area are very excited about â€œbridgingâ€ from one century of Girl Scouts to the next by walking across the Golden Gate Bridge with thousands of other Girl Scouts.
T: Engaging, informative, easy on the eyes – Here Come the Girl Scouts! is well done, plain and simple. This deserves a spot in collections far and wide.
Thank you Mary Ann, for letting me join you. Be sure to check out the Nonfiction Monday roundup at Great Kid Books.
Review copy purchased.
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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