Nonfiction Monday: The Scraps Book by Lois Ehlert
The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life
By Lois Ehlert
Beach Lane Books (Simon & Schuster)
If you’re thinking of challenging an illustrator to an autobiography-off, just don’t. Oh, you already did it? Look, there’s no shame in bending down, picking up your gauntlet, putting it back on your hand, and riding your horse away like nothing happened. When it comes to autobiographies, illustrators have the ability to tell about their lives in words and artwork – a distinct advantage. In The Scraps Book Lois Ehlert brings the goods. It’s a full visual experience. It’s a trip down memory lane. It’s a pleasure.
It’s clear from the get-go that Lois Ehlert was destined to live a creative life.
When I was little,
I read all the books
on the library shelf,
and I thought
I could make
And with that, the course of the book is set. Ehlert details her life, but even more so her work. Where does inspiration come from? How does a book come together? The answer to these questions are what the author spends her time on. These are the things kids are interested in. As always, the gal knows her audience.
It reads a bit like a Ehlert’s Greatest Hits, with artwork from many of her books appearing throughout. Feathers for Lunch, Leaf Man, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and many more – each one feels like an old friend stopping by for a visit. This would be great to read with students after an Ehlert author study.
It’s always worth noting when a book will work with a wide age range, and The Scraps Book has that ability. Younger kids won’t have trouble following the simple text and taking in the images, while captions provide additional details for older readers.
While illustrators have the upper hand when it comes to autobiography, few use that advantage to such wonderful results. Add this to your collection with pride.
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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