Thursday, September 19, 2013

Light in the Darkness - Perfect Picture Book Friday

      What's my only beef with the title I chose this week? The title itself. If you search the words online without the author’s name, you come up with horror films, a Star Wars tribute flic, a Bruce Springsteen book, the list goes on, and on. I’ve made it easy for you by embedding the links below. Maybe if enough of us click on them we can get the search engine to find the book first!
This is a meaty 40 page picture book. It won’t be a quick bedtime read. I hope that won’t keep readers from enjoying the Ransomes’ beautiful work.

Title: Light in the Darkness

Historical Fiction

Author: Lesa Cline-Ransome 
     (her author photo with her HUGE St. Bernard is lovely)

Illustrator: James E. Ransome

Publisher: Disney, Jump at the Sun, 2013

Audience: 5-9

Themes: Slavery, Education, Resilience

Opening:  “Rosa.”
            In the dark of our cabin I can’t see my mama, but I can feel her breath on my face in whispers.
            “It’s time.”

Synopsis: Although slaves are forbidden to learn to read or write, Rosa and her mother risk their lives to attend a pit school, a large hole dug in the ground and covered with branches to avoid detection..

What I Liked about this Book: I believe that an education is the greatest gift one generation can give the next, and I felt Rosa and her mother’s passion to learn in these pages. At the price of being whipped and going without sleep, slaves struggled to get the barest education that children today take for granted. It took my breath away.  Without pens or paper, the students studied and learned. Apart from the story itself, the illustrator’s dedication "to the light of his life," his wife (the author), gives a hint of the passion they brought to this project.

Activities/Resources: Watch the demo video about the artwork for this book. Starting with a blank page James Ransome shows each step in his watercolor technique, from pencil drawing, washing off sizing to final drawing. Watching the faces come alive was amazing for a non-artist  like myself. The video is 14 mins in length. Make letters and numbers with twigs and leaves . Draw words in a sandbox or garden. (if you take a photo of these you could make greeting cards from this!).       
      This review is part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday) where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. Along with tons of writing wisdom, she keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books.

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