Nonfiction Monday

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Nonfiction Monday

The Champion of Children: The Story of Janusz Korczak, by Tomek Bogacki. Published 2009 by FSG Kids' Books. Hardcover.

The Champion of Children: The Story of Janusz Korczak is alternately moving, sad and hopeful. Janusz Korczak, doctor, writer, activist and advocate for children, was born Henryk Goldzmit in 1878 in Poland. Although his own family was well-off, even as a child he felt a great deal of compassion and concern for those, especially children, without his comforts. He fantasized about sweeping in on a white horse to rescue poor children, and when he grew up he became a doctor and founded an orphanage for poor children where they would receive basic care. Importantly, they would also learn to take care of each other- and to care for each other. Over time he started another orphanage and even a newspaper run by the children.

When Polish Jews were forced into the Krochmalna Street ghetto, Korczak tried to maintain a sense of routine and safety for the children by organizing life the best he could and looking for anything and anyone to help them. Ultimately Korczak and his children perished in the Holocaust, but he left behind a legacy of hope and purpose in helping other and following one's dreams.

The book itself is beautifully illustrated and sweetly and simply told and shows how one person can make a difference in the lives of so many, simply by doing what is right. It's a wonderful book to share with children and adults.

Nonfiction Monday is a moving meme headquartered at Picture Book of the Day and hosted this week at Bookish Blather.
The Man Who Flies with Birds, by Carole Garbuny Vogel and Yossi Leshem. Published 2009 by Kar-Ben Publishing. Hardcover.

Today's Nonfiction Monday features Carole Garbuny Vogel and Yossi Leshem's wonderful book, The Man Who Flies with Birds. The Man Who Flies with Birds is a profile of Yossi Leshem, an internationally recognized bird expert who has spent much of his life researching bird-migration problems over Israel so as to prevent injuries and deaths to both birds and humans by reducing the number and frequency of "bird strikes"- incidences where a bird or group of bird strikes a man-made aircraft, which causes numerous accidents every year.

As it happens, Israel is an important part of worldwide bird migration and studying this problem has lead to a greater understanding of bird behavior. This detailed, beautifully written book gives an impressive overview of many elements of the problem- everything from the physics of bird flight to the effects of thermals, or so-called "elevators of the sky" on birds' flight paths and migratory habits.

One of Leshem's main goals has been to increase awareness of bird conservation and protection, as well as to save human lives. The success of his work has depended on cooperation from neighboring countries and now several countries in the region are in the early stages of building a regional warning system to alert each other of bird migrations and possible problems for aircraft.

The Man Who Flies with Birds is a wonderful book to share with children. Illustrated throughout with photographs as well as scientific illustrations, its complex information is accessible and easy to read. It's a fascinating, informative story of one man's work to make the skies a little safer and children will learn a little science along with a good message about caring for nature.



Nonfiction Monday is a moving meme headquartered at Picture Book of the Day and hosted this week at Charlotte's Library.
Emma's Poem, by Linda Glaser with illustrations by Claire A. Nivola. Published 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Emma's Poem is a lovely book about Emma Lazarus, activist for the poor and writer of "The New Colossus," the famous poem about the Statue of Liberty.

This charming book recounts her life story in a sweet, simple tone. Lazarus was born into a wealthy family but believed that educating the many struggling immigrants coming to the United States in the late nineteenth century would eventually yield benefits for society at large. She died young, at age 38, but left a lasting legacy of compassion towards the less fortunate.

The text, written in simple free verse poetry, is accompanied by Claire A. Nivola's delicate artwork. I've always admired the way Nivola shows details of clothing and domestic interiors, and she recreates Lazarus's privileged surroundings as well as scenes of immigrants arriving and the State of Liberty with equal grace.

Emma's Poem would make a lovely starting point for story-time for children of varying ages, as the librarian could choose to emphasize different parts of her story or use it as the basis for a variety of discussions on American and Jewish history, as well as tikkun olam and other Jewish values.

Nonfiction Monday is a moving meme headquartered at Picture Book of the Day and hosted this week at Rasco from RIF.
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