As a break from my fav of all time, Jon Scieszka, I am introducing a historical fiction picture book, “Pappy’s Handkerchief.” By Devin Scillian and Chris Ellison. Don’t the author and illustrator names just scream American history?
Author: Devin Scillian
Illustrator: Chris Ellison
Historical Fiction published by Sleeping Bear Press, 2007
Themes: American History, American Pioneers, African-Americans, Oklahoma land run, Negroes.
Appropriate for ages: Five through eleven
Resources: Teacher guides giving prereading questions, comprehension questions and discussion questions. http://www.gale.cengage.com/pdf/TeachersGuides/PappysGuide.pdf included are maps and discussion on what the American dream is. There is a lot more on there including show and tell feelings, math, word find and searches and more. This one is most conclusive.
First Page, First three sentences: “March 25, 1889– Baltimore, Maryland. The icy air smelled like salt and as the fishermen laid out the bounty of their nets, large snowflakes began to land on the dark, green waves off the Baltimore pier. As I did every day, I ran from home at lunchtime to help my father in our fish stall. But with the weather getting worse and a meager day’s catch from the fishermen, there were few takers for the goods on my father’s table. Still, I cried out to the passersby as always.”
From the Jacket: It’s Baltimore 1889— sales are slow and times are tough for everyone selling fish from a stall. Young Moses and his family are barely scraping by. Several of the fishermen talk of traveling to
Oklahoma, where rumor has it there’s free farmland. The family sells all they own and head west to fulfill a lifelong dream. Their wagon journey, however, is plagued with troubles from ice storms and flooded rivers to diminishing supplies and sickness. Yet Moses and his family persevere. They arrive in time to take a place along the boundary line that marks the staging point for the Oklahoma Land Run. But after making it this far, will even more bad luck prevent them from realizing their dream of owning their own piece of America?
This spellbinding story framed with evocative paintings sits alongside other equally poignant historical fiction in the Tales of Young Americans series from Sleeping Bear Press.
Why I love it: The story draws one in immediately as you can see from the first three sentences and is
narrated in first person. As I read to the end, racing along with Moses, the main character, to stake his claim in Oklahoma, my throat had a lump and I was hoping against all odds that he could do it. This story about one of our brave and courageous pioneer Black American families is historical fiction at its finest, telling a true story while imparting a history lesson. At the end of the story it is up to Moses, from who’s point of view the story is written, to save the claim the family came all this way and faced all those hardships for.
For more books with resources please visit Perfect Picture Books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog. And if you’d like to bewhisked away through cyber space to the resource page and the list of more marvelous
recommended perfect picture books just click on the perfect picture book badge on the right.
So do you think you would read it? Do you like historical picture books or do you think the kids are too young to get the meaning of the book?