The Ink Garden of Brother TheophaneDuring the Middle Ages, over 1,000 years ago, monks kept alive the joy of reading and skill of writing during bleak times of war, famine, and basic survival. Monks carefully transcribed great written works - the Bible and great literature from the ancient Greeks, Romans and Arabs. They made dark ink in a variety of ways, from bark, soot and oak galls. But then they discovered ways to make colorful ink, extracting pigments from minerals, herbs, plants, and even animals.
by C.M. Millen
illustrated by Andrea Wisnewski
MA: Charlesbridge, 2010
ages 6 - 10
available on Amazon and at your local library
The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane is story of a young monk who, bored with simply making dark ink, starts to experiment with making colored paints for their writings. C.M. Millen has created a sweet story in rhyming verse that makes it accessible to young listeners. The adult in me wanted more of the history, and so I enjoyed reading her author's note at the end, but my young audience (1st, 3rd and 4th graders) really enjoyed the story aspect, with the rhythm and rhyming of the verse. Best of all, we all agreed, was Andrea Wisnewski's artwork.
Running Rabbit Press. All pictures shared here are copyright Andrea Wisnewski © 2010 by Andrea Wisnewski from The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane by C.M. Millen, used with permission by Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc.
After reading this story, I had a gaggle of children hunting through the neighborhood for the perfect ingredients for their own potions. They made dark purple ink from berries, light yellow from flowers, and tried to make a green from leaves and grasses.
Please share your own inspiring nonfiction finds in the comments below, remembering to leave the link to your specific post.. I will add links throughout the day.
Early Morning Update:
Jeff at NC Teacher Stuff is sharing Kindergarten Day USA and China, which he recommends as "an excellent resource if you want to teach young readers the skill of contrasting two or more things." I've been wanting to share this book with our kindergarten classes, and it seems very timely in light of current events!
Doret at HappyNappyBookseller is sharing Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey From Darkness into Light by Tim Tingle illus by Karen Clarkson. As she writes, "Saltypie is a very beautiful book, textually and visually. Tingle's afterword is just as good. With so few American Indian children's authors, its as important as the story."
At 100 Scope Notes, Travis reviews a picture book biography of Jane Goodall: Me...Jane, a picture book biography of Jane Goodall. "A woman who made important anthropological discoveries began as a girl who loved the outdoors. Me…Jane isn’t a blow-by-blow of Goodall’s entire career, but a laudable introduction and jumping-off point for young readers." I think children who are drawn to studying animals will be very interested to learn how Jane started collecting her observations of animals at a very early age.
Peggy Thomas at Telling Kids the Truth: Writing Nonfiction for Children has an interesting interview with Ann Ingalls, author of Little Piano Girl: The Story of Mary Lou Williams, Jazz Legend, a wonderful picture book biography. "Mary Lou’s story is inspiring to read, but it is the authors’ choice of words and attention to rhythm that also make it enjoyable to listen to. We feel the rumble of the night train as it rolls along the tracks and we hear Mary Lou play piano."
Lisa at Shelf-Employed shares a post about the Civl War spy, Sarah Emma Edmonds. The book Sarah Emma Edmonds was a Great Pretender is due out in April.Lisa writes, "Jones does a fine job of distilling the life of this complex woman into a hero story that can be easily understood by younger readers. The basics of the war are explained, but the war is not the story here. Sarah Emma Edmonds is the story; children should find her bravery and cunning fascinating."
Angela at Bookish Blather reviews Smart Pop's next contribution to the world of pop culture criticism: The Girl Who Was on Fire, "13 YA authors tackle The Hunger Games trilogy, looking at topics as varied as the roles of fashion and the media, to politics and PTSD. There is some really serious stuff in here, which shouldn't be surprising to anyone who paid attention to more than the (gag) love triangle in the original books." Available in April, this definitely sounds like an interesting, academic book with a critical look at this series.
This week at Abby the Librarian, Abby is reviewing an adult title with YA crossover appeal: A Pearl in the Storm by Tori Murden McClure. As Abby writes, "Tori Murden McClure was the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic.Yeah. She rowed. Solo. Across the Atlantic Ocean. As in, a rowboat. 3,333 miles. By herself. Through storms. With sharks and whales and jellyfish. She is pretty awesome." This definitely is going to draw in teen readers searching for adventure.
Brenda at Proseandkahn has a review of the audio of They Called Themselves the KKK, by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. I found Brenda's review very interesting - I love audiobooks, but have never tried nonfiction on audio. "The genius with this production is that there is a bonus disc of all the illustrations, complete with captions... The author interview is also a valuable source for both social studies and language arts teachers to bring alive the research process. The story behind the story was as compelling." Read her review for more about the narrator's performance and other background materials that come with the audio disk.
Jennifer at the Jean Little Library shares her review of The Real Vikings by Gilda and Melvin Berger. The authors "present a simple, but detailed introduction to the Vikings in this National Geographic history. The text is illustrated with maps, photos of archaeological artifacts and contemporary images, and decorated with a layout taken from 17th century Icelandic manuscripts."
Heidi at Wild About Nature is sharing More Life-Size Zoo, a sequel to the wildly popular Life-Size Zoo. "Komiya’s newest release offers readers another chance to view amazing eye-popping photos of wild animals, many with fold out pages." Heidi has a great review of this book, describing a wide assortment of the different photographs.
At Wild Rose Reader, Elaine has a review of Melissa Stewart's wonderful book Under the Snow, which was illustrated by Constance R. Bergum. This large format picture book sounds fascinating! "Art and text work perfectly together to 'show-and-tell' young readers about the many forms of animal life that lie in a hidden world “under the snow.”
Afternoon update: so many more to share!
Janet Squires is sharing Animal Heroes: True Rescue Stories, by Sandra Markle. "Markle's stories, based on interviews with the survivors, provide little known facts about each personal experience and are exciting without the sentimental overtones sometimes common in animal stories." This looks like a book that will draw a lot of children in!
Over at Nonfiction Monday, Anastasia Suen is sharing Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix by Gary Golio (Author) and Javaka Steptoe (Illustrator) again because it is a 2010 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book. Hooray for a book with amazing illustrations!!
At Bookends, Cindy and Lynn write about the wonderful How the Sphinx Got to the Museum by Jessie Hartland.I've had my eye on this one, so it's great to hear their take: "The focus group was fascinated by this peek into the the backstage workings of the museum. Hartland’s charming comic illustrations and intriguing graphic text made this truly unique book a winner!"
It's a battle, over at Wendie's Wanderings, as she looks at Cats vs. Dogs, a National Geographic Reader by Elizabeth Carney. "This argument has been going on for over 9,000 years and still isn't settled. Which pet do you think is better -- Cats or Dogs?" Kids will love this - what a great, fun reader for them!
Looking for more? Loree Griffin Burns shares a great list of her favorite nonfiction titles, both from this year's award lists and her own favorite reads. Thanks for pulling these together!
Charlotte is also taking a trip to the museum over at Charlotte's Library, and is admiring How the Sphinx Got to the Museum, by Jesse Hartland. Maybe she'll run into Lynn and Cindy at the Met? As Charlotte explains, "Hartland starts with specific question--how did the battered and broken sphinx of the Pharaoh Hatsheput get from a pit in Egypt to the Metropolitan Museum of Art?" I liked the way Charlotte described leaving this lying around the house, hoping to tempt her son into casually picking it up.
Stacey Loscalzo has shared how how a baseball book has brought her daughter and husband closer together. They both are avid Yankee fans and take turns quizzing each other on obscure Yankee history or current statistics. Len Berman’s The 25 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time has grabbed their attention, as they've poured over sections on famous ball players, pictures and random facts together. What a great thing to bond father and daughter!
At Rasco from RIF, Carol is sharing a wonderful opportunity for all of us to join RIF in their special RIF LIVE event on Tuesday, February 8, in celebration of African American History Month. Leland Melvin, NASA’s Associate Administrator of Education and a former astronaut, will share his experiences traveling in space and read aloud The Moon Over Star.
Thanks for sharing so many great books!
The review copy of The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane was kindly sent by the publisher. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this page, a small percentage will go to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you). Thank you for your support!