A Shout-out to Picture Book Biographies

Yes, yes. We’ve all heard the sobering account of an over-saturated picture book biography market. The grave Magic 8-ball predictions that say, “Enough, already, with the biographies!”

And yet.

For those unfamiliar with picture book biographies or beginning to doubt their impact, please consider (and then reconsider) the following:

Jen Bryant’s A Splash of Red illustrated by the sparkling Melissa Sweet about Horace Pippin’s journey as an artist—really no better picture book to read this month to celebrate Black History Month/Future. It’s a favorite at our house every month of the year.

The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon by Jacqueline Davies and again illustrated by Melissa Sweet (is there anything she does that isn’t brilliant?).

Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman who Loved Reptiles by Patricia Valdez and illustrated by Felicita Salta is a straight-up win all around. It propelled me to do some additional digging about her life. A book that does that earns my applause.

Last year’s Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed and illustrated by Stasia Burrington is a breath-taking sweep of a story, filled with the rich emotions of a dream nearly derailed, but taken up again.

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist
Written by: Jess Keating, Illustrations by Marta Alvares Miguens

Swimming With Sharks: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark
Written by: Heather Lang, Illustrations by Jordi Solano

For a comparison between the last two books on my list, stay tuned for my next post.

And feel free to add your favorite biographical picture books to the comments section.

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