When the San Antonio Public Library announced its lineup for authors and illustrators visiting the Children’s Tent at the upcoming Book Festival, we immediately requested as many books from the list as possible. (Getting a NEW book from the library can be cutthroat sometimes–there are a LOT of great readers in this city, so you’ve got to be QUICK!)
One of our favorite books from the stack was The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet.
Addie, my six-year-old, said: “I liked the middle of the book when Roget married Mary Hobson. I also liked the picture of his daughter Kate in the yellow dress. My favorite illustration was the part with Napoleon’s soldiers in the city, because I learned about that in my timeline at Classical Conversations. Roget was a doctor, and doctors are very important. He also made lists of words starting from when he was a little boy–I like to make lists, too. I love to read our thesaurus.”
The Right Word is one of three children’s biographies written and illustrated by the awesome team of Bryant and Sweet. We’ve also borrowed A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams (2008) and A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin (2013). We genuinely love them all!
Here are a few reasons why I LOVE these books:
- The subjects chosen (Peter Roget, William Carlos Williams, and Horace Pippin) aren’t “common” for children’s biographies. Personally, I really enjoyed learning more about all three men.
- Jen Bryant’s words are perfect for reading aloud!
- Melissa Sweet’s illustrations are beautifully detailed. Her collages add so much to the story.
- It’s clear that the relationship between Bryant and Sweet is a fun one–they even took turns dedicating their work to the other (Sweet to Bryant in A Splash of Red and Bryant to Sweet in The Right Word). Addie and I have had interesting discussions about the publishing process.
- All three men had “other” careers (two were doctors!)–their writing/art was a form of personal expression, not to become rich and/or famous, which is a great lesson for us all. As a mom, I also appreciate that Bryant included information about all three subjects’ childhoods–my six-year-old thinks of herself as an author and even started a “writing club” for some of her young friends. When she reads these books, she can visualize herself in the shoes of the main character and dream about a future making lists, writing poems, and creating paintings.
Selfishly, I’m hoping for another collaboration between Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet in the future–these sophisticated stories prove that picture books can be valuable for older children and adults, too!