Sunday, November 08, 2009

Picture Books for Tweens

I have been reading many, many picture books lately. Both for review and for a presentation that I am giving later this week. As a result, I have been thinking about picture books and tweens. There are many picture books that are perfectly suited for tweens...especially those with out of the ordinary non-fiction themes. Cromwell Dixon's Sky-Cycle is just one of those books.

Cromwell Dixon was a kid who loved to invent things. From a rowboat with extra oars, to a mechanical fish made out of clocks, Cromwell's imagination ran wild. He read all that he could about the inventions of the day, but he was especially captivated with the flying machines. Cromwell had been up in a hot air balloon in 1904 and by 1907, fourteen year old Cromwell decided that he wanted to be an aeronaut and began to build his own flying machine.

Now, many inventors have parents who do not support their passion, but Cromwell was very lucky. His mother supported him 100%. His design was based around his bicycle. He rebuilt it so that pedaling meant that propellers would turn and turning the handlebars would make the rudder in the back go left or right. Cromwell's mother sewed up a grand silk balloon that would support the bicycle and its rider!

A tragic set back would probably have made many teens give up, but Cromwell and his mother started sewing again, and he was convinced that his new design would be even better than the last.

Tweens will be captivated with this story about the original "balloon boy". Cromwell is an example of resilience embodied and his stick with it attitude is inspiring to us all. John Abbott Nez's illustrations perfectly set the tone of the time, and readers will pour over the details of the air ships and the blueprints. At the end, there is a mini-biography titled, "This is a True Story" that gives readers a bit more detail.

Why not consider some picture books for the tweens in your life?


Camille said...

It has been a annoyance to me that picture books seem to be almost nonexistent at the jr. high were I sub. Thank you for sharing this one.

Dragon's Back said...

Thanks for the recommendation! I am always looking for good picture books for teachers to use with students. Please share more!!