Hey! I Read Some Nonfiction!
I don't believe I've mentioned that my book, Saving the Planet & Stuff is a finalist for the Connecticut Book Awardin the children's literature division. I am one of four books nominated, all the books being dramatically different. My fellow finalists are Patricia Hubbell for Black All Around (a picture book with rhyming text), Pegi Deitz Shea for Tangled Threads(a young adult novel about a contemporary immigrant), and Winfred Rembert for Don't Hold Me Back, a memoir by a folk artist. I just finished reading Don't Hold Me Back a couple of days ago.
Rembert is a folk artist whose work illustrates his memoir of life in the south in the 1950s and beyond. What little I know about folk art suggests that such artists use their art to document their lives, and that's what Rembert does here with both his pictures and his text. He writes about a culture that was certainly different for this reader. I found it disturbing to think that someone who is nearly my own contemporary had to pick cotton as a child and saw the bodies of lynched black men still hanging from trees. And it was very moving to read that he was afraid of white children when he was a boy.
I think this would be an excellent book for elementary school libraries not just for the historical aspect but because it helps to illustrate how writers pick events from their lives to write about.