It's About: The many ways people are smart: book smart, art smart, nature smart, body smart. Or, as is explained in the back of the book, "multiple intelligences".
The Good: I like that it recognizes that there are many ways of being "smart" with no one "smart" better than another; often, people are a blend of several intelligences.
I also like that no matter what the intelligence, the person achieved because they worked at it; no one is just smart without studying. Marion Anderson sang; but she worked, too, at developing that talent. Thurgood Marshall became who he was because he attended law school; Matthew Henson made personal sacrifices as an explorer. It's summed up best in the following quote by astronomer Annie Jump Cannon: "My success, if you would call it that, lies in the fact that I have kept at my work all these years. It is not genius or anything like that, merely patience."
Reasons I appreciate the multiple intelligences approach to people. First, as I noted above, it still includes having to work to succeed; second, kids are so different, that this provides multiple avenues for achieving success; finally, it is respectful of the diversity of talents and strengths that people have.
Individuals are highlighted with an illustration, a quote, a poem, their name, and a short biographical paragraph. At the end of the book, there is additional material on multiple intelligences including activities and resources for teachers and parents and caregivers. I like this because it makes things so much easier for adults working with kids, whether it's a parent or a librarian or a teacher or whatever.
This also works well with children up to middle school; the poems are short enough that younger children will enjoy it, but there is enough depth that it's good for older kids, also.
Qualls' artwork focuses on the face of the person portrayed, with items in the background showing more about their life. For Matthew Henson, arctic exploration with snow capped peaks and dog sleds; Tito Puente, drums and a couple dancing.
Since I'm a former lawyer, I'm including the poem about Thurgood Marshall (background showing the US flag, scales of justice, and the Supreme Court).
Please note that I contacted the author and the publisher for permission to use this poem in its entirety for this post; and that permission was kindly granted.
Hats off to Thurgood,
good-natured and kind,
who listened to everyone
with his razor-sharp mind.
He thought about people.
He thought about law.
He thought about everything
he witnessed and saw.
He stood up to lawyers,
no matter their wealth.
He stood up to judges,
though a judge himself.
He stood up for freedom,
for the poor and oppressed;
and when he stood up,
the world was impressed.
Yes, Thurgood was smart --
he reached for great heights,
used the power of the courts
to protect people's rights.
Are you smart like Thurgood?
Text copyright (c) 2006 by W. Nikola-Lisa
Permission granted by LEE & LOW Books Inc.
Edited to add: Kelly, for some reason what you have wasn't working; but I did find & nbsp (but without the space) via Blogger Tips & Tricks and that seems to work. Thank you!
Edited to add: Blogger hates me. OK, I did add some html and it did work and now all that html code is gone and it's back to not indenting.
People included in the book are:
Luis Alvarez, physics
Maria Tallchief, dance
Thurgood Marshall, law
Annie Jump Cannon, astronomy
Tito Puente, music
Patsy Takemoto Mink, congresswoman
Matthew Henson, explorer
Georgia O'Keeffe, artist
Alexander Posey, poet
Marian Anderson, singer
I.M. Pei, architect
Ynes Mexia, botanist
Today's Poetry Friday is at Mentor Texts & More (NYC Teacher).
Sean Qualls also illustrated The Poet Slave of Cuba.
Lee and Low Books page for the book, including a preview.
The Planet Esme Review. (which also includes a big "thumbs up" for an author visit)
An author interview at The Prairie Wind, Newsletter of the SCBWI-Illinois Chapter. Very good information, including how he picked the people included in How We Are Smart.
2007 Christopher Award, Books for Young Readers.