2 Commendable New Biographies in Poetry

 In my reading for the 2020 Cybils Awards for Non-fiction, I've read a lot of biographies so far. These two stand out for being written well written in poetry.

Yusra Swims

I think this may be one of the most moving picture book bios I've read this year. It tells the story of Yusra Mardini who was training to swim in the Olympics when war forced her to flee her country. The spare text with a driving, repetitive rhythm does a great job of moving the story forward quickly. The predictable rhyme scheme is a great foil to the unpredictability of the story. You could read the book in a minute or two!

But the pictures and the word choice keep you on each page longer, engaging your brain to think about what this story means. And they've brought me back, several times. This is a book I can see working well for many, many ages. It could seamlessly fit in a high school classroom. With discussion, it could work for the very young. A short page of backmatter, "About Yusra Mardini" adds some interesting details to the story. This isn't a book I'll soon forget. 

The Superlative A. Lincoln

This book was a lot of fun. Eighteen poems describe the life and work of Abraham Lincoln, each accompanied by an illustration and some explanation. Each poem has a superlative title: Best Lumberjack, Greatest Speech, Most Likely to Tinker, etc. I found myself discussing this book with my family at the dinner table and impressing all with my little-known facts about President Lincoln. The poetry is colloquial, even conversational, and very accessible. I could see third and fourth graders enjoying this book on their own. 

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