Friday, May 6, 2016

PPBF: Gordon Parks, The Man Who Captured Black and White America

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Gordon Parks picture book biography
by Carole Boston Weatherford and Jamey Christoph
Gordon Parks, The Man Who Captured Black and White America

Written by Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrated by Jamey Christoph
Albert Whitman & Co., 2015
Grades K-3, AD840L

Nonfiction, Biography, the Arts

"The youngest of fifteen, Parks arrives stillborn and is nearly left for dead until a dip in ice water shocks his tiny heart to beat."


Portrait of Ella Watson,
"American Gothic," by Gordon Parks
This lyrical picture book chronicles Parks's life and photographic career. Uplifting and inspiring, it gives just a glimpse of the accomplishments of one man in one lifetime against the odds. The book has an afterward, a collection of the facts in Gordon Parks's life, but the true gem is the author's note which makes it personal, grounding this larger-than-life story from the past in the very real present.

What I Love:
The writing is so beautiful and honest, it was no surprise when I found out the author is also a poet. Readers are drawn into the detail, not just the facts of Parks's life. The art may be a bit different for designer Jamey Christoph, but he captures the era perfectly with engaging illustrations and muted colors.


Photographer Gordon Parks also
wrote a book of his own,
which Carole Weatherford read as a child.
The Learning Tree
1. Reading Rockets posted a comprehensive interview with Carole about her books and their inspirations.
2. The author has put together a dozen teacher guides on her books as well as general historical events, including a powerpoint presentation about the Jim Crow Laws.
3. The Gordon Parks Foundation in Pleasantville, NY is the best place to get a look at the power and scope of Parks work. Or you can view American Gothic, one of Parks most famous images at the Gordon Parks Museum.
4. Legends Online is a photographic hall of fame, including a small gallery of Gordon Parks's work. Plus Learn more about Parks's life on Biography.
5. Artist Jamey Christoph is also something of a Renaissance man. Find more of  his art, from theatrical posters to architecture on workbook.
6. The Brown Bookshelf is a favorite stop for me. With contributors like the inspiring Gwendolyn Hooks, the adorable and talented newcomer Tracey Baptiste, and picture book dynamo Don Tate, readers are assured of finding great books. The blog highlights Black and African American authors and their books.
Speaking of Don Tate, don't miss the opportunity to further your journey to publication at his Highlights Foundation Workshop.
7. The publisher offers common core statistics on their website.
8. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Joanna
Reviewed by Clar

Reviewed by Erik
From Sally's Bookshelf

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for Friday, May 6, 2016 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.


  1. I know nothing of Park's and am completely intrigued after this review. What an amazing start to life. I think picture book bios are often the best place to start for a person of any age in finding out about someone.

    1. Thanks. I couldn't believe I hadn't heard about him. A beautifully crafted pb bio.

  2. I, too, don't know much about Gordon Parks. The opening of this book is quite gripping. That he was a still born baby that was brought back to life, or rather shocked back to life is remarkable. I am adding this book to my library check out list!

    1. Thanks. When you read it, you'll find out whom he was named after and why!

  3. Oh! Will be on the lookout for this one - lovely cover!

    1. A friend was reading this book, researching nf pbs I think. I was immediately drawn to the art, but fell in love with the book as a whole. Enjoy!

  4. I love picture book biographies. I am not familiar with this person, so I would love to read it. Unfortunately, no libraries in my area have it. :( You provide excellent resources though! Thanks. Hopefully, one of my local libraries will add this book soon.

    1. That's too bad. Maybe they could do an inter-library loan? Thanks for the kind words.


Thank-you for taking time to share your thoughts!