Doctor Esperanto AND Lights! Camera! Alice!

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday! Today, we’ve got a double-feature – two new picture book bios by the incredible Mara Rockliff! AND on March 1st, Mara will share her process of Mining for Heart. Come back and hear the story behind the stories.

esperantomed (1)Title: Doctor Esperanto and the Language of Hope

Written by:Mara Rockliff
Illustrated by: Zosia Dzierzawska
Candlewick Press, biography, Mar.12, 2019
Suitable for ages: 7-9
Themes/topics: language, peace, Esperanto

Opening:
Once there was a town of many languages but few kind words. In the town there lived a boy named Leyzer Zamenhof. He was a gentle boy, and the sharp words cut him like stone. What made everyone so angry? Leyzer wondered. Was it because they couldn’t understand each other’s words?

Overview:
Once there was a town of many languages but few kind words. Growing up Jewish in Bialystok, Poland, in the late 1800s, young Leyzer Zamenhof was surrounded by languages: Russian, Yiddish, German, Polish, and many others. But the multiethnic Bialystok was full of mistrust and suspicion, and Leyzer couldn’t help but wonder: If everyone could understand each other, wouldn’t they be able to live in peace? So Zamenhof set out to create a new language, one that would be easy to learn and could connect people around the world. He published a book of his new language and signed it Dr. Esperanto — “one who hopes.”

Activities and Resources:
Check out a bilingual book from the library. Examine the text in English and the other language. Can you find any words that are nearly the same?
Explore websites to learn Esperanto or listen to stories on You Tube in Esperanto. There are also apps for kids to learn it.
Discuss: What language would you like to learn? Why?

Why I like this book:
Though I’ve known about Esperanto for a long time, I’ve never seen a book on it for children. Young Leyzer Zamenhof, propelled by a desire for peace, decided to create a language to facilitate communication. This is a great story for kids learning another language as well as word/language nerds like me. In a world where so much divides us, it’s refreshing for kids to learn about a boy who yearned for peace and took action.

Our Second Feature…

alicemed (1)

Title: Lights! Camera! Alice! The Thrilling True Adventures of the First Woman Filmmaker

Written by: Mara Rockliff
Illustrated by: Simona Ciraolo
Chronicle Books, 2018
Suitable for ages: 5-8
Themes/topics: movies, filmmakers

Opening:
Once there was a little girl named Alice, and she lived on stories. Her Grand-mere fed her folktales as she stirred cherry soup. Her nursemaid spun colorful yarns as she helped button up her boots. Nestled with the books her papa sold, she warmed herself with stories full of laughter and surprises, romance and adventure, Thrills and heartache. She couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next. Then…

Overview:
Meet Alice Guy-Blaché. She made movies—some of the very first movies, and some of the most exciting! Blow up a pirate ship? Why not? Crawl into a tiger’s cage? Of course! Leap off a bridge onto a real speeding train? It will be easy! Driven by her passion for storytelling, Alice saw a potential for film that others had not seen before, allowing her to develop new narratives, new camera angles, new techniques, and to surprise her audiences again and again. With daring and vision, Alice Guy-Blaché introduced the world to a thrilling frontier of imagination and adventure, and became one of filmmaking’s first and greatest innovators.

Activities and Resources:
Make a movie! Use a basic story arc to plan your movie. (HERE is a basic lesson)
Here are 3 sites to help you make stop motion animation:
From Tinker Lab
From Lemon Lime Adventures
From Let’s Lasso the Moon

Why I like this book:
The key to a great biography is in finding that special way to tell the story, digging in for the “heart.” Rockliff is so good at this. She’s taken the filmmaker’s story and shaped the narrative into a sort of silent film in book form. A “life imitates art” take on it. I had never heard of Alice Guy-Blaché and enjoyed learning how her creative spirit took the invention of the movie camera and ran with it into new territory.

Visit author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books for a plethora of picture books listed by title and topic/theme, each with teacher/parent activities and resources.

Visit the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge on Kid Lit Frenzy for more great nonfiction books for kids! 


10 thoughts on “Doctor Esperanto AND Lights! Camera! Alice!

  1. I didn’t know about Esperanto creating a language to facilitate communication among his very diverse community. Incredible! And I enjoyed learning about Alice Guy-Blaché was a creative pioneer with a huge imagination. Thank you for introducing me to two people in history I knew nothing about. Great stories.

    Liked by 1 person

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