Friday, October 31, 2008

Nikki Grimes' Barack Obama

'Tis the season for political campaigning, so I decided to check out Nikki Grimes' new picture book, BARACK OBAMA: SON OF PROMISE, CHILD OF HOPE. It's received some wonderful reviews and she covers this man's complex personality and history well, condensing his essence into this picture book's 32 pages.
But one of the things that struck me is that she used a device that I've always been told to avoid in nonfiction--the fictional narrator. A fictional young boy asks his mother about Obama, and the mother tells Obama's story.
And of course, that violates another "rule" of writing children's literature--having the wise adult--in this case the mother who knows so much about Obama--take over and upstage the child.
But somehow it works, perhaps because it takes a man who is larger than life, everywhere you look right now--tv screens, newspapers, road signs, radio, and relates the man's life to this young boy's.

I'd be interested to know how other people felt about this book, and about the "rules" of writing children's literature.

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