One of my favorite genres is picture book biographies. I really love authors who can take a person's life and really do it justice in a picture book--and I'm not talking about picture books for preschoolers. I'm talking about a picture book that gives the information about the person, but makes it appealing to older readers too. Sometimes picture book biographies can drag on and really they are chapter book biographies put in a picture book format.
But there are some picture book biographies that really stand out. They are visually appealing to many ages, they tell sufficient information about the individual, but make the words lyrical and appealing at the same time.
My new favorite picture book biography is John's Secret Dreams by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier. John's Secret Dreams tells the story of John Lennon's life from the time he was a little boy all the way to his death. The thing that I think makes this book stand out above a traditional biography or the traditional picture book biography are the quotes from his songs. Throughout the book as Rappaport tells about Lennon's life, she quotes parts of his songs. The lyrics flow with the text and really show how Lennon's songs were a reflection of his life.
My favorite part of the book, which shows how Rappaport really weaves the lyrics and his life story together is at the very end of the book:
"He dreamed about being sixty and being with Yoko.
Grow old along with me
The best is yet to be
When our time has come
We will be as one
That dream did not come true.
John Lennon was murdered when he was only forty years old."
This is a brilliantly crafted book. Bryan Collier's illustrations help bring the Rappaport's text, Lennon's lyrics, and Lennon's story to life.
The book includes author's and illustrator's notes, a timeline, selected discography (list of albums), and extensive bibliography.