Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: First Generation by Sandra Neil Wallace & Rich Wallace

First Generation: 36 Trailblazing Immigrants and Refugees Who Make America Great
by Sandra Neil Wallace & Rich Wallace; Illustrated by Agata Nowicka
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (September 4, 2018)
Nonfiction * Biography * Immigrants
Audience: Ages 8 to 12
Indiebound | WorldCat

Description from GoodReads
Celebrate the genius, diversity, and grit of immigrants and refugees in this boldly illustrated guide to 36 American trailblazers.
The men and women in this book represent nations from Somalia to Germany, from Syria to China, from Mexico to Sweden, and more. They are people like Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, international singing sensation Celia Cruz, star basketball player Dikembe Mutombo, world-renowned physicist Albert Einstein, and influential journalist Jorge Ramos. And they are all immigrants or refugees to the United States of America. Their courage, their achievements, and their determination to change the world have helped make our country a stronger place. Perhaps after reading their stories, you will be inspired to make the world a better place, too.

Quick thoughts about this book:
Before I start this review, I wanted to share a video that Sandra Neil Wallace posted on YouTube. The video shows Sandra opening up a package of First Generation books that arrived from Little, Brown. Her enthusiasm is wonderful and I thought it might make you smile like it did me.

If you go here, you can listen to an interview with Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace as they talk about First Generation

First Generation: 36 Trailblazing Immigrants and Refugees Who Make America Great is a timely and much needed book. In a time, when news is often filled with negative statements about immigrants and immigration reform, books can help open people’s eyes about the amazing contributions of immigrants and hopefully change the way people view immigrants. 

In addition to helping bring awareness to the contributions that immigrants have made to the United States, biographical compilations such as First Generation can shine a light on individuals that are lesser known. As I did a quick survey to see which names I recognized and which ones were new to me, I realized that I had limited information about a third of the individuals. Often times, I get so excited about what I read about these individuals and then I seek out more to read. It is my hope that students will have the same reaction and find new people to admire and hold up as examples of what they can obtain in their own lives. 

First Generation is also a fabulous book for quick daily read alouds. Teachers can read about one person each day just before heading to lunch or coming back from lunch or just before dismissal at the end of the day. Readers can read this book in the order it is written or they can jump around and reach in their own order of interest. 

The format of First Generation includes the amazing artwork of Agata Nowicka paired with a one page biography on each of the individuals and on the bottom corner there are two to three fun facts. The end of the book includes an author note and an illustrator note, tips for being a trailblazer, resources for further information, and a selected biography. 

First Generation came out yesterday. Please go look for it at your local indie bookstore or community bookstore.

About the authors: Investigative journalists Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace are award-winning novelists and nonfiction authors. Sandra is a former news anchor and ESPN sportscaster. The daughter of a refugee, she became a US Citizen in 2016. Rich was a longtime senior editor at Highlights magazine. Both Sandra and Rich are members of the advisory council for the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Keene State College and are founding members of the Keene Immigrant and Refugee Partnership. They live in New Hampshire. 

About the illustrator: Agata Nowicka is an illustrator and comics artist. She spent her childhood drawing on everything with everything, including her mother’s red lipstick on the staircase walls. She became an illustrator because she never wanted to stop drawing. Agata immigrated to the United States from Warsaw, Poland and now lives in New York City. 

Artwork by Sarah S. Brannen ©2017

Don’t forget to link up your nonfiction reviews…


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