Narrative non-fiction genre #5: The Incredible Life of Balto by Meghan McCarthy



Narrative Non-Fiction Text #5- The Incredible Life of Balto

Taken from the Central Park Website: “In January 1925, Alaskan doctors feared a deadly diphtheria epidemic would spread among the children of Nome. Medicine to stop the outbreak existed, but doctors needed to travel nearly a thousand miles to Anchorage to retrieve it. With no trains running that far north and the only available airplane sidelined by a frozen engine, the best chance of transporting the medicine across the icy tundra was by sled dog.

More than 20 sled teams coordinated to make the trip through blinding snow and sub-zero temperatures. On the first of February, the package was handed off to the final team. Lead by Balto, the team covered 53 treacherous miles back to Nome in 20 hours. Newspapers and radio around the world followed the trek, fascinated by the brave team whose efforts eventually helped end the epidemic.”

The text, The Incredible Life of Balto by Meghan McCarthy focuses on how a Siberian husky from Alaska led his team to transport serum to Nome to combat diphtheria epidemic. In the beginning of the book, young readers are introduced to diphtheria, a deadly disease that affects the upper respiratory tract system. This deadly disease was spreading through the town of Nome, Alaska.  Dr. Curtis Welch wanted to make the young children again but he was unable to because the serum to cure the children was on the other side of Alaska. On January 25, 1925, Dr. Welch sent a telegram asking for assistance on how he could get the serum to help the young children. Several days later, a response came through telling the doctor that 300,000 units of serum could be found in Anchorage. The only way the serum would be able to be transported was through a dogsled since there was a blizzard in Alaska at the time. Mushers are those who guide the dogs and 20 teams tried to obtain the medication but because it was so cold, many of the dogs died because their lungs burst from the cold. As a result, a man named Gunnar Kaasen was chosen to run of the last legs of the race and he picked a dog named Balto to be the leader. Balto was inexperienced and not as fast as the other dogs. However, Kaasen believed in Balto and thus, Balto led his team through the blizzard  to obtain the serum. They were successful and were able to transport the serum to Nome in record time. Thus, Balto became a hero. Children adored him and he because a superstar overnight at the box office, on tv, as well as in the newspapers. In addition, Frederick Roth, a famous sculptor had heard of Balto’s achievements and was inspired to create a statue. The statue can now be found in New York City’s Central Park. Eventually, a grapple over money caused the dogsled team to be sold, and Kaasen traveled back to Alaska without them. The animals became apart of a  vaudeville act. It was a kind of entertainment in which a variety of performers such as singers, dancers, and trained animals appeared. As a result, a Cleveland businessman named George Kimble paid to see Balto and the other dogs who were apart of the team that saved the young children. However, Balto’s owner demanded a lot of money, about $2000, which was a lot of money in 1927. Thus, Kimble did not have sufficient money and created a fund to help save Balto. Eventually, Balto and his team were saved and Kimble donated Balto and his teammates to the Brookside Zoo.

This book is part of the narrative non-fiction genre as it is a biography of Balto’s life. Some of the features that I enjoyed while reading this book were the illustrations, captions, as well as some direct quotes. Indeed, I do not remember learning much about Balto as a child and did not get to see the movie. Therefore, when I read the book and did a little research, I was able to understand the story a little better. The author did a good job leading readers to discovering what the book is about in the beginning by stating the question, “Could dogs carry medicine to save the people of Nome?” In addition, I enjoyed seeing how the text and the illustrations went hand in hand and children are able to comprehend the story better by looking at the pictures. For example, the author writes, “Balto led his team through blinding snow that pelted their face. In some places, the snow was so deep that their thin legs hardly moved.” This line matched the picture because readers can see how the dogs are struggling in the snow and Balto’s tongue is sticking out. One can note the animals’ struggle to get across the blizzard. In addition, I also enjoyed reading the inscription about Balto’s statue in Central Park that was captured in the book. It said, “Dedicated to the indomitable spirit of the sled dogs that relayed antitoxin six hundred miles over rough ice, across treacherous waters, through Arctic blizzards from Nenana to the relief of stricken Nome in the Winter of 1925. ”

I admit I did enjoy reading this book and believe young children as young as 7 years old would enjoy listening to it. Children are able to relate to it in a sense since it is a story about a dog and his adventure. I believe children enjoy reading or listening to stories that they can relate to everyday. The author summed up the story with providing enriching details rather than just giving it away. Children are able to make predictions in this story and I think it is a great book to start a conversation since it is a story about a dog who saves young children. At the end of the story, the dog and his teammates are praised for his efforts because he saved many lives. In the story, readers see how Balto didn’t have much confidence in himself and I believe children can also relate since some children do have insecurities.

Some questions that I have for the author regarding this book are:

1. In the beginning of the book, there is a line that says “Could dogs carry medicine to save the people of Nome?” I felt like this line gave away what would happen in the story, why did you choose to write this instead of allowing young readers to discover it on their own?

2. Towards the end of the book, the dogs were sold and they became apart of a vaudeville act. How do you think the dogs felt being treated this way? After all, they went from being heroes in the spotlight to being unrecognized.

Narrative Non-Fiction Text #4- River Boy: The Story of Mark Twain

According to Wikipedia, “Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910), better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He is most noted for his novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), the latter often called “the Great American Novel.” Mark Twain was born in the 19th century where slavery was taken place in the south. When Clemens was about four years old, his family relocated to Hannibal, Missouri. This was a slave state and Clemens became familiar with the institution of slavery and as a result, he pursued writing. Both The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are usually must-reads for teenagers, especially in high school because of the history behind it. The stories use racial slurs and discuss controversial issues among slavery in it. Readers are able to get a sense of the author’s perspective with these stories as one can start to sympathize with the characters. One might say that that book starts to come alive with all the colorful detail and readers can imagine themselves during that era.

In the text, River Boy: The Story of Mark Twain by William Anderson, the author goes into depth about Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain’s life before he became a great novelist. This text is part of the narrative non-fiction genre since it is the biography of Mark Twain’s life. Indeed, children are not really exposed to Mark Twain’s famous novels until they are older, usually in high school since it is deemed appropriate based on their maturity. However in this text, readers get a glimpse of Clemens’ life. At the age of four, Clemens and his family moved to Hannibal, Missouri. Along the banks of the Mississippi River, Clemens witnessed steamboats chugging up and down the river. According to the author, “No one knew who or what might come off that boat.” Clemens dreamed of becoming a steamboat pilot. Readers are introduced to Clemens’ family and how they used to live in another town in Missouri called Florida. According to the text, Clemens’ mother told him that when he was born on November 30, 1835, a streak of white light traveled across the nighttime sky. It was Halley’s Comet and people would have to wait 76 more years to see that comet again. As Sam grew up, he was a mischievous boy and liked to play pranks on his family and friends. When children were being affected by measles in Hannibal, Sam jumped into a bed with a sick friend and he came down with the measles as well. When Sam went to school, he was considered as the school’s “best speller” but his real talent seemed to be getting into trouble. One day, Sam played hookey from school and took a bunch of his friends near the Mississippi River where they fished, built campfires, and digged turtle eggs. While exploring the river, Sam and his friends discovered the body of a runaway slave floating in the water. In addition, he also witnessed a bunch of slaves chained together waiting to be sent to work on the plantations. At the age of 12, Sam’s father passed and he went to work as an apprentice for the Hannibal Courier, a local newspaper. His work included delivering the newspaper, setting the typewriter, as well as running the printing press. He also got his big break working for the paper as he wrote three stories and he discovered new topics including the Mexican War. At 17, Sam wanted to go own his own adventures. His dream was to go to the Amazon River in South America but he didn’t have enough money until he found some money that flew from the sky. As a result, he fulfilled his dream as a steamboat driver and sailed along the Mississippi River. In 1861, the Civil War began and it interrupted Sam’s plans because sailing along the river was no longer safe. As a result, Sam decided to travel out to the west where he met a bunch of miners and planned to get rich by striking gold and silver. Sam enjoyed swapping tales with the miners and his story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County ” was published in newspapers all across America in 1865. Readers also get a glimpse of how Sam met a beautiful girl, named Livy. They eventually married and had three children. In 1874, Sam and his new family moved to Hartford, Connecticut where he used all the money he gained from his success to build a fancy home. It was here where Sam wrote his famous novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The characters in the story were based on the people he knew in his hometown, Hannibal. This book became so popular, he wrote the sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. An interesting fact was when that Sam died on April 21, 1910, and on that day appeared Halley’s comet.

In the text, the author mentions how Sam enjoyed playing pranks on his family as well as his friends. He loved being the center of attention. The author writes, “When he was older, Sam’s mother told him that he had given her much more trouble than the other children in the family. “I suppose you were afraid I wouldn’t live, Sam joked’.” The mother replied,
“No…afraid you would.” One can sense that the family was a bit sarcastic and fun. It seems like the family was a tight-knit family and that they looked for the best in each other. In addition, the author uses very descriptive imagery to capture emotions. The author writes, “While exploring the island, they made a shocking discovery-the body of a runaway slave floating in the water.” Readers can paint a picture in their mind with all the graphic details as many people including children have some background knowledge of slavery as well as the Civil War. Indeed, the book captures Sam aka Mark Twain’s life from when he was an infant to when he was an adult and one notices all the struggles he overcame to become the famous author he was.

As an aspiring teacher, I do have some background knowledge on slavery and have read Mark Twain’s famous novels while I was in high school. Therefore, I do know a little bit about Twain and his work which focuses on slavery. However, I was surprised at learning new material from this book. I didn’t know Mark Twain’s real name was Samuel Clemens and that he was depicted as a prankster. I learned that his goal was to be a steamboat driver and he did fulfill that dream as well as wrote for newspapers. I thought the book was a little dull in a sense, it wasn’t my cup of tea compared to the other books that I have read. I kind of found myself having to read and re-read it again. Usually, when I’m interested in a book, I can’t put it down. I thought the author could focused more on Sam’s pranks as that seemed to be lively and would probably be a little less grim than some of the details. I believe this book would be suitable for fourth graders to possibly sixth grade since the concept of slavery is a broad topic. I really feel the children should have some background knowledge of slavery and why it started before being introduced to the book. The children should understand how Sam was fascinated with this topic since slavery was taken place along the Mississippi River. However, children in elementary school should not read his famous novels as it is deemed inappropriate for their level.

While I was reading the book, some questions that arose in my head for the author were:

1. In the beginning of the book, Sam’s mother told her son that when he was born, “people peered through their windows to see Halley’s Comet.” When Sam died, the author states that on the day of his death, Halley’s Comet emerged. What made you chose this metaphor to describe Mark Twain’s life?

2. In the text, one notices how Sam enjoyed playing pranks on his friends and family but we as readers, are left hanging as the text only mentions one prank. What other pranks did Sam play on his friends and family?

3. In the text, the author mentions that Civil War broke out and that Sam was no longer able to ride the steamboat along the banks of the river because “i

Narrative Non-Fiction Text#3- Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote

Marilyn Monroe is famous for saying, “I don’t mind living in a man’s world as long as I can be a woman in it.”

J. Howard Miller’s famous poster with a female showing her muscles with the caption of “We can do it” shows how women are strong, empower other women, and get the job done. This poster was introduced in 1943 during World War II. It was to let America know that women are capable of joining the war and it was a propaganda to boost worker morale. However, the poster was barely seen during this time. As a result, the famous poster was back in the spotlight in the 1980s to promote feminism and political power. One might say feminism and equal rights dates back to the 1860s during the time of the civil war. During this era, women were viewed as caretakers and put family before anything. Their husbands were the breadwinners and many women cooked, cleaned, and raised children while their husbands went to work. At the time, women were unable to vote. Even little girls were told that they did not need an education since their role as an adult would be to take care of their husband and families first and foremost. One woman started a revolution and believed that women should have the same rights as men. Her name was Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

The text, Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote by Tanya Lee Stone centers around Elizabeth Stanton’s life. The first page in the text states an empowering message, “What would you do if someone told you you can’t be what you want to be because you are a girl? What would you do if someone told you your vote doesn’t count, your voice doesn’t matter because you are a girl? Would you ask why? Would you talk back? Would you fight….for your rights? Elizabeth did.” In the book, readers get a glimpse of Elizabeth’s life as a child and how she was four years old when she heard someone say that life was better for boys. Elizabeth’s mom had another child and a family friend said aloud that it doesn’t pay to be a girl. Elizabeth struggled with this concept growing up. At thirteen, she witnessed her father, Judge Cady tell one woman whose husband died that the farm that she had taken care of would be taken away from her. Elizabeth was outraged by the unfairness and decided that she would prove to the people that anything a boy could do, so could a girl. Elizabeth defied her father and started to go horseback riding, rafted across rivers, and was dedicated to earn an education. As a result, her father was worried about his rule-breaking daughter and told Elizabeth “You should have been a boy because life would be easier.” However, Elizabeth didn’t want to lead an easy life. Indeed, while most women were getting married, doing chores, and raising children, Elizabeth was studying religion, math, science, French, as well as writing. Years later, she met Henry Stanton who was an abolitionist and spoke against slavery. Eventually, they married and had three children. Her role as a wife and mother led her to clean up the dishes, the home, mend the clothes, and cook dinner. However, she did not enjoy doing this at all. Elizabeth had a friend, Lucretia Mott who had shared Elizabeth’s philosophy of women having the same rights as men. As a result, these women joined forces and spoke about equal rights to other women. They had pondered what women couldn’t do. They were unable to own property or keep the money that they earned from working because only men were able to change laws since men were able to vote. Elizabeth knew this and she told her friends that if they wanted to have equal rights as men, the first step was to take action by allowing women to vote. On July 19,1948, a group of women arrived at a small church in Seneca Place where they would gather to listen to the “Declaration of Rights and Sentiments,” which changed the concept that all men were created equal. The women at the church cheered in uproar and news broke out all over the country about this strong woman. Newspapers across the country scolded Elizabeth for her boldness, but she ignored their comments and kept fighting for equality. Many people said Elizabeth must be stopped, but she did not rest. Thus, Elizabeth changed America forever because as an activist, she never stopped fighting for women’s rights and she is the reason, why women are allowed to vote, keep the money they earned, and have the same rights as men.

The text is part of the narrative non-fiction genre as it is a biography of Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s life. According to the author, Elizabeth and Susan B. Anthony created the National Suffrage Association in 1869. Elizabeth served as president for 21 years and she was an advocate for women’s rights. The text mentions that she was passionate about girls’ sports, property and child custody rights for women, coeducation, equal wages for women, reforming divorce laws, abolition, and birth control. Elizabeth died on October 26,1902 and eighteen years later, the 19th amendment went into effect, which stated that all women in America had the right to vote. Indeed, it took someone who had the courage to stand up for gender equality and because of Elizabeth Stanton, we as women have the same rights as everyone else.

This book was very inspiring to read because of the history behind it. At first, I never heard of Elizabeth Cady Stanton but have heard of other advocates like Rosa Parks and Susan B. Anthony. I couldn’t even recall if I learned about her in school. However, I found this story to be encouraging for young children especially girls who lack confidence and may have self-esteem issues. It just shows people that life is not meant to be easy, it’s the struggles that make us stronger and better people. These days, with a curriculum focused more in reading and math, children are not really being exposed to history and they lack some knowledge where they can understand how this country became the United States of America. As a child, I learned about the 19th amendment as well as about the civil rights movement. I believe children as well as teens are exposed to this but probably do not have the knowledge behind the 19th amendment. I believe children would enjoy this book because it shows the life of a young girl whose dream was for every women in America to have civil rights. She stood up against men including her father, her husband, as well as the media. She dedicated her life to changing life for women and as a woman, I really believe we need to thank her and appreciate all her efforts. As a teacher, I would introduce this text to my students starting by the third grade since it is deemed appropriate. The illustrations are vivid and the lines in the book are just empowering. The line that I enjoyed from this book was when, “If women could vote, they could help change all kinds of laws! The idea was so shocking, so huge, so daring.” In this line, one is able to note how Elizabeth was determined to create a better life for all women.

I was able to notice that the author seems like she is a feminist and believes in strong women like Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks as well as Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The author has written more than 80 books about strong women. Once again, this is truly inspiring because like Marilyn Monroe said, “it’s a man’s world.” Times have changed and the role of women have changed especially these days where more and more women are finding themselves working, obtaining an education and fulfilling their goals rather than just sitting at home and doing chores, cooking, and taking care of the children. One might say it’s fun to break some rules because that’s what makes life beautiful. The questions that I would ask for the author would be:

1. Readers are introduced to Elizabeth’s baby sister in the beginning of the book and not much is said about her perspective of women’s rights. Did Elizabeth’s younger sister support her views or did she embrace the role of women as a housewife with no rights?

2. Readers are introduced briefly to Henry Stanton and how Elizabeth met him. In the text, it mentions that Henry did not support at first Elizabeth’s views about freedom, but mentions that they got married. We are left with a gap. What made Elizabeth marry Henry if he was not supportive immediately of her views?

3. The text mentions that newspapers scolded Elizabeth for her boldness. I wanted to know, what were the media’s comments regarding Elizabeth’s views on women’s rights?

Narrative Non-Fiction Text#2- Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story From Afghanistan

Between 1996-2001, the Taliban who are known as soldiers or terrorists took control over Afghanistan and oppresion began. These Islamic soldiers ensured that women had no rights. Women and young girls were unable to educate themselves, could not work, and could not be escorted without male supervision. In addition, women were forced to wear a burqa which covered their entire head and body, with only a small opening for their eyes. On September 11, 2001, our nation changed that morning when four hijackers attacked us by taking control over airplanes and crashing it into the infamous Twin Towers, Pennsylvania, as well as the Pentagon. As a result, our nation was never the same and it led this country to declare war on the Taliban and other terrorists who were associated with that regime. Today, the Taliban does not exist and in Afghanistan, however danger still remains. Schools are bombed and there are death threats made to teachers and young girls are even attacked for going to school.

The text Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter is about a young girl named Nasreen whose life changed when the “soldiers” or Taliban took over Afghanistan. Before the Taliban took over, art, music, education, and equality existed for both genders. When the Taliban took over, a dark cloud reigned over the nation. As a result, young girls like Nasreem were unable to leave the home unless they were escorted by a male. In addition,Nasreen witnessed her father being taken away from her home and he was held as a hostage. When her father did not return, Nasreen’s mother went out looking for him even though women were forbidden to walk the streets of Afghanistan. However, her mother did not return. As a result, Nasreen became depressed and did not speak. She waited patiently for her parents to return but they never did. She felt all alone and her grandmother could not watch her suffer anymore. Her grandmother was dedicated to ensure that her grandchild would receive an education, despite any consequences that might arise. The grandmother had heard of a secret school and took the risk of hiding in the secret school. In the secret school, Nasreem met other young girls and women who wanted to discover new things and learn about the world. One day, the soldiers knocked on the gates of the secret school to find out what was hiding behind doors. When he walked in, the young girls pretended they were reading the Koran. Eventually, Nasreem spoke again and made a new friend, Mina. She told Mina how she witnessed her parents being taken away from their home and how the soldiers were taking over the streets. Eventually, Nasreen made progress and she learned how to read, write, to add, as well as to subtract. Despite all the hardships that Nasreen witnessed, she had faith and she was able to see a blue sky over the dark clouds that the Taliban had ignited.

This text is part of the narrative non-fiction genre as Nasreen’s grandmother is telling the story. She recalls all the details of what her grandaughter witnessed and overcame a difficult time. Texts that are apart of this genre are , memoirs, autobiographies, or personal stories. Nasreem shares intimate details of her grandaughter’s struggle with witnessing how the Taliban took her parents away. The texts uses metaphors including “dark clouds” to represent all the difficulties that were arising in the country due to the soldiers. The author states, “I heard whispers about a school-a secret school for girls-behind a gate in a nearby lane. I wanted Nasreen to attend this secret school. I wanted her to learn about the world, as I had. I wanted her to speak again.” One can note that Nasreen’s grandmother was determined to give her grandchild a better life. Before the Taliban took over, young girls were able to go to school and learn new subjects. They were able to do art and play music. Since Nasreen was depressed witnessing her parents being taken away by the soldier, her grandmother knew that Nasreen’s mother would want her to have a better life and not suffer. In the text, readers witness how the grandmother tells how she overcame obstacles like disguising herself to represent someone else so she wouldn’t get caught by the Taliban or how her and her grandchild walked the streets when they weren’t supposed to. The grandmother recalls all the risks she did for her grandaughter and shows her faith in how she was determined for Nasreen to go to school and learn new things. At the end of the story, the author writes, “As for me, my mind is at ease. I still wait for my son and his wife. But the soldiers can never close the windows that have opened for my grandaughter.”

Before I picked out this book at the library, I read a review about how this book relates to current events. I honestly did not know what to expect before reading it. While reading the book, I started to fight back tears a little because I was able to imagine what Nasreen and the other young girls have gone through. They witnessed their families being taken away from them and as a result, the girls shut down and have little hope. It was bittersweet because Nasreen’s grandmother was dedicated to ensure that Nasreen would have a better life, that’s what her parents would have wanted for her. Indeed, I thought the book was controversial in the sense that it does relate to previous events that occurred a few years ago. The text refers the Taliban to as “soldiers” which is supposed to be deemed appropriate for the children. I enjoyed the colorful images and all the metaphors that were used in the book. The vivid details helped me feel sorry for Nasreen, her grandmother, as well as the other young girls. Their lives were being stolen from them. It’s a story about having faith when overcoming a hardship. Nasreen’s grandmother never abandoned her grandchild and wanted a better life for her. If I read this book to children, I believe the appropriate grade level would be anywhere from fourth through sixth grade. I believe the children would have to be more mature about it but teachers should definitely take a rish and read this story to the children because they could engage in a conversation about how would they feel if they were in Nasreem’s shoes. Despite everything, I thought this book was well-written and I was able to place myself in the character’s shoes witnessing her struggle and overcoming it during the most difficult time of her life. I believe that teachers should read this text because it tells true events in a light-hearted sense without being so graphic.

Some questions that I would ask the author were:

1. At the end of the story, you write how Nasreen saw the light in the darkness. However, we did not hear from Nasreen’s point of view or her opinion on this whole matter. Would Nasreen write a book and tell us about her side of the story?

2. Why did the author refer the Taliban to as “soldiers?”

3. What are schools and the role of women like today in Afghanistan?

Narrative Non-Fiction Text #1- Balloons over Broadway

Millions of people around the globe tune into watching the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade while others flock to the city to watch the parade via live. Here’s a fun fact: On Thanksgiving eve, a crowd of people gather on Broadway and Central Park West to witness the unveiling of the balloons that will be apart of the parade.

The text Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet centers around Anthony “Tony” Sarg’s life. As a child, he enjoyed making things move. At the age of 6, Tony was known as a mariotte man since he came up with creative ways on how to make his life easier by using pulleys and strings. As Tony grew up, he relocated to London where he discovered that no marionettes were being made for kids anymore. Therefore, he created puppets and had them perform as they were real actors. Tony eventually moved to New York City, and Macy’s had heard about his work. The store signed signed him to create puppets as part of store’s holiday window. His puppets were based on storybook characters such as Humpty Dumpty. Since Tony had done a fabulous job with the puppets, Macys hired him to be the creative director for the annual Macys Thanksgiving Day parade. At the end of the story, readers get a glimpse of how this little boy’s dream of making things move turned into him being the person responsible for having the balloons float up in the sky during the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Once I opened the book, I was hooked since there are various captions, illustrations, and one can really appreciate all the vivid details that makes this book come alive. It’s interesting to see how Tony Sarg’s journey go from marionette to being the creator behind the balloons that soar through New York City’s skyline on Thanksgiving. In the book, readers discover that animals including lions, tigers, and elephants were apart of the annual tradition once. “Tony hoped to replace the animals with some kind of puppets, but his marionettes were less than three feet tall. He would have to make much larger puppets in order for them to be seen in the parade. And how could he make them strong enough to hold up in bad weather yet light enough to move up and down the street?”

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book because I feel as if I can relate to it in a sense. Several years ago, I worked as a journalist for a well-known newspaper and I did a piece for the features section. My articles covered the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I went to a warehouse in New Jersey where all the balloons, floats, and costumes are stored. It was so interesting and was a once and a lifetime experience because I learned alot about the parade. In addition, I also went on Thanksgiving eve to see the floats and saw how all the children and adults were amazed at looking at all the balloons. There is so much creativity that goes into this parade, and it starts with just a sketch. It was absolutely amazing to see how much work is put into this parade and it’s only held once a year.

I believe children would enjoy reading this book because most children enjoy parades and looking up at the sky seeing their favorite characters soar up in the sky. It’s a great book because it relates to America’s favorite annual tradition, and one can paint a picture in their minds to compare what the parade used to look like to today’s tradition.

While reading this book, some questions that arose were:

1. What inspired Tony as a little boy to be involved with puppetry?

2. What reason (s) did Tony relocate to London?

3. If Tony was alive today, what would you say to him?

What is narrative non-fiction?

Narrative non-fiction also known as creative non-fiction is a genre that is based on true events that is presented in a fiction form or fact-based story telling. This genre focuses more on character development, plot structure, theme, and grabs the reader from the beginning since it is told from the author’s point of view. Once the reader is hooked, he or she will continue reading because the reader will be engaged in reading about someone else’s life.

Narrative non-fiction dates back to the early 1960s, an era that brought radical movement, political reform, and popular culture in the United States. Authors have written memoirs and personal stories to share with the world their stories. One would compare narrative non-fiction to journalism. The site defines narrative non-fiction as, “In short form, it’s an alternative to the traditional newspaper pyramid structure (in which, if you lopped off the bottom part of the story, the reader would still have all the key information). With narrative nonfiction you don’t present the main point in the first paragraph—compelling narrative keeps the reader reading to find out what happens, and the journey to the epiphany is half the point.”

Many well known authors such as Norman Mailer and Hunter Thompson have written pieces that are part of this genre. Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood piece is famous in this genre since the author wrote the story from a journalist’s perspective. In addition, some scandals have emerged from this genre. In 2003, the author, James Frey published his memoir A Million Little Pieces , which focused on detailing his history of drug abuse and recovery. The author went onto the Oprah Winfrey show and his book was inserted into her famous book club. Three years later, evidence had shown that some parts to Frey’s story was fabricated.

As a former journalist, I feel like I have written various narrative non-fiction pieces that have been published in a newspaper as well as the Internet. I have learned that when a journalist is writing an article, like myself, I made sure that the first sentence to my article would capture the reader’s attention. Then, I would make sure the important parts of the event occurred first and then little details followed. I believe that my students will enjoy reading about narrative non-fiction since it is based on actual events. I would expect my future students to pose questions and interupt me while I’m reading the story aloud, which is fine because that allows me to see that they understand the story.