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Non-Fiction Monday: Etched in Clay: the life of Dave, Enslaved Potter and Poet by Andrea Cheng
I am thrilled to be hosting the last Non-Fiction Monday of 2012! Happy New Year everyone! What are your reading resolutions for 2013?

143 p. Lee & Low Books, January 15, 2013. 9781600604515. (Purchased)

The life of an enslaved man named Dave is recounted in 90+ blank verse poems and illustrated by woodcuts. According to Ms. Cheng's brief introduction and afterword, facts about Dave's life were gleaned from the records of his many owners. It is estimated that he was born around 1801 and lived to see the end of slavery. He showed an affinity for throwing pottery and soon became known for the quality of his pots. He continued to throw pots despite losing one of his legs in an accident. He was taught to read at a time when it was illegal to teach slaves. In one of his poems, Dave expresses admiration for Nat Turner and chides himself for not being brave, but he wrote his poems on his pots and signed them at his and his owner's peril. Some of the poems incorporate Dave's poems and there is a page with Dave's inscriptions at the back of the book along with information about Edgefield Pottery, an author's note and sources. 

This book is quite hefty despite its narrow trim and mere 142 pages. It is also beautifully designed - the cover paper is textured, the preponderance of clay-red on the cover and end-pages is lovely, and the creamy pages containing the poems are on the thick side. The story of Dave the potter's life is told from multiple viewpoints, Dave's, his two wives, three owners and their wives and sundry folks. The free verse poems beg for multiple readings. The wood cut illustrations are spare and powerful. There's potential for plenty of cross-curricular work here - art, social studies and language arts, especially if paired with Laban Carrick Hill's gorgeous picture book, Dave the Potter: artist, poet, slave. One might also include It Jes' Happened by Don Tate to expand the unit.

I first heard of the book when I read a tweet from Lee & Low directing me to this page. What a nice resource! Since I am a fan of Ms. Cheng's work and also of Mr. Hill's book, which is also a poem, I looked up the book with the intention of pre-ordering it and found that it was shipping early. Yay! 

Please leave your links to Non-Fiction Monday in the comments. I am sorry to say that LJ is glitchy with comments from time to time. If your comment does not appear, feel free to post your link to kidlitosphere or email me at labsnbooks(at)aol(dot)com. Cheers! And Happy New Year!
Sandy, from Unpacking the Power of Picture Books, is not only in first, but also festively, with One Times Square: a century of change at the crossroads of the world by Joe McKendry. Genius!
Tara of A Teaching Life, talks about using A Black Hole is Not a Hole as a mentor text to launch a non-fiction unit. Great choice!

Jeff, at  NC Teacher Stuff is featuring a book about The American Revolution titled Did It All Start with a Snowball Fight?  This sounds like a fine addition to the unit I collaborate on with the seventh grade social studies teacher

Cathy and Louise, from The Non-Fiction Detectives reflected on their favorite history books of 2012. It's quite a diverse list starting with Bomb.

Anastasia writes, "Today at Booktalking I have a book for the new year: Health Smarts: How to Eat Right, Stay Fit, Make Positive Choices, and More (USA Today Teen Wise Guides: Lifestyle Choices) by Matt Doeden."

Sue submitted this: "Today at Sally's Bookshelf I've posted a review of About Habitats: Oceans by Cathryn Sill; illustrated by John Sill."
About Oceans

Jennifer didn't let LJ's snubbing prevent her from posting the link to City Critters: wildlife in the urban jungle by Nicholas Read over at Jean Little Library. Thanks Jennifer!
Keep them coming folks!

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Thanks for hosting, and Happy New Year! At A Teaching Life I have a review of A Black Hole is Not a Hole. Science!

Thanks for hosting Nonfiction Monday! Today we share our top ten favorite history books of 2012 on The Nonfiction Detectives blog.

Cathy & Louise

Thanks for hosting this week. At The Children's War, I have reviewed The House Baba Built: an Artists Childhood in China by Ed Young at



Today at Sally's Bookshelf I've posted a review of About Habitats: Oceans by Cathryn Sill; illustrated by John Sill

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