Monday, April 8, 2013

Nonfiction Monday: Migrant Mother: How a Photograph Defined the Great Depression

Nonfiction Monday is a weekly meme in the Kidlitosphere that invites bloggers to read and review a nonfiction book on Monday as a way to promote high-quality nonfiction titles.  Each week, a different blogger "hosts" Nonfiction Monday and provides a roundup of all the posts.  This week Nonfiction Monday is hosted by a wrung sponge!

It's been a few weeks since I got it together and posted for Nonfiction Monday.  My bad. Blame it on committee reading, spring break and "the rain."  You've got to blame it on something...

Migrant Mother: How a Photograph Defined the Great Depression by Don Nardo

I learned so much from my last Nonfiction Monday read, Man on the Moon, that I thought I might as well go ahead and read another book in the Captured History series.  And once again, I was taught to look at the photograph differently - critically - and to better understand the significance of the photo and the time and place in which it was taken.  This time the photo was that of the migrant mother with her children, taken by Dorothea Lange as part of her work for the Photography Project, a Depression-era program of the Farm Security Administration.

The structure of Migrant Mother uses the same formula as Man on the Moon. The title image is front and center and just about the entirety cover, a tightly written hook of a first chapter takes the reader to the moment the photograph was taken, a second chapter delves into the background of the time, a third chapter critically examines the photo (Did you know that this was only one photo in a series of six?  Or that it was staged? And that her thumb was edited out? Me neither.), and a final chapter focuses on the legacy of the photo and how it shaped history.  A timeline, glossary, additional resources, source notes, select bibliography and index round out the back matter.  While it could come off gimmicky to use the exact same structure (and I'm sure it repeats in the rest of the books in the series), the presentation is so appealing and the writing so concise and engaging that I couldn't care a smidge about how formulaic the arrangement.

Another terrific nonfiction title that deserves a place in every 20th century history collection.  Seriously, if you are a middle or high school librarian and you haven't purchased this series for your students, then you are doing them a huge disservice.  It's perfect for reluctant readers who just want to look at the pictures. It's ideal for students studying the Great Depression, Dorothea Lange or photography.

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1 comment:

  1. This looks really wonderful. I agree, using that formula for a close look at how photographs have influenced our view of ourselves/history/public policy is an effective one. I will check out this book and the whole series after reading your review. Thanks!