A good teacher encourages you to learn more on your own. One of the things I like most about Marvelous Cornelius is that Bildner shares Cornelius’ story in the form of a folk tale, then in the author’s note, encourages readers to learn more about him. This is important.
Marvelous Cornelius tells the story of Cornelius Washington from New Orleans who was a pillar of his community. Was he a politician? A Policeman? A Teacher? No. He was a jaunty, show-stopping garbage man in the French Quarter who took pride in his job. After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Cornelius found the spirit within himself to continue doing his job well; he worked to make his home beautiful again and with help pouring in from near and far, he swept the streets. Bildner incorporates sound and rhythm elements into the story, which gives it energy and makes it fun to read aloud.
I’ve never been to New Orleans but like many Americans, I grew up learning a bit about the music, the food, the history, and the energy of the place. Especially after the hurricane, our eyes and hearts were once again turned down there. Bildner writes a story that honors a man who was very much a part of his city and the illustrator, John Parra, transports us to NOLA with his illustrations. He uses lots of earthy, rich tones and the paint is scratchy on the canvas. People with beautiful hues of skin color fill the streets in celebration and Cornelius stands tall, lanky and strong with his dark brown skin, orange gloves and gray earring. I really like Parra’s style; Green is a Chile Pepper is another one to check out if you like his style as well.
Marvelous Cornelius is a very special biography picture book so be sure to check it out. 🙂
Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Biography, We Need Diverse Books, Cultural Diversity, New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina, Community, Local Hero, African-American, Non-Fiction
Book Info: Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans by Phil Bildner/Illustrated by John Parra, 2015 Chronicle Books LLC, ISBN: 9781452125787