Candace Fleming is blessed with a wonderful combination of skills as a writer. Since she enjoys both writing and research, as a result she writes fun picture books, detailed biographies, and engaging picture books based on intriguing historical gems. I haven’t read everything she has written, but most of what I have read is very nicely done. I appreciate the combination of her clever stories with excellent illustrations from various artists, and the endnotes in her historical picture books that explain the background for her story.
Papa’s Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming, pictures by Boris Kulikov. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013.
Papa’s Mechanical Fish is based on an eccentric inventor. Told from the perspective of his daughter Virena, Papa’s patient, supportive family awaits each new improvement on his efforts to invent a mechanical fish, asking questions and seeking solutions after each failure. His success is also theirs. This fictionalized account is based on the life of Lodner Phillips, who did take his family on an excursion to the bottom of Lake Michigan in 1851. As usual, Fleming’s narrative style includes lively, inventive words that express sound and activity.
A Big Cheese for the White House: The True Tale of a Tremendous Cheddar by Candace Fleming, illustrated by S.D. Schindler. Square Fish, 2004.
The residents of Cheshire, Connecticut, are proud of their cheese. In order to deal with competition from another town whose cheese is being served at President Jefferson’s table, the citizens of Cheshire combine a whole day’s milking from all of their cows to create a ginormous (and yes, that word is found in the 2007 Merriam-Webster Dictionary) cheese. A story of cooperation, how-to-make-cheese and problem-solving in a delightful account of an event in history that I never knew about!
The Hatmaker’s Sign by Candace Fleming (and Benjamin Franklin), illustrations by Robert Parker. Scholastic, 1998.
How many times do you feel like you can’t please everyone—or anyone? This is a retelling of a story Benjamin Franklin told his friend Thomas Jefferson, who was trying to write a Declaration of Independence that would satisfy everyone in the Continental Congress. A hatmaker wants to advertise his services, but on his way to have a sign made, he runs into all kinds of criticism until he is left with a blank sheet of paper. How can he say what he wants to say? This title is out of print, but do look for it at your library.