Biography, Earth Day

The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng By Sophia Gholz

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Back of Book:
As a boy, Jadav Payeng was distressed by the destruction deforestation and erosion was causing on his island home in India’s Brahmaputra River. So he began planting trees. What began as a small thicket of bamboo, grew over the years into 1,300 acre forest filled with native plants and animals. The Boy Who Grew a Forest tells the inspiring true story of Payeng–and reminds us all of the difference a single person with a big idea can make.
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from author Sophia Gholz in exchange for an honest review.
The Boy Who Grew A Forest is a beautiful picture book biography about the life and work of Jadav Payeng. Jadav saw a need in his community and worked hard to change the environment for the better. He planted one tree at a time until he had created an entire ecosystem. The simple lyrical text sweeps readers into the story of how Jadav spent his life making his small island a better place. The illustrations are gorgeous and eye-catching. I felt as if I was there watching the forest grow and the animals return. The back of the book has more information about Jadav Payeng as well as directions on how to plant your own seeds. This is a fantastic book to share with children during Arbor Day or Earth Day. A perfect addition to all school and elementary classrooms.
Ages 6 and up
32 Pages

Biography, National Womens Month

Gloria Takes a Stand: How Gloria Steinem Listened, Wrote, and Changed the World By Jessica M. Rinker

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Back of Book:
As a young girl, Gloria Steinem thought for herself and spoke her mind. She read many books by her favorite authors and imagined herself as the heroine of the story.
Gloria wished. She read. And imagined.
But Gloria grew up during a time when women were not encouraged or even allowed, to do a lot of the things men could do: go to college, get a job, open a bank account, and more. There were restrictions that made it impossible for women to be independent or equal to men. So, Gloria set out to change that . . .
Gloria listened. She watched. And wrote.
Gloria believed. She marched. And dreamed.
My Review:
I was sent a copy of this picture book from publisher Bloomsbury Press in exchange for an honest review.
Author Jessica Rinker has beautifully captured the life and determination of Gloria Steinem. The story follows Gloria from a young girl to a powerful woman. Gloria never stopped watching, listening, and dreaming. She believed that all people were important and that everyone should be heard. As a journalist, she fought to give a voice to women who did not have one. Gloria created a magazine that was strictly for women called Ms. She published articles about women who changed laws and protected themselves from violence. She achieved many great things over the course of her career. The illustrations are vibrant and draw readers into the strength and resilience of women. The back of the book has fantastic authors note and illustrators note about the ways that Gloria influenced them. The book also has a timeline and bibliography that shares more information with readers. This is a terrific story to share during National Women’s Day.
Ages 8 and up
48 Pages

Biography, National Womens Month

A Computer Called Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Helped Put America on the Moon by Suzanne Slade

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Katherine knew it was wrong that African Americans didn’t have the same rights as others–as wrong as 5+5=12. She knew it was wrong that people thought women could only be teachers or nurses–as wrong as 10-5=3. And she proved everyone wrong by zooming ahead of her classmates, starting college at fifteen, and eventually joining NASA, where her calculations helped pioneer America’s first manned flight into space, its first manned orbit of Earth, and the world’s first trip to the moon!
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from author Suzanne Slade in exchange for an honest review.
Suzanne Slade is a gifted author! Her books never fail to sweep me into the story. “A Computer Called Katherine” is no exception. The book follows Katherine from her childhood love of mathematics to her important work with NASA. The book focuses on Katherine’s courage and determination to keep moving forward. She chose to work in a career with all men. This meant that Katherine had to work twice as hard to prove that she was just as capable of solving equations as they were. The illustrations by debut illustrator Veronica Miller Jamison are bright and detailed. I love the way she incorporated numbers within the illustrations. I loved reading the authors note in the back of the book about how she pulled from her own personal experience working at NASA. The back of the book also had a fantastic timeline that makes this book perfect for book reports. This is an excellent book to share for National Women’s Month and any STEM unit.
Ages 5 and up
40 Pages

Biography, Black History Month, History

Martin & Anne: The Kindred Spirits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Anne Frank By Nancy Churnin

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Back of Book:
Anne Frank and Martin Luther King Jr. were born the same year a world apart. Both faced ugly prejudices and violence, which both answered with words of love and faith in humanity. This is the story of their parallel journeys to find hope in darkness and to follow their dreams.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from author Nancy Churin in exchange for an honest review.
Until reading this story I had never realized that Martin Luther King Jr. and Anne Frank were born in the same year. It is amazing to me that people who lived in different places shared similar difficulties. Nancy did a beautiful job comparing and contrasting the lives or Martin and Anne. Both fought discrimination with hope and strength. Although their lives were cut short, Martin and Anne left a legacy that continues to inspire people daily. Nancy weaved together a stunning picture book biography that celebrates the theme that love is stronger than hate. The illustrations by Yevgenia are soft and beautiful. The back of the book has a timeline of both Martin and Anne which gives readers more information about them. This is a perfect nonfiction text to share in the classroom or at home.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Biography, National Womens Month

Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life: Hollywood Legend and Brilliant By Laurie Wallmark

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Back of Book:
To her adoring public, Hedy Lamarr was a glamorous movie star, widely considered the most beautiful woman in the world. But in private, she was something more: a brilliant inventor. And for many years only her closest friends knew her secret. Now Laurie Wallmark and Katy Wu, who collaborated on Sterling’s critically acclaimed picture-book biography Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code, tell the inspiring story of how, during World War Two, Lamarr developed a groundbreaking communications system that still remains essential to the security of today’s technology.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from author Laurie Wallmark in exchange for an honest review.
I have been a long time fan of Hedy Lamarr’s acting career. It wasn’t until recently that I learned what a strong and intelligent woman Hedy was. The story follows Hedy from childhood in Austria to her amazing career in Holywood. The most intriguing part of this story to me was the fact that Hedy invented such a complicated system. She worked hard with George Antheil to create a secure torpedo guidance system. Sadly the system she created would be taken and Hedy didn’t receive credit for many years. Amazingly Heldy continued to do anything she could for the country she loved. She sold war bonds and held dances for the soldiers during World War 2. Laurie created a well researched and fascinating biography about one amazing woman. Katy Wu’s illustrations are truly stunning and bring depth to the life of Hedy Lamarr. The back of the book has a timeline of Hedys life, a list of her movies , as well as more information about the Secret Communications System. This is an excellent book for National Women’s Month or any unit on inventions. I highly recommend it!
Ages 6 and up
48 Pages

Biography, Horses

Wild Horse Annie: Friend of the Mustangs by Tracey Fern

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Back of Book:
Wild Horse Annie was the nickname of Velma Bronn Johnston (1912–77), loved mustangs all her life. When she saw mustangs being rounded up and killed to make room for ranchers’ livestock, she knew she had to speak up. In 1950, she began writing letters to local newspapers and politicians, defending the horses’ right to raom free.
Many people told Annie to hush up, but they couldn’t stop her. She soon became a voice for mustangs throughout the state of Nevada, speaking on their behalf at town halls and meetings.
But Annie was only one person, and she wanted to do more. So she got children to speak up, too, by having them write letters to Washington, D.C., officials to ask them to save the Mustangs. Finally, with the help of her young “pencil brigade,” Annie persuaded Congress to pass nationwide laws protecting wild horses and burros on public land nationwide.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from author Tracey Fern in exchange for an honest review.
I have never studied much about Wild Horse Annie and was amazed by this well-written biography about one woman’s fight to protect the animals she loved! The story follows Tracey from her childhood love of horses to her struggles with polio. Her love of horses gave her a passion to see them protected and safe. I was fascinated to learn about the many avenues that Velma wrote and spoke to throughout the country. The inspiring ending will make readers want to stand up and fight for a cause of their own! The illustrations are stunning and showcase the beauty of Mustangs. The back of the book has detailed authors note that shares more about Wild Horse Annie. This is a perfect story for horse lovers of all ages. It is also a perfect addition to a National Women’s Unit.
Ages 6 and up
48 Pages

Biography, Science, STEM

Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge Rachel Dougherty

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Back of Book:
It was the first trip across an engineering marvel that had taken nearly fourteen years to construct. The woman’s husband was the chief engineer, and he knew all about the dangerous new technique involved. The woman insisted she learns as well.
When he fell ill mid-construction, her knowledge came in handy. She supervised every aspect of the project while he was bedridden, and she continued to learn about things only men were supposed to know:
math, science, engineering.
Women weren’t supposed to be engineers.
But this woman insisted she could do it all, and her hard work helped to create one of the most iconic landmarks in the world.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from author Rachel Dougherty in exchange for an honest review.
I was so excited when I saw that this book was being published. I was unfamiliar with the story that the Brooklyn Bridge was finished by a woman. I loved that Rachel described the many steps of building the bridge. I was fascinated to learn the process of how they built The Brooklyn Bridge. The story begins with Emily’s childhood and shows readers how her love for learning math and science allowed her to play such an important part in history. The text explains how unknown to everyone, Emily took over the building of the bridge. She was never given the recognition she deserved. This amazing book shows readers how strong and courageous women can be. The illustrations are detailed and show readers close up examples of the building of the bridge. The back of the book has more information about Emily Roebling as well as a glossary and pictures of the completed Brooklyn Bridge. This is an amazing story to add to any STEM or National Women’s unit. A must-have for elementary and school libraries.
Ages 6 and up
40 Pages

Biography, Presidents Day

The Camping Trip that Changed America: Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and Our National Parks by Barb Rosenstock

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Back of Book:
In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt joined naturalist John Muir on a trip to Yosemite. Camping by themselves in the uncharted woods, the two men saw sights and held discussions that would ultimately lead to the establishment of our National Parks.
My Review:
I will be sharing this book with my class on Tuesday for Presidents Day. I love finding books about Presidents that are not as widely shared about. When I read the description of “The Camping Trip That Changed America” I knew I needed it in my classroom. It tells readers the fantastic story of how Theodore Roosevelt went on a camping trip and decided to protect the natural environment of the United States. This is a great story to share about the importance of land conservation and protecting the national beauty of this land. I live near a national monument and am very grateful that John Muir played such an important role in history. The illustrations are soft watercolors and truly beautiful. The authors note in the back shares more with readers about the incredible journey that the two men had together. This is a must read for Presidents Day.
32 Pages
Ages 6 and up

Art, Biography

Out of This World: The Surreal Art of Leonora Carrington By Michelle Markel

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Back of Book:
Ever since she was a little girl, Leonora Carrington loved to draw on walls, in books, on paper—and she loved the fantastic tales her grandmother told that took her to worlds that shimmered beyond this one, where legends became real.
Leonora’s parents wanted her to become a proper English lady, but there was only one thing she wanted, even if it was unsuitable: to be an artist. In London, she discovered a group of artists called surrealists, who were stunning the world with their mysterious creations. This was the kind of art she had to make. This was the kind of person she had to be.
From life in Paris creating art alongside Max Ernst, to Mexico where she met Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Leonora’s life became intertwined with powerful events and people that shaped the twentieth century.

I received a copy of this picture book from author Michelle Markel in exchange for an honest review.

Michelle has created a stunning and eye-opening picture book biography about Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington. The story follows her life from childhood to an adult. When she discovers the art of Surrealism, Leonora also discovers her passion and her calling. I love that the text refers to other prominent female artists like Remedios Varo. It allows readers to learn about the Surrealist time period. The illustrations by Amanda Hall beautifully capture the art and colors of the Surrealist Movement. The back of the book has author and illustrator notes sharing with readers more about the process of capturing Leonora’s life. This is an excellent book to share with anyone with a true appreciation of art.
Ages 6 and up
40 Pages

Biography, Black History Month, Civil Rights

Carter Reads the Newspaper By Deborah Hopkinson

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Carter G. Woodson didn’t just read history. He changed it.” As the father of Black History Month, he spent his life introducing others to the history of his people.
Carter G. Woodson was born to two formerly enslaved people ten years after the end of the Civil War. Though his father could not read, he believed in being an informed citizen. So Carter read the newspaper to him every day. When he was still a teenager, Carter went to work in the coal mines. There he met a man named Oliver Jones, and Oliver did something important: he asked Carter not only to read to him and the other miners, but also research and find more information on the subjects that interested them. “My interest in penetrating the past of my people was deepened,” Carter wrote. His journey would take him many more years, traveling around the world and transforming the way people thought about history.
My Review:
I was so excited to read a story about the man who created Black History Month. I am sad to say that before reading this story I had never heard of Carter Woodson. This biography tells the story from Cater’s childhood to adulthood. I love that Deborah weaved so many other prominent figures within the pages. The illustrations by Don Tate are vivid and exquisitely portray the life of Carter Woodson. The back of the book has notes from the author and illustrator, as well as a timeline of Woodson’s life. A perfect story to share with children to introduce Black History Month.
Ages 5 and up
36 Pages