Biography, Siblings

Serena: The Littlest Sister by Karlin Gray

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Back of Book:
Serena Williams is one of the biggest names in sports, but she grew up the littlest of five girls in her family. While sharing a room and playing tennis with her older sisters, Serena had to figure out how to be her own person―on and off the court. This empowering biography showcases the rise of the youngest Williams sister and how her family played a part in her path to becoming the strong woman and star athlete she is today.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Page Street Publishers in exchange for an honest review.
Serena The Littlest Sister is a fantastic picture book that shows readers the dedication and determination that Serena had to become the greatest tennis player in the United States. The story follows Serena from a young child playing tennis with her sisters to a great champion who won the US Opening. I love that the story focuses on the relationship between the sisters. Venus and Serena never allowed their competitions to come between their bond.
The illustrations by Monica Ahanonu are bold and bright. They capture the intensity and strength of the way Venus and Serena played the game they loved. The back of the book has more information about Serena and her family. This is a great nonfiction picture book and one that should be shared in elementary libraries and classrooms.
Ages 8 and up
40 Pages

Biography, Dinosaurs, National Womens Month

When Sue Found Sue: Sue Hendrickson Discovers Her T. Rex By Toni Buzzeo

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Back of Book:
From a very young age, Sue Hendrickson was meant to find things: lost coins, perfume bottles, even hidden treasure. Her endless curiosity eventually led to her career in diving and paleontology, where she would continue to find things big and small. In 1990, at a dig in South Dakota, Sue made her biggest discovery to date: Sue the T. rex, the largest and most complete T. rex skeleton ever unearthed. Named in Sue’s honor, Sue the T. rex would be placed on permanent exhibition at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Abrams book publishers in exchange for an honest review.
This is a terrific nonfiction picture book biography about the life and research of Sue Hendrickson. The text follows Sue from her childhood as a curious finder to her job as an archeologist. She went to search the hills of South Dakota for dinosaur fossils where she felt lead to a particular cliff. In that cliff, she discovered the largest Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found. I love that the text has quotes from Sue about finding the T-Rex. It adds a layer of depth to the story and shows readers Sues perspective about finding such a miraculous set of bones. The illustrations by Diana Sudyka are filled with soft and airy colors. She captured the mountains of South Dakota beautifully. The back of the book has more informing about Sue Hendrickson as well as a photo of the T-Rex that she discovered. I love this story because I feel like it is very relevant to today’s audiences. It is a great reminder to readers to never give up on being curious human beings. Also a perfect addition to any dinosaur unit.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Biography, Science, Space

The Girl Who Named Pluto: The Story of Venetia Burney By Alice B. McGinty

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Back of Book:
When Venetia Burney’s grandfather reads aloud from the newspaper about a new discovery–a “ninth major planet” that has yet to be named–her eleven-year-old mind starts whirring. She is studying the planets in school and loves Roman mythology. “It might be called Pluto,” she says, thinking of the dark underworld. Grandfather loves the idea and contacts his friend at London’s Royal Astronomical Society, who writes to scientists at the Lowell Observatory in Massachusetts, where Pluto was discovered. After a vote, the scientists agree unanimously: Pluto is the perfect name for the dark, cold planet.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Schwartz & Wade Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
I have always been intrigued by the planet, Pluto and was so excited that a book had been written about the young girl who named the far away planet. The story begins with Venetia going on a star walk with her class. Even as a young girl, Venetia was fascinated by the concepts of space and planets. When she heard from her grandfather that a newly discovered planet needed a name she looked into history for inspiration. Venetia would go on to become a math teacher and inspire young girls to dream big. Near the end of her life, Venetia would be able to view the planet through a telescope that she had named. The illustrations by Elizabeth Haidle are skillfully created. The expressions on Venetia’s face as she is waiting to hear if they like her name choice are my favorite!
The back of the book has more information about Venetia and the planet Pluto. This is a brilliant nonfiction biography that focuses on the importance of women in the world of math and science. A great book for any STEM unit.
Ages 5 and up
40 Pages

Biography, Black History Month, STEM

Sweet Dreams, Sarah by Vivian Kirkfield

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Back of Book:
Sarah E. Goode was one of the first African-American women to get a US patent. Working in her furniture store, she recognized a need for a multi-use bed and through hard work, ingenuity, and determination, invented her unique cupboard bed. She built more than a piece of furniture. She built a life far away from slavery, a life where her sweet dreams could come true.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from author Vivian Kirkfield in exchange for an honest review.
I love finding books that share stories about unknown people in history. I had never heard of Sarah E. Goode and was amazed to read this book and learn about her story.
Sarah was a strong woman in history who had dreams and grit. After the Civil War, she worked hard in her furniture store to meet the needs of her customers. She came up with the idea of making a multiuse bed that could be tucked away to save room. In a time where women were not investors, Sarah did the unthinkable and applied for the patent. Her determination paid off and changed the way the furniture was created.
Vivian has a beautifully crafted Sarahs journey to get the credit that she deserved. The text is poetic and rich in figurative language. I loved the way the words are placed along with the page. It flows with the story. The illustrations by Chris Ewald are rich and detailed.
The back of the book has more information about what a patent is, as well as a timeline of black women patent holders. It also has a note from the author and a timeline of Sarah E Goode’s life.
This is a fantastic book to use in any unit celebrating women. A must-have for any classroom library.
32 Pages
Ages 5 and up

Biography, Earth Day

Up in the Leaves: The True Story of the Central Park Treehouses by Shira Boss

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Back of Book:
This charming picture book tells the true story of Bob Redman, a child growing up in New York City. Tired of the noise, the people, and the rushing around, Bob took shelter in the natural beauty of Central Park—where he covertly built a series of amazing treehouses, starting with a simple platform and growing more and more elaborate over time. He played cat-and-mouse with the park workers, who kept tearing down his houses until he was finally caught. But his story ends with a happy surprise
My Review:
I shared this fun nonfiction biography with my class on Arbor Day. It shares the life of Bob Redman and his love of the trees in Central Park. Readers are swept away into the passion that Bob had for nature. every tree house he built got bigger and more elaborate! The text is written in a strong lyrical format that has stunning figurative language. Including metaphors, similes, and personification. Shira made sure that her book was not just a story but an experience. The illustrations by Jamey Christoph are whimsical and have an almost airy feel to them. Readers are able to feel like they are up in the treehouse with Bob. The back of the book has an epilogue that shares more about Bob Redman with readers. Overall, this is a truly stunning story and should b shared with readers in all classrooms.
Ages 5 and up
40 Pages

Biography, Black History Month, Music

Birth of the Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound By Kathleen Cornell Berman

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Back of Book:
As a young musician, Miles Davis heard music everywhere. This biography explores the childhood and early career of a jazz legend as he finds his voice and shapes a new musical sound. Follow his progression from East St. Louis to rural Arkansas, from Julliard and NYC jazz clubs to the prestigious Newport Jazz Festival.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Page Street Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
I have been using several different picture books to teach my students about different forms of poetry. I am so excited to share this story with them on Monday. It uses rhythmic free verse to tell readers about the life of the great Miles Davis. The story follows Miles from his childhood in St. Louis to his unforgettable career as a trumpet player. Miles never stopped challenging himself and in the process changed music. The text has quotes from Miles which adds a layer of depth to the story. The illustrations by debut illustrator Keith Henry Brown are nothing short of breathtaking! The colors are rich and draw readers into the life and struggles of a music legend. The back of the book has a note from Wynton Marsalis as well as notes from the author and illustrator. I loved that every note shared the impact that Miles music had on them.
This is a great nonfiction biography that showcases the strength and dedication that Miles Davis had for music. It is a true treasure and should be in all classrooms and libraries.
Ages 8 an up
40 Pages

Biography, National Womens Month

Her Fearless Run: Kathrine Switzer’s Historic Boston Marathon by Kim Chaffee

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Kathrine Switzer changed the world of running. This narrative biography follows Kathrine from running laps as a girl in her backyard to becoming the first woman to run the Boston Marathon with official race numbers in 1967. Her inspirational true story is for anyone willing to challenge the rules.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Page Street Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
Her Fearless Run is an inspiring nonfiction picture book about one woman’s journey to challenge the rules and run in the Boston Marathon. The story follows Katherine from a young girl who loved to run to a young woman who had a dream. Katherine was told repeatedly that women were not strong enough to run in a marathon. Instead of believing them, she practiced until she was ready to compete. In a world where women were considered fragile, Katherine proved that they were strong. The illustrations by Ellen Rooney are absolutely fabulous! The images jump off the page and allow the readers to feel like they are apart of the story. The back of the book has detailed authors note that shares more about women and the Boston Marathon. For her debut picture book, Kim has created a story that will allow all readers to stand up and cheer with Katherine. I cannot wait to see what Kim writes next.
Ages 5 and up
40 Pages

Biography, Friendship, History

Doctor Esperanto and the Language of Hope By Mara Rockliff

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Back of Book:
Once there was a town of many languages but few kind words. Growing up Jewish in Bialystok, Poland, in the late 1800s, young Leyzer Zamenhof was surrounded by languages: Russian, Yiddish, German, Polish, and many others. But the multiethnic Bialystok was full of mistrust and suspicion, and Leyzer couldn’t help but wonder: If everyone could understand each other, wouldn’t they be able to live in peace? So Zamenhof set out to create a new language, one that would be easy to learn and could connect people around the world. He published a book of his new language and signed it Dr. Esperanto — “one who hopes.”
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review.
Mara has created a fantastic picture book biography about one man’s journey to unite the world. Leyzer didn’t look at the world for what it was, instead, he looked at how it could be. He spent this life creating a language that would be simple yet effective. His hard work and dedication showed people that invention is not limited to science. The illustrations created by Zosia Dzierzawska are eye-opening and beautifully capture the strength and determination of Leyzers vision. The back of the book has more information about Esperanto as well as selected sources on the topic. Mara always captures moments in history and creates beautiful stories about the human spirit. A must have for all elementary and school libraries.
40 Pages
Ages 7 and up

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