Biography

Samuel Morse, That’s Who!: The Story of the Telegraph and Morse Code Tracy Nelson Maurer

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Back of Book:
Back in the 1800s, information traveled slowly. Who would dream of instant messages? Samuel Morse, that’s who! Who traveled to France, where the famous telegraph towers relayed 10,000 possible codes for messages depending on the signal arm positions―only if the weather was clear? Who imagined a system that would use electric pulses to instantly carry coded messages between two machines, rain or shine? Long before the first telephone, who changed communication forever? Samuel Morse, that’s who!
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Henry Holt Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
There are so many amazing things that have been invented in this world. I love finding books about early technology inventors to share in my classroom.
I was thrilled to see that Tracy wrote a story about Samuel Morse. I consider him one of the unsung heroes of the technology pioneers. The story focuses on how Samuel considered different ways to communicate. He drew a system that used electric pulses to instantly carry coded messages through wires. It took a great deal of determination and extermination before he found the correct sequences. The illustrations by El Primo Ramón are detailed and showcase the many steps that Samuel took to create his code.
The back of the book has a timeline of Morse’s life as well as more facts about telegraph history. This is a fantastic nonfiction picture book that teaches readers about one of our unsung technology heroes.
Ages 5 and up
40 Pages

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Biography, History

Hector: A Boy, A Protest, and the Photograph that Changed Apartheid By Adrienne Wright

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back of Book:
On June 16, 1976, Hector Pieterson, an ordinary boy, lost his life after getting caught up in what was supposed to be a peaceful protest. Black South African students were marching against a new law requiring that they be taught half of their subjects in Afrikaans, the language of the White government. The story’s events unfold from the perspectives of Hector, his sister, and the photographer who captured their photo in the chaos.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Page Street Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
Once in a while, I find a picture book that completely opens my eyes to a certain part of history. Hector is a tragic and beautiful tribute to the lives that were lost during the student march in Soweto. The story follows three separate individuals Hector, Antoinette, and Sam. Hector, a young boy who loves school, soccer, and his family. Antoinette, who is passionate about standing up for what she believed in, and Sam, the photographer who captured it all. I love the difference in each perspective. It brings a different layer of depth to the story. The narrative is broken up in chunks similar to a comic strip. It allows readers to focus on the details in the text.
The illustrations are soft and all done in earthy tones. This allows readers to completely focus on the story. The photo in the back of the book is haunting and allows readers to see the innocent blood that is spilled over war. This story beautifully teaches readers about the importance of standing up for what you believe in. I believe this is the type of book that inspires readers to go and fight for what they believe in.
Ages 8 and up
48 Pges

Biography, Science, Space

The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon: The True Story of Alan Bean By Dean Robbins

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Back of Book:
As a boy, Alan wanted to fly planes. As a young Navy pilot, Alan wished he could paint the view from the cockpit. So he took an art class to learn patterns and forms. But no class could prepare him for the beauty of the lunar surface some 240,000 miles from Earth. In 1969, Alan became the fourth man and first artist on the moon. He took dozens of pictures, but none compared to what he saw through his artistic eyes. When he returned to Earth, he began to paint what he saw. Alan’s paintings allowed humanity to experience what it truly felt like to walk on the moon.
My Review:
I was sent this picture book from Orchard Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
This picture book is out just in time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Appolo moon mission. It focuses on the life of Alan Bean who was the fourth man to walk on the moon.
The story follows Alan from his job as a Navy pilot to his journey into space. Along the way, Alan began to dabble with paint and color. His dream was to capture the moon landing in all its glory. He wanted others to see the beauty the way he saw it. He tried to capture the colors so that others could experience it the way he had. The more he painted, the brighter the colors became. A museum displayed his paintings for everyone to see. I love the way author Dean Robbins captures the passion and determination of Alan Bean. The narrative is informational and engaging. It opens readers eyes to the history of the moon landing while incorporating stunning art. The illustrations by Sean Rubin are detailed and bright. I love the combination of real photos and illustrations. It allows readers to see both perspectives of the moon. The back of the book has a detailed note from the author about the life of Alan Beat. It also has a timeline and photos from the moon landing. This is a perfect nonfiction addition for any space or STEM unit.

Ages 6 and up
40 Pages

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