Biography, History

No Small Potatoes: Junius G. Groves and His Kingdom in Kansas By Tonya Bolden

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Back of Book:
Junius G. Groves came from humble beginnings in the Bluegrass State. Born in Kentucky into slavery, freedom came when he was still a young man and he intended to make a name for himself. Along with thousands of other African Americans who migrated from the South, Junius walked west and stopped in Kansas. Working for a pittance on a small potato farm was no reason to feel sorry for himself, especially when he’s made foreman. But Junius did dream of owning his own farm, so he did the next best thing. He rented the land and worked hard! As he built his empire, he also built a family, and he built them both on tons and tons and tons of potatoes. He never quit working hard, even as the naysayers doubted him, and soon he was declared Potato King of the World and had five hundred acres and a castle to call his own.
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from author Tonya Bolden in exchange for an honest review.
Before reading this story, I had never heard about Junius G. Groves. I was amazed at the strength and determination that Junius throughout his life! Even though he was born a slave, Junius never stopped striving for better things. The story follows his lifespan and shows readers how Junius broke barriers and showed people what he was made of. The illustrations by Don Tate are detailed and stunning. The back of the book has a glossary and a timeline. This is a perfect book for book reports or history projects.
Ages 5 and up
40 Pages

Biography, History

Have You Heard About Lady Bird?: Poems About Our First Ladies By Marilyn Singer

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Back of Book:
The role of First Lady has been defined differently by each woman who’s held it, but all of them left an impact on our nation as a partner of the commander in chief.

Incisive poetry by Marilyn Singer and energetic art by Nancy Carpenter provide a fascinating glimpse into the lives of women from Martha Washington to Eleanor Roosevelt to Lady Bird Johnson-who variously embraced the position and shied away from it, craved the spotlight and fiercely guarded their privacy, took controversial stands and championed for the status quo. Detailed back matter includes short biographies, quotations, and more.
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from author Marilyn Singer in exchange for an honest review.
I was so thrilled when I saw an updated picture book that covers all the First Ladies from Wahington to present day. Each First Lady is showcased with a short poem about their life in the White House. I loved learning so many tidbits of information about the women who helped shape our nation. Each poem is written in a slightly different form. I loved seeing the different ways that Marilyn told each woman’s tale. The illustrations from Nancy Carpenter are beautiful! each picture transports readers to the different time periods and shows them a part of history. The colors are soft and enhance the story. The back of the book has a great timeline with more background information.

I believe that this book should be in every elementary library and classroom. It is a great nonfiction read for any history unit or Presidential unit.
Ages 7 and up
48 Pages

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Biography, Science, Space

Starstruck: The Cosmic Journey of Neil deGrasse Tyson by Kathleen Krull & Paul Brewer

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Young Neil deGrasse Tyson was starstruck when he first visited the sky theater at the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. He couldn’t believe the crowded, glittering night sky at the planetarium was real–until a visit to the country years later revealed the impossible.

That discovery was like rocket fuel for Neil’s passion for space. His quest for knowledge took him from the roof of his apartment building to a scientific expedition in northwest Africa, to a summer astronomy camp beneath a desert sky, and finally back home to become the director of the Hayden Planetarium, where it all began. Before long, Neil became America’s favorite guide to the cosmos.
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from author Kathleen Krull in exchange for an honest review.
Before reading this story I had never heard of Neil DeGrasse Tyson. I was thrilled to read such a well-researched biography about a man who has spent his life learning about the stars and planets. The story begins with Neils childhood and continues throughout his entire career. I loved learning about his passion and excitement for all things science related! No matter what obstacles Neil encountered he met them head-on. He grew up to be a world-renowned speaker and researcher. I loved finding out that he was the scientist who realized that Pluto was not a planet. The illustrations in this book are beautiful. I enjoyed reading the authors note at the back of the book. A perfect addition to any science or space unit. Neil truly is a man who made the world think differently about stars.
Ages 5 and up
48 Pages

Biography, History

Eliza: The Story of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton By Margaret McNamara

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Back of Book:
” Best Of Women” is how Alexander Hamilton described his wife, Eliza. Born during the reign of King George II and died shortly before the Civil War. Eliza had a front row seat to the early history of the United States and her mark on this country is felt today.
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from author Margaret McNamara in exchange for an honest review.
I was so excited when I learned that a picture book biography had been written about the amazing Eliza Hamilton. She is not recognized nearly enough for the work that she did in the early life of the United States. Margaret has written a beautiful story that follows Eliza from a young girl playing with her sisters, to the strong woman who stood by Alexander through thick and thin. I love that the text is written in the first person from Eliza. It allows readers to connect with her story. The illustrations are detailed and show the beauty and strength of Eliza’s legacy. I loved the note in the back of the book from actress Phillipa Soo. It shows readers the impact that Eliza still has on us today. This is a stunning biography that can be enjoyed by upper elementary as well as Middle School students. A perfect addition to any history or women’s unit. A must-have for the classroom.
Ages 6 and up
48 Pages

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Biography, Christmas, History

The Queen and the First Christmas Tree: Queen Charlotte’s Gift to England by Nancy Churnin

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Back of Book:
Queen Charlotte brought her family’s festive holiday yule bough from Germany to England. While planning a Christmas Day party in 1800 at Windsor Castle for over 100 children, she realized a single bough isn’t enough. So she brought in the whole tree instead, making it the first known Christmas Tree in England. This story tells a little-known fact about a favorite holiday tradition.
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from author Nancy Churmin in exchange for an honest review.
Nancy has a true talent for writing nonfiction stories that bring history to life. This story shares with readers how Queen Charlotte created the beautiful tradition that we now have. The story follows Charlotte as a young girl in Germany to a grown Queen in England. Nancy highlighted the queen’s compassion and kindness throughout the story. I also loved that Nancy shared with readers that the queen didn’t like fancy balls, and often smudged her dresses. It allowed Queen Charlotte to become a real person in readers eyes and not simply a historical figure. The watercolor illustrations tie in the time period with the story beautifully! The back of the book has a two-page biography that shares more about Queen Charlotte. Nancy and Luisa have weaved together a beautiful story about one of the worlds most recognized Christmas traditions.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

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Biography, History

Hammering for Freedom By Rita Lorraine Hubbard

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Back of Book

The inspirational story of William Lewis.
Born into slavery in Tennessee, William Lewis learned the blacksmith trade as soon as he was old enough to grip a hammer. He proved to be an exceptional blacksmith and earned so much money fixing old tools and creating new ones that he was allowed to keep a little money for himself. With just a few coins in his pocket, Bill set a daring plan in motion: he was determined to free his family.
Winner of Lee & Low s New Voices Award and a Junior Library Guild selection, Hammering for Freedom tells the true story of one-man s skill, hard work, and resolve to keep his family together.

My Review:
I received a copy of this story from author Rita Lorraine Hubbard in exchange for an honest review. Before reading this story, I had never heard of William Lewis. I was quickly drawn into this remarkable nonfiction story about a man who worked his entire life so his family would be free. The story follows Will as he grows up and becomes a young man. The more Will works, the more money he makes and the more family he is able to free. This is an amazing story about the strength and determination that Will continued to have throughout his life. The illustrations are vibrant and beautiful. The detail on each page is marvelous! I loved reading the afterword in the back of the book that has a more in-depth look at Lewis’s life. I think this story is an excellent addition to any Civil War or Slavery Unit. It looks at how some slaves were able to buy their freedom and is a perfect lead-in for history or book reports. Rita opened my eyes to a part of history I didn’t know much about. I look forward to sharing it with my classroom.
Ages 7 and up
32 Pages

 

Autism, Biography

How to Build a Hug: Temple Grandin and Her Amazing Squeeze Machine By Amy Guglielmo & Jacqueline Tourville

How to build a hug

Back of Book:
As a young girl, Temple Grandin loved folding paper kites, making obstacle courses, and building lean-tos. But she really didn’t like hugs. Temple wanted to be held—but to her, hugs felt like being stuffed inside the scratchiest sock in the world; like a tidal wave of dentist drills, sandpaper, and awful cologne, coming at her all at once. Would she ever get to enjoy the comfort of a hug?
Then one day, Temple had an idea. If she couldn’t receive a hug, she would make one…she would build a hug machine!
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from author Amy Guglielmo in exchange for an honest review.
I love that Temple Grandin’s story is appearing in children’s lit. She is a true pioneer in her field and is definitely should be a part of the children’s library. How to Build a Hug is a terrific biography introduction to how Temple felt as a child. The book is a window for readers to understand the different aspects of Autism. It shows that even though some people act or communicate differently, they still need friends. The pictures are done in beautiful soft watercolors and are truly lovely. The back of the book has a very informative author’s note that shares more about Temple Grandin and her amazing life. This is a truly well-written none fiction story and should be a part of every classroom.
Ages 6 and up
48 Pages

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Biography, Halloween

She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein By Lynn Fulton

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Back of Book:
On a stormy night two hundred years ago, a young woman sat in a dark house and dreamed of her life as a writer. She longed to follow the path her own mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, had started down, but young Mary Shelley had yet to be inspired.

As the night wore on, Mary grew more anxious. The next day was the deadline that her friend, the poet Lord Byron, had set for writing the best ghost story. After much talk of science and the secrets of life, Mary had gone to bed exhausted and frustrated that nothing she could think of was scary enough. But as she drifted off to sleep, she dreamed of a man that was not a man. He was a monster.
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from author Lynn Fulton in exchange for an honest review.
Until this story, I have never read a book that I would consider a Halloween biography story. Lynn has weaved a tale that draws readers into the mind of the famous Mary Shelly. I love that this story focuses on the amazing mind behind Frankenstein’s monster. It allows readers to learn more about the woman who was truly in a league of her own. The illustrations are drawn with dark colors which enhance the spooky aspects of the story. The authors note that shares more about Mary Shelly and her fascinating life. I recommend this book as a great story for book reports and Halloween units.
Ages 6 and up
40 Pages

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Biography, Black History Month

Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968 By Alice Faye Duncan

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Back of Book:
In February 1968, two African American sanitation workers were killed by unsafe equipment in Memphis, Tennessee. Outraged at the city’s refusal to recognize a labor union that would fight for higher pay and safer working conditions, sanitation workers went on strike. The strike lasted two months, during which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was called to help with the protests. While his presence was greatly inspiring to the community, this unfortunately would be his last stand for justice. He was assassinated in his Memphis hotel the day after delivering his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” sermon in Mason Temple Church.
My Review:
I revived a copy of this book from author Alice Faye Duncan in exchange for an honest review.
Run don’t walk to your nearest bookstore today and grab this amazing, haunting story about the Sanitation Shrike of 1968. Alice Faye Duncan took a historical event and brought it to life! The story follows a young girl as she watches her daddy stand up for what he believes in. The story is inspired by and teacher and her memories of participating in the strike when she was a child. The text is written using poetry. Each page holds a title with a verse. The illustrations are unique and rich in texture and color. The back of the book has a fantastic timeline as well as a list of museums that readers can visit. This is a perfect book to add to any Martin Luther King Jr. or history unit. It is a book that King himself would be happy to read.
Ages 9 and up
40 Pages

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Biography, History, Uncategorized

Amelia And Eleanor Go For A Ride Pam Munoz Ryan

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Back of Book:
On a brisk and cloudless evening in April 1933, Amelia and Eleanor did the unprecedented: They stole away from a White House dinner, commandeered an Eastern Air Transport jet, and took off on a glorious adventure–while still dressed in their glamorous evening gowns!

This picture book tour de force celebrates the pioneering spirit of two friends whose passion for life gave them the courage to defy convention in the name of fulfillment, conviction, and fun. Soaring text, inspired by the known facts of this event, and breathtaking drawings ask readers to dream dreams as big as Amelia and Eleanor’
My Review:
Both Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt were strong independent women who leaders of the Great Depression era. I was excited to find a story about their friendship and adventures together. Pam Munoz Ryan is a talented author. Her ability to weave a story about a time in history is incredible. The back of the book has a fantastic author note as well as a recipe of Elanor Roosevelts favorite dessert. The illustrations are done in black and white by Brian Selznick. They are soft and show the beauty of the night flight that the two women took together. The very last page of the book has a photograph of the two women together. This is a perfect nonfiction book to add to any Great Depression or Aviation history unit. It is also a perfect story to share during National Women’s Month in March.
Ages 6 and up
40 Pages

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