Biography, Black History Month, History

Fearless Mary: The True Adventures of Mary Fields, American Stagecoach Driver By Tami Charles

51gxhgSSwkL._SX401_BO1,204,203,200_

Back of Book:
A little-known but fascinating and larger-than-life character, Mary Fields is one of the unsung, trailblazing African American women who helped settle the American West. A former slave, Fields became the first African American woman stagecoach driver in 1895, when, in her 60s, she beat out all the cowboys applying for the job by being the fastest to hitch a team of six horses. She won the dangerous and challenging job, and for many years traveled the badlands with her pet eagle, protecting the mail from outlaws and wild animals, never losing a single horse or package. Fields helped pave the way for other women and people of color to become stagecoach drivers and postal workers.
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from author Tami Charles for in exchange for an honest review.
One of my favorite parts of January is celebrating black history month with my students. I love sharing gems like Fearless Mary with my class. This is such a beautiful and inspirational book about one woman who wouldn’t take no for an answer. Tami has weaved together a fantastic tale of strength and determination. Claire Almon created detailed illustrations that show readers a true picture of the past. Reading this book made me want to research more about female stagecoach drivers. I can’t wait to share this book with my class when we get back from break.
Ages 5 and up

32 Pages

Biography, Black History Month

A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks (People Who Shaped Our World) Alice Faye Duncan

41vICQo000L._SX390_BO1,204,203,200_

With a voice both wise and witty, Gwendolyn Brooks crafted poems that captured the urban Black experience and the role of women in society. She grew up on the South Side of Chicago, reading and writing constantly from a young age, her talent lovingly nurtured by her parents. Brooks ultimately published 20 books of poetry, two autobiographies, and one novel. Alice Faye Duncan has created her own song to celebrate Gwendolyn’s life and work, illuminating the tireless struggle of revision and the sweet reward of success.
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from author Alice Faye Duncan in exchange for an honest review. I was so excited to see that this touching lyrical biography publishes on January 1st. It is a perfect addition to any Black History unit. Having never read anything written by Gwendolyn Brooks I was quickly drawn into the life of this strong woman. In reading this story I learned so much about Brooks and the time period that she lived in. Xia Gordon created illustrations that are rich in color and texture. Overall, this is a stunning book that combines history and poetry to create a moving narrative that readers will love.
48 Pages
Ages 6 and up

Biography, Uncategorized

Lights! Camera! Alice!: The Thrilling True Adventures of the First Woman Filmmaker By Mara Rockliff

51tciJyAnpL._SY411_BO1,204,203,200_

Back of Book:
Meet Alice Guy-Blaché. She made movies—some of the very first movies, and some of the most exciting! Blow up a pirate ship? Why not? Crawl into a tiger’s cage? Of course! Leap off a bridge onto a real speeding train? It will be easy! Driven by her passion for storytelling, Alice saw a potential for film that others had not seen before, allowing her to develop new narratives, new camera angles, new techniques, and to surprise her audiences again and again. With daring and vision, Alice Guy-Blaché introduced the world to a thrilling frontier of imagination and adventure and became one of filmmaking’s first and greatest innovators. Mara Rockliff tells the story of a girl who grew up loving stories and became an acclaimed storyteller and an inspiration in her own right.
My Review:
This is a truly beautiful nonfiction narrative about the first woman filmmaker. The story follows Alice from her childhood to her life in America as a prominent woman in the movie industry. I had never heard about Alice Guy Blanche and was excited to find that Maria had written such a well-researched story. I love that the book was broken down into sections. It allows readers to follow along with the different parts of Alice’s journey. I was fascinated with all the amazing ways that Alice changed the film industry. The illustrations are whimsical and detailed. The back of the book has an authors note that shares more information about the incredible life that Alice lived. This is a great book that is perfect for Women’s history month or anytime. It should be in every elementary classroom.
60 Pages
Ages 5 and up

 

Biography, History

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

61wHmZCO3PL._SY402_BO1,204,203,200_

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

51Y8s+fantL._SX387_BO1,204,203,200_

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

Click Here To Buy on Amazon

Biography, Science, Space

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

5153pEsNxUL._SX387_BO1,204,203,200_

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

611Z7UcX0NL._SX431_BO1,204,203,200_

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

Click Here to Buy on Amazon

Click Here to go to Margarets website

Click Here to go to Esm’e website

Biography, Christmas, History

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

614UCaCo8RL._SX398_BO1,204,203,200_

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

Click Here to Buy on Amazon

Click Here to visit Nancy’s Website

Click Here to visit Luisa’s Website

Biography, History

Hammering for Freedom By Rita Lorraine Hubbard

61Rph3G+ttL._SY403_BO1,204,203,200_

 

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

Click Here to Buy on Amazon