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, 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

Black History Month, Civil Rights

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander

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Back of Book:
this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith, and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest heroes.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Versify publishing in exchange for an honest review.
This is a serious and dynamic picture book that is a true ode to the struggles and triumphs of the African American people. The poetry is written with a deep and haunting style that readers will remember long after reading it. The illustrations by Kadir Nelson are sobering and inspiring. I loved the group of men and women that are featured within the pages. It shows readers many different heroes that made s stand for what they believed in.
This is the type of book that can open up conversations about so many important topics. It is the type of book that is rare and needs to be treasured and shared.
The back of the book has a note from the author as well as a list of the historical events and people that are featured in the book. This needs to be in every elementary and classroom library across the country.
Ages 6 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, 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

Black History Month

Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt By Deborah Hopkinson

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Back of Book:
Clara, a slave, and seamstress on Home Plantation dreams of freedom—not just for herself, but for her family and friends. When she overhears a conversation about the Underground Railroad, she has a flash of inspiration. Using scraps of cloth from her work in the Big House and scraps of information gathered from other slaves, she fashions a map that the master would never even recognize.
My Review:
Anytime I read a story written by Deborah Hopkinson I am amazed by the depth and beauty of her stories. Sweet Clara and the Freedom is no exception. Readers will get swept away as they follow Clara on her journey to freedom. The story shows readers the creative ways that slaves would use to flee to a new land. I can see using in this book in a verity of different ways. It is an excellent introduction to the Underground Railroad. The illustrations by James Ransome capture the beauty and strength of the characters in the story. A must read story for all ages.
Ages 5 and up
40 Pages

Biography, Black History Month, Civil Rights

Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Dee Romito

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Back of Book:
Georgia Gilmore was a cook at the National Lunch Company in Montgomery, Alabama. When the bus boycotts broke out in Montgomery after Rosa Parks was arrested, Georgia knew just what to do. She organized a group of women who cooked and baked to fund-raise for gas and cars to help sustain the boycott. Called the Club from Nowhere, Georgia was the only person who knew who baked and bought the food, and she said the money came from “nowhere” to anyone who asked. When Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested for his role in the boycott, Georgia testified on his behalf, and her home became a meeting place for civil rights leaders.
My Review:
I was amazed that I had never heard about Georgia Gilmore. Like many people, I am very familiar with Rosa Parks but never heard about the movement behind this bus boycott. Pies from Nowhere tells readers about the determination and strength of the people that were behind the scenes in history. Georgia Gilmore used what she was good at to raise money for the boycott. The text is engaging and puts readers in the story. The illustrations are detailed and rich in color. The back of the book has authors note that shares more about Georgia and her secret work. The book also has a recipe for her delicious pound cake. This is a must read for any Civil Rights unit or National Women’s Month unit. A stunning look at one of America’s unsung heroes.
Ages 6 and up
40 Pages

Biography, Black History Month, Civil Rights, Uncategorized

Brave Ballerina: The Story of Janet Collins By Michelle Meadows

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Back of Book:
Janet Collins wanted to be a ballerina in the 1930s and 40s, a time when racial segregation was widespread in the United States. Janet pursued dance with a passion, despite being rejected from discriminatory dance schools. When she was accepted into the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo as a teenager on the condition that she paint her skin white for performances, Janet refused. She continued to go after her dreams, never compromising her values along the way. From her early childhood lessons to the height of her success as the first African American prima ballerina in the Metropolitan Opera, this is the story of a remarkable pioneer.
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from author Michelle Meadows in exchange for an honest review.
I love this beautiful biography that tells readers of the perseverance that Janet Collins had. Readers are drawn into the life of Janet from her childhood to her success on stage. The story follows Janet as she struggles through prejudice, and expectations to rise up and become the first African American ballerina. The lyrical text is whimsical and draws readers into the magic of the ballet. The illustrations by Ebony Glenn are nothing short of stunning. Each page captures the different movements of the dancers in perfect light and detail. Brave Ballerina will inspire everyone who readers it to fight for what they believe in. A must-have for all classroom libraries.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Black History Month

Meet Miss Fancy by Irene Latham

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Back of Book: Frank has always been obsessed with elephants. He loves their hosepipe trunks, tree stump feet, and swish-swish tails. So when Miss Fancy, the elephant, retires from the circus and moves two blocks from his house to Avondale Park, he’s over the moon! Frank really wants to pet her. But Avondale Park is just for white people, so Frank is not allowed to see Miss Fancy. Frank is heartbroken but he doesn’t give up: instead, he makes a plan! Frank writes to the City Council so his church can host a picnic in the park, and he can finally meet Miss Fancy. All of his neighbors sign the letter, but when some protest, the picnic is canceled and Frank is heartbroken all over again. Then Miss Fancy escapes the zoo, and it’s up to Frank to find her before she gets hurt.
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from author Irene Latham in exchange for an honest review.
This is a truly captivating story based on true events when Miss Fancy came to live in Alabama. The story is set in the era of the Jim Crow Laws and shows readers the extension of segregation. Frank loves elephants and his biggest wish is to pet one. When Miss Fancy comes to town, Frank believes that if he works hard enough he may get to have his wish.
His wish is guaranteed in a unique that makes for a fantastic ending to a satisfying read. I love that this book focuses on the history of what segregation was, but also showed the determination of people who refused to give up hope. The illustrations are beautiful and draw a reader into Franks biggest wish. The back of the book had more information about the real Miss Fancy. A beautiful story about preservice and always chasing your dreams.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages and up

Biography, Black History Month

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad By Ellen Levine

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Back of Book:
Henry Brown doesn’t know how old he is. Nobody keeps records of slaves’ birthdays. All the time he dreams about freedom, but that dream seems farther away than ever when he is torn from his family and put to work in a warehouse. Henry grows up and marries, but he is again devastated when his family is sold at the slave market. Then one day, as he lifts a crate at the warehouse, he knows exactly what he must do: He will mail himself to the North. After an arduous journey in the crate, Henry finally has a birthday — his first day of freedom.
My Review:
I was amazed at this unique story about a man who literally mailed himself to freedom. It is a fascinating look at the risk Henry took to gain the freedom he so badly desired. The text follows Henry’s life from childhood to adulthood and paints readers a picture of how Henry continues to find joy throughout his circumstances. The illustrations are a mix of breathtaking and haunting! The back of the book gives more information about Henry Box Brown. I love sharing this book in my class during Black History Month. It is a fascinating tale of preservice and strength.
40 Pages
Ages 5 and up