Biography, Black History Month, History

Martin & Anne: The Kindred Spirits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Anne Frank By Nancy Churnin

51eYvCXLSBL._SX473_BO1,204,203,200_

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

51Oo0+0pvyL._SY445_BO1,204,203,200_

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

516poyukb4l._sx321_bo1,204,203,200_

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

51oacaraz7l._sx384_bo1,204,203,200_

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

51traszmuel._sx387_bo1,204,203,200_

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

51dhsbsywbl._sx405_bo1,204,203,200_

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

515lkj3qyal._sx409_bo1,204,203,200_

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

Black History Month, History

Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town: Based on the History of the African American Pioneer Settlement by A. LaFaye

51rdMsizQtL._SX398_BO1,204,203,200_

Back of Book:
When Dede sees a notice offering land to black people in Kansas, her family decides to give up their life of sharecropping to become homesteading pioneers in the Midwest. Inspired by the true story of Nicodemus, Kansas, a town founded in the late 1870s by Exodusters—former slaves leaving the Jim Crow South in search of a new beginning—this fictional story follows Dede and her parents as they set out to stake and secure a claim, finally allowing them to have a home to call their own.
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from author A. LaFaye in exchange for an honest review. I am a huge fan of historical nonfiction picture books! I love sharing them in my classroom and giving my students a glimpse into the past. Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town is a terrific look at a time period that is not often shared in Kidlit. The story follows Dede and her family as they work to create a better life for themselves in a state called Kansas. I love that Dede and her family form relationships with the Native Americans that already lived there. It shows readers an important piece of history that is often overlooked. A. LaFaye beautifully told the story of one family’s fight to have a better life. Nicole Tadgell’s illustrations are soft and detailed. The back of the book has more information about The Exodusters who mase their way to free land. This is a must-have addition to any Post Civil War or Black History Month unit.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

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