Biography, Friendship, History

Doctor Esperanto and the Language of Hope By Mara Rockliff

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Back of Book:
Once there was a town of many languages but few kind words. Growing up Jewish in Bialystok, Poland, in the late 1800s, young Leyzer Zamenhof was surrounded by languages: Russian, Yiddish, German, Polish, and many others. But the multiethnic Bialystok was full of mistrust and suspicion, and Leyzer couldn’t help but wonder: If everyone could understand each other, wouldn’t they be able to live in peace? So Zamenhof set out to create a new language, one that would be easy to learn and could connect people around the world. He published a book of his new language and signed it Dr. Esperanto — “one who hopes.”
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review.
Mara has created a fantastic picture book biography about one man’s journey to unite the world. Leyzer didn’t look at the world for what it was, instead, he looked at how it could be. He spent this life creating a language that would be simple yet effective. His hard work and dedication showed people that invention is not limited to science. The illustrations created by Zosia Dzierzawska are eye-opening and beautifully capture the strength and determination of Leyzers vision. The back of the book has more information about Esperanto as well as selected sources on the topic. Mara always captures moments in history and creates beautiful stories about the human spirit. A must have for all elementary and school libraries.
40 Pages
Ages 7 and up

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

Black History Month, History

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

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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

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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, 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

History

Before She was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome

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Back of Book:
We know her today as Harriet Tubman, but in her lifetime she was called by many names. As General Tubman, she was a Union spy. As Moses, she led hundreds to freedom on the Underground Railroad. As Minty, she was a slave whose spirit could not be broken. As Araminta, she was a young girl whose father showed her the stars and the first steps on the path to freedom. An evocative poem and stunning watercolors come together to honor a woman of humble origins whose courage and compassion make her a larger than life hero.
My Review:
I love sharing stories about strong women with my students! Harriet Tubman is one of my favorite historical figures to share in class. Her strength and bravery allowed hundreds of people to fight for freedom. Before She Was Harriet is a detailed and stunning look at the life of Harriet. I love that the book starts at the end of her life and goes backwards to her childhood. It gives readers a unique perspective as to where Harriet and how she became the woman she was. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful. The colors are bright and show the emotion in each step of her journey.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Black History Month, Cyblis Awards 2018, History

Young, Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present

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Back of Book:
Meet 52 icons of color from the past and present in this celebration of inspirational achievement—a collection of stories about changemakers to encourage, inspire and empower the next generation of changemakers. Jamia Wilson has carefully curated this range of black icons and the book is stylishly brought together by Andrea Pippins’ colorful and celebratory illustrations.. All children deserve to see themselves represented positively in the books they read. Highlighting the talent and contributions of black leaders and changemakers from around the world, readers of all backgrounds will be empowered to discover what they too can achieve. Strong, courageous, talented and diverse, these extraordinary men and women’s achievements will inspire a new generation to chase their dream… whatever it may be.
My Review:
I was excited to read this book as a part of the Cybils Awards. It is a fantastic look at 52 African Americans who have made an impact on the world around them. It is an excellent resource to teach children about some of the bold, brave, and gifted men and women who have stood for equality and honor. I loved that the text covers heroes from our past like Harriet Tubman, but also discusses people who are making an impact now like Simone Biles. I appreciated the welcome note from the author and illustrator in the front of the book. I can tell that they put a great deal of thought and research into the men and women in this book. I can see using this book in class as an opening to many discussions involving, race, equality, history, and activism. The illustrations are appealing and vibrant. A great addition to any school library or classroom. I also see it as a great book for Black History Month.
Ages 8 and up
64 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, 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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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

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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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Click Here to visit Nancy’s Website

Click Here to visit Luisa’s Website