History, National Womens Month

Ruby’s Hope: A Story of How the Famous “Migrant Mother” Photograph Became the Face of of the Great Depression By Monica Kulling

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Back of Book:
Dorothea Lange’s Depression-era “Migrant Mother” photograph is an icon of American history. Behind this renowned portrait is the story of a family struggling against all odds to survive.
Dust storms and dismal farming conditions force young Ruby’s family to leave their home in Oklahoma and travel to California to find work. As they move from camp to camp, Ruby sometimes finds it hard to hold on to hope. But on one fateful day, Dorothea Lange arrives with her camera and takes six photographs of the young family. When one of the photographs appears in the newspaper, it opens the country’s eyes to the reality of the migrant workers’ plight and inspires an outpouring of much-needed support.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Page Street Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
The Dust Bowl was a difficult time in the history of our nation. Rubys Hope is a realistic and beautiful glimpse into the lives of the migrant workers who were deeply affected by the Great Depression. The story follows a young named Ruby as she and her family navigate the difficulties of finding work after the Dust Bowl wiped out the crops. Everything changes when a photographer named Dorothea Lange comes to capture the realities of how these families are surviving. The illustrations by Sarah Dvojack are a stunning blend of muted and bright colors. Readers are able to visualize how people during this time period lived. The back of the book has more on “The Migrant Mother” and the impact she had on the world. This is a fantastic picture book that can be used for a Great Depression unit or for National Women’s studies.
Ages 6 and up
40 Pages

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Biography, History

Hector: A Boy, A Protest, and the Photograph that Changed Apartheid By Adrienne Wright

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back of Book:
On June 16, 1976, Hector Pieterson, an ordinary boy, lost his life after getting caught up in what was supposed to be a peaceful protest. Black South African students were marching against a new law requiring that they be taught half of their subjects in Afrikaans, the language of the White government. The story’s events unfold from the perspectives of Hector, his sister, and the photographer who captured their photo in the chaos.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Page Street Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
Once in a while, I find a picture book that completely opens my eyes to a certain part of history. Hector is a tragic and beautiful tribute to the lives that were lost during the student march in Soweto. The story follows three separate individuals Hector, Antoinette, and Sam. Hector, a young boy who loves school, soccer, and his family. Antoinette, who is passionate about standing up for what she believed in, and Sam, the photographer who captured it all. I love the difference in each perspective. It brings a different layer of depth to the story. The narrative is broken up in chunks similar to a comic strip. It allows readers to focus on the details in the text.
The illustrations are soft and all done in earthy tones. This allows readers to completely focus on the story. The photo in the back of the book is haunting and allows readers to see the innocent blood that is spilled over war. This story beautifully teaches readers about the importance of standing up for what you believe in. I believe this is the type of book that inspires readers to go and fight for what they believe in.
Ages 8 and up
48 Pges

History

Our Flag Was Still There: The True Story of Mary Pickersgill and the Star-Spangled Banner By Jessie Hartland

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Back of Book:

The story of this giant flag begins in 1812 and stars a major on the eve of battle, a seamstress and her mighty helpers, and a poet named Francis Scott Key. This isn’t just the story of one flag. It’s the story of “The Star Spangled-Banner,” a poem that became our national anthem, too.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.
This is a moving nonfiction biography about the woman who sewed the flag that would become the inspiration for the Star- Spangled Banner. The story begins by introducing readers to Major George Armistead the man behind the idea of creating the flag. His goal was to send a big message to the British. He asked Mary Pickersgill if she could create a flag that would make that statement. Mary ran and owned her own business and was happy to take on the project. In six weeks she created a sign of freedom that would stand the test of time. After the war, Francis Scott Key was inspired by the flag to write a poem in honor of the victory. I loved that this book tells readers what happened to the flag and where they can go to visit it in all its glory. I have been to see Mary’s flag and I have to say it is a thing of beauty! The text is well written and incorporates speech bubbles which are a fun aspect of the story. The illustrations are bright and vibrant. I love that they showcase the process of what becomes of the flag. The back of the book has more information about the War of 1812 and Mary Pickersgill. This is a perfect book for any unit about the War of 1812 or the American flag. Also a perfect read aloud for Flag Day.
Ages 5 and up
48 Pages

Dog stories, History

The Eternal Soldier: The True Story of How a Dog Became a Civil War Hero By Allison Crotzer Kimmel

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Back of Book:
During the Civil War, Sallie came to the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry as a gift from a townsperson, but she quickly became a favorite among her men. She marched with them from battle to battle, always guarding the unit’s colors, and even met President Lincoln. And over three long days at the battle of Gettysburg, Sallie stayed with the dead, guarded their bodies, and nearly died herself from hunger and thirst as the conflict raged on. Though she fell in battle, her loyalty was rewarded years later when her men met again on the battlefield at Gettysburg to erect her likeness in bronze so that she might eternally guard them. This beautiful story about a dog’s dedication and loyalty shows that bravery comes in all shapes and forms!
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Little Bee Books in exchange for an honest review.
I loved reading this touching story about how a little dog fought in the Civil War. Sallie quickly stole the hearts of everyone she met. I loved that the text is written in a first-person narrative. It allows readers to see how connected Sallie was to the soldiers she protected. The illustrations by Rotem Templow are a beautiful blend of soft colors that draw readers into the pages. The back of the book has more information about Sallie as well as a photo of the troops who marched with her.
This is a perfect book to share with any Civil War or history unit. It shows students the untold look at how a little dog impacted a group of men forever!
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

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