Women's History Month: Women Inspiring Hope and Possibility
"The 2006 theme for Women's History Month is: Women: Builders of Communities and Dreams, which honors the spirit of possibility and hope set in motion by generations of women in their creation of communities and their encouragement of dreams. The theme honors women for bringing communities together and restoring hope in the face of impossible odds. Community comes in many forms, and dreams change, expand, and are sometimes fulfilled." "The 2006 Honorees represent women creating community and sustaining dreams in countless ways and in myriad venues." These words introduce the honorees for this year as they are presented on the Women's History Project web site: http://www.nwhp.org/whm/themes/themes.html
For even more information about Women's History Month visit: http://www.infoplease.com/spot/womenshistory1.html which is packed with useful information and has many educational as well as fun activities.
Abigail Adams: Courageous Patriot and First Lady
Barbara A. Somervill
This biography of Abigail Adams beautifully depicts her life from birth to death and how she influenced events through her husband, John Adams, during the Revolutionary War period. Born and wed in Massachusetts she became a mother and farmer while her husband traveled in order to help the colonies gain independence. The book relates her struggles to secure food and shelter during the British boycotts and then through the war when all able men were fighting and prices for goods skyrocketed. The text often refers to the letters written between John and Abigail while he was in Philadelphia and, later, France. Tired of living alone, she finally joined him in France with all but one of their children. There she was called upon to help her husband entertain dignitaries for the sake of obtaining peace treaties. Later the Adams moved to London while John was ambassador there. Returning to the colonies did not mean quiet times for Abigail as her husband became vice-president and then, eight years later, president. She died in 1818 at her home in Massachusetts from typhoid fever. With photographs of paintings depicting the people and events, and side bars explaining--in easy-to-understand language--what exactly happened during the Revolutionary war, this book would be an excellent source for either biographical information on Mrs. Adams or details on the Revolutionary war. 2006, Compass Point Books, $30.60. Ages 12 to 16. Reviewer: Angela Olkey (Children's Literature).
Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World
Illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy
It might be stretching it to say that everyone on this eclectic, alphabetical listing of women truly "changed the world," but they certainly used their own skills and gifts to the fullest, becoming, as the author writes in her notes, "kindred spirits whose words and actions will inspire and guide you." All lived during the 20th century and many are still alive, even quite young, like skater Kristi Yamaguchi and architect Maya Lin. In between Amelia Earhart and Zora Neale Hurston, you will meet entertainer Lena Horne, Burmese pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Egyptian women's rights activist Nawal El Sadaawi, talk show host Ophra Winfrey and Cherokee leader Wilma Mankiller. The women are listed alphabetically by first name since family names are usually based on a father or husband's name. Each entry is brief but interesting; the author's goal is to "spark an interest and encourage further study." A few paragraphs of text are complemented on each page by intriguing collage illustrations which include a realistic portrait (often a photo) and a textured mix of paint, metal, fabric, flowers, and paper cut-outs. The book will appeal to a wide age range for browsing or close reading or for the youngster with no idea whom to choose for that biography report. 2005, Charlesbridge, $15.95. Ages 8 up. Reviewer: Karen Leggett (Children's Literature).
Booklist Book Review Stars , Apr. 1, 2005; United States
Kirkus Book Review Stars, March 15, 2005; United States
Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Ninth Edition, 2005; H.W. Wilson; United States
Bessie Smith and the Night Riders
Illustrated by John Holyfield
A young girl is excited when the train carrying the famous singer Bessie Smith comes to town. But she is depressed because she can't afford a ticket to the performance. She manages to peek through the tent flap to see and her idol. But then the Night Riders arrive, for these are days when the Ku Klux Klan is active in the South. She runs to warn those inside. The Riders seem to have come to burn down the tent and those in it. But Bessie bravely comes out and confronts them. The horses bolt, and Bessie goes back inside to continue singing, taking our young heroine with her, for an evening she will never forget. The Author's Note tells us that the story is based on a true event and fills in the background. Holyfield's acrylic paintings on canvas produce double-page scenes that bleed off the pages with a sense of drama. First they are filled with the young girl's anticipation and desire to hear her idol sing; then with the darkness of night and the strong color contrasts of Bessie's red dress, the Klan's white sheets, and the flaming torches. The final scene is one of musical delight. 2006, G.P. Putnam's Sons/ Penguin Young Readers Group, Ages 5 to 8, $16.99. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Betsy Ross: A Flag for a New Nation
Chelsea House's series, "Leaders of the American Revolution," includes the life of Betsy Ross (1752-1836) and the tradition (originating in Ross's family) of the Philadelphia upholsterer's sewing the first national flag; Cox presents arguments both for and against its authenticity. Ross lived in a city figuring prominently in the birth of our nation and, as an upholsterer and flag-maker, might have sewed at least one of the early flags (she definitely made some naval flags). Truth or legend, her story can be useful to illuminate experiences of Philadelphia's ordinary citizens during the Revolution. Young historians will discover something of the austere Quaker way of life and religion, and find that, interestingly, Betsy had a mind of her own, marrying a non-Quaker in spite of a taboo by her church. The author takes readers through the major events of the war, often from the perspective of Philadelphians, offering lively sketches of delegates to the Continental Congress like Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, and John Adams and describing hardships during the British occupation as well as the yellow fever epidemic after the war. Several sidebars present flag lore, while the pictures, though not plentiful, are reasonably interesting. Simple sentences (with some regrettable careless grammar) and large print make this volume accessible to middle readers and less sophisticated teen readers. Special features are quizzes after each chapter (not very useful), a timeline, a chronology of Ross's long life, and a bibliography of books designed mostly for young readers. 2006, Chelsea House, Ages 10 to 16, $30.00. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
Bridget "Biddy" Mason: From Slave to Businesswoman
Jean Kinney Williams
In 1856, the year prior to the U.S. Supreme Court's historic Dred Scott ruling, California Judge Benjamin Hayes declared slave Bridget "Biddy" Mason a free woman. Born in 1818, Mason served several southern masters prior to settling in California with her owners. In Los Angeles County, Mason met free African-Americans who told her California outlawed slavery. Aware Mason's owner planned to move to Texas, friends warned Mason that she risked continued enslavement in that state. When the local court evaluated her legal status, Mason told Judge Hayes she desired freedom. Earning money as a midwife and nurse, Mason purchased land and became wealthy. She generously shared her riches, providing funds to establish the first African-American church in Los Angeles. Mason's legacy endured after her 1891 death. Because Mason was illiterate, this biographer relies on primary records created by people who knew Mason and sometimes speculates when facts are unavailable. Illustrations complement the text, although captions explaining such discrepancies as an image of Judge Hayes's letter incorrectly stating he ruled regarding Mason in 1854 would have been useful. The time line needs to include events relevant to black and western history. Pair with Linda Lowery's One More Valley, One More Hill: The Story of Aunt Clara Brown to learn about other freed slaves in the West. This title is par of the "Signature Lives" series. 2006, Compass Point Books, $30.60. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Elizabeth D. Schafer (Children's Literature).
There are few women that fit the mold of Wild West characters, but one of the best known is Calamity Jane. Little is known about the woman and her penchant for embellishing her life history makes it even more difficult to find accurate information on that life. What is known for certain is that Calamity Jane led an adventurous life in a time when women were expected to stay home and raise a family. The author presents Calamity Jane with all of her faults as well as in her glory, detailing her addiction to alcohol and her inability to establish a stable life for herself. Black-and-white illustrations of her era and area where Calamity Jane lived appear throughout, as well as images of other Wild West personalities that Calamity Jane met. Brief asides appear throughout the text and provide information about the places that Calamity Jane visited and the famous people with whom she interacted. The author mentions several times throughout the text that Calamity Jane--and others--greatly embellished her life story, but the legend of Calamity Jane is a fascinating look at the settlement of the western United States and one of the few women who earned a place beside the famous men of the "Wild West." This title is part of the "Legends of the West" series. 2006, Creative Education, $31.35. Ages 9 to 12. Reviewer: Danielle Williams (Children's Literature).
Carrie Chapman Catt: A Voice for Women
Kristin Thoennes Keller
Details of the life and work of Carrie Chapman Catt are portrayed in simple elegance in this title in the "Signature Lives" series. The author beautifully weaves the personality of this modern-day heroine into each chapter. For example, "once, when her [Catt's] older brother chased her with a snake, she ran away screaming. Then she stopped herself. If the snake was not harming Charles, she reasoned, then it would not harm her either. She caught the snake, waited until Charles was not expecting it, and wrapped the thing around his neck." The layout design, filled with sepia and periwinkle, gives a classic sophistication to the subject while underscoring the Women's Rights movement with a myriad of photographs and illustrations. A highlight of the book is a remarkable time line that is mirrored underneath with a time line of world events. This unexpected gem will create new fans for Carrie Chapman Catt and her life's work. Detailed bibliographic reverences ("page 16, line 2") and an index complete the work. 2006, Compass Point Books, $30.60. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Joella Peterson (Children's Literature).
Catching the Moon:The Story of a Young Girl's Baseball Dream
Illustrated by Randy DuBurke
This biography of an African-American female baseball player can do double duty if you are looking for stories that feature underrepresented groups. More importantly, however, this is a compelling story about following one's dreams, however much they fly in the face of mainstream expectations. You don't have to interested in baseball to be captured by the story of how persistence, practice and sheer spunk helped young Marcenia Lyle win herself a place on an all boy's baseball camp in the late 1920's. The Afterword lets us know that by 1937 Marcenia "Tony Stone" Lyle had begun a 15 year career playing baseball in the Negro Leagues, on both minor and major league teams. As is often true of sports writing, the language is vivid-just the verbs in Hubbard's paragraph allow us to picture exactly how Marcenia's scored a winning run: pitcher snared, ran, Marcenia doubled back, turned and bolted, sailed, pumped her arms and knees harder, dropped her weight and slid. The colorful illustrations are equally vivid. Without being distracting, the faces and figures show a trace of artist Randy DuBurke's background with Marvel comics. The brilliant blue background in many of the pictures somehow seems appropriate for a story about pursuing a dream that seems as unattainable as catching the moon. 2005, Lee & Low, Ages 8 to 11, $16.95. Reviewer: Mary Hynes-Berry
Catherine de' Medici and the Protestant Reformation
Catherine de' Medici certainly has been one of the most controversial women in French history, and she may have been the most hated. Catherine de' Medici was wife to one king of France and mother to three other kings. This 160-page biography begins with her marriage at 14 to Henry (then Duke of Orleans). Later, Henry would become Henry II. Catherine bore eight children--Francis, Louis, Charles, Edouard, Hercule, Elizabeth, Claude and Marguerite. In 1559, Henry died due to injuries from a duel, and Catherine began her duties as Queen Mother. Those were tough years, as she had to struggle not only with keeping the throne for her children, but also with the religious violence in sixteenth-century France. Finally, unable to achieve peace between the Catholics and the Protestant Huguenots, she ordered the wholesale murder of tens of thousands of Protestants in what is known as the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre. The book is easy to read and packed with facts about Catherine de' Medici and France's everyday life and culture in the sixteenth century. The book would be useful to a student writing a report about Catherine de' Medici; it would also be useful in a class studying the difficulties of women throughout history who have held positions of power. This title is part of the "European Queens" series. 2005, Morgan Reynolds Publishing, $24.95. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Lynn O'Connell (Children's Literature).
Catherine the Great and the Enlightenment in Russia
Here is the absorbing story of a young German princess married at fifteen to the heir to the Russian throne. She survived a husband who detested her and a domineering mother-in-law who cared only that she produce a son , to become one of the most powerful rulers of the eighteenth century--Catherine the Great. Devoted to her adopted country, Catherine hoped to continue the modernization of Russia begun by Peter the Great and to implement the ideas of the Enlightenment with its emphasis on reason, logic, and education. Under her reign, Russian became one of the most powerful nations of the time and Catherine earned the title of "Catherine the Great." Illustrated with maps, drawings, and many portraits of the principal players in the drama of Russian court life, this straightforward account of a remarkable life makes for a fascinating and informative read. At the end of the book readers will find a timeline, a list of sources referencing quotes in each chapter, websites to links about Catherine, a bibliography and an index. 2004, Morgan Reynolds Publishing, $24.95. Ages 15 up. Reviewer: Anita Barnes Lowen (Children's Literature).
Clara Barton: Angel of the Battlefield
Illustrated by Brian Bascle.
The basic facts of Clara Barton's life are clearly laid out and enlivened by the comic book-style illustrations--complete with word balloons. While the cartoon dialogue is made up, the occasional letter or diary entry allows the historic personages to speak in their own words. This book captures Barton's acute feelings of depression, but also her persistence, and passion for the common man. It also sets her within the context of history as a woman who chose to succeed, work gainfully, and implement her ideals in social action. The back matter includes a password for www.facthound.com, a website which supplements the text of Capstone nonfiction books; a glossary and suggestions for additional reading about Barton and the American Red Cross. 2006, Capstone Press, $25.26. Ages 8 to 14. Reviewer: Elisabeth Greenberg (Children's Literature).
Daughters of Eve: Strong Women of the Bible
Lillian Hammer Ross and Kyra Teis
In her introduction, Ross says she set out to imagine the feelings and actions of the biblical women portrayed in this book. The goal was met admirably. The reader feels Miriam's sorrow when her baby brother Moses goes to live in the palace; Zipporah's joy at her wedding to Moses; Abigail's disgust at the drunkenness of her husband, Nabal. The first three chapters are intertwined, recalling the early life of Moses through the eyes of his sister, Miriam, and his wife, Zipporah. Later chapters depict individual heroines such as Ruth, Judith, and Esther. With empathy, Ross portrays a biblical woman's role in patriarchal society. For example, Abigail, Ruth, and Esther are forced to marry men against their wishes. Yet they manage to reclaim control of their lives through courage, faith, and a loving nature. Elegant, often haunting illustrations created with acrylic paint and collage paper bring each story to vivid life. The pages are gracefully bordered with earth tone designs. A full bibliography, including page numbers, provides all that is needed to check these imagined biographies against original sources. Visually and textually, this is an impressive package. 2000, Barefoot Books, $19.99. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Jackie Hechtkopf (Children's Literature).
Dottie Wiltse Collins: Strikeout Queen of The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
Carolyn M. Trombe.
Dottie Wiltse Collins was a star softball player from Southern California. She joined the Minneapolis Millerettes in 1944 and played with them and the Fort Wane Daisies for six years. During her career, she pitched 223 games, 1205 strikeouts, and earned a run average of 1.83. Author Trombe has done considerable research on her subject, including interviews with Dottie Collins and those who knew her. Collins grew up with baseball; her father played second base for the semipro National Niteball Baseball League in Inglewood, California. Her father was instrumental in developing his daughter's skill as one of the best pitchers in the softball leagues of Southern California and in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Collins loved to play baseball and did so throughout her school years. Then she joined the Millerettes in 1944. During her fourth season of play, Collins decided to leave the game temporarily when her husband returned from military service. Collins did not stay away from baseball for long. She rejoined the team in Fayetteville, N.C. for an exhibition game. After she retired from baseball, she took up golf and in 1999, was honored as Celebrity of the Year at the Celebrity Golf Tournament. Black-and-white illustrations, as well as a bibliography are included. 2005, McFarland & Company, $24.95. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Della A. Yannuzzi (Children's Literature).
Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt's life is the subject of this "First Biographies" title from Capstone Press. This heavily-illustrated book traces Roosevelt's life from birth to death. Along the way, young readers learn about her humanitarian efforts regarding rights for women and job creation for young people. Readers also learn about her work with the United Nations and Red Cross. Overall, emphasis is placed on Roosevelt's accomplishments as a human rights advocate rather than her role as the president's wife. To show the scope of her life, the book uses a graphic timeline that runs across each page, and matching photographs accompany the text. In terms of curriculum studies, this title can be used for units about American history, biographies, or women's studies. The book provides a glossary, book references, and an Internet site for further exploration. 2005, Capstone Press, $15.93. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Patricia Silverberg (Children's Literature).
Eleanor Roosevelt: First Lady of the World
The editors of Time for kids, with Dina El Nabli
After reading this forty-four-page biography, which only scratches the surface of Eleanor Roosevelt's life and contributions, young readers will nonetheless recognize that she was, indeed, a woman whose influence spanned the globe. They will also be surprised to learn how Eleanor overcame intense shyness, about the many limitations placed on women living in her historical era, and how in the service of humankind she responded particularly to the plight of disadvantaged children worldwide. The story opens at a pinnacle point in her career as international philanthropist, the 1948 speech at La Sorbonne in Paris in support of the newly-formed United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which would protect the safety, freedom, and health of people all over the world. The book continues to chronicle the highlights of Eleanor's childhood in a wealthy late-nineteenth century New York household, her 1905 marriage to fifth cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt, her inspirational and practical good works for the unfortunate victims of the Great Depression's economic hardships in her early years as First Lady, and her patriotic efforts at building the morale of troops and civilians alike during the difficult war years of her husband's later presidential terms. This biography of one of the twentieth century's greatest individuals, man or woman, is a great addition to classroom or library shelf. It contains a wealth of historical photos showing Eleanor at all ages, in both private and public, along with a summation of Eleanor Roosevelt's 'key dates' at the end of the book. After reading this book, young readers will have no trouble understanding why Eleanor was on the cover of TIME Magazine four times in her lifetime. 2006, HarperTrophy/HarperCollinsPublishers, $14.99 and $3.99. Ages 7 to 9. Reviewer: Dianne Ochiltree (Children's Literature).
Elizabeth Blackwell: First Woman Physician
Tristan Boyer Binns
Indeed, Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman physician. This is quite an accomplishment in itself, though she accomplished much more for our world. Elizabeth Blackwell hoped to become a surgeon. She overcame seemingly endless challenges to gain acceptance into medical school. Then, when she finally completed her coursework and final exams, the collegiate board debated whether or not to grant her doctor status. She overcame this obstacle as well, and Dr. Blackwell went on to gain practice and experience to fulfill her dream. Unfortunately, she caught a disease from an infant that infected her eyes and swelled them shut. When her left eye was removed, she knew she could no longer be a surgeon. She eventually opened up a clinic for the poor and underprivileged. She eventually moved to London to open up a practice. Blackwell eventually became an educator in midwifery and an author until her death in 1910. All of this and a lot more is chronicled in the well-written biography. This text provides a table of contents of the ten chapters in addition to a timeline of her life, resources for more research, informational sources, and an index. This book is an asset to anyone researching Elizabeth Blackwell or wanting to find a variety of information on this famous person. It reads easily and the layout is eye-catching. There are also excerpts from her journal adding a personal voice to this biography. 2005, Franklin Watts/Scholastic Inc, $29.50. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Kelly Grebinoski (Children's Literature).
Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Social Reformer
Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a forceful and controversial woman who offended some people with her strong views. She firmly believed that every woman should have the right to vote. She argued, "No just government can be formed without the consent of the governed." She dedicated most of her life to writing, traveling, and speaking about the need for women's rights. Stanton developed a close bond with Susan B. Anthony and together they formed many initiatives that began the women's movement. Sadly, Stanton did not live to see the passing of the 19th amendment that granted women the right to vote. This is the compelling story of a women consumed by the views that she so fervently held. This text is a complete biography detailing Stanton's life from birth to death. The appendix is thorough and includes a time line that indicates important world events as it chronicles significant achievements in Stanton's life. This title is part of the "Signature Lives" series. 2006, Compass Point Books, $30.60. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Denise Daley (Children's Literature).
Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Women's Rights Pioneer
Connie Colwell Miller
Illustrated by Cynthia Martin
Elizabeth Cady Stanton proved that perseverance and patience accomplish great things. She spent most of her life working hard to change laws that many people told her would never be changed. Elizabeth believed that women should have the same rights as men. She lobbied endlessly for women's suffrage. In addition to raising a large family, she wrote speeches and books, traveled and gave speeches, and organized numerous petitions. This book is arranged as a graphic novel. The illustrations accurately portray life in the nineteenth century and the characters' dialog support and supplement the story. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was an influential historical figure and the highlights of her inspirational story are presented here in an easy-to-read and entertaining format. The appendix provides tools for further information. This title is part of the "Graphic Library: Graphic Biographies" series. 2006, Capstone Press, $25.26. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Denise Daley (Children's Literature).
Ella Fitzgerald: First Lady of Jazz
This biography introduces the African-American scat and gospel singer who recorded more than 200 albums and sang for generations of fans. In her career, she performed at Carnegie Hall 26 times. The black and white photos portray Fitzgerald beginning in her twenties; fully-captioned, the pictures are set against colorful text pages and lend authority to the text. In addition, a "Fast Facts" section gives readers vital statistics, education, and major works. The text ends with a timeline, glossary, internet sites, recently-published books for further reading which may be augmented with the many picture books about this well-known performer such as the recent treatment of her first song, "A Tisket, A Tasket," and an index. This title, like the others in the "Fact Finders" biography series, features carefully-controlled vocabulary, short and direct sentences, photos that match the text to aid in comprehension, and an uncomplicated design. 2005, Capstone Press, $22.60. Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: Susan Hepler, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
Florence Nightingale and the Advancement of Nursing
Florence Nightingale revolutionized the field of nursing. Before she became involved, nursing was not a respectable occupation; many of the nurses were uneducated, dirty, and often drank on duty. Only the very poor, who had no other choice, would go to the hospital for care. With Florence's hard work, research into medical practices, and disciplined hand, the field of nursing became a more respectable occupation. She also improved the quality of care. This book gives the reader insight into why she pursued this field and how her life history molded her into a medical advocate. This title is part of the "Uncharted, Unexplored, and Unexplained" series that explores many of the scientific advancements of the 19th century. These books do not just present science facts, but give every reader, even those not so interested in science, a chance to connect to the topic by providing a history of the person and presenting historical and cultural facts about the time period in information boxes. This book would make a fine resource in any library or classroom since it is an excellent research tool with a chronology, bibliography, glossary, index, and list of other books for further research. 2005, Mitchell Lane Publishers, $19.95. Ages 9 to 14. Reviewer: Louise Parsons (Children's Literature).
The Forbidden Schoolhouse: The True and Dramatic Story of Prudence Crandall and Her Students
This is an excellent story of Prudence Crandall, a teacher who in the early 1830s opened an academy in Canterbury, Connecticut, for African American girls and young women. White people in the small town greeted the new school with arson, vandalism, and physical threats--in addition to petitioning the state legislature to pass the Connecticut Black Law, which made it illegal for blacks from other states to attend school in Connecticut. After struggling for two years, Crandall had to close her school. Then she had to defend herself against charges of violating the Black Law. Crandall hoped to prove the law unconstitutional, but she was acquitted on a technicality. Nonetheless, Crandall was an activist and a hero in the nascent abolitionist movement. This book includes extensive source notes and a bibliography. 2005, Houghton Mifflin, Ages 12 up, $18.00. Reviewer: Michael Cooper
Freedom Cannot Rest: Ella Baker and the Civil Rights Movement
Lisa Frederiksen Bohannon
Ella Baker devoted her life to participating in events that were focused on obtaining equality for African-Americans. She worked with civil rights organizations such as NAACP and helped to found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). When a group of students decided to challenge segregated seating laws at F.W.Woolworth lunch counters in North Carolina, Baker aided them in establishing a student-led organization. It was named the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC pronounced SNICK). She was involved with efforts to register African- Americans to vote and in 1963 she and Bayard Rustin coordinated the August 18, 1963, March on Washington. It was there that Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech. I was involved in the organization of the march for the state of Connecticut but I, unfortunately, never met her. During the later part of her life, she devoted her efforts towards women's issues. She often spoke of the discrimination that she experienced from African-American men in leadership positions during the civil rights movement. Baker's life lets us know that one person can make a difference. 2005, Morgan Reynolds Publishing, $24.95. Ages 10 to 16. Reviewer: Leila Toledo (Children's Literature).
Illustrated by Bethanne Andersen
From a child collecting stones, sticks, leaves and flowers, Georgia O'Keeffe grew into an artist intrigued by shape and color--the short and tall buildings of her New York City home, the huge, blue sky and rolling clouds of the West. Through free verse as spare and charged as some of her paintings, Georgia's Bones explores O'Keeffe's artistic process. Author Jen Bryant invites young readers into the artist's mysterious world,where looking carefully could crystallize an image that must be painted. From this book, kids learn about one of America's best-known painters, but they also learn from her. Be open to beauty in odd places, O'Keeffe's example suggests. Be open to your own curiosity and where it might lead. This idea is reinforced by Bethanne Andersen's beautiful illustrations, with their ability to evoke the texture, color and shapes of the natural world. 2005, Eerdmans, $16.00. Ages 5 up. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum (Children's Literature).
Even as a child, the artist Georgia O'Keeffe was fascinated by shapes, by natural objects such as leaves and stones. In simple, poetic language Bryant sketches O'Keeffe's life, from her decision as a child to be an artist to her discovery of the Southwest, focus of so much of her art. Moving to a New York studio, the young artist studies and paints the shapes both of the city and of her collection of seashells. But it is when a friend invites her to visit New Mexico that what she sees around her really inspires her. Beyond the shapes and colors, it is the bones of animals that she encounters in the desert that she finds particularly intriguing. She ships them back to her studio to begin the work for which she is so noted. Andersen's double-page gouache, colored pencil, and pastel scenes depict the artist, the landscapes and the objects--particularly the assorted bones including the steer skull O'Keeffe immortalized in paint. There is an overarching sense of spiritual quiet to the naturalistic scenes, while the various portraits of the artist depict a sensitive young woman always observing her surroundings. Andersen adds a bit of mystery by her frequent inclusion of poppies although there is no reference to them in the text; red is the color of the end-papers as well. 2005, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, $16.00. Ages 6 to 9. Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).
Gertrude Chandler Warner
Jill C. Wheeler
Young aficionados of "The Boxcar Children" series will be very interested in this complete biography chronicling the life of the author. Beginning with a photo and information about a book Warner wrote at age nine which became a gift for her grandfather, this biography relates that Warner and her sister enjoyed reading and writing among other more traditional play activities, and how this interest in writing continued into Gertrude's adult years when she became a schoolteacher. Organized into nine 2-page chapters, straightforward sentences in short paragraphs are accompanied by captioned photographs that add interest. Special features of the book include a table of contents and an index. Terms in the text that appear in bold are included in a glossary. Although there is not a bibliography of sources used, a separate page entitled "Web Sites" directs readers to the publisher's web site for links to information about Warner. Most of the information about Warner presented here is commonly available, but in this title it is attractively presented and useful for introducing the biography genre. This is part of the "Children's Authors" series. 2005, ABDO, $21.35. Ages 6 to 8. Reviewer: Brenda Dales, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
Great Women of the American Revolution
Part of the "We the People" series which, "examines key events that have shaped the course of the nation," this text belongs to a subgroup of titles that explore the many roles of famous and not-so-famous women of the time. Each "Great Women" book follows a similar format beginning with background material about the time and then progressing to chapters about the activities of specific women during the era. Each book is written at a 3rd to 5th-grade reading level with many graphics and relatively few words per page. This makes this series particularly helpful for struggling readers who are studying the regular fifth-grade social studies curriculum of United States' history. Each book contains numerous research tools, such as a glossary, timeline, additional facts and summaries on the people mentioned. Additional print and internet resources are also included. This particular title in the series discusses women's roles in the American Revolution in a thematic way. For example, there are women who served the cause by remaining home--such as Sarah Franklin Bache who founded an association to support the troops, and women who went to war--such as camp follower Sarah Osborn who became known as Molly Pitcher. Daring women who disguised themselves as men in order to fight; and, women who served as spies for both sides are treated in an even-handed way. These many compelling short portraits may excite students and encourage research to learn more about these often-overlooked heroines of the time, and the book will complement any classroom library focused on United States history. 2005, Compass Point Books, $22.60. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Sheryl O'Sullivan (Children's Literature).
Great Women of the Civil War
Part of the "We the People" series which, "examines key events that have shaped the course of the nation," this text belongs to a subgroup of titles that explore the many roles of famous, and not-so-famous, women of the time. Each "Great Women" book follows a similar format beginning with background material about the time and then progressing to chapters about the activities of specific women during the era. Each book is written at a 3rd- to 5th-grade reading level with many graphics and relatively few words per page. This makes this series particularly helpful for struggling readers who are studying the regular fifth-grade social studies curriculum of United States' history. Each book contains numerous research tools, such as a glossary, timeline, additional facts and summaries on the people mentioned. Additional print and internet resources are also included. This particular title features both white and African-American women who took part in the Civil War on both sides, often in surprising ways. Famous women like Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin; Sojourner Truth, abolitionist; Harriet Tubman, celebrated for leading many slaves to freedom using the Underground Railroad; and Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, are discussed in detail. There is also a chapter about female spies that explores the activities of lesser-known women during this conflict. These many compelling short portraits may excite students and encourage they to learn more about these often-overlooked heroines of the time, and the book will complement any classroom library focused on United States history. 2005, Compass Point Books, $22.60. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Sheryl O'Sullivan (Children's Literature).
Great Women of the Suffrage Movement
Dana Meachen Rau
This is an important biography of the people who fought so valiantly to give women the right to vote in the United States. That simple act of marking a ballot did not come easy for women. The book details the lives of seven, remarkable women, and how they helped achieve their goal. It is accompanied with many photographs of the individuals and events that they organized and participated in that brought their goal to the election of 1920. It is amazing to think that it took 72 years for the legislation to pass that gave women the right to vote. Perhaps, this should be a gift to every young woman that you know as a reminder of the privilege they sometimes take for granted. This book is part of the "We the People" series by Compass Point Books. It has an index, a bibliography of other books on the subject, and other websites to visit. 2005, Compass Point Books, Ages 8 to adult, $23.93. Reviewer: Barbara Youngblood
Harriet Beecher Stowe: Author and Advocate
Slavery in the United States was an issue from the very beginning. Everyone knew that it was a problem that would have to be faced eventually, but politicians, Northern and Southern alike, were reluctant to address the issue and continued to establish compromises that only put off the inevitable for many years. There were few incidents that sparked open debate on the subject of slavery until the publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1851 in serial form in National Era and as a novel in 1852. Harriet Beecher Stowe never intended to write a novel, nor did she intend to write one that would enrage the populace of the United States and force the issue of slavery to the forefront of American politics. Stowe's life was shaped by the popularity of Uncle Tom's Cabin; after publication of the novel, Stowe was held up as an example for abolitionists and she was forced to the forefront of the abolition movement, while at the same time she was reviled in the South for her portrayal of slave holders. Haugen has presented Stowe's life in a captivating, easy to read format. Illustrations of Stowe's life and the era in which she lived are scattered throughout the text along with brief asides of trivia from Stowe's life and times. This text is part of the "Signature Lives" series. 2005, Compass Point Books, $30.60. Ages 9 to 12. Reviewer: Danielle Williams (Children's Literature).
Harriet Tubman: Conductor to Freedom
This biography introduces the former slave who saved hundreds of African-Americans from slavery and later spoke out against slavery. The black and white photos portray Tubman in her later years and paintings flesh out her early years. Fully-captioned, the pictures are set against colorful text pages and lend authority to the text. In addition, a "Fast Facts" section gives readers vital statistics. The text ends with a timeline, glossary, internet sites, recently published books for further reading which may be augmented with the many picture books about this well-known individual, and an index. This title, like the others in the "Fact Finders" biography series, features carefully-controlled vocabulary, short and direct sentences, photos that match the text to aid in comprehension, and an uncomplicated design. 2005, Capstone Press, $22.60. Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: Susan Hepler, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
Harriet Tubman, a Woman of Courage
Editors of Time for kids; with Renee Skelton
This title in the "TIME for Kids Biography" series uses archival photographs and a lively text to tell the story of Harriet Tubman and her work in leading over three hundred slaves to freedom. The Underground Railway is explained, along with descriptions of routes, hiding places, and ways slaves told each other about when and how to go through quilt patterns. The inviting format is further enhanced by paintings by illustrators such as Katherine Krull and Janet Huse. The essential facts and influences on American history by Tubman are covered in interesting prose accessible to the average reader. The text is echoed in the inviting format: well-captioned pictures, occasional sidebars, and an interview with Martin Luther King's older sister, Christine King Farris giving the reader one person's childhood recollections of hearing of Harriet Tubman and her opinions as to Tubman's legacy. A short timeline is included. 2005, HarperCollins, $14.99. Ages 7 to 11. Reviewer: Susan Hepler, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad
Designed to draw reluctant readers to nonfiction, this graphic history book tells the story of Harriet Tubman's underground railroad primarily in pictures. Text is kept to a minimum, with speech bubbles and short narrative passages on each page. An editor's note inside the front cover informs readers that yellow speech bubbles indicate a direct quote from a primary source, but unless they see this note, readers may not even notice the difference in the speech bubbles. Those unfamiliar with the graphic novel format may feel the illustrations lend a lighter tone to the serious story. This book would make a good resource to get readers started on their research of the underground railroad and Harriet Tubman. The format presents a scaled-down version of Harriet Tubman's story, and readers should be made aware of the depth of the history behind this pioneer for freedom, as well as the history of slavery. The author provides additional sources and internet sites for further reading, as well as an index, glossary, and a bibliography to assist readers seeking to research this topic further. 2005, Capstone Press, $23.93. Ages 9 to 12. Reviewer: Mary Loftus (Children's Literature).
Hillary Rodham Clinton
JoAnn Bren Guernsey
This biography about Hillary Rodham Clinton is part of a series produced by Learner and A&E. The text is easy to read and understand for any student interested in or assigned to read a biography for a class assignment. The brief three-page introduction does an exemplary job of presenting the pivotal point in her career where she is no longer First Lady of the United States, but is solicited by Democrats to run for the U.S. Senate seat in New York and is successfully elected. The eight chapters of the biography are concisely written and engaging for the reader. Photographs are found throughout the book and one can find information tables on the party issues, her hero Eleanor Roosevelt, and her meetings with famous worldwide individuals. The author's perspective is not biased but presents the facts on Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has made a name for herself. The chronological information in each of the chapters helps the reader better understand her as private person and public political representative. 2005, Lerner Publications Company, $27.93. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Rosa Roberts (Children's Literature).
A Home in the Heart: The Story of Sandra Cisneros
This biography does a splendid job of giving an overview of Sandra Cisneros' life and accomplishments as a renowned Mexican-American writer. Young readers would benefit from reading this biography prior to reading one of her works. If not, after reading about her life, they will want to read one of her published works. Being the only daughter out of seven male children, growing up in Chicago, and frequently traveling to Mexico with her family obviously shaped and influenced who she would become as a professional writer. Cisneros was the first Mexican-American writer to receive an advance of $100,000 on a book. In this biography, Cisneros comes across as a fireball who firmly sticks to her principles whether it is to appear in a GAP advertisement, being featured in a Texas Monthly article, or wanting to have her home painted in a "vivid purple" color in San Antonio. Cisneros has come to represent her cultural background and be a vocal activist for the Mexican-American community. Readers from varying backgrounds will enjoy this biography. It has black and white photographs, as well as a timeline, sources, bibliography, and index. 2005, Morgan Reynolds Publishing, $21.95. Ages 14 up. Reviewer: Rosa Roberts (Children's Literature).
How High Can We Climb?: The Story of Women Explorers
Pictures by Duésan Petriéciâc
Fourteen lively stories of selected women explorers pack this book with tales of dreams, obstacles, and perseverance. Jeanne Baret disguised herself as a boy to join an 18th century expedition with naturalist Philibert Commerson. Elisabeth Casteret, when between pregnancies, joined her husband Norbert in exploring caves and discovered some of the earliest cave paintings. Junko Tabei founded a woman's mountain climbing group and faced avalanches and oxygen deprivation to become the first woman to scale Everest. Ann Bancroft used a sled, walked, skied, and sailed to reach both poles of our world. The author blends the women's true stories with fictionalized dialogue to create a whole picture of the women and their worlds. She gracefully deals with marriage and family issues while detailing the many obstacles faced and successes hard-won. Particularly interesting were the end-of-chapter notes, which offer insight into the biographical process and the totality of the women's lives. This book is definitely in the creative nonfiction category, but will offer readers many different models of "following a dream." Each chapter is engagingly headed with a question, "How Deep Can We Dive?" or "How Far Can a River Flow?," and is introduced with an illustration. Back matter includes an author's note, important years in women's exploration history, and a list of selected books and web sites. 2005, Farrar Straus Giroux, $17.00. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Elisabeth Greenberg (Children's Literature).
I Am Sacajawea, I Am York: Our Journey West with Lewis and Clark
Claire Rudolf Murphy
Illustrations by Higgins Bond
Crack open this book for an engaging, well-written tale about the Lewis and Clark journey. Many tales have been told about the trek, but this one is unique. It is told from the inside out by Sacajawea, who "belonged" to language translator Charbonneau, and by York who was Clark's slave. In this successful format, they give alternating first person travel accounts. The author does an excellent job of capturing the voices of these behind-the-scene travelers. Descriptive language with a songlike quality, "...faces paler than ashes, skin like brown soil, and a dog as big as a baby buffalo...," flows freely throughout the book. About Sacajawea's reunion with her brother, Murphy paints this picture, "They cling together like a tobacco leaf to its stalk." Pages are peppered with similar examples. The colorful, informative text shows that their diversity allowed Sacajawea and York to feel a special empathy for each other. Enhancing illustrations fill two-page spreads so readers can take in a broad picture. Rich earth tones wrap around the tantalizing text to strengthen the outdoor scenes. In a satisfying, true ending, Sacajawea and York are given the opportunity to vote on where to build a winter fort, during a time in history when the women and blacks were not allowed to vote. End matter contains information about Sacajawea and York after the expedition. Included are books, website sources, and a pronunciation guide. This superb book should be added to all study about Lewis and Clark or read merely to enjoy the journey. 2005, Walker and Company, $16.95. Ages 7 to 12. Reviewer: Nancy Garhan Attebury (Children's Literature).
I Could Do That: Ester Morris Gets Women the Vote
Linda Arms White
Pictures by Nancy Carpenter
It is hard to believe that before 1920, women were not allowed to vote in many states. Many famous suffragists fought hard for that right. This new book is about a lesser-known suffragist named Esther Morris and how her tea changed a state. When young Esther was told she was too young to make tea, she said, "I could do that." As an adult she was told women did not own their own businesses, she said, "I could do that," and she opened her own hat shop. Of course, when she moved out west and was told women did not vote, her response was, "I could do that." So she threw a tea party and invited the two men who were running for the territory legislature. At the end of the party, both candidates agreed to sponsor a bill supporting a woman's right to vote. This picture book works on many levels. For young children, it is a visually interesting read-aloud. Little kids will relate to being told they cannot do things. For older children, it is a great link between literature and history. All ages will like Esther. 2005, Melanie Kroupa Books/Farrar Straus Giroux, $16.00. Ages 5 to 7. Reviewer: Heather Robertson (Children's Literature).
Booklist Book Review Stars , Sep. 15, 2005; United States
Children's Book Sense Picks, Winter 2005-2006; Independent Booksellers Association; United States
Editors' Choice: Books for Youth, 2005; American Library Association-Booklist; United States
School Library Journal Book Review Stars, September 2005; Cahners; United States
Lola M. Schaefer and Wyatt Schaefer
Animal lover Jane Goodall is the subject of this "First Biographies" title from Capstone Press. Readers learn how her early experiences influenced her love of chimpanzees. We also learn about her work as an ambassador for peace and as an advocate for the environment. Overall, the humanity of this great animal anthropologist is displayed through black-and-white and color photographs. We see Goodall as a small girl, all the way through her work, and then in her recent work at the United Nations as a gray-haired adult. A timeline appears on each page to help the reader see how her life has developed. The back matter consists of a glossary, references, and an Internet site, so young readers can learn more about this great scientist's accomplishments. In terms of curriculum studies, this book is ideal for biographies, women's studies, and natural science. 2005, Capstone Press, $15.93. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Patricia Silverberg (Children's Literature).
Kate Shelley y el tren de medianoche
Margaret K. Wetterer
Illustrated by Karen Ritz
This book is based on the true story of a fifteen-year-old Irish immigrant named Katherine Carol Shelley and the night she averted a railroad disaster. The story takes place in 1881 in a small town in Iowa called Moingona. Kate's father died two years earlier and less than a year later her brother drowned. Since that time, Kate has faced great emotional hardship as well as increased responsibility within the home. One night as a dark storm brewed, Kate speaks with her mother and sister about the dangers that a storm could bring to the bridges and the trains that pass over them. Not soon after, they hear a train plunging into the waters of Honey Creek as the bridge collapses. Thinking of her father, who had worked for the railroad, Kate goes out to see if she could help. Crossing flood waters full of mud and debris, Kate comes to the creek's swollen edges and sees the men to safety. Not all is well, however, because Kate knows that in just a short time the midnight express train will come. Without hesitation, she begins a harrowing journey to the station in Moingona and arrives just in time to send a telegram telling the conductors to stop the train. Kate's efforts do not go unnoticed. Newspapers all over the country cover the story. Songs and poems are written in her honor. She is even given a gold medal by the state of Iowa. 2006, ediciones Lener, Ages 8 up, $23.93. Reviewer: Michelle Negron Bueno
Anne E. Hill
At the ripe old age of 23, Kirsten Dunst may seem an odd choice for the "People in the News" series, especially given their lofty purpose: "A deeper look into the lives of today's newsmakers... and the impact they have had in their fields of endeavor and on other people's lives." Surprisingly, it turns out Ms. Dunst is a fitting subject. Despite her youth, she has performed in over forty movies, successfully navigating the perilous transition between child and adult actress. She has garnered several awards, demonstrated an impressive versatility, and taken equal pride in flops and blockbusters alike. Perhaps even more unusual (and significant) than her acting credentials are her integrity and level-headedness, both on and off screen. Unlike many of her peers, she is neither a smoker nor drug-user; she also refuses to do any nude scenes. As her career and confidence grew, Dunst took a more proactive approach in her roles. Always an avid reader and researcher of possible parts (she read Little Women four times before auditioning), she now helps shape her roles. Of Spiderman's love interest, MJ, probably her most famous part to date, Dunst said "I really wanted to make her a superhero for the girls." Off screen (along with her mother), she has formed a production company whose goal is to find better roles for women. Well researched and highly readable, this book is a worthy tribute to that rare species: a celebrity worthy of the title. 2005, Lucent Books, $28.70. Ages 12 to 15. Reviewer: Naomi Milliner (Children's Literature).
Ladies First: Women Athletes Who Made a Difference
Women today professionally compete in a variety of sports. Many young people erroneously assume that it has always been that way. They are not aware that for hundreds of years women were considered too weak and fragile to participate in sports. This title serves as a reminder of the years of gradual advances women have made to get where they are today. It features short biographies of thirteen amazing and talented women whose efforts contributed to changes in society and women's roles. Better-known athletes such as Nadia Comaneci and Billie Jean King are included but so are lesser-known champions such as the first female to swim across the English Channel, Gertrude Ederle. Each chapter is exciting, entertaining, informative, and well written. This book will be enjoyed and appreciated by many, especially those studying sports and women's history. 2005, Peachtree, $14.95. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Denise Daley (Children's Literature).
Madam C. J. Walker: Pioneer Businesswoman
As part of the series, "Fact Finders," this biography is well written and the format is certainly reader friendly. Historical photographs that add interest and support the text accompany every page. The author also includes boxes in the margins of the pages that contain either quotations or facts. Did you know that in 1998, the U. S. Postal Service honored Walker on a postage stamp? This biography demonstrates what an amazingly strong individual she was. The author selects her words well in describing his life and brings interest and energy to each page. This biography covers all the important turning points for Madam Walker and shows how her life changed throughout the years. Included at the back of the book are "Fast Facts," a "Time Line," a "Glossary," "Internet sites," "Read More" and an "Index." All vocabulary words that can be found in the glossary are highlighted. It amazes me how much information is given in just 32 pages. The quotations chosen for this book are great, but my favorite is, "If I have accomplished anything in life, it is because I have been willing to work hard." What a great writing prompt that would be! Both boys and girls will find this biography interesting. It would be perfect in a classroom or school library. It can be used as a resource for a research paper or for nonfiction reading. I highly recommend this book because the format is easy to follow and the short chapters will benefit even reluctant readers. 2006, Capstone Press, $22.60. Ages 8 to 11. Reviewer: Kathie M. Josephs (Children's Literature).
Mama Went to Jail for the Vote
Illustrated by Malene Laugesen
In this cleverly-illustrated and well-written historical fiction for young readers, Susan Elizabeth's Mama is fighting for a very important cause. Mama is a suffragist and she is adamant about women's right to vote. Young Susan Elizabeth hears her Mama say that you should never attack with anything but votes and that by protesting she is looking after her daughter's future. Meanwhile, Susan Elizabeth's Papa tells her that women are meant to be an ornament to men and to comfort men after their labors. The wonderful illustrations in this picture book about the women's suffrage movement in American history will help young readers comprehend the story and appreciate the sentiments of the time. Readers will strongly identify with Susan Elizabeth, the main character, and be compelled by her view of the suffrage movement. The text clearly and cleverly explains specific historical details and clarifies new vocabulary such as crusade, bloomers, and precinct. On the final page of the book there are historical notes where readers can learn more about the suffrage movement of the early 1900's. At times humorous and always poignant, this appealing story provides an inside and fresh view of the women's suffrage movement. As a read-aloud for the classroom or as an independent read, this excellent historical-fiction picture book will be enjoyed by those who are attracted to a good story with rich, engaging illustrations. 2005, Hyperion Books for Children, $15.99. Ages 5 to 9. Reviewer: Susan Borges (Children's Literature).
Marie Antoinette and the Decline of French Monarchy
Nancy Lotz and Carlene Phillips
Born the fifteenth child to the powerful Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, Maria Antonia (or Marie Antoinette as she would be called) is destined to be a political pawn on the European chessboard. Married off to the heir to the French throne at fourteen in order to seal an alliance between Austria and its traditional rival, France, Marie Antoinette leaves the sheltered life in Vienna for the opulent, treacherous palace at Versailles. There she faces numerous obstacles, some of which she overcomes, some of which she does not, and some of which are beyond her control. For example, Marie Antoinette is blamed for failing to have children during the first seven years of her marriage to the dauphin Louis Auguste; yet the marriage had not been consummated during that time. Before she and Louis Auguste turn twenty, King Louis XV dies and the two are thrust into leadership. Increasingly, the royal couple becomes the visible symbol of frustration and anger over profligate spending and huge deficits. When the revolution begins, the royal family is arrested. On October 16, 1793, Marie Antoinette is beheaded, less than ten months after her husband's execution. Well-written and easy to read, the biography flows like a good novel--with strong characters, an engaging plot with intriguing subplots, and a vivid sense of place of the Versailles Palace before and during the French Revolution. Part of a series on European queens, this admittedly sympathetic biography of the doomed French queen deserves a following. A glossary, timeline, index and detailed sourcing and bibliography are included. 2004, Morgan Reynolds Publishing, $24.95. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Valerie O. Patterson (Children's Literature).
Lola M. Schaefer and Wyatt Schaefer
Consulting editor, Gail Saunders-Smith
Consultant, Spencer R. Weart
Double Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie is the subject of this "First Biographies" title from Capstone Press. Young readers can trace Curie's life from birth to death and all of her wonderful contributions to the world of science. In addition to learning about her important scientific discovery of radium, readers get a glimpse of her personal life as we see pictures of her with her sister, her husband, and her children. While she made the discovery of radium with her husband, her accomplishments stand out in this book. A graphic timeline puts her life in perspective, and black-and-white photographs accompany the narrative in this text. The back matter consists of a glossary, references, and an Internet site so young readers can learn more about this pioneer in science. In terms of curriculum studies, this book is ideal for biographies, women's studies, and science. 2005, Capstone Press, $15.93. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Patricia Silverberg (Children's Literature).
Martha Washington: First Lady of the United States
This biography shows Martha as a devoted wife, mother, and gracious hostess. After marrying and having four children, her first husband died when she was 26. Two years later she married George Washington. Two of her children died when small, one died at 17, and the last son died after marrying and having four children. George and Martha raised the youngest two grandchildren. Although Martha was thrust into public life, she would have preferred a quiet lifestyle. She was hostess to an endless list of visitors. After retiring from the presidency, George wrote that he believed he and Martha would dine alone that night for the first time in 20 years. At the back is a time line with illustrations of Martha's life and other world events. There is a list of additional library resources, web sites, and a glossary. Source notes, a select bibliography, and an index provide further information. The text is enhanced by maps, etchings, paintings and photographs gathered from many sources. This title is part of the "Signature Lives" series. 2006, Compass Point Books, $30.60. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Carlee Hallman (Children's Literature).
Mia Hamm, Soccer Star
Daryl Davis Zarzycki
These short "Robbie Reader" biographies are packed with full-color, full-action photographs, an added appeal to their intended audience -- young people who are not reading well or easily. They are chapter books that highlight interesting details that can apply to the young reader as well -- Mia Hamm running in the park very early one morning during her college years, when she was already a star soccer player. Her coach wrote her a letter saying "winners are people who work the hardest when no one else is watching them." For young Mia, there were pluses and minuses to being the daughter of an air force colonel; a plus was moving to Italy, where she learned to play and love soccer. She was very close to her older brother Garrett and when he died of a blood disease as a young adult, she created the Mia Hamm Foundation to study diseases of the blood. There are plenty of details about winning games, from childhood and college through professional and Olympic teams, and the chronology comes right up to the 2004 Olympic games. There is a short but useful list of additional resources as well as an index. This biography will hold the interest of readers of any ability and it is easy to use for early research reports. 2004, Mitchell Lane, $16.95. Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: Karen Leggett (Children's Literature).
Michelle Wie: She's Got the Power
Cynthia A. Dean
Reading consultant, Timothy Rasinski.
Michelle Wie (WEE), at age 14 in 2004, became the youngest golfer ever to play on the PGA Tour. She was also the only female, competing against 143 men. This information--presented on the first page of the book--is sure to draw kids into this colorful, accessible biography of an amateur golfer. The book does an excellent job of explaining golf terms ("links (LINGKSS): another name for a golf course") and words that primary grade readers might not be familiar with ("intimidated (in-TIM-uh-date-ud): frightened by others"). Each spread features a large color photograph of Michelle on the course or with her family. On one page there is also a graphic to illustrate (by way of comparison to football fields) how far she can hit the ball--more than 300 yards. Chapters that address the pressure of training and competing nationally will be especially interesting to readers (and teachers, parents) who have followed the recent disqualification incident involving Wie. Pages devoted to the importance of school and charity are well done, and will give aspiring young athletes a balanced view of the responsibilities that go along with being in the spotlight. There is a time line, glossary, bibliography and website list at the back. A reading consultant from Kent State and a content consultant from the U.S. Golf Association were used in the creation of this book. Other topics in the "High Five Reading" series include comic books, tsunamis, rocking climbing and football. 2006, Red Brick Learning, $23.93. Ages 5 to 8. Reviewer: Jane Harrington (Children's Literature).
The Minister's Daughter
Grace, the minister's daughter is pregnant, and Nell, the granddaughter of an English village midwife (or perhaps their witch), is accused of causing her affliction. But Nell, like the baby to come, is a Merrybegot, the result of frolicking on Mayday eve, and under the protection of fairies and piskies both. This suspenseful story unfolds through two distinct threads: the events in England in the 1640s, and the confessions of Grace's sister, Patience, during the witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. With a delicious brew of fairy lore and wiccan magic, the reader is drawn into a seventeenth century world in which it seems perfectly possible that Nell could enter a fairy mound to preside at a birth there, or that piskies and fairies could conspire to save her life. The villagers, including the minister's household, live in a world where the Devil can be seen as clearly as the piskies, and it is easy for them to be carried away in their zeal to save themselves. The parallel threads allow us to see both sides: the world of the knowledgeable women accused as witches, and the world of their accusers. Readers who have come to care for Nell will be satisfied by the end of her story, but may continue to wonder just how much Patience really knew or understood. The author includes a list of further reading for those who want to go on from the story to learn more about those times. 2005, Atheneum/Simon & Schuster, $16.95. Ages 12 up. Revewer: Kathleen Isaacs (Children's Literature).
The year 1645 finds England caught in changing spiritual beliefs. This book represents that shift, with characters that will grab and hold young adult readers. Nell is the "cunning woman's" granddaughter. All her life she has been learning about herbs and lore, piskies, fairies, and other little people, and how to birth babies. Now the dark cloak of senility is falling down over her grandmother's eyes. She owes much to this woman who took her in and raised her, even though she was "merrybegot" (a child born out of wedlock, revered by those who believe in folk wisdom). Another merrybegot has been conceived in the story. This is the unwanted child of Grace, the unmarried daughter of the severe Puritan minister. Grace knows there is only one way out of this predicament, to accuse Nell of witchcraft and claim her unborn child the devil's spawn. Patience, Grace's innocent and unbecoming sister, is unwittingly roped into the delusion and so are the suspicious townsfolk. The book is structured so that narratives by Patience and Nell are told from a third person point-of-view in present tense. Patience's apologetic introspectives from 1692 are interspersed in first person past tense from the vantage point of the Salem witch trials. The book is a graceful, believable blend of differing perspectives, folklore, and history, and the conflict that comes when there's a tremendous shift in belief. 2005, Atheneum, $16.95. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Susie Wilde (Children's Literature).
Best Books for Young Adults, 2006; American Library Association-YALSA-Adult Books for Young Adults Task Force; United States
Children's Editor's Choice, 2005; Kirkus Reviews; Top 10; United States
Kirkus Book Review Stars, May 15, 2005; United States
Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, June 27, 2005; Cahners; United States
Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers: How a First Lady Changed America
Illustrated by Joy Fisher Hein
This picture book biography is a lovely tribute to an under-appreciated First Lady. Lady Bird Johnson's love of wildflowers began with a lonely childhood in East Texas. The flowers were her only "companions." After she married LBJ and went to Washington, she remembered "how beautiful flowers and trees had helped her thrive." She determined to provide the joy and beauty of flowers to the entire country and set to work to beautify the then neglected highways of America through the Highway Beautification Act. Hein's richly colored folkloric-style illustrations are meticulously detailed, and reflect the delicacy and fragility of Lady Bird's beloved wildflowers, and promote the ecological theme. Interesting anecdotes and revealing quotations are sprinkled throughout the text bringing Lady Bird's personality to life. There is humor in the tiny gently caricatured faces of LBJ and Lady Bird at their wedding. Information about the National Wildlife Research Center founded by Lady Bird and an extensive bibliography are included. A wildflower "search" for young readers is an effective and fun way to acquaint children with the individual flowers. This excellent and informative book clearly portrays Lady Bird's efforts to raise the spirit of an entire nation. 2005, HarperCollins Publishers, $16.99 and $17.89. Ages 6 to 9. Reviewer: Quinby Frank (Children's Literature).
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
Teddy Children's Book Award Winner 2005 Short Works Texas
Molly Pitcher: Heroine of the War for Independence
Rachel A. Koestler-Grack
In this volume of the "Leaders of the American Revolution" series from Chelsea House, the author makes use of the story of Mary Ludwig Hays (1754-1832) to explore the contributions of Colonial women to the Revolution. Readers may be surprised to learn that "Molly Pitcher" was a generic name for women camp followers, who performed services like cooking, laundering, and tending wounds, and who sometimes accompanied their men onto the battlefield carrying water for swabbing cannons and for drinking. Mary Ludwig was a servant in Carlisle, a small but important town in Pennsylvania, when she married John Hays and went to war with him in the Patriot army. During the battle of Monmouth near Freehold, New Jersey, she gained a commendation for firing her husband's cannon when he was wounded. The author briefly traces the course of the war, stopping to describe exploits of several other women patriots as spies, messengers, nurses, and even soldiers for the Continental army. Mary Hays, unfortunately, had a difficult life after the war, though eventually winning recompense from the Pennsylvania government. While most of the illustrations are highly romanticized prints needing interpretation, the photographs of present-day reenactments are informative, and a straightforward text in large print makes the book accessible to middle readers as well as teens. Though seldom recognized as a person, Mary Hays or "Molly Pitcher" stands as an icon of the sacrifices and heroism of many Patriot women. A chronology, a timeline, and a short bibliography are appended. 2006, Chelsea House, Ages 10 to 16, $30.00. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
The late Pope John Paul II has blessed this lengthy biography, in picture book format, of Mother Teresa, the devoted worker for the poor and the stricken, who was beatified in 2003. Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in 1910 in Yugoslav, Macedonia, Mother Teresa's life is detailed from her first call to religious life when she was 12. She joins the Sisters of Loreto in Ireland, a group working in Calcutta India. There begins her awareness of the misery of the poor to whom she dedicated her life of service. Her efforts to help the lepers, the homeless, and handicapped of the world soon became famous, earning her the Nobel Prize in 1979 along with many other awards. Demi's text reflects her respect for the work and the faith of Mother Teresa and includes many quotations from her writings. Demi's style of depicting events, using very small figures set in contexts, emphasizes emotional content through use of intensely colored areas. The majority of the paint and ink scenes are set in gold-framed borders, resulting in a photo-album-like appearance. A few illustrations are more elaborate and break out of the frame. The impressive scenes vary from her beatification at St. Peter's with hundreds of church officials to the cover picture of her kneeling in prayer as the center of a golden cross. A map and references are included. 2005, Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, $19.95. Ages 7 to 12. Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).
Jonatha A. Brown
When you look at Oprah today it is difficult to imagine that she moved from city to city, from parent to parent and at times got in trouble. Her father was a stabilizing force for her and invoked the discipline she needed. She finally decided that she would become the best that she could be. While she was in college she was invited to read the news on a local TV station. This made her the first female news reporter on TV in Nashville and also the first black news reporter there. From there other opportunities opened up for her. She co-hosted a talk show. She decided that was really what she was suited for. Her show is now one of the most popular shows on TV. She listened to her guests shared their emotions whether it was sad, funny or happy. She knew how to make her guest want to share their inner most thought. She wanted to give back to the community so she formed the Oprah Winfrey Foundation to help women, children and families all over the world. This is part of the "People to Know" series. 2005, Weekly Reader Early Learning Library, $19.33. Ages 7 to 9. Reviewer: Leila Toledo (Children's Literature).
This is both a warm and thorough biography of a woman who was really following her passion without ever intending to found a movement. The photographs are perhaps especially instructive. Born in 1907, Carson is seen first on her mother's lap in the stiff, formal clothes of the pre-World War I era. Years later we see her in shorts, wading off the Florida keys to find treasures in the sea. She always battled discrimination against women in science, though when she was accepted as a graduate student at the prestigious Woods Hole in Massachusetts, almost half of the students were female. The difficulty of her fight against technology-at-all-costs and the pesticide DDT becomes more real as we look at photos of its widespread use to kill bugs in babies' rooms, children's campgrounds, and all over cities and farms. But even as she combined her talents as a writer and scientist, she was also a caregiver--for her sister and niece who died early of diabetes, for their children (one of whom she adopted) and for her own mother who lived with Carson until she died at 87. Carson herself had cancer and died of a heart attack when she was only 56, soon after the publication of her earthshaking book Silent Spring. Interesting quotations by and about Carson are highlighted, with one telling selection about evolution: "Believing as I do in evolution, I merely believe that is the method by which God created and is still creating life on Earth." The book is easy to read and filled with rich details about Carson's life and the science she so much wanted to share. The text is footnoted and includes a glossary, an index and resources. 2006, Thomson Gale, $24.95. Ages 11 to 18. Reviewer: Karen Leggett (Children's Literature).
Illustrated by Bryan Collier
What would happen if you were made to give up your seat on a bus simply because of the color of your skin? That is what happened to Rosa Parks, a black woman in the southern town of Montgomery, Alabama, on December 1, 1955. When she refused to give up a seat that was supposed to be neutral--for blacks or whites--the bus driver called the police. The police arrested Mrs. Parks and took her to jail. When Jo Ann Robinson, a member of the Women's Political Council, heard of the arrest, she formed a committee that put up posters all over the town, urging black people to walk instead of riding the bus. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke to them as part of a large group that had joined together in the fight for equality. This was a country that was founded by a diverse group of people, and every citizen deserved equal treatment and Dr. King urged all blacks to stay off the buses. People from all over the country sent them shoes, coats, and money so they could continue to walk for almost a year--until the United States Supreme Court ruled on November 13, 1956, that segregation in any form was illegal. This would be a good book for an elementary social-studies class. The author explains the situation in simple terms for young children. The illustrator has emphasized the strength of Rosa Parks in his use of dark and light images. 2005, Henry Holt and Company, $16.95. Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: Debbie West (Children's Literature).
Booklist Book Review Stars, Jun. 1, 2005; United States
Children's Books 2005: One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing, 2005; New York Public Library; United States
Kirkus Book Review Stars, July 15, 2005; United States
Notable Children's Books, 2006; American Library Association-ALSC; United States
Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, August 29, 2005; Cahners; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
Coretta Scott King Awards Winner 2006 Illustrator United States
Randolph Caldecott Medal Honor Book 2006 United States
Jonatha A. Brown
This book is part of the series "Gente Que Hay Que Conocer." Many students have heard about Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on a public bus. In this book they will learn that she worked with the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). The text is appropriate for third-through-fifth grade students. Because the book is organized into chapters and subchapters, students are able to use it for school reports. The sidebars, photos, and captions enhance the text and explain what was happening at the time. Chapter 1: "Little Black Girl"--tells about Rosa's childhood while explaining what segregation means. Chapter 2: "Married Woman"-- Rosa meets and later marries Raymond Parks. This chapter also explains Rosa's work with the NAACP, in the subchapter "Finding Her Spirit." Chapter 3: "Lawbreaker"--Rosa takes a stand by sitting, on a bus on December 1, 1955, and refusing to give the seat to a white man. Chapter 4: "A Brave Woman"--the reader learns about the bus boycott and Rosa's court case. At the end of the book there are lists of books and websites for more information about Rosa Parks. A glossary is provided and words that appear in it are also printed in boldface type the first time they occur in the Spanish text. 2006, Weekly Reader Early Learning Library, Ages 8 to 10, $19.33. Reviewer: Liz Rice
This book in the "Early Biography" series delves into the life of civil rights figure Rosa Parks. Chapter one, "Wanting Americans to Change," explains how black Americans were not treated equally when Rosa was a child. Chapter two, "Born into an Unfair World," describes how black and white Americans were segregated and describes Rosa's family. Chapter three, "Segregation," describes Rosa's day-to-day life in a segregated world, including her schooling at the Montgomery Industrial School for Negro Girls. Chapter four, "Fighting Segregation," explains why Rosa and other black people began to fight the segregation laws. Chapter five, "Rosa Takes Action," describes how Rosa refused to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man and was arrested as a result. Chapter six, "The Bus Boycott," explains how the other black people in the community quit riding the buses to protest the treatment of Rosa and eventually the Supreme Court changed the law. Chapter seven, "An American Hero," describes the effect Rosa's action had on her personal life as well as starting the civil rights movement. Numerous photographs, maps, a timeline, and a glossary make this book an engaging biography. 2005, Compass Point Books, $21.26. Ages 8 up. Reviewer: Amie Rose Rotruck (Children's Literature).
Rosa Parks: Civil Rights Pioneer
Erika L. Shores
This biography introduces the civil rights pioneer and the situations that led her to refuse to give up her bus seat to a white man. Her action led to the Montgomery bus boycott which convinced the US Supreme Court to end segregation laws on buses. In addition, it points out Parks' legacy to civil rights. The selection of mostly black and white photos features none from Parks' early life but substitutes photos from the era. Parks is pictured in her adult years. Photos set against colorful text pages are fully-captioned and lend authority to the text and a "Fast Facts" section gives readers vital statistics and education. The text ends with a timeline, glossary, internet sites, further reading, and an index. This title, like the others in the "Fact Finders" biography series, features carefully-controlled vocabulary, short and direct sentences, photos that match the text to aid in comprehension, and an uncomplicated design. 2005, Capstone Press, $22.60. Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: Susan Hepler, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
Rosa Parks: "Tired of Giving In"
Part of the "African-American Biography Library" series, this is an excellent biographical account for young readers of one of the major historical figures of America's Civil Rights Movement. Rosa Parks is best known for her staunch refusal to move from her seat on a segregated city bus in Alabama, which led to her arrest. But risking arrest was just one of many brave actions in the life of a woman who was tired of the unfair and unequal treatment of African-Americans. Rosa Parks was a soft-spoken, intelligent woman who worked along with her husband, Raymond Parks, to fight for equality, freedom, and justice. Both were active members of the NAACP. After Rosa Parks' arrest, she agreed to let her case be made a test case for the constitutionality of the segregation of city buses. Young Martin Luther King, Jr. helped lead the fight for more fair and equal treatment on city buses. Rosa Parks continued to live her life committed to the cause of furthering civil rights issues. This book would be a great resource for lessons on the Civil Rights Movement or for simply learning the interesting story of an influential American woman. 2005, Enslow Publishers, $31.93. Ages 8 up. Reviewer: Jennifer Chambliss (Children's Literature).
Sarah Winnemucca: Scout, Activist, and Teacher
Natalie M. Rosinsky.
This title is an interesting biography of Sarah Winnemucca, a Paiute American Indian woman who became a spokesperson for her people in the middle 1800s. Winnemucca was born in about 1844 in western Nevada during a time when white people were moving west to live on land that Indians considered their own. When she was seven years old, she moved to California with her family. For a time, Winnemucca lived a peaceful life, but then ranchers tried to assault her older sister. Winnemucca's family decided to move back to Nevada hoping for a peaceful life, but their territory had been invaded by more and more white settlers. Winnemucca's father took her and other relatives to Virginia City to seek help. He went onstage to ask people for their help in understanding how Indians live and how they were being pushed off their land by thoughtless settlers. Winnemucca translated her father's words into English. From that time on, she became a spokesperson and activist for Indian rights. This was a difficult job for her because she felt she was living in two different worlds. She worked as an interpreter, scout, and teacher. She was also twice married to white men. In spite of her unhappy personal life, Winnemucca continued her fight to gain justice for her people. She began a tour of the East Coast and gave more than 300 lectures. She also started an Indian school in Nevada. In 2005, a statue of Sarah Winnemucca was unveiled at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Nice color and black-and-white photographs, along with interesting sidebars and back cover material, are included. 2006, Compass Point Books, $30.60. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Della A. Yannuzzi (Children's Literature).
The Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention
Sabrina Crewe and Dale Anderson
An entry in the "Events That Shaped America" series, this book explains a major event that shaped U. S. history, the people who shaped it, and briefly reviews the consequences. (The book ends with a captioned picture of Condoleezza Rice). The convention at Seneca Falls in 1848 was the first time people had gathered publicly to discuss the role of women in governing the country. Sidebars explain the temper of the times by discussing the Lowell mill girls and the Temperance Movement, and by profiling Lucretia Mott and Frederick Douglass. In addition, substantial picture captions give more information of interest to those wishing to get a broad picture of the times. Text is easy to read and broken up by pictures, quotes from primary sources, maps, sidebars and captions (which can encourage readers or distract them). A glossary, time line, suggestions for action, further sources for more information, and an index are included. 2005, Gareth Stevens Publishing, $18.50. Ages 12 to 16. Reviewer: Susan Hepler, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
Tough, strong, fun-loving, and a world champion--Serena Williams (and her sister Venus) opened the doors of the elite world of tennis to black youngsters, especially black girls, everywhere. Like all the other athletes portrayed in Bradley's "Benchmark All-stars" series, Serena has plenty of talent, as well as a ferocious work ethic and will to win. Serena was smart, creative, and interested in all kinds of things. But once she decided she wanted to be #1 in the tennis world, she gave up most of her outside interests. Serena put in plenty of effort, and although there was no instant rise to stardom, her hard work certainly paid off. In 2002 when she was just 21 years old, she had amassed enough wins and product endorsements to earn $4 million, more than any other woman in the history of tennis. The book has a series of excellent photographs that show a fun-loving and affectionate Serena, an intense Serena on the court, but most especially a wonderfully muscular Serena as she reaches and runs and smashes her way to the top. There are interesting and informative sidebars, a statistics page, an index, and a glossary, to round out this little gem of a sports biography. Bradley has figured out a great way to get sports-minded youngsters to read--give them their favorite stars in full color, add warm and lively text, and spread interesting extras throughout. It seems to work for the entire series. 2005, Benchmark Books/Marshall Cavendish, $18.95. Ages 9 to 12. Reviewer: Dawn Elizabeth Hunt (Children's Literature).
Shadow life: a Portrait of Anne Frank and Her Family
The life of Anne Frank, who died 60 years ago at the age of 15, continues to fascinate readers and scholars. This new book about her life and death tells the story in three parts. The first looks at the Frank's family life in Frankfurt from 1933 when the Nazis came into power in Germany through the occupation of Holland 1940 to 1942. It sets the story of their life into the historic events that forced them into hiding and then into incarceration in concentration camps. To tell the story of the family's years in hiding that are chronicled in Anne Frank's diary, the author uses an unusual device. He imagines a diary that Anne's older sister Margot might have kept from 1942 to 1944. Among the resources the author used to create a diary as Margot might have written it, were several letters Margot wrote to a pen pal in Iowa. Anne had preserved those in her diary. Part three, starkly titled "Dying" tells about the family being dragged out of hiding and sent to concentration camps. Woven into the narrative are first-person accounts of life at Westerbork, Auschwitz, and Bergen-Belsen, the concentration camps where Anne was sent. Some of those who are quoted knew her and described memories of her. The book includes a thoughtful introduction giving the author's perspective on his book, an enlightening bibliographical essay, as well as a thorough bibliography, source notes, and a chronology. 2005, Scholastic Press, $16.95. Ages 12 to 18. Reviewer: Janet Crane Barley (Children's Literature).
Booklist Book Review Stars, Feb. 1, 2005; United States
Tía Clara Bown Pionera official
Illustrations by Janice Lee Porter
What is an official pioneer? Who was Tía Clara Brown? Those are the first questions you ask when you look at the cover of this book. This biography is a journey, much like the journeys the pioneers took in the United States during the19th century. Janice Lee Porter's illustrations evoke the hot dusty trails with the tans and browns she uses in each picture. When Clara Brown became a freed slave, she traveled west. She joined a wagon train, cooking the meals and washing the clothes of the men in the group. These men were traveling west to find gold. Clara was going west to look for something more valuable. When Clara was a slave, her master sold Clara's daughter, Eliza Jane. When Clara bought her freedom, she began looking for Eliza Jane. That journey included business growth and prosperity for Clara, which she shared with others. The epilogue tells about how special August 1885 was for Clara. There is a photo of her and a description of the celebration for her when she became an official pioneer. This book ends with the page "Important Dates," which marks special times in Clara's life. Teachers can include this book as a supplement to history lessons, and students can use it for reports. 2006, Carolrhoda Books/ediciones Lerner, Ages 6 to 9, $23.93. Reviewer: Liz Rice
Under the Persimmon Tree
Suzanne Fisher Staples
Najmah, ("Star") is a young Afghanistan girl who lives happily on a small farm with her father, mother, brother, and a newborn brother. Her father fends off a politically-savvy, opium-growing uncle who would steal their farm away if he could. Everything changes when Najmah's father and brother are conscripted by the Taliban, and her mother and new brother are killed by a bomb. Najmah deserts the farm she loves and flees to Peshawar, Pakistan. There she meets the second main character, Nusrat, a former American turned Muslim because of her gentle Afghan husband. Nusrat waits for him beneath the stars he promised would care for her as he runs a clinic in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan. She teaches refugee children in Peshawar. Staples describes these characters and their lives so well in her alternating chapters that we see them coming closer together. We see their link with a fondness for stars, their love of missing dear ones, and the fear and waiting which surround them. Staples, returning after many years to the settings she learned well as a UPI correspondent, offers truth, not prettiness, in her ending, and in her characters who speak for thousands who had their lives undone. 2005, Farrar, $17.00. Ages 11 up. Reviewer: Susie Wilde (Children's Literature).
Best Books for Young Adults, 2006; American Library Association-YALSA-Adult Books for Young Adults Task Force; United States
Booklist Book Review Stars, Jul. 1, 2005; United States
Children's Books 2005: One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing, 2005; New York Public Library; United States
Notable Children's Books, 2006; American Library Association-ALSC; United States
Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, June 20, 2005; Cahners; United States
Venus and Serena Williams
Venus and Serena Williams started their tennis career when their father decided to learn about tennis so he could coach them. After practicing on weed-covered, cracked tennis courts, the girls eventually became too good for their father to coach them. This information-packed book talks about the girls' tennis careers including the start of their career, overcoming obstacles, and includes a time line of their lives and special achievements. The book also covers other random information about their lives including information about the state of California, exercises to improve tennis skills, the history of tennis, and preparation for playing tennis. The fun layouts and colorful pictures in this book make tennis interesting and exciting. Recent and historical pictures of the two Williams sisters are scattered throughout the book. Their inspiring story is one of dedication and work rather than one of wealth and prestige. This book can be inspirational for aspiring tennis players, especially young African-American girls. 2006, Weigl Publishers, $26.00. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Nicole Peterson (Children's Literature).
Venus and Serena: Serving From the Hip: 10 Rules for Living, Loving, and Winning
Venus Williams and Serena Williams with Hilary Beard
Every girl between eleven and fifteen-years-old should read this book. Though the tone may be a bit hyper-perky, the advice is clear, practical, and level-headed. And in a world that encourages girls to focus on fashion, boys, and popular culture at ever-younger ages, the Williams sisters provide welcome models of the benefit of focusing instead on hard work and personal achievement. The book covers the usual topics addressed by other "growing-up-right" books for adolescent girls--proper nutrition, exercise, skin care, choosing friends, etc. But what sets this book apart from the others is the sisters' emphasis on setting personal goals and pouring all one's energy into achieving them. They address the obstacles, or "dream-stealers," that young women face, and they provide strategies for overcoming them. There are no recipes for instant success in this book--the Williams sisters value hard work and dedication, and they offer many useful, positive ideas to help girls build successful lives. 2005, Houghton Mifflin Company, Ages 11 to 15, $14.00. Reviewer: Barbara Carroll Roberts
Ynes Mexia, Botanist and Adventurer
Ynes Mexia (1870-1932) was a woman adventurer who, as a botanist, traveled on expeditions throughout South America and Mexico during the 1920s and until her death. Ultimately, she collected over 500 new plant species and three new genera. Today, her legacy lives on in the genus named after her--the Mexianthus Mexicana--as well as the fifty species that bear her name. Mexia is particularly worthy of note because she was a woman who worked in the scientific field in the early twentieth century. Besides that, she began this career after the age of 50. She was an Hispanic. Her childhood and early adult life were spent in Mexico. She finally left Mexico to recover from a nervous breakdown, and settled in San Francisco where she became involved in the environmentalist movement. Mexia was an avid member of both the Save-the-Redwoods League and the Sierra Club. Each chapter includes maps and photos which make the geography and the plant names more understandable, and the majority of the book is based on Mexia's correspondence. 2005, Morgan Reynolds Publishing, $24.95. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Lynn O'Connell (Children's Literature).
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