Posts Tagged ‘biography’

Grandfather Gandhi

October 2, 2014

grandfather gandhiGrandfather Gandhi
by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus
illustrated by Evan Turk

Arun Gandhi lives with his family in Grandfather Gandhi’s village, where the days are thick and hot. Silence fills the air—but peace feels far away for the young Arun. When an older boy pushes him on the soccer field, Arun’s anger fills him in a way that surely a true Gandhi could never imagine. Can Arun ever live up to the Mahatma? Will he ever make his grandfather proud? [from the book jacket]

Live as light and celebrate Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday today with a reading of Grandfather Gandhi, Arun Gandhi’s story of how his grandfather’s teachings of peace and healing touched his life as a young boy. The narrative is well-written—both a lesson in history and a tale on how to turn anger into love—and the illustrations are enthralling. Intense colors and a collection of media—paper, cloth, foil, and thread—add even more dimension to this layered story.

Highly recommended! Nonfiction/biography picture book. Recommended for ages 4 to 8.

(Jocelyn, Davis Library)

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The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

September 2, 2014

the pilot and the little princeThe Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
by Peter Sís

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was born in France in 1900, when airplanes were just being invented. He had always dreamed of flying, and when he became a pilot as a young man, his adventures truly began. He was one of the first pilots to deliver mail by plane and, along with his fellow pilots, helped to create new routes to faraway places. Antoine flew over mountains and deserts, battled winds and storms, and even tried to break aviation records. He also crashed a number of times. From his plane, he reflected on life on the earth and in the skies, and this inspired him to write about his experiences. Peter Sís’s remarkable biography celebrates the author of The Little Prince, one of the world’s most beloved books. [from the book jacket]

the pilot and the little prince 2

The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry explores Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s lifelong love of airplanes and flying through attentive storytelling and imaginative illustrations. Sís’s beautifully detailed illustrations definitely warrant a second or third look. This is a book to linger over. An excellent companion to Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, and a must for fans of the book—learning about Saint-Exupéry’s life will lend even more beauty and meaning to the story. Check out both together!

Picture book. Recommended for ages 5 to 12.

(Jocelyn, Davis Library)

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The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius

December 18, 2013

The Mad Potter:  George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan

I read this title and thought, “Eccentric genius?  What have we here?”

Born in 1857 in Biloxi, Mississippi, George was out of step with this family, and refused to learn the blacksmith trade from his father. After he learned pottery in New Orleans, he returned to Biloxi and set up his “Pot-Ohr-E.”  George’s theatrical personality took shape in one-of-a-kind pots with unique forms, and beautiful, unusual glazes.

The Arts and Crafts movement of the time was on its way out and the Industrial Revolution enabled the mass production of pottery.  People of the time did not understand George’s eccentric personality and were not interested in buying his art ware.  George stopped making pots in 1910, packed most of his work away and told his family not to sell anything for fifty years. In 1968 his pottery was rediscovered and viewed as the work of a craftsman and artist. Now Ohr is considered a great American potter and an influential figure to contemporary artists!

I admit that I picked up this book because I loved the photograph on the cover.  If Ohr’s personality was as eccentric as his mustache then I wanted to find out a little bit about him. I truly enjoyed the photographs in this book, and learning about George E. Ohr.

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When the Beat was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop

October 4, 2013

when-the-beat-was-born-1[1]When the Beat was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop

by Leban Carrick Hill and Theodore Taylor III

Before there was hip hop, there was DJ Herc…

Growing up in Jamaica, young Clive Campbell loved music of all kinds, and he dreamed of becoming a DJ one day and being able to choose just the right music to get people dancing. At the age of thirteen he joined his mother in New York City, and there in the Bronx he discovered the joy of going to house parties with his mama–dance parties that felt just like the ones back in Jamaica! One day, Clive and his sister Cindy decided to throw their own house party in their housing project’s rec room using their father’s sound system and two turntables, and that’s where hip hop was born!

This biography of a modern musical hero tells the story of how Clive Campbell became DJ Kool Herc and the father of hip hop. The language is rhythmic, the illustrations fit perfectly, and the way a regular Jamaican boy grew up to create a style of music that’s had such a huge cultural impact is interesting and inspiring. Well worth a read for young music lovers!

Reviewed by Lara (Haggard Library)

 

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Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell

March 13, 2013

WomenDoctors_cvr_lorezWho Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell written by Tanya Lee Stone and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman.

Imagine a time when a woman wasn’t allowed to become a doctor.  This picture book biography tells the story of the first woman in America to succeed in breaking the barriers against women in the medical field. 

The story includes examples from Elizabeth’s childhood which show how tenacious she could be.  She wasn’t particularly drawn to medicine until a sick friend suggested she would rather have a female doctor and encouraged Elizabeth to be the first.

Even after Elizabeth succeeded in getting accepted to medical school (after many rejections) and graduated with the highest grades in her class, it wasn’t easy for her to find a place to practice medicine. 

The colorful and lively illustrations help bring the story to life for a younger audience.  An author’s note at the end of the story includes additional facts about Elizabeth Blackwell.

Recommended for grades K-2.

Donna C (Schimelpfenig Library)

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From the Good Mountain

March 1, 2013

The good mountain

From the Good Mountain: How Gutenberg Changed the World by James Rumford

The detail and the care that went into the first typeset book is wondrously depicted in this picture book biography. The illustrations are gorgeous, and the end papers are revealing, as the images morph from gold leaf to circuit board, leaving the reader with the question how will the book evolve as we go forward?

With deep respect for the past but an open mind to the future, this book struck a chord with me.

-Ramarie (Haggard library)

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Timeless Thomas: How Thomas Edison Changed Our Lives

February 19, 2013

 Timeless Thomas by Gene Barretta introduces a young audience to the variety of inventions Thomas Edison created that are still making a difference in our lives today.  Opening the story with Edison as a boy makes children aware that the curiosity leading to discovery starts in childhood.  Several anecdotes relate that Edison failed many times on the way to his successes- a valuable lesson in perseverance.  One example shows that Edison’s failure to invent one thing led to the invention of something else. 

The exaggerated illustrations are sure to add interest for the intended audience.  Each turn of the page brings a present day object paired with the invention from Edison’s lab that started it all.

Similar titles about inventors by the same author/illustrator are Now & Ben: the Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin and Neo Leo: the Ageless Ideas of Leonardo da Vinci .

Recommended for grades 2-5

Donna C (Schimelpfenig Library)

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Noah Webster & His Words

January 15, 2013

Noah Webster & His Words written by Jeri Chase Ferris and illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch.

While telling the story of Noah Webster’s work creating the first American dictionary, this book cleverly includes definitions for certain words [noun: basic unit of language]. As a child, Noah was more interested in reading books than in working on the family farm.  His teacher convinced Noah’s father to send him to college. 

Noah became a teacher rather than follow in the family tradition of farming. He wrote several books to use in the classroom.  One was a spelling book partly inspired by his conviction that Americans should spell words independently from the way the English spelled them.  He worked for almost 20 years on his book American Dictionary of the English Language.

In addition to the interesting facts contained in this children’s picture book biography, the cartoon illustrations help turn history into a fun experience.

Recommended for children in grades K-3. 

Donna C. (Schimelpfenig Library)

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Guts

December 3, 2012

Guts: The True Stories Behind Hatchet and the Brian Books by Gary Paulsen tells the stories from his own life that inspired his fiction novels, such as Hatchet.

“In Guts, Gary tells the real stories behind the Brian books, the stories of the adventures that inspired him to write Brian Robeson’s story: working as an emergency volunteer; the death that inspired the pilot’s death in Hatchet; plane crashes he has seen and near-misses of his own. He describes how he made his own bows and arrows, and takes readers on his first hunting trips, showing the wonder and solace of nature along with his hilarious mishaps and mistakes. He shares special memories, such as the night he attracted every mosquito in the county, or how he met the moose with a sense of humor, and the moose who made it personal. There’s a handy chapter on “Eating Eyeballs and Guts or Starving: The Fine Art of Wilderness Nutrition.” Recipes included. Readers may wonder how Gary Paulsen survived to write all of his books — well, it took guts [publisher synopsis].”

We have an autographed, paperback copy of the book to give away!  To participate in the drawing for this book, leave a comment (at bottom of this post) with a valid email address.  A winner will be chosen at random on Monday, December 10, 2012.

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Monsieur Marceau

October 30, 2012

Monsieur Marceau by Leda Shubert

Have you ever seen a mime?  The name Marcel Marceau is synonymous in my mind with this unusual art, acting without words.  I really enjoyed this new picture book biography about Marceau, and I didn’t want anyone to overlook it, as people often do with picture book biographies.

What is a picture book biography?  It’s a brief, factually-based account of a person’s life, and it’s illustrated like a story book.  In the case of Monsieur Marceau, Gerard Dubois’ illustrations are fabulous, and beautifully illustrate the author’s text.  Many picture book biographies also include an afterword, which expands on the text and gives a reader more information.  Shubert includes an afterword, as well as a description of mime, source notes, and a list of books for further reading.

I learned that Marceau was quite heroic in addition to being a famous artist.  I hope you won’t overlook this wonderful new addition to the library!

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