Posts Tagged ‘biography’

Miss Mary Reporting: The True Story of Sportswriter Mary Garber

August 23, 2016

missmarycatalogMiss Mary Reporting written by Sue Macy and illustrated by C. F. Payne.

As a child, Mary Garber played football with the boys and attended sporting events with her father.  She also loved to read about sports so she was a natural to be a sportswriter as an adult. It wasn’t that simple though, since Mary lived during a time when women didn’t usually have the opportunity to become sportswriters.

At first Mary accepted a job as a society reporter just to start working on a newspaper but she didn’t have any interest in writing about parties and fashion. During World War II, many of the male sportswriters became soldiers so Mary was given a chance to write about sporting events.  During her sports-writing career, she covered various teams from local to professional sports. Mary wrote regularly for the Winston-Salem Journal  newspaper until she was 86 years old.

Although it was often a challenge to be a woman sportswriter, Mary loved her job.  She covered baseball when Jackie Robinson became the first black player to join the major leagues and “was inspired by his quiet dignity”.   Many lively anecdotes and energetic images convey Mary’s inspirational story in this picture book biography.

Recommended for children in grades 2-4.

Reviewed by Donna (Library Technical Services)


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Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea

April 6, 2016

mariaSolving the Puzzle Under the Sea

By Robert Burleigh

Illustrated by Raul Colon

Illustrated biographies are a great way to introduce your child to important historical figures without reading straight from a textbook. Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea is written in first person about the determined scientist Marie Tharp. Growing up the daughter of a mapmaker, Marie always had a love of maps. She traveled with her father and family as he created maps for farmers. When she reached college, she began to wonder why all of the continents could be seen on globes and maps at school, but not what was hidden beneath the ocean.

It was not easy for a female scientist in the forties and fifties, but Marie stuck with it. She did every job she could as a research assistant, even when her boss told her it was ‘unlucky’ to have a woman on a ship. This beautifully illustrated books will give insight to this interesting woman and what she had to overcome to map the ocean floor.

Recommended for ages 4-8.

Nicole P.

Schimelpfenig Library

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I am Jackie Robinson

May 27, 2015

jackieI am Jackie Robinson

By Brad Meltzer

Illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos

Brad Meltzer’s series Ordinary People Change the World show heroes all throughout history in a new light. Each book is told in first person, with the historical figure telling the story about their lives and accomplishments. The illustrations are comical and fun, making it an interesting read for younger kids as well as older. What makes the books unique is that the heroes are drawn to look like children, letting the reader relate to these normally bigger-than-life people.

In his newest book in the series, Brad Meltzer shows the life of Jackie Robinson, world renowned athlete and warrior for equality. Jackie was the first African American to play on a major-league baseball team. Though he faced discrimination all of his life, Jackie learned tolerance from his mother and applied it wherever he could. People were mean to him on the field and off of it, but Jackie kept his head high and played baseball with everything he had. His example opened the doors for all races to play together.

Recommended for grades K-2.

Nicki P.

Schimelpfenig Library

If you enjoy I am Jackie Robinson, make sure to check out the other books in the series!


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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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