Tag Archives: historic narratives

Little People Big Dreams: Ella Fitzgerald

Written by: Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara

Illustrated by: Bàrbara Alca

For ages: 4-7 years

Language: English 

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Historical Figures, Women in Music, Musicians, Trailblazers, Biography, Black Culture & Identity. 

Summary: Ella was a young girl fascinated with performing and music.  When she was 15, her mother died and radically changed her life.  Running away from a reform school, she began performing.  Two years later Ella won a contest at a nightclub and was discovered by Chick Webb, a big name in jazz at the time.  This jumpstarted her career, turning her into the First Lady of Song, as she is now known!

This is a basic overview of the prolific singer that is Ella Fitzgerald, and a good book for an introduction to the subject.  We really love the timeline in the back of the book with the photos of Ella throughout her career.  This book, like the other books in the series, is adorable!

This book was sent in consideration of the Best Books of 2019 list by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books (an imprint of Quarto), but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

maria-isabel-sanchez-vegara-2Mª Isabel Sanchez Vegara was born in Barcelona, Spain, and she is a writer and creative director perhaps best known as the author of much of the Little People, Big Dreams series. Six years ago, she decided to self-publish a book that had been in her mind for a long time. One day, one thousand copies of arrived at her home – she had no idea what she was going to do with them! She opened a little online shop, placed them to some pretty stores in her neighborhood and, one by one, she sold them all. Soon, publishing houses started to approach her to write books, but she was working on another idea of her own: a series about little people with BIG dreams. Each book tells the childhood story of one of the world’s female icons in an entertaining, conversational way that works well for the youngest nonfiction readers, allowing them to identify with the characters in each story.

DeHda4TXUAAg0LNBàrbara Alca is an “extremely beautiful and enthusiastic Graphic Designer, Comic Artist and Illustrator based in Barcelona.

I make my own zines, work as a freelance illustrator for press such as El País, Ajuntament de Palma, El Jueves, Revista Cactus, and for editorial projects with Planeta, Alba Editorial and Sapristi.

Most of my work is mixed media, hand drawn lines with digital colouring.

I have a dark sense of humour, but I also love lace and bows which results in an eclectic style.”

Pies From Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Written by: Dee Romito

Illustrated by: Laura Freeman

For ages: 5-9 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Modern Black Freedom Struggle, Segregation, Historical Figures, Historical Narratives, POC-Centric Narratives, Black Culture & Identity, Activism, Community Organizing. 

Summary: Georgia Gilmore is both a mother of 6 and a cook at a lunch counter during the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  She is inspired to do more fundraising for the boycott, and for the community organizing and activism surrounding segregation.  Georgia spearheaded efforts of local women who cooked secretly in their homes and then sold it to others in the local community.  The profits were then used in the fundraising efforts and donated to the cause.  Georgia operated under the utmost secrecy and through her efforts she was able to donate huge amounts of money, always saying that “it came from nowhere” in order to not implicate herself or anyone else.  However, when her job finds out she’s involved with the organization efforts, she is fired.  MLK Jr. helps Georgia update her kitchen and open a home restaurant, where she is able to continue the fundraising and hold meetings for key Civil Rights leaders!

Georgia Gilmore is a lovely example of how a person can partake in solid on the ground  organization efforts and create incredible ripples of change throughout a community.  So many organizers and activists have been erased from retellings in favor of uplifting a few key individuals in a simplified narrative.  Having these stories told showcase how intricate community efforts are, and how everyone can become involved in making change.  This is a crucial message to get across in times of political and social change, we have much to learn now about the efforts of those before us.  Students today are incredibly lucky to have children’s books like this to learn about heroes such as Georgia.  After reading this book, we have hope that young people will have better access to these stories instead of learning about organizers like Georgia Gilmore as adults.

This book was sent to us by little bee books but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

sleeves_2_origDee Romito is an author of books for young readers and a former elementary school teacher. She’s also an active PTA parent, Co-founder of the Buffalo-Niagara Children’s Writer’s and Illustrators (BNCWI), and the PAL Coordinator (for published members) of West/Central NY SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators).

​Dee has lived in Buffalo, NY for most of her life and loves it there. (There’s a lot more to this place than winter snow and it truly is The City of Good Neighbors.) She’s had her share of travels around the world and short stints elsewhere, including a semester in London, a summer waitressing near the beach in North Carolina, and a first year of teaching in Atlanta.

Freeman-headshot-G54sml_800Laura Freeman is originally from New York City, but now lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children. Laura received a BFA from the School of Visual Arts and began her career working for various editorial clients. Laura has illustrated over thirty children’s books, including Hidden Figures written by Margot Lee Shetterly, the Nikki & Deja series by Karen English and Fancy Party Gowns by Deborah Blumenthal. In addition to illustrating books and editorial content, her art can be found on a wide range of products, from dishes and textiles to greeting cards.

Ona Judge Outwits the Washingtons: An Enslaved Woman Fights for Freedom

Written by: Gwendolyn Hooks

Illustrated by: Simone Agoussoye 

For ages: 9-12 years old

Language: English

Topics Covered: Enslavement, Historical Figures, Historical Events, POC-Centric Narratives, Black Culture & Identity, American History. 

Summary: Ona Judge is a woman enslaved by George Washington.  Yes, that George Washington.  Ona is very intelligent, and in moving around with the Washingtons to various cities, she becomes aware that she could be freed and live amongst other free Black individuals.  Ona gets word that she is going to be given as a wedding present to a relative, and knows the time to escape is upon her.  Ona hid on a ship, stowing away to Portsmouth and frees herself.  This book is a story of a strong woman who refused to endure a life of enslavement, even when she was found by associates of Washington, she did not surrender herself and instead led a fulfilling life on her own terms.

Simone Agoussoye is an incredibly talented artist, you should definitely check out her website below!  Our only concern with the style of art in this particular book is that readers may interpret the story as being for younger children.  The cover art is stunning, we wish all of the illustrations were done in that style.  Because of the seriousness of the subject matters covered in the book, and the sophisticated language inside of it, we would love for the illustrations to match it. However, we love this book very much and the story of Ona Judge is one that everybody should be exposed to. 

This book was sent to us by Capstone for consideration in the Best Books of 2019 List put on by the Read With River book club, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Gwendolyn-BrooksGwendolyn Brooks is one of the most “highly regarded, influential, and widely read poets of 20th-century American poetry. She was a much-honored poet, even in her lifetime, with the distinction of being the first Black author to win the Pulitzer Prize. She also was poetry consultant to the Library of Congress—the first Black woman to hold that position—and poet laureate of the State of Illinois. Many of Brooks’s works display a political consciousness, especially those from the 1960s and later, with several of her poems reflecting the civil rights activism of that period. Her body of work gave her, according to critic George E. Kent, “a unique position in American letters. Not only has she combined a strong commitment to racial identity and equality with a mastery of poetic techniques, but she has also managed to bridge the gap between the academic poets of her generation in the 1940s and the young Black militant writers of the 1960s.”

artist_simone_agoussoye_art_480x480Washington, DC born artist, Simone Agoussoye, “has been honing her skills in portrait artistry for the past several years. Always known for her creative depiction of people, Simone blended her portrait skills with new non conventional techniques which has driven her to become more of a contemporary artist.

Simone’s evolution in portrait artistry has allowed her to explore using materials such as broken crushed glass in her portrait work. The use of this material has sharpen her craftsmanship and execution proving that she is very talented and creative having a drive to continue to grow and develop as an artist. Although known for her portrait artistry her subject of paintings vary from animals, to landscape, and abstract art.

As a child and throughout her life Simone received prizes for her artistic ability and creative talent. From a young age she knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up which was an artist. She pursued her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Art Institute of Washington and graduated class of 2011. She is also the recipient of various Awards from Country Fairs and State Competitions.

Simone’s artwork has been showcased at exhibitions in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD and more including “Artist Evolutions” at the Art Avenue Gallery located at the National Harbor, Oxon Hill, MD. Her artwork is included in numerous private art collections throughout the U.S. and U.K. She has also created many commissioned works of art.”

 

Firebird

Written by: Misty Copeland with Charisse Jones

Illustrated by: Christopher Myers

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Trailblazers, POC-Centric Narratives, Poetry, Ballet, Historical Figure, Historical Events, Art, Growing Up, Hard Work, Inspiration. 

Summary: This book is a beautiful conversation between trailblazing ballerina Misty Copeland and a young hopeful.  Lyrical text and flowing illustrations help capture the long road to becoming a professional dancer.  Copeland is encouraging as she talks about the thousands of repetitions she’s done, perfecting each move and stance before even taking the stage to perform.

Copeland writes to inspire and ensure young dancers of color that they can accomplish their dreams, despite them seeming far off.  She ends the book with a personal letter talking about how she didn’t see herself reflected in ballet books, and hopes that by continuing to dance and publish books, she can help inspire future generations of dancers and be the mirror she needed when she was their age.

Like so many other areas, diversity in professional dance has a long way to go.  Misty Copeland is only the second African American soloist at the American Ballet Theatre.  She strives to be the person she needed when younger, and this message resonates with us.  While we are white, we are LGBTQ and want to be the people we needed to see when we were younger: happy, successful, and making the world a better place.  With stunning illustrations, Myers brings Copeland’s message to life in the most beautiful way possible.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

web_header_inspiredBorn in Kansas City, Missouri and raised in San Pedro, California, Misty Copeland began her ballet studies at the late age of thirteen. At fifteen, she won first place in the Music Center Spotlight Awards. She studied at the San Francisco Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive on full scholarship and was declared ABT’s National Coca-Cola Scholar in 2000. Misty joined ABT’s Studio Company in September 2000, joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in April 2001, and in August 2007 became the company’s second African American female Soloist and the first in two decades. In June 2015, Misty was promoted to principal dancer, making her the first African American woman to ever be promoted to the position in the company’s 75-year history.

In 2008, Misty was honored with the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Arts, a two-year fellowship awarded to young artists who exhibit extraordinary talent providing them additional resources in order to attain their full potential.  Performing a variety of classical and contemporary roles, one of Misty’s most important roles was performing the title role in Firebird, created on her in 2012 with new choreography by much sought after choreographer Alexei Ratmansky. In December 2014, Misty performed the lead role of “Clara” in American Ballet Theatre’s production of The Nutcracker, also choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky. In the fall of 2014, she made history as the first black woman to perform the lead role of “Odette/Odile” in American Ballet Theatre’s Swan Lake during the company’s inaugural tour to Australia. Misty reprised the role during ABT’s Metropolitan Opera House spring season in June 2015, as well as debuted as “Juliet” in Romeo & Juliet.

Misty’s passion is giving back. She has worked with many charitable organizations and is dedicated to giving of her time to work with and mentor young girls and boys. In 2014, President Obama appointed Misty to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition.

Misty is the author of the New York Times Bestselling memoir, Life in Motion, co-written with award-winning journalist and author Charisse Jones, published March 2014. She has a picture book titled Firebird in collaboration with award-winning illustrator and author Christopher Myers, published September 2014.  She received an honorary doctorate from the University of Hartford in November 2014 for her contributions to classical ballet and helping to diversify the art form.

qY71wcZ0_400x400Charisse Jones works for USA Today, is a journalist, and assisted in the writing of Firebird. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

72414356_thChristopher Myers is a multimedia artist, author, and playwright from New York City born in 1974. Myers earned his B.A. in Art-Semiotics and American Civilization with focus on race and culture from Brown University in 1995. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States and internationally at venues including MoMA PS1, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Mistake Room at Paos GDL, Akron Art Museum, Contrast Gallery Shanghai, Goethe-Institut Ghana, Kigali Genocide Memorial Center Rwanda, San Art Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam, and The Studio Museum Harlem. Myers won a Caldecott Honor in 1998 for his illustrations in the book Harlem and a Coretta Scott King Award in 2016 for illustrating Firebird with Misty Copeland. Myers currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

The Only Woman in the Photo [Being Released February 2020]

Written by: Kathleen Krull

Illustrated by: Alexandra Bye

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Trailblazers, Women in Leadership, Historic Figures, Feminism, Women’s Suffrage, Historic Events, Activism, Women in Government. 

Summary: Oh buddy do we love Frances Perkins!  This book is awesome, it tells the story of one strong badass lady when there were a distinct lack of badass ladies in government at the time.  Starting off as a shy child, Frances became inspired and motivated by her grandmother to take every opportunity that came her way, especially because she was a woman.

Her family was very supportive of her education, although it dwindled when she preferred to move to New York City and become a social worker rather than get married.  Frances continued to affect labor law changes for the better, affecting a myriad of industries and populations.  She was noticed by FDR and hired as one of the top officials in the country, eventually helping him draft the New Deal which revolutionized the benefits available to citizens of the country.

Something we also love about this book are the direct quotes by Frances, and the way the quotes are artistically drawn into the illustrations on the pages.  Frances is an incredible example of doing what is right and facing fears in order to help others.  Tackling challenges is a scary thing, but with a role model like Frances to inspire the next generation we have good feelings about them being faced head on.

This book was kindly provided by Simon and Schuster Kids, but all opinions are our own.   We are thrilled to be able to feature such an incredible book about a driving force of humanity that radically shaped America for the better.  This book is being released in early February, and we are thrilled to have been able to read the book early!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

There’s No Such Thing as Reading Too Much

When she was fifteen, Kathleen Krull was fired from her part-time job at the library in Wilmette, Illinois. The reason? Reading too much–while she was supposed to be working. Luckily, she had other jobs. One began when she was twelve: playing organ at her church. At seventeen she taught piano lessons to kids in her town. Her musical background did inspire many of her books. Another job involved selling doughnuts and cupcakes at a bakery, which hasn’t led to any books so far.

Then, the day after she graduated from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, she began a career in publishing. She worked for four companies as a children’s book editor. While on the job, she wrote mysteries in the Trixie Belden series and other books. Finally she started working at home, writing her own books. She loves getting the chance to explore subjects she’s passionate about, like history, music, and extraordinary people.

She is married to children’s book illustrator and sometimes writing partner Paul Brewer and live in San Diego, California.

As a child she thought books were the most important thing in the world, and that perception is actually more intense now. She’s grateful, for so many reasons, to be able to work in this exhilarating field: preserving literacy. One of the benefits of the writing life is that she can’t be fired. Especially for reading too much.

e27bd834-6f26-4f92-9133-6b32758615f4-4698-00000c4e91113430Alexandra Bye is an illustrator specializing in fun, colorful illustrations for a variety of media, such as editorial and children’s publications. She lives in New Hampshire, where she enjoys backpacking, cross-country skiing, and mountain biking with her dog.

The Brave Cyclist: The True Story of a Holocaust Hero

Written by: Amalia Hoffman

Illustrated by: Chiara Fedele

For ages: 8-12 years old

Language: English and some Italian

Topics Covered: Judaism, WWII, Holocaust, Activism, Global Community, Historical Events, Historic Figure, Sports, Cycling. 

Summary: Gino Bartali was a small and sickly child, but he loved riding a bicycle more than anything else.  He got a part-time job at a bike shop to learn more, competed in his first race at the age of 12, but didn’t get his parents’ proper blessing to be a full-time professional cyclist until age 17.  Gino worked incredibly hard and in 1938 got a spot to compete in the Tour de France.  Even though he crashed his bicycle trying not to hit some spectators that decided to cross the road, Gino won! In his speech, he didn’t mention Mussolini who had taken control of Italy, and this angered the authorities.  Mussolini had teamed up with Adolf Hitler, and many years of hardship had begun.

When Gino returned home, he received a call from his good friend who also happened to be a cardinal and the archbishop of a church in Florence.  The cardinal had a plan to smuggle false papers into the country to help the Jewish folks assume non-Jewish identities for the duration of the war, keeping them safe from deportation to the concentration camps.  Gino doctored his bicycle frame to hide papers and went on long training rides back and forth through the mountains, shuttling papers back and forth to help the cardinal.

This is a fantastic book about a historical figure in multiple arenas!  We had never heard of Gino Bartali before reading this book, and are so glad his story was published.  After the story is finished there is an Afterword containing a photo of Gino and more detailed information about his life.  Overall, this is a fantastic book for elementary school students and we highly recommend it!

This book was sent to us by Capstone for consideration in the Best Books of 2019 List put on by the Read With River book club, but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

600F95C74AA-483A-43AE-862BEF470200BF66Amalia Hoffman an author/illustrator. Her board book, Dreidel Day is scheduled for publication by Lerners Publishing Group/ Kar Ben Publishing for Fall, 2018.
She also wrote and illustrated The Klezmer Bunch and Purim Goodies. (Gefen Publishing House) Both books were chosen as notable stories for children by the Association of Jewish Libraries. The Klezmer Bunch was selected by the Tony Award winning choreographer/producer, Elizabeth Swados for inclusion in her play, Jewish Books Cooking.
Amalia’s article, Queen Esther and Me, was published in the March 2016 issue of  Highlights Magazine for Children.
Amalia designed and illustrated Rose Bud, on oversized book with pop-up elements, created as prop for Israel’s children’s theater, The Train.
Amalia received the SCBWI portfolio award in the category of Fantasy in 2005. Her art was voted best at the illustration display in the 21st Century Children’s Nonfiction Conference in 2014 and she received 2nd place at the 2016 conference.
She actively promotes her books with entertaining presentations and was voted as
finalist in SCBWI storytelling competition.
Amalia is a teaching artist affiliated with ArtsWestchester. She is a member of SCBWI and Children’s Books Illustrator Guild.

22282107_1986392834938384_4822018181978824675_nFrom her website:

Hi,
I am Chiara
I was born in Milan in 1973. I live in a little village 50 km far from Milan where I live with my family and my pets.

I attended Art School in Milan and took a degree in Illustration at La Scuola del Fumetto in Milan. I had also attended several workshops with illustrators such as Gianni DeConno, Arcadio Lobato, Svjetlan Junakovic and a course with the publisher Paolo Canton (Topipittori) called Projecting Books.
I work mainly for children publishers all around the word, storyboarding for advertising and movie. Magazines. I use a combination of mixed traditional media and digital.
My artwork is varied and I feel my style is always evolving.

WORK EXPERIENCE
Freelance illustrator, editorial designer, storyboard artist for advertising and movies.

I work with big and small Publishers in Italy, Greece, USA, UK, France, Germany.

I am currently represented by  illustration Agency ASTOUND.US

Miep and the Most Famous Diary

Written by: Meeg Pincus

Illustrated by: Jordi Solano

For ages: 6-12 years

Language: English & very little German

Topics Covered: Historical Figures, Historical Events, Holocaust, Judaism, Global Community, WWII, Activism, Strength, Resilience. 

Summary: This book opens with Miep hearing the footsteps of Nazi soldiers, coming to arrest the 8 Jewish people that she’s been helping to hide in attic storage rooms for the past two years.  Miep manages to avoid arrest by realizing that she and the soldier are both from Vienna, and is left alone.  Miep is able to summon the courage to go upstairs to the secret annex where the Franks and others have been hiding, and she saves Anne’s diary.  She is able to hid the diary until the war is over and Mr. Frank returns, he is the only one that makes it out alive.  Eventually, the diary is published.

This book is somber, tender, and based on Miep’s autobiography.  It gives another facet of the WWII experience, this time from a non-Jewish activist committed to the anti-Nazi cause.  While the story of Anne Frank is well-known throughout the world, Miep’s story is lesser known.  In the back of the book is an author’s note, more information about Miep, and a timeline of her life.  She is a beautiful, courageous person.  Although she didn’t do any of the actions she’s famous for for glory, she did it to be a good person, not seeing herself as a hero but rather a person just doing her duty.  This is a beautiful book to add into any Holocaust education/curriculum, or world history learning.

This book was sent to us by Sleeping Bear Press as an entry in the Best Books of 2019 list, but all opinions are our own, as was the decision to review the book separately from the list project.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Meeg Pincus 2018 headshot tightMeeg Pincus is a “kidlit nonfiction author. Humane educator. Book editor. Library lover. The happily book nerdy list goes on.

I have a lifelong passion for nonfiction books. Reading them, writing them, editing them. I’ve been writing & editing nonfiction in some form or another for over 20 years—and I still love it. (Learn more about my writing/editing background—and my much longer, full name—here.)

I’m also passionate about education & making our world a kinder, healthier place. This led me to the field of humane education: teaching people to be “solutionaries”—problem-solvers who help people, animals & the planet.

Nowadays I write “Solutionary Stories” for elementary-age children—nonfiction & informational books that inspire kids to make a difference.

I’m a former newspaper journalist & scholar-in-training (four years of graduate school in cultural studies/communication—focusing on race/class/gender—at UW-Madison & UC-San Diego). So I have a background in, and love for, research that means I dive deep & attempt to be incredibly accurate in every topic I write about.

And I’m grateful to have a diverse family (with a mix of religions, races, sexual orientations, gender identities, and abilities), so I’ve always incorporated diversity of many kinds into my writing. For me, part of being a solutionary is focusing first on compassion for all beings, and giving voice to those who are marginalized.

I’m active in SCBWI (San Diego chapter) and have participated in the Highlights Foundation Nonfiction Master Class, nonfiction workshops with the Writing Barn, 12×12, and more, to always keep improving my craft. I’m also the co-founder of 19PBbios, a promo group of 19 diverse picture book biographies releasing in 2019 from diverse creators.”

Solano_JordiJordi Solano was born in Barcelona and although he still lives there, he likes to visit and stay in almost every other country. He studied fine arts and illustration and has been illustrating books for the last ten years. Recent projects include Swimming with Sharks: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark; Beyond the Sixth Extinction; and iDoyle: The Interactive Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – A Scandal in Bohemia, an interactive book. Stories are his very favorite thing in the world: watching, reading, or telling them, so he’s very happy with the job he has.