After WWII was over, Germany was divided between the U. S., Britain, France, and the Soviet Union. The capital city of Berlin w...more2011 Orbis Pictus Honor
After WWII was over, Germany was divided between the U. S., Britain, France, and the Soviet Union. The capital city of Berlin was also divided even though it was in Soviet territory. Since the Soviets wanted the whole city for themselves, they blockaded ally-occupied West Berlin thinking that they would starve the citizens into giving up their freedom. It didn't work, however--the U. S. and Britain began the Berlin Airlift to bring supplies in by plane and keep the citizens going.
Lt. Gail Halvorsen was one of the pilots, and he began an operation that would connect him to those children of Berlin for the rest of his life--he dropped candy out of his plane for them, something so precious and rare in Berlin in those days that it couldn't be bought with money and was often used to barter for things on the black market. This book covers how that operation began with the giving away of two sticks of gum and expanded to many pilots dropping tons of candy for the war-stricken people. The author uses photographs and letters from Halvorsen's personal collection to illustrate the book and includes sources and notes about the historical context of the Berlin Airlift. It concludes with an index.
This man's caring and kindness was so moving to me that I must have cried about every ten pages. What an amazing legacy.(less)
Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop join an expedition of scientists and others to Papua New Guinea. Their mission? To find and...more2007 Orbis Pictus Award Winner
Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop join an expedition of scientists and others to Papua New Guinea. Their mission? To find and put tracking collars on Matschie's tree kangaroos, enabling researchers around the world to learn more about the behavior of these rare and mysterious animals. Lisa Dabek from Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle leads the team. Montgomery writes a lot about Lisa's love of animals and her battle to overcome asthma and allergies to follow her dream of studying them. Lisa has contributed much to the conservation of tree kangaroos in Papua New Guinea, creating programs to educate the local people about the importance of saving them. Some of the locals have even incorporated conservation into their Christian beliefs. With Montgomery's clear writing and Bishop's beautiful photographs, this book serves as a perfect way for kids to dip their toes into the world of field science while learning about the adorable and intriguing tree kangaroo.(less)
A picture book biography of Marian Anderson, one of the most famous singers of her time. In a time when prejudice abound...more2003 Orbis Pictus Award Winner
A picture book biography of Marian Anderson, one of the most famous singers of her time. In a time when prejudice abounded, Marian was a highly skilled African-American singer who, though she missed out on opportunities because of the color of her skin, eventually still rose to the top. Pam Muñoz Ryan's clear text and Selznick's powerful illustrations combine fantastically.
After reading this, I looked up her 1939 performance at the Lincoln Memorial on YouTube and it gave me chills. I'm not the type of person who says that kind of thing easily--she was really just that good. It makes me cry that this beautiful, talented woman experienced so much hate and intolerance. I can't say that I would have done as well as she did facing similar odds.(less)
This book expands on the picture book The Story of Ruby Bridges to give us more historical context. Ruby was one of the...more2000 Orbis Pictus Award Winner
This book expands on the picture book The Story of Ruby Bridges to give us more historical context. Ruby was one of the first black children to integrate elementary schools in Louisiana, and at William Frantz Public School, she did it alone. Escorted into school by federal marshals and spending her first year in a one-child classroom with the only loving white teacher in the school, Ruby somehow made it through despite the screaming mob that greeted her outside each day.
This kind of racism is just completely bewildering to me. All of this happened over twenty years before I was born, but I find myself so angry reading about it. Housewives and teenage boys shouted obscenities at this little six-year-old girl and even threatened to kill her. It makes me want to travel back in time and kill them instead, but I know that wasn't what people like Dr. King and the NAACP wanted. Violence begets violence, hate begets hate. I am so blown away by this child's ability to pray for God's forgiveness of these ignorant, awful people. What a strong spirit to have survived that kind of emotional abuse day after day. She mentioned that the only time she ever had nightmares was when she forgot to say her prayers before bed. As a Christian, I doubt my faith a lot, but that is a testament to the power of prayer if I ever heard one. Praise the Lord indeed.(less)
In 1914, Ernest Shackleton led an expedition to the Antarctic, intending to cross the continent. His ship, the Endurance...more1999 Orbis Pictus Award Winner
In 1914, Ernest Shackleton led an expedition to the Antarctic, intending to cross the continent. His ship, the Endurance, never made it there. Trapped in ice for months, the ship drifted northward and was eventually crushed by the pressure, sending Shackleton and his crew off on one of the most shocking survival journeys in modern history. After camping on the ice for months and risking a harrowing lifeboat journey across open water, everyone barely made it to Elephant Island alive. From there, Shackleton and five of the men embarked on their greatest challenge yet--an 800-mile trip in a small boat to South Georgia Island, their only hope of connecting with humanity and sending a rescue party to the others. They battled monstrous waves, blizzards, and hurricanes for two weeks only to land on the wrong side of South Georgia. From there, three of them trekked for 36 hours over rugged, frozen mountains, finally reaching help. Their heroic efforts lead to the rescue of the entire crew more than two years after they originally set out. This well-written account will keep children and adults alike turning pages, and is illustrated with actual photographs taken by the expedition's photographer, Frank Hurley. Note that, although not gruesomely detailed, Armstrong does reference some disturbing situations such as having to put down a pet cat and dozens of sled dogs, and one instance of frostbite in a crew member's toes that led to gangrene and amputation. Recommended for older children and teens.(less)
In the 1930s, multi-year droughts across several southern states dried out the soil and contributed to massive dust stor...more1993 Orbis Pictus Award Winner
In the 1930s, multi-year droughts across several southern states dried out the soil and contributed to massive dust storms that destroyed people's livestock, crops, and homes. This time period became known as the "Dust Bowl." The destruction lead to one of the largest migrations in U. S. history. Many people, particularly Oklahomans or "Okies," made the difficult move to California hoping to find work. When they got there, they were disappointed, as there were dozens of people competing for every job. They had little choice but to live in makeshift shanty towns with little food or sanitation. The federal government stepped in and created several camps where people could live and work, but Okie children still struggled to be accepted in school, where they were bullied by their peers and considered stupid by the teachers. One man, Leo Hart, wouldn't accept the dire situation these children were in, and he went to work gathering supplies to build a school at Weedpatch Camp that the children could be proud of and call their own.
Many of us have heard of the Dust Bowl, but this children's book, illustrated with photographs from the period, truly brings to life what a struggle it was for families trying to escape the dust to find a better life. Parental guidance for some language (in a quote the author uses to help illustrate how the Okies were treated).(less)
2004 Robert F. Sibert Medal Winner 2004 Orbis Pictus Award Winner 2004 Newbery Honor
In 1793, yellow fever hit Philadelphia with a vengeance and killed a...more2004 Robert F. Sibert Medal Winner 2004 Orbis Pictus Award Winner 2004 Newbery Honor
In 1793, yellow fever hit Philadelphia with a vengeance and killed at least 5,000 people, or about 10% of the city's population at the time. The dying were so numerous that there were not enough people to care for them and dig graves for the bodies. I was astonished by the horror of this disease, amazed at the dedication of the black volunteers from the Free African Society who helped their white neighbors despite discrimination against them, and shocked that there is as yet still no cure for it other than a preventative vaccine, and killing the particular kind of mosquito that carries it to prevent further infections. Although the final chapter felt a little tacked-on, I was glad that the author included the extra information about the history of yellow fever and where it stands today. It's significantly creepy that if the fever were to strike one of our cities today, a lot of people would die before we could stop it since medical manufacturers don't typically make a lot of the vaccine.
I was also fascinated by how different history would have been if the yellow fever didn't exist. There would be no Dolley Madison, for example, because her first husband wouldn't have died of the fever in 1793, so she never would have married the future president James Madison. Also, had Congress been able to meet in Philadelphia at that time, we could have gone to war with France against much of the rest of Europe. If the yellow fever hadn't appeared on Hispaniola in 1802 while the French were trying to put down the Haitian Revolution, then the French soldiers might have won and Haiti might never have been created. Crazy!
The book is well-organized, including a table of contents, extensive source notes, and an index. It also includes wonderful images of primary source materials and drawings/paintings of many of the key players at the time.(less)