Like most Americans, I've always believed that the Wright Brothers were the first to really and truly fly. I mean I knew that there there many others...moreLike most Americans, I've always believed that the Wright Brothers were the first to really and truly fly. I mean I knew that there there many others who came before these two who helped develop theories and ideas, some experimenters even died in the process. I had never heard of Alberto Santos-Dumont, which after reading this book, I find very unfortunate. Santos-Dumont's story is a very interesting one. I mean riding a dirigible to run errands?! How cool is that! I was also impressed with his unselfishness and generosity in using the money he received from his inventions. Allowing the other inventor to try to fly his plane first is no small gesture. What I found sad was how quickly the world forgot him. Just goes to show how fleeting fame can be.
This is the kind of story that I like best. Instead of just sharing the facts, the author has taken the time to let the reader get to know her character through the stories about him. I appreciated the additional information and actual photographs of Santos-Dumont at the end of the book. There is also a short bibliography and index (as all good nonfiction books should have). The writing flows well and makes this book a good choice for a read-a-loud. The only concern I have is the dialogue. This is a concern with all biographies, children's or adult's. How much is it permissible to invent based on research versus using only words the person had spoken that had been recorded? A question to which there is no one right answer. This could make for a good discussion with children about the subjective nature of most history.
The illustrations by Montanari did not really appeal to me very much on the first run through. But they have grown on me as I've looked back through the book. I think they suit the story. The only real problem I had was the horses, being a horse fan, I found their strangeness somewhat irritating. Otherwise the illustrations provide a nice glimpse of another time and place.
I highly recommend this book both for curricular purposes (inventors/inventions, biographies, etc.) but also for pleasure reading.(less)
This particular book is part of Lerner's Comparing Past and Present series. The photographs and text point out some of the major changes that have occ...moreThis particular book is part of Lerner's Comparing Past and Present series. The photographs and text point out some of the major changes that have occurred in the workplace over the last few decades. I appreciated the fact that it looks at work from a variety of angles including how the jobs available for women have changed, safety changes, tools available, and the types of work that are most common now. The table of contents, glossary, index, and further reading features are great for teaching students about nonfiction books. Highly recommended, especially for elementary school libraries.(less)
What do you get when you combine a Newbery winning author and a fabulous illustrator? You get a book like this one. The story is told beautifully in j...moreWhat do you get when you combine a Newbery winning author and a fabulous illustrator? You get a book like this one. The story is told beautifully in just the right amount of words and illustrations that put you, the reader, into the background of the story. I felt almost like I was there watching the young boy and his father harvest tree resin.
I remember the first time I heard the story of the wise men, I, like many others, had no idea what frankincense and myrrh were. Gold is pretty self-explanatory, but frankincense and myrrh? I had no clue. I admit I just barely learned that frankincense came from trees. This book taught me that myrrh also comes from trees and has symbolic relevance to Jesus Christ beyond being a valuable gift. I had no idea that Myrrh was traditionally used primarily at funerals to show respect and caring to the departed. I appreciated the author's note at the end explaining the origins of the story and the author's interest in the subject.
As for the illustrations, what can I say beyond that they are gorgeous. They show so beautifully the tender story of a father patiently teaching his son the art of harvesting the trees. What a sweet and powerfully symbolic story. I can't recommend this book highly enough. I loved it, definitely one of my favorites this year. (less)
As I read this book, I confess, there were parts where I wrinkled my nose and went, ewwwh. I found it kind of gross to read about the use of animals d...moreAs I read this book, I confess, there were parts where I wrinkled my nose and went, ewwwh. I found it kind of gross to read about the use of animals droppings in one's hair. I thought to myself, well, it's a good thing we don't do that now. And then the humbling thought came, are we really any different in the amount of time and effort we put in to fixing up or caring for our hair? I would have to say no. All one has to do is walk down the hair care aisle at a store to realize that we are just as fussy about our hair, dying, shampooing, conditioning, highlighting. The products we use may be different, but we are just as vain as those who came before. This book would be fun to share with students. I am always looking for history books to use with my students that demonstrate how interesting history can be. This one makes a good addition to that list. Recommended for students who enjoy learning about some of the odd behaviors of the past.(less)
Picture book biographies are a great way to introduce real people to the younger crowd. However, when using them, one needs to realize that they are n...morePicture book biographies are a great way to introduce real people to the younger crowd. However, when using them, one needs to realize that they are not complete in any way (as if any biography could be), and they often tend to focus on the good points of the subject. Such is the case here. Krull does a nice job of giving the reader a look at FDR's privileged childhood. As an only child, FDR usually got what he wanted. His determined nature helped him weather rejection. I appreciated the writing which was easy to read and would be great for a read-a-loud. The illustrations help place the story in its historical setting. The timeline at the back is great for reports, as is the list of additional references. Overall, a good introduction to a very influential man and the characteristics and experiences that helped make him the man he became. Recommended.(less)
There are many books available for children and young adults about the Civil Rights Era, some are naturally better than others. But in order for child...moreThere are many books available for children and young adults about the Civil Rights Era, some are naturally better than others. But in order for children and young adults to truly understand the Civil Rights Era, they need to understand what came before. This book beautifully tells that story. The fabulous design adds greatly to the power of the story Osborne has to tell. With access to the Library of Congresses large collection of materials, Osborne gives the reader a glimpse into a time not so long ago through both general explanations and individual experiences. Reading about those who suffered so much and yet kept fighting is inspiring to say the least.
One of the things that I found fascinating and heartbreaking at the same time, was the account of what was going on in the North at the same time as Jim Crow came into being in the South. I learned a lot about the treatment of those who moved North hoping for better conditions. Conditions were better, but not by much, discrimination was still the order of the day, even if it wasn't specified by law. Even the federal government tried to keep African Americans down. It's also a story about the power of a single voice and the power of collective voices. I highly recommend this title for any and all American History classes and for those interested in where are country has been and how far we've come through the efforts of many, black and white.(less)
I'll say up front that I loved this book, so much so that I bought myself a copy. Not only are the illustrations a gorgeous combination of fabric coll...moreI'll say up front that I loved this book, so much so that I bought myself a copy. Not only are the illustrations a gorgeous combination of fabric collage, paper, and oil and acrylic on canvas, but the writing follows the parts of a piano sonata. Even those who do not particularly care for classical music know who Mozart is, but I did not realize that at first, his sister was as famous as he was. Clearly Maria had a gift for playing the piano. Unfortunately for her she lived in an era when women were expected to marry and have children, not have a career. What I especially admired about her was that she continued to play and nourish her gift and passion despite having the opportunity to share her gift with the world taken away.
This book provides a glimpse into the mind and heart of a brother and sister who not only shared a love for music, but love for each other. A great story about finding a way to pursue one's dreams whatever the limitations life puts on you. I highly recommend this book. (less)
I really enjoyed this book. The combination of gorgeous illustrations and great text pair nicely in this title. I am also a big fan of books about pe...more I really enjoyed this book. The combination of gorgeous illustrations and great text pair nicely in this title. I am also a big fan of books about people following their dreams and passions. I appreciated how Elinor's parents encouraged her in her dreams despite their unconventional nature. And one can't help but admire Elinor's courage and spunk in proving to herself and the world that women pilots were just as good as men. The longer text does make it more appropriate for older children, but the topic makes for a great sharing book. The topic would fit beautifully into discussions of American or women's history. The information at the end about the interviews with the real Elinor and the photographs are a great addition. I appreciated that the author went right to the source for her information (she interviewed Elinor herself). I highly recommend this book for curricular or personal use. The story can be enjoyed by anyone who appreciates courage and determination as well as the power of dreams.(less)
I enjoy reading books about the past, but most of what I've read in both children's and adult books has focused on the American experience. So I was t...moreI enjoy reading books about the past, but most of what I've read in both children's and adult books has focused on the American experience. So I was thrilled to hear about this book. Kubla Khan was a man of contradictions. A just ruler under most conditions, his armies destroyed many villages, massacring any who refused to become part of Khan's growing empire. It was interesting to read about Kubla's mother who was determined to have her children make a mark in the world and did everything in her power to provide them with a chance to do so.
Clearly a man of great intelligence and leadership ability, Khan left a mark that can still be seen in Asia today. One thing I found especially fascinating was how involved in his life, his mother, and second wife were. In a time where women were seen as inferior and incompetent, these women had a big impact on Khan's life, personal and professional. The book is too long for a short read-a-loud, but there is plenty of detail for discussion.
The illustrations are very detailed as well as colorful and bright. The illustrations compliment the text beautifully. I highly recommend this book for those who enjoy reading about the world. (less)
Levinson has done an incredible job with this book. Not only does she give an account of the events leading up to and including the Children's March b...moreLevinson has done an incredible job with this book. Not only does she give an account of the events leading up to and including the Children's March but she merges comments from some of the participants. This is how narrative nonfiction should be done. The book is beautifully organized with complementary photographs. I almost felt like I was there while reading this book.Clearly, the author has done her research, but more than that, she has made it understandable for the young reader.
I think what makes this account so powerful is the sense of immediacy that Levinson has created. It felt like it was happening as I was reading about it rather than almost fifty years ago. It was amazing to read about the courage of the children who participate, ages 9 to 18 with a few adults mixed in. The story in the prologue starts the book off with a bang. The idea of a nine-year-old child telling her parents that she wants to go to jail hit me hard. The descriptions of hundreds of children crammed into jail cells meant to hold many fewer occupants was also full of impact. I think the part though that really got me was when fire hoses were turned on the marchers.
I highly, highly recommend this book for any reader who wants to see the power of unity or the power of children to make a difference. This would be a great book to use in teaching about civil rights or just plain courage.(less)
I found this book delightful in both pictures and words. I enjoyed how Kerley presents both main characters side by side and then merges them together...moreI found this book delightful in both pictures and words. I enjoyed how Kerley presents both main characters side by side and then merges them together after they met. This technique allows the reader to see just how different John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were as well as the commonalities that brought them together. Fotheringham does a fantastic job with the illustrations. The cartoonish nature of the illustrations adds humor and emotional expression. I especially liked the maps that showed the connections and distance between Great Britain and the colonies. I appreciated the appropriately placed quotes from both Adams and Jefferson. Overall, I'd say this is a great book for introducing the people and events that lead to the creation of the United States of America.(less)
This book provides a brief overview of the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. The two men were different in many ways, physical siz...moreThis book provides a brief overview of the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. The two men were different in many ways, physical size, temperament, etc. But they shared a passionate belief in America's right to form her own government. But they differed greatly on presidential power and centralized government. This lead to the feud mentioned in the title. In this book, I think the details that I found the most interesting were the different ways Adams and Jefferson described each other both during their years of conflict and afterwords. During their conflict, Jefferson called Adams, "vain, suspicious, irritable, stubborn, and wrong." Adams called Jefferson ,"weak, confused, uninformed, and ignorant." After their years of conflict, Adams said, "I always loved Jefferson" and Jefferson said Adams was, "honest" and "great." This book does a great job of indicating that people change over time and things that seem so very important at one point can become less important over time. I also enjoyed the humorous elements that the illustrator chose to include. For example, the picture of John Adams jumping on his wig is very amusing as our the pictures of Jefferson and Adams with their own respective grandkids (Jefferson's grandkids are throwing snowballs, Adam's grandkids are throwing pudding all over his living room). This book provides a great way to introduce two of America's founding fathers, along with the fact that while they did great things, they were far from perfect.(less)
This book is also very well done. Hopkinson does a great job of merging the experiences of some of the survivors. The addition of historical photograp...moreThis book is also very well done. Hopkinson does a great job of merging the experiences of some of the survivors. The addition of historical photographs and documents adds to the reading experience, makes it seem more immediate. I appreciated how she blended explanations with actual quotes. The text is quite readable and would make a great nonfiction read-a-loud. Books like this help children see that history doesn't have to be dry and boring. The real stories of survivors are heartbreaking in their starkness. My heart ached for those who left loved ones behind. The thing I find fascinating about this kind of story is not the disaster itself, but the way people react to it. Hopkinson doesn't shy away from stories of cowardice as well of heroics, but she doesn't judge, she simply presents what is known about the different people and lets the reader make up his/her own mind. This is hard to accomplish since looking back it is so easy to judge people and their mistakes. I highly recommend this book for those looking to learn more about the people involved in the disaster.(less)