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The Miscellaneous Club > May 2018: Biographies

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message 1: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2596 comments Mod
These can be either chapter book length biographies or picture book biographies, about anyone, any historical period (including the present), and either male or female.


message 3: by Cheryl , Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 6837 comments Mod
There are a lot of children's biographies and other books on this list about Women's Suffrage: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/3...


message 4: by Manybooks (last edited Apr 29, 2018 06:40PM) (new)

Manybooks | 8796 comments Mod
I tend to read a lot of children's biographies and memoirs, so I have a huge amount of books to add.

I original was going to just add the books I have rated with more than three stars, but I think that I will also show the one and two star books, as I am rather picky and others might not find these books as problematic as I have.

I will probably be adding quite a large number of titles over the next month, but I will start with some recent and not so recent longer biographies I have enjoyed (three stars and four stars).

I have also now decided to use spoiler tags, so as not to give too much away for readers who might want to consider the biographies but do not want spoilers.


message 5: by Manybooks (last edited Apr 29, 2018 06:33PM) (new)

Manybooks | 8796 comments Mod
Mary Anning's Curiosity

(view spoiler)


message 6: by Manybooks (last edited Apr 29, 2018 06:33PM) (new)

Manybooks | 8796 comments Mod
The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian's Art Changed Science

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message 7: by Manybooks (last edited Apr 29, 2018 06:34PM) (new)

Manybooks | 8796 comments Mod
Some readers might call Anna All Year Round more of a biographical novel, but since Mary Downing Hahn does base it on her own mother's childhood and since I absolutely love this book, I am including it and recommending it.

(view spoiler)


message 8: by Manybooks (last edited Apr 29, 2018 06:35PM) (new)

Manybooks | 8796 comments Mod
As a teenager, I loved Karen, and even though I did not enjoy the book quite as much when I recently reread it, I still recommend it very highly.

(view spoiler)

There is also a sequel With Love from Karen, which is on my to read list.


message 9: by Manybooks (last edited Apr 29, 2018 06:41PM) (new)

Manybooks | 8796 comments Mod
Mary On Horseback: Three Mountain Stories is not a straight biography, but the three mountain stories show how Mary Breckenridge brought medical treatment to Appalachia are enlightening, interesting and true.


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message 10: by Manybooks (last edited Apr 29, 2018 06:38PM) (new)

Manybooks | 8796 comments Mod
Helen Keller: Rebellious Spirit

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message 11: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 8796 comments Mod
I am also in the process of reading Becoming Madeleine: A Biography of the Author of a Wrinkle in Time by Her Granddaughters, and am enjoying it thus far.

And in the summer, there is also a new middle grade biography on Lucy Maud Montgomery being published, which I most definitely am planning on reading, House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery


message 12: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 2248 comments I really liked The Youngest Marcher. It's not really a biography, more of a story about true events. The author doesn't shy away from telling a story that involves violence, arrest, isolation and cruel treatment but does it in a way that isn't too harsh or scary for young readers/listeners. The illustrations are a little cartoony but I liked seeing the variety of brown people represented here. This is a good read for ages 5+.

Another new one I read and liked recently is Free as a Bird: The Story of Malala
This charming biography of the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner is an excellent book to read with young children. It tells the story of a tiny girl placed in her father's classroom, absorbing the lessons he teaches the older students. Her love of learning carries her through to the top until it becomes illegal for girls to go to school. You know the rest! I wondered how the author and illustrator would handle the fact Malala was shot in the head. It's not spelled out or shown but rather Malala is hurt and enters a dreamlike state. I really liked that concept. It is a good metaphor or Malala's dream of peace. The biography is very basic and appropriate for ages 4+.

The illustrations are very 2D. They don't look real but at the same time, I liked the whimsical, dream-like illustrations. They were fun and made the story more appealing to the young picture book crowd.

There was another recent biography of Malala I read that I didn't like. It was too scary for the picture book age range. I can't find it on my list of books read.

Others not to be missed include The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq
This book is on ALA's banned and challenged list. It's not for very young readers because of the depiction of warfare, but the story of the librarian and the community who risked their lives to save knowledge from being destroyed is amazing and inspiring.

and Louisa: The Life of Louisa May Alcott
This is a very thorough biography of Louisa May Alcott. It not only covers her writing career but also her social activism and her time as a Civil War nurse. It's a cradle to grave biography for those readers old enough to read Louisa's books-I'd say 10+ because of the length. If a biography isn't enough, in the back you have "The World According to Louisa May Alcott," a compilation of quotes about various topics such as her childhood, nature, work, etc. Two poems by Louisa May Alcott, interesting facts about LMA, her writing and her family, important dates, a bibliography and her recipe for Apple Slump are also included. I've made Apple Slump several times and it's a huge hit with my family. This is a simple recipe Louisa's younger fans can make.

The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous! Bright and rich in color and detail, they evoke the time period while being more of a fantasy. My artist sister-in-law loves the picture of Louisa lying against a very large dog. I can not gush enough about these illustrations. They make this book a real stand out.


message 13: by Manybooks (last edited Apr 29, 2018 05:08PM) (new)

Manybooks | 8796 comments Mod
I want to try Louisa: The Life of Louisa May Alcott. I am looking for a good middle grade biography on Alcott, as I for one have never really liked Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women, because truly I think the author is more than a bit too laudatory of Bronson Alcott in my opinion.


message 14: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 8796 comments Mod
I really do hope that the new L.M. Montgomery biography will be good, as while many of the adult biographies I have read I have enjoyed, many of the picture book offerings I have found seriously lacking.


message 15: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 8796 comments Mod
I really cannot get over and express my utter disdain and anger at the Taliban (and ISIS) like American religious fundamentalist ignoramuses who have tried to get great books (and important books) like The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq and Nasreen's Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan banned and removed from libraries and classrooms. Sorry, but anyone who engages in this, and anyone who supports this in any way is dictatorial at best.


message 16: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (last edited Aug 19, 2020 03:10PM) (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2596 comments Mod
Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen by Deborah Hopkinson

I loved how Hopkinson adapted the first line from Pride and Prejudice for the first line of this children's biography: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is one of our greatest writers." Qin Leng's ink and watercolor paintings reminded me strongly of Tricia Tusa's artwork. This is a short, but interesting biography. The back matter includes "Jane's Bookshelf" which lists her 6 novels in publication order, with 2 quotes from each book, and a short synopsis of the plot. Several internet sites are listed as well as a short bibliography.


message 17: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2596 comments Mod
Louisa: The Life of Louisa May Alcott by Yona Zeldis McDonough

I agree with most of what QNPoohBear wrote about this book above. Except, it is still only 48 pages long, not a middle grade biography. It is heavily illustrated with very nice gouache and pastel paintings. The text on each page is on a pale yellow-beige rectangle, somewhat like a sheet of paper. I think that fourth graders could definitely read this, and possibly third graders who are excellent readers. Very interesting and inspiring.


message 18: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (last edited May 02, 2018 05:36PM) (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2596 comments Mod
The Life and Times of Martin Luther by Meike Roth-Beck

Although a picture book biography, it is pretty detailed about the life, theses, and trials of Luther, including his death at age 62. The ink and watercolor illustrations are very detailed. In addition, the back matter points out specific people and actual places that are in the illustrations. The author being German, from Eisenach, this book was originally written in German and published in Germany in 2015. It was translated into English and published in the US in 2017. Klaus Ensikat, the artist and also from Germany, won a Hans Christian Andersen Award for illustration.


message 19: by Cheryl , Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 6837 comments Mod
I'm adding The Life and Times of Martin Luther; my youngest and I just ten minutes ago happened to be talking about him, speculating (prior to research) about whether Gutenberg's press helped his cause.


message 20: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 8796 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "I'm adding The Life and Times of Martin Luther; my youngest and I just ten minutes ago happened to be talking about him, speculating (prior to research) about whether Gutenberg's pr..."

Actually, it is generally accepted that the German language of today, today's standard German owes very much to Luther's Bible translations (and that he used East Middle German so as to be in between the Low German dialects of the Northern low-lying areas and the High German dialects of the Alpine regions of Germany, Austria and Switzerland). And his Bible translations and the fact that they were meant to be read by the laity, by the people, were absolutely made possible due to Gutenberg's printing press, as before, books had to be hand-copied and were thus beautifully illustrated but much much too expensive except for the rich and powerful (and interestingly enough, a huge amount of German and actually even pan-European proverbs and sayings have come to us from Martin Luther).


message 21: by Cheryl , Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 6837 comments Mod
Wow. I don't remember (wasn't taught?) any of this. Ty for the summary.


message 22: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 8796 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Wow. I don't remember (wasn't taught?) any of this. Ty for the summary."

Well, I learned about this at university, during graduate school. We had to know the general history of the German language for our comprehensive exams.


message 23: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (last edited May 03, 2018 01:30PM) (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2596 comments Mod
Who Is Jesus? by Christina Goodings

While this book, which was published in England, hits all the highlights of Jesus' life, it still leaves out quite a bit. It also includes some quotes from the Good News Bible. It is heavily illustrated; some things and people in the illustrations are labeled; there are also sidebars of additional information. It also includes a glossary of terms in the back. This book could be read by independent readers around 3 grade and older. For younger children, parents might choose to read just a few pages at a time, instead of the entire book in one sitting.


message 24: by Cheryl , Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 6837 comments Mod
I just happened to read Brush of the Gods, a picture book about one of the most historically important Chinese painters. It's a bit long for pre-school, but not complex. The pictures absolutely suit, and both story and art are appealing. The authors' notes are concise yet sufficient.


message 25: by Michael (new)

Michael Fitzgerald Have I already raved about Big Machines: The Story of Virginia Lee Burton? - 5-star review here.

Unlike many biographies for children, this is about someone they might already know and love. Also, it focuses on the aspects of the subject that are relevant to kids. It just gets everything right.


message 26: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2596 comments Mod
Michael wrote: "Have I already raved about Big Machines: The Story of Virginia Lee Burton? - 5-star review here.

Unlike many biographies for children, this is about someone they might already kno..."


I have also read it and really liked it.


message 27: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 2248 comments Balderdash!: John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children's Books

This charming picture book for children and adults tells the story of how children's literature came to be and why. The prose of this little biography is peppy and peppered with exclamation points. The knowledge is imparted in a lively and fun manner just like Newbery's books. The sentences are short and simple so children can read the text themselves. In the back of the book is a historical note for adults and a bibliography.

The thing that kept me from giving this book 5 stars is the illustrations. The colors were a little dull and didn't suit the peppy text. The 18th century may have been a long time ago but it was a colorful time period. The two-dimensional drawings are cute and the illustrator studied the styles of the 18th-century to make them look more accurate. I would recommend this book to all readers young and old who may be interested in the history of children's books.


message 28: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 2248 comments I picked up a few more older books at the library today.

Mary Walker Wears the Pants: The True Story of the Doctor, Reformer, and Civil War Hero

Mary Walker scandalized everyone in 19th-century society by wearing pants. (Pass the smelling salts). She enjoyed the comfort and freedom men's clothing allowed her. Free from her restrictive corsets and hoop skirts, Mary Walker then chose to go to medical school and become a real doctor. More smelling salts please! During the Civil War she put her skills to good use to doctor the soldiers in Washington, D.C. Her life was long and eventful and she never stopped fighting for women's rights. A biographical note is included at the end.

Mary Walker was a fascinating women. As a 19th-century scholar I am eager to learn more about her life and career. I really admire the women who stood up and dared to fight the traditional gender norms of the time. As a reader and aunt of young children, I found this book was a complete dud. It was a straight up biography without too many embellishments. It's very wordy and I don't think small children will have the interest or patience to read this. It's more for elementary age readers than preschool readers.

The illustrations are very lifelike. I really liked the illustrator's attention to detail. The background setting and time is not ignored and readers get a glimpse into 19th-century America, Civil War battlefields, hospitals and prisons and of course 19th-century fashion. As a history nerd, this would have appealed to me from the age of 7 onwards. I'm positive my sister, my polar opposite, would have HATED this book and found it torture. I think 9 year old niece might find it interesting, maybe 7 year old niece would flip through it and learn a thing or two but they wouldn't sit down on their own and read it. I didn't even bring it home from the library.


message 29: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 8796 comments Mod
QNPoohBear wrote: "I picked up a few more older books at the library today.

Mary Walker Wears the Pants: The True Story of the Doctor, Reformer, and Civil War Hero

Mary Walker scandalized everyone i..."


It is bad enough that often adult biographies can be tedious slogs, but it is much much worse with biographies geared towards children. I was going to put this on my to read list, but hmm, perhaps not, as I have read enough slogging biographies.


message 30: by Cheryl , Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 6837 comments Mod
Too bad; Mary Walker clearly merits a well-written biography for children.


message 31: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 2248 comments Cheryl wrote: "Too bad; Mary Walker clearly merits a well-written biography for children."

Yes, she is such a fascinating woman and I for sure want to read a biography on her but this one will not hold the attention of young readers. Maybe if it's assigned reading or book report reading a kid will read it but I can see my nieces giving this one a pass. I brought home the newest biography of one of my favorite authors, Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen for them instead. They've certainly heard me mention Jane Austen and we've read some picture book versions of her novels. We'll see what they think of the bio on Sunday.


message 32: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 2248 comments I read another good old one at the library today. Steamboat!: The Story of Captain Blanche Leathers

This is a really fun, engaging book. The prose is simple and tells an interesting story without too much information. There is a map of the Mississippi in the front and a biographical note at the end. The biographical profile is easy for younger readers to read and understand and contains a photograph of Blanche Leathers.

The illustrations are modern, I believe mixed media collages. They are bright, eye-catching and colorful-suited to young readers today who are bombarded by computer generated 3D graphics. I enjoyed the modern look with an old-fashioned flair. The illustrations give the impression of "olden days" but in a fresh, modern way.

On a personal note, this book appealed to me because I work at a cotton mill museum along a river that was the hardest working river in America before the Mississippi. Cotton was shipped up and down along the canal, just as it is shown in the story. Also, the steamboat was actually invented (not by Robert Fulton) by a man who lived and worked and invented in my new hometown, where the museum is located. I loved seeing the depiction of something I describe everyday.

Parents and teachers will be pleased to learn that Blanche's kindness won over the men.

This is an example of a picture book biography done well! I recommend this for K-2 students and history nerds like me who always wanted to know about the women who dared to do things they were told women couldn't do!


message 33: by Cheryl , Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 6837 comments Mod
Adding this one!


message 34: by QNPoohBear (last edited May 14, 2018 01:27PM) (new)

QNPoohBear | 2248 comments One book that seems to have made an impression on my nieces is The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower, or John Howland's Good Fortune. Yesterday they asked for stories about our foremothers. I started with Elizabeth Tilley who sailed on the Mayflower, was orphaned the first winter and sent to live with the governor. She later married John Howland, who almost didn't make it to the New World because he fell off the boat. My nieces instantly perked up when I said that and they both said "OH! That's the boy who fell off the Mayflower! That's our GRANDFATHER?!"

Mom fail. My mom wrote a genealogical note for my cousins' kids when she sent the book but didn't for her own grandkids. It was nice to know the girls remembered the book and now have that connection next time they read the book. I think I liked it. It was factually correct, if a little bit dry. The illustrations are kind of dark since the Mayflower was at sea during stormy season. Anyway, it gets a thumb's up from an (ALMOST) 8 year old and (almost) 9 1/2 year old.

We also had to have a discussion on how there's no RULE that says women can't be President and if they wanted to they could run and even back when there was a rule that said women couldn't vote, women still ran for President. I'm already making a list of books we need to read next time they visit. I'll add any appropriate reviews here.


message 35: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (last edited May 15, 2018 12:19PM) (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2596 comments Mod
Isaac the Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal'd by Mary Losure
This book appeared on 3 "best books" lists: American Library Association Notable Books for Children, Kirkus Best Books and School Library Journal Best Books.
This book is suitable for middle grade readers and older. It is heavily illustrated with archival photos, including photos of many of Isaac's own notes. The book takes readers from Isaac's childhood through his death, but focuses mostly on his years at Trinity College, Cambridge, and the many contributions he made to math and the beginnings of physics. At the same time, Newton also believed in alchemy and the possibility of transforming one thing into another (such as lead into gold, etc.) The text was not at all dry or boring; in fact it was quite fascinating. An addendum goes into a bit more detail about one of Newton's notebooks, and comments on other scientific beliefs and discoveries of his day. Included are extensive footnotes and an extensive blibliography, plus an index. This book was very deserving of the accolades accorded it.


message 36: by Manybooks (last edited May 15, 2018 02:10PM) (new)

Manybooks | 8796 comments Mod
Downloaded this fun little biography of Lewis Caroll yesterday, One Fun Day with Lewis Carroll: A Celebration of Wordplay and a Girl Named Alice (loved the text, with its use of many of Caroll's word plays, not extensive biography wise, but entertaining and evocative, although I really really do not unfortunately like the illustrations all that much, as they are simply too cartoon like with creepy human expressions).

Not sure if one can call this a real "autobiography" but Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years is both enlightening and humorous, although the "humans are special and better and more worthwhile than all other animals" philosophy really really really does enrage me enough to despise this book vehemently (so much so that when I get around to actually reviewing it, I doubt that I will be willing to grant more than one star as that kind of arrogance makes me see red).


message 37: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 2248 comments Louisa May's Battle: How the Civil War Led to Little Women

This biography focuses on Louisa May Alcott's time as a nurse in Georgetown, Washington, DC during the Battle of Fredericksburg in the Civil War. The story is accurate as far as I know. I even learned something new about her journey to the hospital. This book accurately depicts battlefield violence and injuries. It doesn't sugarcoat anything and states clearly that men were suffering and died. Then it tells of how Louisa used her storytelling talent and entertained the men with humorous stories and how she was forced to return home after 3 weeks because she was ill. Her letters from Georgetown became her first book Hospital Sketches. Because of the accurate depiction of war, this book may be too rough for sensitive young readers. The author incorporates quotes from Louisa's own writings which I appreciate very much.

There is a long author's note on the history of women in medicine during the Civil War, a bibliography with books marked especially for children and a list of LMA's children's books.

The illustrations are lovely EXCEPT the Alcotts look nothing like the real Alcotts. *(Caveat: I visited Orchard House early this year and Louisa has been my hero since I was about 11 so I know all the photos of the family). Louisa is too pretty even though it clearly states nurses were supposed to be plain (so soldiers didn't fall in love with them). Louisa waited until she was 30 to meet that part of the requirement and she was considered plain. I recognized Bronson Alcott but not Abigail "Marmee" or Anna and May, Louisa's sisters. I recognized Orchard House though and loved the illustration of Louisa at her writing desk in her room. I've been there and recently too so it was fresh in my memory. I also recognized the scenes from Little Women but not the characters as I picture them. The background details of the illustrations are incredible, especially the scene outside Louisa's train window in Baltimore which gives a stark reminder of why the men were fighting in the first place. I wasn't expecting that. The illustrator also included a map of the Battle of Fredericksburg.


message 38: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 2248 comments Found some really good new biographies at the library after work today. Why yes, it's lovely having a library across the street from my work!

A Lady Has the Floor: Belva Lockwood Speaks Out for Women's Rights

Belva Lockwood was so cool! This little book packs a big punch. It tells the story of Belva Lockwood, a girl who dared to challenge the gender norms of the early 19th-century. She was physically free, intelligent and unafraid of a challenge. Belva Lockwood changed education for girls, became a lawyer (she had to lobby the President for her diploma), argued before the Supreme Court, fought for women's rights including suffrage and ran for President of the United States! Sadly, Belva Lockwood died just a few years before the 19th Amendment was passed. Wow! I can't believe I had never heard of this woman! I looked at the bibliography at the end and still have never read any of those books listed and I basically majored in 19th-century women's history at the graduate level!

The prose is easy to read for an independent reader or an adult reading to a child. It's a bit long for a younger child. I liked how the author put Belva's life into context, explaining what girls could and couldn't do. The illustrator chose to include quotes from Belva or about Belva written in script writing. An older child could read this to a younger sibling or cousin. I liked the author's note, timeline and bibliography so I can learn more about this amazing woman! The illustrations are a little too cutesy. They're designed to look like folk art paintings of the 19th-century- complete with crackle finish. I'm not sure why the illustrator chose this style. I like what's happening in the illustrations but not so much the style. I don't know if the style of illustrations appeals to young readers but I hope the story does because Belva Lockwood deserves to be known!


message 39: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 2248 comments Brave Jane Austen: Reader, Writer, Author, Rebel

Finally, a succinct biography of Jane Austen I actually like! It's a cradle to the grave biography to introduce Jane Austen in the context of the time period she lived in. It's simple enough for young readers to listen to and casual fans to learn more about the author's life in an entertaining way. It does tell a little story about Jane but it doesn't make assumptions about her personality or feelings. It shows how she read, observed and finally wrote what she knew only changing it up a bit. The author sums up the plot of First Impressions and it sounds like a silly romance but added to the context of Austen's life, it's a fine enough summary for a children's book. Kids get the idea that Jane wasn't like ordinary girls and therefore Lizzie wasn't like ordinary girls. I also enjoyed the quotes from the novels at the end. The author explains what they mean so young readers have the understanding of Jane Austen's language and time before they read the books or see the movies. This is SO important in understanding the novels. If you don't have the context you can't understand the complexity and richness of Jane Austen's beautiful stories. My only quibble is Austen's first novel was "Susan" (Northanger Abbey) even though it wasn't published until after her death.

The illustrations are not my favorite but I liked seeing a depiction of Jane Austen with dark hair and hazel eyes. Mrs. Austen resembles the stylized portrait done after Cassandra's watercolor sketch of Jane. The way the people are drawn feels a little off to me. They're too angular or something for my taste. I'll see what the artists in the family think. In this book the Rectory looks like a house and not a grand mansion and Chawton Cottage is depicted accurately with Jane's writing desk and her bed with the quilt the Austen women made. I liked those little details that Janeites will adore.

I can't wait to share this book with my nieces and hope they learn enough about one of my favorite authors to want to read her books. (Not including BabyLit and Cozy Classics they read when they were toddlers).


message 40: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 2248 comments My #1 favorite I've read this week is...

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court judge is known for speaking her mind and dissenting when she feels right. How did she get to be the powerful, thought provoking woman she is today? This story begins with her childhood, a time when sexism, racism and anti-Semitism abounded. Ruth Bader heard no a lot being a girl and Jewish. The one person she never heard no from was her mother who encouraged Ruth to read and think and get an education-in the 1940s. This book does a great job of explaining the time in which RBG grew up in and WHY she is so unique. The illustrations are incorporated into the story showing what she dissents against (basically at this level book she's shown dissenting against bigotry of all kinds). The signs on buildings in the background of the illustrations say "No dogs or Jews," "No coloreds" etc. showcasing the terrible prejudices of the time without being too explicit. They also teach an important life lesson -sometimes life isn't fair. Ruth persevered against the odds, found herself an AMAZING supportive husband (they must have loved each other very much) who also supported equal rights for men and women. Women should be allowed to work as well as raise a family just as men should help out at home and work. Equal not separate. The author explains simply what the Supreme Court does and shows how RBG is able to dissent POLITELY and intelligibly -in writing. (Not 240 characters kids, no emojis). What I really loved about the book is that it shows how RBG disagrees politically with certain people but is able to be personal friends with them. That teaches kids another great lesson.

The book contains a long biography note, notes on Supreme Court cases, a bibliography (though not the brand new film "The Notorious R.B.G.") and sources.


message 41: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2596 comments Mod
QNPoohBear wrote: "Found some really good new biographies at the library after work today. Why yes, it's lovely having a library across the street from my work!

[book:A Lady Has the Floor: Belva Lockwood Speaks Out..."


The illustrations you mentioned are pretty much Alison Jay's signature art style.


message 42: by Steve (new)

Steve Shilstone | 189 comments QNPoohBear wrote: "Found some really good new biographies at the library after work today. Why yes, it's lovely having a library across the street from my work!

[book:A Lady Has the Floor: Belva Lockwood Speaks Out..."


Sad I never heard of her. Glad I have now.


message 43: by Manybooks (last edited May 20, 2018 09:56AM) (new)

Manybooks | 8796 comments Mod
I believe there is another picture book about Belva Lockwood, Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman's Race for the Presidency


message 44: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 2248 comments Manybooks wrote: "I believe there is another picture book about Belva Lockwood, Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman's Race for the Presidency"

Yes, I have that one in my TBR pile. I had never heard of her and I basically majored in 19th-century women's history in graduate school. I didn't return the picture book yet because I want to copy down the bibliography so I can read more. Then I need to go look at her papers in the National Archives.


message 45: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 8796 comments Mod
QNPoohBear wrote: "Manybooks wrote: "I believe there is another picture book about Belva Lockwood, Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman's Race for the Presidency"

Yes, I have that one in my TB..."


Sounds like what I do when I want to research (I am always annoyed when non fiction books geared to children have no sources listed).


message 46: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 2248 comments Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor

Mattie Knight always had a quick mind. She was forever inventing new toys for her brothers at a time when girls were not educated in science, technology or mathematics. Her mother took in sewing to earn a living and Mattie earned money from neighborhood kids designing new kite shapes and other toys. As a teen she worked in the textile mills of Manchester, New Hampshire and figured out how to improve the safety of the looms. In her adult years she became a true inventor coming up with ideas for things we use every day! I had no idea who Marvellous Mattie was and I am very glad I read this book. I can't even comprehend what kind of an incredible engineering brain Mattie must have had. My brain doesn't work that way at all and I could not, even as an adult, come up with anything remotely like what she did.

My only real quibble is that kids have to have knowledge of history and the historical background. WHY did Mattie and her brothers have to work to help support themselves? Why didn't anyone help them? Why the textile mill? Also, the reader has to know what the Civil War was and when. The text reads "After the Civil War..." Um what? What's the Civil War and when was that? I'm not sure my nieces know that yet.

The accompanying illustrations are really good. The top illustrations depicting Mattie and her life story are not bad. The people look realistic enough for the time period. Where the book really stands out is in the bottom illustrations. The illustrator took the time to draw out diagrams of some of Mattie's inventions. I still don't understand how to make any of them but it was awesome to see a visual representation of what she was doing.

The book includes an author's note and bibliography. I really really wish she had drawn and saved a picture of the loom guard. I see a loom everyday and assumed the guard was added in the later half of the 20th century when workers had more rights or when the loom was used for demonstration in the museum. I never guessed it went all the back to pre-Civil War days and a young girl.

This book is a must-read for girls! There's a big push for STEM education, especially for girls, now and I think if young girls read this book they will feel inspired. Perhaps their inventions will fail or perhaps some of them will have engineering brains like Mattie Knight and become inventors themselves.


message 47: by Beverly, Miscellaneous Club host (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 2596 comments Mod
QNPoohBear wrote: "Brave Jane Austen: Reader, Writer, Author, Rebel

Finally, a succinct biography of Jane Austen I actually like! It's a cradle to the grave biography to introduce Jane Austen in the ..."


I just got my library copy of this one and read it today. I concur with everything QNPoohBear already wrote about it. It is a very well written bio of Miss Austen. I also was not especially impressed by the illustrations. The people looked almost like porcelain dolls, with their round red cheeks.


message 48: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 2248 comments Beverly I'm glad you enjoyed the little biography too. I think the illustrator took inspiration from Cassandra's portrait of Jane with her round, pink cheeks https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/se...


message 49: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 2248 comments Malala's Magic Pencil

Malala Yousafzi relates her life story for young readers through the eyes of her childhood. Her favorite TV show featured a boy with a magic pencil that could make anything. She dreamed of a lock on her door to keep out her pesky little brothers and making other people happy. As she grew older and more aware of the world, she dreamed of a magic pencil to improve her neighborhood- the location of which isn't mentioned until late in the book. It could be anywhere poverty exists which I think will help kids relate to the story. Then she dreamed of a magic pencil to make the world a better place. The story illustrates that not all children have the benefit of an education but want one. This is something modern American children can't understand and I, as a museum educator, try to teach the children about child labor in the 1790s to get them thinking about that very topic. I liked how Malala covered that very succinctly without preaching. I also really liked how she described the Taliban as "powerful and dangerous men" with weapons. That's it. This is a very age appropriate book. She also says "My voice became so powerful dangerous men tried to stop me." That's all. Nothing about being shot in the head, thank goodness. Malala also emphasises how her message is a global one and a multicultural message that people have understood and adopted.

The book contains a brief message from Malala about magic being love, beauty, peace, and knowledge. She also includes a brief, child friendly biography. She mentions being attacked but not how or how badly she was injured. She focuses on the positive and is an incredibly brave, strong and intelligent young woman. I strongly believe in her message and would be comfortable sharing it through this picture book with readers ages 4+.

The illustrations are GORGEOUS! Every magic pencil drawing is done in shiny gold. It's adds to the magic effect. The people are flat 2D but look realistic enough to be recognizable. The Taliban soldiers are shown in the background with guns on their backs but they're barely noticeable unless you know who the men are and what weapons they carry. The best page is when they tried to silence Malala. The page is all black. Then she's shown staring out the window in a hospital gown with a hospital bracelet but it's very ambiguous. The illustrations early in the book show brown skinned people who could be from my own impoverished inner city. Observant kids may notice the buildings look a lot different from their own home depending on where they live. Only later does Malala actually state that she grew up in Pakistan and I liked how the illustrator acknowledged that lack of specificity with the illustrations. The people who support Malala are multinational, multicultural and different skin tones. I love this!

This is a picture book best suited for young readers and those who want them to know Malala's message without the horrific details.


message 50: by Cheryl , Newbery Club host (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 6837 comments Mod
I just read The Ballot Box Battle for the Women's Suffrage thread and noticed that my library has it tagged as Easy Biography. So I'll add it to this thread because it deserves to be well known. Though the author's note admits that minor liberties have been taken, I found the themes to be true to history... and, more importantly, the story is engaging, entertaining, and meaningful. I truly believe young readers can gain a lot of appreciation for the struggle for the vote from this very short book and I highly recommend it.


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