Thursday, October 30, 2008

October 30 Birthdays: John Adams and Charles Atlas

John Adams, U.S. President
Oct. 30, 1735-July 4, 1826

Lives of the Presidents: Fame, Shame (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt (Harcourt, 1998)

An early riser, this president had the longest life of any in this office. Adams was the 2nd U.S. president, served one term and had a horse named Cleopatra.

Read more about Adams at the page devoted to him.

Charles Atlas, athlete
Oct. 30, 1892-Dec. 23, 1972

Strong Man: The Story of Charles Atlas by Meghan McCarthy (Knopf, 2007)

Angelo Siciliano was a one-man revolution for fitness. Tired of being a weak and skinny kid, Angelo embarked on a quest for physical health. A trip to a local museum where he saw a statue of Hercules, and a visit to his favorite thinking place, the zoo, where he watched a lion stretch his muscles fueled Siciliano's inspiration. He took a new name to go with his new muscles—Charles Atlas—and was ultimately named “The World’s Most Perfectly Developed Man.” Atlas inspired millions to exercise, eat right and live right.

Print out a copy of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans [PDF Version - 7.8 MB) to learn more about keeping healthy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

October 28 Birthday: Lady Liberty

Lady Liberty, statue extraordinaire
Oct. 28, 1886 dedication

Lady Liberty: A Biography by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Matt Tavares (Candlewick Press, 2008)

Vignettes written from the perspective of those who created the Statue of Liberty offer moving accounts of her inspiring story. From Edouard De Laboulaye, a professor of law in France who dreamed of giving this birthday gift from his country; to Emma Lazarus, who wrote a poem in Liberty’s honor; to Florence De Foreest, a young girl who was one of more than 100,000 people in America who contributed to the campaign to raise funds; this is a story of honor and hope and love. One of the best book cover designs, ever. And the interior art is glorious, too.

You can visit the Statue of Liberty online. Take a look at the beautiful photo gallery, read about Lady Liberty’s history and take the Junior Ranger Program self-guided program for kids.

Unknown Birthday: George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver, scientist
c. 1864-Jan. 5, 1943

A Weed is a Flower: The Life of George Washington Carver by Aliki (Aladdin, 1988)

Born a slave, George Washington Carver loved to learn and became one of America's most important agriculturists.

Visit the George Washington Carver National Monument in Missouri preserved by the National Park Service.

Monday, October 27, 2008

October 27 Birthdays: Ruby Dee, Theodore Roosevelt and Nawal El Sadaawi

Ruby Dee, actress and activist
Oct. 27, 1924-

Women of Hope: African Americans Who Made a Difference by Joyce Hansen (Scholastic, 1998)

Dee's Broadway debut in South Pacific was in 1943. Dee was and is an advocate for social issues of our times.

Read a biographical sketch of Ruby Dee and listen to an interview with her and her late husband, Ossie Davis on the PBS African American World site.

Theodore Roosevelt, U.S. President
Oct. 27, 1858-Jan. 6, 1919

Theodore by Frank Keating, illustrated by Mike Wimmer (Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster, 2006)

The oil-on-canvas illustrations in this book should be hanging in an art museum. Wow. This biography of Teddy Roosevelt, told in his own words, offered me more than facts. I felt as if I also knew Roosevelt's heart

The Theodore Roosevelt Association hosts a web site devoted to TR. Teddy and the Children's Room

Also check out the Smithsonian exhibit: Theodore Roosevelt: Icon of the American Century.

Nawal El Sadaawi, advocate
Oct. 27, 1931-

Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World by Cynthia Chin-Lee, illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy (Charlesbridge, 2005

"N" is for Nawal, in this collective biography about women. El Sadaawi is an advocate for women's rights, doctor and writer. Born in Egypt, she was imprisioned for her views of Arab women but has been released.

Visit for more info.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

October 26 Birthday: Mahalia Jackson

Mahalia Jackson, musician
Oct. 26, 1911-Jan. 27, 1972

The Blues Singers: Ten Who Rocked the World by Julius Lester, illustrated by Lisa Cohen (Jump at the Sun/Hyperion, 2001)

Renowned gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson "brought the blues feeling into church music." Born in New Orleans, she moved to the city of Chicago when she was a teenager. It was there that Jackson found her voice.

America's Library has a small feature on Mahalia Jackson with photos that would be of great interest to children.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

October 25 Birthday: Admiral Richard Byrd

Admiral Richard Byrd, explorer
Oct. 25, 1888-Mar. 11, 1957

Black Whiteness by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Walter Lyon Krudop (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1998)

This is a harrowing account of the 1934 Antarctic winter Byrd spent alone at the South Pole. Brrrrr.

See what's happening today at the South Pole at the web site.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

October 23 Birthdays: Gertrude Ederle, Pele and Victoria Woodhull

Gertrude Ederle, athlete
Oct. 23, 1906-Nov. 30, 2003

America's Champion Swimmer: Gertrude Ederle by David A. Adler, illustrated by Terry Widener (Harcourt, 2000, Voyager, 2005 reprint)

It's twenty-one miles across the English Channel and in 1926, an American named Gertrude Ederle was the first woman to successfully swim across it. In the process she beat the men's record by almost two hours.

Sports Illustrated for Women named Ederle one of the Top 100 Women Athletes.

Pele, athlete
Oct. 23, 1940-

Young Pele: Soccer’s First Star by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2007)

Soccer was Pele’s passion from an early age. He played and dreamed and dreamed and played, all the while honing his skills and talent. When he finally had the opportunity to play in a youth soccer tournament, he saw that it would be possible for him, a child from humble means, to achieve his goal.

ESPN posts a biography of the "King of Futbol" on their site.

Victoria Woodhull, politician
Oct. 23, 1838-June 9, 1927

Woman for President: The Story of Virginia Woodhull by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Jane Dyer (Walker, 2006 reprint)

Woodhull's run for president in 1872 is a fascinating part of American history. In this race, women's rights were raised to a new level. Her eclectic background: fortune-teller, newspaper owner and investment business owner, to name only a few of her talents also make Woodhull a woman to be remembered.

"Who is Victoria Woodhull?" offers more information about this political pioneer.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

October 21 Birthdays: Celia Cruz, Dizzy Gillespie and Ursula Le Guin

Celia Cruz, musician
Oct. 21, 1925-July 16, 2003

Celia Cruz, Queen of Salsa by Veronica Chambers, illustrated by Julie Maren (Dial, 2005)

When this salsa superstar was a child, her neighbors crowded the street to hear her sing to her family. Jewel toned illustrations add much to this vibrant story of her life.

The Smithsonian National Museum of American History featured Celia Cruz in a exhibit called Azucar! The Life and Music of Celia Cruz.

Dizzy Gillespie, musician
Oct. 21, 1917-Jan. 6, 1993

Dizzy by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Sean Qualls (Arthur A Levine Books/Scholastic, 2006)

Everything changed the day Dizzy Gillespie's music teacher gave him a trumpet. From that moment on, Gillespie channeled all his feelings into his music. Jazz was his music and with it he created a whole new sound, BEBOP.

Drop by to learn more about the man and his music from Ken Burns' Jazz.

Ursula Le Guin, author
Oct. 21, 1929-

Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World by Cynthia Chin-Lee, illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy (Charlesbridge, 2005)

Best known for her Earthsea fantasy series, Le Guin is featured as "U" in this collective biography of women.

Visit Ursula LeGuin's web site to read more about the Earthsea series, current work and other facts.

Monday, October 20, 2008

October 20 Birthday: Charles Ives and Wanda Jackson

Charles Ives, musician
Oct. 20, 1874-May 19, 1954

What Charlie Heard by Mordicai Gerstein (Frances Foster/FSG, 2002)

A composer of innovative music, Charles Ives realized his dream at 77 years of age! What an inspiration. This is one of my all-time favorite picture book biographies.

Visit the Charles Ives Society web site for background information, works, and useful links.

Wanda Jackson, musician
Oct. 20, 1937-

Shake, Rattle and Roll: The Founders of Rock & Roll by Holly George-Warren, illustrated by Laura Levine (Houghton Mifflin, 2001)

A performer at nine, Jackson sang country for years. Until she sang with Elvis. Then she became known as the Queen of Rockabilly.

At Wanda you'll find tour dates, photos, biographical info and the latest news on Jackson.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

October 18 Birthday: Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry, musician
Oct. 18, 1926-

Shake, Rattle and Roll: The Founders of Rock & Roll by Holly George-Warren, illustrated by Laura Levine (Houghton Mifflin, 2001)

This collective biography includes a double page spread devoted to Berry. Chuck Berry learned to play the guitar as a teen and is still playing today. His first hit, Maybellene was in 1955. Go, Mr. Berry, Go!

The Official Site of Chuck Berry offers his bio, photos, song lyrics and more.

Friday, October 17, 2008

October 17 Birthdays: Mae Jemison and Jerry Siegel

Mae Jemison, astronaut
Oct. 17, 1956-

Women of Hope: African Americans Who Made a Difference by Joyce Hansen (Scholastic, 1998)

Jemison, a medical doctor, was the first African American women astronaut. She flew on the Endeavor in 1992.

Check out the NASA Kids site for games, stories, activities and a cool kids' club.

Jerry Siegel, writer
Oct. 17, 1914-Jan. 28, 1996

Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman by Marc Tyler Nobleman, illustrated by Ross MacDonald (Knopf, 2008)

Everyone will champion this story of ingenuity and perseverance. Together, mild-mannered and unassuming teens Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster created the most inspiring and beloved comic book hero of all-time—Superman. Their struggles in the industry were heartbreaking and their successes equally phenomenal. A super read!

Click here, and faster than a speeding bullet, you can learn about planet Krypton, Superman’s birthplace.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

October 16 Birthday: Princess Ka'iulani

Princess Ka'iulani, leader
Oct. 16, 1875-Mar. 6, 1899

The Last Princess: The Story of Princess Ka'iulani of Hawai'i by Fay Stanley, illustrated by Diane Stanley (HarperCollins, 2001)

Heir to the throne, the United States annexed Hawai'i before Ka'iluani would rule. This is the story of her all too brief life.

A photo of Ka'iulani and information about her can be found at a web site devoted to this Hawaiian royal.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

October 14 Birthdays: Dwight Eisenhower and William Penn

Dwight Eisenhower, U.S. President
Oct. 14, 1890-Mar. 28, 1969

A Picture Book of Dwight Eisenhower by David A. Adler (Holiday House, 2004)

Opening with a 1945 parade in New York City at which General Eisenhower was given a medal, this book then highlights his childhood, West Point career, family life, WWII leadership and presidency.

The Dwight D. Eisenhower Library is the place to go for more information about this president.

William Penn, colonist
Oct. 14, 1644-July 30, 1718

William Penn: Founder of Pennsylvania by Steven Kroll, illustrated by Ronald Himler (Holiday House, 2000)

This book about William Penn, a strong Quaker, is also a lesson about the history of his time. writes about Penn's life and work.

Monday, October 13, 2008

October 13 Birthdays: Mary Kingsley and Art Tatum

Mary Kingsley, adventurer
Oct. 13, 1862-June 3, 1990

Uncommon Traveler: Mary Kingsley in Africa by Don Brown (Sagebrush, 2000)

Kingsley traveled through the pages of the books in her father's library as a child. Caregiver of her parents until the age of 30, upon their death, Kingsley traveled to Africa. When this British explorer returned to England, she wrote about her observations.

Living on Earth Today has an online profile of Mary Kingsley.

Art Tatum, musician
Oct. 13, 1907-Nov. 5, 1956

Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum by Robert Andrew Parker (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2008)

Mostly self-taught, Tatum began playing the piano as a young child. Because of his poor eyesight, he could not participate in many activities. The piano was his refuge and strength. Word spread and soon he was playing in cafes, bars and the local radio station in his hometown of Toledo. Written in first person, this is a humble story of a gifted child who becomes one of the all-time jazz greats.

Watch and listen to Art Tatum play “Humoresque” on YouTube, his signature tune.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

October 11 Birthday: Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady and humanitarian
Oct. 11, 1884-Nov. 7, 1962

Eleanor by Barbara Cooney (Viking, 1996)

In spite of her painful childhood, Eleanor Roosevelt 's young adulthood was transformative. Readers will see signs of the greatness that was to come.

The Franklin Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum web site provides visitors a one page biography of the "First Lady of the World."

Friday, October 10, 2008

October 10: Giuseppe Verdi

Giuseppe Verdi
Oct. 10, 1813-Jan. 27, 1901

Lives of the Musicians: Good Times, Bad Times (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt (Harcourt, 1993)

An opera composer from Italy, Verdi was playing the organ for his village by the age of ten. Aida and La Traviata are two of his most famous works.

The Edinboro University of Pennsylvania web site offers an online bio of Verdi as well as a list of his operas.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

October 9 Birthday: John Lennon

John Lennon
Oct. 9, 1940-Dec. 8, 1980

John's Secret Dreams: The Life of John Lennon by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Bryan Collier (Hyperion, 2004)

In prose and song lyrics, John Lennon's life and music are examined in this tribute to a rock 'n' roll great.

The Official John Lennon web site offers a look at the history, bio, and discography of this famous Beatle.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

October 8 Birthday: Faith Ringgold

Faith Ringgold, artist
Oct. 8,

Faith Ringgold by Robyn Montana Turner (Little Brown, 1993)

Famous for her "story quilts," this Caldecott Honor Medalist's (Tar Beach) life and art are on display in this book about this gifted African American woman.

Learn more about Ringgold and her work at her web site.

Monday, October 06, 2008

October 6 Birthday: Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer, activist
Oct. 6, 1917-Mar. 14, 1977

Women of Hope: African Americans Who Made a Difference by Joyce Hansen (Scholastic, 1998)

Hamer was involved with voting rights in the 1960s in addition to being a champion for the poor and underpriviledged. The tombstone of this great African American woman reads, "I am sick and tired of being sick and tired."

Hamer was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1993.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

October 5 Birthdays: Chester Arthur and Maya Lin

Chester Arthur, U.S. President
Oct. 5, 1829-Nov. 18, 1886

Lives of the Presidents: Fame, Shame (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt (Harcourt, 1998)

Krull gives us a quick snapshot of the 21st U.S president, nicknamed "Elegant Arthur," in her collective biography of U.S. leaders.

For a look at all of the U.S. Presidents, go to The White House web site links.

Maya Lin, architect
Oct. 5, 1959-

Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World by Cynthia Chin-Lee, illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy (Charlesbridge, 2005

Most famous for designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Lin, "M"is for Maya in this collective biography about women who've made a difference.

The Official web site of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. is operated by the National Park Service.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

October 4 Birthdays: Rutherford B. Hayes, Buster Keaton and St. Francis

Rutherford B. Hayes, U.S. President
Oct. 4, 1822-Jan. 17, 1893

Lives of the Presidents: Fame, Shame (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt (Harcourt, 1998)

Krull sums up Hayes' contributions in one paragraph in this collective biography. The 19th president's phone number was "1."

The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center invites visitors to learn more about this former president.

Buster Keaton, actor
Oct. 4, 1895-Feb. 1, 1966

Keep Your Eye on the Kid: The Early Years of Buster Keaton by Catherine Brighton (Roaring Brook Press, 2008)

Born into a vaudeville family, Keaton was nicknamed “Buster” because he could take a fall. And fall he did, over and over again onstage when he was a child. Audiences loved him. When Buster saw his first movie, he fell even harder. Eventually he made it to Hollywood and became a great comedic screen actor and movie-maker. Written in first person, this story is a class act.

The International Buster Keaton Society provides news, a biography, articles, and other resources related to this remarkable man.

St. Francis
Oct. 4 is St. Francis' Feast Day
c. 1181/1182-Oct. 3, 1226

Francis: Poor Man of Assisi by Tomie dePaola (Holiday House, 1990)

Wealthy by birth, Francis gave away his possessions to help the poor and become a protector of animals.

The Catholic Encyclopedia writes about St. Francis.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

October 2 Birthday: Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi
Oct. 2, 1869-Jan. 30, 1948

Gandhi by Demi (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2001)

The life of this extraordinary leader who fought "the disease of prejudice" through nonviolent means is accompanied by stunning illustrations.

The Mahatma web site provides additional information about Ghandi; his life, his work and his philosophy.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

October 1 Birthday: Jimmy Carter

James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, U.S. President
Oct. 1, 1924-

Lives of the Presidents: Fame, Shame (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt (Harcourt, 1998)

Carter was a peanut farmer and a former governor of Georgia prior to taking office. This 39th president was and is an advocate for the homeless.

Visit the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta, Georgia for more information.