Wednesday, February 27, 2008

February 27 Birthday: Marian Anderson

Marian Anderson, musician
Feb. 27, 1897-Apr. 8, 1993

When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson by Pam Munoz Ryan, illustrated by Brian Selznick (Scholastic, 2002)

When African-American contralto Marian Anderson was 57 years old, she sang with the Metropolitan Opera. This is the story of her journey, from childhood church singer to European sensation to opera star.

Marian Anderson: A Life in Song exhibit at the Penn Library not only contains information about Anderson’s tours, but includes video and audio excerpts from interviews and performances.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Unknown Birthday: Elenore Plaisted

Elenore Plaisted, pioneer
c. 1880-c. 1935

My Prairie Year: Based on the Diary of Elenore Plaisted by Brett Harvey, illustrated by Deborah Ray Kogan (Holiday House, 1986)

From Maine to the Dakotas in 1889, nine-year-old Elenore, describes her family's life, blizzards, surprise packages from Maine, and wildflowers.

Curious about what happened to Elenore Plaisted? Elenore Plaisted Abbott studied with Howard Pyle and became a children's book illustrator. Visit the
Rose Valley Museum & Historical Society
for details. You've got to love a woman who supposedly painted her house pink.

See samples of Elenore Plaisted Abbott's work at a Rutgers University exhibit.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Unknown BIrthday: Vijaya Latshimi Pandit

Vijaya Latshimi Pandit, diplomat

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

Meet Pandit, an Indian diplomat and first female president of the UN. In a few short paragraphs we learn about her great accomplishments. I love her quote: "The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war."

Read up on the United Nations at their web site.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

February 23 Birthday: George Frideric Handel

George Frideric Handel, musician
Feb. 23, 1685-Apr. 14,1759

Handel, Who Knew What He Liked by M.T. Anderson, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes (Candlewick, 2001)

Here’s a humorous (and detailed) take on Handel’s life and music, including the a debunking of the myth that the tradition of standing during the Hallelujah Chorus began with the king.

Read an introduction to the Handel House, it’s history, restoration and about Handel’s London at the Handel House Museum.

Friday, February 22, 2008

February 22 Birthday: George Washington

George Washington, U.S. President
Feb. 22, 1732-Dec. 14, 1799

A Picture Book of George Washington by David A. Adler, illustrated by John Wallner and Alexandra Wallner

Washington and his times are featured in this simple biography about his life.

George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens offers a virtual mansion tour. Visit today.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

February 20: Joshua Slocum

Joshua Slocum
Feb. 20, 1884-Nov. 14, 1909

Born in the Breezes: The Voyages of Joshua Slocum by Kathryn Lasky, illustrated by Walter Lyon Krudop (Orchard, 2001)

Sail the high seas with this story about Slocum’s life and his love of it.

The Joshua Slocum Society International website attempts to “maintain a complete record of all single-handed circumnavigators, to popularize the legendary first solo circumnavigator, Captain Joshua Slocum.”

Monday, February 18, 2008

February 18 Birthday: Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison, professor and writer
Feb. 18, 1931-

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

Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel Beloved in 1988 and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. Highlights of this extraordinary woman can be found in this collective biography.

Biographies, bibliographies, essays, interviews are posted on a site devoted to Morrison.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

February 17 Birthday: Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan, athlete
Feb. 17, 1963-

Jump! From the Life of Michael Jordan by Floyd Cooper (Philomel, 2004)

Meet African-American basketball player Air Jordan as a child and young adult in this picture book biography about him. Hoops, anyone? offers a player profile of Jordan.Check it out.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

February 14 Birthdays: Margaret Knight, Anna Howard Shaw and Katherine Stinson Otero

Margaret Knight, inventor
Feb. 14, 1838-Oct. 12, 1914

Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor by Emily Arnold McCully (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006)

Inventive as a child, Knight grew up to create the first paper bag machine. When her idea was stolen, she went to court and won. The first woman to receive a U.S. patent triumphed.

View at photo of Knight’s machine at the Smithsonian Institution

Anna Howard Shaw, women’s rights advocate
Feb. 14, 1847-July 2, 1919

A Voice From the Wilderness: The Story of Anna Howard Shaw by Don Brown (Houghton Mifflin, 2001)

Based on her autobiography, this story of Shaw traces her life from childhood to adulthood. A teacher, then a doctor, Shaw became active in the women’s suffrage movement.

A biography and photo of Shaw are available at

Katherine Stinson Otero, aviator
Feb. 14, 1891-July 8, 1977

Katherine Stinson Otero, High Flyer by Neila Skinner Petrick, illustrated by Daggi Wallace (Pelican, 2006)

High flyer, indeed. Stinson was the fourth woman in the U.S. to earn a pilot’s license and performed throughout the world. But when she was denied permission to fly for the armed services in WWI, she raised money for the effort by flying in exhibitions.

The U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission posts a bio of Stinson on their site.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

February 13 Birthday: Grant Wood

Grant Wood, artist
Feb. 13, 1891-Feb. 12, 1942

Artist in Overalls: The Life of Grant Wood by John Duggleby (Chronicle, 1996)

A picture book biography about the man who grew up to paint American Gothic showcases his love of the Heartland and determination to paint his own way.

Going Back to Iowa: The World of Grant Wood looks at Woods’ world and work.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

February 12 Birthdays: Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin

Abraham Lincoln, U.S President
Feb. 12, 1809-Apr. 15, 1865

Young Abe Lincoln: The Frontier Days 1809-1837 by Cheryl Harness (National Geographic Children’s Books, 1998)

Lincoln was a man of great determination and compassion. This book about his early years shows the roots of those qualities.

Go to the White House for more details about Lincoln’s life.

Charles Darwin, naturalist
Feb. 12, 1809-Apr. 19, 1882

The Tree of Life: Charles Darwin by Peter Sis (Walker, 2003)

Darwin’s life and ideas are detailed through the text and illustrations. Notes and diary entries from Darwin’s work as well as maps and timelines illuminate the text.

Read what orchidologists have to say about Darwin, his work with orchids and its impact on scientific knowledge.

Monday, February 11, 2008

February 11 Birthday: Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison, inventor
Feb. 11, 1847-Oct. 18, 1931

A Picture Book of Thomas Alva Edison by David A. Adler, illustrated by John C. Wallner and Alexandra Wallner (Holiday House, 1996)

In this biography of a man who was always thinking ahead, readers will learn about Edison's inventions as well as his life.

At a site hosted by Rutgers, you'll find The Edison Papers, a collection of over five million pages of documents. Search Edison’s bio, patents, inventions and other related materials.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

February 9 Birthdays: W.A. Bentley and William Henry Harrison

W. A. Bentley, photographer
Feb. 9, 1865-1931

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs, illustrated by Mary Azarian (Houghton Mifflin, 1998)

As a boy, snowflakes captured William Bentley’s attention. But it was a microscope with a camera that led to his life’s work: photographing snowflakes. This Caldecott Medal Winner is cool!

The Official page of Snowflake has articles by Bentley, snowflake links, current Jericho weather conditions, and more.

William Henry Harrison, U.S. President
Feb. 9, 1773-Apr. 4, 1841

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

Harrison, Number 9, served the shortest term—one month.

The POTUS (Presidents of the United States) section of the IPL (The Internet Public Library) gives an overview of Harrison’s life with plenty of links to take you beyond the basic facts.

Friday, February 08, 2008

February 8 Birthdays: Waterhouse Hawkins and Alice Walker

Waterhouse Hawkins, artist
Feb. 8, 1807-1889

The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins: An Illuminating History of Mr. Waterhouse Hawkins, Artist and Lecturer by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Brian Selznick (Scholastic, 2001)

This is the story of a man with a vision and talent. Hawkins was passionate about dinos and it led him to build life-size models of them.

At the Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering & Technology, see drawings of Hawkins’ for the Crystal Palace Restorations in 1854.

Alice Walker, writer
Feb. 8, 1944-

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

Born to sharecroppers in Georgia, Alice Walker worked hard in school. She was an active participant in the civil rights movement and is an accomplished poet and novelist. The Color Purple is her most well-known work.

Links to information about Walker can be found at a site.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

February 7 Birthdays: Charles Dickens and Laura Ingalls Wilder

Charles Dickens
Feb. 7, 1812-June 9, 1870

Charles Dickens: The Man Who Had Great Expectations by Diane Stanley (HarperCollins, 1993)

Fans of A Christmas Carol will be especially interested in this biography of Dickens, who rose above his troubled childhood but never forgot it.

The New York Public Library hosts an online seminar by Kenneth Benson called Charles Dickens: The Life of the Author in six sessions.

Laura Ingalls Wilder, author
Feb. 7, 1867-Feb. 10, 1957

Laura Ingalls Wilder by Alexandra Wallner (Holiday House, 1997)

The story of the pioneer girl turned author is featured in this simple biography about the creator of the Little House books.

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum contains Wilder’s history, museum information and a link just for kids.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

February 6 Birthdays: Ronald Regan and Babe Ruth

Ronald Regan, U.S. President
February 6, 1911-June 5, 2004

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

A movie actor turned president, Regan loved to ride horses and tell a good story. He was the 40th president of the United States.

Read a bio of Regan on the White House site.

Home Run: The Story of Babe Ruth by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Mike Wimmer (Voyager Books, 2003)

The story of Ruth as well as his home run record-breaking in 1927 is illustrated with realistic paintings and images of baseball cards with career stats. is a source for biography, stats, achievements, quotes, photos and awards about Babe Ruth.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

February 5 Birthday: Hank Aaron

Hank Aaron. athlete
Feb. 5, 1934-

Hank Aaron: Brave in Every Way by Peter Golenbock, illustrated by Paul Lee (Gulliver Books, 2001)

African-American baseball great Hank Aaron followed his dream and in spite of the racial tensions in the 1960s and hate mail directed to him, he kept on and broke the home run record of Babe Ruth.

Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, Aaron is featured on their site.

Monday, February 04, 2008

February 4 Birthdays: Charles Lindbergh, Rosa Parks and Alexis Soyer

Charles Lindbergh, aviator
Feb. 4, 1902-Aug. 26, 1974

Flight by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Mike Wimmer (Putnam Juvenile paperback, 1997)

This is one of my all-time favorite picture book biographies. It is the dramatic account of Lindbergh’s solitary flight across the Atlantic in 1927 with picture-perfect artwork.

Information about the flight, flight timeline, Spirit of St. Louis, photos, documents, articles, and biographies can be found at

Rosa Parks, civil rights advocate
Feb. 4, 1913-Oct. 24, 2005

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni, illustrated by Bryan Collier (Holt, 2005)

The story of the seamstress and African-American civil rights leader who refused to give up her sit on the bus is told in this compelling picture book biography of a true heroine.

The Rosa & Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development offers a biography and timeline of Mrs. Parks.

Alexis Soyer, chef
Feb. 4, 1810-Aug. 5, 1858

The Adventurous Chef: Alexis Soyer by Anne Arnold (FSG, 2002)

French chef Soyer organized a soup kitchen during the Irish potato famine and worked with Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War.

To read more about Soyer, visit the site.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

February 2 Birthday: John P. Parker

John P. Parker, abolitionist, inventor
Feb. 2, 1827-Jan. 30, 1900

Freedom River by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Bryan Collier (Jump At the Sun, 2000)

This Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book recounts the story of ex-slave John P. Parker, and his efforts to assist others in gaining freedom through the Underground Railroad.

The Autobiography of John Parker, an Online Archival Collection at Duke University gives visitors information about Parker and links to Underground Railroad sites.

Friday, February 01, 2008

February 1 Birthdays: Langston Hughes and Don Everly

Langston Hughes, poet
Feb. 1, 1902-May 22, 1967

Langston's Train Ride by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Leonard Jenkins (Orchard, 2004)

When Hughes was eighteen, he took a train from Ohio to Mexico. During his journey he wrote one of his most famous poems, The Negro Speaks of Rivers. This is the story of that ride and creation of that poem. hosts several of Hughes’ poems.

Don Everly, musician
Feb. 1, 1937-

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

In a page of text devoted to The Everly Brothers, readers learn Phil and his brother Don started out singing country but crossed over to rock and roll. Wake Up Little Susie was one of their biggest hits.

Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, a timeline and short bio of The Everly Brothers is posted at