Wednesday, December 31, 2008

December 31 Birthday: Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse, artist
Dec. 31, 1869-Nov. 3, 1954

A Bird or 2: A Story About Henri Matisse by Bijou Le Tord (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 1999)

This tribute to the French artist, known as the father of modern art, focuses on Matisse's later years, when he lived in Nice and was inspired by its extraordinary light.

View the collection of Matisse art at the Museum of Modern Art.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

December 30 Birthdays: Bo Diddley and Tiger Woods

Bo Diddley, musician
Dec. 30, 1928-June 2, 2008

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

A double page spread in this collective bio is devoted to rocker, Bo Diddley. This artist played the violin as a child, and then switched to the guitar as a teen. He is credited with the invention of a thump-thump-a beat on the guitar.

The Authorized Website of Bo Diddley is the place to go for more information on this Originator.

Tiger Woods, athlete
Dec. 30, 1975-

Tiger Woods by David R. Collins, illustrated by Larry Nolte (Pelican, 1999)

Tiger Woods, the gifted young African American golfer, faced prejudice with positive character and determination as a child and as an adult. He won his first U.S. Amateur Championship at the age of 19.

Visit the Tiger Woods Official Website to learn more about this great golfer.

Monday, December 29, 2008

December 29 Birthday: Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson, U.S. President
Dec. 29, 1808-July 31, 1875

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

A tailor by profession, this was our only president who could quilt. He was number 17.

You can read Johnson's State of the Union Address on the Project Gutenberg site.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

December 28 Birthday: Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson, U.S. President
Dec. 28, 1856-Feb. 3, 1924

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

Our most educated president spent more money on books than clothes. His number? 28.

Read the official White House biography of President Wilson at

Thursday, December 25, 2008

December 25 Birthdays: Jesus and Anwar el-Sadat

Dec. 25-

Jesus by Brian Wildsmith (Eerdmans, 2000)

Beginning with the birth of Jesus, Wildsmith highlights the rest of Jesus' life, death on the cross, resurrection and ascension. Merry Christmas!

The King James version of the Bible is available online at Verse Link.

Anwar el-Sadat, politician
Dec. 25, 1918-Oct. 6, 1981

Paths to Peace: People Who Changed the World by Jane Breskin Zalben (Dutton, 2006)

Anwar el-Sadat, a former president of Egypt is featured in this book dedicated to sixteen celebrated individuals.

Read more about Sadat at the Jewish Virtual Library.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

December 23 Birthday: Sarah Breedlove Walker

Sarah Breedlove Walker, philanthropist
Dec. 23, 1867-May 25, 1919

Vision of Beauty: The Story of Sarah Breedlove Walker by Kathryn Lasky, illustrated by Nneka Bennett (Candlewick, 2000)

Born to former slaves, Sarah Breedlove Walker triumphed over numerous adversities to become the owner and operator of a hair products business which became one of the largest companies in America by 1912. Her generosity was legendary as she shared her wealth with others.

The Official Website of Madam C. J. Walker a.k.a Sarah Breedlove Walker offers a bio and more.

Monday, December 22, 2008

December 22 Birthday: Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson

Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson, environmentalist and former First Lady
Dec. 22, 1912-July 11, 2007

Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers: How a First Lady Changed America by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Joy Fisher Hein (HarperCollins, 2005)

One person can make our world a more beautiful place. Here's proof. Thank you, Lady Bird.

Visit The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Unknown Birthday: Esther

Esther, leader

Esther's Story by Diane Wolkstein, illustrated by Juan Wijngaard (HarperTrophy, 1998)

Esther saved the day. Literally. In this biblical account, written in the form of a diary, Esther tells the story of her life and how as Queen Esther she saved her people from Haman, who wished to destroy the Jewish people.

Queen Esther: The Merit of Things Hidden from the Women in Judaism.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Unknown Birthday: Eratosthenes

Eratosthenes, mathematician and librarian
c. 276 BC-194 BC

The Librarian Who Measured the Earth by Kathryn Lasky, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes (Little Brown, 1994)

Sun and shadows. Those were the keys to the Eratosthenes' discovery of how to measure the Earth's circumference. A fascinating look at ancient times and at how geometry can make sense of our world.

Learn how Eratosthenes figured it out at the Cornell website.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

December 16 Birthday: Jane Austen

Jane Austen, writer
Dec. 16, 1775-July 18, 1817

Lives of the Writers: Comedies, Tragedies (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt (Harcourt, 1994)

The English author of Emma, Pride and Prejudice, and four other works was not famous until after her death.

Drop by Jane Austen's house on the Web .

Monday, December 15, 2008

Unknown Birthday: Cleopatra

Cleopatra, leader
69 BC-August 12, 30 BC

Cleopatra by Peter Vennema and Diane Stanley, illustrated by Diane Stanley (HarperTrophy, 1997)

The woman was a savvy ruler. Incredible artwork accompanies the story of the last queen of Egypt.

Take a look at the Field Museum of Chicago's Cleopatra of Egypt: From History to Myth exhibit.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

December 13 Birthdays: Ella Josephine Baker and Emily Carr

Ella Josephine Baker, civil rights worker
Dec. 13, 1903-Dec. 13, 1986

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

Baker, a civil rights worker was active in the NAACP and helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Read a biography of Baker at the North Carolina State University site.

Emily Carr, artist
Dec. 13, 1871-Mar. 2, 1945

Emily Carr: At the Edge of the World by Jo Ellen Bogart, illustrated by Maxwell Newhouse (Tundra Books, 2003)

A Canadian artist whose work focused mostly on the Native peoples of the Northwest is featured in this book about her life. From her childhood through her later years, Carr's incredible work is reproduced alongside the narrative.

See Emily Carr at home and at work at a website devoted to her.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

December 11 Birthday: Annie Jump Cannon

Annie Jump Cannon, astronomer
Dec. 11, 1863-Apr. 13, 1941

How We Are Smart by W. Nikola-Lisa, illustrated by Sean Qualls (Lee & Low Books, 2006)

Cannon was an astronomer and curator of photographs at Harvard Observatory. She was the person responsible for organizing stars into types (O, B, A, F, G, K, M), a classification that is still in use today.

Click on over to the Annie Jump Cannon Homepage at

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

December 10 Birthday: Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson, writer
Dec. 10, 1830-May 15, 1886

Emily by Michael Bedard, illustrated by Barbara Cooney (Doubleday, 1992)

This is a fictionalized account of a young girl's encounter with her Amherst, Massachusetts, neighbor—the reclusive poet, Emily Dickinson.

Visit The Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts, for tours and information.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

December 9 Birthday: Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper, naval officer and computer scientist
Dec. 9, 1906-Jan. 1, 1992

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

A reciepent of the National Medal of Technology and many other awards, Hopper helped revolutionize computers.

Grace celebrates women in computing.

Monday, December 08, 2008

December 8 Birthday: Diego Rivera

Diego Rivera, artist
Dec. 8, 1886-Nov. 24, 1857

Diego by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Jeanette Winter (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2007)

This bilingual biography about Diego Rivera, celebrates the life of the incredible Mexican muralist. Brilliant folk-art illustrations compliment the text.

Visit The Virtual Diego Rivera Web Museum and take a look at the work of one of the greatest muralists.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

December 7 Birthdays: Willa Cather and St. Columoille

Willa Cather, writer
Dec. 7, 1873-Apr. 24, 1947

The Divide by Michael Bedard, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully (Doubleday, 1997)

Moved from Virginia to Nebraska, young Willa Cather ultimately found the prairie home. And inspiring.

The Willa Cather Archive offers access to her writings, manuscripts & letters, and life.

Columoille, saint
Dec. 7, 521-June 9, 597

Across a Dark and Wild Sea by Don Brown, illustrated by Deborah Nadel (Roaring Brook, 2002)

This is a story of an Irish monk of the sixth century also known as St. Columba. He established a monastery and copied books and illuminated manuscripts.

The Catholic Encyclopedia posts a biography of St. Columa on it's website.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

December 6 Birthday: Patsy Mink

Patsy Takemoto Mink, politician
Dec. 6, 1927-Sept. 28, 2002

How We Are Smart by W. Nikola-Lisa, illustrated by Sean Qualls (Lee & Low Books, 2006)

Mink, a strong civil rights advocate from Hawaii, was the first Japanese American woman to serve in Congress.

For an overview of her accomplishments, read Mink's biography in the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

Friday, December 05, 2008

December 5 Birthdays: Bill Pickett, Little Richard and Martin Van Buren

Bill Pickett, cowboy and rodeo performer
Dec. 5, 1871-Apr. 2, 1932

Bill Pickett: Rodeo-Ridin' Cowboy by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney (Gulliver Books, 1996)

Born in Travis County, Texas, Pickett invented the rodeo sport of bulldogging. Yahoo!

Pickett was included in The National Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1971. He was the first African American inducted into this elite group.

Little Richard, musician
Dec. 5, 1932-

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

Little Richard was one of the earliest rockers. This deluxe showman from Georgia made his first record at 18 and found fame in 1955 with his hit called "Tutti Fruitti."

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Little Richard in 1986.

Martin Van Buren, U.S. President
Dec. 5, 1782-July 24, 1862

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

A brief description of the 8th, one-term president who loved to sing.

Read more about Van Buren at a site devoted to American Presidents.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

December 2 Birthday: Georges-Pierre Seurat

Georges-Pierre Seurat, artist
Dec. 2, 1859-Mar. 29, 1891

Seurat and La Grande Jatte: Connecting the Dots by Robert Burleigh (Abrams, 2004)

Focused on a single painting by the French painter Seurat, the author weaves in the story of the artist's life.

Seurat's masterpiece, Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte was the subject of an exhibition at The Art Institute of Chicago.