Thursday, January 01, 2009

January 1 Birthdays: Hank Greenberg, Amelia Stewart Knight, W. W. Law, Paul Revere, Betsy Ross and Chiune Sugihara

Hank Greenberg, athlete
Jan. 1, 1911-Sept. 4, 1986

Hammerin' Hank: The Life of Hank Greenberg by Yona Zeldis McDonough, illustrated by Malcah Zeldis (Walker Books for Young Readers, 2006)

First baseman and outfielder, Greenberg was a American Hall of Famer with an incredible slugging percentage. Born to Orthodox parents, who were not thrilled by his choice of profession, he became the first Jewish baseball star. His heritage was sometimes a source of ridicule on and off the field but as this book shows, it informed the choices he made.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame site offers highlights of Greenberg’s career.

Amelia Stewart Knight, pioneer
Jan. 1, 1817/8-unknown

Way West: Journal of a Pioneer Woman by Amelia Stewart Knight, illustrated by Michael McCurdy (Simon & Schuster Children’s, 1993)

Knight’s journey from Iowa to Oregon in 1853 was far from ordinary. In this adaptation of her journals, readers will get a glimpse into this pioneer woman’s life on the long, long trail.

The Diary of Mrs. Amelia Stewart Knight's successful journey is posted online at a site devoted to The Oregon Trail.

W.W. Law, civil rights leader
Jan. 1, 1923-July 29, 2002

Delivering Justice: W. W. Law and the Fight for Civil Rights by Jim Haskins, illustrated by Benny Andrews (Candlewick, 2005)

Westley Wallace Law made a difference. Born in Georgia, amidst poverty and segregation, this African American, who grew up to be a mail carrier, joined the NAACP as a young man, helped blacks register to vote and was instrumental in leading the Great Savannah Boycott.

This Far by Faith, a PBS program, describes W. W. Law’s life of dedication and service.

Paul Revere, patriot
Jan. 1, 1735-May 10, 1818

Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, illustrated by Ted Rand (Puffin edition, 1996)

Granted, this is not a traditional picture book biography, but this famous poem does tell the story of Revere’s famous midnight ride on April 18, 1775. A silversmith by trade, Revere played a most significant role in the American Revolution. “Listen, my children, and you shall hear, Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere…”

Read the real story of Revere’s ride, a virtual midnight ride, Revere’s own words, Longfellow’s poem and more at The Paul Revere House site.

Betsy Ross, businesswoman and seamstress
Jan. 1, 1752-Jan. 30, 1836

Betsy Ross by Alexandra Wallner (Holiday House, 1994)

In this book, Ross’ childhood, family life, and business life are showcased along with her legendary flag-making effort.

Tour Betsy Ross’ house, view American flags, read about the history of the flag and other fascinating facts at The Betsy Ross Homepage.

Chiune Sugihara, diplomat
Jan. 1, 1900-July 31, 1986

Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story by Ken Mochizuki, illustrated by Dom Lee (Lee & Low,1997)

Sugihara, known as the “Japanese Schindler” was a diplomat serving in Lithuania during WW II when he saved thousands of Jews. This powerful narrative is written from the point of view of Sugihara’s son Hiroki.

The Jewish Virtual Library tells the compelling story of Chiune and Yukiko Sugihara’s eternal good deeds.