Sunday, May 31, 2009

May 31 Birthday: Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman, writer
May 31, 1819-March 26, 1892

Walt Whitman: Words for America by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Brian Selznick (Scholastic, 2004)

A poet and more, Whitman’s life is explored in this tribute to an American icon. offers a bio and photo of Whitman on their site as well as external links.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

May 30 Birthday: Benny Goodman

Benny Goodman, musician
May 30, 1909-June 13, 1986

Once Upon a Time in Chicago: The Story of Benny Goodman by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Jeanette Winter (Hyperion, 2000)

An accomplished clarinet player, Goodman, known as The “King of Swing,” began playing when he was in the fourth grade…and never stopped.

Click over to a biography of Goodman with audio features on the site of Jazz, a film by Ken Burns.

Friday, May 29, 2009

May 29 Birthday: Tenzing Norgay

Tenzing Norgay, explorer
May 29, 1914-May 9, 1986

Tigers of the Snows: Tenzing Norgay: The Boy Whose Dream Was Everest by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Ed Young (Atheneum, 2006)

A Nepalese climber, Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary were the first men on the summit of Mount Everest.

A profile of Norgay is posted on the Scholastic Teachers web site.

May 29 Birthday: John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy, U.S. President
May 29, 1917-November 22, 1963

A Picture Book Biography of John F. Kennedy by David A. Adler, illustrated by Robert F. Casilla (Holiday House, 1992)

The 35th President of the United States was a huge advocate for the space program, created the Peace Corps and sought to end racial discrimination.

Go to The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum to read Kennedy’s White House Diary and take a virtual tour.

May 29 Birthday: Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry, politician
May 29, 1736-June 6, 1799

A Picture Book of Patrick Henry by David A. Adler, illustrated by John C. Wallner and Alexandra Wallner (Holiday House, 2001)

Henry, the first and sixth governor of Virginia made the “Give me liberty or give me death” speech.

Listen to Henry’s speech (scroll down the page) as interpreted by Richard Schuman and read about Henry’s life at

Thursday, May 28, 2009

May 28 Birthday: Jim Thorpe

Jim Thorpe, athlete
May 28, 1887-March 28, 1953

Bright Path: Young Jim Thorpe by Don Brown (Roaring Brook Press, 2006)

Thorpe found his calling at the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania and in 1912 was a star of the Summer Olympics.

The Official Site of Jim Thorpe: World’s Greatest Athlete is a source for biography, fast facts, photos and more.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

May 27 Birthday: Amelia Bloomer

Amelia Bloomer, women’s rights advocate
May 27, 1818-December 30, 1894

You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer by Shana Corey, illustrated by Chesley McLaren (Scholastic, 2000)

Active in the women’s rights movement, Bloomer’s name became synonymous with a new fashion piece of the time.

The National Women's Hall of Fame hosts a bio and photo of Bloomer on their site.

May 27 Birthday: Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan, dancer
May 27, 1877-September 14, 1927

Isadora Dances by Rachel Isadora (Puffin, 2000)

Modern dancer Isadora Duncan’s life takes the stage in this picture book biography about her.

Learn more about Duncan at the Isadora Duncan Dance Foundation.

May 27 Birthday: Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson, biologist
May 27, 1907-April 14, 1964

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

Back in the day, Carson’s book Silent Spring, published in 1962, had a huge impact on the environmental movement…and still does. is a “website devoted to the life and legacy of Rachel Carson.

Monday, May 25, 2009

May 25 Birthday: Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson
May 25, 1803-April 27, 1882

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

Buddies with Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry David Thoreau, Emerson had a great influence on the Transcendentalist movement.

An Emerson bio and samples of his work are featured on Thomas Hampson’s I Hear America Singing page at

Sunday, May 24, 2009

May 24 Birthday: Ynes Mexia

Ynes Mexia, botanist
May 24, 1870-July 12, 1938

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

Mexia discovered a new passion when she was 51. Botany. And thanks to her, more than 500 species of plants were discovered.

A biographical sketch of Mexia is available on the California Academy of Sciences site.

May 24 Birthday: Victoria, Queen

Victoria, Queen
May 24, 1819-January 22, 1901

Lives of Extraordinary Women: Rulers, Rebels (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt (Harcourt, 2000)

Queen of England for 64 years and the mother of nine children, the Victorian Age was named after this monarch.

Read more about Queen Victoria on The Victorian Web, literature, history and culture in the age of Victoria.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

May 21 Birthday: Mary Anning

Mary Anning, paleontologist
May 21, 1799-Mar. 9, 1847

Rare Treasure: Mary Anning and Her Remarkable Discoveries by Don Brown (Houghton Mifflin, 2003)

Anning discovered the bones of an ichthyosaur as a child and from then on fossils dominated her life.

For more information, read about Anning on the UC Berkeley Museum of Paleontology site.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

May 19 Birthday: Malcolm X

Malcolm X, civil rights advocate
May 19, 1925-Feb. 21, 1965

Malcolm X: A Fire Burning Brightly by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Leonard Jenkins (HarperCollins, 2000)

Malcolm X did not have an easy childhood and was assassinated at the age of 40. In an account of his life, readers will gain insights into this controversial and influential leader.

The Offical Web Site of Malcolm X contains a biography, chronology, achievements, photos, and fast facts about this civil rights activist.

May 19 Birthday: Bob Switzer

Bob Switzer, inventor
May 19, 1914-Aug. 20, 1997

The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton, illustrated by Tony Persiani (Charlesbridge, 2008)

Not yet published, but in the queue this July, this bio about the brothers who invented eye-popping colors is sure to be a hit.

Day-Glo worms? View “A Primer on Marine Flatworms for K-12 Students” at the University of New Hampshire site and you’ll be a believer.

The other half of this duo, Joe Switzer was born on August 16, 1915.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

May 17 Birthday: Splash, the dog

Splash, dog of Senator Edward Kennedy
May 17, 1997-

My Senator and Me: A Dog’s Eye View of Washington D.C. by Edward Kennedy, illustrated by David Small (Scholastic, 2006)

Told from the dog’s point of view, Splash takes readers through a day in the life of Senator Edward Kennedy.

Read a behind-the-scenes interview with Cheryl Klein, the editor of this book on the Scholastic web site.

May 17 Birthday: Erik Satie

Erik Satie, musician
May 17, 1866-July 1, 1925

Strange Mr. Satie by M.T. Anderson, illustrated by Petra Mathers (Viking, 2003)

The eccentric French composer’s life and music is examined in this picture book biography about him.

Pictures and paintings of Satie can be seen on a site dedicated to him and his work.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

May 13 Birthday: Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder, musician
May 13, 1950-

Little Stevie Wonder by Quincy Troupe, illustrated by Lisa Cohen (Houghton Mifflin, 2005)

Written in free verse, this picture book about singing great Stevie Wonder will make readers cheer. The gifted African-American artist who is visually impaired is an inspiration to all.

Dissertations, theses and papers published about Wonder, songs, tours/appearances and awards are posted on the Stevie Wonder World of Wonder site hosted in the UK.

May 13 Birthday: Arthur Sullivan

Arthur Sullivan, musician
May 13, 1842-November 22, 1900

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

Half of the popular Gilbert & Sullivan duo, Sullivan was an English composer who first worked with Gilbert in 1871.

Visit the Gilbert and Sullivan Archive at Boise State today.

May 13 Birthday: Ritchie Valens

Ritchie Valens, musician
May 13, 1941-February 3, 1959

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

Valens was the California music sensation and singer of Donna and La Bamba. He was the first Mexican-American rock and roll star. Unfortunately he died in a small plane crash along with Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper.

Go to the Ritchie Valens Official Web Site for information on his life, his music and his family.

May 13 Birthday: Joe Louis

Joe Louis, athlete
May 13, 1914-Apr. 12, 1981

Joe Louis: America’s Fighter by David A. Adler, illustrated by Terry Widener (Gulliver, 2005)

After seeing boxers at a gym, Louis found his calling. He was known as the "Brown Bomber."

Read more about Louis at his Official Site.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

May 12 Birthday: Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale, nurse
May 12, 1820-Aug. 13, 1910

A Picture Book of Florence Nightingale by David A. Adler, illustrated by John Wallner and Alexandra Wallner (Holiday House, 1997)

Nurse extraordinaire, Nightingale changed her profession for the better and served with compassionate care.

Read a bio of Nightingale at the The Florence Nightingale Museum in the UK.

Monday, May 11, 2009

May 11 Birthday: Harriet Quimby

Harriet Quimby, pilot
May 11, 1875-July 1, 1912

Brave Harriet: The First Woman to Fly the English Channel by Marissa Moss, illustrated by C.F. Payne (Silver Whistle, 2001)

Quimby’s incredible accomplishment was overwhelmed by the press coverage of the sinking of the Titanic. Nonetheless, she made history.

Visit the Harriet Quimby Home Page for photos and more.

May 11 Birthday: Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali, artist
May 11, 1904-Jan. 23, 1989

Lives of the Artists: Masterpieces and Messes (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt (Harcourt, 1995)

A Spanish painter known for his surrealist style is spotlighted in this collective biography.

The Salvador Dali Museum hosts a site with images from the collection.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

May 10 Birthday: Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, astronomer
May 10, 1900-Dec. 7, 1979

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

“Stellar Atmospheres, A Contribution to the Observational Study of High Temperature in the Reversing Layers of Stars” anyone? That was the title of Payne-Gaposchkin’s dissertation, who excelled at Harvard as a student and a professor.

On a site about Notable American Unitarians, read more about Payne-Gaposchkin.

May 10 Birthday: Quah Ah

Quah Ah aka Tonita Pena, artist
May 10, 1893-Sept. 9, 1949

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

A Pueblo painter, Pena’s lively work inspired other women to stretch their artistic bounds.

See a photo of Pena at the Purdue site.

Friday, May 08, 2009

May 8 Birthday: Harry Truman

Harry Truman, U.S. President
May 8, 1884-Dec. 26, 1972

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

The sign on Truman's desk read "The Buck Stops Here." This piano-playing 33rd president held watermelon spitting wars in the White House.

The Truman Presidential Museum & Library is the source for Truman research.

May 8 Birthday: Robert Leroy Johnson

Robert Leroy Johnson, musician
May 8, 1911-Aug. 16, 1938

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

Johnson, a gifted guitar player and singer died young. However, his legacy lives on in the likes of Dylan, the Stones and Clapton.

The Robert Johnson Blues Foundation site features an article from the LA Times about this famous bluesman.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

May 7 Birthday: Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky

Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky, musician
May 7, 1840-Nov. 6, 1893

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

Composer of the Nutcracker Suite, this Russian musician also scored the 1812 Overture. Da-da-da-daaaa.

The PBS Great Performances site hosts a biography of Tchaikovsky.

May 7 Birthday: Eva Peron

Eva Peron, politician
May 7, 1919-July 26, 1952

Lives of Extraordinary Women: Rulers, Rebels (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt (Harcourt, 2000)

The First Lady of Argentina was a powerful presence in the political arena in Latin America and the world.

Read about Peron’s legacy at the Official Evita Peron Website.

May 7 Birthday: Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms, musician
May 7, 1863-Apr. 3, 1897

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

Brahms, a German composer who made a living from music from the age of 15 on is featured in this collective biography. Interestingly, he had a great friendship with musician Clara Schumann.

A bio, catalog of works, pictures, and links about Brahms can be found on a site dedicated to him.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

May 6 Birthday: Willie Mays

Willie Mays, athlete
May 6, 1931-

Say Hey! A Song of Willie Mays by Peter Mandel, illustrated by Don Tate (Jump At The Sun, 2000)

This rhyming picture book about the home-run hero takes readers from his birth to the ballpark. Batter up!

Go to The National Baseball Hall of Fame for stats on Mays.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

May 5 Birthday: Nellie Bly

Nellie Bly
May 5, 1864-Jan. 27, 1922

The Daring Nellie Bly: America’s Star Reporter by Bonnie Christensen (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2003)

Serious female reporters were a rare breed in the late 1880s. Bly not only took up the call, but succeeded brilliantly.

An article called,Nellie Bly: The Best Reporter in America is posted on the CUNY web site.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

May 3 Birthday: Golda Meir

Golda Meir
May 3, 1898-Dec. 8, 1978

Lives of Extraordinary Women: Rulers, Rebels (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt (Harcourt, 2000)

One of the founders of the State of Israel as well as serving at its Prime Minister for five years, Meir made a remarkable contribution to Israel and the world.

The Jewish Virtual Library posts a bio of Meir on their site.

May 3 Birthday: Septima P. Clark

Septima P. Clark
May 3, 1898-Dec. 15, 1987

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

A teacher, Clark fought for equality in civil rights movement. Injustices done to her with regards to her lost job were repaid.

Read about Clark on the African American Registry site.

May 3 Birthday: James Brown

James Brown, musician
May 3, 1933-Dec. 25, 2006

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

"The Hardest Working Man in Show Business" picked cotton, shined shoes, boxed, and played baseball before making it big.

NPR offers information about the man, the message and the soul.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

May 2 Birthday: Elijah McCoy

Elijah McCoy, inventor
May 2, 1843(4?)-October 10, 1929

The Real McCoy: The Life of an African-American Inventor by Wendy Towle, illustrated by Wil Clay (Scholastic, paper, 1995)

An engineer, McCoy invented (among other things) an automatic lubricator for trains and heavy machinery. It was so much better than what was in common use that people insisted on “the real McCoy.”

A short bio on a web site hosted by Northern California Council of Black Professional Engineers highlights McCoy.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Unknown Birthday: Sitting Bull

Sitting Bull, leader
c. 1831-Dec. 15, 1890

A Boy Called Slow by Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by Rocco Baviera (Putnam, 1998)

From "Slow" to "Sitting Bull," this moving account of the greatest Lakota Sioux warrior's 1830s childhood shows how he grew into his new name.

The PBS site on New Perspectives on the West offers a biography of Sitting Bull with a number of hot links.