Sunday, January 31, 2010

January 31 Birthday: Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson, athlete
Jan. 31, 1919-Oct. 24, 1972

First in the Field: Baseball Hero Jackie Robinson by Derek Dingle (Hyperion, 1998)

The first African-American Major League Baseball player of modern era is featured in this photobiography about his childhood and early adulthood.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame provides basic info and additional links on
Robinson’s phenomenal career. Search for Robinson under the "The Hall of Famers" tab on the homepage.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

January 30 Birthday: Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, U. S. President
Jan. 30, 1882-Apr. 12, 1945

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

This president had "fireside chats" broadcast over the radio, a collection of miniature pigs and a vibrant wife, Eleanor. FDR was number 32.

Visit the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum today.

Friday, January 29, 2010

January 29 Birthday: Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey, talk show host
Jan. 29, 1954-

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

T.V. talk show host, book lover, actress, philanthropist and more, Ms. O, an African-American, is dedicated to making the world a better place.

One of the richest people in the world, Winfrey recently opened a Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. Read an article about the school here.

January 29 Birthday: William McKinley

William McKinley, U.S. President
Jan. 29, 1843-Sept. 14, 1901

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

Number 25 banned the color yellow in the White House. A one paragraph bio of this president highlights his life and career.

Read more about McKinley at The White House site.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

January 28 Birthday: Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock, artist
Jan. 28, 1912-Aug. 11, 1956

Action Jackson by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker (Frances Lincoln Publishers, 2005)

Splatter painting anyone? This is a riveting look at Lavender Mist, one of abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock’s most famous paintings and how he came to paint it.

Browse the collection of Pollock’s work at The Museum of Modern Art at

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

January 27 Birthday: Wolfgang Mozart

Wolfgang Mozart, musician
Jan. 27, 1756-Dec. 5, 1791

Mozart Tonight by Julie Downing (Aladdin, paper, 1994)

Told in first person, Mozart’s life is center stage in this story of his struggles and creativity.

The Mozart Project offers a biography, compositions, selected essays, bibliography and links to all things Mozart.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January 26 Birthday: Bessie Coleman

Bessie Coleman, aviator
Jan. 26, 1892-Apr. 30, 1926

Talkin' About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by E. B. Lewis (Orchard, 2002)

The first African-American woman airplane pilot’s story is told in approximately two-dozen fictionalized poems a.k.a. eulogies about her life.

PBS features a bio and photo of Coleman on their Fly Girls page.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

January 24 Birthday: Maria Tallchief

Maria Tallchief, ballerina
Jan. 24, 1925-

Tallchief: America’s Prima Ballerina by Maria Tallchief, with Rosemary Wells, illustrated by Gary Kelley (Viking Juvenile, 1999)

Native American ballerina Maria Tallchief tells the story of her own childhood up to her move to New York at seventeen in pursuit of a dance career.

A few images of Tallchief can be seen at The Ballerina Gallery.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Unknown Birthday: Nzingha

Nzingha, ruler
1683-Dec. 17, 1663

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

This take-charge warrior queen effectively resisted slave traders in West Africa (present-day Angola), appointed women and influenced politics forty years and beyond.

Biographical info on Nzingha is available.

Also visit the Official Web Site of the Republic of Angola.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Unknown Birthday: Blanche Leathers

Blanche Leathers, steamboat captain
c. 1860-?

Steamboat! The Story of Captain Blanche Leathers by Judith Heide Gilliland, illustrated by Holly Meade (DK, 2000)

Blanche Leathers didn't listen when as a child she was told, "Girls don't grow up to be steamboatmen." America's first woman steamboat captain proudly sailed the Mississippi River for years.

View a photo of a steamboat Captain Blanche Leathers commanded, on this link to the Tennessee Genealogy & History site.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

January 19 Birthday: Phil Everly

Phil Everly, musician
Jan. 19, 1939-

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

January 19 Birthday: Paul Cezanne

Paul Cezanne, artist
Jan. 19, 1839-Oct. 22, 1906

Paul Cezanne: A Painter's Journey by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by works from the National Gallery of Art (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2006)

French artist Cezanne and his work are featured in this introduction to this talented Post-Impressionist painter.

The National Gallery of Art exhibit, Cezanne in Provence, offers a chronology, images and background. Visit today!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

January 17 Birthday: Mack Sennett

Mack Sennett, film pioneer
Jan. 17, 1880-Nov. 5, 1960

Mack Made Movies by Don Brown (Roaring Brook Press, 2003)

“In 1900, twenty-year-old Mack Sennett was a horse’s rear end.” Who can resist an opening line like that? Read more about the silent moviemaker of the slapstick Keystone Kops and Charlie Chaplin.

A mini-biography and a listing of Sennett's is available on a movie database site.

January 17 Birthday: Ben Franklin

Ben Franklin, founding father
Jan. 17, 1706-Apr. 17, 1706

The Life of Ben Franklin: An American Original by Yona Zeldis McDongough, illustrated by Malcah Zeldis (Holt, 2006)

Author, politician, and inventor were just a few of Franklin’s occupations. The story of his life and achievements are detailed in this biography.

Time Magazine’s Online Edition has a Special Report on Franklin, titled “Citizen Ben’s Great Virtues.”

January 17 Birthday: Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali, athlete
Jan. 17, 1942-

I Shook Up the World: The Incredible Life of Muhammad Ali by Maryum Ali, illustrated by Patrick Johnson (Beyond Words Publishing, 2004)

Three-time winner of the World Heavyweight boxing championship, an Olympic gold medal and numerous other awards, Ali was born Cassius Clay, Jr. in Louisville, Kentucky. One of his most famous quotes is “Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.”

"The mission of the Muhammad Ali Center is to preserve and share the legacy and ideals of Muhammad Ali, to promote respect, hope, and understanding, and to inspire adults and children everywhere to be as great as they can be." Visit today.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

January 16 Birthday: Dian Fossey

Dian Fossey, ethologist
Jan. 16, 1932-Dec. 26, 1985

Light Shining Through the Mist: A Photobiography of Dian Fossey by Tom L. Matthews (National Geographic Children’s Books, 1998)

The Fossey name is synonymous with gorillas. Fossey studied them in their native habitat in the mountains of Rwanda and in the Congo. Photos add to this fascinating introduction of Fossey and her work.

Learn more about Fossey’s work, mountain gorillas, conservation and research at The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International site.

Friday, January 15, 2010

January 15 Birthday: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights advocate
Jan. 15, 1929-Apr. 4, 1968

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Bryan Collier (Jump at the Sun, 2001)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words live on. His most famous speech, “I Have a Dream,” stirs hearts today. The youngest man to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. King, Jr., a gifted African-American political leader, minister and peacemaker is honored by a U.S. Federal holiday on his birthday.

Check out The Seattle Times for a photo gallery, timeline, quotes, and a biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a great American hero.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

January 12 Birthday: Jack London

Jack London, author
Jan. 12, 1876- Nov. 22,1916

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

London went to seek fame in the California gold rush and found it by writing about it. His most famous work: The Call of the Wild.

A bio, FAQs, photos, images, writings, resources for students and teachers can be accessed at The Jack London Online Collection hosted by Sonoma State University.

January 12 Birthday: Ira Hayes

Ira Hayes, WWII hero
Jan. 12, 1923-Jan. 24, 1955

Quiet Hero: The Ira Hayes Story by S.D. Nelson (Charlesbridge, 2006)

Ira Hayes served in the United States Marine Corps during WWII. A photographer captured a picture of Hayes and five of his buddies raising an American flag on Iwo Jima. That photo made him and the others instantly famous. This is the story of his childhood on an Indian reservation, his time in the military and the effects of war on his life.

For a photo of the U.S.M.C. War Memorial and a brief history of it, visit the National Park Service site.

January 12 Birthday: Jose Limon

Jose Limon, dancer
Jan. 12, 1908-Dec. 2, 1972

Jose! Born to Dance by Susanna Reich, illustrated by Raul Colon (Paula Wiseman Books, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2005)

Jose “wanted to give a gift to the world, but he didn’t know what it could be.” Until....he discovered dance. Thus began his spectacular career as a dancer, choreographer and creator of his own dance company.

Limon’s dance lives. Visit the Limon Dance Company and Foundation website to learn about upcoming performances and the heritage of the organization.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Unknown Birthday: Hypatia

Hypatia, mathematician & philosopher

Of Numbers and Stars: The Story of Hypatia by D. Anne Love, illustrated by Pam Paparone (Holiday House, 2006)

Hypatia found her passion in numbers and ideas. This "symbol of a learned women" in fourth century Alexandria inspires.

Read what Socrates wrote about Hypatia, plus a few other facts posted on the University of Chicago web site.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

January 9 Birthday: Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon, U.S. President
Jan. 9, 1913-Apr. 22, 1994

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

Nicknamed "Tricky Dick,” Nixon was the 37th president, the first to visit all 50 states, and the only one to have resigned from office.

Learn more about Nixon at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.

Friday, January 08, 2010

January 8 Birthday: Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley, musician
Jan. 8, 1935- Aug. 16, 1977

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

Rock on! The King lives on. Born in Tupelo, Mississippi, Elvis moved to Memphis as a teen and began recording after high school. Blue Suede Shoes, Hound Dog and Love Me Tender were just a few of his hits.

Have you been to Graceland? Learn about tours to Elvis’ home and other Elvis news at

Thursday, January 07, 2010

January 7 Birthday: Sadako Sasaki

Sadako Sasaki, peacemaker
Jan. 7, 1943-Oct. 25, 1955

Sadako by Eleanor Coerr, illustrated by Ed Young (interview)(Putnam, 1993)

This is an adaptation of Eleanor Coerr’s classic novel, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. In this story, Sadako Sasaki, a young Japanese girl stricken with “atom bomb disease” holds fast to the legend that if a person who is ill folds a thousand origami paper cranes, the wish to be well again will be granted. Though Sadako fell shy of her goal, her friends and classmates rallied behind her cause and saw that she was buried with one thousand cranes. Three years after her death, a statue of this great peacemaker was erected in Hiroshima Peace Park.

From the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum homepage, click the Kids Peace Station button to read The Sadako Story, Sadado and the Atomic Bombing. Letters to Sadako, Peace Studies Presentation Room, the Question Box and Kids Links.

January 7 Birthday: Zora N. Hurston

Zora N. Hurston, author
Jan. 7, 1891-Jan. 28, 1060

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

Z is for Zora in this tribute to famous women. An African-American writer during the Harlem Renaissance, Hurston was also a folklorist and anthropologist.

The Zora Neale Hurston Digital Archive at the University of Central Florida offers information about Hurston’s life and times, writings, and criticism.

January 7 Birthday: Millard Fillmore

Millard Fillmore, U.S. President
Jan. 7, 1800-March 8, 1874

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

Krull's one paragraph description of President Number 13 notes that he had no bad habits!

Fillmore’s White House biography is available on the site.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

January 6 Birthday: Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg, poet and more
Jan. 6, 1878-July 22, 1967

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

“The fog comes on little cat feet,” begins one of Sandburg’s most famous poems. American poet, newspaperman, biographer, children’s author…Sandburg won not one, but two Pulitzer Prizes.

At the Carl Sandburg Home, run by the National Park Service, kids can Jump aboard! and learn more about the Poet of the People through his poems, songs he collected, and film clips.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

January 5 Birthday: Alvin Ailey

Alvin Ailey
Jan. 5, 1931-December 1,1989

Alvin Ailey by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney (Hyperion, paperback, 1995)

African American dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey’s Texas childhood, his Los Angeles dance experiences, and his founding of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City make for inspiring reading.

Attend an Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performance or learn more about their programs at Alvin

Monday, January 04, 2010

January 4 Birthday: Louis Braille

Louis Braille, inventor
Jan. 4, 1809-Jan. 6, 1854

Louis Braille by Dennis B. Fradin, illustrated by Rob Sauber (Silver Burdett, 1997)

Louis Braille, a French boy who lost his sight as a young boy, invented a reading system for the blind when he was only 15.

Learn Braille's alphabet and number system at the American Foundation for the Blind site.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Unknown Birthday: Johann Gutenberg

Johann Gutenberg, inventor
1398-Feb. 3, 1468

Gutenberg by Leonard Everett Fisher (Atheneum, 1993)

The Gutenberg Bible anyone? Setbacks abounded, but Gutenberg ultimately succeeded. He revolutionized printing with the invention of adjustable type, creating mass-produced works for the first time.

Look inside one of the five copies of the Gutenberg Bible in the U.S. at an online exhibit at the Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin. Then roam through the other associated links.

Friday, January 01, 2010

January 1 Birthday: Chiune Sugihara

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.

January 1 Birthday: Paul Revere

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.

January 1 Birthday: Betsy Ross

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.

January 1 Birthday: W. W. Law

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.

January 1 Birthday: Amelia Stewart Knight

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.