Thursday, March 31, 2011

March 31 Birthday: Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson, athlete
March 31, 1878-June 10, 1949

Black Jack: The Ballad of Jack Johnson by Charles R. Smith Jr., illustrated by Shane W. Evans (Neal Porter Book/Roaring Brook Press, 2010)

It was the “Battle of the Century”, July 4, 1910, and Jack Johnson made history. He was the first black heavyweight champion of the world. But he wasn’t always brave and he had to learn how to fight. This is his story.

Unforgivable Blackness, a film by Ken Burns, featured Johnson. Read about it on

March 31 Birthday: Cesar Chavez

Cesar Chavez, civil rights activist
Mar. 31, 1927-Apr. 23, 1993

Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Yuyi Morales (Harcourt, 2003)

A heartfelt account of Chavez’s childhood, his days as a field laborer and as the nonviolent organizer of the 1965 grape boycott.

America’s Library posts several great stories about Chavez for kids.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March 30 Birthday: Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh, artist
Mar. 30, 1853-July 29, 1890

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

Van Gogh was the artist who cut off his ear and drank a lot of coffee, although the two were not related. Even though he was extraordinarily productive, he never saw acclaim in his lifetime.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers timelines, essays and images of Van Gogh's life and work.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

March 29 Birthday: John Tyler, Jr.

John Tyler, Jr., U.S. President
Mar. 29, 1790-Jan. 18, 1862

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

This collective biography devotes one paragraph to the tenth commander and chief. Interesting factoid: Tyler had more children than any other president.

Basic information about Tyler can be found on the Miller Center of Public Affairs University of Virginia site.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

March 27 Birthday: Effa Manley

Effa Manley, sports executive
March 27, 1897-April 16, 1981

She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Don Tate, Collins, 2011.

When Effa Manley questioned the status quo, people told her, "That's just the way things are." But that did not set well with Manley and she became a life-long advocate for positive change in her role as a citizen, a woman and the owner of a baseball team.

Visit the Baseball Hall of Fame to read more about its first and only woman inductee, Effa Manley.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Unknown Birthday: Kate Shelley

Kate Shelley, teenage heroine
19th century

Kate Shelley: Bound for Legend by Robert D. San Souci (Dial, 1995)

A storm. A broken bridge. A train. Fifteen-year old Kate Shelley to the rescue. High drama in Iowa, July 6, 1881.

The Kate Shelley Railroad Museum run by the Boone County Historical Society is open June through September.

Friday, March 25, 2011

March 25 Birthday: Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin, musician
Mar. 25, 1942-

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

Surrounded by musical neighbors such as Smokey Robinson, Otis Williams and Dianna Ross, Aretha Franklin loved to sing, too. Can you spell R-e-s-p-e-c-t?

Read about Franklin at the Time 100 site.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

March 24 Birthday: Harry Houdini

Harry Houdini, magician
Mar. 24, 1874-Oct. 31, 1926

Houdini: World’s Greatest Mystery Man and Escape King by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Eric Velasquez (Walker Books for Young Readers, 2005)

Houdini sawed people in half and wrapped himself in chains—all in the name of magic. This biography offers a look inside his life, his challenges and his performances.

Visit the PBS American Experience site about Houdini, The Man Behind the Myth for a timeline, gallery, teacher’s guide and special features.

March 24 Birthday: John Harrison

John Harrison, inventor
Mar. 24, 1693-Mar. 24, 1776

The Man Who Made Time Travel by Kathryn Lasky, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003)

Harrison succeeded in figuring out how to track longitude for ships at sea...after five tries and over thirty-five years. Thank you for your perseverance, Mr Harrison!

The National Maritime Museum dedicates a page to Harrison and the Longitude problem.

Monday, March 21, 2011

March 21 Birthday: Ruth Law

Ruth Law, aviator
Mar. 21, 1887-Dec. 1, 1970

Ruth Law Thrills a Nation by Don Brown (Houghton Mifflin, 1995)

In 1916, Law flew nonstop from Chicago to New York and set the American record. This is the story of her great achievement.

See a photo of Law and read a short history of her aviation life. Other links are also featured.

March 21 Birthday: Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach, musician
Mar. 21, 1685-July 28, 1750

Sebastian: A Book about Bach by Jeanette Winter (Silver Whistle, 1999)

Bach survived the sorrows of childhood and created magnificent music. And aren't we glad he did!

The J.S. Bach Home Page celebrates the life and work of Bach.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

March 19 Birthday: Charles M. Russell

Charles M. Russell
Mar. 19, 1864-1926

Cowboy Charlie: The Story of Charles M. Russell by Jeanette Winter (Harcourt Children’s, 1995)

When he grew up, Russell wanted to be a cowboy. He did that and more. After years on the frontier, he exchanged that life for one of an artist and brilliantly painted and sculpted the Old West.

According to their web site, the C.M. Russell Museum has the “most complete collection of Russell works and personal objects in the world.” Mosey on over soon.

Friday, March 18, 2011

March 18 Birthday: Grover Cleveland

Grover Cleveland, U.S. President
Mar. 18, 1837-June 24, 1908

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

In one paragraph, the legacy of the 22nd president is summed up. Cleveland was the only president to marry in the White House.

facts are available on the IPL (Internet Public Library) site.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March 17 Birthday: St. Patrick

St. Patrick
AD 373-493

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola (Holiday House, 1992)

Born in Britain, Patrick was kidnapped as a boy and spent time in Ireland as a slave. Follow the story of his life and sainthood as well as five legends about him in this book.

The University of College Cork is an online resource for Irish history, literature and politics.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

March 16 Birthday: James Madison

James Madison, U.S. President
Mar. 16, 1751-June 28, 1836

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

 The "Father of the Constitution" and smallest of our presidents, Madison was number 4.

Learn more about Madison at The White

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March 15 Birthday: Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson, U.S. President
Mar. 15, 1767-June 8, 1845

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

Jackson, the 7th president, added running water to the White House. He was known as the "people's president."

The White House posts a bio of Jackson and the highlights of his term.

Monday, March 14, 2011

March 14 Birthday: Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein, scientist
Mar. 14, 1879-Apr. 18, 1955

Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein by Don Brown (Houghton Mifflin, 2004)

Einstein was not the best student and yet...he grew up to win the Nobel Prize.

 Some quotations, a poster of Albert Einstein and more can be found at the St. Andrews site.

Friday, March 11, 2011

March 11 Birthday: Wanda Gag

Wanda Gag, illustrator and author
March 11, 1893-June 27, 1946

Wanda Gag: The Girl Who Lived to Draw by Deborah Kogan Ray (Viking, 2008)

Captivated by drawing from the time she could hold a pencil, Gag honed her skills and although family tragedies waylaid her dreams for a time, eventually she went to art school and became the creator of one of the most beloved children’s books, Millions of Cats.

The Minnesota Historical Society offers biographical notes and additional resources on Gag on its site.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Unknown Birthday: Sacagawea

Sacagawea, explorer
c. 1787-Dec. 12, 1812 or April 9, 1884

A Picture Book of Sacagawea by David A. Alder, illustrated by Dan Brown (Holiday House, 2001)

A translator and guide on the Lewis and Clark expedition, this Native American woman was an invaluable member of the team.

The PBS special Lewis & Clark: Inside the Corps offers more biographical information on Sacagawea.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Unknown Birthday: Giselle Potter

Giselle Potter, children's author and illustrator
20th century-

The Year I Didn't Go to School by Giselle Potter (Atheneum/Anne Schwartz Books, 2002)

What a year! Traveling around Italy with her family's theater troupe when she was seven, Potter gives a first-person account of this magical time.

Puppeters of America can link you up with a guild, festival or event in the US and Canada.

Monday, March 07, 2011

March 7 Birthday: Maud Lewis

Maud Lewis, artist
Mar. 7, 1903-July 30, 1970

Capturing Joy: The Story of Maud Lewis by Jo Ellen Bogart, illustrated by Mark Lang (Tundra Books, 2002)

Lewis, a Canadian artist who had physical disabilities, painted amazing images in a primitive folk art style. Five-star inspirational.

To learn more about this gifted artist, visit the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

March 6 Birthday: Michelangelo

Michelangelo, artist
Mar. 6, 1475-Feb. 18, 1564

Michelangelo by Diane Stanley (HarperTrophy reprint, 2003)

Michelangelo’s life and art, including the Pieta and the Sistine Chapel are at the forefront of this detailed picture book biography about him.

Click over to the WebMuseum, Paris for more info on Michelangelo.

Friday, March 04, 2011

March 4 Birthday: Antonio Vivaldi

Antonio Vivaldi, musician
Mar. 4, 1678-July 28, 1741

I, Vivaldi by Janice and Tom Shefelman (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2008)

This picture book transports readers to Vivaldi's Venice, where he lived and found success as a violinist and composer.

An informative bio and photo of Vivaldi is available at the Baroque Music site.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

March 3 Birthday: Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell, inventor
Mar. 3, 1847-Aug 2, 1922

Alexander Graham Bell by Leonard Everett Fisher (Atheneum, 1999)

Hello? The inventor of the telephone and other inventions is featured in this bio about his childhood and beyond.

The Franklin Institute Resources of Science Learning offers a short article about Bell’s Telephone and the history of telephones.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

March 2 Birthday: Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss, writer
Mar. 2, 1904-Sept. 24, 1991

The Boy on Fairfield Street by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher (Random House, 2004)

From a childhood spent dreaming and doodling to budding artist at 22, this biography of the famous children’s writer shows what made Seuss tick.

Dr. Seuss’ Seussville is maintained by his publisher, Random House and has a biography of Seuss as well as cool games for kids.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

March 1 Birthday: Frederic Chopin

Frederic Chopin, musician
Mar. 1, 1810-Oct. 17, 1849

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

Chopin began playing the piano at four and performing at eight. This Polish composer is known as one of the "greatest pianists in history."

An online resource about Chopin are available here.