Thursday, April 28, 2011

April 28 Birthday: James Monroe

James Monroe, U. S. President
Apr. 28, 1758-July 4, 1831

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

One paragraph in this collective biography is devoted to our 5th president. The Monroe Doctrine was named for him. He was one of three presidents to die on July 4th.

The White House offers a profile of Monroe on their site.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April 27 Birthday: Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant, U.S. President
Apr. 27, 1822-July 23, 1885

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

A military man, Grant was the 18th president and one of few words.

Learn more about Grant at the PBS American Experience site about him.

April 27 Birthday: Betty Mae Jumper

Betty Mae Jumper, leader
April 27, 1923-

She Sang Promise: The Story of Betty Mae Jumper, Seminole Tribal Leader by Jan Godown Annino, illustrated by Lisa Desimini (National Geographic Society, 2010)

An avid learner as a child, Jumper grew up to be a storyteller, nurse, alligator wrestler, interpreter, advocate, and first female leader of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Learn more about the Seminole Tribe of Florida at their website,

April 27 Birthday: Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King, peacemaker
April 27, 1927-January 20, 2006

Coretta Scott by Ntozake Shange, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Katherine Tegen Books, 2009)

A poetic tribute to Scott King and her involvement in the civil rights movement that touched us all.

A biography of Scott King is posted at The King Center, a living memorial to the advancement of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April 26 Birthday: John J. Audubon

John J. Audubon, artist and naturalist
Apr. 26, 1785-Jan. 27, 1851

The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon by Jacqueline Davies, illustrated by Melissa Sweet (Houghton Mifflin, 2004)

An astute observer of birds by 18, Audubon continued studying them and became “the greatest painter of birds of all time.”

The Audubon Society posts a biography of their namesake on their site.

April 26 Birthday: I.M. Pei

I.M. Pei, architect
Apr. 26, 1917-

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

With an eye for the modern, Pei, a Chinese architect, has designed the Louvre Pyramid, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Javits Convention Center, and the East Building of the National Gallery of Art as well as many other breath-taking structures.

View images of Pei’s work at

April 26 Birthday: Frederick Law Olmsted

Frederick Law Olmsted, architect
Apr. 26, 1822-Aug. 28, 1903

The Man Who Made Parks: The Story of Parkbuilder Frederick Law Olmsted by Frieda Wishinsky, illustrated by Song Nan Zhang (Tundra Books, 1999)

We have Olmsted to thank for New York City’s Central Park, the grounds at Niagara Falls and other top visitor spots. This is the story of his first love—the great outdoors.

The Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site "offers a variety of programs that interpret the legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted."

April 26 Birthday: William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare, writer
Apr. 26, 1564 (baptism)-Apr. 23, 1616

Bard of Avon: The Story of William Shakespeare by Diane Stanley (HarperCollins, 1992)

A fitting introduction to the man who wrote some of our best-loved plays. Truly, a picture book biography for all ages.

A guide to the scholarly resources on Shakespeare can be found at a Palomar Community College site called Mr. William Shakespeare and the Internet.

Monday, April 25, 2011

April 25 Birthday: Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald, musician
April 25, 1917-June 15, 1996

Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat Ella Fitzgerald by Roxanne Orgill, illustrated by Sean Qualls (Candlewick, 2010)

A poignant story of Fitzgerald’s youth and her determination to make a life with music. From “Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat” to “Rowdy-Dowdy High-Hat Baby,” Fitzgerald found much success.

The Official Website of Ella Fitzgerald offers a biography, achievements and fast facts about this First Lady of song.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

April 23 Birthday: Sergei Prokofiev

Sergei Prokofiev, musician
April 23, 1891-March 5, 1953

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

The Russian composer of Peter and the Wolf, dreamed of composing from an early age.

“All Prokifiev. All the time,” is how The Prokofiev Page describes itself. Drop by for a biography, photographs, interviews and links.

Friday, April 22, 2011

April 22 Birthday: Isabella I

Isabella I, political leader
Apr. 22, 1451-Nov. 26, 1504
Lives of Extraordinary Women: Rulers, Rebels (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt (Harcourt, 2000)

As Queen of Spain, Isabella I financed the travels of Christopher Columbus.

Learn more about Isabella of Castile at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

April 21 Birthday: Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Bronte, writer
Apr. 21, 1816-Mar. 31, 1855

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

The author of Jane Eyre, was the eldest of the three Bronte sisters, all English writers.

A brief biography of Bronte can be found on the Victorian, a site about literature, history and culture in the age of Victoria.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April 20 Birthday: Tito Puente

Tito Puente, musician
Apr. 20, 1923-May 31, 2000

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

Known as “The Mambo King,” Puente played Latin jazz and mambo music.

Read more about the talented Puente on the Thomson/Gale site.

Friday, April 15, 2011

April 15 Birthday: Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci, artist
Apr. 15, 1452-May 2, 1519

Leonardo da Vinci by Diane Stanley (HarperCollins, 1996)

An account of da Vinci’s life from birth to death with highlights of his celebrated art.

For a biography, portrait, and examples of da Vinci’s work, visit the Museum of Science.

April 15 Birthday: Bessie Smith

Bessie Smith, musician
Apr. 15, 1894-Sept. 26, 1937

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

Smith hit the road as a singer at the age of 17. She was known for her big voice. Her first record was called Downhearted Blues.

Read more about Smith on the PBS site about Ken Burns' film, Jazz.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April 13 Birthday: Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson, U.S. President
Apr. 13, 1743-July 4, 1826

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

This author of the Declaration of Independence also was responsible for the Louisiana Purchase. Jefferson was the third president.

Jefferson’s accomplishments are summarized in this profile of him.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April 12 Birthday: Imogen Cunningham

Imogen Cunningham, artist
Apr. 12, 1883-June 24, 1976

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

Known for her photos of botanicals, nudes, and industry, Cunningham kept the shutter clicking until just before her death at 93.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston houses three of Cunningham's photos. Click on the titles for more detailed descriptions of the works.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

April 9 Birthday: Carl Perkins

Carl Perkins, musician
Apr. 9, 1932-Jan. 19, 1998

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

The man who wrote Blue Suede Shoes was from rural Tennessee. A talented singer and songwriter, Perkins sure knew how to shake things up.

Perkins, a 1987 inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is featured on a page at

Friday, April 08, 2011

April 8 Birthday: Sonja Henie

Sonja Henie, athlete
Apr. 8, 1912-Oct. 12, 1969

Lives of the Athletes: Thrills, Spills (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt (Harcourt, 1997)

A three-time Olympic figure skating champion, Henie was the youngest world champion in history.

Click to read a profile of Henie: The First Figure Skating Celebrity.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

April 5 Birthday: Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington, educator and political leader
Apr. 5, 1856-Nov. 14, 1915

More Than Anything Else by Marie Bradby, illustrated by Chris Soentpiet (Scholastic, 1995)

More than anything else, young Booker T. Washington wanted to learn how to read. Follow his journey in this story based on his childhood.

A biography of Washington, a famous African-American is posted at the Thomson/Gale web site.

Monday, April 04, 2011

April 4 Birthday: Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou, writer
Apr. 4, 1928-

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

The author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, is a producer, actor and director, too. She recited her poem On the Pulse of Morning at President Clinton's inauguration.

The Maya Angelou Official Website offers a short bio and photos.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

April 3 Birthday: Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall, primatologist
April 3, 1934-

Me, Jane by Patrick McDonnell (Little Brown, 2011)

As a young child, Goodall dreamed of a life in Africa, a life with the animals. The charming photograph of Goodall on the last page shows that dreams can come true.

Drop by the Jane Goodall Institute for videos, interviews and biographical information. 

Saturday, April 02, 2011

April 2 Birthday: Maria Merian

Maria Merian, scientist
April 2, 1647-Jan. 13, 1717

Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Julie Paschkis (Henry Holt, 2010)

Although Europeans during the Middle Ages thought insects were evil, Maria Merian thought them beautiful and harmless. Through careful observation and study she eventually proved metamorphosis was a natural process. Written in first person, Merian’s account of her quest for truth during her thirteenth year is transformative.

The Academy of Natural Sciences shows the different stages of the life of a butterfly.

April 2 Birthday: Hans Christian Andersen

Hans Christian Andersen, writer
Apr. 2, 1805-Aug. 4, 1875

Perfect Wizard: The Hans Christian Andersen by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Dennis Nolan (Dutton, 2005)

This is the story of Andersen, the “ugly duckling” who grew up to write incredible fairy tales.

Drop by the Hans Christian Andersen for research, texts and information.

Friday, April 01, 2011

April 1 Birthday: Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai, peace advocate
Apr. 1, 1940-

Wangari's Trees of Peace by Jeanette Winter (Harcourt, 2008)

A member of the Kikuyu ethnic group, Maathai has and is doing much to make the world a better place. In particular, she is interested in the green movement and women’s rights. She won the Nobel Peace Prize because she “stood up courageously against the former oppressive regime in Kenya.” This book is about how she led the way to change.

Read the press release from the Nobel Peace Prize for Maathai received in 2004.