Friday, November 30, 2012

November 30 Birthday: Mark Twain

Mark Twain, writer
Nov. 30, 1835-Apr. 21, 1910

The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy) by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham (Scholastic, 2010)

Told from Twain's daughter's point of view, Susy give the inside (and hilarious) scoop on her famous father.

The Hannibal Courier Post looks at the life and works of Samuel Clemens.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

November 29 Birthday: Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott, writer
Nov. 29, 1832-Mar. 6, 1888

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

Based on her own childhood with her three sisters in Concord, Massachusetts, Alcott's most famous work, Little Women was followed by other classics such as Little Men, Jo's Boys, and Eight Cousins. Alcott also wrote works for adults.

Visit Orchard House, where Alcott lived when writing Little Women.

November 29 Birthday: Tzu Hsi

Tzu Hsi, royal
Nov. 29, 1835-Nov. 15, 1908

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

Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi ruled her country for 47 years. It was said that she loved to read.

Fordham University posts information about the Court Life in China.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November 28 Birthday: Ed Young

Ed Young, artist
November 28, 1931-

The House Baba Built: An Artist’s Childhood in China by Ed Young (Little Brown and Company, 2011)

Caldecott Medal Award Winner Ed Young grew up in China. This is his story. And of the house his father built. A house that filled with family and friends and strangers during the war. A house that kept them safe. A house overflowing with love and joy.

Learn more about Shanghai, the largest city in the world, here.

November 28 Birthday: Luke Howard

Luke Howard, scientist
November 28, 1772-March 21, 1864

The Man Who Named the Clouds by Julie Hannah and Joan Holub, illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye (Albert Whitman, 2006)

From childhood, Howard was an intrepid cloud watcher. He kept weather journals and painted the clouds. As an adult, frustrated because a classification system for clouds did not exist, Howard created one. And it is still in use today.

Float on over to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to see photos of common cloud types and to read about the classification system.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November 27 Birthday: Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix, musician
November 27, 1942-September 18, 1970

Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix by Gary Golio, illustrated by Javaka Steptoe (Clarion Books, 2010).

Meet the heart and soul of the rock ‘n’ roller who electrified the 1960s--before he became a star. Through vibrant language and dynamic illustrations, readers are introduced to Hendrix’s childhood friends, his inspirations, his songs, his fire.

The official Jimi Hendrix website offers news, video, music, album information and a bio of this pioneer.

November 27 Birthday: Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee, athlete
Nov. 27, 1940-July 20, 1973

Be Water, My Friend: The Early Years of Bruce Lee by Ken Mochizuki, illustrated by Dom Lee (Lee and Low Books, 2006)

A master of Kung fu, Chinese American Bruce Lee turned the West on to martial arts.

The Bruce Lee Foundation preserves the legacy of Bruce Lee.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

November 24 Birthday: Frances H. Burnett

Frances H. Burnett, writer
Nov. 24, 1849-Oct. 29, 1924

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

Burnett, the author of the children's classic, The Secret Garden, originally illustrated by Tasha Tudor, was nicknamed "Fluffy." Who knew?

A brief biography of Burnett is posted on a UK site devoted to fantasy.

Friday, November 23, 2012

November 23 Birthday: Franklin Pierce

Franklin Pierce, U.S. President
Nov. 23, 1804-Oct. 8, 1869

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

One paragraph about the 14th president who put the first Christmas tree in the White House can be found in this collective biography.

Read Pierce's Inaugural Address on Friday, March 4, 1853, posted on The Avalon Project at the Yale Law School.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

November 22 Birthday: Sieur De La Salle

Sieur De La Salle a.k.a. Rene-Robert Cavelier, explorer
Nov. 22, 1643-Mar. 20, 1687

Despite All Obstacles: LaSalle and the Conquest of the Mississippi by Joan Elizabeth Goodman, illustrated by Tom McNeely (Mikaya Press, 2001)

Follow La Salle from his birth in France through his Mississippi adventures through a text filled with excerpts from letters, diaries and journals.

The Handbook of Texas Online provides a biographical sketch of La Salle.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

November 21 Birthday: Isaac B. Singer

Isaac B. Singer, writer
Nov. 21, 1904-1991

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

Singer spent his childhood in a Jewish ghetto in Poland. He escaped the Holocaust, became a writer and won the Nobel Prize in literature for his work.

Isaac Bashevis Singer is profiled at the Jewish-American Hall of Fame.

Monday, November 19, 2012

November 19 Birthday: James Garfield

James Garfield, U.S. President
Nov. 19, 1831-Sept. 19, 1881

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

One pithy paragraph about the 20th president who had a dog named Veto is included in this book about U.S. presidents.

Visit the White House to learn more about Garfield.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

November 18 Birthday: Wilma Mankiller

Wilma Mankiller, Chief
Nov. 18, 1945-

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

Wilma Mankiller, the first female Chief of the Cherokee Nation who served for over ten years during the 1980s and 90s, made health and education her top issues.

A brief bio of Mankiller is posted at the National Women's Hall of Fame site.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

November 17 Birthday: Isamu Noguchi

Isamu Noguchi, artist
Nov. 17, 1904-Dec. 30, 1988

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

Although Noguchi was discouraged from pursuing art, thank goodness he persisted. Now, works of this important sculptor can be found in Detroit and Atlanta, to name just a few places.

The Noguchi Museum has exhibitions and collections that feature Noguchi's life and work. Visit online today.

See also the Aaron Copland (November 13) and Martha Graham (May 11) collaboration of Ballet for Martha: Making Appalacian Spring.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

November 15 Birthday: Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O'Keeffe, artist
Nov. 15, 1887-Mar. 6, 1986

My Name is Georgia: A Portrait by Jeanette Winter (Silver Whistle, 1998)

From the age of twelve, O'Keeffe knew she wanted to be an artist. Using O'Keeffe's own words within the text as well as O'Keeffe-like illustrations, readers are in for a vivid look at an interesting life.

The O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, offers an online look at some of her amazing work.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

November 14 Birthday: Aaron Copland

Aaron Copland, composer
November 14, 1900-December 2, 1990

Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring by Jan Greenburg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Brian Floca (Flash Point, 2010)

This is the story behind the story of the collaboration of three artists—a choreographer, a composer (Copeland) and an artist—who created the magnificent ballet, Appalachian Spring. Thank you Martha Graham, Aaron Copeland and Isamu Noguchi.

Interviews, features and music of Copland are archived at NPR Music.

November 14 Birthday: Robert Fulton

Robert Fulton, inventor
Nov. 14, 1765-Feb. 24, 1815

Robert Fulton: From Submarine to Steamboat by Steven Kroll, illustrated by Bill Farnsworth (Holiday House, 1999)

Fulton's name is synonymous with steamboats. But first he was a sign painter, air-gun inventor and apprentice jeweler. Read all about his life and inventions in this picture book biography.

Read more about Robert Fulton on this site from the University of Rochester.

November 14 Birthday: William Steig

William Steig, writer and illustrator
Nov. 14, 1907-Oct. 3, 2003

When Everyone Wore a Hat  by William Steig (Joanna Colter Books, 2003)

In this picture book autobiography, Steig looked at the year he was eight, when the world was at war, and he had dreams for the future.

A cartoonist for the New Yorker, Steig was in his 60s when he began writing and illustrating children's books. Stop by the New York Times for an art review on Steig and a link to the slide show on Steig's work at the Jewish Museum.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

November 13 Birthday: Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson, writer
Nov. 13, 1850-Dec. 3, 1894

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

Treasure Island, Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Stevenson penned these classics and more. He suffered from tuberculosis and wrote mostly in bed. A Scot, he eventually settled in Samoa.

Want to listen to a classic read aloud? Download Treasure Island at, a site dedicated to promoting recordings in the Public Domain.

Monday, November 12, 2012

November 12 Birthday: Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, social activist
Nov. 12, 1815-Oct. 26, 1902

Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote by Tanya Lee Stone illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon (Henry Holt & Company, 2008)

As a child, Elizabeth Cady wanted to do “anything any boy could.” And she did. As an adult, Stanton and others proposed women should have the vote. Millions of women took up the cause, and eighteen years after her death, Stanton’s dream became law.

Find the papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony at the Rutgers site dedicated to findings and publishing their work.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

November 11 Birthday: LaVern Baker

LaVern Baker, musician
Nov. 11, 1929-Mar. 10, 1997

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

"Tweedle Dee," a top song recorded in 1954 and "Jim Dandy," a 1956 hit made Baker, a jazz-and-R-and-B-vocalist-turned-rocker famous. As an African American, Baker suffered backlash from her early records being labeled "race records." But she continued to record and eventually the barriers came down.

Read more about Baker's life and music at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

Friday, November 09, 2012

November 9 Birthday: Benjamin Banneker

Benjamin Banneker, mathematician, astronomer
Nov. 9, 1731-Oct. 9, 1806

Dear Benjamin Banneker by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney (Voyager, 1998)

Banneker, an 18th century  free African American was passionate about learning. Aside from excelling professionally in the fields of math and astronomy, he published an almanac and corresponded with Thomas Jefferson about slavery. Brian Pinkney's hallmark style—scratchboard—illuminates this story.

Go to the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum in Baltimore to learn more about this multi-talented man.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

November 7 Birthday: Alexa Canady

Alexa Canady, physician
Nov. 7, 1950-

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

Canady was the first black female neurosurgeon in the U.S. and has won numerous awards for her work. This collective biography includes a photograph and one-page biography of her.

Read more about Canady on a site celebrating Women's History Month.

November 7 Birthday: Marie Curie

Marie Curie, physicist and chemist
Nov. 7, 1867-July 4, 1934

Marie Curie by Leonard Everett Fisher (Atheneum, 1994)

Life as a pioneering scientist was not easy but Curie, a Polish-French pioneer in radioactivity persevered and ultimately won two Nobel Peace Prizes for her efforts.

Visit the Nobel Award site to read more about Curie.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

November 4 Birthday: Will Rogers

Will Rogers, humorist, social commentator, actor
Nov. 4, 1879-Aug. 15, 1935

Will Rogers: An American Legend by Frank Keating, illustrated by Mike Wimmer (Silver Whistle/Harcourt, 2002)

Born in Oklahoma of Cherokee heritage, Rogers's wit and wisdom are highlighted as quotes of his are woven throughout this story of his life. Amazing artwork!

The Official Site of Will Rogers offers a biography, fast facts, photos, quotes and more.

November 4 Birthday: James Earle Fraser

James Earle Fraser, sculptor
Nov. 4, 1876-Oct. 11, 1953

The Buffalo Nickel by Taylor Morrison (Houghton Mifflin, 2002)

This is the story of Fraser's life and work, and in particular, his design of the nickel depicting a buffalo on one side and a Plains Indian chief on the other. Fascinating.

Visit Wikipedia to view images of Fraser's other work.

Friday, November 02, 2012

November 2 Birthday: Warren G. Harding

Warren G. Harding, U.S. President
Nov. 2, 1865-Aug. 2, 1923

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

This one-termer was the 29th president of the U.S. Krull offers a paragraph of tidbits about his life.

For more information about Harding, visit the Harding Home in Ohio.

November 2 Birthday: Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette, politician
Nov. 2, 1755-Oct. 16, 1793

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

The queen of France at nineteen, Marie Antoinette ruled for almost twenty years. One of her most famous quotes? "Let them eat cake."

Visit to learn more about Marie Antoinette.

November 2 Birthday: James Polk

James Polk, U.S. President
Nov. 2, 1795-June 15, 1849

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

Another one-termer, Polk was the 11th president of the U.S. The tradition of playing "Hail to the Chief"  when a president enters a room began with him. One paragraph describes his life of work in this collective biography.

Read Polk's Inaugural address on March 4, 1845 at the Avalon Project at Yale.