Monday, April 29, 2013

April 29 Birthday: Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington, musician
April 29, 1899-May 24, 1974

Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney (Jump At The Sun, 1998)

This Caldecott Honor Medal winner hits just the right notes. The musical collaboration between Ellington and his band members is divine.

Duke Ellington-The Official Web Site hosts a biography, photos, fast facts, quotes and more.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

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.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

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.

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.

Friday, April 26, 2013

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.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

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.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

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.

A collection of articles about Prokofiev can be found at The New York Times.

Monday, April 22, 2013

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.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

April 21 Birthday: Tony Sarg

Tony Sarg, artist
April 21, 1880-Feb. 17, 1942

Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet (Harcourt Houghton Mifflin, 2011)

A childhood interest in marionettes meets an adult opportunity in puppetry. Sarg, the creator of the puppets for the Macy's parade found success from the very first parade, but he continued to improve upon his ideas and helium-filled balloons were born.

This book won the Robert F. Sibert Award for the most distinguished informational book for children and the Caldecott Honor Medal.

Visit the parade route, lineup, and the fun & games for year-long fun at the Macy's Paradewebsite.

April 21 Birthday: John Muir

John Muir, preservationist

Apr. 21, 1838-Dec. 24, 1914

The Camping Trip that Changed America by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mordecai Gerstein (Dial, 2012)

An unlikely alliance rose from an unlikely adventure. President Theodore Roosevelt joined naturalist John Muir on a camping trip to Yosemite. Snow! Waterfalls! Bears! The environment had to be preserved and enjoyed by all for generations to come. Their trip laid the groundwork for the establishment of the National Parks.

The National Parks: America's Best Idea, a film by Ken Burns, features a biography of John Muir.

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.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

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.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April 16 Birthday: Wilbur Wright

Wilbur Wright, aviator
Apr. 16, 1867-May 30, 1912

Into the Air: The Story of the Wright Brothers by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Bill Wylie (Silver Whistle Paperbacks, 2002)

Using comic-book style art, this book takes readers on a journey of the two brothers who were determined to fly.

NASA’s biography of Wilbur Wright has links to the invention process, researched flight, tested theories and other associated ideas.

Monday, April 15, 2013

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.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

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.

Friday, April 12, 2013

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.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

April 10 Birthday: Dolores Huerta

Dolores Huerta, activist
Apr. 10, 1930-

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

Co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association with Ceasar Chavez and a leader in the historic grape boycott, Huerta continues to play a pivotal role in worker rights.

Read more about Huerta at the Dolores Huerta Foundation web site.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

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

Monday, April 08, 2013

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.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

April 7 Birthday: Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday, musician
Apr. 7, 1915-July 17, 1959

The Blues Singers: Ten Who Rocked the World by Julius Lester, illustrated by Lisa Cohen (Jump at the Sun/Hyperion, 2oo1)

Holiday moved to Harlem at age 14 when jazz was hot. Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith and others were singing at that time. Billie joined in. Her trademark was a white gardenia in her hair.

Holiday is featured in Jazz, a film by Ken Burns.

Friday, April 05, 2013

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.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

April 4 Birthday: Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters, musician
Apr. 4, 1913-Apr. 30, 1983

The Blues Singers: Ten Who Rocked the World by Julius Lester, illustrated by Lisa Cohen (Jump at the Sun/Hyperion, 2oo1)

Mississippi born, Waters quit school at ten and worked in cotton fields. He moved to Chicago in 1943 and in 1948 made his first commercial record.

The Official Muddy “Mississippi” Waters site is the place to go for resources about this electrified blues man.

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 bio and photos.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

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.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

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.

Monday, April 01, 2013

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.